Jeep Stuff Africa
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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
Long time readers of The Road Chose Me will remember my “Jeep Stuff” posts from my Alaska->Argentina expedition.
The Jeepers among you will be happy to hear they’re back!
Each time I work on the Jeep or have something to report, I’ll do a write up, just like last time.
So, I’ve laid down 6,000 miles (10,000 kms) through six countries in around six months, moving down the West Coast of Africa. Looking at the big picture, I’m moving at about the right pace (around one month per country), and the Jeep has done great. I am extremely, extremely pleased with all of my “living” modifications – the water setup, fridge and solar are so good it’s difficult to describe. The Jeep itself is also great, handling everything I have thrown at it.
I got it stuck in soft mud once, though once I turned on the rear locker I was able to get out with a minimum of fuss.
For a number of reasons, I anticipate it’s likely I will have more trouble with this Jeep than the TJ Wrangler I drove from AK->Argentina. Also because I had absolutely zero problems with the TJ, that’s setting the bar pretty high! Partly because of that, and partly because it’s just my nature, I watch the temperature gauge like a hawk while driving, and do a thorough inspection under the hood at each gas fill-up.
I also drive with a lot of mechanical sympathy – a.k.a. I drive like a Grandma while on expedition.
So, in random order, my thoughts are:
- This Jeep is much more sophisticated, which means more complicated. ABS, Traction Control, Cruise Control and Air Conditioning all add sensors and components that can fail or have problems. I have to say though, Air Conditioning is seriously nice to have, and I’m happy to have air bags and ABS in the event of something really bad happening on the highway.
- The number of modifications and additions I’ve made further complicate the machine. I fully believe that each modification from stock reduces reliability, and I made a lot of them. Most are not even related to the Jeep as such – the fridge, the water system and the solar setup are all systems I’ve added, and they can all have issues over and above the base Jeep.
- This Jeep is heavy. Really Heavy. With myself, half a tank of gas, half a tank of water and everything for the expedition (clothes, food, spares, tools, etc.) It tipped the scales just shy of 6,000lbs (2,750kg). I tried so very hard to build it “light”, though I did not do such a great job on that.
If I could change one thing about it, I would add lightness.
There is no doubt that being so heavy puts much more stress on the suspension, and also the entire driveline. I’m conscious of how much I’m asking from the engine, clutch, gearbox and diffs.
- The roads and weather here are much more severe than anything I encountered in all of the Americas. Already I’ve driven on much worse roads in much higher temperatures, and I fully expect the worst is still in front of me (likely around Gabon/Congo/DRC where roads stop being roads, though really anything is possible).
Of course, I knew all of this before starting on this expedition, so it’s in no way a change of plans.
Given all of that, it was recently time for a round of maintenance, and I took that chance to perform repairs and a couple of upgrades which I think will help greatly.
To read all the details of that work, see my article in the latest FREE edition of JPFreek Adventure Magazine