With a shipping date of
December 1st, the vehicles are close to being done, whether they’re finished or
not. Spidertrax has completed the external roll cage, and included a few
additional features at no extra cost. Justin Hardine custom built our roof
racks, finishing the job welding the mounting brackets on in the middle of a
snowstorm. Our thanks to Justin for his quick and high quality work.
Alpine Rodman set up
a painting booth in Graham’s garage to paint the roof racks (unfortunately there
was not enough time to have them powder coated.) Once the racks were installed
on the cars, we mounted the rooftop tents, and installed the Hella FF lights on
the roof rack. We mounted an ex-military cargo box on the roof rack along with
our high-lift jacks and shovels.
Both trucks now have
on-board air compressors installed. This will help us with tire repairs, as well
as enabling us to air up the tires after reducing pressure to traverse a sandy
Brian Slobe dragged
us out of bed early one morning to take photos of us and our vehicles.
On Monday, December
1, a 40’ shipping container was dropped off at Graham’s house. We hired a
flatbed tow truck and loaded the vehicles on the tow truck one at a time. The
tow truck then backed up to the container and we drove it in. Alpine and Graham
secured four 10,000 pound ratchet straps to each vehicle to prepare them for
their trip across the Atlantic.
The vehicles should
arrive in England on December 29. We will then have about a week’s worth of work
fitting parts we couldn’t find in the US prior to our departure for Africa.
around with a land rover
The dual battery
system in both trucks is hooked up and working properly. A new stereo was
installed in both vehicles as well and the speakers were upgraded. The stereo
will play MP3s recorded onto CDs, which should give us more listening time while
taking fewer CDs. We installed Hella 4000 driving lights and Jen and Witt’s
truck finally looks complete with a grill up front. Ed and Annette replaced the
shocks on Jen and Witt’s truck and Graham, who is becoming more and more skilled
with the welder, repaired a broken shock mount. Witt is getting a little less
nervous when he sees Graham don the welder’s mask and start to weld on his
Witt did some welding
of his own when he shorted out a power connection while trying to hook up the
Hella lights. “Hmm. This wire’s hot. That doesn’t seem like a good thing.” He
found and fixed the problem, but discovered later that evening that he had
welded the parking brake cable to the inside of it’s housing. Since the parking
brake was engaged at the time, there was no way to move the truck. As if there
wasn’t enough to do without causing extra problems. A little work with the
sawsall released the parking brake. Total cost of that little adventure:
- Parking ticket
because you have to leave the car in the alley over night: $10
- New parking brake
cable to replace the one you chopped with the sawsall: $90
- Learning that
“I’ll install a fuse as soon as I get everything hooked up and working” is a
bad idea: priceless.
We’ve hired Spidertrax, a
small shop in Hygene, Colorado to build external roll cages for our vehicles.
The purpose of the cages is to provide extra protection in the event of an
accident, and to provide a stronger mounting point for our roof rack. Spidertrax
is working on the cages during the week; we get the car back on the weekend. We
are now working primarily on interior fittings and what has affectionately
become known as “Stupid little electrical stuff.” I just hope that I can
remember where all those wires go.
Graham getting ready to weld
Jen installing speakers in our
September 27 & 28, 2003
9/27-9/28 We installed Safari
Gard rock sliders on Jen and Witt's vehicle along with a water tank for drinking
water. We finished the task of hooking up the winch and Jen completed the
re-carpeting of the interior and applied sponsor logos to the outside. Meanwhile
Graham and Connie's truck got new springs and shocks up front, which gives it a
much higher stance.
Graham and Witt installing the new suspension on Graham and Connie's truck
Safari Gard rock sliders on Witt and Jen's truck
September 20 & 21, 2003
During the week, Graham wired
the Superwinch X9 that had been installed by Safarigard.
