Breakdown East of the Cederberg Mountains South Africa

ByronJ

Well-Known Member
I am in wales
Jul 7, 2012
349
222
43
Burry Port
Below is a copy of my recent posting I made on the South Africa LCCSA forum of some fun Zeda and I had when exploring east of the Cederberg in the Western Cape of South Africa. Around 200Km NNE of Cape Town. The area is desert/semi desert and surprisingly remote.

Having spent the weekend of 9/10 September hiking for 2 days in the Posberg Reserve to view the flowers and overnighting in our bivvi bags (rather cold but stunning view of the Milky Way) Zelda and I decided to opt for a bit more luxury for our next flower viewing trip and drive instead of walking. Little did we know what awaited us...

Our plan was to access the Old Post Road (OPR) from its western side, cross over to the east and spend the night at Enjo campsite in the Biedouw valley. Accordingly we set off from Cape Town around 11:00 on Wednesday 12th September. On the drive up I felt the tyres were rather hard and when we stopped at the beginning of the R355 to air down I discovered the front tyres were at 55 psi and the rear at 60 psi! Alarmingly high. I reckon the guy at the garage mistook 38/40 psi for 3.8/4.0 bar... Think I will stick to pumping up my tyres myself in future.

We dropped the pressures to 22 front/ 24 rear and enjoyed a fast and comfortable run up the R355 stopping for a beer break at the Tankwa Padstal stall about 100km up the road. At around 155Km we turned left and headed west for about 10km to the river where we accessed the OPR earlier this year. The river was dry when we crossed last March but was now running with plenty of water. Problem was the gate was wired shut.

We found the farmer who was busy working with his crew castrating male lambs by applying rubber rings and docking all the tails. Ouch! He told us it was too dangerous to cross the river at this time so he had wired the gate shut. He suggested that we may be able to cross further north. So we continued up a dirt farm track to the next farm about 9k away. There was no-one about and, again, we were thwarted by roaring water and fast wired gates.

I was reluctant to cut the wire so we checked out alternatives and noted a 4x4 trail (Kliphuiskloof ) marked about 9k further north. It appeared to drop down into the Doring valley, cross the Doring river then make its way up to the OPR. It looked interesting enough to take a look so we decided to give it a go. We found the start of the trail at an old watering spot and followed the trail west up on to the escarpment. By then it was getting dark so we stopped for the night a few km from the descent into the valley. Dinner was a delicious Spaghetti Bolognaise (prepared by Zelda) and a bottled of red. We could not see any artificial light in any direction and enjoyed a great night sleeping under the stars in our Howling Moon roof top tent .

1st Camp.jpg


Saturday morning we breakfasted and made our way a few km west to the top of the valley. Below us the Doring River was sparkling with plenty of green on the valley floor. Very inviting after the relentless rock and dust we had been driving through.
Zorro in valley.jpg


The track down looked challenging in places but we decided to give it a go. It proved to be a rather tortious route down to the valley floor and took us a while as we stopped and walked the route whenever it looked like it might give problems. In the end it was all passable with care and we happily rounded the last tight hairpin and continued to follow the track along the valley floor. Suddenly our hearts lurched as, after just a few hundred metres, the car felt as if we had lost a wheel!

Jumping out we checked and all wheels seemed firmly attached. So with Zelda watching from outside the I attempted to move the car. It was immediately apparent that we had no steering. Ducking down under the front of the car I could see the Passenger Side Knuckle Steering arm lying on the floor with the Steering rod and Link Rod still attached. Further inspection showed that two of the studs holding the arm to the knuckle were missing and the other two studs were snapped off inside the knuckle itself. My heart sank; we were going nowhere. There was, of course, no phone signal. I dragged out my tools and proceeded to strip the PS of the axle to remove the steering knuckle while Zelda climbed back up to the top of the valley to try and get a signal.

All four studs and nuts were present when we set off so I assume two of them vibrated loose on the trip up and the remaining two snapped due to the joint articulating with only two studs in place.

