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Vehicle Problems

Vehicle Reports

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    Once again we completed four commercial tag-a-longs as well as a fair bit of running around the country between May & October. A pretty normal year in regard to vehicle problems, see what you think.........


Tour – "Gunbarrel 60th Anniversary" – 18 days – 2621 kms

Kulgera Roadhouse to Carnegie Station via Mulga Park, Warakurna, Blackstone, Warburton & Mt Beadell

    2018 marked the 60th anniversary of the completion of the Gunbarrel Highway, Len’s most famous road. As we did for the 50th anniversary we put on another Gunbarrel trip this time celebrating the 60th, maybe we’ll be around long enough to do a 70th!!!

    We had a variety of vehicles as usual and we all got through without major problems. Below is a table of what happened and what was done to remedy the fault. A few pictures are included as well.


Problem Solution
Ute tray mount bolts sheared New bolts fitted and all OK
Spare wheel carrier broke right off
    Images below
Welded back on using two batteries – came up really well
    **Welding with two batteries can be a very good solution to some serious problems when in remote locations. However it needs a bit of practise if you are someone who doesn’t weld much. Unfortunately welding is a job that requires a bit of experience to get good results.
Fuel pump & computer relays dodgy New relays fitted and all OK
    Both of these relays are critical on a 5 cylinder Defender. If they don’t kick in when you turn the ignition the engine simply will not start. Obviously no computer power is a no-brainer and without fuel pressure from the pump the computer will not allow the engine to fire. Pays to carry some spare relays. Every modern vehicle can have these sorts of problems particularly as they get older.


Cracked spare wheel carrier

Spare wheel carrier cracked right through on both sides – thankfully
the spare tyre was found by our convoy as they came along.
Gunbarrel Highway - May 2018


Welding with 2 batteries

Welding with two batteries – repairing broken spare wheel carrier.
Carnegie Station – May 2018


Completed weld repair

Completed weld repair of spare wheel carrier with two batteries.
Carnegie Station – May 2018


Tour – "Beadell Tracks & Western Deserts" – 26 Days – 3557 kms

Rudall River, Windy Corner, Gary Highway, Gunbarrel, David Carnegie Road, Empress Spring, Laverton & Anne Beadell Highway

    A rather long trip in June/July using a number of Len’s roads plus a few other bits to make our way from Nullagine to Coober Pedy with 7 tag-a-long vehicles. Quite a few problems came up. See what you think about how things were handled.


Problem Solution
Leaking water tank
(stainless steel)
    Images below
Welded with two batteries and normal rods. I wasn’t sure this would work but it did. I hadn’t welded stainless before in a tank. It was a tricky job as the sheet was thin and two batteries can’t be regulated to suit the material. Anyway with a bit of luck it came up really well once I got the knack of it. Repair lasted the rest of the trip, 24 days’ worth.
UHF aerial bracket broken Made a new bracket from heavier steel
Suspension bushes failed x 2 Only had one spare which I fitted. The other side had to be ratchet strapped in place for about 10 days. It worked well thankfully. New bushes fitted when we got to town & picked up the ones we had ordered over the HF radio. I can’t explain why those bushes failed. They were quite new as I had only fitted them during the summer and we weren’t doing anything different. Poor quality I guess, (the new bushes completed the season and are still going strong).
Air compressor making smoke!!! Quite an alarming sight...... I couldn’t find anything wrong electrically, all I can think of is that small bits of wood & bark got into the compressor motor and overheated when I was inflating a set of tyres. I carry firewood right next to the compressor so that’s all I could come up with. Cleaned out the motor and all was well.
Camp light failed Something wrong with the cable. Wired the light directly to the 2nd battery – fixed.
Loose bearing on camper trailer hub Plenty of grease and no damage that I could see so took up the nut a couple of notches.
O2 sensor fried in exhaust particulate burning system This is what I think happened, it takes a bit of explaining;
    (This thing is part of the particulate burning rig of a late model vehicle, something I don’t fully understand as it is computer controlled and not something I’d had to deal with until now.)
    This O2 sensor is screwed into the exhaust pipe & has a test circuit as well as its normal sensor wiring. During start up the computer tests the sensor with power to check it is OK, then carries on with the normal running of the vehicle. This wiring is exposed to the elements under the vehicle. I reckon that the shielding on the wires was worn off by the spinifex and grass we were driving over and once the wires were exposed & touching the next test of the circuit shorted out the sensor and cooked the rest of the shielding off and buggered the sensor. The owner reckoned it was a fire, but there was no other damage so I think it just shorted and got hot.
    This now produced a fault code in the computer which none of us knew what it meant at the time. Our fear was that the particulate burn off system wasn’t able to do a burn and that eventually the engine may shut down when the particulate levels got high enough for the computer to register a burn. We talked to a couple of people in the know but we still didn’t know exactly what would happen. Advice was simply if the vehicle was still running to keep going. A new sensor could not be obtained as it had to come from Japan and would take about 3 weeks...... The owner wanted to continue on the trip so all we could do was hope things worked and the vehicle didn’t go into some sort of limp mode in the middle of the desert.
    We got through OK and the vehicle went home. Later we were told that the computer monitors the particulate level and has two limp modes to handle a "full" particulate filter. At the full level the vehicle restricts itself to something like 80 kms/hr, at the "chock-a-block" level the vehicle restricts itself to something like 40kms/hr. It would have been unlikely that the vehicle would have stopped dead.
    If I owned one of these vehicles I would remove that sensor and fit a plug into the exhaust while in the bush. This would save the sensor from scrub damage. When the computer flagged the particulate system just bung the sensor back in and do a manual burn which can be done from the driver’s seat I believe. Pretty simple I guess and thankfully the sensor is easy to get at.
Camper hub very hot The electric brake had worn and fell to bits inside the drum. The over-run brake had been on during a rough section of road and overheated the brake & hub.
    Disengaged the over-run. Pulled the brake drum off and removed the junk bits. Checked the bearings and grease and put it all back together. (A complete set of new brakes & hubs were put on after the trip, they had seen about 15 years of service.)
2nd battery shorted internally and boiling Battery wired out of system
Roofrack leg cracked right through Pulled it together with zip ties & ratchet straps – held for the rest of the trip.
Cranking battery not holding charge New battery fitted at Laverton during trip
Ute tray bolts broken and falling out New bolts fitted – rubber washes removed as they cause movement


