Appendix E. Planning Report (1971)

This appraisal of possible vehicles for the journey is included for historical interest, showing how our ideas changed between the initial concept and the final implementation. As will be seen, our ideas were, at this early stage, thoroughly naive!

At this early stage, we had in mind the idea of obtaining official recognition in respect of scientific work to be carried out en route. The exact nature of such work had not been defined; recognition, and commercial sponsorship, was the prime concern at that time! Shortly after this Report was written, I acquired Orodruin as my personal vehicle, not (at that time) intending it to become Expedition equipment. Keith and I preferred, later, to adapt the vehicle we already had available, rather than to purchase another.

In retrospect, probably the most suitable vehicle would have been a long-chassis Land Rover, carrying all four of us. The K9 lorry referred to herein would have been very comfortable, but definitely too large.

Expedition Planning Report 29 Feb. 1971

An appraisal of the Expedition's transport requirements, and the comparative merits of various vehicles for our purposes.


  1. General discussion of transport requirements.
  2. Technical requirements for vehicles.
  3. Short-list of possible vehicle types.
  4. Brief comparative specifications of these vehicles.
  5. Discussion in detail of each vehicle.
  6. Conclusions.

1. General Discussion of Transport Problems.

1.1 Routes and Terrain.

Initial definition of objectives has indicated that the vehicle(s) will travel overland to Australia; where a major refit will be undertaken, if required. Subsequently, the Expedition will return to Britain via North and South America, and possibly Africa. Detailed routes are undefined as yet, but it is probable that each half of the journey will involve a distance of some 20,000 miles, in a time period of about two years.
The bulk of the mileage will almost certainly lie over routes regularly traversed by motor traffic, although not necessarily having metal led surfaces. Very little, if any, all-out cross country work is anticipated. Hence full desert equipment, for example, is unnecessary.

1.2 Climatic Conditions.

One proposed route (that via Finland and Russia) will require operating up to the Arctic Circle, albeit in spring and summer. However, a southerly route is, of itself, no guarantee of mild temperatures (Tony Waltham's radiator froze overnight in Afghanistan). High temperatures will be encountered on all routes, with intense sunlight (very damaging to exposed spare tyres, for example). Most routes also involve operating up to 10,000 ft. (or even more) above sea level. It should not be forgotten that night temperatures can fall very low in desert areas, a day-night range of up to 40C being possible. Such conditions will rapidly reveal any faults in equipment or vehicles.
In addition to the foregoing, heavy tropical downpours should be anticipated, which will necessitate a vehicle which can be rapidly waterproofed, after being open in tropical conditions. The Rover Co. strongly recommend a hard-top vehicle for such work.

1.3 Personnel.

At present, the Expedition consists of two members only. However, several countries require the presence of a guide/interpreter in certain areas. Further, either of the present members might introduce a friend to the party. It would seem reasonable, therefore, to plan for a maximum of four Expedition members, plus an official guide present occasionally.

1.4 Equipment.

This logically falls into three classes viz.
  1. Spares and maintenance equipment and materials for the vehicle.
  2. Food, tents, medical and other stores for the crew.
  3. Special instruments, etc., required for any scientific work which may be undertaken.

1.4.1 Vehicle Spares and Tools.

For some vehicles, spares are readily available almost anywhere. However, it is not unknown for them to cost four times more than in Britain (e.g. in some parts of Africa). Hence, it is considered advisable to carry all major mechanical spares which are expected to be required, rather than to rely on obtaining them locally. Oils, tyres, etc., may reasonably be assumed to be available in all large towns.
Some reasonable limit has to be drawn to the scale of vehicle spares holdings. For example (failing any specific guidance from the vehicle manufacturers), clutch plates, pistons, etc., would seem worth their bulk, while gearboxes and differentials would not. (Note that many 4WD vehicles have interchangeable front and rear differentials). In general, a policy of carrying only working parts (for example, wheel bearing races, rather than a replacement hub unit) would seem worthwhile, leading to space and weight savings at the expense of time lost in repairs.
As regards tyres, a stock level of two spare wheels and two tyres would seem reasonable, since this will almost certainly carry us to a town, where replacements should be obtainable.

1.4.2 Crew Stores.

These will, of course, depend on the crew numbers, and also, to some degree, on the type of vehicle (it may be large enough to sleep in, which will eliminate the need for tents). A running stock of some 3 weeks' food, etc., is probably a reasonable basis for planning, with at least one week's supply of concentrated or tinned food for emergencies. At least one light tent will be required, plus standard camp cooking equipment (including a pressure cooker for high altitude use), and paraffin for the Primus stoves. For three people, these will probably run to some 500-600lb. In addition, some 30 gallons of water (preferably in fixed tanks) should be carried.

1.4.3 Special Instruments.

These cannot be defined ahead of the research program, but an allocation of 150lb. should be adequate.

1.5 Fuel.

The Rover Co. recommend petrol engines for expedition use, on the grounds of cleanliness and tolerance of indifferent quality fuel. Sufficient fuel for some 500 miles' range should be carried, i.e. 30-50 gallons depending on the vehicle. If possible, this should be in fixed tanks, rather than in jerricans, for ease of handling and safety. This will normally require special additional tanks to be fitted.

