Vehicle
The Enterprise Africa Vehicle
I admit to being a total innocent when it comes to cars. I have never been interested in them beyond their ability to deliver you from A to B warm and dry. Motorcycles are more my thing.
The vehicle is a 2005 110 Defender County station wagon to give it the full title. It has been extensively modified from the base vehicle to be able to cope with being a moving home to 4 kids and 2 adults. It also has to be robust and flexible enough to cruise on motorways yet sand, mud, dust and snow shouldn’t stop it.
Using a Landrover as a base vehicle makes perfect sense. They have been around for so long now in one guise or another that everyone makes bits and pieces that bolt on with relative ease. I have felt a little self conscious driving the thing around Bath but this is not the natural habitat of a large 4X4.
The mods are many and probably OTT but on this trip I do want to be totally prepared from the off rather than building something by trial and error on the way. I want time to enjoy the places and people we visit and meet.
Mods for sad people like me:

TBR
Diff guards (Scorpion)
Steering guard (Mantec)
Safari snorkel
OME shocks and springs (2 inch raise)
40 litre water tank in rear left wing
158 litre Long Ranger fuel tank
Dual battery system and monitor
Ipod interface
Cig lighter sockets 3 in front 3 in back
Spot lights
Bull bar/winch bumper
Winch
BF Goodrich A/T tyres & 2 spares
Security grills for rear load area windows (mobile storage systems)
Engel fridge 12 volt (40litre)

OEC
Rear wheel carrier with Hi-Lift jack and shovel mount
Rock sliders
Wider eyebrows (modified in Turkey)
Mobile storage systems drawers
Sand ladders
Inverter 240V

BOAB
Hannibal roof rack
Roof tent/Oz tent
On board compressor & air tank.

Pete Sutton ?Camerton (Near Bath) mobile 07966582434
Fuel tank guard
Security chests
Gas bottle holder with QD fittings


EQUIPMENT

Some of the equipment we have brought with us has been excellent and other things could be better. I’d just like to outline what I think has been useful, reliable, useless and maybe if I was preparing for a similar trip how I would do things differently. You always take too much and we have spent the last 6 months throwing things away. We now have a bit of spare space in the car!


Fantastic Equipment

CARNET DE PASSAGE FROM ADAC IN GERMANY (DON’T USE THE RAC):
The Carnet de Passage is like a passport for the car. Should you sell your car in a country on the way it guarantees that the tax will be paid and so is accepted everywhere with minimum hassle.

Wonderful service compared to the RAC and want much, much lower financial guarantees. RAC wanted a bank guarantee in excess of £80000 (yes, that is eighty thousand pounds!!) ADAC are happy with one of £7500! More than 10 times less. The Germans are also ruthlessly efficient and even….friendly!

HEADTORCHES & INVERTER FROM MAPLINS:
All the stuff I bought from Maplins. Head torches with LEDs at £6.99 as opposed to £40 for a Petzl. These have proved totally reliable and with their rechargeable batteries will go on forever. The only problem is that we have “lost” two out of our original five. One to a German dentist at the campsite at Eldoret and short of re-starting the Second World War and trying to strip search her she wasn’t going to give it back even though the Askari (night guard) had seen her take it. She was an ugly munter anyway. The 240 volt inverter has also been very useful for recharging camera batteries and running the laptop etc.

COMPRESSOR & AIRTANK:
The compressor with air tank from Chris at BOAB (www.boab.biz) has proved invaluable for pumping up tyres when back on the tarmac after difficult stretches of dirt roads. I really thought that this was a bit OTT when preparing the car, but has proved itself time and time again. Though I might go for a bigger tank next time.

DELL INSPIRON LAPTOP:
The only reason why I can write this drivel! Good or bad depending on your point of view.

ENGEL 12 VOLT FRIDGE FROM TBR:
What can I say…40 litres of pure heaven after a long day at the wheel to have an ice cold beer or a glass of freezing white wine from a colostomy bag the South African wine producers are so fond of. A brilliant bit of kit that will run on the auxiliary battery for three days without starting the engine in cool conditions and up to two days in hot countries. Keeps my supply of sausages cool and fresh and enables the kids to have ice cold water from our Sigg water bottles which are not very good as they are too easy to cross thread and can split if frozen. The local 2 litre coke bottles seem better!

NAPPY BUCKET (£4.99) FROM MOTHERCARE:
With a lid doubles as a potty on those hippo grazed campsites when a trip to the toilet is just a trip too far.

INDIVIDUAL COLOUR CODED PILLOWS FROM GRANNY:
Can be used in the day, at night and they remind everyone that someone at home loves them.

CHAIRS FOR THE ADULTS MADE BY OUTWELL (DIRECTOR STYLE):
These are “extra strong” as I have a habit of collapsing inferior products (I am really sorry about your chair Scott & Clare)…but it means I don’t have to worry about who sits in my chair…please note Goldilocks you’d be welcome any time. Just bring your own porridge please.

TUPPERWARE BOXES:
Never enough left overs to store in our hungry family, but can be used for everything from collecting bugs to digging in the sand on beaches.

