We’ve now been on the road for almost three years. There have been two longer breaks, one for about three months in Patagonia when we flew in to work in Antarctica, and a second break, for about 5 months when we signed up for another season in Antarctica earlier this year. Other than this we’ve been more or less on the move, and we have driven about 100 000 kilometers since we set out from Florida, US, in 2010. The Patrol has been great! No major problems and only “standard” maintenance as a few bushes, and oils and filter changes. Still, sometimes we need to get some new parts, and that is for some reason much easier to take care of when we are in Norway or when we get “visitors” from home. This time we have packed the bags full. So, here is a quick update on things we have to do before starting our last leg through Africa.
The Optima batteries gave me some headache the last couple of months on the road. It seems they don’t charge properly, and the length of the relatively small cable combined with the Patrol’s infamous low charging voltage (about 13,9, probably 13,6-7 on the aux batteries in the back), I believe this to be the problem. AGM batteries (and gel) should have 14,4 volts, and this will now be fixed with a CTEK DUAL250 dc to dc charger. This is also an intelligent charger that will switch to a different charging program when the battery is closer to full. A nice bonus is the built in solar controller that also feeds the intelligent charging programs so that it switches to maintenance charging when the battery is full. A very nice piece of equipment that I really look forward to install and try.
Next up is a new set of lights. My old ones have literally been shaken to pieces, so now we’ve picked up two 60 W xenon high-beams that should take care of the dark roads in the late afternoons driving north.
The compressor that we “fixed” epoxy glue down in Malawi is up for a set of new valves.
Our trusted Garmin GPS died on us just before we left Africa. The contact for the USB plug (and thereby charging) has vibrated off the motherboard, and refused to accept charging. A new Garmin Nuvi 2595 was purchased in Norway before we left, and all maps should now be loaded and tested. We’ll see if it performs as well as the old Nuvi 255w. It would be nice with the 3590 for multi-touch, but it cost more than 100 bucks extra. Maybe next time if Garmin wants to be a sponsor…
Something we’ve been looking for a little while are new bushes for the rear control arms. Leaving Norway three years ago, I had new third party polyutherane bushes in the arms (they came with my new adjustable arms). These were gone after about 40 000 km. I looked for new Patrol bushes in Bolivia, but they were sold out, and I decided to install some Nissan Pathfinder bushes instead. These have the same inner and outer diameter, but significantly less rubber in them as the Pathfinder is a much lighter vehicle than the Patrol. These have now done about 60 000 km, but I’d like to change them before setting out north from Kenya as these roads will probably be the worst so far on the trip. And as this is a pretty remote area, I’d like everything to be in perfect order. I found a press in the garage where we stored the car.
Another thing that needs to be looked after every now and then is our water purification system. It is always a little disgusting to remove the old one…
These cartridges have been hard to find outside Europe and North America, but then we only need to replace them after 4000 liters or 9 – 12 months (some change after 6 months, but we have been fine). Not a huge problem as they don’t take up much space, but our challenge was that we never intended to be away this long. We had to order one from the UK, and it ended up being ridiculously expensive as shipping costs and the Norwegian value added tax is quite steep. If you have a filter system for your water, stock up on cartridges when you can, and hopefully a place where it is cheap. We also brought with us a new tap as the old one show signs of leaking after three years of abuse, and also a few meters of plastic hose as the old one looks, well, old.
The Patrol has now been parked for five months, and we will of course change all the oils and all filters before we start driving north. We have some spare fuel an oil filters in the car, and we also picked up an extra fuel filter in Norway so that we don’t have to drive around and look for this in Tanzania. We should have all the spares we need for the drive across the Sahara and back to Europe. I hope…
There are multigrade syntetic oils to find in Arusha, so the “normal” 5w-40 (or 10w-40) that I prefer to put in should be available. I also thought I should change the oil in the rear diff as this is the one that gets most of the mileage. And talking about the diffs, I really hope that the seal we had some problems with in the front axle is still holding. We’ll see.
Other items that came with us in our bags are a stack of guide books to see us through Northern Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe, and also a long static rope for a winch extension line. The rainy season in Eastern Africa is just about to kick off, and we’re going to have to drive through it. Would be really nice with a new set of 37 inch BFG Mud Terrains for that job, but they wouldn’t fit in the bags…
Just changed the oil in the rear diff. Ouch…
What was I saying about wanting to have everything in perfect order before we start driving north? Well, I filled it up with new oil, and I’ll inspect it again in Nairobi about 1000 kilometers from here. As everything has gone so smooth until now, maybe it is time with some excitement. Can we cross Sahara with this set of ring and pinion…?