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The primary reason for buying the LandCruiser was the comfort level it offered over the Nissan Patrol I owned at the time. After a brief search I ended up with her, a 2001 sparingly-used LandCruiser GXR, with 53K km on the clock. The first weekend after buying it was a trial wadi run and my wife was commenting on the difference she felt in comfort.

We christened her the Gentle Giant due to her immense size and power and yet extremely quiet and gentle ride she offered. Over the last 2 years I've added a few bits and bobs to make her handle better the terrain I take her on. The first to go was the front bumper which literally broke off on my first trip with the club, Training Day led by Gordon Smith. This was the perfect excuse for me to get the ARB Sahara bar I had been drooling over.

Next to receive an upgrade was the suspension. The Giant has an Independent Front Suspension (IFS) making it rather a task to modify. It was OME shocks all round and OME heavy duty springs for the rear giving me about a 50mm lift and to compensate at the front the torsion bars were adjusted. This changed the soft springy ride to a more firm stable ride off / on road. With that done it made a significant difference to the way she handled the more demanding sand dunes and compensated for some of my shortcomings in the driving department. Being the Gadget Freak that I am (every off-roader is a closet gadget freak) I was next looking at using the provision provided on the front bar for auxiliary lighting. After some research in that area I ended up with 2 Lightforce 240 Blitzes which complement the Sahara bar very well. I also had left over from the Nissan Patrol 2 Warn driving lights and they went on a light bar I modified to attach to the factory slots on the roof. Just the 2 warns up there looked kinda empty and wanting so I bought 2 more to fill the empty spaces.

The front suspension started concerning me as it was bottoming out the shocks during off road driving. So after some research on the Internet I found an Australian dealer who had heavy duty Torsion bars for this particular model and better shocks with a 53mm bore. So these were then duly ordered and replaced which made a mountain of a difference to the front suspension.

After a certain Liwa Luxury trip I was on during which 3 of us went out and 3 cars got stuck, I started seriously thinking of installing a winch. After much deliberation and a lot of discussion on the site I settled for a Mile Marker 12000lb hydraulic winch.

After a campout one morning we witnessed a rollover and this worried us, particularly my wife, on the safety issue and especially with Sudheera seated at the back, so after inquiring around I had a roll cage installed by the dealer himself. This is one part of my kit I certainly hope I don't have to test.

After seeing an advert regarding Tyron Wheel safety bands I approached the dealer (Cars Trade) for a sample to try out and after a few months of testing, I have bought the set. This allows me to run my tyres down to even 5-6 psi without the fear of popping a bead.

As the 2004 season rolled on I have had to replace the rear shocks due to wear with 43mm tough dog 9-way adjustables, greatly improving the suspension over the OME.

During the epic Wahiba Crossing my main battery (optima yellow) failed and I had to have it replaced by a more suitable starting battery. The Optima was duly replaced under warranty and this left me with an extra battery which got me working on a dual battery system. After having got down a Piranha dual battery management isolator and purchasing locally a 1KW inverter, I installed the lot over a few days, wiring in all my auxiliary lighting as well to the auxiliary battery.

Next to go on was the roof rack which I got before the Desert Challenge to fit all my gear.

I guess it would not be complete if I did not mention the kit I carry. I started off with a 2" warn snatch strap and have now collected around 5 straps which include 2 KERR ropes and a custom-stitched 2m bridle for the front. A couple of snatch blocks, winch extension rope, Chocker chain complement the winch kit. A HiLift jack and an assortment of shackles to sort me out with any make of car to be rescued. In addition 2 10T hydraulic bottle jacks, a Bushmaster air jack, crowbar, axe, hose clips, variety of automotive fluids, emergency fan belt and few more bits and pieces along with a moderate tool box make up the repair kit.

For navigation I have a Garmin III+ coupled with a laptop running Ozi Explorer with Sat maps and scanned and calibrated road maps of the region.

17.05.2014
 
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