FLASK:
I love my coffee and unlike David Beckham I don’t keep ice cream and coffee in it. …It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, but not at the same time.


Great equipment with reservations

GELERT TWO RING GAS COOKER:
with 1X 4.5 kg gas bottle and 1X2 litre bottle. The 4.5 litre bottle will last for over a month although not so easy to get refilled. There is usually a BOC depot in every major city though. Have Q/D hose fittings thanks to Pete Sutton in Camerton, alloy welder par excellence, (0796 6582434). Many people bring a petrol Coleman stove which also works very well, but storing petrol in plastic bottles in the back of a hot LR is a recipe for disaster…Are you listening Erin??!!

ROOF TENT:
By Autohome, Italy (BOAB) is extremely comfortable and can sleep 4, but the mosquito nets have proved a little fragile. We have replaced the entrance one after many repairs with an African one impregnated with insecticide. Very waterproof. The cover has proved a little fiddly and not as strong as it should be.

GROUND TENT BY OZ TENT:
You can put this up in 30 seconds if you need to, but is heavy to lift onto the roof. Totally waterproof it also has strong and effective mosquito nets. In retrospect I wish we had gone for two roof tents as Chris at Boab advised us. Sometimes you need to change your equipment to remain sane and I think we may well buy another roof tent in SA.

IPOD WITH DENISON ICELINK TO PLAY THROUGH CD PLAYER IN CAR:
I must say that this is more popular with me rather than anyone else as it has all my music on and also a large contribution by Tom Hannel, so Welsh rugby songs and “national anthems of the world” are our usual fare. Poor Clare, but since she wasn’t interested in learning how to use the thing then she can’t complain (but frequently does) The ICELINK has not proved totally reliable as dust sometimes makes the Ipod cut out…cured by blowing everything out with compressed air and rough roads joggle everything around which means no IPOD on dirt roads.

CANNON IXUS 750:
Camera is quite good, but with only a 3X zoom you have to be up an elephants bum to get a decent pic. A 15X zoom would probably be perfect.

PANASONIC VIDEO CAMERA:
I’ll let you know when I have a chance to edit the DV tapes when I get back to the UK although I have a feeling that most stuff will be too shaky to use!

SATELLITE RADIO FROM WORLD SPACE:
Gives crystal clear sound from the BBC World Service to Talk Sport, but you need a balcony in a hotel or to be out from under trees when camping. Saves all the fiddling with dials and constant hiss and static from our last trip, but I really think the BBC has gone downhill since the late 80s and early 90s….is this because DLT (Dave Lee Travis) retired??!! I remember the time when we took shelter in a cave in Chile to escape the inclement weather with only DLT to entertain us…I nearly died!!!

GARMIN SAT NAV (GPS):
Very expensive argument saver, but seems to have stopped bloodshed when Clare navigates. Downloaded some tracks4africa software which has quite good info on it which means you kind of know where you aren’t, if you see what I mean. Technophobes like me may be better off with a partner who can read a map! I wish they would make one that talks to you in a Scottish accent, but that is enough of my fantasies for now.

LICHTENSTEIN SIM CARD FOR MOTOROLA V3 MOBILE PHONE:
(sim4travel) and Motorola V3 phone. A cheap option rather than a satellite phone and the sim card has not proved particularly reliable or useful although where you can get reception it is cheap to use. I quite like the phone as it is tiny and not too complicated for an old dinosaur like me. Have gone back temporarily to my Vodafone sim card in Malawi and was driving along a road to the tobacco auctions today when brrr, brrr, brrr….Pete Francomb mobile calling message flashed up…”Hello, Pete” etc etc…Amazing, I remember being at the main telecommunications office in Delhi in 1990 (not all that long ago) and waiting four hours for a call to the UK to be connected….and then all we got was “I’m sorry, we’re not in at the moment, but if you’d like to leave a message we’ll get back to you” (Arrrgghhh!) The world has moved on and I must say I’m impressed at the progress many African nations have made in bypassing the “wired” phase and going straight to mobile technology…at least they then don’t have to put up with completely useless companies like BT!!


Why did I bother?

BRITISH PASSPORT:
People around the world love the British, I really mean this, but the British passport just attracts exorbitant visa fees. Much better to have a Swiss, German, Irish or practically any other passport. When can we have a true EU passport…the sooner the better. The other thing that enrages me is that it is no longer possible (due to EU rules I was told, but they are an easy target) to put your children on your passport. This means huge extra visa fees for all your children. We could have got all the kids into the Sudan for free if they had been on our passports, instead of the $400 it actually cost us….sometimes rules are just rubbish…up to 1927…we didn’t even have passports and the whole British Empire was run by 5000 people in Whitehall…now just the FCO has over 50000 people working for them and we don’t even have an Empire anymore…and they have computers now!!! Sorry, off on a bit of a rant here….Why do we need passports anyway, I know who I am!

HOMEBASE STACKABLE PLASTIC BOXES:
And “unbreakable” Curver blue storage boxes (now all broken) I’d try to find decent boxes that can take the rough roads and rough handling.

