Monday, July 25, 2011


Ah, the roar of the big machines.

Every year they all come and try their skills, course makers and competitors alike.

Here is the highlights from the 1 July 2011 event:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My last holiday in short....

While I was at work, Aiden was growing and growing. And not giving his mum a lot of sleep. Anyways, I was quite surprised at how much he had grown by the time I got back. Luckily Isolde was taking pictures in my absence. Here Aiden is posing a little on a sunny afternoon.

So, being back at home, and Aiden coming along so nicely, we decided to go for a little drive. First we went down to Paaltjies, the beach south of Walvis Bay for those who don't know, but it was far too cold and windy, being the middle of winter for us. Then we went looking at the Kuiseb river that was still coming down. It was only a few centimeters deep, and so we went to visit one of our favorite camping spots:

Notice all the greenery. Usually this place is quite dusty, and can be seen on some of my earlier videos.

So, we decided to camp a little the next week. We packed the trailer, and I got a chance to try out the Kaudom... it's the big tent in this picture. We have had it for a year, and never been used, as Aiden's arrival was imminent. It takes about an hour to pitch. It was a lovely camp, nice and quiet and far away from people.
We had a full eclipse of the moon during my break as well. Amazingly, it was a clear night and I had a tripod handy. Finally I have a good picture of the Moon colored red by sunlight shining through the Earth's atmosphere. The previous couple of times I saw an eclipse it was always at work where a tripod does not do much good.

Aiden got to be four months old during this break, and he is looking to become quite a handsome fellow. Must be his mom's genes, I guess....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The car saga continues....

Yep, it's again at the end of another five week holiday of which an effective four weeks were spent at home.

It sucks when travel sucks out 20% of your holidays.

Anyways... back to the Land-Rover. The Land Cruiser 2H gearbox arrived just before me. When I went to look at it, it was clear that this would also not fit my Lexus V8 engine. So, back to square 1. Don't pass go, don't collect anything.

Apart from not fitting, it's an amazing gearbox, and I would have used it in a heartbeat, if I could. The power outputs are in the right place, and it's an automatic, and it's quite a beefy beast. So beefy, in fact, that it's bigger than the Lexus V8 engine's mounting places, where the problem of it not fitting comes in. So, the muppets at JapanAuto screwed me again. I did ask on the phone and in an email whether this gearbox would fit the Lexus V8.

So... what to do? I decided to just bolt a Lexus V8 auto box to the engine, since they were designed for each other, and there is a glut of these auto boxes around here. I am currently the proud owner of two, and know where to get a few more, should I need one.

And then I just had a propshaft and adaptors made up for the lexus box so that I can test the stuff we have in the car in 2x4 mode.

Good news is that this path seems to have worked in part. I found another failed bit. The gearbox computer that was ordered with the engine computer is faulty. We tested the hell out of everything else, and found quite a few small and easily fixed problems.

Bad news is that it's the end of my holiday, and these custom gearbox controllers are not commonly available, so the one I ordered is going back to it's manufacturer to be checked out and repaired.

Hopefully, by the time I am back in the country, I will have a working gearbox controller unit, and a Land-Rover that can drive long gravel roads, but not sand... yet.

The second part of my brilliant plan was to buy another Discovery's transfer case, and have an engineering shop in Walvis Bay make me the adapter. As it happens, Walvis Bay is a harbour town, and we have a glut of engineering shops. I picked one that looked like they have the right tools and experience, and am hoping for the best.

This route is the route originally suggested by Adaptor and Conversion Centre in Johannesburg, and if they made the adapter and returned me the transfer case like agreed, I would have been mobile last year this time. I still cannot fathom why the boss of the place acted like such a dick.

From all this adventure, there are a few points that stand out clearly.

1. If you have a Land-Rover with a broken engine/ECU, put a Land-Rover engine in it. It's more expensive than the engines around it, but cheaper than modifying a Land-Rover. Aftermarket ECU's can be used, but your mileage may vary.

2. Should you _still_ decide to modify your Land-Rover, get the Lexus V8 engine with a rear sump. It fits better in the engine bay. There is a Toyota Surf gearbox out there that does bolt on to the Lexus UFZE1 engine, but I have still to see this mythical beast. This option also leaves you without a Handbrake or speed sensor.

3. If at all possible, go to the place where you are getting your spares from, and check that you have everything you need and that it all fits together before you start. This way, you don't close the door on option 1.


So, here's to hoping that there will be a shiney new gearbox controller installed in my very clean Landy when I come back in five weeks. I cleaned the thing waiting for a mechanic one day before test driving it. Also, that the engineering shop makes a spline adapter shaft and adapter housing that I will not manage to break, in time for my eventual return.

All that should then be left to do, would be to sort out the linkages and 4x4 lever in the cab, the adaptor mountings, rear propshaft, if a standard one won't fit. ( measured the adapter to place the transfer case approximately where the Land-Rover one used to be. )
Then, I have to assemble the handbrake, as the transfer case that I bought is about as bare as you can imagine and still be called a working transfer case.

And then patching the hole around the gearbox/transfer levers and sound-proofing the cab.

One very nice touch was that we were able to make the exhaust on this break. It silences the engine quite nicely, but I had to re-seal the manifold flanges.

Luckily, all the other cars have been behaving themselves quite nicely.

Lastly... When we first wanted to start up the Landy, we saw that the tank was about as empty as you can get. So, we put in 20L from a jerry can. The reserve light was still showing, and the needle did not move. 20l is half a tank for a normal road car, or about 1/3 of my Jetta's tank.

The needle did not move. As if it was insulted by this puny amount of fuel.

So, once I was test-driving it, I decided to fill it up. 114 litres it took. Not a typo, folks. One hundred and fourteen litres of unleaded petrol, after putting in the twenty litres and just idling around a little.

So, I am guessing that the tank holds 130 litres. At 8km/litre, she should have a reach of almost 1000km, and 8km/litre is what my mechanic is getting on his Lexus V8, driving around in town.

I can't wait for this car to start working. No really, it's way overdue!