2. Technical Requirements.

Following from the discussion in Section 1, the following appear as minimum vehicle requirements:
  1. 4WD capability in a basically 2WD vehicle.
  2. Carrying capacity of at least one ton (approx.), capable of seating 4-5 people.
  3. Spares requirements to be simple and rational.
  4. A petrol engine would be preferable to diesel.
  5. A hardtop (possibly home-made) is essential.
  6. Fuel tankage 30-50 gallons, water 30 gallons.

3. Short List.

There follows a short-list of vehicles most nearly meeting the above requirements:
1. Austin Champ.
2. Long chassis Land Rover(in all its variants).
3. Army one-ton truck.several variants available
4. Austin K9 chassis.
The other readily available 4WD vehicles have been rejected, mainly for inadequate cargo capacity.

4. Comparative Specifications.

Vehicle TonsSeatingTons
Price Hard
Condition Fuel
Champ 1 2 18 200-300No As Seen 20gall.
LWB L/R 2 3-4 1 14 400-500Option Good 15-20gall.
1-Tonner3 2+ 1 12? 300 No As Seen 20gall.
K9 4 2-10 2-3 12 325 Yes Overhauled20-25gall.

5. Discussion of Vehicle Types.

5.1 Austin Champ.

A very thoroughly designed vehicle, superbly reliable (Rolls-Royce engine), and available quite cheaply. Spares, however, are only available ex-military, and are probably unobtainable abroad. Wheels and tyres, however, interchange with the Land Rover. Hardtops are not available, and the seating and cargo capacities are barely adequate. The vehicle should not be used if anything larger is available.

5.2 Land Rover 109. (Long Chassis)

Proverbially reliable, and available with many accessories, including full hardtop. Spares are readily available, but expensive abroad. Sufficient cargo space if a roofrack is used (which Rovers do not advise). Ex-military versions have oil coolers, twin tanks, and (sometimes) 24 volt electrics. The 24V models are generally in better condition than the 12V versions. Winches are almost unknown on ex-military vehicles. The best known, and hence most expensive, for its size, of the ex-military vehicles. Hardtops, which would have to be obtained extra, cost about £75. Crash-damaged (body damage) vehicles are sometimes very cheap ex-military, but are very much sought after by dealers for rebuilding. The only listed vehicle which can carry a winch (which many authorities consider unnecessary for our purposes).

5.3 Army 1-Tonner.

Not much is known of this vehicle, but it appears to be basically similar to the Austin K9, but is made by Bedford, and has a truck cab. Performance figures are unknown, but probably similar to the K9. The vehicle was also sold on the civilian market, and spares are available either ex-military or via the manufacturers' normal retail channels. The K9 is considered preferable.

5.4 Austin K9.

Large carrying capacity (military rating 2 tons, but registration authorities will 'plate' to 3 tons). 4X4 truck chassis, available in truck-cab and ambulance versions. The truck-cab has no advantage over the Army 1-Tonner, but the ambulance seems near ideal for our purposes.
The engine is petrol, 6-cy1inder, 4 litre, rated 90 BHP at 3000 RPM. A very efficient (Champ-type) air cleaner is fitted. The electrics are similar to the 12V Land Rover (an alternator would probably be an advantage).
Transfer gearing is similar to the Land Rover, but without the "4WD, high ratio" option (i.e. only "2WD high", and "4WD low"). This is not considered a disadvantage.
Brakes are hydraulic, 2-1eading shoe at the front, area 245 sq. ins. A servo would probably be a good idea, also twin circuits.
Tyres are truck type (9.00 X 20, 10 ply), and probably expensive. However, large tyres last longer than small ones, and are better on rough ground.
The price quoted in Section 4 refers to a fully overhauled vehicle, resprayed to our requirements.
Cargo space (in the rear body) is more than adequate, indeed we can sleep in the vehicle, eliminating the need for regular camping, and improving security. A door into the cab is fitted, as is a rear loading platform and rear doors. Internal recessed rooflights, power points in the rear (12V), and windows with flyscreens are standard, as are cab heaters and screenwipers. A Luton space is provided above the cab, giving additional cargo space, and there is a hatch-cover in the cab roof.
Waterproofed ignition is not fitted, and is probably unnecessary (the engine is very high off the ground).
The axles and transmission are regarded as 'unbreakable' (Mullard Vehicles, Ltd. know of no instance of an axle breaking). Ground clearance is about 50% greater than a Land Rover, it would be possible to rest under the vehicle in tropical conditions. There appears to be plenty of space under the chassis for extra fuel tanks, water could go inside the vehicle.
Fuel consumption is surprisingly good (12 miles/gallon against 14 for a LWB Land Rover). This makes a difference of 1700 gallons against 1500 on a 20,000 mile run; a difference in cost of £80, recouped immediately on the cost of the hard-top for the Land Rover. Top speed is quoted as 55mph, which seems quite adequate. Cab seats are very comfortable, but frequently tatty.
This vehicle appears very highly thought of by University and similar expeditions, and seems worth very serious consideration.

6. Conclusions.

On balance, it appears to be a straight fight between the LWB Land Rover and the K9 Ambulance. Mullard Vehicles, Ltd. have offered to arrange a test drive in the K9, which seems worth taking up. Subject to satisfactory road performance, I think the K9 is probably preferable.
Copyright © 1974 - 2004 David R. Brooks

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