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Browsing: Technical

Road conditions on the West Coast of Africa have been nothing short of gruelling. Through tens of thousands of kilometres, it’s been a changing kaleidoscope of sand, mud, rocks and intense heat and humidity… not to mention occasional torrential downpours. Make no mistake: these are some of the worst roads on the planet. My 2011 JK Unlimited Rubicon Wrangler has performed flawlessly, but after 51 000km of this stuff, it is time for maintenance that is more serious than just the usual oil changes and tyre rotations. I’m also making a few key upgrades which should help us keep the…

The battery is at the centre of all our energy requirements in our vehicles. Battery technology is changing fast in various energy-storage markets, but owners of recreational vehicles still choose lead acid batteries, mainly because of cost and availability. When we discharge a battery, energy is converted from chemical to electrical energy; when we recharge, the electrical energy is converted into chemical energy. No-one struggles to discharge a battery, but most people struggle to recharge a battery; and knowing when a battery is fully charged is a challenge. Charging methods and stages Recharging methods vary from AC chargers (connected to…

The many burnt-out vehicles abandoned in remote parts all over Africa are grim testimony to the fact that fire is a major risk when overlanding. The culprits are a combination of high ambient temperatures and tall grass, plus heat from the engine and (even more often) from the exhaust. How does one deal with this? The fact is that even green, wet grass dries out very quickly when exposed to the high heat and ventilation of the exhaust areas under a vehicle. This happens within minutes, not hours. In certain circumstances, you may have to stop every 10 minutes to…

Victron Energy provides power solutions to marine, industrial, automotive, mobility, off-grid and solar markets around the world. Founded in 1975 by Reinout Vader, Victron Energy is based in Almere-Haven in The Netherlands. In the last 43 years, Victron Energy has grown from a small, one-office technology company, to an international enterprise with nearly 1000 different products sold in more than 60 countries worldwide. Victron Energy enjoys an unrivalled reputation for technical innovation, reliability and quality, enabling it to become a world leader in the supply of self-supporting electrical power. Our products have been designed to meet the most demanding situations…

The Waeco CFX-65 fridge-freezer we have been using since early 2013 has now been rebranded a Dometic, in line with the Swedish company’s brand-consolidation exercise. It was always built by them, so this is just a name-change for this fridge which needs no introduction as the unsung hero of all our local trips. Whether it’s working at max capacity in 40 degree heat or sitting turned on in an office for months at a time, the old beast has its work cut out. And it hasn’t missed a beat. As Grant Spolander put it in his 2013 review of this…

Back in the early 1980s, BF Goodrich introduced an unconventional tyre that would forever change the way we thought about off-road traction. They called it the T/A Mud-Terrain: “T/A” borrowed from their successful line of street-performance offerings, and the rest for the type of terrain it would call home. It was the first such tyre with an aggressive tread design, deep voids, and radial construction. The impact was such that, in the following years, nearly every tyre manufacturer in the genre would introduce a variant of BFG’s original design. In 1984, the company rocked the four-wheel drive community with a…

Let’s face it, Z-folds work a treat for sleeping, but they are hellish bulky. When you pack for a family of five or more, chances are that the mattresses take up half the available space. Most people have experimented with the blow-up balloon type, which pack lekker small and flat, but it doesn’t take long before everyone’s had enough of broken or forgotten pumps and that sinking feeling when a mattress is punctured. It’s only a matter of time. Somewhere in the middle of the bulk versus reliability debate is the self-inflating mattress. For car-camping purposes, we’re not talking about…

Water is the elixir of life and a priority on any overland journey. We need at least two litres per day just for drinking, before we can even consider washing grime off our skin, brushing our teeth or tackling the dirty dishes. Although some tannins in water have a nasty taste, and some may discolour surfaces, water is also the perfect breeding ground for a wide variety of bacteria, parasites and viruses that can ruin a trip − or even end your life. But, for the well-equipped overlander, there are many filtration options, each with its own pros, cons and…

Fire. It’s a vital component of any overlanding journey. Internal combustion powers your 4×4; and more often than not, fire cooks your meals out in the wilderness. On the other hand, fire can be the cause of your journey’s untimely end. Unfortunately, while we are all too eager to stock up on gas bottles, jerry cans and firewood, we often overlook the absolute necessity of having fire extinguishers. Fire extinguishers are not too expensive to purchase and are widely available in many retail outlets. It is also simple enough to mount a fire extinguisher in your cab, or to stash…

Good news for our Mazda BT-50 long-termer is that it has just been fitted with a set of Dunlop’s Grandtrek AT3G tyres. We fitted a set of LT 265/65 R17 tyres which have a load rating of 120 (1400kg per tyre), and an “R” speed rating (170km/h). Pricing per tyre at this stage should be around R3000, ex Vat and fitment. Why would we change tyres? Simple, really. The AT3G, unlike a number of other all-terrain tyres on the market, has a three-ply sidewall design; and from the get-go, it looks to be the business as aftermarket fitment for tough…

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