Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

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Kirbster
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Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Kirbster »

Good Morning All

Last year July the family did a 6500 km round trip from Cape Town up to Epupa Falls and back.

I towed my Conqueror Confort with my Patrol, my brother-in-law towed his Bushlapa with his Cruiser, and my parents-in-law followed in their Suzuki Jimny.

If you consider the vehicles and the trailer and caravan we towed I'm sure you'd agree that we created a great platform to compare arguably some of the most discussed 4x4 vehicles as well as caravan and trailer brands in South Africa.

Before we did the trip we probably watched all the content we could on YouTube about the trip and specifically the Van Zyl's Pass so in my opinion I believe we have created one of the best quality videos of us descending the pass using various camera angles to view the descent from different sides of the vehicles and get a really good idea of challenging it is to descend while being pushed down the hill by your caravan or trailer.

Some points about the descent:

- The Conqueror had a busted leaf spring at the time and still made it down without a hitch. You'll notice some squeaking in the video attesting to the broken component.
- I pulled up the handbrake of the Comfort before the descent to help reduce the amount of pushing, but that didnt help that much once the auto-reverse kicked in, which disables the brake. My brother-in-law couldn't use his handbrake on the Bushlapa because it's one of those brakes which is either completely on or off.
- The grinding noise heard from the Bushlapa during the descent is the sounds of the front right corner of the chassis being dragged across the rocks. The difference in distance between the Patrols rear axle and Comfort vs. the Cruiser rear axle and Bushlapa is 800mm where the Cruiser is longer, which played a significant roll is traversing terrain with severe acute and obtuse angles.
- Both my brother-in-law and I had our feet 100% on the breaks while making the descent at the steepest part despite it looking as if we came down too fast. Brakes and tires dont mean much at all when you've got 1.5T of load pushing you from behind on loose gravel on a rocky surface.

Here is the link to the YouTube video of the event https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr8q1n ... 8CcEKFDK_w

Feel free to take a look at some of the other content of the trip.

Cheers
Hugh
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

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Peter Connan
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Peter Connan »

Nice video Hugh, and nice driving from the both of you.

Early on I heard somebody ask whether diff lock was on and somebody else reply that it was not needed.

I am not sure if they were still off, but I do believe that a rear locker may have made it a bit easier to control the speed of descent in that really tough bit.

And father-in-law needs to learn to stay off the clutch (or is the Jimny an auto?).

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the two vehicles. Is the cruiser a manual? V8? Seems like it was able to come down just a little slower?
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Kirbster »

Peter Connan wrote:
26 Apr 2020 14:56
Nice video Hugh, and nice driving from the both of you.

Early on I heard somebody ask whether diff lock was on and somebody else reply that it was not needed.

I am not sure if they were still off, but I do believe that a rear locker may have made it a bit easier to control the speed of descent in that really tough bit.

And father-in-law needs to learn to stay off the clutch (or is the Jimny an auto?).

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on the two vehicles. Is the cruiser a manual? V8? Seems like it was able to come down just a little slower?
Hi Peter.

The Jimny is a manual. My father-in-law has chronic arthritis which makes things more difficult for him. He also refused to wear his hearing aids on the trip in case he lost them so hearing our instructions on the decent was not as good as it could have been. You can only imagine how many times we had to repeat ourselves over the 4 weeks we travelling. We still tease him about it 😎.

The part where we discuss the lockers was earlier in the pass before we actually got to that very tricky bit. If memory serves I was asking my brother-in-law if he had the rear locker on at the time of going up.

I'm not sure if I had any lockers on when we descended the difficult bit. I probably had them off, but I've since read that having the rear locker on may help prevent runaway when one of the rear wheels loses traction. That is for next time I hope.

The LC is a manual whereas my Patrol is an auto. There is most certainly a benefit in having a manual in that you can use the engine compression to help control the descent. I locked the auto in 1 gear low range, but the auto still accelerates faster than a manual. There is also a difference between the engine compression offered by the diesel vs the petrol.

Other than the difference in descent, driving with an auto on such a trip is much better than a manual because you dont get so tired changing gears , which is what you have to do for most of the trip. My brother-in-law often commented how tired his left leg was at the end of day of driving. If you add to this the fact that the rear axle of the LC is narrower than the front which causes significant tail wagging especially when towing in the sand, then overall I think the Patrol was a better drive from a driver's comfort perspective.
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

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Peter Connan
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Peter Connan »

I don't know, but I have the distinct impression that a torque converter does not really transfer torque effectively when driven from the wrong end, which I believe is why autos don't really give you compression braking.

