An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

1997 Land Rover Defender 300Tdi Low Kms, mint condition, fully equipped safari vehicle.

No, it's not for sale!!! But if that hasn't attracted a few random googling Land Rover fans to the blog then I don't know what will. If you have joined us by mistake, sorry, but please read on.

He’s big, he’s white, he’s cool and he’s loveable… so it’s no wonder our new Land Rover is named after a polar bear.

Legion of Fans (LOF), meet Broomas. Here he is, below, proudly posing with his new roof top tent, awning, and his svelte but camera-shy mummy (complete with trendy new cowgirl hat).



Broom-broom Broomas is named after Brumas, the first polar bear to be born in captivity at the London Zoo, way back in 1949. When she was even shorter than she is now, Mrs Blog used to have a stuffed polar bear, which mother-in-law Blog named after the famous Brumas.

Broomas is a 1997 300Tdi Defender Hard Top, and he goes like the klappers. He cruises nicely at 110kph and I’ve had him up to 120kph. This may not sound all that staggering to you owners of sports cars and Japanese people movers, but believe me, 120kph is about as fast anyone should go in the mobile house brick that is the Land Rover.

Did I mention he also has power steering? This is nice, although the good thing about faithful old Tonka, our other Land Rover, is that when I drive him for extended periods I end up with arms like an East German female shot-putter. Broomas’ steering has resulted in me reverting to type and looking like a 45-year-old man who types for a living.

Such is life.

Before I get any hate mail from Series Land Rover owners, or snarky comments from Doctors Nietske or Kervorkian, let me state for the record that Tonka is alive an (sort of) well, and is definitely here to stay.

Our plan is to keep Tonka in Zimbabwe, where he is registered, and use him for short trips to the bush only. He is getting very old (24 this year) and his plucky little 2.25litre diesel heart is not as plucky as it used to be. His top speed these days is about 70 kph.

But the rest of Africa is waiting for Broomas and we hope to give him many adventures in the years to come (no doubt with some attendant heart ache).

For now, though, he is purring like a singer sewing machine with a turbo. He likes puttering about the Kruger Park at low speeds, yet he also takes the mountainous hills of Mpumalanga in his stride and likes nothing better than to be given his head on the N4, trusty steed/bear that he is.

And now, for the gadgets…

Mrs Blog and I have spent a frankly terrifying amount on camping gadgets in the last couple of weeks while we prepare Broomas to take over the mantle as Africa’s ultimate safari vehicle. So far, we have purchased:

- Easi-awn Rooftop tent (the T-top variety, for those of you who are interested. The T-top provides a nifty overhang to give shelter over the ladder and door, so you don’t get wet when going for a midnight pee in the rain)

- Easi-awn retractable awning. This is like a roller blind with legs. Very quick to erect and stow, though one of the leg stays has a nasty habit of biting my fingers and removing chunks of my flesh

- High-lift jack (no macho safari vehicle is complete without one, even though incorrect use can cost you an eye, a tooth or a life)

- Front-runner roof rack (Broomas came with an old Brakhah aluminium roof rack, but it was frot – which means buggered)

- Two(expensive) tubular steel and canvas Campmor camping chairs

- One (cheap) fold-up guest chair

- Two lightweight aluminium roll-top camping tables (these are brilliant, by the way)

- 52-litre stainless steel National Luna compressor driven fridge. “Think of it as investment in the future…” said the slick salesmen as I wobbled at the knees while handing over my Visa card

- Roof bag, jerry can holders (supplied with Broomas), spade, external gas bottle holder, and esky (cooler box to you South Africans out there).



Of course, we’ve also spent big on the little essentials of camping, such as plates, knives and forks, pots and pans, potato peeler, Tupperware, etc etc etc etc.

As with Tonka one thing we’ve skimped on is storage. I’m not a fan of fitted roller draws or other fancy-schmancy storage devices. Mrs Blog and I go for plastic storage boxes – and cheap ones at that.

Broomas is a work in progress and no doubt the storage configuration will evolve over the years as we get to know him. It’s a mistake, I believe, to spend too much on his innards at this early stage. Our boxes (one for food staples, one for kitchen utensils, one for books, one for computers, and one for the hard-bodied Mrs Blog’s exercise gear) all cost about R70 (AUD$10-ish) each.

Annoyingly, Broomas is fitted with no fewer than three anti-theft devices. He has an alarm, an immobiliser and an anti-hijack cut out device. Just starting him requires a complex series of stalk-docking and button pushing exercises that would put the Kama Sutra or a NASA pre-flight manual to shame.

