Driving Forward Control
in 1995 I was given a Land Rover Forward Control to drive as part of my job escorting
and supporting trucks taking food relief into Southern Sudan. The
roads and conditions were extremely poor to say the least. The trucks,
although 6x6 ex military AEC, were having a problem off road getting through
especially in the rainy season.
Land Rover was a Series II Forward Control immediately christened Katie
after the ambulance in ďIce Cold in AlexĒ.
She had started life as a fire tender, then went on to towing
steam engines. When we got hold of Katie the back was just a normal pick
up with a frame and tilt, which suited our needs. She was still fire
engine red so a paint job was in order. After painting to the fleet
colours, which was cream with zebra striped bumpers, she and I were put
I had been driving Land Cruisers for the last 4 years I hadnít fully
understood the importance of engaging and driving in 4wd. This was soon
to change for, as anybody who has driven a series II Land Rover knows
the half shafts are extremely delicate.
having broken two half shafts and having to repair them in remote areas
I started to think about driving Katie in a way to avoid any further
damage. It was also amazing that I could find half shafts, for I was
carrying no spares at the time. I realised that you could find just
about any second hand spare for series Land Rovers just about any where.
On one occasion when I broke a half shaft we approached a trader who was
using his Land Rover for transporting anything and everything to and
from Uganda to what was then Zaire. After some negotiation he took out
his half shaft. Yes, thatís right he took it off his vehicle and sold
it to us. When asked what he would do in the event of getting stuck, for
he was now traveling on the front axle only, he replied that his next
cargo was human so that they could get out and push if required!! On
seeing him about two months later I asked him how he had got on. He
replied that he got to where he was going and that he found another
this time I had gotten used to Katie and had discovered the full
potential of 4L the hard way. I
had slightly over loaded her on one occasion. I had a 15kva generator, a
motorbike, 200lts of engine oil, 80lts of gearbox oil and other
servicing materials for servicing the trucks in the field.
The route I was taking took us up quite steep hills and low range
was definitely needed as I found out after burning the clutch out. Again
changing a clutch in a forward control is not very easy when you are
stuck in the bush! Lesson learnt. Katie had a 2.25 petrol engine fitted.
Not the greatest for engine braking!! Coming down a steep hill in 1st
H isnít very effective with such a load. So as the brakes started to
fade I stopped and engaged L4 number one and low and behold came down a
lot slower without having to use the brakes so much. Lesson learnt and
without any remote bush repairs.
lesson learnt the hard way takes us back to half shafts. The ability to
read the road or no road in some cases.
Looking ahead and planning the route over particularly uneven
terrain enabled Katie and myself to keep the axles as level as possible,
therefore, trying to eliminate the possibility of one or more wheels
leaving the ground. By doing this combined with L4 made it possible to
crawl slowly and in our case eliminate the risk of breaking more half
shafts and springs.
and I traveled together for about one year and it was from her that my
love for Land Rovers and their abilities, when used correctly began.
of our last jobs together was transporting some people from Northern
Uganda to Southern Sudan. The organisation we were working for had to
use Ssan Yyong Korandos as a stipulation for getting the funding.
Unfortunately, these vehicles, which are a poor imitation of the
Willyís Jeep, could not handle some of the roads. So Katieís and my
services were called upon.
found ourselves traveling through some very bad roads and fording
rivers. Now, Katie was just plain standard and I was amazed and so were
our passengers just at how much water we could go through. Being an
electrician by trade I was already aware that electrics and water do not
mix. I was already in the habit of carrying a tin of wd40 around from my
days of driving Minis on a motorway in a rainstorm in the UK!
So armed with that, some silicon sealer and a tub of grease
proceeded to waterproof the electrics BEFORE entering the water. Also
checking the depth, which on one particular instance was just above the
tyres. By taking it slowly in L4 and creating a slight bow wave we were
able to keep the water around the vehicle at an acceptable limit. I had
already seen the effects of water entering into the engine through the
air filter on one of another organisation's trucks. Very expensive it
was built in 1960, the same year that I was born and to my knowledge is
still working at the same job in Northern Uganda /Southern Sudan. One
day I should try and get her back to put her to more gentler work
helping me teach others to correctly use their 4X4s.