- ----- -_.
About your vehicle
Off-road driving 21
What to do when you get stuck
Equipment for when you get stuck
When your vehicle lets you down
Talk about tyres 66
Aplace for everything .••
Looking after yourself (Dr Chari Laubscher) 82
Conversion tables
Route-planning information
Gearratios of the 4WD
-_. - ~ - - -
- -- -
ff-road driving means different rhings to different people.
For the intrepid explorer, it is an adventure. For the
curious, it is to experience a new environment. For the novice,
it is a test of nerve and character. For the expert, it is a chance
to match skills and knowledge agai nst the forces of nature. Yet;
for the more ardent environmentalist, it is an activity to be
banned in the interestsof protecting na tura l habitats.
Off-reading can be as dangerous as it is exciting, though,
should you ignore some of the basic safety and environmental
care rulesstilted in this manual. Americanoff-roaders live bya
creed 'Tread Lightly' by driving wi th care and respect at all
times and by keeping mainly to long-esrablished tracks in the
wi lderness to minimise the negative aspects to ecostr uct ures.
This manual sees ourto help both novices and experts in the
enjoyable pursuit of their hobby. It is an attempt to consolidate
alot of useful information in a handy-sized book that can be
carried in the vehicle's glove box and referred to as and when
required. The suggestions, ideas and advice and equipmenr
mentioned come from many years of personal experience, and
from the weal th of standar d knowledge rhar exists in
off-reading circles. I don't inrend reinventing the wheel!
Techniques and equipment described have been pro ven in
the course of many journeys: in the desem of the Sahara, Sahel
and the UAE; the tundras of the Yukon and Iceland; the jungles
of Thailand, the for ests of Brit ish Columbia, Scotland and
Wales; the savannahs of Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Namibia
and Botswana; the mountains of Morocco, Yemen and Oman,
and finally, Dartmoor, in my home count y of Devon, England.
jum All Khan
Dubai, 1999
AbDUl your vehicle 5
AbDul your vehicle
lot of people become very confused by the techno-wizards
who use automotive [argon with such aplomb. This chapter
att empts to simplify some of the technical terms that you will
come across. The techno-wizards will no doubt find it a very
basic and simplistic presentation, bur no apologies for that!
Engine performance
Engine perfor mance is desc ribed and measured using two
indicators: powerandtorque, and themaximum of both is
stated in revolutions per minute (rpm). Power is basica lly an
indicator of the speed a vehicle can achieve, whilst torque is an
indicator of irs hill-climbing abilit y. Power is usually expressed
as horsepower or brake horsepower (bhp) , One bhp, in the
BritishlUS system, is the force needed to lift 33,000 Ib a
distance of one foo t in one minute. One metric horsepower is
the force needed to lift 75 kg a distan ce of one metre in one
second, and is generally expressed as PS (the German for hp
being 'p ferdestarke' ). However, the current tende ncy in
countries usingthemetric system of enginepower
measurement is to express it in kilowatts (kW) rather than PS.
1 kW=1.36 PS; 1 PS=0. 735 kW
1 bhp = 0.7457 kW; 1 kW = 1.3405 bhp.
The maximumhorsepowerof anengineis usually generated at
a point close to its maximum rpm.
The output of an engine docs not necessarily relate to irs
size, but more to irs design and the degree of technology used.
For exa mple, Michael Schumac her's 3.0 litre Ferrari Formula 1
engine produces over 700 bhp at 16,500 rpm compared to the
210 bhp at 4,250 rpm from my Land Cruise r's 4.5 litre engine.
6 Aboul your vehicle
graph: this
specifications fer
a 4.711treV8
engine (source:
Toyota Motor
Corp.: new
Torque, on the other hand, is a 'turning' force . It is
measured in 'pounds/feet' (lblft) or in 'kilograms/metre'
(kg/m). This may be interpreted as the turning force required
to lift one pound to a height of one foot (12 inches) or to lift
one kilogram to a height of one metre in a certain time period.
When stating the torque of an engine, the manufacturer is
indicating the force available at relatively low speeds to climb
gradients, or when pulling away from a standing start.
Off-road vehicles arc often evaluated by the torque available
and at what rpm the maximum torque occurs. For off-road
vehicles, the lower the rpm the better as it is unlikel y you
would be driving at high speeds using high engine rpm when
tackling steep gradients or sand dunes.
The maximum torque of an engine usually occurs at a
lower rpm than the maximum power output. Ideally, the
maximum torque is produced between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm
- depending on the make and model and the engine
configuration, c.g. in-line or 'V' type.
Optimum rpm
Knowing the points on the
tachometer (rev. counter)
where the peak power output
and peak torque output occur
will help yOLl to maximise
your vehicle's off-road
performance. For example, a
1999 model Toyota Land
Cruiser with a 4.S litre
6-cylinder EFI engine achieves
a maximum of 240 bhp (SAE
gross) at 4,600 rpm and
maximum torque of 41.S
kglm at 3,600 rpm.
Therefore, keeping your
engine speed between these
two peak rpm points will give
the best performance. When
driving off-road, the
5 4 3 2
Max. output (SAE nen: 228 hp/4,800 rpm
Max. torque (SAE net): 41.8 kg.m/3,400 rpm
- 33
~ 29
i '- ----'
AbDUl your vehicle 7
maximum speed of your vehicle, and therefore rhe power
output, is less important unl ess you are co mpeting in the
Paris-Dakar Ra lly! Torque is another matter, and deser t
dr iving requires a lor of torque to maintai n steady progress.
Knowing at which point in rhe rpm range your fou r-wh eel
drive (4WD) will devel op ma ximum rorquc helps you ro judge
when to cha nge down into a lower gca r or change up a gear; If
you cha nge down ea rly enough, you prevent the engi ne rp m
from falling below its peak torq ue output poin t.
As the rpm increases to the max imum output point , the
power of the engine rises steeply. It then reduces just as quickly
when t he rpm goes beyond the max imum output point . Th ere
is no sense in over-revving the engi ne as th e power produc ed
will drop off.
High range and low range
All ser ious 4WD off-road vehicles have both Hi gh and Low
ranges in the gearbox. A five-speed manual gea rbox thus
becomes effecrively a ten- speed gearbox by changi ng from
High to Low range. Hi gh range is used on the highway and for
90 per cent of off-road driving situations . Occasio nally it will
be necessary to select Low range in difficult terrain so tha t the
maximum torque output from the engine ca n be used to make
progress. (Knowledge of the gear ratios in both Hig h an d Low
range helps in the selecti on of the right gear at th e right time!
Low first ratio is nearl y twice the ratio of Low second, hence, in
ma nu<l 14\'V'Ds, it is rarel y used exce pt in ex t reme
circu mstances; see the rab ies in the Appendix for ratios of Hi gh
and Low range.)
Some people always change int o Low range as soon as they
go off-road beca use they know no better! Conti nua l dri ving in
Low range, especia lly in hot climates, crea tes serio us
mechanical problems as the engine revs ar e much higher for
any given vehicle speed; fuel co nsu mp tion suffers bad ly and the
engine is subjected to grea ter wear and tear. Driving slowly in
Low range at excessive engine revs leads to overheating as there
is insufficient airflow th rou gh the radiator to keep it cool. Keep
Low range only for when it is needed, an d learn to drive in
High range 3 S your normal off-road mode. Most 4WD vehicles
B About your vehicle
have a separate lever marked with 'H' and ' L
to enable you to
select the chosen range.
However, there are some automatic transmission models
that perform better in soft sand and on steep inclines if Low
range third and fourth gears are used. Automatic gearboxes
usually have fewer gears than a manual gearbox - three or
four as opposed to the five of a manual transmission. This
means that each gear of an automatic model has a slightly
higher ratio than its manual counterpart, which may restrict
the traction performance in difficult situations. It is therefore a
good idea to use Low range and the two top gears of the
automatic transmission. From experience, I have found that in
soft sand, automatic Jeep Cherokees, for example, will perform
better in Low range than in High range. -
Basic components of a4WDvehicle
Basic set-upof a4WD vehicle
FA- Frontaxle
FD- Fronldlfferentlal
FP- Front propshaft
RP- Rear propshaft
RA - Rear axle
RD- Reardlfferentlal
E- Engine
G- Gearbox
CD- Centre differential
T- Transfer case
(forHand Lranges).
NB: part-tlme4WO has nocentre
Abuul yuurvehicle S
Transfer case
Almost without exception, when a 4WD vehicle is operating in
2WD mode it is the rear axle and wheels rhat are driving the
vehicle. They take the power from the engine and gearbox via a
propeller ('prop') shaft. When 4WD mode is seleered, the
vehicle requires a second prop shaft to transmit the power from
the engine and gearbox to the front axle. A prop shaft takes the
power to the rear axle and the rear wheels from the back of the
transfer case, whilst a second prop shaft at the front of the
transfer case takes the power to the front axle and front wheels.
The transfer case also contains the alternative gears for High
range and Low range which may be selected by the transfer
case lever.
Markings ontransfercase levers
Nissan Patrol:
part-time 4WD
Toyota landCruiser:
part-time 4WD
Toyota Prado: full-tlrne
4WD (small 'L'= centre
dlfflock isactivated)
On vehicles that have full-time 4WD, the transfer case also
contains the centre differential that allows the front and rear
prop shafts to turn at different speeds.
Part-time, automatic and full-time 4WD
There are basically only three 4WD systems to understand
when selecting your vehicle. These are as follows:
... Part-time 4WD. In this system, when the vehicle is used on
the road, only the rear axle and rear wheels are driving it
(2WD mode). However, the driver can operate a lever or an
electronic switch to select 4WD mode with all four wheels
10 AbDUl yourvehicle
receiving power from the engi ne an d driving the vehicle
wh en off-re adi ng. Typical examples of part-time 4WD
vehicles a re Jeep 's Cherokee and Wrangler, the Isuzu
Troo per, Ford Explorer, Kia Sportcge and Toyota Land
Cruiser Station \Vagon (GXR version).
... Automatic 4\VD. This is a fairly new system used, for
example, in the Honda CR-V. 1t is a variation of the pan-time
system, when the 2WD is through the front ax le and wheels
and the switch to 4\VD is automatic rather than by the
driver. A sensor in the transfer case picks up any spinning of
t he front wheels. Wh en this happens, a viscous cou pling is
activated to engage the real' prop shaft to transmit powe r to
the rear wheels. When the two axles are turni ng again at the
sa me speed th e syste m wi ll revert au to matically to 2WD.
Automat ic 4WD has limitations for serious off-road wo rk,
but is sui rable for beach work and ligh t off-road excursions.
.... Full-rime 4\VD. Here, all four wheels receive power and
drive the vehicle at all times. It is the best choice if you can
a fford it as full-time 4WD will offer safe r dri ving on the
highway as well as off-road. One important di fference
between full-time and part-rime sys tems is rhar full-time
vehicles are firred with a centre differential. Full-time 4WD is
found in many modern vehicles, such as the Land Cruiser
Range Rover, Land Rover Discove ry, Toyota Prado,
Nissan Patrol, Toyota RAV4, and the Gran d Chero kee.
The effect ohhe differential gear
Theoutside wheelsgo roundfaster incornering: the
differential gear compensates forthis tsource:Land
Cruisertechnicalreference guide, ToyotaMotorCorp.)

0 r---.:>:"
0 >0 0 >0
0 +0 >0+0
A differe ntia l gear is located
in the dr iven ax le of all
vehicles. \Vhen a vehicl e goes
round a corner, the wheels on
the outs ide travel a longer
distance and therefor e rotat e
at a fas ter rare than the wheel s
on the insi de.
To compensate for t his
differe nce in wheel speeds. a
differential gear is fitt ed in the
axle. A 4WD vehicl e has a
di fferent ial in both the front
About yourvehicle 11
and rear axles. A full-time 4WD vehicle will have a third
differential in the transfer case, which allows for the different
speeds travelled by the front and rear prop shafts delivering the
power to the front and rear axles when on- and off-road. If the
vehicle is only a part-rime 4WD, it is not necessary for a centre
differential to be fitted.
Differential locks
With 4WD selected and driving off-road, the vehicle's
transmission transmits power through the gearbox and transfer
case to the differentials, via the prop shafts, and then through
the differentials to the wheels via the half shafts. Innormal
driving situations, the power is delivered equally to all four
wheels. However, if one of the wheels loses traction it will spin
freely as all the power from the engine is delivered to that
wheel. This is because the differential is doing its job, but it
doesn't help the driver, since the vehicle becomes stuck. To
regain traction, power must be delivered to at least one other
wheel to get the vehicle moving: this is the role of the
differential lock (diff lock).
Axle differential lock
A diff lock is fitted to most madera 4WD vehicles in the rear
axle. This locks the differential gear and stops it from
compensating for the different wheel speeds, effectively locking
both wheels on the rear axle together, and delivering equal
power to both. The wheel that docs have good traction is
therefore able to drive the vehicle forward.
Centre differential lock
As we saw in the axle casing, a diff lock can also be fitted in the
transfer case to lock the front and rear prop shafts together for
maximum traction in difficult driving situations. This diff lock
can be activated by the driver using a manual lever or an
electronic switch.
Limited slip differential lock (LSD)
This is a type of diff lock that works automatically. By using
small clutch plates, it allows a certain amount of speed
differential between either the two half shafts on an axle, or the
12 AbDUl your vehicle
Howdifferential locks create traction
E- Engine
T- Transfer case
CDL- Centre dlfflock
RADL-Rear axledlfflock
(a) Normal drivi ngwithequal
power toallfourwheels.
(b) Left front wheelstarts
spinning freely, havIng lost
traction; It receIves allthe
(c) Thecentredlfflock Is
engaged toregain tract/on;
now50 per cent ofthe power
Isgoing toboth front and
rear axles.
(d) This 50per cent goes to
the front wheelwhich Is
spinning: therearwheels are
on good ground, and have
enough traction tomove the
One front wheel starts
One front and one rearwheel
start spinningfreely
(a)Normaldrlvlngwlth equal
power toallfour wheels;
centre dlfflock Isengaged.
(b) Left frontwheelstarts
60" splnnfng: right rearwheel
also spins freely: vehIcle
doesn't move even though
thecentre dlfflock has been
(c) Therearaxledlfflock Is
appliedtotryto regain
(d) Both rearwheels now
receive power; theleftrear
25.. wheelis on good ground and
has enough traction tomove
the vehicle.
, D'
D' IITI==-- sc-,
60.. 1fU....-"'l....-
IUllEl lio..
• CDI.

50.. IflL- ,
Itl/lE &0"
I D'
E 100'"
0" . 0"

". I: ".