I can attest to the fact that a locker helps with control when going down a steep hill, especially if it's loose or uneven. When un-loaded, a Patrol is fairly well balanced front to rear, but when loaded like that, the rear end is far heavier than the front. Locking the rear diff in this situation would give you effective braking on three wheels rather than one (well, almost anyway).

I must say, that Cruiser's clutch must be heavy. My left leg has never been tired from overlanding. Usually it's my right ankle, from trying to keep a steady throttle. I won't argue that an auto is less effort, but the big straight sixes in the Patrols are so torque that I find it's seldom necessary to change gear, and I would have thought that big V8 should be similar?

How much does a spacer affect the Cruiser's wheel bearing life? I would have thought adding one a bit of a no-brainer for a trip like this?
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by graham1 »

Great video. Thank you!
I must say, that’s my ONLY issue with my auto is the zero compression when descending.

On the piesangkloof trail up here a year or so ago, there’s one decent that just feels like it goes on and on forever, and needs to be done quite slowly. The v8 cruiser infront of me never had to touch his brake pedal the whole way down whereas I was hard on the brakes the whole way, actually started to get a bit worried about the brakes towards the end!

Kirbster
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Kirbster »

Peter Connan wrote:
26 Apr 2020 19:19
I don't know, but I have the distinct impression that a torque converter does not really transfer torque effectively when driven from the wrong end, which I believe is why autos don't really give you compression braking.

I can attest to the fact that a locker helps with control when going down a steep hill, especially if it's loose or uneven. When un-loaded, a Patrol is fairly well balanced front to rear, but when loaded like that, the rear end is far heavier than the front. Locking the rear diff in this situation would give you effective braking on three wheels rather than one (well, almost anyway).

I must say, that Cruiser's clutch must be heavy. My left leg has never been tired from overlanding. Usually it's my right ankle, from trying to keep a steady throttle. I won't argue that an auto is less effort, but the big straight sixes in the Patrols are so torque that I find it's seldom necessary to change gear, and I would have thought that big V8 should be similar?

How much does a spacer affect the Cruiser's wheel bearing life? I would have thought adding one a bit of a no-brainer for a trip like this?
The LC has one of those heavy duty 1000nM units in it so I guess that could make it heavier? He has the spacers added, but there was a bit of a booboo when he fitted the new rims and tires. There was some complications with finding a rim with the right number of nuts for the LC and the 285 tires, which meant the offset of the rim couldn't compensate for the spacers so he ended up still having a problem where the rear wheel are a narrower track than the front. He was just so gatvol at the time of trying to get the whole thing sorted out that he just left it for another time to get it done.
Last edited by Kirbster on 27 Apr 2020 06:47, edited 1 time in total.
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

Tommie
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Tommie »

Hi Hugh,

We met up with you guys at Marble Camp. The videos you guys made so far on YouTube is "lekker". Looking out for the others to follow.

Kirbster
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Kirbster »

Tommie wrote:
27 Apr 2020 01:48
Hi Hugh,

We met up with you guys at Marble Camp. The videos you guys made so far on YouTube is "lekker". Looking out for the others to follow.
Hey Tommie

Yes, I remember meeting up with you guys that day. I saw your video of the 15-day trip pop-up on my YouTube feed. I think it was of the same trip where I met you and Buddy?
- Previous 4x4: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder 2.5 dCI AT. ARB Suspension and ARB Rear Locker.
- Currently Towing: 2017 Conqueror Comfort Trailer with factory mounted bush awning.
- YouTube: "Simple Life Overlanding"

Tommie
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Tommie »

Yes, it was the same tour. I remember how impressed we were with your setup. Daniel mentioned that it can only be a Patrol from "CA", that can look that good :rolling: :rolling: . Keep posting the video's, I have subscribed to your channel.

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Peter Connan
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Re: Down Van Zyls Pass Towing Trailers and Caravans: Patrol, Cruiser, and Jimny

Post by Peter Connan »

Just a couple of comments on the rest of the trip:
1) When you were at Bloetkoppie, did you take a drive out toward Tinkas? That to me was one of the best parts of our trip.
2) At least our corporals never gave us an oppie while drinking beer!

PS, this was taken at Bloetkoppie. You can see it on the right, and the light there is our campfire.
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Mag ons ons kenniskry met lekkerkry aanhoukry.

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