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Thread: Simpson Desert Crossing in the D4

  1. #1
    LRD414's Avatar
    LRD414 is offline Super Moderator Silver Subscriber
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    Simpson Desert Crossing in the D4

    I recently completed a round trip with my wife that included two crossings of the Simpson Desert, partly solo and partly with another couple in a Defender.
    Overall the trip was amazing and Iím very happy to say virtually incident free for the D4. Some of the details may be of interest to other D3/D4 owners.



    Fuel economy
    96L for 628km Birdsville to Jervois Station via QAA and Hay River Track
    99L for 603km Mt Dare to Birdsville via French/Rig/WAA/Knolls/Poeppel/QAA

    Both legs included a couple of runs up Big Red. The west-east route involved more dune crossing in comparison hence the increased fuel consumption but I was still pretty impressed with 16.4L/100km. The hardest sections of dunes saw up to 22L/100 for short periods but mostly the dune crossing was around 20L/100. The Defender we travelled with for the return crossing used around 105L.

    Setup
    There was a few changes compared to any other trip due to the extra fuel and water required, including temporary removal of the 3rd row and 2nd row seats, which reduced weight by 115kg.
    I took the Drifta rear drawer & fridge slide unit I already had and made a ply platform for the second row space.
    Third row space under the drawers stored most of the tools and spares while under the second row platform stored the main water bladder, air compressor and a few things that didnít fit in the rear drawers. We slept in Oztent Bunkers that were stowed on the second row platform. The self-inflating mattresses, sleeping bags and ground mats went on top of the drawers in the back behind a Trav-all cargo barrier.





    For fuel I carried 4 jerry cans; two on the rear wheel carrier and two equivalent (4x10L) on the roof rack.
    If I was doing a similar trip again I would only take three jerry cans.

    For water I carried 55L bladder under the platform and 2x20L bags plus a 10L plastic container for in camp.
    If I was doing a similar trip again (& also in winter) I would leave one of the 20L water bags out and replace the 10L container with a 5L one.

    The hitch-mounted rear wheel carrier worked out really well, kept the second spare off the roof and carried half the extra fuel.
    It was rock solid even after all the corrugated roads and bouncing around over dunes.




    This arrangement meant the roof rack was relatively lightly loaded with 4x10L jerry cans, 4 MaxTraxs, the awning and a small bag.
    Using 10L jerrys on the roof also helps keep the centre-of-gravity lower compared to standard ones, as well as being much easier to deal with lifting on & off the roof.




    Tyres - The 265/60/R18 KO2s were about 30% worn so went with them. Handled everything well but one slow leak was sustained coming into Birdsville at the start of the trip from a tiny but very sharp shard of rock that embedded into a tread block and caused a small hole that slow-leaked overnight. Once found it was easily fixed with a vulcanised patch for $45 at the roadhouse (fast, friendly and reasonable price too). The dune areas of the desert are not too hard on tyres but the approaches are savage; gibber plains, stony sections, etc.



    I applied the protective film "Paint Shield" before leaving and was very glad to have it.
    The amount of unavoidable extremely harsh scratchy bushes and spinifex was huge especially on the less used tracks we took.
    Nothing got through to the paint. Detailed thread here:
    PAINT PROTECTION FILM, HAS ANYONE USED IT?

    Driving technique

    Generally the D4 handled the conditions easily, only requiring a second attempt a couple of times when I didnít quite carry enough momentum. Low range without any terrain response mode seemed to be the most effective way to maintain smooth progress. Manual shifting to third or fourth at the base of medium to large dunes worked well except for those so churned up with wombat holes that second was required. For all dunes the main criteria was to go as slow as possible to keep pitching and rocking to a minimum but this was not really an issue on the less used tracks like WAA. Tyre pressure was reduced once into the softer sand and I found 18/22psi worked well.

    Llams was fantastic in many places such as the Chambers Pillar Track, Old Andado Track and heading south from Mt Dare. For the dunes I settled on factory offroad height because speed virtually never got above 35kph but there was a few sections with widely spaced dunes where Llams medium was ideal. I did get an orange suspension error that self-cleared just with an ignition cycle. It was algorithm based and I think occurred because I was using Llams at the time and the articulation was going out of sensor range or varying too often for normal height mode. It was a scenario in which Llams was unnecessary anyway.



    This time Big Red presented no trouble, I dropped to 15psi and drove straight up. It was more difficult when I was there two years ago.