4 '" Elr;:-lfJ

About your vehicle 13
two prop sha fts in the transfer case. When the speed
differe ntial rea ches a pre determi ned level, the di ff lock
mechanismautomatically starts working so that each receives
equal amounts of power from the transmission.
Ideal set-up
On a modern full-time 4WD vehicle, the ideal set-up is to have
a centre diff lock (in the tr ans fer case ) and an LSD in the rear
axle . With this set- up and with a powerful engin e you can
climb mountains!
Inan automatic vehicle, 'overdrive' refersto a high-speed gear
that has a ratio of less th an 1:1. In general, the third gear of an
automatic transmission has a ratio of 1:1 and the overdrivegear
abour 1:0.8. The lower the gea r ratio, the higher the speed of
the drivengear, therefore the same speedcan be mai ntained bur
at lower engine rpm. For example, you can be driving at
100 kph in top (third) gear wi th the engin e turning over at
4,000 rpm. If overdrive is selected, you maintain yourroad speed
burthe engine revs will decrease to 3,250 rpm. This improves
fuel economy, and less engine noise provides a quieter ride.
Monocoque body
This describes a vehicle whose chassis frame and body ar e
combined into a single unit, rather than having a separate
ladder-frame chassis with the body attached. By eliminating the
~ ~ ( !
= n ~
[('11 'a
a a
~ ~
~ ~ :l \ ,..--;
14 About yourvehicle
separate chassis frame, more interior space as well as a
reduction in vehicle weight can be achieved. However, for
long-lasting off-road durability and overall strength, the
traditional combination of separate chassis frame and body is
superior. Current 4\VD monocoque examples are the Jeep
Cherokee, Toyota RAV4 and the Honda CR-Y.
Suspension systems and springs
The design and nature of a vehicle's suspension and springing
will to a large extent determine its off-road ability. Fur
travelling over rough terrain, the key word for suspension is
'articulation', This refers to the vertical movement of the
wheels, as limited by the suspension, whilst maintaining
ground contact for traction. Different types of suspension offer
greater articulation than others. Independently sprung axles
offer greater wheel articulation than solid beam axles. The
following are the types in common use on 4\VD vehicles.
Leaf springs
Also known as 'cart springs', these comprise a number of steel
leaves clamped together and can only be used on vehicles with
.1 solid beam axle. They are strong, but are prone to dust and
dirt getting between the leaves - the resulting friction makes
for a very jerky and bumpy ride. They offer limited axle and
wheel articulation, especially on front axles. They arc rarely
used for front suspensions on modern 4WD vehicles, but are
occasionally used in the rear suspension of less technically
advanced vehicles. Leaf springs are also used to locate the axle
to which they arc attached.
The basic
construction of
the leaf spring

o~ « « - - - - - Spring eye
Abculycurvehicle 15
Torsion bars
Upper wishbon e
The barlwl sts as the wishbone (attached lothe
wheel) moves up Ind down; II reverts 10 Its
original s rere anereach twist
{souru : Land
referenc egufde.
Toyota Motor
Corp.} Shock absurber
A torsion bar is a straight rod, made uf spring steel, which is
solidly clamped to the cha ssis at one end and attached to the
suspension framework (and therefore the road wh eel at the
other ). The springing effect comes from the torsional elasticity
of the steel rod, which allows it to return to its original state
once it has been twist ed. Torsion bars arc lighter and mor e
simple than coil springs and will last a lot longer before
replacement is neces sary, plus they are less bulky and the refor e
take up less space. Th ey ate used by the 1999 Land Cruiser
Station Wagon models.
The position
of ccn springs
(source: t rifid
reference guide.
Coil springs
lower wishbone
Slilblllse r bar
The coli15 ealended and compressed byIhe
lower wishbone as the wheel movesupend
down; II reverts to115original shape alter each
Upper wIshbone
16 AbDUl your vehicle
These are the most common form of springs found on cars
and 4WDs. The coil spring is a long thin rod of spring steel
that has been coiled into a spiral shape. The springing effect
comes from the coil's ability to expand again after vertical
compression. Neither torsion bars nor coil springs can be used
to locate the axle, so other locating rods, link arms and
bushes have to be used for this purpose.
Independent andnon-Independent suspension
Comparative ground clearances: (a) vehicles with solid beam
front axles have better ground clearance than (b) those with
Independent front suspension.
" . '
,, ', " ' ..
. .
Nearly allmass-produced 4WDs have non-Independent rear
suspension with thewheels mounted at the ends ofasolid beam
axle. Similar non-Independent suspension systems are also used on
many front suspensions, although many manufacturers aremovIng
toIndependent suspensIons for both front and rear. Independent
suspension IsdefinItely more comfortable for both driver and
passengers, butoffers less ground clearance than asolid axle. This Is
because with asolid axle. when one wheel goes over ahump, the
whole vehicle willlean over slightly as thewhole axle 15 raised. With
anIndependent suspensIon, thewheel going overthe hump Is
Independent of the differential casing: thecasing therefore does not
11ft andIslikely to hitanotherobstacle In Itspath.
About your vehicle 17
Shock absorbers act £0 damp our the bouncing of the spri ngs to
offer a more comfort able ride. Without them, the springs of a
vehicle would continue to bounce up and down (oscillate) after
hitting a bump in the road. Shock absorbers should last for
between 12-18 months of serious off-road use. On 4WD
vehicles, rhey ar e often a compromise between the needs of
serious off-ra ading and normal highway driv ing, and therefore
consideration should be given [Q fitting up rared versions more
suited to the off-road environment . Standar d items ar e usually
filled with air and oil; more sophisticated shocks use nitroge n
gas and may have larger diameter pistons and doubl e-acting
valves. It is al so possible to get shock absorbers which can be
adjusted from within the vehicle to suit the conditions ('soft'
for highway driving, and 'firm' for off-road).
Automatic or manual transmission?
Th ere are ' pros' and ' cons' for both options, and ultimat ely the
cho ice become s one of personal pr eference. Although
auto matic transmission gives smoother gear changes and
produces less shift-shock than a manual transmission , there are
some disad vantages. For example, when driving for length y
sections in Low range in soft sand, the automatic transmi ssion
oil may overheat. Fuel con sumption always increases with
automat ic transmission, and it is impossible to cow- or
push-starr an auto mat ic if the battery is flat and no jump-leads
are avail abl e. Th ere can also be a danger from lack of engine
braking if you are tackl ing steep gra dients. Manual
tra nsmission offers a greater degre e of dr iver control when
off-reading (it will give excellent engine braking when
descending sreep slopes). When starring off in very soft sand
using a manua l gearbox, I would use Low range second gear
for maximum traction and to avoid havin g to change gear once
moving. On most automatic boxes, it is not possib le to do this ,
as the gearbox will alwa ys select first . Ho wever. the Toyota
Land Cruiser auto has a great option call ed 'Znd starr', which
cuts out first gear and all ows me to replicat e exactly what I do
with a man ual transmission.
1B About yourvehicle
Off· road ability
Therearethree measurementswhich indicate a4WD'S ability to traverse
terrain in an orderly manner, without causingdamageto front or rear
bumpers,or the undersideof thevehicle:(a)approachangle;
(b)breakoverangle; (c) departure angle.
The groundclearanceofthe vehicleisalso animportantfactor
to take intoaccount.
If you do opt for an automatic, make sure that it is fitted
with an oil cooler which is in line with the airflow created by
the engine fan blades.
Accessories for your 4WD
Extra lights arc an essential accessory for the off-wader, the most
usefulgenerally being driving lights, which ineffect provide
intensification of the vehicle's hcadlarnps. Foglights and spotlights
are readily available, although are of less relevance off-road.
These provide a wide spread of light horizontally, bur only a
small vertical spread (in order to reduce reflected glare).
These provide a penetrating but narrow beam of light, which
will illuminate objects a long way away.
AbDul your vehicle 19
Driving lamps
These combi ne elements of barh fog and sporlighrs, and
provide a wide but reasonably far-reaching spr ead of light .
Li ght so urces (bulbs)
Th ere is now a wide range of different light sources (generall y
still described as bulbs) available. Sealed beam unirs still use
tungsten filaments, although most modern vehicles now use
bulbs filled with halogen gas, as these are brighter and longer
lasting. A recent devel opment is the High Intensity Di scharge
(HID ) lamp, which is filled with a Xenon gas, and uses
electrodes instead of a filament . The light produce d is
incredib ly bright, although they are not readi ly ava ilable at the
moment due to thei r high cost. A further alternati ve is a
Dichro ic lamp. This uses a Dichroi c halogen-filled bulb, and is
extremely light and compact.
Safety equipment
Anti-lock brakingsystem (ABS)
Thi s prevents the wheels from locking up under heavy braking.
It improves driver control in terms of directional stability,
and reduces braking distances. ABSis a majorsafety item for
on-road driving, but Ci.1I1 be a nuisance, and even dangerous,
when driving off-road. There arc occasions when an
experienced driver will wish to lock the wheels under braking
to positi on his vehicle in a certain place or attitude when
driving over di fficult terrain; the ABS does nor allow this to
occur. In recognition of this, so me vehicles provide a facility to
disconnect the ABS system, ei ther via a switch or automatically
wh en Low range is selected.
Seat belts
Many manufacturers now fit ' emergency locking/ ret ractor'
(ELR) belts as standard equipment in their vehicles. When
fitted in vehicles supplied with SRS ai r bags, these ELR scat
belts have two important functions to perform:
20 AbDul your vehicle
The function of ELR seal belts
(a) Pre-tensioning: immediately before
Impact, the seat beltsensor activatesa
small motorInthe seat mechanism to
wind it in - thus holding the occupant
firmlyin his/her seat.
(b) Force-limiting: to reducethe risk
of inJuryto the torsoupon sudden
deceleration. the seat belt 'gives'
a llttle,enablingthe occupantto
iii- Pre-tensioning. As the air bag sensor identifies rapid
deceleration of the vehicle, it sends a signal to the seat belr.
This causes it to contract to hold the occupant firmly in his
seat, before the air bag inflates (see (a) above) .
... Force-limiting. To reduce the risk of damage to the torso as
the body is thrust forward, the seat belt releases a small
amount of the belt to allow some 'give' - the 'force-limiting'
role of the seat belt, shown in (b) above.
'Supplementary restraint system' (SRS) air bags provide
additional protection to the seat belt wearer in case of accident.
An air bag will deploy if a vehicle has a frontal impact with a
solid, immovable object at a speed in excess of about 25 kph
(15 mph). Air bags are designed purely for use in tandem with
seat belts as a means of reducing the risk of injury to the vehicle
occupants. It is very unlikely that an accident in the desert
would cause the air bag to inflate, as the speeds and rates of
deceleration would not be sufficient to cause the mechanism to
trigger off the air bag.
Leamf romyour
practice unlll
ygu don'l
repeat them
Off-road driving 21
Off-road driving
IIff-road driving can be a very dangerous business , with
lIman)' pitfalls for the unwary and inexperienced. The
trouble with many novice off-raaders is that as they have been
driving on-road for years, they mistakenly believe that goi ng
off-road is [usr an extension of what the)' can already
competently do. Such extreme off-road behaviour can be called
the 'red mist' syndrome: reason goes QU[ of the wi ndow and is
replaced by a mixtu re of fright and a compulsion to exhibi t a
macho attitude. Thankfull y, the majori ty of new and
ex perienced off-road drivers adopt a more rational and
disciplined approach to the task in hand , coupled with
complete alertness to unexpected hazards. There is no place for
the ' show-off', the ' half asleep' or the ' red mist' merchants.
To become a competent driver, you must learn certain
techniques that you will only use when dri ving off-road. The
best way to perfect these techniques is by practice, practice and
even more practice. It will take time and pati ence to become
22 OH-road driving
competent. Learn from your mistakes! Keep pushing yourself
until you get stuck and then analyse what went wrong so that
you will not repeat the mistake. The techniques of off-road
driving arc:
.... What to do when you arc moving (and trying to avoid
getting sruckt)
.... \Vhat to do when you do get stuck (which is inevitable
Use local tracks
lookIng forward
en- and off'foad
In the days of camel and donkey transport, the desert-dwellers
always took the line of least resistance for themselves and their
animals. So, if a track exists and it is going in the direction you
want, then take it, as it will avoid most of the hazards.
As far as possible, avoid destroying virgin desert with the
passage of your vehicles. Desert ecosystems are very fragile,
and whilst the wind will quickly cover up the wheel tracks of
passing vehicles, wounded vegetation takes a lot longer to
Normal when
100m 50m
MaxImum whendrivIng
onelf-read sand tracks
Where to look
Be wary of sudden dips and jumps even when driving on a
well-defined sand track - they are often very difficult to see.
When driving in the desert, you should be focusing on the
ground no more than 50 m ahead and be constantly on the
alert for sudden changes in the surface. This close observance is
especially important in the summer, when the sun is high
overhead and not casting shadows. I never wear sunglasses
when driving in the desert, as I find they severely limit my
ability to 'read the ground'.
Off-road driving 23
(a) country roads
InKenya are a
after heavyrain:
drive In the centre
of the road 10
avoid sliding Into
Ihe ditches;
(b) typlcallracks
Inthe sand.
momentum and
lyre pressure are
(el gravel roads
(d) the rocky
wadi bed: lovely
but difficult to
Off-road surfaces*
The ground over which you are driving can vary from a smooth
gravel track to a soft dune section in the Empty Quarter; a
muddy sabkba (salt flat) plain Ot dry rocky wadi bed to a
flowing stream of indeterminate depth. Unlike the smooth
surface of a tarmac road, which only varies according to the
weather, rhe variations of off-road surfaces arc endless.
Sand surfaces
Deserts vary from areas of large, flat plains to areas of towering
dunes over 100 m high.
By its very nature - millions of tiny grains of stone - sand
is one of the most unstable surfaces to drive on. Perhaps only
mud exceeds it in providing very limited grip for your tyres.
The secrets of successful sand driving are momentum and ryre
~ For a greater understanding uf the geographical and topographical nature of desert s and mountains,
read GlIlf LlIIdsc<1{Jt's (Elizabeth Collas and Andr ew Taylor, Motivate Publ ishing, 1992 ).
24 Dff-readdriving .
iI desert terraln
youwill notice
the different
textures, and
enable you10
readIhe sand
pressure. Providing that you
maintain sufficient
momentum to tackle slopes
and dunes and your eyre
pressures arc correct, then
you will make good progress.
Compare walking on firm
hard ground to walking on
sand - it requires greater
effort and energy to make the
same progress. This also
applies to the progress of a vehicle. Try to imagine that you are
driving on top of the sand, floating along on the surface; low
eyre pressures will give you the flotation that allows the 4\X'D
to drive on top of the sand.
Most desert driving will be carried out in High range, with
Low range usually reserved for emergency recovery situations.
The selection of a gear depends on many factors such as the
firmness of the sand, the power and torque of the vehicle's
engine, the speed at which you wish to travel, the skill and
experience of the driver, the nature of the obstacle ahead, the
pressure of the ryres , and so on. The instinctive selection of the
'right' gear comes only with practice and experience. Low
range first gear is rarely used in desert driving as it is too low
and, with the large amount oftorque produced by modern
4WD engines, will cause wheel spin. It is more suitable for
driving in wadis and across rocky ground, where slow and
controlled progress is required.
Heel of man's
shoe (25cm
lady's high
heel (2 cm
Imaginea manandwoman walking
across a lawn. Thelady'sheelswill
leaveholes Inthe surfacedespite
her weightofless than50kg.The
man,weighingover95kg, barely
leavesa mark, as hisweightIs
spreadovera greater area. Hehas
achievedflotation. ItIsthe same
withyourvehicle: as youreduce
the tyrepressure,so the area ofthe
tyreincontactwiththe ground will
increaseandthe kg/cm
onthe ground will reduce.
Ca) IfVlIu brake
hardona sleep
down slope,the
front wheetsdig
unstable. Never
(b) sudden stops
will causethe
wheelsto dIgIn
Off-read driving 25
\Vhilsr it is tempting to drive faster on defined tracks, this
can lead to bumping and crashing as you desperately brake to
avoid a hole, or actually go into the hole itself! In a manual
4WD, it is good practice to drive on such tracks in one gear
lower than you think you could when driving on twisting
tracks. The benefit of this is that you get better engine braking
when you take your foot off the accelerator to slow down
quickly - as opposed to having to brake hard and risk
throwing the vehicle off balance. The disadvantage of this is a
slightly higher fuel consumption.
As you become accustomed to a desert terrain you will
notice the different textures, and good observation will enable
you to read the sand. Sand is firmer to drive on in the early
morning, especially after morning mists. Traction and flotation
are also better at this time than at midday, as the tyrcs are cool
and pressures will still be low. Sand with small ripples is usually
firmer than smooth sand; sand with vegetation is also firmer
than clear patches of sand; sand on the windward side of dunes
is usually firmer than the sand on the leeward side. When sand
suddenly changes colour as you drive, it could be an indication
that the consistency has also changed; pale yellow sand is
generally easier to drive on than golden red sand.
~ Brake gently!
If you brake hard for a sudden
stop when driving on sand,
the wheels will dig into the
sand. Very often, the sand you
are driving on has a fairly firm
crust, which masks very soft
sand beneath. Break throngh
the crust and you may be in
trouble. Your first choice for
slowing down is to use engine
braking. Try to avoid hard
braking when driving on sand
as you could not only break
the crust, but also lose control
of the vehicle. Never use the
brakes when descending steep
slopes, as the whole weight of
28 Off-read driving
Tryto llvold
whe n drlvlngon
s and. orYOll wlll
ge t sluck!
the vehicle will be th ro wn forward onto the front wheels. Th ese
wi ll dig into the sand and the rear wheels can lift off the gr ound
ca using an unbalanced vehicle to slew sideways and roll down
the slope. Use engine braking only to slow down your descent
in these situa tions.
~ Accelerale gently!
Second on my Jist of pet hares, after the ' red mist' merchants,
are the 'axle t ramp' dri vers. Excessive acceleration will also
cause the wheels to dig into the sand - the result is litt le
corrugations several centi metres deep caused byax le tramp
tha t shake th e vehicle to pieces . As you accelerate hard on a
soft surface, the vehicle digs in with the same force as it moves
forward, and the axle sta rts bouncing up and down, creating
those awful corrugati on s. Once a corrugation has been created,
ever y vehicl e that follows wi ll make it wo rse.
Soft ryre pressures help to ab sorb the tramping of your own
axle, but tr y to limit your speed to between 40-50 kph . The
tr ick is to find the speed at which the vert ical suspension
movements are in synch wi th the cor r uga tions; likely to be
between 50- 80 kph . It helps if you can keep to the extreme
edge of the co rrugated track, where the wheels on at least one
side of t he vehicle are travelling on a smoothish surface.
~ Starting in and progressing fromsoft sa nd
As we will discover, you ca n drive our of very so ft patches of
sa nd in Low range second gear, but after you have achieved
flotati on, you need to get back fro m Low range into High ran ge
whilst the vehicle is still moving. You do this (in, for exa mple.
Toyota's Land Cruiser and Prado, and the Nissan Patrol I by
Oil-road driving 27
moving the transfer case lever from '],' through ' N' into '1-1'.
If you stop to do this, you will lose momenrum and become
bogged down again. Perfect this by practising on firm ground
so that you get used to the procedure without getting stuck!
The windward sIde tstne shallow sIde
::::::=-- ----
---- fromthe crest ..•
Th' leeward sfde ls the
" : ; steepslopeor'sllp'face