As anyone who has serviced the front axle of an 80 series will know this is a really messy job. By the time Zelda returned I had the axle stripped down without getting covered in grease! Zelda did not get any signal but found one snapped stud about s40m back up the track. We were so relieved it had lasted until after we had completed the steep descent.
Dismantled 1B.jpg

In the image above I am putting away the tools after stripping down the PS of the axle. The steering knuckle arm can be seen lying against the axle stand with the steering and link rods still attached.
After reviewing our options we decided that as we were in such a remote spot it was clear that we had to walk out to get help and and that it would be best if we could take the knuckle with us (all greasy 5Kg, though it felt like 10Kg!).

To walk back east was around 29km to the R355, then we would be around 150km north of Ceres and would have to hitch to get there as we knew there was no signal on that stretch of the road. We debated about going south to the Hoek se Berg Pass which was about 40km away. We also knew there was at least one rooibos tea farm near the OPR and being high ground we may get a signal to call home for a lift or perhaps catch a ride from farm traffic. In addition the route south looked far more interesting so we decided on the southern route, provided we could ford the Doring river.

We walked a few km south along the eastern bank of the river until we spotted some old markers. these led us to be able to identify a causeway of large blocks across the river that must have been laid down by some enterprising farmers. It was a long meandering causeway (200m plus) but after a few false starts I was easily able to track it all the way to the western bank and never once did the water get above knee height despite there being a very healthy flow of water in the river.

Returning to Zorro we decided that with the PS axle supported on a stand it would be too risky to put up the RTT in the strengthening wind so I emptied the back of the car while Zelda struggled to cook dinner. She also boiled our 5 remaining eggs for us to eat on the walk. Dinner went down a treat with a bottle of wine and we snuggled down in the back of the car to get as much sleep as possible before setting off at dawn.

It was a windy and slightly cramped night but we slept pretty well and set off at first light on Friday morning. Carrying the greasy knuckle well wrapped up in Zelda's handbag, warm clothes in case we had to spend the night, around 12L of water, 4 eggs (we had somehow lost one!), and a dozen breakfast bars to sustain us. How we wished we had remembered to bring backpacks as we lugged this stuff around...

We crossed the river without incident and enjoyed the walk south along the river bank then west up the valley (Kliphuis Pass) leading to the OPR (about the middle of the picture).
Route from river IMG_5879.jpg



Flowers were everywhere, lots of birds, a handful of lizards and one small Puff Adder crossed our path. It was hard going lugging the knuckle etc. and it all seemed to get heavier by the hour. It was a fairly steep ascent up to the escarpment, the final 20m is very loose and would be exhilarating to drive...

This is a view from the top of the escarpment looking back down the valley we walked up.
Route out.jpg

Once we were on the OPR there were even more flowers and by now the day was really hotting up. Not a soul or a building in sight for hours. This is what the OR looked like. There was a big burn earlier this year which knocked the Proteas back.

Flowers 2 IMG_5888.jpg

And here is a closer look at the flowers on the track.
Flowers IMG_5886.jpg

After about 10Km of this we spotted a farmhouse in the distance. It even had a car outside! We were cautiously optimistic!

We arrived at the farmhouse around 14:00 after 7 hours of walking and I estimated we had covered nearly 30km. Greeted by the usual barking dogs we waited hoping the farmer would appear. It seemed ages before he came out but he welcomed us warmly and invited us inside introducing us to his wife and baby son. After inspecting the knuckle the farmer decided our best bet for parts was Clanwilliam so we and the family piled into his bakkie and he drove us the 80km to Clanwilliam. What a kind and helpful family.

Once in Clanwilliam we went straight to CMB. The owner not only reckoned he could get the studs out but even had replacements along with the nuts and cone washers! Leaving the knuckle with him we tried to borrow/hire a car but had no luck. So the farmer dropped us off at the Clanwilliam lodge where we booked a room for the night, grabbed a cold beer and enjoyed a good meal.

