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Overlanding Queries



Hi Peter,

For the snow chains : this is indeed an impressive and very usefull
accessory, far more usefull =96 and cheaper, and safer, and lighter =96 then a
winch. Just like in snow, put them on when it is very slippery and you=92re
losing control. However, if you put real mud tyres =96 like the MT=92s which I
recommend =96 you will already be in very deep mud before being stuck.
Tyres : There is not much difference between the Cooper ST=92s and the BF
Goodrich MT=92s, but don=92t take the AT=92s, the other two options are better (in
my opinion).
The size : definitely 235/85R16, which is the standard tyre size on this
continent. Even in the middle of nowhere you will be able to find a
second-hand 7.50-16, which is roughly the same size, if needed.
Floods : Let=92s hope that by November the soil will have dried out, but with
the changing climate one never knows.
Mauritania : Currently heave flooding in the south of the country, I don=92t
think it is possible to drive through to Mali for the time being. The
analysis of the situation there is however still ongoing but, given the area
where the flooding is taking place, will be underestimated. You will need to
transit through Senegal, for which you will need a Carnet for a vehicle
older then 5 years.

Generally : the situation is worse than reported but in certain areas the
situation is indeed desperate. Off-list I can send you situation reports for
the countries you intend to travel to, however, on the IRIN network you will
find the information you need. See on
You will find maps of the flooded region (which are updated weekly at least)
either on
or on

You should be able to consult these =93on the road=94 in any cybercaf=E9.

Cedric Vandermeulen

From: [Email address removed] [mailto:[Email address removed]] On
Behalf Of [Email address removed]
Sent: vendredi 21 septembre 2007 18:35
To: [Email address removed]
Subject: [ELCO] Overlanding Queries

Hi y'all,

For the past 2 years .. since becoming a 'Cruiser fan on an epic day with
some of you on Salisbury Plain .. I have been a Volvo owning empty nester
lurker; for the past month I've been a proud 80 series owner and (as of now
) I am of the non lurking variety!

As you can guess from the title of this post, I intend to go overlanding: I
hope to leave some time in November for a trip around Africa. Departure is a
certainty, the date an aspiration and the route at the mercy of the vagaries
of Africa (floods, Tuareg nation building et al).

I was until recently a complete mechanical virgin... cue jokes etc! ... but
under the, oh so patient, tutelage of 'The Boss', AKA Julian, I have been on
a steep learning curve; my breathers extended, suspension lifted, bearings
immaculate, brakes effective and oil very cool, I now look down on the
London traffic and 'feel the trade winds in my sails'.

There is much more to do, so much more to learn and advice to seek, and this
the first, but not the last, email seeking to tap into the knowledge and
experience of ELCO members. So, can you help me with some initial queries:

1. Snow Chains. I will probably not have a winch and so intend to take,
amongst other things, snow chains to help overcome this shortfall. At what
stage do you put snow chains on? When first encountering a Camerounian mud
track and before the worst appears? Or wait for the worst to appear .. if it
is that easy to identify .. and once 'in it' then put them on? Presumably a
mask and snorkel would be handy! OR, and before I get them, are snow chains
over rated and best left over here?

2. Steel Wheels. Jon's useful post noted. Is there any difference in
strength between the 'modular' (one with holes in) and the 8 spoke type? I
always err on the side of caution and am leaning towards the modular, is
this right? Does anyone know of a reliable supplier of 16" modular steel

3. Tyre Make and Type. Whilst I was on the hunt for steel wheels, I was told
that BFG A/T are good but that, as Andy has pointed out, Coopers should be
considered as their tread pattern on the Cooper ST fits in the 'gap' between
the BFG A/T and the BFG mud/sand tread; so overcoming the weakness of the
BFG A/T in muddy conditions. Coopers are used more heavily in Aus and the US
than here and I am posting a query on ELCOOL... but any views here?

4. Tyre Size. Also what are you views on the merits/benefits of a size
235/85 R16 Vs a 285/75 R16, I need to buy 6 of one or the other and was
leaning towards the 235/85, but now I'm having second thoughts!

5. Floods. Cedric, a warm welcome to you. We are seeing a bit - not much -
about the flooding in the North of Africa. What in your view will be the
impact for overlanding in November through to January in terms of
infrastructure, ease of travel ,etc? Up to recently my route was to have
been Mauritania, Mali, Niger (and the Air Mountains) then Burkina Faso,
Ghana and south from there. The Tuareg have spoilt the Mali and Niger leg,
what is your view on the situation?

Peter Jacques
1994 1HD-T, 2.5" OME, oil cooler


Hi Peter

Good to see another man heading south. I'm heading down east African on
a a one way trip - leaving between 17th March and 1st April 2008.

Re > 1. Snow Chains. I read a book recently about a man that hitch hiked
around Ireland with a fridge for a bet. Are you by any chance driving
around Africa with a set of snow chains for a bet? ;->

Seriously - They have their use in mud. I'd say after a short while
driving out there you'll quickly get to know your vehicles ability on
various terrains. But if you go for MT's then you probably won't need a
set of chains??

Re > 2. Steel Wheels. Modular appear to be the most popular. I'm trying
to get a set of Toyota ones from somewhere.