... falls 10the base
( 21) \ }I. of the slope
.'/ 1.,-" '-
There are two main type s of dunes. The barchan type is a
crescent-shaped dune, which varies in size from 1111 to over
30 m high. It has a shallow angle face on the windward slope
(the side facing the prevailing wind), and a steep drop on the
leeward slope which is known as the 'slip' face. These slip faces
can be very steep, often with an angle of about 33° (close to the
angle of inertia) and arc notoriously unstable. Th ere is
sometimes a flat area at the peak of the barchan dune which
disguises an overhang - a small section of unsupported sand
sticking out over the slip face. Never drive your vehicle onto
this type of overhang as it may collapse under the weight of the
vehicle. Stop well back from the edge and rake a look on foot
before proceeding.
In areas where the prevailing winds come from different
directions, the crescent shape of the barchan changes into a
continuous, but wavy,
knife-edged ridge called a 'scif
(sword). Th ese seif ridges can
extend for several kilometres
in an unbroken line, becoming
a formidable obstacle to cross
even in a 4WD.
A large area covered by a
mix of small, medium and
high barchanand scif dunes
can stretch for several
rrcss-sectten of
the classic
barchon dune
example of
'sel{s': knlfe-
edged ridges
- formed bya
series of
borchon dunes
linking together
28 OU-roaddriving

-=.- '
- . -
... . •
. ,
' . "- .../ / .
kilometres in every direction,
for ming a ' sea of sand' . Such
areas are known as 'ergs' . It is
probably better to dri ve
around them unless you ar e
look ing for a good
playground! You will also find
huge mountains of san d
several hun dred met res high
in the form of ridges or walls
- these are known as ' draa' ,
Unless you are very brave, or foolhardy, it is better to ma rvel at
these masterpieces of nat ure from a distance!
Ascending dune slopes
The most import ant point to remember is that the trees have
very lirrle £0 grip on when ascendi ng a slope, so an y forward
momentum that you can build up before reachin g the slope will
help to successfully carry you to the top.
Decide whi ch gea r and which range (High or Low) to seleer
before st arring the ascent . Genera lly, in a manual vehicle, High
range is better tha n l ow ra nge as you can build up a faster
speed to ca rry you to the top. As you get near th e top, liftyour
foor off the accelerato r and let
the momentum ca rry you
forward and engine bra king
slow you down. Once there,
be very car eful if you cannot
see what is on the other side.
Ano ther thing to reme mber
when climbing long dune
slopes is to take the line of
leasr resistance. Because of the
nature of the terrain, you may
have to deviat e from the
straight line approach,
especia lly if your vehicl e sta rts
to slow down and lose
momentum. Turning left and
right (Q reduce rhe steepness of
the climb may just be enough

TakIngthe line
olleu t
reslstant e: look
for lhe'easy'
way up
' E'!1S'; aseaof
sand ueatf!dby
small, medlllm
11i JTthan andsr i!
dunes, whlch
u nstreichfor
kilomet res
Dff-road driving 28
Descending dune slopes
Try to keepthese pointsinmind
• Let the enginedo the braking
• Don'ttouchthebrakepedal
• Drive ina straightline
• Select a lowgear (even Low
rangeifa longsteep slope)
• Drive down, don't freewheel.
·Be waryof the
to take you up. If you do stop and have to try again, select
reverse gear and drive backwards in a straight line - turning
round on the slope to go down forwards will lead to disaster!
One of the hazards to watch out for when ascending dune
slopes is the bump or little ridge right at the base of the dune as
you start the ascent. If you are going fast, this bump will lift
your wheels off the ground;
your forward traction is lost
and you may fail to make the
climb. Try to select a path up
the dune that is clear of this
sort of hazard.
~ Descending dunesLopes
The most important thing to
remember is to let the engine
do the braking. It takes an act
3D Oil-road driving
dune slope: the
thlng tn
let the engine do
the braking
When crossing
ridges, keep up
your momentum
of faith for a new off-reader to
refrain from braking on a down
slope, especially if it is a very
steep one, but braking can also
cause the wheels to lock up and
slide sideways, and the vehicle
might roll over.
Keep your right foot away from
the brake pedal!
Driving across a slope, at an
angle, is obviously a mistake
and will lead to problems such
as loss of control and possible
roll over.
For good engine braking, you need to select a low gear. That
could be High range first or second or Low range second or
third. Remember that the gear you select must not be too low as
the momentum of the vehicle can become too much for the
engine to cope with and yOli will start sliding down the slope.
As the vehicle starts to descend, press the accelerator so that you
are actually driving the vehicle down the slope. If it starts
moving faster than you would like, just lift your foot off the
accelerator and let the engine slow the vehicle down. Finally, be
aware of the hollows or bowls that are created at the base of the
leeward side . The sand that is blown off the top of the ridge
eventually falls down and accumulates at the base of the steep
slope. It can be very soft and can catch the unwary driver who
will get stuck in the bowl.
.... Crossing ridges
The photograph clearl y
illustrates the dangers of the
'ridge trap': I stopped in the
wrong place, and now neither
the front nor rear wheels have
any contact with sand!
To prevent this, stop only
when you can go forward
andlor back.
Off-read driving 31
Sabkhas can be
treacherous: Iry
10keep tc a
vIsible track
Greater experience in the
terrain will eventually bring
knowledge of 'what is on the
other side',
Driving on sabkhas
Sabkhas arc created when
rainfall drains off the
surrounding mountains or
ergsonto a plain that becomes
saturated. As the sun
evaporates the water, so the
salt rises to the surface to form
a thick crust. During the
summer when the sabkhas
have dried our, they are usually safe to drive on provided that
you keep to a clearly visible track. Even in the spring, after any
winter rains, it can still be safe to use the well-trodden path
across a sabkha. Try not to stray from the track as there is no
way of telling if the surface is finn enough to bear the weight of
a 4WD. If it is not firm, you will quickly sink up to the axles
and face a lengthy and vcry dirty recovery job. Some sabkhas
are very treacherous, and have the consistency of quicksand
- there is little chance of recovering a stuck vehicle from this.
Driving in wadis
\Vadis are dried-up river or stream beds. Seasonal rains create
torrents of flowing water which drain off inca the desert,
sometimes forming the infamous sabkhas. \Vaclis occur in
sandy areas as well as in mountainous regions, where real
danger lurks in the form of flash-floods after major rainstorms.
Mountain wadis are littered with varying sizes of rocks,
boulders and stones, which call for caution and great care to be
taken to protect your tyres - use full road pressures to prevent
the tyre walls from being cur or holed on sharp stones.
Also, pay attention to ground clearances and the risk of
damaging the engine sump or other vulnerable mechanical
components. As you steer to avoid the bigger rocks and stones,
remember which side of rhe front axle rhe differential is on: ir
32 Off-roaddriving
Crossing ditches
When crossingditches, alwaysapproachthemat a 45° angleto ensure
that threewheels are Incontactwiththe groundat all times.
will nor be in the centre of the axle! Driving across rocks is one
of the rare occasions when Low range will be your first choice,
and in first gear.
Wide sand wadis are nor as dangerous to your vehicle
unless you are driving too fast, lose control and roll over when
crossing unseen undulations.
Wading through water
There are times in the Middle East when flash-floods will create
obstacles to be tackled. Most manufacturers will state the
maximum depth of water in which thei r model can drive safely.
Any limitations to this arc caused by the air intake pick-up
point, irs height above the ground and its location. I once read
about a B!vlWowner who drove his 540 very carefully through
only seven inches of water, safe in the knowledge that the air
intake level was over ten inches above ground. What he had
not taken into account was the suction created by the engine's
air intake system, which sucked up water from three inches
through water:
nrst walkthe
water, then spray
the etectrrcs with
WD40. PlaceiI
plastlc sbeet
andInnrst cr
second gear,
water; remember
will nolfully
functlon unUl dry
Dff-roaddriving 33
below the air intake vent into the engine - a very expensive
engine rebuild was the result! If water does get sucked into an
engine, it is 'goodbye' to the con rods, pistons and valves.
Most 4WD vehicles have a fairly deep wading height,
typically 70 em. Ignition systems are usually well sealed against
the ingress of water, with the HT leads and spark plugs also
well sealed. The only thing to be careful about is the effect of
the fan blades if they become semi-submerged in water,
generating a spray like an egg whisk.
When there has been a flash-flood, the water is usually quite
murky and it is difficult to see beneath the surface. There is only
one thing to do, and that is to get out and walk across, using
your shovel or a stick to probe the bottom for unseen hazards.
It is a good idea to tie a plastic sheet across the front of the
vehicle to prevent the water from going through the grille. Also
give the electrics a good spray ofWD40 before you start. To get
through, it is usually best to select Low range second gear,
continue at a steady 4-5 kph and to keep moving without
changing gear. Once safely on the other side, proceed with
caution as your brakes will not be working at maximum
efficiency until they have dried out.
34 Off-roaddriving
General drivingtips