Later in the evening the farmer contacted us with a map and reckoned we had walked around 25km to get to his farm. So we must have been going a little slower than I thought. The farmer also told us not to worry about the car and gear as no-one goes into that valley...

Over dinner we contacted Jos Hartog who we met on the LCCSA mystery tour earlier this year to see if there was anybody going to be in the area who would help.

Jos set-up a WhatsApp group and members soon joined in with offers of help.

THANK'S GUYS, YOUR OFFERS OF HELP REALLY LIFTED OUR SPIRITS
icon_biggrin.gif


Riann from the club kindly offered to meet us the following morning and take us back to our stricken 80.

Saturday morning I picked up the knuckle from CMB, all clean and with new studs fitted. Just as I arrived back at the hotel Riann drove up bang on time.

We all had a chat and discussed our options. These were the main points:

It was around 350km by road back to our car with around 10k of rough track at the end

Going via the OPR was around 105Km but involved a dodgy descent and around 15km of rough track plus the river crossing

I knew I did not have a ball joint remover in the car's toolkit and decided refitting the knuckle with the track and steering rods attached to the arm would be problematic as it could be dangerous to jack up both front wheels due to the left/right incline the car was on

After considering the above we decided that driving all that way and then not being able to sort the car was not sensible. Thus Rianne drove us south down to Moreesberg where we were met by Zelda's son and his girlfriend Ash. Thanks again Riann you were a real star
icon_cool.gif
. The four of us then drove back to Cape Town with just one stop at Constantia Glen for some wine tasting.

Once home we hired a 4x4 Ford Ranger from Cape Town airport and gathered the ball joint separator plus a few other bits and bobs. Then Sunday morning Zelda and I set off to rescue Zorro. The Ranger behaved well on the tar and was much quicker than the 80. But it felt skittish on the dirt and the descent down into the Doring valley felt much much more adventurous than it did when we descended in Zorro.

In case you did not spot Zorro in the first picture of the valley he is in the circle


We were delighted to see Zorro. The poor fellow looked a little forlorn but he was untouched and all our tools, gear cameras etc. were safe. I dragged out the tools and began the knuckle refit. It was a very windy day so lots of dust blowing. I started by removing the steering and track rod ends from the knuckle arm. I was using the 1Kg lump hammer to knock the separator into the ball joint when a gust of wind blew dust in my eye. I flinched then hit my hand rather than the separator – then flinched a great deal more!
Zorro in valley marked.jpg

In this picture I have the ball joint separator in my left hand and have just picked up the hammer in my right. Serious pain is about to be inflicted!
Starting.jpg

The outer wheel bearing was rusted and seized so I freed that off, inner oil seal was damaged when the knuckle and shaft swung up as the last bolt snapped so I left it in place and the felt seals etc on the rear of the knuckle were also damaged so I left them off. But after a couple of hours I had the job finished while Zelda practiced her water colours. No point us both getting filthy dirty she said.

Despite my best efforts there was dust everywhere so I planned to strip and redo the whole axle once we were back in Cape Town.

I took Zorro for a quick test drive and everything felt solid. Meanwhile Zelda had been cooking dinner in the dust storm so we cracked open a bottle of wine and climbed into the Ranger for some respite from the weather and then retired into the roof tent for a great sleep under the stars.

Monday morning we packed up everything and set off for home. Zelda insisted on driving Zorro as she felt much safer driving him on the rough track so I drove the Ranger. I followed behind Zelda and it was very instructive watching how the 80 tackled the rough terrain. I was reminded of an Elephant; powerful, steady and relentless.

It was also interesting driving behind Zelda on the R355 dirt road. I was obviously going at exactly the same speed and was caught out several times by the Ranger going airborne while Zorro seemed to just give a little shrug at the same spot! We stopped at the Tankwa Padstal for lunch and enjoyed a long chat with the owner. An interesting chap, amongst other things he uses live Cobras to guard his solar panels! No thefts at all since he adopted that approach...