Re > 3. Tyre Make and Type. I'm running 285/75/16's BFG AT's on alloys.
When I source a set of steel wheels will most likely put a set of
235/85R16 if I can get them over here (this is the size locals use in
Africa and so most readily available for spares) - brand undecided -
lots of lads raving about Mitchelin XZL's......

>From what I've researched on west Africa - you'll need MT's if it's
going to be wet.

Re > 5. Floods.

Serious rains over there recently. The humanitarian crises is
frightening. You'd imagine that if people are starving there will be
savage pressure on funds for infrastructure re-building etc

Weather and wet/rain seasons is the key driver (for me) in relation
route and timing planning. I'm hoping to catch the Wildebeest heading
north on the large river crossings on the Grumeti and Mara Rivers in
Serengeti in May/June (how I cross the flooded river south is another

Plan then to hit "South Africa" for dry season when the game is more
concentrated around water holes - July to September time.

But you never know what the weather will do to plans. Anything could
happen to scupper them. Either way, seasons and weather should be given
very careful consideration and integration into your overall plans.
Generally I'm trying to steer clear of the rains as much as possible
because I overdose on rain in Ireland on a regular basis :->

Re > Oil cooler...?? - An additional AT oil cooler?


'95 HDJ80 300K KM


On 9/21/07, [Email address removed] <[Email address removed]> wrote:
Snow chains,
They are heavy and useless, maybe good only for absolutely exceptional
circumstances you are likely to encounter. You won't be able to put
them on while you are stuck, and will not want to, knowing they need
to be removed, cleaned and packed after each run across a muddy
A snorkel is not handy but essential. Not to prevent drowning but to
save your air filter.
You are advised to keep away from Niger and north-east Mali, unless
you fancy war -zone tourism. Check this:
Roman (London, UK)
'92 HDJ80 (auto)


from personal experience the last thing i needed was snow chains leaving
aside the weight and cost both of which are seriious considerations i found
when i got stuck, really stuck, as if by magic people appearedf out of the
bush and pushed me out !!! cost? about ?3 and met some great people!!! and
please dont say "what if there are no people about?" believe me there always
is in Africa
I didnt have an air filter so i always cleaned my air filter everyday, i
always fancied one but put that down to phallic symbolism
jeff watts
Got a favourite clothes shop, bar or restaurant? Share your local knowledge


On 9/25/07, [Email address removed] <[Email address removed]> wrote:
The situation in those parts is a bit more volatile now. Keep an eye
on the Hubb and Chris Scott's Sahara-Overland news section.
As many people I know use who BFG tyres use M/T as well as A/T. Sand
is only a small fraction of the surfaces you are likely to encounter,
and even then, the two tyres are very similar in all except thread
Roman (London, UK)
'92 HDJ80 (auto)


M/Ts are less good on good surfaces ie tarmac - a bit slippery in the wet
and also a bit noisier. Must be hell in a LR with M/Ts on, on a tarmac
HDJ81 with BFG A/Ts. A little worn now.
Jeremy Llewellyn-Jones
Mob: 07831 458 793
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Try asking the guys on this site:
They're really helpful and knowledgable about overlanding and 4x4 in southern Africa.
'82 BJ45 3.4D Troopie
'96 Colorado 3.0 TD
In the back of my mind is the thought that when on R&R in South Africa I'll make use of the Rand/=A3 exchange rate and get a good service and some more work done on the truck. Is this a good idea? Do you have any names of good 4x4 prepping companies in the Somerset West/ Cape Town area?
'94 1HD-T,2.5"OME,oil cooler
Celeb spotting =96 Play CelebMashup and win cool prizes


Hi Peter,
7.50 - 16 is roughly the same size as 235/85R16, although slightly smaller.
For example, the Michelin XYZ is labelled as 7.50 - 16 instead of 235/85R16
You will have difficult to find information on Mauritania due to the political situation in the country.
Have a safe trip,
---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: [Email address removed]
Reply-To: [Email address removed]
Date: Wed, 26 Sep 2007 13:02:26 EDT
Sent via the WebMail system at


the xzy (and xzl) both come in metric: 235/85 r16 and imperial: 750/16
sizes. i ran xzls on my truck for the last 3 years in east africa and have
only just replaced them with some firestone mt's before my last trip. if
peter is thinking of going with this size then i personally feel he is onto
a winner - nearly every safari operator & hard core ngo uses this size of
tyre as the 75,76,78 cruisers come with this as standard although they have
changed the stud pattern from 6 to 5 recently.
jeremy "--" --
self-drive safaris in east and southern africa
uk mobile: +44 (0)
uk landline: +44 (0)
skype: Fred
-----original message-----
from: [email address removed] [mailto:[email address removed]] on
behalf of c=e9dric vandermeulen
sent: 27 september 2007 15:44
to: [email address removed]
subject: re: [elco] overlanding queries
hi peter,
7.50 - 16 is roughly the same size as 235/85r16, although slightly smaller.
for example, the michelin xyz is labelled as 7.50 - 16 instead of 235/85r16
you will have difficult to find information on mauritania due to the
political situation in the country.
have a safe trip,
---------- original message ----------------------------------
from: [email address removed]
reply-to: [email address removed]
date: wed, 26 sep 2007 13:02:26 edt

sent via the webmail system at

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