On Saturday we installed a
long range fuel tank in Witt and Jen’s truck. The tank fits between the fuel
filler and the main fuel tank and sits just inside the right rear quarter-panel
of the vehicle. Installation took Witt and Graham the entire day and left them
both smelling of diesel fuel. The tank holds about 10 gallons, which brings the
total capacity up to about 33 gallons. The truck has been getting 22-23 mpg,
which gives us a total range of 600+ miles. With a couple of 5 gallon Jerry
cans, we should reach our goal of an 800 mile range.
Graham and Connie’s truck,
which is newer (and comes with a plastic fuel tank!), is not compatible with the
same long range tank. We’ll have to come up with an alternate solution.
On Sunday, Witt and Jen
replaced the center console in Graham and Connie’s truck with a lockable Tuffy
box from Pangaea expeditions. Meanwhile Graham and Connie installed a water tank
that fits just inside the left quarter panel, opposite the long range fuel tank
installed on Saturday. The tank has a capacity of about 5 gallons and a
convenient spigot mounted on the rear bumper. Nick arrived to help install the
winch on Jen and Witt’s truck and mount the controlling solenoid under the left
wing. While attempting to build a similar dual battery mounting system for
Graham and Connie’s truck, Witt stumbled across a much simpler way to mount the
batteries, saving a valuable half-day’s work. If only he’d thought of it sooner…
September 10 - 14, 2003
We took both trucks to the
National Land Rover Rally in Moab Utah. Both trucks performed flawlessly and we
are all very happy with the progress so far.
While in Moab we ran into
Esther and Petr from Switzerland. They have been traveling all over North
America for over a year in a TD5 Defender 110. They we wonderful people to talk
to and gave us a lot of ideas and encouragement. Visit them at
Graham and Connie's truck negotiating "The Wedge" in Moab
September 6 & 7, 2003
Witt and Jen installed a
mounting system for two batteries underneath the driver’s seat of their vehicle.
When wired, the dual battery system will cause the starting battery to be
disconnected from the “house load” (refrigerator, lights, laptop computer, etc)
when the engine is not running. This will allow us to use our electrical
accessories without fear of draining the main battery. More on this project as
September 5, 2003
Witt drove his truck to the
Colorado emissions technical center to find out how to get an emissions test for
his truck, since there is no facility in Colorado that can test a full time four
wheel drive diesel vehicle. The man running the testing facility came outside,
looked at the tailpipe while the engine was running and said, “looks okay to
me.” Emissions test done.
September 4, 2003
Connie and Graham flew to
California and drove their truck back from Safari Gard.
July 29, 2003
The whole team picked up the
parts for Witt and Jen’s truck. By the end of August the truck was running and
in great shape!
July 5, 2003
Connie and Graham picked up
their Land Rover and took it to Safari Gard in Southern California for
November 16 - 17, 2003
Witt, Jen and Graham attended
the Royal Geographic Society Explore 2002 conference in London.
This conference is a treasure
trove of contacts and information for those planning expeditions in remote
locations. It is geared mainly toward scientists doing field research, but is
open to anyone with an interest. We attended talks on overland planning and
logistics, desert and savannah and tropical forest expeditions, earth sciences
in expeditions, GPS/GIS mapping and recording expeditions in words and images.
We came away with the Royal Geographic Society book on Expedition Medicine as
well as contact with other groups planning on heading from London to Cape Town
around the same time we are. I'm sure we'll see them on the road and swap ideas
before we leave. The conference is a great source of information, inspiration
and contacts. See
October 22, 2002
GPSy has agreed to sponsor
us by giving us a free copy of GPSy for the Macintosh. This is a fantastic
GPS software package that allows maps to be uploaded to and downloaded from GPS
units along with waypoints and tracks. GPSy also allows the importation and
calibration of custom maps. A really great piece of software. See
September 29, 2002
Land Rover Flatirons in
Superior, Colorado reiterated their support for our trip by placing a link to
our site on theirs. See them at
www.landroverflatirons.com and on our sponsor page. They have agreed to give
us tire rack mounts for both trucks.
September 20, 2002
Land Rover World has
agreed to cover the build story of our vehicles in their magazine. So watch LRW
early next year for our story!