Welding water tank

Welding in the bush with 2 batteries, this time a stainless steel water tank
that had split on a welded corner, I hadn’t welded stainless in this capacity
so I was relieved it worked out. Not my best work but it held. If anyone
is wondering, I’m not using a welding helmet, just the tinted glass out of one.
Telfer Road – June 2018


Completed water tank repair

Completed repair, not pretty but solid as the tank held
for the rest of the trip, some 24 days.
Telfer Road June 2018


Failed suspension bushes

Failed suspension bushes for rear axle, not sure
why they did this but OK after replacing with new bushes
mid-way during the trip (new bush in background).
Laverton – June 2018


Failed suspension bushes

Trying to repair cooked O2 sensor.
Notice how there is no insulation left on any of the wires.
Laverton June 2018


Expedition – "Secrets of the South West" – 28 days – 2260 kms

Great Victoria Desert W.A.

    Our 2018 Expedition was another good one. We spent many days searching for interesting sites and found a great many things that would not have been seen by people for many decades. Vehicle problems were few and far between so there isn’t much to report.


Problem Solution
Universal worn and knocking New universal fitted after trip
Suspension ball joint worn & knocking New ball joint fitted
Tray given a knock on a big Mulga Bent the tray rack behind the cab, couldn’t do much with it in the bush and it didn’t affect the use of the vehicle so we carried on.
Dusty blocked radiators (normal) Blown out as best we could – many vehicles are almost impossible to clean well
Dusty air filters (normal) Blew out with compressed air when needed
Flat tyres See the  Tyre & Tube Report 2018  for the 2018 season


Debris in radiator

Bit of stuff in the radiator, sometime during the
season – easy to blow out with a good compressor.


Tour – "Atoms, Mallee & Mulga" – 18 days – 2310 kms

Anne Beadell Highway, Vokes Hill Corner Road, Nullarbor, Dog Fence, Googs Track to Kingoonya

   To finish the season we ran another shorter trip in September along a variety of roads & tracks in the Great Victoria Desert, Nullarbor, Yellabinna & Yumbarra regions. We had a few problems but they were minor and didn’t hold us up for long.


Problem Solution
Disc brake cover rattled off Removed permanently
2nd battery not charging Fuse missing from fuse fitted and all OK
UHF aerial mount rattled off New bolts with thread lock used to put it back together – all OK
Another 2nd battery not charging very well In circuit fuse found to be a bit dodgy – clean & refitted, all OK
Under tray water tank broke off
    Images below
Poor fitting was the problem. They had used the mudguard to hold a 20Lt water tank. New stronger mount made and tank refitted. No problems after that.
Cranking battery down to 9.7V Not charging, cleaned terminals and all OK
Another disc brake cover broke off Removed permanently


Water tank broken mounts

Water tank trying to come off......
Anne Beadell Highway September 2018


Water tank broken mounts

Mud guards are made out of tin and are not meant
to carry any significant weight. Might have
been fine on the Highway but not on rough roads.
Anne Beadell Highway September 2018


Water tank broken mounts - repair

Repaired using a heavier piece of sheet steel Tek
screwed with 8-10 screws at the top into the bearer and the
original screws into the tank itself which were quite adequate.
Vokes Hill Corner – Anne Beadell Highway September 2018


Safe travels folks & we’ll see what happens next year.
Regards, Mick Hutton
Copyright : November 2018




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