driver Infront
whl!nln aconvoy
Driving in convoy
Always stay at least 25 m behind the driver in franc. If you are
roo d ose to the person in front and he gets stuck, he may have
nowhere to reverse to and you may nor have time to avo id him
or find an alternative route . Faster vehicles should be cowards
the back of the convoy, rath er t han at the front, where they can
zoom on ahead and lose the t est of the party! Check your rear-
view mirror periodically to make sure the person behind you is
still there, and keep an eye out for the person in front of you, or
you will lose each other. Also bear in mind that unless you are
the lead vehicle, you will be dri ving over sand churned up by
previous drivers, and your progress will be slower. When
negotia ting inclines, you should try to avoid this churned-up
sand, optinginsteadforvirgingroundoneithersideof thetrack.
Clutch control
Perhaps the worst mistake made by inexperienced off-roaders
when driving in sand is slipping the clutch in the belief that it
will assist traction. Never slip the clutch when driving off-road
(or on-road, for that rnat rerl }; the first result will be a nasty
smell as the clutch disc starts cooking from the friction heat ,
followed by a defect ive clutch pressure plate and disc. When
you first smell an overheated clutch, stop immediately and wait
for t he disc to cool down before trying to drive off.
Thumbs out!
When holding the steering wheel do not grip it with your
thumbs around the wheel. Keep your thumbs out and resting
on the rim of the wheel. It is safer to do rhis because if the
wheels should suddenly hit an object and the steering wheel
spins in your hands, you will not damage your thumbs.
Clogged treads:
wet sandafter
steering control
Off-road driving 35
Air-conditioningconsumes bhp
On full blast, your vehicle's air-conditioning consumes up to
10 per cent of the engine's power. In recovery situations
all available power is needed at the wheels, so switch off the
air-conditioning when carrying out recovery techniques.
Clogged treads
\Vhen driving in wet sand or mud, th e tyre treads very quickly
become clogged up, aod it is like driving on slicks. The result is
a roral1oss of traction from the tyres and erratic steering. To
avoid sliding into hazards requiring a major recovery exerci se,
get out and clean the treads from time to time . Prevention is
better than cure .
As we have seen, mud is an unpleasant surface to drive on and
makes steering and braking an imprecise process. Too much
throttle in low gears creates wheel spin and lack of control. It is
better to select High range third geat and use controlled wheel
spin to cut through the top surface to the firmer ground
beneath. When on a muddy track with a steep camber either
side, try to stay firmly in the centre of the track to avoid a
lengthy recovery process!
_.. _..._-
36 Whatto dowhenyou get ~ h ! g k
What to do when you
get stuck
espite all your efforts to the contrary, there may come a
time when you involuntari ly stop moving, and when you
tr y to carryon again, the vehicle won't go! There is no shame in
gett ing stuck, even though it may be your fault - everyone gets
st uck from time to time. A momenta ry lapse in concentration is
often enough to select the wrong gear or take the wor st of two
opti ons when confronted by a hazard. Even Greg Norman
misses a 20 cm putt from time to time and Pete Sampras serves
t he odd double fault - it happens to the best, so it can happen
to us as well. Here's what to do if you do get stuck!
Reverse back and try again
The first thing to try is to reverse back along the tracks that led
you into the probl em area. Sometimes your vehicle's weight
will have firmed the sand up so that when you reverse over it
you can get some tract ion. Use a light throt tle pressure or the
wheels will spin, whi ch means you go down and not forward.
If reversi ng does n' t work, get out and see exactly why you are
stuck. It may be a hidden patch of very soft sand or you may be
perched on a tussock with one or mor e wheels off the ground
(if so, the quickest way off is for a colleague to tow you off).
Check tyre pressures
Assuming you are not stuck on a tussock, the next thing [Q
do is to check your tyre pressures. In the desert during the
hot mont hs, it is not unusual for ryre pressure s to increase by
: .': :. '
Try the'forward
andback' routine
topoweryclU out
ofDsoft patch
What to do when you get stuck 37 i
4-6 psi in litt le over an hou r's driving due ro the heat of the
sand. The 20 psi that was finewhen you started has become
25 psi and tha t spells problems . Reduce the ryre pressures and
verygently tryagain to drive or reverse out, taking care nor to
let the wheels spin. Select Low range secondgear for this
exercise- never use first gear as the ratio is far too low and
will cause wheel spin and no forward movement. Having some
friends to push you during this process hugely increases your
chances of getting our.
Forward and back
, ' .' ', ' ',' • •'.",#-,"'.!" :;":.
' . : ~ :
If reducing pressuresdoesn't work, trythe 'forwardand back'
routine. Alternately select forward and reversegears very
quickl y and try to firm up the sand by the constant to and fro
motion. Everytime yougo forward, andthen reverse, rry to
travel a birfurther ineach direction until you build upenough
momentumto powerour of rhe sofr parch.
Lighten theload
It is veryimport ant to check on rhe posirionof rhevehicle
relat ive ro th e lie of the ground . If the vehicle is on a slight
down slope, rhen rhechances of reversing back up areminimal.
The opposi te is true if on a slight up slope. If your vehicle is
heavily laden with people or eq uipment, then it may help
to light en th e load - th ose extra bodi es can also pu sh
when required.
38 Whal tn de when yeu gel stuck
Sometimes it is very difficult to get the vehicle moving at all due
to its position or the softness of the sand. A useful technique to
use and perfect is that of 'starting the vehicle in gear', which can
be used when trying to pull out of soft sand patches, or when
desceoding steep slopes. The procedure is as follows .
~ Switch off the engine after applying the hand brake and/or
... Select Low range and first or second gear.
~ Release the brakes and allow engine compression to hold
the vehicle.
.... Start the engine with gear engaged, but without using
the clutch .
iii- As the engine fires, apply gentle acceleration of up to
1,000 rpm.
This will eliminate loss of vital momentum through changing
gears when trying to recover, especially in soft bowls. When
descending slopes it ensures that you are in control at all times.
. .~
The assistance of your
passengers, and those of other
vehicles in the convoy, will
make all the difference when
you try to get started again in
soft sand. It is surprising how
the weight of even several slim
people will give your vehicle's
wheels that extra lirtle bit of
traction to get you out of
trouble. However, it is an
energy-sapping business, and, in the summer, an excessive
amount of exertion can cause dehydration and exhaustion.
I have a rule during Jul y and August that, if stuck, a tow is the
first option, foll owed by winching with pushing as a lasr resort.
Even the weIght
ofseveral slim
enoughtoget you
What to dowhen you gel stuck 38
Creating ramps
Removing the
sand fromIn
behindall four
If all the above fails, you will
have to start digging. Bynow
your vehicle may have sunk
several inches into the sand
and the build-up of the sand
'bow wa ves' in front of each
wheel means you are not
go ing anywhere. Using your
trusty shovels, scrape away the sandfrominfromof and
behind all four wheels. Thi s crea res gentl y sloping ramps in
front of and/or behi nd the wheels to ease your exit. If you have
excess wat er supplies, dampen the sand in front of the whe els
for added tracrion.
If the vehicle has sunk so low
that it is resting on its axl es or
chass is, digging underneath
the vehicle alone may not
help, unless ir is on a fairly
steep slope whereby its weight
will overcome the resistance
once it starts moving. The
vehicle will have to be physicall y lifted using the jack or the air
jack - a preferred and easier alternative. Lifr each side up so
that the wheels come up out of t he holes they are in. Try to
place the jack under rhe axle beam so that the wheels lift mor e
quickl y. Once the wheels are
clear of rhe holes, shove l sand
back into rhem and then
lower the vehicle. Repear the
exercise on the other side . The
vehicle undersideis nowwell
clear of the sand and the
; : ; ~ ~ " : ..: ~ , chanceof forward motion is
rnuch better.
Lift and fill
(b)InRaleIh. air
wheels haveblH!n
lifted, Illl Inthe
holes wIthnnd
anddenatl! the
lack;fepnl lhls
Lift andnu: (a) the
vehlclechanls Is
Rsl/ng onSilnd:
milk!!I span
thewheels l nd
InsertIhe , [rllc k
40 What to dowhen you get stuck
With helperson
elther side,push
alternately 10
they lllt, the
holeswill nil In
thevehicleis on
This is another way to 'lift and
fill', but it requires the
assistance of at least six or
eight others. Line up an equal
number on each side of the
vehicle holding the rain gutter.
In turn, each side pushes the
top of the vehicle to get it
rocking sideways. The effort must be vigorous enough to start
lifting the wheels a few millimetres on each push. As the wheels
lift, so the sand will fill in the holes and the vehicle can -
eventually be rocked to the surface. From there, with a further
push, you should be able to drive off again. (This technique
works better with vehicles fitted with rigid beam axles, rather
than those with independent suspension.)
Gettingout of abowl
The'ferwerd and
back' routine 10
exlta bowl
The unwary may find themselves stuck in the bottom of a bowl
with sides up to 10 m high. These bowls are a real sand trap as
the covering at the bottom is wind-blown sand from the top of
the surrounding dunes. It is therefore loose, and offers minimal
traction. It is verydifficult to do a tow pull recovery from here
because of the angles involved - the tow-rope would be
cutting through the sand at the top of the bowl.
Winching is one possibility, but the towed vehicle will have
very little traction of its own as it climbs the steep sides of the
bowl, and the strain on the winch is enormous. Winching
should be used as the last resort. The best technique to try is the
forward and back routine
again. The objective is to
reverse as high as you can up
~ the side of the bowl. Once you
J ' :
:iJL have done this, put the vehicle
~ 3 ~ ~ ~ ~ 1 1 ~ ~ ~ ~ in Low second, and charge at
the opposite side of the bowl.
You may have to do this
~ -
to exit a bowl
Yl'l!allo ~ ~ l ! \ ! h ~ you gelsiuck 41
several times before you can
climb high enough up to give
you sufficient momentum to
exit. Don't forget to lift off
the throttle as you near the
rim so you don't go flying
through the air! A variation
of this routine that also
works in these situations is
the 'Wall of Death'
manceuvre. Select second gear
and once you get traction,
drive around the base of the
bowl. In a left-hand drive
vehicle (LHD), it is better to drive in a clockwise direction, so
that you are sitting on the high side of the vehicle. Keep going
faster and faster, and as the speed increases, gradually climb up
the sides of the bowl until you eventually pop out.
Recovery by towing and winching
If none of the recovery techniques described above are
successful, you will have to be towed or winched by another
vehicle. In the hotter months, it is better to go straight for the
winch recovery to avoid the unnecessary expenditure of
precious energy and the risk of serious dehydration.
Tow pulls
These come in a variety of forms - from the gentle tug to move
the stuck vehicle a few metres to firmer ground, to the violent
jerk (the ' snatch pull') to unstick a firmly embedded vehicle .
The latter, however, should be used rarely and with great care.
I recall a friend using a snatch pull on a Discovery who
mistakenly attached the rope to the bull bar. The result was
predictable - his 4WD remained stuck in the hole and the bull
bar was left dangling on the end of the tow-tope! If you do
need to offer assistance in the form of a snatch pull, then you
should use a kinetic energy recovery rope (a KERR - see
Chapter 4 for more details on this).
42 Whatto dowhenyouget stuck
Thecorrect wayto tow
When Uning up to offer a strickenfrIend a pull out of his troubles thereare
several things toremember.
• Both vehicles and the rope
should be in as straight a line as
the area permits.
• The rope should be attached at
both ends by a shackle (see
Chapter 4for types of shackles).
• If your rope Is too short. use a
second rope Joined by a shackle.
Do not start tying knots. as they
willbecomejammedsolid because
of the towingforce.
• Place the ropers) on the ground
bet ween the two vehicles In an '5'
so that each driver can see when
the ropeIs about to takethe st rain
of thepull.
• Agree what signals will be used
by both dri vers to ensure a co-
ordinated effort. .
• Just before t he towing vehicle
moves off, the stuck driver should
Wi nching
engage gear and await the pull
with wheels turning, so that the
towingvehicleIs not pullinga dead
• As soon as the stuck vehicle Is
movingagainunder Its own power,
towing ceases and the vehicles
stop. Be careful not to drive over
the tow-rope and risk winding it
aroundthe fronthubs.
• Remove the tow-rope by
undoing the shackles. If the pin is
Jammed, use a short metalspikeor
bar In the hole at the end of the pin
for extraleverage.
When the tow Is taking place,
helpers can push the stuckvehicle,
but they must stay behind the
vehicle Incase the rope breaks and
flails back.
The person who invent ed the electric winch deserves a
medal! It is without dou bt the single most impor tant piece of
off-reader's equipment after the shovel and a recovery rope .
Vehicle-mounted winches can be either mechanically or
electrically powered. A mechanical winch is operated from a
power rake-off from the gearbox and is totally independent of
the vehicle's elecrrics, An electric winch takes its power from
the vehicle's bat tery. Despite constant charging from the
alternator during the winching process, batteries will run
down. This is nor a problem with a mechanical winch, bur
these are mor e expensive, and few manufacturers offer them.
~ Selectingandfittingthe winch
If you decide to invest in a bolt -on electric winch, make sur e
that you select the right capacity version. This is dependent on
What te diiwhen you get stuck .43
the type of use it will get and your vehicle's weight. Generally, it
is wisest and safest to select a winch which has a pulling
capacity that is 2,000 Ib greater than your vehicle's gross
vehicle weight (GVW - the GVW is the manufacturer's
recommended maximum weight with the vehicle fully loaded).
Having selected your winch, it is a good idea to let the
experts fit it. DIYwinch-fitting is not recommended unless
you are properly qualified to do it. The wioch frame must he
securely bolted onto the chassis frame of the 4WD. If your
vehicle has a rnonocoque construction, the mounting area must
be strengthened with welded plates. It is usual to mount the
control box near the winch and under the bumper or on the
bull bar. The control hox has a three-pin socket plug for the
remote control cable. However, if you prefer to operate the
winch from the comfort of the cabin, you can mount the three-
pin socket here bytaking wires from the control box to the
socket plug mounted on the cabin's facia .
Typical winch recovery situations
Winth recovery
sltuatron: vehlcle
one lobe
winched outby
Vehicle one to be winched out byvehicletwo
Vehicle two should be lined up with vehicle one. Position
vehicle two on firm ground, and, if necessary, place chocks in
front of the wheels. Connect the cable to a solid towing bracket
fitted to the chassis of vehicle one. Connect the remote control
unit to the winch control box on vehicle two and starr the
winch to reel in the slack cable.
Once the cable is taut, place a floor mat or blanket over it to
prevent the cable from flailing about in the air and hitting
someone should it break. The winch operator signals to the
driver of vehicle one to start his engine and engage gear: usually
Low second is the best choice. As vehicle one tries to drive, the
winching recovery pull is started. Operate the winch for
Stutkvetnete In
soft sand Wlnthingvehltle
Ie::' :T'. . . " ,-'-----'JII..------ .
( -" ., .. :' I l· ..: ..... f! ,
......... ... - .. .. I . ! • •
'-- . (1) WI"" (2)
.- .
44 What to dowhen you get stuck
30 seconds and then stop for a 10 second break, during which
you sho uld ensure [hac the cable is winding evenly onto the
drum, and nor bunchi ng up . Repeat rhe sequence until vehicl e
one is recovered and back on firm ground, wher eupon
winching can stop.
H the di stance to be winched o ut is as lon g as or longer than
the winch cable, vehicle one should come nose to nose with
vehicl e two as far as possible. and the proc ess shoul d be
interrupted to allow vehicle two to reverse back for a second
sessi on of pulling.
~ Vehicle one uses vehicle two as the anchor point
sl blallon:
vehlcle one
(wllh I wInch)
Stuckvehlcle usIng
Its own winch
Winch recovery
slluatlon: seu-
fll!covery by
(a) Manually
unreel lhe winch
(b) Placethe
prot ector str ap
around Ihe tree;
tie Ihe end 1001'$
(hroul h a
Thi s procedure is very similar to that described above, except
that the driver of vehicl e one now has to ope ra te th e winch
himself, as well as driving his vehicle out of the problem.
Vehicle two still has to be posi tio ned in a good place and with
wheel chocks if necessary.
.... Vehicle one is st uckand there is no vehicle two
The occasion s when self-recovery by winch is required sho uld
be very rare indeed, sinc e you should never venture off-road on
your own! In the absence of a sup po rting vehicle, some other
form of anch or point is required on which to attach rhe winch
cable. Wooded areas will have handy trees, or rocks or some
(a) (b)
What todowhenyougat stuck 45
(el Opent he
pulleybloc: kOl nd
feedIhe winch
cable aroundthe
(d) Attachthe
protector strap
to Ihe pulley
· shackle
(e) Attachthe
hooklo iI (owInc
hcckunder the
(il Start lhe
select nrsl gfar;
l he wtnch ls
t ransmtsstenIs
engaged to
ri! coverllto a
poInt whereIt
c.an moveunder
Ils ownpower
other natural item. In the desert, there are fewer trees and even
fewer rocks, bur if you happen to be stuck where there are
trees, we show here the sequence fo r self-recovery using a tree.
There are also a number of ot her different pieces of equipmenr
that could be used as an anchor:
~ Spare wheel. Dig a trench and bury the wheel upright , wi th
the winch rope att ached to the wheel's lower part and
threaded through its centre. Once the wheel has bedd ed in
and taken the strain, engage Low range and start slowly
winching and driving simultaneously.
~ Sand anchor (or ' Pull Pal' ). An easily assembled collapsible
tool, which, when it digs itself in, provides a solid anchor
poi nt in sand.
~ Danforth anchor. A sma ll boat anchor, with hinged flukes
whi ch dig int o the ground as pull-pressure is exerted on the
ancho r.
... Carroll anchor. A solid aluminium anchor, weighing less
than 10 kg, which works very ef fecti vely once it has started
to dig itself into the ground.
46 What to dowhen you get stuck
~ T-stake . An 80 ern-long angle-iron stake with aT-bar at the
top, which is driven into the ground leaning away from the
4WD at a 3D"angle. In soft ground, a second and third stake
are driven into the ground and lashed from their base to the
top of the stake in front , providing resistance for the pull.
~ Auger post. A 1.3 m-long anchor, this has a screw-shaped
blade to enable it to be screwed into the ground. Once firmly
embedded, the winch rope is attached to the hole in the top
of the post. It works well in soil and gravel, bur is less
effective in soft sand.
Riggingthewinch and usingthesnatch pulley
There will be occasions (if it is badly positioned or deeply
buried) when the straight pulls previ ously described will be
insufficient to recover the stuck vehicle. This is where the
Basic rulesof winching
• Wearleather/industrial gloves when handling winch cables
• Keep your hands away from thefairlead asthecable reelsln
• Double-check theattachments before starting
• Keep everyone at least 20 mfrom the cable
• Place amatorblanket over thecable midway between thetwovehicles
• Make sure thattheattachment points arestrong enough
• Winch Inintervals of30seconds toprevent themotor overheating
• Check thecable and hook fordamage prlorto winching
• Stand behind thedoor orsitInthecabin when operating thewinch
• Pull outthecable byhand tosave battery power
• Check thecable frequently during winching.
• Stand beside awinch cable when It Isunder strain
• Step over awinch cable thatIsunder strain
• Use atowing ball asanattachment point
• Start winching withless than three wraps on thedrum
• Continue winching ifthe motor starts smoking
• Use frayed ordamaged ropes orstraps
• Hook thewinch cable back onto itself
• Attach thecable orstraps tosteering parts
• Allow thecable topileupat one end ofthe drum
• Stand orwalk behind avehiclebeingwinched uphill
• Use avehicle winch forhoisting.
What to do when yo!' g ~ t stuck 47
snatch pulley comes into its own . The
pulling power of a winch doubles if the
cable hook is connected to the sruck
vehicle via a pulley - which is attached
by a chain to an anchor point. The
figure shows how pulling powe r can
increase relative to the angle created
by rhe winch cable's ancho r point. It
will be a much slower process to extract
the sruck vehicle, but rhar is a small
price to pay.
In cases when the cabl e hook is
atta ched to something other than the
winching vehicle, a secondanchorpoinr
is needed- one anchorpoint forthe
pulley block and the second for the
cable hook.
\X'hen using trees or other natural
objects as an anchor, always use a nylon scrap or tree-protector
to encircle the anchor point, and then connect the loose ends to
the pulley block or cable hook. The panel figure shows the
three ways to rig the winch.
If youeverneed to anchorthe winching vehicle to prevent it
from sliding forward, do not attach the line to the back of rhe
vehicle's chassis. The strains of winching areenormous and
";' .
with I pulley
block:as the
rope Inglll!
Increases, so
poweroflh e
winch Increases
Three ways torigthe wInch:
(a) Single-line straight pull: wind
- thenylonstrap around theanchor
polnt-astraight lineensures a
(b) Double-line pullusing pulley
- - , block: byuslnglhe pulleyblockat
• • 1 • ~ theanchorpolntandroutelngthe
=== ) winch cableback tothewinch
~ (b) vehicle, theeffective pull Isdoubled.
(c) Double-linepullwithspreader
strap: thecable hook Isattached to
- --- aspreader strap which Isattached
) i ;=:=_.c::::a tothetowIngbrackets onthewinch
~ (e) vehicle, spreadingtheload fora
morestable and straight pull.
48 What to dowhanynu gat stuck
attach the
10sclld points at
then feed back
underneath the
vehicleto the
10right a rolled
could easily distort or bend the chassis. The above figure shows
how the testraining line should be passed under the vehicle and
attached to the winch mounting plate.
Never attach the cable hook back on to the cable itself.
The strains involved will cause the hook to dig into the cable
and produce a permanent kink at that point, thus weakening it.
Never attach a winch cable to any part of the front axle tube, -
steering and suspension components or bumpers or bull bars
- they will break or become distorted. Only use the
manufacturer's towing hooks or brackets which are welded to
the chassis.
Othertips for recovery
Righting a rolled
There is a right and a wrong
way to put a rolled vehicle
.. back on its wheels. It should
be done as soon as possible
after the vehicle has rolled, to
minimise any leakage of
engine oil, petrol or other
essential fluids. Most
importantly, the whole
process must be carried out slowly and gently to avoid any
more damage.
If there is a vehicle in the group with a winch, then that is
the first choice of pulling power. If no winch is available, selecr
the strongest vehicle present and engage it in Low range when
the pulling starts. The best recovery line to use is a wide
webbing strap, as this will spread the load and cause less
damage to the vehicle's bodywork.
My LandRover
was wedgedin
centre cross
wheels wereIn
mld-alr and there
Wehadto lackIt
upand place
stones and rocks
under the wheels
ground clearance
toget moving.
Wedidnot even
the vehicleoff
W!!e'!l lot!!J , ! ! h ~ ! , YQU, ge! slue]< 49
Righting a rolled vehicle: withthe winching vehIcle at least 15-20 m
away, the recovery strap must be passed overthe topofthe rolled
vehicle and threaded betweenthe vehicleand the ground.Ideally, It
should beattached to the chassis frameor wrappedaroundthe
centre door pillar ifthevehIcle 15 afour-doormodeL Once thestrap
has beensecurelyattached, the pullingvehiclecaneitherstart
winchingor start moving slowlyforward. Dig shallowholes bythe
frontand rearwheels forthemto fallintoand prcvlde a pointof
leverageforthe bodyto be righted.
Once the rolled vehicle is back on its wheels, check the fluid
levels, including battery acid and engine oil , before trying to
start the engine, as it is likely that some of the oil will have
leaked into the combustion chambers. You should therefore
remove all the spark plugs and then turn the engine over to expel
any oil or other fluids from the combustion chambers. Stand
back when this happens, or you will be covered in oil spray!
Stuckon, or in, rocks
Resist the temptation to put on a rope and pull a vehicle that is
stuck on a rock or in rocks, as it will land with its wheels
wedged among other rocks,
and you could damage a diff
casing or engine sump. The
best way to free a stuck vehicle
is to lift it with an air bag or
hi-lift jack and fill in the hole
with stones before lowering it
again. If the vehicle is resting
on a diff or transmission
casing, great care is needed to
prevent serious damage to the
50 What to dowhen you gel stuck
Stuck in mud
If this happens,
