Julian's knowledge of cruisers is second to none, and I thoroughly recommend him.  Read More…
Andrew Wightman
His enthusiasm and knowledge is unrivalled in the UK (or Libya and Morocco as well, BTW). We wish Julian and Overland Cruisers all the very best.  Read More…
Paul Blackburn
I thoroughly recommend Julian as someone who is honest, brilliant at what he does and has your interests closest to his heart.  Read More…
David Gittelson
I was impressed by Julians knowledge, and the suggestions that he made . . . Highly Recommended.  Read More…
Ken Jordan
We would recommend Julian to help with pre trip arrangements and servicing.  Read More…
Bob and Anne Finch
.........it was Julian's voice that came through on the forums offering excellent advice.  Read More…
Graham Naismith
I drove from my home in Southern Spain up to their workshops in Hereford.....I can definitely say that it was worth the journey.  Read More…
Dave Heppell
I recommend to anyone doing an overland trip in a Land Cruiser to spend some time in the Overland Cruisers workshop.  Read More…
Neil Lister
I have no hesitation in recommending Julian, his knowledege and his workmanship.  Read More…
Graham Smith
I would have no hesitation in recommending Julian to do work on your Landcruiser, I have always found him to be very knowledgeable and friendly.  Read More…
Chas Spencer
I am happy to say that I would thoroughly recommend Julian and his work to anyone, and would be happy to be contacted to verify this.  Read More…
Paul Mills
I have no hesitation in recommending Julian and Overland Cruisers.  Read More…
Richard Kaad
I have no hesitation in recommending Julian and Overland Cruisers to all LC owners.  Read More…
Piers Finlayson
With an unmatchable knowledge of Land Cruisers and continued support on the road we couldn’t recommend Overland Cruisers more.  Read More…
Martin McGowan
Julian is the acknowledged heart-surgeon of LandCruisers for good reason; what he doesn’t know is not worth knowing.  Read More…
Barrie Dunbar
We'll be using Julian again and wouldn't hesitate to recommend him others.  Read More…
Paul Driver
Julian is a master of Landcruisers. He took us from being a couple of novices into knowledgeable mechanics....  Read More…
Charlie & Nina
A true specialist, I would not hesitate to recommend his services to any Landcruiser owner.  Read More…
Colin Moore
‘Overland Cruisers’ are the ONLY company that we would use for work on our client’s Landcruisers.  Read More…
Matt Richards
....the greatest resource you can have is a fully charged telephone and Julian Voelcker's phone number  Read More…
Daniel Dungate
Discovering Julian and his knowledge of the Landcruiser is one of those "at last" moments when you finally discover an expert.  Read More…
Damien J. Hill
I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending, without qualification, Julian and Overland Cruisers to anyone needing work done on their Land Cruiser.  Read More…
Peter Jacques
I highly recommend Julian for his knowledge, expertise and enthusiasm in relation to Land Cruisers  Read More…
Barbara Hawksley

Overland Cruisers Company Truck

I guess a good starting point for our case studies is to have a look at what I drive, the modification made and why.

I bought my 1994 80 series 4.2 Turbo Diesel Land Cruiser from a fellow ELCO member back in 2004 with 120k miles on it.  This was my second 80, after a brief foray with an earlier model a couple of years earlier.  The previous owner had used it for occasional overland trips, something that at the time wasn't really on my radar so I didn't blink when he sold on his winch, roof rack and fridge and I even foolishly sold off the ARB bumper that was in the boot because I couldn't see the point.  So when I brought it down from its old home in Scotland it was pretty standard  except for a basic Old Man Emu 2" suspension lift.

I ran the car in standard form for a while, but then as I realised the car's full potential and started planning for a trip to Morocco I drew up the shopping list for the first round or preparation which consisted:-

  • Complete front and rear axle rebuild with new disks, CVs, bearings, seals, etc.
  • Full service including Big End Bearing replacement, injection pump and injector service
  • Extra oil cooler for the automatic gearbox
  • New 285/75 R16 BF Goodrich AT's all round
  • African Outback Roof Rack
  • IBS Split Charge system with 3rd battery (big Odyssey) to go into the boot
  • Waeco fridge
  • Second hand fridge slide
  • MyWay roof tent
  • Second hand laptop mounted above the gearbox with USB GPS receiver with Touratech software running old French IGN maps
  • 2 x 20l jerries for fuel - filled up in Morocco, used several months later
  • 1 x 20l water container
  • 2 x solar showers
  • Airbag jack - never used

For our Morocco trip we added on a second roof tent kindly lent to us by a friend and used a Toyota dog guard as a cargo barrier.  As ever we ran out of time getting things organised and my greatest regret was not spending some time properly organising our storage - all we needed was some sort of cage over our fridge and food boxes so that they could be slid out without having to unload all the rubbish on top.  We were travelling with three children with one in nappies still drinking formula so you can imagine all the extra stuff we took.

