December 19, 2013
National Geographic TV in partnership with Land Rover have a great competition on at the moment where you can win your own “Great Escape”, a long weekend away at either The Barossa, Daylesford in Victoria or Noosa in Queensland, with flights, accommodation, dining and the use of a Land Rover all part of the deal. Here’s the link to the competition page http://natgeotv.com.au/win/entryform.aspx?id=150
The concept of Land Rover’s “Great Escape” with Nat Geo is a goodie, a chance to see Rover’s products out and about in some iconic and 4WD locations. There’s three films to view, one shot along The Great Ocean Road, another on Fraser Island and the one that caught our interest, The Flinders Ranges. The films are presented by Nat Geo’s roving reporter Nick Saxon, who’s carved out a career as a singer-songwriter and now as a TV presenter.
Adventure 4WD got involved after we were invited to lend the on-gound support and design a drive route that showed off the Flinders at its best. With a limited schedule of just three days it was obvious we couldn’t get in the middle and wander around the ABC, Chace and Druid Ranges near Wilpena, we needed something closer, so the decision became reallly easy and we opted for the Bendleby Ranges and the superb facilities offered by Jane and Warren Luckraft.
The Bendleby Ranges are the focus of our Weekend Walkabout tag-along 4WD training trips which we offer around 4 times a year during April-November. The driving on the property is awesome, the trails twist and turn following the tortured path of the hills and the creeks, home to the dreamtime serpent story of Arkaroo. The gradients are steep so its a trip with plenty of elevation, LOW range is the go and precision the key. Have a look at our past photo galleries to see what we get up to http://gallery.adventure4wd.com.au/recreational-special-events/ and seek out the pages devoted to “Weekend Walkabout”. For $780 per vehicle (take 10% off if you’re an RAA member) you get 2 days of amazing 4WD’ing, overnight accommodation in comfy shearers quarters and dinner on Saturday night, it’s great value.
The pressure was on back in August as the shoot schedule selected ran right up against the Melbourne 4WD Show. In what turned out to be an epic fortnight for me I had a week’s worth of training leading up to the date, jump on the bird to Melbourne on the Saturday morning at sparrow-fart then back to Adelaide and in bed around midnight, up again at dawn to drive to Clare and meet the crew on Sunday morning and then on to Bendleby for Monday and Tuesday. Of course the balance of that week was hectic too, so no rest for the wicked.
The crew flew in to Adelaide and picked up 2 diesel Discoveries our hero vehicles for the shoot. On Nick’s own admission this was his first real 4WD foray and he can be thankful he got to drive one of the world’s best 4WD wagons, chock-a-block full of technology that makes the job a whole lot easier. Well we bumped across all manner of terrain, up before the sun to capture some great dawn skies, got some big diagonal cross-ups, charged up and down insanely steep hills and had an all-round great time. Have a look at the video shot at the Bendlebys here https://natgeotv.com.au/videos/home-page/land-rover-great-escapes-flinders-ranges-00438058.aspx
Here’s a couple of pics from the shoot.
From left: Nick strumming away atop the North-South Ridge, Navara leads the way, Discos on the trail, “What no phone signal?”, oldie and newbie
Xmas is upon us and for many of you you’ll likely be planning a 4WD break somewhere in this fabulous country of ours. I’m planning a coastal holiday with some fishing and surfing time, for others it might be in the Flinders or further afield, but whatever the destination some preparation before you go is in order Happy New Year 2018 Quotes and taking care whilst on the journey is smart too.
Later this week the thermometer is heading for 40C, a teaser for February when more days than not we’ll be heading for the old “ton”. That temperature raises hell with humans and vehicles, so make sure you personally stay hydrated and so too the 4WD.