youcanget out
byusIngan air
bag, hi-liftJack
or a KERR, which
wedldn" have!
I once got stuck in wet black
cotton soil in the Aberdares,
Kenya, for seven hours before
being rescued by the park
rangers. Foolishly, I thoughr
we would be able to plough
through the mud, but due to
its treacle-like consistency, we
lost traction within metres
and sank up to the chassis. No
amount of pushing would
move the vehicle.
We got stuck at 4 pm, and help arrived at 11 pm in the form
of three rangers and a very old Land Rover. \Y./e had spent seven
very uncomfortable hours with only a packet of biscuits and a
bottle of water, but thankfully, plenty of cigarettes! 1shall never
forget being woken from a restless sleep bya Kikuyu Ranger
standing in the pouring rain: "Jumbo, Bwana, we are here to
rescue you!" Never was anyone so welcome!
The force of the suction was so great, it took the combined
efforts of the three rangers and me - digging, pushing and
pulling - over two hours to get out of the mud hole. The best
way to break the tremendous suction of mud is to lift the
vehicle vertically with an air bag or hi-lift jack - sadly, we had
neither of these items with us. The other essential piece of
equipment for mud recovery is a KERR - we didn't have one
of these either!
Using a flat piece of wood as a base platform, lift the vehicle
with either the air bag or the hi-lift jack to break the suction,
then fill in the holes made by the wheels with solid material
before lowering it. Then try to drive out.
Alternatively, attach the KERR and start pulling the vehicle
at walking pace until maximum stretch is achieved. The
contraction of the KERR is usually sufficient to break the force
of the suction, and move the vehicle, even if it is only for a
metre or two. The pull is then repeated until the stranded
vehicle is eventually recovered. Bear in mind that another
problem with mud is that it clogs up the tyre tread, and you
finish up with slicks.
What to dowhen you get stuck 51
Grounded on tap
of a sand rIdge:
the pulling
vehlcle engages
slowlV movesoff
Grounded on top of a sand ridge
It happens to the best of us! You are driving up the windward
side of a dune and misjudge the point at whi ch to stop and
check what is 011 the other side - the result is grounding our
with the front wheels on one side of the ridge, the rear wheels
on the other side and the vehicle stuck on top.
The qui ckest and easiest way to recover is to ask a friend
to pull you off the ridge. Th e correct way to do this is to
attach the rope with the towing vehicle facing up the slope (if
possible, for better visual control of the situation ) and to take
the strain on the rope. Engaging Low reverse, the towing
vehicle gentl y moves off; the weight of the towing vehicle and
the traction of its wheel s should be sufficient to move the stuck
vehicl e that metre or so forward, from where it can proceed
under its own power.
Using the handbrake
A judicious use of the handbrake when tryin g to drive off from
a stationary positi on in soft sand is a good idea. Even with a
very light depression of the accelerator, you may still
experience wheel spin. Sometimes it is possible to sto p it by a
few quick pulls on the handbrake lever. Thi s acts only on the
rear wheels - by stopping them momentarily and then
releasing them you may be successful in getting a grip on the
rear wheels and moving the vehicle forward . This degree of
vehicle control is not possible on American SUVs (sports utility
vehicles), which use a foot-operated parking brake.
52 Equipment for when you get stuck
Equipment far
when yau get stuck
n-board equipment is essential for safety and survival when
venturing off-road. This chapter gives details of the things
you need to take with you for when you get stuck, plus all the
other 'nice to have' bits and pieces.
Recovery ropes
You need a strong rope which has a breaking strain of several
times the GVW of your vehicle. So, if your vehicle has a GVW
of 3,000 kg, your rope should have a capacity of between
5-7 tonnes. Lifting straps are extremely strong, but lack the
elasticity found in specially made recovery ropes. Modern
polypropylene ropes are better than webbing lifting straps as
they have more 'give' in them to absorb some of the initial
shock from 'snatch' pulls. Do not confuse a recovery rope with
an ordinary tow-rope as the latter will break under the strain of
an off-road recovery situation. Never use wire tow-ropes for
recovery work. \Vire ropes are fine for winching because the
strain is slow and progressive, bur if you use a wire rope for
heavy snatch pulls, it will easily break.
The rope should ideally have a loop at each end. Never
attach either of these loops directly onto towing hooks or
brackets on either the towing or towed vehicle, since such
continuous unprotected use will tend to fray the edges and
weaken the rope. Always use a shackle at each end of the rope.
The longer the rope the better as a long rope allows the
towing vehicle to remain on firm ground well away from the
stuck vehicle. If the recovery rope is too short, the rowing
vehicle may be in the same mess as the stuck one and
(or off-road lise;
the longerthe
Equipment for when you get stuck 53
consequently unable to get
good traction. The rope
should be at least 25-35 m
long. Serious off-readers
,'I often carry two ropes: a long
-.; one of 15-20 m and a shorter
one of 8-10 m. If the stuck
vehicle needs a very serious
pull, use a yoke system. In
this, a separate short length of
rope is attached to both front
rowing eyes of the stuck
vehicle and passed through
the loop of the recovery rope.
This lessens the impact on the
towing hooks of the stuck vehicle when the pull takes place.
The best type of rope is a kinetic energy recovery rope
(KERR). This is a loosely woven rope whose plaited
construction allows it to stretch to about 150 per cent of its
normallengrh. It works like this: when the towing vehicle
accelerates away, the rope will stretch; as it contracts, the
energy stored in the rope will pull the stranded vehicle our. It
should have a greater breaking strain than a conventional rope.
As KERRs are bulky, it is better to have one that is only 8-10 m
long for ease of stowage. A second conventional rope can
always be linked to the KERR if a longer rope is required.
Shaped like the letter 'D', these are made of galvanised steel (to
prevent rusting), and are used to connect the recovery rope to
the towing brackets or pintle hooks found on 4WD vehicles.
It is important to select one with a pin that is long enough to
accept the full width of the tow-rape's end loop. You must also
ensure that the ends of the curved section (with the holes) will
pass through the towing eyes or brackets on your vehicle.
Shackles are subjected to a tremendous strain when towing, so
it is important to ensure that they are correctly aligned. The pin
of the shackle should be in contact with the rope, and the
curved piece of the 'D' in contact with the towing eye or
54 Equipment lor whenyou get stuck
bracket. The pin can become
distorted or damaged if it
comes in contact with the
towing hook.
Some row-bars are built in as
an integral part of a 4WD's
construction, particularly
vehicles with a ladder-frame
chassis. Monocoque body 4WDs may need to have a suitable
tow-bar fitted as an extra. These tow-bars should be fitted
professionally as they must be attached to the chassis frame or
to the main members of a monacoque body. When the tow-bar
is fitted, you must decide what type of connection with which
to attach the towed object. The usual choices are a ball hitch or
a pintle hook.
... Ball hitch. The standard size is a 50 rom diameter ball.
Never attach a rowing rope to the ball hitch when recovering
a stuck vehicle. It is not designed to absorb the extreme
shocks and strains associated with this type of activity, and
will break under the excess force of a snatch pull.
.... Pintle hook. This uses a jaw to take a towing ring attached to
the towed object. It is a very safe item, and can also be used
to take the shackle ofthe towing rope for recovery activity.
The spring-loaded, hinged upper jaw creates a solid bracket
when it is in the closed position.
These are not just the cheapest and most basic of the essential
equipment you must buy, they are also the most important!
As the shovel is used to clear sand, earth or mud from under the
vehicle, it needs to be of a handy size. Short handles are
preferable to long handles when trying to scrape the sand away
from under the front axle. The folding shovel (as used by the
military) is an excellent piece of equipment: it is light in weight,
Equipmentfor when you get stuck 55
takes up minimal space when folded, and can be used in either
the fully extended mode or with the blade at tight angles to the
shaft. The blade can also act as a good base fat a jack if you
have to usc it on soft ground.
Air jack
This is a simple bur very effective device to lift a stuck or
bogged-down vehicle. Its popularity lies in its large contact
area with the ground (thus spreading the load) and its light
weight and user friendliness. An inflatable bag roughly 30 em
in diameter, the air jack is made of plastic-coated fabric, which
expands to give a lift of approximately 25 inches. This allows
you to fill in the holes made by the wheels, or even change a
wheel in the event of a puncture - especially useful if the
puncture occurs on soft ground or sand where it would be
difficult to use a mechanical jack. DO NOT get under the
vehicle yourself unless you have placed an axle stand or
something solid under the vehicle to take its weight if the bag
loses pressure. Care should be taken to keep the bag away from
hot parts of the engine and exhaust pipe.
The three major
ccmpunents in
the hi-liftJack:
upright column;
the ratchet Itself
and a handle
move the ratchet
upthe column
Hi-lift jack
The hi-lift (aka 'ratchet') jack
does exactly what the air jack
does -lifts up the vehicle
- but it does so in a rather
more macho style! Although
slim, it is tall (height varies
from 4-5 fr), and heavy due to
its cast-iron construction. It
will lift your vehicle higher
than the air jack, and can
easily lift weights in excess of
3 ronnes. It is a fairly unstable
piece: of equipment, though,
and requi res a fabricated
recessed plate for the foot at
58 Equipmentfor when you get stuck
the base of the column to sit in. The base also acts to spread the
load in soft ground. The hi-lift can be used for wheel changing
in an emergency, but if there are other more stable means of
lifting the vehicle they should be used as first option. It can also
be used to 'lift and fill' if you have the proper jacking points
fitted ro the vehicle. Although unstable, the advantage of using
this jack is that once the front and then the rear of the vehicle is
clear of the holes, you can collapse the jack sideways so the
wheels land on level sand.
Trolley jack
A common sight in garage workshops, even a medium-size
trolley jack can lift 5 or 6 tonnes. (There are also lighter mini
trolley jacks measuring less than 45 cm.l You need a base plate
big enough for all the wheels to stand on ro spread the weight
and to keep the jack stable. The handle is removable, and is
usually in two pieces for ease of storage. The mini trolley jack is
definitely the best choice for wheel changing in the field.
Impact spanner
If you have ever had trouble removing wheel nuts when
changing a wheel, you will appreciate the usefulness and speed
of this 12V electric impact spanner, which plugs into the
vehicle's cigarette lighter. There is a choice of socket sizes to fit
all currently used wheel nuts, but you may need to use a socket
extension to clear the centre hub found on some vehicles. This
is definitely a worthwhile investment.
Wheel-nut spider
Most manufacturers provide a very basic type of wheel-nut
spanner, which is usually quite short, making it an impossible
job to loosen tight nuts. The 'spider' (a cross with different
sized sockets at each of the four ends of the spanner) overcomes
this problem as you can get two hands on it and exert a lot
more pressure.
Equipment forwhenyouget stuck 57
Recovery equipment
Backrow(l to r): Rug, foldingspade, tool klt, iavwheel-nut
spanner/Jack, lampstool, airpump. wooden base plate.
Centrerow(l to r): '0' shackle. spade, funnel. KERR rope, toilet roll,
WD40, two-tonne trolleyjack, towingstraps andshackles, jump-leads.
Front row(l to r): Winchaccessorykitand gloves, strobe light, axe,
fan belt, wheel-nut spanner,lump hammer. two lyre gauges, socket
extension, lyre repair kit, sIphonpump, screwdrive r,survival kit,
wheel-nut spider, ' 0' shackle. flrst-ald box.
Base plate
You should always carry a (preferably) wooden base plate of
at least 30 ern', and strong enough to support the jack with
which the vehicle is lifted. The special foot recess base plate
used for a hi-lift jack can also double up for general use.
Tool kit
The kit supplied by most manufacturers is very basic and is of
little value to serious off-readers, whilst the cheap kits from
the Far East are a total waste of money. You will need sets of
open-ended and ring spanners (check if your vehicle uses metric
hardware or the older SAE); a 1/, inch drive socket set and
driver and extension drive; adjustable spanners; a Mole
wrench; pliers of different types; screwdrivers with flat and
cross end s of dif ferent sizes; insulating tape; duct tape; a
Stanley knife and blade s; a Swiss Army knife; a Leatherman
too l; nu ts, holts and screws; Allen keys; WD40 and brake
and clutch hydraul ic fluids at least. (Do n' t forget tha t other
all-important item: a pai r of jump-leads t]
Glass breaker/belt cutter
A quick ex it from the vehicle if t here is a serious accident can
be difficult if it has rolled over and the doo rs ar e da maged and
will not open. Holl ywood films show Bruce Willis punching his _
way through glass windows, bur in reali ty even an axe will not
break a door window. The glass breaker has 3 very sharp point
to it, which can be used to break the roughened glass doo r
wi ndo ws o r rear windscreen to provi de a quick ex it. The rool
3 150 has a very sharp edge for cuttin g through seat belt s.
There are three pieces of hardware I always carry that have
proved invaluable on several occasions. The first is a jemmy;
t he second is a small 3 kg lump hammer for re-shaping any
dented wings; the third is a small hand ax e for removing
branches blocking your wa y, or for so urcing firewood from
dead trees (refrain from attacking Jiving trees and bushes! ).
Asmall foldi ng saw is also useful for this type of work.
Winch accessory kit
In addition to the winch, you wi ll need an accessor y kit, which
should include the following:
High-tensile chain (3 rn Iong) with a hook at each end.
... Tree-protector strap (never wrap a wire rope aro und a tree!).
D-ring shackle.
Pair of heavy-du ty gloves.
Snatch pulley block.
When your vehicle lets YDUdown 59
When your vehicle
lets you down
e have now discussed the mechanics of your 4WD; what
it will do and what options are available to you when
driving off-road. The next important thing to deal with is: how
to prevent anything from going wrong and what to do if it does.
Preventive maintenance
For the average weekend off-reader, following the
manufacturer's recommended schedule of service and
maintenance is sufficient to ensure your 4\X!D is maintained in
good condition. More frequent usage, especially in hot and
dusty conditions, requires extra tender loving care.
Ordering parts from yourdealer
The parts counter salesman will welcome you if yOll have all
the information he needs to supply you with the right parts.
You need to be able to tell him the following.
~ Vehicle model and chassis number: this is found on the
vehicle ID plate fitted bythe manufacturer - if in doubt, ask
the salesman where this plate is located.
.... Model year: this may not always be the same as the year in
which the vehicle is registered; for example, the 19 99 model
year will be available from September 1998 onwards.
~ Part number (if known) .
.... Brief description of the part required .
~ Whether it is a left-handed part or a right-handed part (if the
part is 'handed').
60 When your vehicle lets you down
Vital information for dealership
vehicle's ID
plat e. this
example Is rora
Nlesen Patrol
short wheelbase
Type: KY60
Chassi s: KY6o-304817
Model number: KY60FRHsJR
Colour / tr Im: 0 0 2 K
Engine number: TB42 4169
Transaxle: FSSRsoA HG41
Always double-check the parts before you leave to mak e sure
you have the correct items. There is nothing more ann oying
than to return home and find you have the wrong part!
Air filter
Frequent use in hot and dusty conditions quickly clogs up the
pores of the air filter. Thi s restricts the nor mal air flow to the
carburerror and engine, whi ch affects the air/fuel mixture ratio.
The resultant loss of power may cause you to misjudge the
engine's capability and get stuck in the most innocuous places.
Change the air filter more frequently than the standa rd service
schedule suggests, or have it regularly cleaned at the service
station. Engines fitted with electronic fuel injection (EFII ar e
not so badly affected.
Checking tyres
Before setting off for an off-road excursion, always check the
condition of the ryres. Th e tr ead is not a problem as that is
very visible; it is the sidewalls that require inspection,
particularl y on the inside to ensure there are no cuts or bulges
in the wall s. Don't for get to check the spare wheel for damage
and tyre pres sure.
A quick check under the bonnet will confirm tha t the engine
oil is fine, and that the clutch and brake fluid cylinders ar e
topped up. Don't for get the engine cool ant and the washer
When your vehicle lets you down 61
General work tips
Most 4WDvehiclesaretallert hancarsandsometimes it isnot aseasyto
accessmechanical components intheenginecompartmentwhen
leaning across the (oftenhot) front bumpers. Usethe sparewheel.or
veer coot-box (If It Isastrong onel) to standon for easier accesst o those
Most toolsaremadeof steel or aluminiumandifexposed tothesun
willquickly becometoo hot to handle. Keep the tools inthe shade and
wear protective gloveswhenworkingon thevehicle.
bottle. If you have an automaric 4WD, check rhe fluid level in
the gearbox. When you check the bat tery fluid level, also
ensure the mountings are secure - the battery is a very heavy
item and bumping aro und off-road may loosen the brackets
hold ing it in place.
Maintainingyourwinch rope
If you have had to use the winch, it is a good idea to unwind
it from the drum, check for damage or fraying, and then
rewind it evenly across the full width of the drum when you
get home. If the rope is dirty, clean it but not with oil, as [his
leaves a sticky residue on the wire rope, attracting din and
sand to form a grindi ng paste, which will accelerat e wear.
Instead, use a water hose or petrol-soaked rag to clean off any
dirt and grit on the rope.
Once off-road
In the summer months, it does not take long for an engine to
overheat , especially if you have been doi ng a lot of slow driving
in Low range. As soon as the temperature gauge starts to
climb into the danger/red sect ion you must take precautions to
reduce the temperatur e. The first thing to do is switch off [he
air-conditioning. If this has no effect, turn on the heat er fan to
the ' full hot' setting . This reduces the temperature of rhe engine
coolant by taking heat away fro m it and into the hearing
62 When your vehicle lets you down .
system. Turn the vehicle and drive into the wind for added
airflow through the radiator. It is a good idea to carry a full
20 litre water container as a precaution against severe loss of
engine coolant.
Remember that the most important element of the engine
coolant in hot countries is the rust inhibitor; therefore, you
should go to your garage and get them to drain and refill the
radiator and engine with the correct amount of coolant
mixture as soon as possible.
Broken fan or drive beLts
The story about replacing a broken fan belt with the
girlfriend's nylon stockings is a familiar one, but these days
there are more appropriate alternatives! Some 4WDs can have
as many as three or four drive belts, which are all worked by
pulleys from the crankshaft. The most important of these is the
alternator belt as it drives the vehicle's electrics. It is a good
idea to carry a spare one of these or a multi-purpose emergency
belt that can be Cllt to the required length and screwed together.
As a very temporary measure, a piece of rope can be used to
replace the broken belt.
Leaking radiator or hoses
For a temporary radiator sealant, you can use raw egg white if
the hole is small enough! A more reliable method, however, is
to use special powder in the radiator which seals holes from the
Whilst waitingforthe vehicleto cooldown,neverswitchoffthe engine
- alwaysleaveit tickingoverto ensure circulation of the water.
Switching offthe enginecauses the temperatureto rise quickly, and the
radiatormayboilover. Ifthis happens, youjust haveto waitfor Itto cool
down,oryou cangentlypourwater overthe radiator. Never tryto
remove the radiatorcapwhensteam is escaping.Wait untilthe bubbling
stops, and, usinga rag, gentlyundothe radiatorcapto let the steam
escape. Try not to let anycoolantescape. With the enginestill running,
slowlytop upthe radiator. pausingto allowthe water pumpto circulate
it fully roundthe engine blockand the coolingsystem.
When your vehicle lets you down 63
inside. Hoses usually leak because the y ar e old and perished,
and thi s occurs most frequentl y around the hose clips where
t hey cut into the rubber. Generous wrappings of duct tape will
tempo rarily dea l with this.
Coo ling systems are designed to operate und er pressure, bur
this degree of pressure will quickly find any weak points,
creating leaks in the cooling system. If temporary repairs have
been carried our [Q the radiator or hoses, it is wise to relieve the
build-up of press ure by nor fully replacing rhe radia tor cap.
The problem with this is that the water in the system will now
boil at a lower temperature (at 100" C), so care is need ed if you
arc still driving off-road a fter the temporary repairs, especially
in hot weather,
Starting with a flat battery
An automat ic vehicle cann ot be push- or tow-start ed. Borh
manua l and auto matic can, however, be starred with a set of
jump- leads. You can al so starr a vehicle by using a piece of rope
wrapped around one of the rear wheels that has been jacked
up. Wi th the gear lever in fourrh or fifth gear and the ignition
turned on, a colleague pu lls the rope to spi n the whe el - this
will tu rn the engine and hopefull y starr it.
Refuelling in the field
A20 ·lItre
rapacity metal
-j errycan with
pour ing spoul ;
the spoulhasa
fine meshfiller
10 prevent dirt
the lank
Metal ierrycan s ar e the best
and strongest fuel containers,
and are easy to handle. When
filling them, always leave
sufficienr space for the fuel to
expand in the hear.
Never fill to overfl owing
- the fuel can spray out when
rhe cap is Iifred due to rhe
build- up of pressure, soaking
your shoes. Before opening a
[err ycan, it is advisa ble to
discharge any static electricity
that ma y have bui lt up by
touching the can on a ba re
64 Whenyeur vehiclelets ynu dewn
metal parr of the vehicle. Where you store the jerrycan is your
personal choice, bur it must be securely fastened if inside the
vehicle and when driving off-road. Some vehicles carry their
spare fuel on a roof-rack, where the fuel can be decanted without
removing the jerrycan by using a hand-operated siphon pump.
There are two potential problem areas with the jerrycan,
though. Firstly, the rubber seal on the fillet cap may perish,
allowing fuel to leak our . Secondly, the ted paint lining the
inside of the can may start peeling off; if this gets into the fuel
tank it can cause a blockage in the fuel tank filter.
Broken Leafsprings
On one occasion, the main leaf in the left rear spring of my jeep"
Wrangler snapped, miles from anywhere. Luckily, we were able
to wedge a Dvshackle under the chassis that held the broken
sections in place long enough to get home. Broken springs are
like broken limbs - they usually need a splint to hold them
firmly in place. Remember that with a leaf spring set up, it is
the spring that locates the axle, so it is important to try ro make
a very rigid temporary repair.
Broken throttle cabLes
Some of the more advanced 4WDs no longer have throttle
cables as the butterfly in the inlet manifold is moror-powered
and receives signals from an ECU (electronic control unit).
However, there are many vehicles that still use the familiar
throttle cable, and sometimes it can break under the strain. The
simplest temporary repair is to connect the throttle lever to a
piece of string or thin rope, then run the string out from under
the bonnet and in through the driver's door window. The driver
can then use it as a hand-operated throttle.
Broken driveshafts
If one of the front driveshafts breaks, you can continue in 2WD
if you are driving a part-time 4WD vehicle. If it is a full-time
4WD, you would need ro remove the fron t prop shaft to isolate
the drive from the front axle. If a rear driveshaft breaks, after
removing the rear prop shaft, you can continue by engaging
When your vehielelets you down 65
4WD mode, and drive with only rhe front wheel s pu lling rhe
vehicle along.
Repairing t he winch rope
If it breaks, the winch rope can be repaired in the field by using
small cable clamps until a replacement cable can be obta ined.
The clamps must be fitted correctly with the IU' bearing on the
' dead' end of the cable and the bar bearing on rhe ' live' parr of
rhe cable, If your off-roa d activit ies demand freq uent use of rhe
wi nch, it is advisable to car ry four small clamps of the cor rect
size. Remember that t he diameter of the winch cable is 5/ )(, inch,
or 8 mm. A wi nch cable repaired with clamps wi ll lose at least
40 per cenr of its pulling capac ity, ho wever, and sho uld on ly be
used in an emergency.
Repalringlhe winch rope