Pleasingly, he doesn’t drip any oil (yet). I had some worrying moments early on, after collecting Broomas when I would check underneath him and find no oil splodges. Land Rovers are notorious leakers (in fact, they’re just marking their territory), and for a while I wondered whether he had any gear box or engine oil in him at all.

Best of all, Broomas has flow-through airconditioning – the pop-open vents in the front which have sadly (and stupidly) been welded shut on the latest Defenders, and two other critical cooling devices – twin beverage holders on the dashboard.

But bestest of all, Broomas is ours. Mrs Blog and I think of Broomas as our second child, a baby brother to Tonka. Are we mad? Of course. It’s a Land Rover thing.

What do you reckon, LOF? Any ideas on how I can further pimp my camping ride?

24 comments :

ali g said...

A shower, toilet, kitchen sink and an iPod dock would be nice..
Does it have a rear spoiler?

John said...

No oil leaks? Impossible, its a Landrover...give it time.

Besides, they aren't oil leaks, its your Landy marking it's territory.

Shamrock Safari said...

22" alloys, flames, stainless exhausts either side, chop the springs and a subwoofer to make Broomas fully sic!

Oh wait, Broomas isn't for cruising western Sydney is it?

But seriously, a plasma rope winch will macho-fy Broomas. Have you still got the spare on the back door? They break the doors, so you need a swing-away spare carrier.
What about an extended range fuel tank + a water tank to fill the space behind the back LHS wheel arch?
Oh get rid of the high lift jack before you get hit by it. You need a nice safe exhaust jack, Tony.

Karen said...

Tony, did Broomas come pre-dented? If not, you simply MUST add a good scrape down one side and a dimple or two to the other... a safari vehicle without dents is SO declasse! Besides, once it's dinged up, you'll hardly break a sweat the next time you get one.

And I'm with Shamrock on this one...get the winch and lose the high-lift! Those babies are terribly unstable--incredible potential for accidents! People LOVE them (I've had two stolen from the back of my pick-up) but they are a catastrophe waiting to happen. Trust me...I once mistakenly tipped an outhouse (dunny, to you?) over with one. Luckily, it was unoccupied at the time. Still not sure what I was hoping to find under there, but I could have used that winch to right the crappy thing...

:o)

Your new baby is a beaut! But with all that rigging, where will you seat Ali g?

Bec said...

Umm, roof-mounted DVD player and fluffy dice? Other than that, Broomas looks perfect.

Nice to hear Tonka's being allowed a semi-retired life. The Prof finds it to be most agreeable, I'm sure Tonka will too.

tonypark said...

Ali G, and Ipod docker would make an excellent christmas present (along with an SD card reader).

Karen, I have my first dent already, a nice one I put in the bonnet (hood) while trying to climb up on the roof rack.

Shamrock (and Karen) I don't trust those inflatable jacks. What about punctures? after nearly killing myself a couple of times I've worked out the secret to using a hi-lift is to spray it WD40 every time before you use it.

As to winches - yes, I agree, very macho, but the only time I ever needed one was when I got stuck in zambia. There were no trees to attach a winch cable to, but also no shortage of willing labour. The best piece of recovery gear I own is, without a doubt, my shovel. It was fun watching the support crew fight over it. Those who missed out on the shovel had to dig with their hands and push. Worked as well as a winch, but with no drain on the battery.

I left the shovel man with US$10 and (now without his shovel) he had to fight off the other 20 helpers who all wanted a pice of the action (and him).

Bec, nice idea about the fluffy dice.

tonypark said...

PS: yes, shamrock, we have the rear wheel carrier, as does Tonka. Tonka's spare nearly killed his door before we got his carrier, so that was a must for Broomas (he came fitted with a nice articulated one).

Broomas has an 80 litre tank and so far we are getting between 13 and 15km/litre, so compared to Tonka he is already a long range vehicle. I think I'll leave him as he is at the moment. Besides, he's fitted for four jerries on the roof, if we need them.

Water tanks sound interesting, but as you'll discover when you get to Africa drinking water is available pretty well everywhere. It'd only be essential for remoted parts of Namibia.

South African adventurer Kingsley Holgate (SA's answer to Alby Mangels) has his water tank filled with Captain Morgan Rum. I'd probably fill ours with Red wine if we got one.

PPS: the other superb gadge we have is a Sodastream. It's fantastic being able to make soda water (AND tonic water) from tap water. Every overland vehicle should have one.

Trev said...

just read a quote by Jeremy Clarkson who said 'A diesel powered wheelbarrow could beat a Range Rover away from the lights' so what hope a Land Rover?

Anonymous said...

A SNATCH strap would do nicely, plus an air compressor.

And why would you need a water tank when there is so much fresh elephant dung to be found. If Bear Grylls can sqeeze a cool refreshing drink from a fresh one, I'm sure you two can as well. Gesondheeid!

