Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issue?

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Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issue?

Unread post by Bruosk » October 20th, 2016, 5:32 pm

One of the usual advice's when preparing for an outback trip in the remote is to carry spare parts like fan belt or shocks. This kind of advice seems to be almost as crucial as carrying adequate water & fuel. But in a 4wd with minimal payload already & coupled with the fact that I'm no diy mechanic, I just don't see the point in carrying any tools or spares besides the chance that someone else could show up who is a mechanic.

All I carry is things like two bottle jacks, base plates, compressor & basic preparation for river crossing etc. Besides changing a wheel I don't think I could do anything else. Surely there most be a lot of outback travelers who have no mechanical skills.

I think you need a good bit of mechanic training & background knowledge of the 4wd & its typical problems, if you don't have those I don't see the point in worrying.

You agree, if not why? thanks

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by stockhorse » October 20th, 2016, 6:58 pm

Totally disagree.

If you have no spare fan belt to replace a broken one then all the mechanical knowledge in the world will not fix your problem. Relying on somebody else to have the tools and the knowledge and spare parts is not an option. Would you expect somebody to use their snatch strap to pull you out of a bog or to use their tow rope to tow you to the nearest town? Would you expect them to delay their trip to help you ? It also means you are restricted to the main route from place to place and at the mercy of others if you break down.
Having a good workshop manual for your vehicle is a must (not a cheap haynes).
I would suggest to anyone in that situation to take a TAFE or similar course in mechanics and gain some knowledge before setting off.
While most well prepared vehicles will do trips without problems you must prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Tag Along trips may be more suited to your level of experience.

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by typhoeus » October 20th, 2016, 8:43 pm

Yes I agree with stockhorse, If you have the tools and spare part, even a DIY guy can help you, It doesn't have to be a fully qualified mechanic. take jumper leads, basic tool kit, spare fuses, hoses, belts etc etc . you may never need them but if something does go wrong, you will be VERY glad you got it covered.
Many years ago Myself and a couple of mates went on our first big adventure, crossing the nullarbor, . . when it was still 300 miles of dirt. we came across a ford which had lost an axle due to bearing failure. We had a spare holden bearing so we jacked it up, disconnected the brake line from the cylinder ( the brake parts were lost) we chiselled off the old bearing, tapped on the new one & reassembled it all. That repair got the car back to Adelaide. without a spare & tools, it would have become one of the hundreds of old wrecks that littered the desert in those days.

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by nilla60 » October 20th, 2016, 10:33 pm

Weekend before last we helped a guy out. He was bogged, not broken down but we were very happy to help him as he provided all the gear and was not expecting us to provide anything but another end to attach a snatch strap or winch cable. Ditto if I found someone with a fanbelt issue, I'd be happy to help if they already had a spare on hand. Cheers.

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by hoyks » October 21st, 2016, 1:40 pm

Having spares, tools and repair bits gives you(or whoever comes along) options.

Without them the chances of doing a full repair, or even bodging something up are vastly reduced. Boxing up fan belts, some fuel line, fuses and the like doesn't take up a lot of room and weighs bugger all in the over all scheme of things.
You don't need a full 600 piece Kingchrome tool kit either. Pliers, combination ring and open end spanners, a few screw drivers and a few tubes of epoxy, silicone, gasket goo and wire.

As for water pumps, rad hoses suspension bushes and the like, if they are getting on a bit, fit the new ones a few weeks before leaving home, it is much easier and if you break something or need more coolant, then the autoparts store is just down the road. Not so easy in the dirt 600km from home. Doing it at home also gives you the confidence and system knowledge to have a better idea of what you are dealing with if it does crap out a long way from home.

For spares, take just the longest of the old hoses as a spare, you can always cut it down and bend it to fit as a temp fit or even cut it up if you need some rubber for something else. Same for some bushes, not all will be destroyed and you can probably get a set from the best bits.

You can get by with lots of damage to a vehicle, but no coolant, leaking fuel or lubricant missing from the motor and you won't go far.

You don't need a full mobile workshop and enough gear to rebuild the vehicle, but if you have some gear then you can get rolling again, rather than waiting days for RACQ/NRMA and the towing bills that will follow.

That said, I'd love to have one of these to tour in...

Image ... e_2009.php

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by Aaron Schubert » October 23rd, 2016, 9:22 pm

You can learn very easily the basics of mechanics. Changing a vee belt etc is really easy. Get someone to show you the ropes and you'll be a pro in no time with the basics

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by M543 » October 26th, 2016, 9:29 pm


What are you driving and where do you intend going? How heavily will the car be loaded before you start adding things to fix mechanical problems?

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Re: Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issu

Unread post by cmar » November 4th, 2016, 11:00 pm

Is a Lack of Mech Skills while travelling remote an issue?
Not if nothing breaks, unfortunately in my experience, over the years I've been very glad I carried tools and bits 'n pieces for fixing things with me cause you can be pretty much assured if you are really going off road, or using rough tracks, something will break! How prepared you are will determine whether it is a minor annoyance, or a trip killer. If you've bothered to at least try to cover the basics, I've found that passing travellers are often far more likely to try help you.

Lets see from just a few of my trips things I've had to deal with.

Trip: Birdsville, Simpson, Oodnadatta, Central Australia, Darwin.
Vehicle original Range Rover
Breakages: Centre ball joint on top of rear axle - fixed with 8 gauge fencing wire and a couple of tow ball split washers.
Long bolt through same assembly, ( special unobtainable Rover part) replaced with ( close) equivalent size grade 8 bolt, nyloc nut and a few washers to adjust length.
3 flats - tyre plugs

Trip Fraser Coast
Breakage - engine no go - Blocked fuel filter ( lots of water in Fuel)
Fixed - finaly used the spare I had carried around for years!

Cape York trip
Vehicle Ford Bronco
Tyres x3 fixed 2 with plugs, third hole was too big, fixed by demounting (thank you tyre pliers!) and putting in tube. Bent Shock mount Fixed- removed shock, and used BFH to straighten. Shock still worked! can't kill an OME shock

Trip Simpson Crossing, Central Australia, Birdsville track
Vehicle Ford Bronco
Breakages: Battery anchor (completely disappeared!) replaced with ratchet strap
Small hole in fuel tank ( rock) Fixed - Epoxy putty + small prayer.
Fractured brake line ( right at flare end near master cyl, from corrugation vibration) You don't need brakes in the sand anyway.
Fixed -borrowed flare tool from fellow traveler, cut off line with a hacksaw and re-flared end, topped up master cylinder from bottle brake fluid from my spares, and kind traveler who supplied tool, with spare bottle from my fridge.

Obviously I've also had many trips where nothing went wrong either, but if you go prepared then you are more likely to come back.
Ironically I've always carried a full set of belts, hoses, fuses etc, and virtually never used them, always little uexpected things instead.
Haven't owned a 2WD since 1982.

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