a bleonlyoffers U1padty
• Dead end / ; .: .

(al Standardcable8 mmdiameter.
(b)Correct. 'U' mustbearondeadend.
(c) Incorrect: very unsafe.
66 Talkabout tyres
Talk aboullyres
s the majority of off-readers use their 4WD vehicles for
everyday things and only head off for the wilderness at the
weekend, the choice of ryre fitted to the vehicle has to be a
compromise; not solely for either tarmac or off-road use. Tyres
fitted by manufacturers are also a compromise, rending to be -
those which will cater for the GVW and maximum road speed
with little to spare.
Tyres for sand driving
Tyres are designed with many factors and applications in mind:
speed, load capacity, grip, traction, durability, road noise, cost
and so on. Tyres designed specifically for desert driving will not
work well in mud or on the highway - and vice versa. Sand
ryres are the best for sand driving as they have circumferential
grooves and no cross tread patterns. They have rounded
shoulders that arc designed for 'flotation' on the surface of the
sand, with no sharp edges to cut through the crust to the softer
sand beneath. They have no tread pattern, however, and their
life expectancy on tarmac will be only half that of a treaded
tyre. Using them on the highway can be dangerous as they have
little grip and no handling capability when braking and
cornering on a wet road. The best on-/off-road ryres to opt for
are: Bridgestone Desert Duellers, Toyo Open Country, Dunlop
Grandtrek, Michelin XS, BF Goodrich, Pirelli Scorpion or
Yokohama Super Diggers.
When on sand, the tyres must be used at reduced pressures
for most of their life and this puts great stress on the sidewalls.
The off-reader will need a tyre with a strong and flexible
sidewall, so check its 'speed rating'. The higher the rating is, the
stronger the sidewall. Also look for reinforcing ridges built
Talkabout lyres 87
Every tyre hasItsspecification moulded into thesidewall;
understanding whatthesemarkings mean isuseful when selecting
a replacement tvre.
K 68 110
L 75 120
Internationally used speed
Symbol mph kph
J 62 100
170 R 105
Q 10 0
H 130
5 113
T 118
U 124
M 81
N 87
P 93
Alyplcal4WD lyre may be
described asl27S/ 70 R16 114H'
= section width orthe tyre
= the'aspectratio':
theheight of the tyre
expressed asa
percentage of itswidth
R - radial-plyconstruction
16 - diameter ofthe wheel
rlm.In inches
114 = load index showing
maximum load thetyrecan
carry forthecorresponding
speed categorysymbol
H = speed categorysymbol

68 Talk about tyres
into the sidewall to give added protection against rocks and
camel-thorn punctures.
I had great trouble a few years ago with a set of tyrcs I
purchased, suffering nine punctures in only four months, when
in the previous two years I could only recall three punctures in
total. It was only after some detailed analysis that I realised I
had bought a tyre with a soft sidewall ('5' speed rated) when I
shonld have had the harder sidewall version ('1-1' speed rated)
- but nobody told me at the time!
Tubed or tubeless?
There are advantages and disadvantages with both options for -
the off-reader. For the average weekend off-reader; tubeless
tyres will be satisfactory. Punctures from camel-thorns will be
slow compared to the sudden deflation when an inner tube is
pierced. For more frequent off-readers, tubed tyres are a better
opti on because there can be problems with tubeless tyres when
operating at low pressures: there is a risk of the bead coming
loose on the rim, or losing a good seal when sand gets between
the tyre and the rim, or when a wheel gets damaged on rocks.
The disadvantage with tubed tyres is the vulnerability of the
inner tube and the need to fit the spare because of a puncture.
Reduced pressures
As we have seen, 'flotation' is a term used by off-readers to
describe the concept of the vehicle floating on the surface of
the sand. The nature and consistency of the sand will change
General guidelInes fortyre pressures
Drysand In summer
Emergency cases
Maximum speed (kph)
*only ifusing t ubed tyres, NOTfor tubeless
Talk about lyres 69
Tyre-related tips
• Everyoff·roadershould always carrya lyrepressure gaugeortwa inhis
or her vehicle. The standard pocket clip pressure gauge is notoriously
inaccurate; the better types arethose t hat have a dial facewitha needle
pointing to the scale. Make sure it has a little pip on it to use for
depressingthe lyre valve. The clip-on dial typewithshort length of hose
and a pistol-gripwithtriggerfor deflatingis also worth having.
• An air-pump is an essential pieceofequipment. Wit ha 12Vheavy-duty
pump operated via a plug in the cigarette lighter. you will find that
15 minut es invested ininflationtimecan savedamagetoyour lyres from
drivingon tarmacat lowpressures.
• Avery simple yet often ignored precaution: always fit valve caps to
eachwheel, includingthe spare.These smallcaps prevent grainsofsand
or dirt from getting into the valve, thus possibly losing air pressure.
Another wise investment is a tyre valve tool to tighten the valves from
timeto time. It can also be used for deflation and for cleaningdirt from
the valvebody.
• Tubeless tyre repair kits are cheap and easy to use in an emergency.
Theyallowyouto insert a temporarypluginto the tyre, whicheffectively
seals theleakwhenthelyreisinflated. Theyareuseful incases whenthe
tyre does not have to be removed fromthe wheel. There are also aerosol
cans available whichcontain a liquid that can be inserted Into a flat t yre
Puncture repair kits for inner tubes are more sophisticated, and
requirethe tyretobe partiallyremovedfromthe wheel andthe innert ube
to be takenout; youwillalso need three lB·inchgood-qualitytyre levers.
on a seasonal basis depending on the amount of rainfall,
moisture from morning fog or humidity levels. In the summer,
the sand will be at its dr iest, offering the minimum amount of
trac tion, so tyre pressures will have to be at rhe lower end of
rhe scale. In rhe wi nter months, ryrc pr essures can be
increased slightly.
Don' t forget that the handling of the vehicle will be totall y
different when driving at these low pressures. It will roll 111 0re
when cornering, and steering respo nse will be vague and slow;
the bra king will also be affected. When dr iving in rock y wadis
and on mountain tracks, ret urn your ryres to norma l tarmac
pressure or even a litt le hard er for maximum protect ion agai nst
sidewall da mage from sharp Stones and rocks.
70 Aplace for everything . ••
Aplace for everything ...
any off-waders tend to give pride of place to their
cool-box and ignore the need for the safe stowage of and
easy accessibility to equipment and tools. It is important that
everything is firmly secured and there is nothing loose lying
around to hit you on the head when you go over a bump! Most
modern 4WD vehicles have tie-down hooks in the rear luggage
compartment, which should be used with bungies or a rope to
tie down your equipment (and cool-) box. If you are a regular
off-roader, you may consider permanently bolting your
equipment box to the vehicle's floor. Apart from a custom
equipment box, many of the small items that will be in regular
use can be scored in the glove box, centre console and door
pockets etc. Here is a suggested layout of what should go where,
followed by a closer look at those all-important odds and ends.
.... Fascia-mounted items:
control unit
mini distance recorder
.... Driver's side
windscreen pillar:
~ Driver's door pocket:
three tyrepressure gauges
extensionbar andsocket for
multiple typescrewdriver
windscreen washer fluid
~ Front passenger footwell:
fire extinguisher
~ Passenger door pocket:
tubeless tyrerepairkit
survival kit
windscreen squeegee
.... Bagon reardoor:
toilet paper
small first-aid kit
stroboscopicsignalling light
SwissArmy knife
folding knife/fork/spoonset
~ Glove box:
vehicle handbook
pairof heavy-duty gloves
GPS manuals
Aplace lor everything.. . 71
Closed boxin rear:
winch accessorybag
(chain, pulleyblock,
tree-protector strap, etc)
battery jump-leads
wheel-nut spider
wheel-nut spanner
10 Iblump hammer
12V air compressor
200,000 candle power
12V lamp
plastic tube/bulb siphon kit
plastic funnel
bag ofspare batteries
bag ofspare ropes and straps
rollof duct tape
cleaning brush
emergencyfan belt kit
can ofWD40
spare recoverystrap
(left side of vehicle):
large first-aidkit
small toot box
bag of plastic ties
boxwithspare hardware
spare bungles
sheath knife
... Driver's sun visor:
list of important telephone
numbers on reverse side
... Separate Inrear:
extension tube for
wheel-nut spider
10titrewater container (full)
carton of 24half-litre
water bottles
bag containing KERR
.... Centre console
mini torch
Allen key
vehicle registration card
disposable cigarette lighter
spare pencils
copyof insurance certificate
tube ofSuperglue
triple powersockets
.... Open boxinrear:
12V electricwheel-nut
spanner kit
tool kit
1.5tonne mini trolleyjack
wooden baseboard
recoverystrap andshackles
air jackkit
facia stowage •••
- ---' -"'- - '
. I
- t
72 Aplace for everything .. •
Useful odds and ends
... 12V fluorescent strip light. Useful for night-time illumination .
The wires have a lligator clips for attaching to battery cables,
and there is also a small hook for convenient attachment.
.... Insect repellent. Flies are present in their millions in the Gulf
winter; a small spray of insect repellent solves this irritation.
... Groundsheet. If working with small parts, put a groundsheet
on the ground so yOll will not lose anything. It is also usefu l
when crawling under the vehicle on din, stones or hot sand.
... Goggles. If you have ever been caught in a shamal in the
desert, yOll will appreciate the value of a pa ir of goggles !
.... Lamps and torches. Have at least two types in your vehicle
- a small pen light for close at hand use and a large one with
a beam of '100111 or more. A head lamp with elastic straps is
best when working with both hands.
.. Swiss Army knife. There are many versions of this essential
off-reader's tool. Basic items have three or four tools, whi le
the top of the range model has no less than 31 tools!
.. Lea therman tool. A slightly more serious type of tool than a
Swiss Army knife, although with fewer gadgets, this is
extremely practical and very useful.
... Driving gloves. If you arc driving for long stretches, the wear
and tear on your hands can be reduced by wearing a pair of
soft leather driving gloves. They also provide some protection
when handling the wire winch cable.
... Binoculars. The idea l specification is a combination of
compact size and lar ge magnification. A sma ll pair that will
fit snugly into the glove box is the best choice.
... Camera. Always take your camera with you as you never
know what you may find to photograph! In a situation where
an accident has to be reported to the police, it is a good idea
to have a pictorial record to show the police and your
insurance company.
... Walkie-talki e set . You can use walkie-talkie sets with a radius
of 1 kill without contravening the law. They are very usefu l if
one member of the group is scouting ahead on foot for a route
through dunes and directing the convoy.
.. Hat. Always take a cap or a hat (ideally, one with a rear neck
flap) with you to wear when out of the vehicle.
T ..