Kathleen said...

Snorkel and sand ladders and maybe a shower(not a fancy one) my BIL used one on his Africa trip that used the warmth of the engine to heat the water on his London to Cape Town trip seemed to work quite well. As a Toyota fan I have to say tighten the bolts is the only way to improve a Landy:). My next trip to Kruger wont be for a few months as I was there 5 weeks ago. Had a great trip. In three months I am off to Oz for a month so all money going in that direction now. Hope you are still enjoying Kruger. My fav camp will always be Lower Sabie. If you go there have an Amarula on Ice on the deck. Wish I was there now:)

Santa said...

Well Ho Ho Ho young Tony!
You certainly grab the buffalo by the horns when you want something dont you?
So ..its a card reader AND an iPod dock that you want for Xmas is it?
If you've been a good boy OK
just might do that for you...
However, please leave out two pieces of cake Xmas Eve as Mrs Claus will be accompanying me on my rounds this year.
Oh and don't forget hay for the reindeer.
ps what sort of iPod do you have?
<^..^>

Trin said...

Found it amusing that the guest chair is of the "cheap" variety - is that for Santa?
Also - how does a white landrover go in the African bush - maybe you should give it a paint job.

And....I can't go back to the original photos without losing this comment (I think), so I can't remember if you have a bull bar, which is the essential Aussie accompaniment to a REAL 4WD, so, if you do, maybe some Christmas decorations???? Not to be affixed before the due time of course.
PS: Loved the cheetah shots on last blog (of course!). What a handsome beast.

Karen Bessey Pease said...

Ah! A lack of trees! I'd never thought of that! Silly me! I live in the 'Pine Tree State'--the most heavily forested state in the U.S. of A., so may I be excused, please?

And sorry...WD40? It's invaluable stuff, no doubt about it. (Did you know...it's fish oil, and edible? Oh, I'm a fount of useless information! [Don't eat it on my recommendation, though, okay?]) But how does WD40 make a hi-lift safer? Seriously...this enquiring mind wants to know.

It WOULD clean that shovel off quite nicely...

tonypark said...

Yes, Trin, we have a very big, very macho bull bar.

Karen, I find that spraying the working parts of the jack with WD40 blows away the dust and dirt and lubcricates it. In my past experience I've found the hi lift gets stuck with just a bit of dirt on the mechanism. It really does work.

Karen Bessey Pease said...

Thank you, Tony! WD40 and duct tape...what would we do without them?

You DO have duct tape, right?

dozycow said...

How about some cow horns on the bull bar ??

Trin said...

OF COURSE, Dozy - and perhaps some Christmas baubles hanging from the ends

Timepilot said...

Now you're talking Tony - what a beaut set of wheels!!

I agree with sand ladders and snorkel, air compressor (there are some good ones combined with a jump start kit) a must and a little box of those essential spares (old ammo boxes are great for this bolted to the roof rack.) A puncture repair kit is a must have especially if you are going places where other people are scared to go - tubeless is good for a while but some inners and tyre irons might also be a good idea. One advantage of course with the tubeless and a handy compressor is that you don't have to lift the vehicle - can be repaired in-situ.

I would rather install a capstan than a winch if you go down that road - something you might have to think about if you are going to travel up more through Africa. Capstan is manual and therefore more reliable ;)

Get your bull bar sanitised and fit a tap on the bottom and a filler cap on the top - great storage space for liquids incl, but not limited to, Capt Morgan LOL.

Extended fuel tanks a must - go juice can be scarce in certain areas and you would be glad of an extra 80 to 100 litres plus your jerries.

Plastic boxes - good idea. Not a great lover of fixed fittings as this severely limits the options.

Rifle rack? ;)On top of the full size spade, a smaller fold up trenching tool type one is good to have handy as well. Some of the sand can dig deep and the full size one is too big to get in (and it means that 2 people can dig as well ;) )

With the high lift jack stability is usually the problem. The new inflatable "jacks" are pretty sturdy and if you get one to suit the weight + "some" they are good. Also with the inflatables, you can get a lot lower on the deck!

Sorry, a bit of a serious answer, but just some of the items I've needed over the years

ali g said...

and don't forget lots of beer in the fridge please

Flea said...

I like I like!

DADFAP said...

You should have called it Bundy! More appropriate for an Aussie!
Cheers
Steve

noddy said...

Definite camouflage paint job, a CB Radio and a dancing Elvis that hangs from the rear vision mirror

noddy said...

Definitely needs a cammo paint job, a CB Radio and a dancing Elvis that hangs from the rear vision mirror

Buy Viagra said...

One thing that I like about Land Rovers. it is that they haven't changed in many years.