    Accessories I already had for trips and touring:
    18Ē wheels
    Llams
    rear drawer unit with fridge slide
    dual battery
    roof rack
    uhf
    tailgate lighting



    It was a brilliant trip and the D4 was a fantastic way to do it.

    Cheers,
    Scott
    D4 TDV6 MY14 with Llams, 18" Wheels & BFG KO2s, Traxide DBS, Drifta Drawers, Rhino Platform, APT Sliders & compressor plate & Mitch Hitch
    Link to my D4 Build Thread

    Ex '77 RRC 2 door. Long gone but not forgotten.

  2. #2
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    Great report thanks Scott, excellent and really useful details.
    Cheers
    David

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    Looking fwd to the video on youtube...........

  4. #4
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    I
    Am
    So
    Jealous
    2010 TDV6 3.0L Discovery 4 HSE
    2007 Audi RS4 (B7)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoJeffster View Post
    I
    Am
    So
    Jealous

    Ditto.
    Arapiles
    2014 D4 HSE

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoJeffster View Post
    I
    Am
    So
    Jealous
    Mate, you don't need to be jealous, just get out there and do it. Its only about 5 days to Birdsville from Perth via the Great Central Road and its a great drive, even if you don't do the whole desert and only have a short time available. We did it the first time in a 2 week trip from Perth to Brisbane and back to pick up my Kimberley Karavan and the second time the next year in a three week trip from Perth to Lawn Hill and back via Uluru, Birdsville, Katherine and Kununurra. Even from WA its not that difficult to get to these iconic places. If my son's D1 can do it with us accompanying in the D4, anyone can!
    Bob

    2010 D4 3.0TDV6 SE, ediff, LLAMS, 5 x GOE wheels, LT285/60R18 BFG K02's, GOE Compressor Guard, LR Tank, Mitch Hitch, ECB Bull Bar, Kaymar Rear Bar, Traxide, Safari Snorkel.
    2013 Range Rover Vogue TDV6
    2017 Disco Sport SE 132kW Ingenium

  7. #7
    LRD414's Avatar
    LRD414 is offline Super Moderator Silver Subscriber
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobD View Post
    .... get out there and do it.
    This is why I made a thread. Itís easy to get caught up with all the potential problems when reading forums or not know where to start. I certainly worried a lot about getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. But good preparation and knowledge of the vehicle goes a long way. And for everything else, a sat phone & Visa card will sort it.

    Cheers,
    Scott
    D4 TDV6 MY14 with Llams, 18" Wheels & BFG KO2s, Traxide DBS, Drifta Drawers, Rhino Platform, APT Sliders & compressor plate & Mitch Hitch
    Link to my D4 Build Thread

    Ex '77 RRC 2 door. Long gone but not forgotten.

  8. #8
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    Ditto on the "just get out and do it". Last year we took two weeks to go from Coffs Harbour NSW to Finke for the desert race. Went via Hebel, Innamincka, Walkers Crossing, Warburton and Rig track to Mt Dare then Finke. Came back via Old Andando, Mt Dare and across French Line to Birdsville. Had one stroke of luck, if you want to call it that. Got up Big Red first attempt very easily and in doing a quick u-turn on top to get a photo of the other vehicle with us coming up we hit a soft patch that stopped us dead. Selected reverse and had an almighty clunk and that was where we stayed, broken front left hand drive shaft.

    This was the luck, on top of the last sand dune of over a couple of thousand. Towed it down the other side to the road and called road side assist. They paid for our accommodation that night and next morning had the two of us in the car on a plane heading home, via Brisbane the Sydney to Coffs. Even covered the overnight stay in Brisbane and had a hire car waiting for us at the airport in Coffs when we got there. They freighted the vehicle back to Coffs and in exactly a week from the top of Big Red had it back on the road at no cost, deemed mechanical failure so under warranty. If we were even one sand dune further back in the desert it would have been a nightmare.

    Anyway, get out there, it is amazing country to see. First time I took the wife down the Birdsville Track she was all "what the hell are we doing out here, there is nothing". Within a few months back it was "I really want to go back".

  9. #9
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    Hi Scott,

    What a great trip, thanks for the info on fuel usage, Iíll keep those figures handy for my trip.


    Cheers
    Mike

  10. #10
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    Awesome write up Scott 👍🏼
    Cheers Matt

    HCPU Camper - Sold, but fun
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