More than just a mode of transport and home they are a critical member of the journey, complete with good days, bad days and quirky personalities.
Most wind up with affectionate names.
Gather together a group of overlanders and it doesn’t take long before the conversation swings to our much-loved vehicles. Inevitably, a hood is opened, a tool box appears and an unlimited supply of helpful ideas and suggestions come from the onlookers. I recently had such an experience at the Quinta Lala campground in Cuzco, Peru, a natural gathering point for overland travelers across South America. The German couple lead by Oliver in their Ford F350 have not had an easy run of things.
After dropping a big end bearing in Honduras (of all places) they opted for an entire engine swap, an epic tale of it’s own. Not content with the ill-fitting and leaking power steering hose Oliver enlists my help and we scour the city for an afternoon and manage to cobble together an abomination of an adapter, an invention only frankenstein could love. One turn of the wheel results in the high pressure hose exploding off the pump, turning the slow leak into a gush. This results in a week of camping in a mechanic’s yard who seems hell bent on learning how to use a welder and grinder.
Warren & Sara from the UK opted for the trusted reliability of a Toyota 4Runner, though the stress and torment of continual break downs are beginning to show.
Radiator and heater hoses have been replacedmultiple times (why, I wonder, is so much of the water-jacket routed outside the block?) and they just keep chewing through batteries, currently on their third. The starter needs a good whack to get moving, and the transfer case does it’s best to move oil from side to side – inside to outside that is.
On their day of departure Warren warms up the engine and we discover a gas leak under the hood, dripping down nicely onto the quickly heating exhaust manifold. Hmm, that might explain the 10 miles per gallon they’ve been getting for a long time now. The Canadian team of Trond and Rosi consider themselves lucky to have only endured a gearbox re-build in Colombia for their little Suzuki.
While in Cuzco Trond replaces a gas filter in the hopes of eliminating current engine trouble, and has new leaf springs installed in the rear to try and correct the stance. Germans love their efficiency, no doubt, it’s just a shame Volkswagen didn’t account for extremely high elevation driving with poor quality diesel when they designed the “particle reduction filter” for their diesel engines. The crew driving the brand new van constantly have a dashboard that looks like a christmas tree, lit up with an array of ‘engine failure’ lights due to the troublesome particle filter. Extremely low torque and gas mileage worse than a hulking push-rod V8 are definitely not points of pride.
The fix? Chop the filter out completely and get an illegal $1000 ECU re-flash from a guy on the side of the road. As for myself and the Jeep?
I rotate the tires and top-up the washer fluid before wandering around to help everybody else. -Dan Grec
Dan continues his 50,000km solo Jeep adventure from the Northern tip of Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego in Southern Argentina.
Join in the adventure at http://theroadchoseme.com