Building a tough 4X4

So you have always considered building a 4*4 that can go really off Road and for a long time (such as travelling through Africa), but never gotten any useful advice? Seems to me most 4*4 that are well equipped can handle Swakop and maybe Kaokoveld, but before they hit Lusaka they loose their Spare tire Rack. Herewith some ideas that have helped me, and a description of how I built up my own Hilux. For those years I spent in Namibia I tried to travel at least twice a year into the Bush- 1 time by Motorbike and the other by 4*4. I dragged my lazy Butt over the USA with my Girlfriend and long time Companion Urda- with an old 650 Honda, as well as doing a few other trips that are best left unmentioned. I have some of these Stories in my Personal WebPage.

Firstly get yourself a reliable workhorse that is in good mechanical condition and that you will not mind working on. Talk to others who are in the same financial position you are and try to compare their skills to yours. Don’t go to your local accessory shop and tell them to fit whatever is necessary, but do talk to the salesperson to find out if he has done what you intend doing- if not go to the next guy. I have found that the people with the least knowledge give you the most horror Stories. Also try to start of with a vehicle that has an abundant 2’nd hand spare supply in the area you intend visiting.

When is somebody going to offer me a Chevy 4*4 Langbak or Landcruiser that can be converted to a platbak, as my Hilux is too small for these trips? OK I bought the 82 Hilux in 86 or 7 with an 18 R engine and drove it like that for one Damaraland trip and in went a 21R. That was followed by a long string of Motors, finally culminating in my Buick 3.8 conversion onto a Corvette Automatic box as that has a low 1’ST and a 27 % OD. Herewith a spec. Sheet on that Hilux:

3.8L Buick V6 200Hp(4500) 270Nm(1800) Minimum Values. I wanted the Torque for good Off road manners and carrying a load, of course it mates beautifully to the Slushbox. A 4L 300 Lbs Motor is on the Drawing boards.

Th700R4 Automatic Overdrive(27%) Transmission. Once you have taken a Auto box off road you will never stir the Pap again.

Jackobs Computer Ignition System. For better spark controll at the LEAN mixtures I run.

Cold Air Induction System. Cold Air makes more power and on this 4*4 is very high for deep water crossings. Also I use a K&N Filter due to it being able to filter out the really fine dirt as well as being washable.

Stock 4*4 system. Using Australian adapters to couple the Auto to the stock transfer case. The system should take that power.

10 Inch Travell suspension system. Purposefuly we went to mostly original Toyota parts-not aftermaket, as they prooved to be ultra reliable and compliant.

1 Ton Load Rating. This was achieved by adding a HD load leaf that was still compliant.

Lock Right Rear Diff Lock. If you travel alone you want to make sure you don‘t get stuck !

Raised Breather System. So water cannot get into Diffs and other gears.

Freeflow Exhaust System. Power, Beat what more can I say except that the underbody is so cluttered that I had to make something special.

Semiorganic Brakepads. They last forever and really Bite while not worrying about muck.

Dual Tanks 150L. I did not want to be dependent on Fuel stations and I hate jerry cans (700 km range is what you need in Africa)

On Board 20 LPM Air system max 10 Bar. Pumping up Tyres, fixing Tubeles, Air tools, Cleaning things + 101 uses you never think of before.

Heated Window Washer. Insects, mud and groad grit don‘t scare me no more !

2'nd Battery Driving Rear 12V Power Takeoff Point. A fridge/freezer is vital when it comes to being solo for longer than 5 Days.

KC Daylighters having a 4 Mile Range. Kudu‘s, Taxi‘s and Drunks take on a whole new feature.

What is next on my list would be a 20-30L Hot water container for showering/ washing the Dishes etc. a Solar panel or 2 are ideal for keeping the Booze Food cold, but I am to lazy to point them at the sun all the time. So therefore I have to consult somebody more involved with that.

Goods I pack for longer trips are:

Gasket set

Starter & Alternator

Control cables

Parts that look vital or easily breakable

Complete Toolbox

Duct Tape! Bloudraad (Genuine Land Rover spares), Bolts, washer’s etc. & other means of fastening broken parts.

200 L water

55L Fridge, 25L Freezer Combo


Sleeping Bags & Tent

Medicine Box that is VERY well equipped, because I don’t want to loose an Arm due to me skimping on something.

Jerry can with 20 l of Good fuel for testing purposes, Emergency or Gravity feed.

2 Burner stove plus Potjie, Braaigrid, Skottelploeg (who guessed I like preparing food)

A "Junk Box" for items bought along the way etc.

Food Box (old Army trommel) with everything from pasta sauce to an espresso machine with quite some Blikkieskos.

Within easy reach I want Toiletroll, Fire extinguisher, assorted pieces of String, a Towrope, Insulating tape, Leatherman tool. A widebrimmed waterproof hat & Parka + a small toolbag & Torch. I also like the old shape Hilux for its Cubbyhole for Keys wallets etc. and its storage Compartment for logbook’s, Sun Tan lotion, Chips and all other goodies you want close at hand.

While building the Beast I am very critical as to how other people might do it wrong (no low hanging spare tires because fuel tanks or other spares are above that). Also remember your vehicle will be subject to incredible vibrations and strong shock loads! Think really negative about upcoming conditions and you can’t go wrong. I also prefer tralies with a tarpaulin to a canopy. As you can have it open for transporting the 20" Christmas tree, just the top down for sun protection, sides also Down for rain protection and rear down for theft protection.

After discussing said points with some prospective Overlanders, 2 points stand out:

If you are not prepared to think things through- you ain’t got no chance. You are not going to pick up Ice all over Africa, so a Fridge is a must.

You will have to modify your vehicle as logic dictates. Carrying around 5 Jerry cans worth of Fuel is far more Hassle than carrying a spare tank + the center of gravity is lower. Also you could have to pay tax on Jerry Can fuel on the border. Not fitting a second battery because you want to keep your vehicle standard or because it is too much of a Hassle building brackets, is plain Lunacy.

I want to relax on the trip- not work on and about my vehicle.

Will julle nie vir my Resepte instuur vir Kos op pad ? Ek is nou keelvol vir my Chicken a la Landmyn, Sosaties, Braai of Spaghetti Bolognaise. Ek is seker julle het resepte vir mense wat op pad is. In my ondervinding eet ‘n ,mens op pad 4 verskillende tipe Etes:

Jou Grand breakfast soos Bauernfruehstueck met Vrugte.

Quick meal- byvoorbeeld in die Aand as Jy die Hele dag gery het en dit word laat, jy is op daai punt beslus nie lus om ‘n groot maaltyd te kook nie.

The Luxury meal- word normalweg voorberei as jy ‘n dag of twee staan en Kos maak wil geniet- Pooitjie is een voorbeeld.

"Leave her idle happie" is iets wat jy gou eet omdat jy honger is maar nie tyd het nie, se maar jy moet ‘n grens voor toemaaktyd behaal.. Soos Toebrooitjie of Biltong.