Personal hydration means consumption of plenty of fluids and this Government web article is useful even though it talks in general terms about the effects of heat on humans, have a read http://www.healthinsite.gov.au/article/hot-weather
Not keeping your fluid levels in check might cause some real issues later in the day and later in life. In the short term, being dehydrated can cause disorientation and bring on the early onset of fatigue. In the long term you might end up with kidney stones and let me tell you the pain is excruciating! Tired drivers make mistakes and the last thing you want is losing your vehicle and injury or death to a rollover. When you’re a long way from civilisation help takes FOREVER to get there and its pretty demoralising even with the best technologies. We hire satellite phones which afford the best remote area contact with the outside world and rates are inexpensive, read about them here http://www.adventure4wd.com.au/hire-equipment/satphones
As for your vehicle, getting the cooling system checked out is really smart. If you’ve been doing some playing in mud over Winter there’s a pretty good chance the radiator’s surface might be clogged with mud outside of the swept area of the radiator fan. That could mean an easy 30-50% reduction in cooling efficiency and you guessed it, a temperature gauge playing silly buggers when the car is under load. If you’re OK with fixing things mechanical you might need to remove the radiator and its fan shroud to see what I’m talking about. If it is clogged don’t be tempted to use high pressure washers because you’ll damage the fragile fins made of lightweight aluminium, better to lightly wash running water over the muddy face to irrigate the debris out of the core. Once you’re done hold the radiator aloft and stare at the sky. You should be able to see daylight between the fins, if not, wash it again. Have a look too at the hoses and clamps and if there’s the slightest question mark on any of them, throw them out and replace with new. Don’t forget the heater core hoses might be perished if the obvious ones are too. The heater core (radiator) will be inside the vehicle’s cabin and the hoses link to the motor via the vehicle’s firewall.
Don’t set unrealistic daily distances to travel. You need to break the journey into 2 hourly bite-sized chunks and don’t forget plenty of prangs happen within the first hour of leaving home, so if on Boxing Day you fall out of bed at a super-early time, watch out for when you start nodding-off, that’s a sign you’re fatigued and a crash is imminent. Try to get a solid uninterrupted 8 hours sleep the night before so you’re well-rested, break the drive after 2, do no more than 8 as a solo driver (better if you can share the task with a partner).
On the dirt keep your speed DOWN, anything up to 80kmh might be OK as a reasonably safe maximum, but it comes down to the prevailing conditions on the road at that time. If you couple that slower speed up to using HIGH 4WD on those dirt transit legs, you’ll go a long way to defeating the risk of rollover and don’t forget to use your headlights 24/7. You need to be seen by other road users and its another small way to remain highly visible to the rest of the world.
Pic Above: This WA Police troop carrier fell over near Laverton in the West. The result is a write-off and injuries to the officers inside. Note the HF antenna pinned to the earth and no good to anyone now.
There’ll likely be more than one time in the driving career of the average driver when they have to use a jack. It might be to replace a flat tyre or to service a vehicle. In either event it pays to be safe. Just recently the State Attorney General John Rau put out a reminder of the dangers of jacks after the crush death of a South Australian man in suburban Adelaide. He said “Under no circumstances should anyone work under a vehicle supported only by a jack”. He went on “Since 2000 there have been 46 fatalities of Australians who have been crushed while working under a vehicle supported by a jack z4root apk latest version download“. That’s a shocking statistic but it doesn’t also include those injured.
With a 4WD and using a 4WD as it was intended the risks posed to us are even more perilous. Firstly consider the mass of the vehicle, with the average wagon or ute tipping the scales at around 2 tonnes plus. Add that to the terrain you might be on when trying to correct an issue and the danger is omnipresent. So what can you do to prevent the risk of injury or death?
Jack selection is pretty critical. The standard jack that comes with a vehicle I think is better than most people will give it credit for, it’s far from perfect but it’s a good start. Provided the vehicle hasn’t been grossly over-accessorised and therefore become heavy to the point of being over-GVM, a standard jack will work in a variety of situations and enhanced with some simple accessories. Let’s look at some typical jacks that might be of interest and how they might perform in the field.