Following Zorro on the tar I could watch his exhaust carefully and was really pleased to see that he did not smoke at all. Not even when changing down to power up a hill.

Shortly after we arrived home I picked up some new seals from JB's Auto Repairers and completely stripped and cleaned the front axle, sorting out a few problems along the way. I probably should put that info in another post though.

Some learning points:

I need to check the steering and suspension nuts properly before and after each off-road trip; using a spanner not just an eyeball check

The “Help LCCSA Western Cape” WhatsApp group that Jos setup was a great idea and it felt like a life line to us. Thanks again guys.

Despite the breakdown we thoroughly enjoyed our trip into the Doring valley, it is a beautiful wild place. We plan to return to drive Zorro back down into the valley, across the river and along the route we walked to join up with the OPR. A little challenging in places but it should be a great trip.

Anyone fancy joining us?
 
Last edited:

Chris

Super Moderator
Supporter
I am in europe
Feb 24, 2010
17,062
3,848
113
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Garage
Ahh we were reading this, this morning on the SA forum. Glad you made it out alive mate. I know the studs can come loose. In fact we had to tighten some on the recent Russia trip. I Locktited mine in on the bench and they've never come loose. I do mean to pop some spares in my kit box though just in case.
 

ByronJ

Well-Known Member
I am in wales
Jul 7, 2012
349
222
43
Burry Port
Ahh we were reading this, this morning on the SA forum. Glad you made it out alive mate. I know the studs can come loose. In fact we had to tighten some on the recent Russia trip. I Locktited mine in on the bench and they've never come loose. I do mean to pop some spares in my kit box though just in case.
Hiya Chris :)
Great to hear from you. We were glad to survive as well, it is an amazingly remote place. I now keep a 17mm ring spanner in my door pocket to remind me to check those nuts and the bottom of the rear shocks properly. We had recently made a lot of deep river crossings and would have been utterly scuppered if the steering let go in the middle of the river. I notice the replacement nuts I got in Clanwilliam were locknuts... Hmm Loctite is not a bad idea at all :sunglasses:
 
Last edited:

mussy

Well-Known Member
Sep 4, 2011
361
88
48
Wow Byron, another African adventure for you! Glad you made it out safe and even thought you had the problem it is clear your preparation, tools and sound risk assessment saved you. Take care...
 
Don't like the adverts? Remove them by becoming a supporting member.   Click here

Chris

Super Moderator
Supporter
I am in europe
Feb 24, 2010
17,062
3,848
113
Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Garage
It's a bit odd Byron, but it seems to be the studs that come loose not the nuts. I took the swivel hubs off, degreased them etc , cleaned out the threads with brake cleaner and compressed air then ran thread chasers through. I then warmed the castings up for 24 hours before torquing the new studs in with loctite. I left them overnight to let them really cure.
 

clivehorridge

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Guru
I am in romania
May 23, 2012
14,823
4,774
113
Comarnic, Romania
Garage
Glad all 3 of you are safe Byron, what an experience!

I can't believe that Zelda found one of the sheared-off studs :wtf:

Yep, I can see a bunch of spare studs and collets going into the overland spares box...

Stay safe...:thumbup:
 

StarCruiser

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Guru
I am in uk
Oct 7, 2014
11,763
4,779
113
Bognor Regis UK
Garage
After a side impact from a Corsa that caught door, wing, side step and nearside wheel turning right I found one day several years later that two of my studs had broken. They were still present just hanging on by half a thread. These cruisers just seem to soldier on until something major goes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: clivehorridge
AdBlock Detected

We get it, advertisements are annoying!

Sure, ad-blocking software does a great job at blocking ads, but it also blocks useful features of our website. For the best site experience please disable your AdBlocker.

I've Disabled AdBlock    No Thanks