So we survived the trip and the car ran faultlessly.  It was a wee bit overloaded with the full boot and two roof tents, but wasn't too unwieldy and we managed to get some good average speeds on the long stretches.

And so it begins....

Having returned from Morocco and been bitten by the bug I had imagined that starting Overland Cruisers I would end up doing a lot more to the car, which I suppose I have to a degree, but it has been in dribs and drabs - parts get ferreted away into the store room and then a show like the RGS weekends or a weekend away with Paul @ One Life Adventures prompts me to pull my finger out and give the old girl some pampering.

So, in no particular order, here is a list of some of the upgrades…

  • Allisport Intercooler
    Being a bit of a boy racer at heart I like to be able to overtake.  I had got pretty good at tweaking the pumps to get more power without drowning people in black smoke, but having sold a few of the kits thought it was time to get one myself - she goes quite well now!!
  • Upgraded Brakes
    The braking on standard 80 series is pretty poor, so when the disks were starting to wear out I upgraded to Nitrac grooved disks - these are cryogenically treated to strengthen them and when combined with decent pads means that the car now stops quite well.  I also threw on stainless steel brake lines because the old ones were starting to stretch a bit.
  • Snorkel and Raised Breather kit
    Not much to say about this.  Having encountered a stack of floods that have lapped over the top of the bonnet before fitting this, typically now that I have it the deepest water encountered so far is about a foot deep - I think I need to get out more!
  • 3" Slinky Suspension Kit
    The standard Old Man Emu suspension is a good all round basic kit, but unless heavily laden it can be a little harsh and a little skittish on rough corners.  We sell a complete 3" suspension kit developed in Aus by Darren McRae at Auto-Craft in conjunction with Ridepro.  This is streets ahead of the OME kit -  it provides much more car like handling on the road whilst also providing superb articulation from the progressive springs and long travel shocks.
  • Hacked Exhaust
    Quite early on I had a hole in the main silencer and rather than go to the expense of replacing the box, I just cut it out and replaced it with a straight through pipe.  This drastically reduced the back pressure from the exhaust enabling the turbo to spin up much quicker providing more power much lower down in the rev range - with the appropriate pump tweaks this transformed the truck.  The car sounds a lot better as well without being too boy racerish or sounding like and old John Deere tractor!
  • Walbro Fuel Pump
    As standard the 80 series fuel pumps can suffer slightly from under fuelling at high revs, and then when you throw in wear in the pump and you start driving up steep slopes the whole under fuelling issue can get exaggerated.  Fitting a pusher pump down by the tank to provide a pressurised feed to the injection pump can transform the way a car performs.
  • SV Winch Bar with Milemarker Hydraulic Winch
    It's not often I need a winch, but when I do I just want it to work and I'm not too bothered about the speed.  Organising the original ELCO weekends I thought it would be sensible to be able to provide some recovery so opted for an SV bull bar mainly on price, although I'm warming to the look, and then the Milemarker winch because I've had to rebuild too many electric winches  that have seized or rusted out due to lack of use.   The winch is very slow being powered by the power steering pump and makes the steering a little heavy, but long term I'll fit in a separate standalone pump for the winch, something we have successfully done on a 24valve 80.  For ease of use I fitted plasma, but currently run it through a standard fairlead - I have a proper stainless steel one waiting to go on.
  • Darkened Windows
    In the hope of trying to reduce some internal temps whilst travelling in Morocco I did some basic tinting in a campsite in Fez, it wasn't that bad, but have now had it all done professionally and it's a lot better.
  • Dinitrol Underbody Rust Treatment
    Having fitted all the toys I wanted to protect the rest of the underside, particularly from road salt and some slurry from the farms I occasionally drive over - the Dinitrol has done a fantastic job so far although the axles could do with more regular touch ups as they get sand blasted by grit on the roads and tracks.
  • Toughbook Mount
    Having started with an old laptop, I eventually moved on to a Panasonic CF-19 Toughbook for mapping and have made a custom mount for it using RAM mount components.  I'm not a fan of satnavs shouting instructions at you or just following waypoints on a handheld GPS, so the laptop just sits there showing you a map and where you are on the map.  In reality my mobile is now taking over most duties of the laptop, but I still dust it off when going on a major trip.
  • Batteries under the bonnet and rewire
    With the car constantly being used for the children, I need to keep the boot free of junk so at the first opportunity I moved over to Optima batteries that were small enough so that I could all three under the bonnet and then I re-wired the car so that a central fuse bank near the gear lever handled all the auxillary power sockets and a built in transformer provided power to my laptop and USB power into the glove box for phone charging, etc.
  • Upgraded Lighting
    The front headlight bulbs have been replaced with HID units that provide a fantastic light, certainly no need for any spotlights, and I have also upgraded all the internal lights to LEDs with extra LED down lights mounted in the upper tailgate to light up the area we usually cook in.   I'm also still experimenting with various upgraded reversing light options - with tinted windows you need all the light you can get!
  • Expedition Storage Pod
    This is very much work in progress.  Frustrated with not being able to have a dedicated expedition vehicle I am developing a storage system that can be easily lifted into the back of the car prior to a weekend and then removed on my return,  fixed in with four easy to access bolts.  The pod started with a couple of deep drawers stacked up on the left hand side and then a fridge slide on the right hand side with space at the back for extras.  In the next month or so I'll be replacing the fridge slide for an integrated version and fitting the custom built water tank, electric pump and shower attachment.  I am also having a bit of a rethink on the cooking side of things so may also need to consider storage space for a small gas cylinder for cooking.