Hi-Lift or Kangaroo Style Jack – This used to be a mainstay of many a commercial vehicle fleet but today I reckon they’re useless. Not only are they incredibly dangerous to operate, but they’re also heavy and large, so finding a safe place to store them is difficult. A Hi-Lift has a lifting stem around 1200mm high with a lifting tongue activated by stroking a long tubular handle that “walks” its way up the stem with a mechanical pin action. There’s both a forward and reverse gear. The base plate and the stem are not fixed but rather floating (albeit secured with a split pin so they can’t come adrift), to allow the angle of the jack to change as the vehicle is raised and also to compensate for uneven ground it’s sited on. This creates an instability once the vehicle’s wheels leave the ground and make the process highly dangerous. Designed back in the 1950’s when vehicles had square bumpers made of steel, the Hi-Lift is about as useful as “tits on a bull” on a modern 4WD with plastic aero-shaped bumpers. Sure some will argue that a vehicle with a steel bullbar will likely have Hi-Lift slots installed to facilitate its use, but the danger is still there of the vehicle falling awkwardly off the jack. The other point worth mentioning too is that a Hi-Lift needs a mighty effort from its operator. Whilst the lever action provides a mechanical advantage in gearing terms to overcome the mass of the vehicle you’re lifting, you better make sure that you weigh at least 80kgs and be 180cm tall or more once the wheels come off the ground, because the effort required to use the jack is extraordinary. I’ve seen folks of slight stature left dangling from an elevated handle unable to complete the arc of the handle because they can’t get any leverage. They deserve to be consigned to the scrapheap of history.
Bullbag or Exhaust Jack – I was once a firm advocate of these jacks, an inflatable vinyl bag that you position under a vehicle to do the lifting. It works by holding a rubber cone on the hose end of the jack hard up against the exhaust tip of your vehicle. As the exhaust gases flow into the bag it slowly rises like a scone in an oven lifting the vehicle to the chosen height. Its best terrain for operation was either sand or mud, where the broad surface area of the bag spread the weight of the vehicle more effectively than a standard bottle jack with a tiny footprint that might simply disappear into the mire. A bullbag is really a 2 person operation, a person holding the cone on the exhaust and another sitting inside the vehicle keeping the engine speed at a fast idle. Now the real kicker with a bullbag today is that they largely won’t work on a modern vehicle and especially a diesel. Modern diesels run very sophisticated engine management systems and they work by monitoring engine diagnostics. The back pressure the bag creates in the vehicle’s exhaust pipe, once the bag fills to the point of lifting the vehicle, will likely be enough to trick the engine management system into thinking there’s a fault and it’ll likely stall the motor to prevent perceived engine stress or failure. So just at the critical point where the vehicle is about to be raised the jack stops working. If you had a pre-common-rail motor you might be able to use a bullbag, but when you do make sure the bag is protected from any sharp objects either on the ground or under the vehicle (bolts/screws/sharp edges). I used to use a couple of pieces of carpet to offer the bag a bit more protection than the flimsy vinyl patches it came with.
Trolley Jack – This style of jack is really one best suited to a workshop environment. In that environment they are really, really good. The jack employs a scissor action to do the lift, the jack’s base is on wheels (so its perfect on concrete to manouevre), a hydraulic pump lifts the locating plate with an easy stroke on the long handle. There’s plenty of different sizes to accommodate different weights of vehicles. I have seen some of our clients use them in the field and whilst not ideal on imperfect surfaces they can be made to work with a bit of leveling.
OEM Service Jack or Bottle Jack – The OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) bottle jack that came with the vehicle is useful because of its compact size. You’ll be able to locate it under the vehicle in a variety of positions (observe the illustration on the jack body or refer to the owners manual for location points). It’ll either have a wind-up action or lever-stroke to operate. When you do the lift you’ll notice there’ll likely be around 3 stages, as the stem extends, then extends and extends again to achieve its maximum service height. Used in conjunction with a sturdy base (a piece of timber or steel say around 300mm square), it’ll do what most people need in relative safety. Just watch out for the small locating plate/head at the top of the stem and make sure when you bring it in contact with the vehicle that it lifts running straight and true. I often will take a second bottle jack when I’m traveling so I’ve got 2 to use in tandem if need be to complete a chore.
Whatever jack you are using the simple message is to make sure that the ground you are operating on is preferably flat and firm and that you keep yourself out of the way if the vehicle falls off the jack. If you must get under the vehicle only do so if the vehicle is supported by stands and even then make sure the job is secure!!!
From Left: Bottle Jack, Exhaust Jack, Trolley Jack and Hi-Lift Jack
The new Patrol is a big, big, 4WD wagon that’s full of traditional off-road attributes and thankfully that dopey term SUV won’t apply here. Breaking from Patrol tradition however is a full-time transmission. Yep, hubs have bit the dust! With a bevy of traction electronics the Patrol made mincemeat of our test track, nothing was going to stop it. But that’s probably missing the point with this
vehicle because its likely role is as an uber-tower (that’s tow as in a caravan), albeit a thirsty one as its petrol only… I suppose if you’re going to use a lot of fuel you might as well enjoy it and the Patrol’s V8 makes good noise! Ultra comfortable around town and safe as houses with a full suite of safety dynamics, the new Patrol challenges buyers of Range Rover, to consider an alternative.