: :: ::
, '" , " "
: : : :, :: : '
, i i ii ' : i
"" " '
:: :: " :
" " ,
ii ' i
Hew contour
lines reveal the
geography of
the land

350 -
3 00 -

2 0 0-
NavigatiDn 73
avigat ion is more than just finding your way from A to B.
It is also bein g able to go to B again, and to appreci ate the
terrain and nature by int erpreting maps or photographs, and
even the data from a Global Positioning System (CPS) screen.
To me, maps are as entertaining as a good book. 1will sit and
' read' a map for hours on end, whil st visualising the terrain and
what is on it. Unfortunately, it is not easy to find up-to-date
maps in man y Middle Eastern countries for reasons of national
security, but I have a selection of OS maps of some of the
remote parts of UAE that are now 30 years old. Amazin gly, the
Bedouin t racks marked in red lines on these old maps arc still
used to this day, and on basically the same alignment. In
conjunction with modern GPS instruments, such maps can still
be used to find your way around the desert and back again.
The maps we are concerned with are not the same as road
maps, which just show the road network and help us to get
from A to B. These arc usually
white and lack any form of
topographical features. As
off-readers, we are interested
in full relief maps that show
lots of detail to help the driver
understand what the area or
region is like. Maps use
symbols to indicate certain
points of reference. such as
roads, rivers, masts and so on.
Maps also use contour lines to
Maps are produced at different scales. Ascale relates to the distance on
thegroundrepresentedby 1 emonthemap. For example:
1:25.000 - 1emonthe map represents 250 monthe ground
1:50 ,0 0 0 - 1 emonthemap represents 500 montheground
1: 100,000 - 1 em onthemaprepresents1 kmontheground
1:250 ,000 - 1em onthemaprepresents2.5 krnon theground
1:5°0,000 - 1em onthe map represents 5 kmon the ground.
indicate the vert ical variances in height of the earth's surface.
For a map- maker all heights are declare d as being ' above sea
level' , Depending on the scale of the ma p, contour lines can
occur at height interval s of 10 m and 50 m. Larger scale maps
often use different colours to indicat e height differences above
sea level, either with or wi tho ut contour lines. Interpreting the
story told by contour lines can oft en prove interesting. The
contour lines in the figure on the previous page clearly show
where the steep and not so steep parts are.
Spot height s are also useful things to idenrify on rhe map as
they will assist you in positioning yourself. A spot height on a
map indicates the height of the highest point in rhe area be this
a hill or a dune. If you can relate what you see on the ground to
the markings on the map, you can orientate yourself
Gri ds and co-ordinates
All military and most commercial maps will have one or two
sets of gr id lines superimposed on t he map. Agrid system is a
series of pa rallel vertica l and horizontal lines which are
numbered so that you can obtain a grid reference for any place
on the map. Thi s Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) is an
internationally used system. Addit ionally, you will find a
separate system that indicates the latitude and longitude of the
area covered by the map. However, since the earth is round (or
nearly so), rhe lines of longitude will not appear as parallel
lines on your map when compared to the grid. Some
countries use their own grid system and that might also appear
on your map.

7 4
The most important thing
about grids is that they give you
a reference forany specific point
on a map. If you want to give
a grid reference for Point H,
the saying 'along the corridor
and up the stairs' is useful [Q
help remind you where to
start. Take the east-west
reading first, then the
north-south reading. Another
helpful aid is 'Easrings-
Norrhings'. The example here
is taken from a 1:100,000
scale map (l em = 1 km).
Grid references are usually given in six figures for
greater accuracy. The grid reference for Point H will therefore
be 207214.

220, ....-.-r- -----;
Basic grIdand
Latitude and longitude
Lines of latitude and longitude on a map are determined on a
geometric basis in that they are so many degrees from 0 degrees
latitude (the Equator) and 0 degrees longitude (the Greenwich
meridian). Latitude is measured as being north or south of the
Equator, the North Pole being 90 degrees N and the South Pole
being 90 degrees 5, with a maximum angle of 90 degrees in
either direction. Longitude is measured as being east or west of
the Greenwich meridian, with a maximum angle of 180 degrees
in either direction.
When using latitude and longitude to define a position on a
map, remember that the order of stating the co-ordinate is
different to that used in stating a grid reference. The first parr
of any co-ordinate will be the latitude reference (north or south)
and the second parr of the co-ordinate will be the longitude
reference (east or west). Because we are using degrees for the
value of the relevant angles, remember that each degree is
made up of 60 minutes and each minute has 60 seconds. A
co-ordinate might be thus stated: N 24' 37' 30" (24 degrees,
37 minutes and 30 seconds). The most common method of
quoting co-ordinates is to state the 'seconds' as a decimal fraction
76 Navigation
of a ' rninurc', so the above example becomes: N 24 37 500.
This is especia lly important when using GPS systems.
Measuring distances on a map
You can rake ' as the crow flies' distances by using a ruler and
con vening the distance between the two points according to
the scal e of the map. However, t his is nor the best method for
desert dri ving as in the desert it is rarely possible to tra vel in
straight lines on the gro und. It is useful to add a factor of
15-20 per cenr to the straight line measurement to give a better
ind ication of the groun d distance. Ther e is an inexpensive
inst rument owned by most serious map users called a
' Roamer" which has a small wheel that you ca n wheel along
the route on the map that you wish to rake. It the n uses a
point er to indicate, on fixed scales pr inted on each side, the
dista nce you plan to tra vel.
These represent the direction
from one point (0 ano ther and
ar c expressed in degrees. The
full circle of the compass is
, wit h due north as 0°,
east as 90°, sout h as 180
west as 270 °. When using
bearings for navigation , it is
sometimes necessary to usc
reciprocal bear ings. A
reciprocal bear ing will be
either 180
more or less tha n
the direct bearing, cg:
.. The direct bear ing from A to Bis 30
; to get the reciproca l
bear ing you wo uld add 180° for a reciprocal of 2 10°.
.. The direct bea ring from C to 0 is 260
; to get the reciprocal
bearing, you would subtract 180
for a reciprocal of 80

Th e figure shows how rhe above bea rings appear oppos ite each
ot her on the full corupnss card.
N a ~ g a t i D n 77
You are at Point Aand youwish to
take a bearingon Point Bto
transfer to the map.You know
that the localmagneticvariation
is10 0 west. Your compass reads
145°; thereforethe bearingyou
use on the mapwill be135°.
Usingthe compass
Compasses arc magn etic and alwa ys show magne tic north,
di fferent bysome degrees to true north. The amount of
variation diffe rs from place to place in the world. Good-quality
ma ps sta re the magnetic variation; al rernarivc ly, your GPS will
store this information. It needs to be accou nted for when
raking a bearing. Compasses are very useful [0 ensure that you
arc ma int aining a planned direction in ar eas wh ere there is
limited line of sight to maj or landmarks. They are also used for
ta king bearings on distant fixed objects that you ha ve already
ident ified on the map to help you determine your exact position.
Types of compass
There are two types of handheld magn etic compass that arc of
interest to off-roa ders. Th e or ient eering type is a lightweight .
usually plast ic, unit that Can be held whil st walking along for
quick reference to ensure you are going in the pla nned
direction. This type of compass is not, however, ideal for raking
accurate bearings. The second type is a pr isma tic compass,
which is used for sighting at distant obje cts and taking the
resultant bearing. When using any magnetic compass, walk at
least 10 In from your vehicl e to avoid any interference from
metal component s on board.
", Reclprccet bearlngs
..... ... '. --:...., / /
...... ....<>
" ,, '
Findingyour place by triangulation
You have a map and you have located two prominent
landmarks on the ground and on the map. To fix your position
you need to take a compass
bearing on each of the
landmarks and then convert
the bearings into a reciprocal
bearing. Plot a point starting
at each landmark and, using a
protractor, draw a line on the
angle of the reciprocal
bearing. \'XIhere the two lines
cross is where you arc, bur
don't forget to make
adjustments for magnetic
north variations.
place by
where the
bearIng plots
location ofthe
read cjfthe grId
This refers to the direction in which you and your con voy are
'heading'. In practice, it would be degre es of difference
between your route and north. If you said your heading was
90°, I would thus know you were heading due east.
Making maps by dead reckoning
Dead reckoning (DR) describes the act of travelling in one
specific direction for a certain distance, then moving to a new
dire ction for another distance, and so on. Many off-re aders
make their own maps using the DR technique. It is important
to have a compass and a good distance recorder-the trip
meter on most modern 4WDs is fine for desert use.
From a given starting point on an existing map, keep a log
of every change of direction and the kilometres at which it
occurs. The best way to make a log is by using Tulip diagrams
at each change of direction, junction or bea ring. The black spot
at the bottom of the diagram indicates the vehicle and the line
with the arrow head tells you which way to proceed. There is a
wealth of symbolic information used as a form of shorthand.
Navigation 79
Atypica l route navigation log
Route: Al MadamtoAI Faqah Date: 25/12/98 Page: 1
Party members: Bill/All/
km/ lnlerval Direction Information
0 .0 0
Start at Al MadamrIb08.45 hr
0.00 CAP,80
0 7·00
TurnRoff tarmaconto GT
0 0
CAP 245

FollowtrackInto dunes


Take Rfork
0 ·40

CAP 260
12· 50

SOat x-tracks Inbushyplain
: . .
CAP235 .
.... :. .... .... .
so = straight on; CAP= compasspoint; GT= graded (or gravel) road.
Sabkha or gravel
l owdunes withvegetation
J( )( ) (

Global Positioning System (GPS)
GPS is the single most important advance in terrestri al
navigati on in recent years and, for the off-rea der; a verit abl e
boon! Th e average GPS unit needs only to receive signals from
three or four orbiting satellites to tell you your position (to an
on-the-ground accu rac y of between 30-100 m) on the eart h's
surface using a pair of latitude and longitude co-ordi nates. Such
a co-ordinate readi ng is known as a ' waypoint ' and it is a very
simple task to store this in the GPS computer's memor y. Most
SO N a ~ g a t i D n
GPS units have enough memory to srore between 250 and 500
waypninrs, from which you can create and develop your own
routes by selecting specific waypoinrs in the correct sequence.
There are many very good handheld GPS units available from
Garmin, Magellan, Eagle, Silva and so 00. They are battery-
powered, but can operate from the vehicle's 12V system when
fitted in a 4WD. [have a Trimble Nav'Irac 100 fitted in my
Land Cruiser, which has a nice big screen so I don't have to put
on my reading glasses to ensure I am taking accurate readings!
Other tips for off-road navigation
Findingyour direction
UsIng your
watchtn find
your dhectlcn
It is extremely easy to lose your direction when driving in
featureless regions or after sandstorms, when visibility is still
restricted. (After a sandstorm, to help identify your own
tracks, it is a good idea to tie your shovel, or a blanket, to a
piece of rope and tow it along behind you to create a distinctive
marking of your passage. An alternative to this would be to do
a 360
turn every 2-3 km, so you can say 'Whoops- that was
us!' should you come across it again.) You have to assume that
you know the general direction in which you should be
travelling, but how do you know if you are on it?
One way in which you can tell is by the action of the
prevailing wind. If, for example, you know the prevailing wind
direction is from the north-west (as it is in the UAE) then you
should study the prnfiles of
nearby dunes. The slip face
will always be facing a SE
• direction. so from this you
... ............'" should be able to orientate
your direction of travel, and,
by using your compass and
DR, maintain a straight line
of travel. The sun always rises
in the east and sets in the
Navigation B1
s ~

'. .
•r ....
• N
Placea 1-1.5m-lcngstickor
shovel Inthe ground.Mark the
placewherethe end of the
shadowfalls. Walt 15minutes
and markagain. Connect the two
marks. Thisrepresents the
west-east line, withthe first mark
beingthe morewesterly. Draw
another lineat rightangles for
the north-southIIne.
west, so in rhe northern hemisphere, if you stood facing the arc
of the sun's travel you would be facing south. The opposite is
true for the southern hemisphere. The nearer you get to the
Equator, the more difficult this is as the sun is virtually
overhead, and you have to use the 'stick and moving shadow'
technique. A further method is to use an analogue watch. Hold
the watch flat in your hand, and point the hour hand at the sun.
To find out where north is, you have to bisect the angle between
the hour hand and 12 o'clock on your watch face.
The sky at night

4 X ~ ...... ~
•...... ........
The easiest constellation to identify that tells you the position
of the North Star is the Great Bear ('The Big Dipper' in the
USA). Another is Cassiopeia, which looks like a slightly
flattened 'M', both will be
present through the night. To
identify the Pole Star, run an
imaginary line along the axis
of the two lowest of the seven
stars of the Great Bear for
four times the distance
between them and you will hit
the Pole Star. Alternatively, the
centre star of Cassiopeia
points straight at the Pole Star.

