Our TRANSPORT AND HOME
Our transport and accommodation is a Toyota Landcruiser which has been converted by a specialized German company (http://toms-fahrzeugtechnik.de/) into a mobile home.
The car is a newly built Landcruiser based on the 1978 HZJ model and therefore has no electronics at all (one even needs to lower and lift the windows by hand). Thus, an average mechanic in any country should be able to repair it if needed. Toyota still builds this car and exports it mainly to Africa.
The chassis, the suspension and the bottom of the car are reinforced in order to make it more durable and to withstand difficult road conditions. The shoke absorbers are cooled with a system based on nitrogen in order to prevent heatin gup during long sections on ripio or rough roads.
The car can host two people and is equipped with a roof which can be lifted for sleeping. It furthermore has a cooking facility, a fridge, two solar panels, a chemical toilet, a water tank and an outdoor shower. For sleeping we have to lift the roof and then can enter the “sleeping room” from inside the car.
The interior is not particular luxurious with a fridge, a sink and cooking facilities (gas bottle). Basically, it means learning to live within four square meters, which are sufficient for one person but it gets tight once a second person joins.
Cooking is possible inside and outside the car as the oven is connected with the gas bottle by a 3-m hose. Electricity is provided by two solar panels and stored in a second battery. The car is has a 100 l water tank.
For heating it is equipped with a Webasto-heating system that kept me warm even at minus 17 degrees, the coldest temperature experienced during the travel so far. The heating system is working with diesel which it sucks from one of the two tanks. It comes with an altitude adaptation system (changing the composition of the fuel) and worked without problems at an altitude of 5,000 m.
The car has a 4.2-liter diesel engine (the model of 1978) upgraded with a turbo which gives the car some 130-horse power. While the car certainly is not a racing car it is fast and strong enough to safely overtake trucks in the mountains. The highest altitude I have travelled so far was 5.100 m and the engine still went strong.
There are two fuel tanks with a total of 180 l of diesel. The car's average consumption is between 14 and 16 liter, depending on speed and altitude.
They car weighs some three tons and with the transport box on the roof is 2.65 high. This means it still fits into a high-cub container which is important with regard to the shipment between the continents. ctually as it has been the case for the shipment from Colombia to Panama two cars like ours fit into one container.
The engine is equipped with an additional oilfilter (Trabold-Oil filter, http://www.gogassociates.com/Goga%20Associates/Trabold%20Oil%20Filter.html ) which needs to be replaced every 10,000 km. Using this filter one can use the engine oil for at least 50,000 km before it needs to be changed.
Key issue for a successful travel are strong and durable tires. In order to save space I am carrying only one spare tire. I carry a tyre repair kit and the car has a compressor linked to the engine which enables me to inflate the tires myself.
Experts advised me to use BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A tires which are considered particularly strong due to a tougher sidewall rubber compound. And in fact: Having driven 51,000 km only one time I experienced a flat tire which was easy to fix with the tyre repair set.
However, after 45,000 km with many sections of gravel and sharp stones the tires were more or less done and I had to replace them in Bogota / Colombia. Particularly the back wheels suffered from the off-road wash board (ripio) structure of the gravel roads.
Initially I had a bike with me which was fixed to the back of the car. Unfortunately in Bolivia when I crossed a deep muddy section the rack got caught in the mud and the bike which was chained to the car got broken.
So far I did not experience any technical problems. The only parts which needed replacement were the grommets (Gummimuffen) at the rear shock absorbers and at the end of the leaf springs. I did the first oil change at 50,168 km.