Tyres are a really important aspect of our business. A lot of our training revolves around it because it is after all, the one and only contact patch between you and the road. The other issue is that they’re also expensive, so a little TLC is in order to maximise the return on your hard-earned. There’s a couple of illustrations below of tyre destruction (see pics), one a run-flat resulting in a super-heated sidewall exploding and the other a spectacular delamination, where the whole tread face has separated from the carcasse.
Now to the cause. In the case of the run-flat it can usually be explained away via the old over-inflation saga. The tyre is a standard fitment Yokohama Geolander “P” or Passenger car tyre. Now when a vehicle maker asks a tyre supplier to sell them thousands of tyres over a period of a vehicle’s lifetime they want a tyre that suits the bulk of the likely buying audience and unfortunately these days 90% of the 4WD buying public have no intention of going bush. So a tyre is selected for its on-road bitumen manners around town rather than its off-road potential. That means a 9mm tread depth, a higher speed rating and a lower load index, the perfect recipe for the blacktop. This same tyre in this case has been asked to drive in the north of South Australia in the APY Lands, where the bitumen is just about non-existent.
An inexperienced driver probably has no concept of what a tyre placard might be or what it means. You need to seek it out, the silver or white sticker by the driver’s door pillar or on your glovebox lid. It’ll state (depending on vehicle) the axle load limits, tyre size, wheel size, pressure front and rear and maybe more about load index selection. Some of the info re tyre size will look like this:
265/65R17 112 H = 265mm wide, 65% of tread width becomes the height of the sidewall, R = radial, 17″ diameter wheel with a 112 load index = 1,120kg carrying capacity and H = 210kph speed rating
The pressure recommendations stump a lot of people because in this case the placard says the tyres should only be inflated to 210kPa = 29psi. Many people would look at that and think it way under-inflated, but the truth is it’s right for that type of construction. Now here comes the tricky bit. Run that tyre at 210kPa or more on a gravel road for any length of time and you’ll get a puncture, especially if you drive too quick on a less than perfect surface. With a tight tyre of flimsy construction, driven at high speed (typically 100-120kph), a passenger car 4WD tyre will fail. No contest.
In here we’ve always recommended a 20% reduction in pressure (from placard recommendation) accompanied by a 20% reduction in speed (that’s no faster than 80kph) and it works wonders. We can’t guarantee it’ll work every time, but it will improve your chances considerably. A better bet though is replacing the tyres with “LT” or Light Truck construction. Combine those recommendations and you’ll likely make yourself puncture-proof.
In the case of this tyre it was over-inflated, we’d hazard a guess around 250kPa = 36psi or more, driven over gravels at 100kph to the point where a sharp gravel has penetrated the carcasse and started a slow leak. Now the beauty with tubeless tyres is that rather an immediate full loss of pressure and loss of control (that’s why split rims and tubes are crap), tubeless go down gradually, giving you time to react and an astute driver will recognise the tell-tale signs that the vehicle is now handling at less than what it was prior to puncture. Bring the vehicle to a gentle halt in that initial period and you’ll likely have a tyre that’s repairable. That wasn’t the case here, the vehicle was driven and driven and driven, losing air pressure with every kilometre until bang, the super-heated sidewalls explode, leaving the result you see below. Luckily the rim didn’t hit the deck because if it had it too would have been ruined.
The second illustration showing delamination is usually the result of a big impact and likely around town. We wouldn’t mind betting the sidewall got clobbered against a kerb and the internal forces sheared a section of tread from its carcasse and the process of unravelling commenced. The final act was likely at speed, the air in the pocket of separation gets hot, becomes bigger and bigger resembling a hernia. By this stage there should have been a pronounced shimmy in that wheel alerting the driver to a major failure about to occur, and then bang! In this case the tread face has fallen off tearing the bond between layers of rubber and canvas and steel belts and leaving a rats-nest of strands all tangled up. The tyre is toast.
So the message is pay attention to the condition of your tyres, look at tread depth, look for anything unusual like cuts, bulges and check your pressures… REGULARLY!