BROWNCHURCH WATER FILTER:
You could die of thirst waiting for this thing to filter water! I don’t care what anyone says about flow rates etc etc this thing leaks everywhere and the aftersales service is appalling! This is all confirmed by other dissatisfied customers I have met on the way. A much better option is Nature-Pure water purifier from Footloose 4X4.

WASHING MACHINE:
By Ashley, I kid you not. The theory is great, but in practice we just can’t be bothered to use it. It consists of a watertight sailing bucket of the type yachtsmen use to keep their kit dry…only in reverse. The idea is to fill it 50% with water and some detergent, add dirty clothes and drive for the day with the motion of the vehicle on bumpy roads getting my smelly smalls cleaner than clean. We have never used it…Clare is averse to new technology so would prefer to work her hands to the bone washing by hand….don’t ask me why? Now relegated to storage space for the towrope etc.

FOLDABLE TABLE:
For some reason we have never even got this out of the bag…don’t ask me why.

TRAVELLERS CHEQUES:
Absolute rubbish. No-one wants them and if they do the rates are rubbish. Mixture of Dollars, Pounds, Euros and cash advances on UK cashcard and Visa from ATMs are the answer.

COLEMAN AIR MATTRESS:
Never stayed up, absolute crap replaced with two single foam mattresses from Nakumat in Nairobi. Thermarests are brilliant and we will buy a couple when we arrive in SA.

A CLARE:
Has its uses this one but…really just too old and run down to be of any use at all. I think I would prefer something of a more recent vintage…say 1985 or there abouts….OOWWWW THERE’S NO NEED TO PUNCH ME!!.


Car Mods.

TYRES (WITH TWO SPARES, NOW ONE SPARE) BF GOODRICH A/T LT235 85 R 16:
Supposedly the tyres to have, but have shredded quite badly in Sudan and Ethiopia to the extent that I had to throw one away in Kenya and the others are f****d and I am seriously thinking about getting a set of meaty Mud Terrain tyres in SA if we are going to drive up the west coast back to the UK as I prefer to get stuck in sand…warm and dry, rather than mud, sticky and wet.

BULL BAR & WINCH:
The bull bar comes in very handy for intimidating small furry creatures and city traffic alike. I wouldn’t bring a winch next time as you hardly ever get stuck where you can use it and they are quite expensive (£350 in my case)

SPLIT CHARGING SYSTEM AND TWO BATTERIES:
Great piece of kit although the solenoid has been playing up recently and only seems to work at a certain angle when held by a clothes peg in typical bodger fashion. Would consider 3 batteries as you can never have enough power!

OLD MAN EMU H/D SPRINGS AND SHOCKS. DIFF GUARDS & STEERING GUARD:
All worth their weight in gold as have taken so much punishment and nothing has broken yet although I have met a C of E vicar in a LR 90 with standard suspension which has given him no trouble over the same route as us (Devine intervention??). Don’t neglect suspension just because you can’t see it. Under body protection is equally important, I once spent 3 nights sleeping by the side of the road in Peru after putting a hole in my sump on my BMW R80ST. I managed to fix it with a tin can and some araldite in about two hours, but had no spare oil…took 3 days for another vehicle to come past. After that I got a sump guard!

CIG LIGHTER SOCKETS X 6 (3 IN FRONT AND 3 IN REAR):
Fantastic and are used to run the fridge, recharge headtorch batteries, power the water filter etc, etc

SPARE WHEEL CARRIER:
From OEC, has broken twice, once in Ethiopia and once in Kenya. Has been modified so is now so strong could hold up the Forth Bridge. Probably a one off weak example.

LONGRANGER 158 LITRE FUEL TANK FROM TBR. FUEL TANK GUARD MADE BY PETE SUTTON, CAMERTON, BATH:
Fantastic. You don’t have to fiddle with leaky jerry cans and gives an on road range in excess of 800 miles which is perfect. Don’t forget to protect it though as you will definitely scrape it on large thirsty Sudanese rocks (and Kenyan, Ugandan, Jordanian etc etc)

40 LITRE WATERTANK IN REAR WING:
Very useful and as we carry a 20 litre jerry can of water as well we can generally get by with about 3 days bush camping without filling up. Don’t forget a length of hosepipe long enough to get from a tap to the filler. 12 foot is perfect.

MOBILESTORAGE LOCKABLE BOXES & SECURITY GRILLS:
No-one has broken in and are tough and up to the job. Have seen a SA registered LR 110 CSW with the rear side windows taken out and replaced on one side with a fold out kitchen and on the other side with an openable aluminium panel. (www.bushwakka.za)

SILVER PAINT & AIRCON:
Old joke about Land Rover and Toyota door seals…A Toyota Landcruiser owner and a Defender owner are having an argument about which car seals better…They decide to test this and each of them gets a cat and locks them into their vehicles overnight. The next morning they go and have a look and open the Toyotas door to find that the cat has died due to lack of oxygen, next they go over to the defender to find that the cat has escaped overnight! Seriously though, the aircon really is good on dusty roads as you can turn it on and keep most of the dust on the outside. I guess the only complaint about it is that it takes up a lot of leg room on a defender and it is not totally effective in very hot conditions. The theory is that silver would reflect a lot of heat, but I haven’t had a black defender to compare it with.
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