Monday, February 27, 2012

Stockton Beach, NSW

Land Rover Discovery 300tdi - Stockton Beach
Sand tracks, beaches, dunes and desert all have one thing in common: they make the vehicle work very hard and are a pleasure to drive.
Having recently purchased a Land Rover Discovery 300tdi automatic, I was keen to test the vehicle out in local conditions in New South Wales, Australia.  A comfortable three hours North of Sydney is the Southern Hemisphere's largest rolling sand dune beach.

Wikipedia describes Stockton Beach:
Stockton Beach, on the Tasman Sea, starts on the northern side of the break wall that protects the entrance to Newcastle harbour in Stockton, Newcastle's northern most suburb, and stretches for 32 km (20 mi) in an approximate north-easterly direction to Anna Bay in Port Stephens. In some areas it is as much as 1 km (0.6 mi) wide and has sand dunes over 30 metres (98 ft) high although at the Stockton end it is at its narrowest with no dunes. Each year the dunes move north by approximately 4 m (13 ft). The sand on Stockton Beach varies from hard to soft packed and changes daily with the changing winds and weather. The dunes are the largest continuous mobile sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere.
During my recent search for a 2nd hand overland ready four wheel drive, I stumbled upon this Land Rover whilst searching for the following:  Bullbar & Sunroof.  A great criteria for an overland vehicle ;-)
The Discovery is fitted with the 2.5l turbo diesel (300tdi), a Davis Landys turbo upgrade, BFG AT, Snorkel, rear drawer system and automatic transmission.  I have never owned an automatic 4wd before which meant I was rather apprehensive of the performance an automatic diesel Land Rover can achieve so when the first outing of 2012 was Stockton Beach, I packed the family tent, sleeping bags and the essential gear like the ARB snatch strap and shackles.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Choosing an Overland Campervan by Stephen Stewart

Are you, like me, progressing from a rooftop tent to an overland campervan?  If so, be sure to read Stephen Stewart's 'Choosing an overland campervan' article. Stephen has provided enough detail and thought into the article to make it worth reading and reviewing:

An extract from the website:

Living in the vehicle, not beside it.
Overland vehicles can be divided into three groups depending on what is expected of the vehicle. At one extreme is "transport only". All the vehicle is expected to do is to get you, and your luggage, from A to B (for example travel by car from hostel to hostel). At the other extreme is the "live-in campervan" where the vehicle is expected to provide both transport and the comforts of a "home".
In between these is the "live-beside" vehicle. This is typically a 4x4 (SUV) vehicle (often a Toyota Landcruiser or Land-Rover Defender) with a tent, on the roof or on the ground.
This web page is only concerned with the "live-in" type of vehicle, which I shall refer to, from here on, as an "overland campervan".
(As an aside whilst it can be advantageous to travel in groups, this works best if all the vehicles in the group are of the same type (i.e. all "live-in" or all "live-beside")).
Source: Stephen Stewart

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

GPS Graveyard...

Garmin GPS III+ mounted on Land Rover dash.
What happens to old GPS units?  Those ancient direct-line-of-sight GPS receivers that would take minutes to acquire the satellites and could only hold 1.44meg of internal storage which was used for waypoints, tracklogs, routes and basemaps.

My old GPS is currently abandoned in a cupboard drawer waiting for a need to be turned on.  It's a Garmin III+ with the world basemap along with limited coverage of Africa.  It uses a serial cable to download and upload the data to a computer (which PC has a serial connector now?).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

1960 - Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell
John Carroll writes:
He set off on 09.11.60 from Ndola, Northern Rhodesia (near the Congo border) with a chap called Joe Thwaites as co-driver (so the 80in was already 7 years old) and drove through Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Italy, France and England and arrived in Solihull on 03.01.61. Co-driver Thwaites went home to Rhodesia from Tunisia but the bit that I like (and I know Toby Savage will) is that the duo folded the screen flat in Uganda and it stayed down until Campbell put it up in Dover in the January cold!
Source: Facebook via Jack Quinlan, Scott Brady & Toby Savage

Friday, February 10, 2012

1953: Heading South & Heading North

In 1953, two Land Rover Series I vehicles completed a trans-Africa overland journey.  The LR Series I was only 5 years old and had recently had a major upgrade:
In 1952, it was decided to have the four wheel drive engage automatically when the low gear range is selected. This was performed with a simple dog clutch mechanism that would be used on all later Series Land Rovers. The gear box was also slightly re-designed to handle the more powerful 2 litre engine that was introduced at the same time. Source: LR History
Heading South
The Beak Family
The Beak Family - 1953
The Beak family (The Great 1953 Trek) departed the UK on the 22nd January 1953 and arrived in Rhodesia on 15th March 1953. Their daughter, Diane Stuckey, has managed to find archive photos and diary logs from their trip so worth visiting the website and reading about the family.

Heading North
George and Joy Adamson
George and Joy Adamson - Land Rover Series I - 1953
The couple left Nairobi on the 21ar March 1953 and traveled through Uganda, French Equatoria (now DRC, CAR & Cameroon), Nigeria, Algeria and eventually into Europe.  Here are a few interesting extracts from the book:
We were strongly advised not to take a trailer and warned that if we did, it would certainly have to be abandoned in the sands of the Sahara.  Although I have no love for trailers, I had had plenty of experience with them under desert conditions and felt confident of getting through.  In the event it turned out that the trailer was an infernal nuisance, not because any difficulties in negotiating the desert, but owing to broken springs, burst tyres, a broken coupling and the trouble of parking it when passing through cities.
Joy Adamson - 1953
 The drive through the Congo and part of French Equatorial Africa tended to become monotonous as the practically the whole of our route ran through the vast Equatorial forest where visibility was limited to the road ahead and a few yards on either side, only occasionally relieved by rivers. These we had to cross by ferries, some powered, others, which consisted of dug-out canoes with a platform lashed across, driven by a team of paddlers. Source: Bwana Game by George Adamson

Land Rover continued to expand its global reach and so continued people's enthusiasm to drive overland around the globe.

Additional Reading:
Expedition Land Rovers through the generations
1955 - UK to Singapore (First Overland)
1956 - Two Overland Expeditions
1959 - Cape Town to Cairo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

1956 Overland Travel

Peter Townsend
1956  - One overland expedition ended and two began...
The Oxford and Cambridge Far East Expedition had just completed their epic London to Singapore in two Land Rover Series I.  Michael Marriott & his wife set out for Australia two-up on a NSU Prima Scooter (Blog by Michael Marriott) and Group Captain Peter Townsend began his overland expedition around the world by Land Rover.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Internet Forums - Love 'em or hate 'em

The overland and 4x4 world is full of them... love them or hate them, internet forums are here to stay.  Regardless if you are an overland enthusiast, a Land Rover or Toyota Fan, there are more forums for you to join and threads to read than time allows. Some are very active, some are dormant so here's the top 19 internet forums...

What makes a successful forum?  Timely topics, active users and good moderators.

I took time to actively search out the most popular Overland forums (vehicles & motorbikes), Land Rover specific and Toyota Land Cruiser forums.  Here's the list (details below) I generated and the number of registered users per forum, number of threads and posts per thread.  Congrats to the Toyota Land Cruiser Forum ih8mud for being the only forum to list active users. Two additional forums are worth mentioning: UK GSer and ExplorOz : Both charge a membership fee.
Internet Forums - Registered Users