We own a 2005 Mitsubishi Colt Rodeo 2.8TDi D/C. It is 4 wheel drive with a rear diff lock. We bought it three and a half years ago and have done just over 60 000 km in that time. The speedo is at 165 000 at the moment but will be closer to 170 000 by the time we leave as we have a three week trip planned in October 2013 to test out our final changes. The vehicle was fairly standard when we got it. It had new BF Goodrich tyres on it with Ironman shock absorbers. Otherwise nothing else had been done to it. We added a roof-top tent, dual battery system with dual battery monitor, National Luna 50 litre weekender fridge and a EGT (exhaust gas temperature) gauge at the time we bought it. The EGT guage is a very useful accessory as you can monitor the temperature of the exhaust manifold and that way can prevent the engine from overheating which, long term, can be disastrous for a diesel engine. I don’t let mine go over 650 degrees C. Recently we have experimented with a water tank and pump using the same type of pump that is found on yachts. The pump was purchased and we will be adding some filtration and that requires a bit of water pressure.
Since then I have had to replace the tyres. With Goodyear Wranglers this time as they are a lot cheaper and were original equipment. There has always been a big debate about what the best tyres are. I know that BF Goodrich tyres are used by a lot of people in South Africa and I was quite happy with mine. Recently a magazine here did a shootout between about a dozen A/T tyres. They tested the performance, but obviously could not test the longevity of the tyres. Goodyear Wranglers were near the top of the list and BF Goodrich were near the bottom when it came to handling in sand and wet and dry tar and gravel. A comment that was made about the Goodyears was they could be referred to as the Jacques Kallis of tyres. Good all-rounder. Well, we will see.
We have done trips to Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho and around South Africa so have had time to experiment with numerous pieces of equipment. Due to budget constraints we have only invested money in necessities so far, but we will now have to add a few extras. I had built a frame for the back of the bakkie to accommodate the water tank, a few drawers and the fridge. After our last trip I decided to pull it apart and rebuild it as there were a few things that did not work. Here is the progress so far.
A brief list of the extras and most likely not the final one is as follows:
- Roof rack – to carry a couple of extra Jerry cans of diesel and an extra spare wheel as well as a spare gas cylinder. I have managed to get a small Front Runner basket and have now fitted it. The unfortunate thing about the Front Runner rails is they fit flat on the roof and are held in place by little brackets that fit under the roof sill in the doorway. To keep the bracket in place a hole has to be drilled so that a rivnut can be put in to bolt the bracket in place. A rivnut is a nut that is put in place like a rivet for places where you cannot get to to put on a nut, if you know what I mean. I found a place in Parow Industria, called Riveco, who were very kind in donating and fitting the rivnuts for me for free. I of course had to drill the holes which was quite tricky as there was not much space for error. We have now swopped the roof rack for a slightly longer one which has a higher profile. This was necessary to mount the Eezi Awn awning which we have acquired.
- Extra spare wheel – I have managed to get a rim that matches my current ones. The tyre is a different size though, has a nail in it and is smooth. When I replace my front tyres I will take one of wheels as the second spare. But after reading some overlander blogs I think we might look around for a newer tyre. Update – front tyres have been replaced and we are keeping the best old front tyre as the second spare. This might be upgraded if I can find a tyre in a better condition.
- Water filter system – we have a 70 litre water tank and a water pump attached. I had built it into a frame at the back of the vehicle. There are also a couple of drawers and a slide for the fridge. After our last trip I found a few problems with the frame and pulled it apart and rebuilt it. One of the problems I had was filling the tank from inside the canopy. I have moved the filling to outside the canopy using a deck filler fitting. The tank and pump worked very well, but will still need to be fed through a set of three filters. I have managed to get a set of 3 filter housings from a dismantled reverse osmosis system and I have also bought a UV light filter. Update – the filters are now installed including the uv light. I purchased an additional 300W DC inverter to power the uv light which runs off 220V. We already have an 800W inverter but it resides inside the cab where we recharge the laptop and camera batteries.
- Easi-Awn awning or similar. Update – I have managed to get one and it has now been mounted.
- Suspension – we will replace the shock absorbers and need to beef up the rear to take the additional load. The budget does not allow for anything like OME so will still need to decide where to go with this. So far air springs seem the best option. Update – seems like the shock absorbers are still good and we have purchased and fitted the air springs.
- High-lift jack – already have one of these, but no place to use it on the vehicle yet. I need to still fit the front mounts. The rear ones were easy enough to weld on, but the fronts are going to pose a bit of a problem. The plastic bumper is in the way. It would be nice to have one of those fancy off-road bumpers and a winch, but I cannot justify spending R25000 for the two. As far as a winch is concerned I will put together a high-lift jack winching kit and hope I never have to use it. I am going to try and mount the jack at the back of the roof rack or possibly in the front using the jack points as an attachment for the bracket.
- Battery charger – I have purchased the CTEK mxs 5. I have also replaced the dual battery as it was rather tired and the fridge only barely made it through the night. The dual battery has also been moved into the engine bay from the rear.
- Possibly a solar panel and regulator – this is not that essential, but it would be useful if we stay in one place for a few days and there is no power.
- Injectors and fuel pump service. New injectors are very expensive, but there is the option of re-conditioned ones. The tips are replaced and the injectors are balanced so that they all work at the same pressure and are within the pressure specification. The fuel consumption on our last trip was bad and this was the likely culprit. Update : This service has just been done.
- Jerry can carrier – I decided to build one myself as they are quite simple to make and expensive to buy. Here is the result:
I have decided to build another single bracket as we are going to be carrying three jerry cans now.
11. Gas cylinder holder – I have built one of these as well. I still have to rubber tape the ring.
12. One of the main problems while travelling in Africa is the heat. So we have decided to put UV resistant tinted film on all the windows except the windscreen of course. This will also prevent people from being able to see into the vehicle to see what they can steal and hopefully prevent break-ins. Update : The canopy has been done and it does not look too bad for a first time DIY job. Not sure if we are going to get to the cab though.
13. I seem to be making more work for myself. I am moving the dual battery from the back to inside the engine bay. Fortunately someone on a 4×4 forum has already done it in a Colt and has documented it very well. I have already made the battery bracket and will now need to fit it.
The crank battery has to be moved due to limited space. This is how it will look. The front battery is the dual one. The crank battery has been moved to the rear.
Update: This has now been done.