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Browsing: Technical

Your wheels and tyres are your vehicle’s feet on the dirt. The tread type, tyre and wheel size, and potential changes to track width all play a role in your vehicle’s ride, handling, comfort and traction. The standard issue tyres are typically specified to optimise fuel economy and offer a smooth ride, plus good grip on mainly tar surfaces. When the same vehicle is used more often for overlanding and off-road purposes, those needs change. There is a dizzying array of tyre choices to be made. As an off-roader, bear in mind you want stronger sidewalls and more grip. That

A lot of people take their coffee seriously. It’s not a strange obsession to have by any means. In fact, you’d hard-pressed – excuse the pun – to find someone who doesn’t love a good brew. Some people, however, take their love to the next level, tinkering with all sorts of coffee gadgets and gizmos in search of the perfect cuppa. I am one such fiend. I was first told about the famous AeroPress by my colleague Richard van Ryneveld, who himself pines over it, calling it the best plunger he’s ever come across. Luckily for me, my darling wife

We’ve put together a selection of some of the best mid-priced camp chairs on the market today, based on value, quality and comfort. We’ve also given them a safety rating for when you’ve had one – or three – drinks too many… Supreme luxury: Kaufmann Sofa Chair Undoubtedly the most supremely comfortable chair on this list, Kaufmann’s Sofa Chair is thickly-padded and would be just as at home in your lounge as around the campfire. It trades portability for luxury, but it’s still pretty easy to lug around in its oversized bag. If you’re not short on space and want

Victron Energy first started manufacturing inverters in the early 1970s. The first applications were for the boats that worked the inland waterways of Europe. This was spurred by the invention and introduction of television in the early Seventies, as sailors who travelled onboard for several days at a time did not want to miss out on this new entertainment option. A need was therefore created for a 230V AC power source on boats that were mainly driven by DC power sources. Today, Victron Energy Inverters are some of the most advanced in the world, with a range of models catering

Lead-acid batteries remain the industry standard for mobile and vehicle applications. Sealed lead-acid batteries, also known as VLRA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) batteries, are now widespread because they are safer, require little or no maintenance, and cope well with the heat generated by being sited in a vehicle’s engine bay. Modern cars, and notably those using stop-go technology, have these batteries specified as original equipment. However, the starter batteries of many vehicles are still specified as open batteries (also called ‘wet’ batteries), which require the cells to be filled with distilled water. The C-rating on the label VRLA batteries are

Expensive turbo failures can be avoided. Chris Kambouris of TurboDirect points out some of the primary causes of turbo mishaps, and how to keep them in check… Turbochargers are components that are critical to the reliable operation of correct emission production and under-bonnet thermal management of an engine. The turbocharger, although situated outside the engine, is fed the same oil that the engine relies on, and from the very same engine’s oil pump. The oil is fed through an oil feed line, which is the main “artery” feeding the life blood to the turbocharger. When an engine fails, the entire

In vehicle applications, the use of a second battery is very common. Most users choose one of the widely available lead-acid battery technologies. These include starter-type wet batteries, sealed-valve regulated, Gel and AGM types. Each type has different characteristics, but they are all essentially energy storage devices. The last two articles have covered two topics: first, how to store energy in a battery by charging with an AC-DC charger or MPPT solar controller, and second, how to make up for energy losses that happen in a lead-acid battery when charging takes place. How do you monitor the state of charge

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

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