constellations In
the Northern
willtell you
wherethe Pole
, 82 Lookingalter yourself
Looking after yourself
ot all areas of the Middle East are reachable by mobile
phone, and the off-reader may find themselves hours away
from medical assistance when disaster strikes. Although most
things mentioned in this chapter are of a common-sense nature
and well within the capabilities of the ordinary layman, if
something major should happen, you will be ill-prepared to
handle it. For an extended trip into a remote area, the least of
your medical requirements would be the presence of an
emergency trained doctor, and suitable emergency equipment.
If your vehicle has broken down or become stuck, and you
are on your own with no back-up vehicle(s), do not be tempted
to walk off to find help. Stay with the vehicle - in hot weather
you need the shade it offers, and a vehicle is easier to spot from
the air than people. If all the other fail-safe arrangements you
have made are activated, you will be rescued.
First aid off-road
Animal and insect injuries
Animal bites
Disinfect the wound and cover it with a bandage. Give an
antibiotic immediately if you have some. Seek medical attention
as anti-tetanus and anti-rabies injections may be needed.
~ Remove the stinger without squeezing it (as this will inject
more venom into the wound).
Dr Chari Laubscher works as an emergency room medical officer at a hospital ill the lIAF.. In this
capacity, he has served as a volunteer doctor in the 1997 llAE Desert Challenge , and, ill 199H, as
its medical director.
Lookingafter yourself 83
Be prepared
Properpreparationis essential forlookingafter yourselfoff-road.
• Have well-thought out contingency plansforall possiblescenarios.
• Never goalone:the moreremotethe area, the morevehicles needed.
• Be awareofthe composition andstate of healthofyourparty.
• Alwaysinformsomeoneof the regionyou arevisiting andwhat the
cut-offtimeforasearchcallshould be.
• Alwaystakeenoughwater supplies C3-slitresper personper day).
• Knowthe geographyofthe area that youare visitingand from
wherelikely assistance couldbesought.
• Consider the timeofyear inwhich yourtriptakes place
(excessive heat, sandstorms, flashfloods etc).
• Ensure youhavea meansofcommunication: don't forgetto take
yourphone'S cigarettelighterattachment.
• Don'tforget routinemedications; youmayhaveto repeat the
difficult namesofthese medications to adoctor.
• Have the necessaryemergency telephone numbersat hand.
~ Apply a local anti-inflammarory gel (diclofenac) ro rrear
against swelling.
~ Give somerhing for the pain (ideally, Ibuprofen), and an
antihistamine tablet for the swelling.
.... In multiple stings, seek immediate medical help.
.... Stings in the eye or eyelid, or inside the mouth, need medical
attention as swelling could lead to breathing obstruction.
.... Someone who is allergic to bees could also be allergic to
wasps and ants as they are all from the same family.
.... Allergic reactions can be life-threatening: watch for a skin
rash that spreads beyond the area of the sting within minutes
of the incident.
~ Allergic individuals should always carry a pre-filled
adrenaline syringe and know how to use it. If this is not
available, give an antihistamine by mouth. Seck medical help.
Scorpion stings
Scorpion stings are painful , but are seldom dangerous: the
more poisonous types have small pinchers and thick tails. Check
for scorpions before putting your shoes on, and wear gloves
when collecting firewood. If stung, treat as for a bee sting.
Children should receive medical attention as soon as possible.
84 Lookin" after yourseU
Contentsofyour first-aid kit
Discuss withyourfamily practitionerthe contentsofa flrst-aldkit.Itis
best toknowwhatto have andhow touseIt,ratherthantorely onan
unfamiliar bought kit.Thislist provides asuggestionofitems totake
• emergencytelephone numbers,taped tothe Insideofthe lid
• space blanket(forwarmth. and to attract the attentionofaircraft)
• thermometer
• afewpairs of non-sterue latexgloves
• acleantowelpackedindust-proofplasticbag(toact as a clean
• scissors
• needleandpair of tweezers(forthorn removal)
• 500mlintravenous salinesolution(toirrigateadirtywound,
orcleanse the eyeof foreign material)
• antlsepticsolution
• small plasticdish (toholdsolution)
• packof yo mmx go mmgauzesquares
• iodineor other antisepticointment,and/or paraffin gauze
• assorted plasters
• varioussizes ofcrepe bandage(50,100,and150mm)
• rollsofmedicalelasticadhesiveplaster (t x50mm and1X100mm)
• triangularbandages (tomakean armslingfrom, andcanalso
be usedto tie a brokenlimbtoa makeshift splint)
• cervical collar(optional, and onlyto be used bytrainedpersons)
• Codeine/Paracetamol ccmblnatlon tablets (formoresevere pain)
• antihistamineeyedrops
• antihistaminetablets (forallergic reactionsandinsectstings)
• antibiotic eyeointment
• anti-nauseatablets
• anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g.Ibuprofen - see note)
• tube ofdic!ofenac gel and oneofone per cent hydrocortisone
ointment- mix 50:50to coversunburnt areas
(inc!udlngfirst-degree burns)
• UVfiltersun cream
• anti-diarrhoeatablets
• antacidtablets
• a broadspectrumantibiotic(consultyourfamily practitioner).
Note: a person allergicto bee stings should alwayscarrya pre-filled
adrenalinesyringe.Theanti-Inflammatory agent Ibuprofen provides
both painrelief and anti-fever action; it is ccntra-lndlcated inthose
withstomachacidityproblemsand/or asthma. Itshould onlybe taken
after meals.
Lookingafter yourseU 85
Snake bite
Most snakes are non-poisonous and will avoid people if
possible, bur it is a good idea ro know which snakes are
prevalent in the area you are visiting. Snakes are more common
near water and vegetation.
... The victim should remain calm, and keep physical movement
to a minimum to helpcontain venom distribution.
.. Remove the victim from a still -attached snake.
... Do not try to capture the snake and risk a repeat bite or a
second victim.
... Immobilise the affected limb in a position below the level of
the heart .
.... Take the victim to the nearest medical facility.
... Apply a wide constrictive bandage - wind down towards
the wound, pushing the venom back to its source. It should not
be tight, and should not be applied for more than two hours.
Prevention of bites and sti ngs:
.... Be on the lookout for hee nests around the campsite.
.... Light attracts insects - pitch the tent away from the fire.
.... Avoid going barefoot or wearing sandals, especially at night.
.... Wear light colours and try ro wear long sleeves and trousers.
.... Avoid floppy clothing that an irate sti nging insect could get
caught in, and bright jewellery that could attract one.
.... Suede and leather articles both attract and irri tate bees .
.... If confronted by wasps or bees, stay calm; never swat or move
hastily, but retreat as slowly as possible. Ifthis is impossible,
lie on the ground and cover your head with your arms.
.... Individuals should be on optimal preventative treatment .
.... Severe air hunger, fast breathing rate, and visible retractions
of the skin of the chest need urgent attention.
.... Two puffs of t he snlbutamol inhaler should be used, and
repeated every 15 to 30 minutes. Seek urgent medical advice.
86 Lookingafter yourself
The size of the burn and the depth of heat penetration is
important in the treatment of burns: with a first-degree burn
(e.g. sunburn), there is redness of the skin , bur no blister
formation, whilst second-degree and third-degree need more
intensive care. The palm of the victim's hand represents one per
cent of the total body surface: the number of patient-hands
representing the total burn area indicates the extent of the burn.
... Treat a small burn like an abrasion, or, if first-degree,
like sunburn.
... Cover with water-soaked gauze for a cooling effect,
but not if the patient has more than 10 per cent burns.
... For bigger areas, cover the burnt area with clean sheets,
towels, or cling film.
... If the burnt area is less than 10 per cent, give an
anti -inflammatory (Ibuprofen).
"" Take the patient to hospital.
A second-degree burn (only mild blistering) is treatable at the
campsite if it is smaller than two or three per cent of the body
surface; does not affect the face, hands, feet, groin or buttocks;
docs not affect the full circumference of an arm or a leg.
Chest pain (heart related)
pressure to step
Ihe bleedIng
"" Pain is usually on the left and radiates co the left shoulder
and arm or to the neck; there may be nausea.
"" Make the patient as comfortable as possible, give something
for the pain, and seek urgent medical assistance.
Cuts, wounds and
A small cut or abrasion
should be cleaned and
dressed. If the cut is deeper,
apply direct pressure to the
wound (use a towel or a shirt,
etc) to stop the bleeding. Do
LookinlJ alter your.eU 87
thi s immediat ely, maintaining the pressure if the bleeding start s
again. It is best nor to apply a tour niquet, as this ma y lead to
other complications. Phone for help and get the patient to a
hospi tal, as an anti -tetanus vacc ina tion may be necessary.
Dehydration and the effects of heat
Heat cramps
These arc caused by fluid and salt depletion, usually affecting
the shoulder, thigh or ca lf muscles in those who are unfit and
engage in physical activity in the hear. Prevention and
tr eatment is byad equate rehydration with isotonic beverages.
A cra mp itself In;]Y be relieved by appl ying counter-traction; by
pushi ng the foot upwards for a calf spasm, and so a ll .
Heat exhausti on/ dehydration
~ Physical activi ty in high temperatures (above 30° C) Ot
excessive humidi ty.
~ lnappropriare clo thing: loose cotton fabric that protects
aga inst the sun but also allows sweat evap oration is ideal.
... Exces sive sweating: sweat evaporation and consequent
cooling will be less if the humidity is high.
... Accelerated dehydration due to alcohol.
... Inad equat e fluid intake: dr ink at regu lar intervals, even if
you arc not thirsty. Take betwe en 25 0 ml and 1,000 ml
(and more) per hour (for an adult) .
... Vomiting and diarrhoea ar e othe r, an d more common,
reasons for dehydration.
Recognising heat exha us tion/ dehydration:
... Ind icated bydizz iness, fainting, sweating, hot skin, weakness,
fatigue, nausea, vomiting, headache, and muscle pain.
... The body temperatu re can ra nge from normal to 40° C.
Treatment :
... Lie the patient down an d elevate the legs.
... Give him an isotonic sports beverage, or a mixture of a
hal f teaspoon of sa lt and eight teaspoons of sugar
into one lit re of water.
~ Get medical help .
BB Looking after yourself
Any person with heat
exhaustion (see the above
crireria) who displays signs
of drowsiness, fainting,
epileptic seizure, irritability,
bizarre behaviour,
combativeness, ha llucinations
or walks unsteadily, should
be considered to have heatstroke. This is a potentially
Iife-rhrearening condirion and irn rnediare medical help should
be sought.
Trea tment:
... Take the patient out of the heat.
... Place in the recovery position.
... If awake, give the patient water or an isotonic beverage.
.... Remove all clothes, and cool the patient down by sponging
or spraying with water. The inside of a car with the air-
conditioning on is a good place for this in the open desert .
... Telephone a doctor who can give advice and organise the
transport and reception of the patient at the hospital.
Diarrhoea and vomit i ng
This lasts from one to three days, and is usually caused by
eating contaminated food. Treatment is to give fluids after each
loose motion; these can be fruit juice or a carbonated drink.
An anri- diarrhoea tablet, and something for nausea, could also
be given.
When preparing and consuming food in an off-road
environment, the following must be adhered to:
.... Wash hands before preparing and eating food .
.... People with stomach disorders or open wounds should not
prepare food.
~ Keep perishable foodstuffs in a cool-box.
~ Do nor re-hea t cooked food .
.... Avoid pre-cooked foods .
.... Keep lavatory areas away from kitchen areas, and provide
hand-washing facilit ies.
Spllntlng an
Injured Ilngerta
Its healthy
brokenleg wIth
a makeshift
Lookingafter yourself 89
Dislocations, fractures
and sprains
These should be splinted as
they arc , and the patient taken
to a hospital. A dislocated
finger can be pulled back into position if this is done soon
enough, and with the necessary skill.
... Refer to the section on major incidents.
~ Stabilise the affected limb with a splint - this could be with
a piece of wood or a thickish newspaper; the limb could also
be splinted to the body (a thigh bound to the orher leg with a
pillow between; a fractured finger strapped to a normal one).
~ Slightly elevate the affecred limb.
... Gentle traction 011 the limb ma y be necessary to regain
normal alignment.
... \X'here the splintered bone is protruding through the skin,
splint it in a normal position, but cover the wound with
antiseptic cream and a sterile bandage - this is a 'compound
fracture', and will need urgent
medical care. Give an
antibiotic by mouth as soon
as possible.
\. - ~ ~
These will need medical
attention because of the
possibility of hidden fractures
or rorn tendons. Splint as before with a slight elevation.
Apply icc or a wet rag.
Eye injuries
These could be from a dust particle or other foreign body,
including a chemical.
.. The eye should be irrigated with inrravenous saline solution
(for 20 minutes if a chemical); the upper eyelid can be
90 Lookingafter yourself
Evertlng lhe
wllh a
t -
t "'" _
" - -
held back with a marchsrick
to aid in the search for the
.. Wipe the particle out with
.. Apply anrihioric eye
ointment and seek medical
attent ion.
.... Ant ihista mine eye drops can
help against any irrita tion.
Direc t blu nt or sharp injury:
)II> Apply ant ibiotic eye oint ment.
Ii>' Cover the eye wi th om purring pressure on it.
.. Seek medical help.
Major incidents
This could be a head- on co llision, fall from a heighI, suspected
heart attack, epileptic fit, or near drowning. Beaware that
moving an injured person with the wrong techniques co uld
ca use further inj ury, or even death as th e patient may have a
broken neck.
... Try to remain calm.
... Do not move the victim if he is not threatened by further injury.
... Consult a docto r by mobile telephone from the scene.
Poisonous plants
Ther e are very few known poisonous pla nts in the Middle East ,
bur traditionall y those that have a milky sap can be considered
to be poi son ous. All cases of poison ing, whether rea l or
suspected, should be seen by a docto r.
\X!ear sun creams wi th inbuilt ultraviolet protection factors; the
higherrhe numberrhe bcrrer - opt fora faCIO I 15 at least. To
t reat mino r sunburn, give Ibuprofen tablet s three times a day,
and apply a mix of anti-inflamma tory gel and a hydroco rt isone
cream. Severe sunburn (where the skin is breached) should be
Looking after yourself 91
Recognised air rescue signals
Medlcalsupplies needed
Food andwater needed
Everythlngnow 0.1t
~ Haveganethlsway
>CA.·· , ~
: ~ or . -lJ. /.. Yes
'· ·N · ..'.'." :
;:{ .} . ,
treated like an ordinary burn. Medical attention may be needed
if sunburn affects over 30 per cent of the body's surface.
Organised rescue searches
Air searches
You may be the subject of an air search if you have broken
down in a remote area or have an injured person with you. It
helps if you have been able to convey your exact location to the
searchers with a GPS co-ordinate. You can assist by arranging
internationally recognised signals on the ground (using
whatever materials arc at hand) that will identify your group.
Day searches
To assist your rescue team, place a bright piece of clothing on
top of a nearby dune. Occasional blowing of the vehicle's horn
also attracts attention, while a blast from your whistle will be
heard at a greater distance than you can shout. Smoke cans and
flares are other means of attracting attention, but these are not
always easy to find and are quite expensive. A heliograph is
cheap and very effective when attracting the attention of
circling aircraft; good specification Swiss Army knives have one
82 Lookingafter yourseU
Recognised hand and body signals
Plck usup liInd here Don"ll rylo land here We can proceed shortly
y" No AII ls well
in the carry-case. A piece of metal wit h a reflective surface on
eac h side and with a hole in the middle, it enables you to reflect
sun light to the plane. Light ing a fire using petrol from your fuel
tank and a rag soaked in oil from YOUt dipsti ck should produce
a nasty black smo ke emi ssion that will att ract attenti on.
Night searches
Searches at night ar e only carried our in extreme emergencies.
The assistance you can offer includes shining powe rful light s
straight up into t he sky, such as a 500,000 or one million
candle-power lamp, which gives out a tremendous beam, or a
small stroboscopi c light. It can be seen for at least 5 km if
placed on n nearby high point.
Hand and body signals
The pa nel shows the hand and body signa ls that will also be
understood by milit ar y and commercial airmen . \Vhen making
them, do so in a very exaggerated manner to ensure they are
clearly und erstood.
Not e: Alrhough cxrrcmc ca rc has been ta ken to ensure 1111: accuracy of this chapt er, rhe Aut hor s and rhe
Publisher hereby dismncc Ihcmsel\'cs from any i n j l l r ~ · or insult uf any kind resulting from actions taken
l-ased nn this infor mat ion.
. .' ._.. ';lk _ .';'... _. _ . "'-
Conversion tables
Power output
bhp kW
Nm kgjm ftjlb
1 0.1019
Tyre pressures
18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32
1.26 1.41 1.55 1.69 1.83 1.97 2.11 2.25
Temperature (degrees)
Fahrenheit 79 82 86 89 93 97 98 100 102 104 106 108 109 111 113
Celsius 26 28 30 32 34 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45
kph 30
mph 19
40 50 60 70 80
25 31.5 37·5 43·7 50

100 120
62·5 75
140 150 160
87.5 93.7 100
i kilometre = 0.62137 miles
1mile = 1.609 kilometres
Toconvert kilometres to miles = divide by 8, then multiply by 5
To convert miles to kilometres = divide by5. then multiplybyB
-- -------
94 Appendix
- --
Ar eas
1hectare = 2.46 acres
1 acre = 0.405 hecta res
1 kilogram(kg) = 2.2 pounds (Ib)
lib = 0.454 kg
Fuel consumption
1km/li tre = 2.3519 miles/US gallon = 2.8244 miles/imperial gallon
Htresj roo km 5 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22
rnpg 56 35.2 28 23.5 20.1 17.6 15.6 14.1 12.8
1 imperial gallon= 4.4 litres = 1.2 US gallons
1USgallon = 3.78 lit res = 0.835 imperial ga llons
t lit re = 0 ,22 imper ial ga llons = 0.26 42 US gallons
Distance planning
Weoften overestimatethedistanceswe aregoingto drive when planning an
off-road trip.n is surprising howmany i nt errupti ons youwill experience and
howtime-consumingit is to recover a vehicleonce it is stuckinthe sand.
Thet abl egives some useful gui deli neswhenpl anning trips.
Guidelines for distance/ti meplanning
Typeof t errain
Flatsand andsabkhas
lowdunes andsandtracks
Wadisand rocky terrain
Highdunes, fewtracks
Overall route planning
Ave. distance/hour
30 -35 km
25-30 km
15 - 20 km
10-15 km
25 km
Fuel requirements
Normal tarmacfuel consumptionwill bevery different onceyou start driving
off-road. Whenplanning longer trips, preparea reasonably accurate fuel
requirement esti mate to seei f extra suppli esin jerrycans are required. Adjust
your normal fuel consumpti on bVthe factor shownfor each type of terrain.
·Appendix 95
Fuel consumption
For normal on-road overall consumption of go kmj gal (adj ust downwards)
Typeof terrain
Flat s and and sabkhas
lowdunes andsand tracks
Wadis and rockyterrain
Highdunes, fewtracks
Adjustment (per cent)
minus 25 == 22 kmj gal
minus 3 0 = 20 km/ gal
minus 40 = 18 km/ gal
minus 65 = 10 kmjgal
Gear ratios ofthe 4WD
Gear ratios of1998 LandCruiser Station Wagon (manual)
Gear High range X Transfer ratio
low range
4·08:1 x
2nd 2.29:1 X
5.68: 1
j rd
1 x
2·49 3·71:1
4t h 1. 00:1 X
2·49 2·49 :1
gth 0.88 :1 x
2. 19:1
1 x
2·49 10·73:1
Note: the ratios of the High range /normal gears are reduced by multiplying
by the transfer ratio t ogivethe Lowrange ratios.
Ratios in ascending order from lowestto highest
SR Range/gear Ratio
Low reverse
10· 73: 1
2 Low 1St 10.15:1
Lowand 5.68:1
Hi gh reverse
Hi gh i st
4· 08 :1
6 t.ow j rd
l oweth
8 Hi gh and
2.29: 1
l ow5th 2.19:1
10 High jrd
11 High qth
1.00 :1
12 High 5t h 0.88:1
The Kanoo Group
The Author
A local authority on off-road driving, jehanbaz (Jum) Ali
Khan, has spent a lifetime in the automotive industry and
mororsport. Fromactive rallydrivingin the UKand UAE, he
- C--~ has now moved to mororsporr
ct\\ I/fC/ ';,... organisation, and is the route
~ ~ ~ di rector of the UAE Deserr
~ . .~ Challenge. Invited by the FIA
to be their Official Observer on
~ several Paris-Dakar, Atlas and
- . , ~ Y ~ . ~ Tunis rallies, he has also been
. ~ l l route planner for the Gulf
-, .. News Fun Drive on six
occasi ons . During his time in
the army, Jehanbaz was a map-
reading instructor.
He is curreorly based in the UAE and teaches off-road skills
to Toyota sales executives. These assignments exemplify his
expertise in terms of knowledge of terrain, off-road driving
techniques, navigational matters and the precautions necessary
to enjoy the great outdoors in safety. He draws much of his
experience from drives in parts of North \Vest Canada, North
and East Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Thailand and, for the
past 13 years , in the UAE.

My siocere thanks are due to Dr Chari Laubscher (for his
contribution of sound medical advice in Chapter 9) , Roger
Whalley, Khalid Siddiqui and Shusei Yamada (photographs),
Jonathan Ali Khan (for his superb illustrations), Gary Wheeler
(Land Cruiser care and attention) , Mark Llewellyn-j ones
(loan of vehicles), Belinda Ali Khan (support and
-ncouragernent), and Fraser Marrin
. bo first introduced me to the
ert in 198 6!). Lasr but not leasr,
hanks go to the Kanoo Group,
ur whose sponsorship support
'vlication of this book would
e been possible.
OfTRoaden Manual
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