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Browsing: Technical

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 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…

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…

You want tyres fit for the bush, which are also comfortable on tar? Yup, you have entered the realm of All-Terrain Rubber which must grip and grind its way over a variety of surfaces. But which brand is best? The SA4x4 team amassed 17 sets of AT tyres for the biggest local tyre-showdown ever… The tyres The tyre market in South Africa is rapidly expanding – in volume as well as in brand diversity. World-renowned manufacturers such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, Continental (General) and Sumitomo (Dunlop) have facilities here, and a plethora of brands is imported through companies like TiAuto, SA…

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