Still on the 'shelf'

I still have a few things sitting on the 'shelf' to go on to the car in the coming months….

  • Patriot Roof Rack
    I ended up selling my old African Outback rack to a customer on the basis that it was due to be replaced by the Patriot - they make a good sturdy rack and one of the few 2.5m ones which will be handy for throwing on a couple of roof tents.
  • Hannibal 2.4m Awning
    As long as you have a sturdy rack, you cannot touch the Hannibal awning for all round ease of use, speed of setup etc.  This will be perfect for weekends in Wales as well as the occasional Point to Point or Pony Cub event that I end up taking the girls to.
  • MadMan Gauge
    This is mainly for demo purposes, but will help with fine tuning the performance and warn me of any problems. 
  • On board air compressor
    Whilst we have a decent compressor in the workshop it is always handy to have one the vehicle on trips as well as to help others out.  Again, I sold my old one on to a customer to get them out of a hole, but now have all the tanks and fittings to build something in, I just need to decide on a compressor.

 

Planned Preventative Maintenance

Overall the truck goes really well.  Performance wise I haven't come across another 80 to touch it, it pulls like a train from low revs through to the red line and handles like a car on the road, however at over 208k miles she is getting a little long in the teeth so here is a list of some preventative maintenance planned for the coming months:-

  • Engine Top End Rebuild
    The valve stem seals are a little worn (probably due the my early over exuberance with the fuelling) producing puffs of smoke on start-up and it's getting a little rattly so I'm keen to get the head off to get the seals replaced and then whilst whilst we have the head off I'm going to check the big end bearings, bores and pistons and will probably also get the injectors and pump checked.
  • Upgraded Turbo
    You can never have too much power!! From the abuse that it has been given, my turbo is getting pretty worn  - the engine rebuild will be a good time to swap it.
  • Paintwork Touchup
    The paint work is getting pretty scratched, particularly from little children climbing all over the bonnet and I have rust holes and rust spots on the off side rear sill as well as around the rear side and upper tailgate windows - the touch up will sort the rust spots and get the vehicle into a show ready condition.
  • Front Diff Rebuild
    Over time the front diff has developed a bit of a whine that hasn't been fixed by a bearing refurb so a new ring and pinion is required.

Problems/Failures

I know we always bang on about the reliability of the Land Cruisers, so here is a confession that actually you can have problems.  Below is a list of the problems that I have encountered in 8 years of ownership….

  • Various punctures
  • Diesels won't run on petrol - me once and a customer once!
  • Odd earth problem causing the oil level light to flicker - turned out to be a dry joint in one of the battery earth leads
  • Worn bearings - The original swivel bearings were complete shot when replaced prior to Morocco in 2007 and the cheap wheel bearings fitted at that time only lasted around 10-15k miles and have all been replaced.
  • Worn CVs - the original CVs were replaced at 120k miles with cheap ones from Milners.  These lasted around 60k miles and were replaced with the same again, but this time drilled so that grease can be pumped directly into the centre of the CV, which seems to be working well.
  • Rear heater hoses - these looked a little damp around one of the joints and the Toyota clip had rotted away - I thouight a simple jubilee clip replacement would solve the problem but it turned out the metal pipe had rotted away under the joint - with the proper pipes on the shelf we swapped them - major pain to do, would have been easier to take the gearbox out and do it that way.
  • Engine died completely - turned out a wire to the fuel pump had worn and shorted - not 100% sure if this this was down to major exertions trying to wiggle the engine around (using ratchet straps) as we tried to install new rear heater pipes (never again with gearbox in place!!)
  • Various Universal Joints - the cheaper ones are difficult to grease on the car so I try to annually drop the props and grease them properly, sometimes this isn't enough.
  • Rear brake light bulb and number plate bulbs.
  • Fuel filler pipe leaked - common rust spot - just replaced it.

 

I think that about covers it.  It has been an interesting 8 years of ownership and the car is definitely a core member of the family.

Here are some pics of the old girl...