Archive for May, 2012

A little delay in our departure date……

Posted: May 30, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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Well, as in any planning things change. Change can be good or bad. In this case, it is good.We had been planning a departure date of June 4th 2012 up until this point. However, Bernard’s daughter (who was supposed to join us on the trip), was notified that she was accepted to the University of Charleston! Congratulations to Kristen Barbour. Her orientation will be toward the end of the month. Her Father, Bernard Barbour, being the great dad that he is, decided to take her on a “graduation trip”. So they are flying to Germany for a week, before we depart to Mexico. So, at this time, we are tentatively planning a departure date of June 25th 2012. That is the beauty of overlanding. You can be flexible and still enjoy your plans. Remember it is the “journey, not the destination”. It’s not about arriving, but driving! Stay tuned, we have much more to come…….

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I call it working…..She says I’m “Playing”….

Posted: May 23, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

It has been a few days since I last wrote. There is a good reason for that. I have been Busy, with a capital “B”. After ordering a multitude of parts, accessories and “stuff”, it began arriving. I ordered an extra heavy-duty front driveshaft for the Land Rover, as this is a weak spot on the drive line. The new shaft comes with heavy-duty u-joints that are greaseable. Take a look at the picture and you will see the difference in the new shaft. I was very pleased with this purchase. All three joints contain a grease jerk to offer future maintenance. I installed the shaft with little problem. As recommended, I replaced the 4 nylon lock nuts on each end of the shaft. This required  3/8-24 nuts. Lowes carried them, so easy replacement.

New Heavy Duty drive shaft on left

Next on the list was the brush guard. I had it sand blasted and powder coated by a company in North Augusta South Carolina called Custom Machine.

Company that powder coated the brush guard

It turned out pretty nice. The prep work was not as good as I had hoped, however they did give me the option to use another sand blaster that did “show quality”. I decided against it, since this is an off road brush guard after all. This task of installation proved to be a little more time-consuming and difficult. First, I had to order a mounting kit, as the person I bought it from (used in Atlanta), did not have all of the required mounting kit. I found a company out of Utah called BPUtah. They were friendly and helpful even taking my order over the phone after hours. The kit arrived within a few days. In order to fit the new brackets, the front bumper assembly had to be removed and holes cut out for the brackets.

Brush guard back from the powder coaters

While working on the bumper, I got the call. The call that the Baja roof rack had arrived! Now this is one of the most exciting things I had been waiting on. This was what truly marked this vehicle “Expedition ready”. It was the key component to getting ready for our trip. I stopped and went to meet the UPS driver as it was in a semi truck. It was quite an undertaking getting it in the back of my truck, but I was determined. I hurriedly returned home to get a look at the prize. I was concerned and noted on the drivers slip that the box had sustained damages. I hoped that it had not passed through into the rack. I called Southeast Overland and spoke with Steve. I told him I hadn’t yet looked, but that the box was damaged. Fortunately upon opening the box at home……no damage! Yes, it looked every bit as glorious as I had envisioned, even sitting on the driveway. It seemed to say “Are we ready yet”. Now I was juggling installing the brush guard and wanting to see the roof rack installed. One thing at a time. Finally I was able to get the brush guard installed and secured.

Brush guard installed!

So it was about 7pm, and dusk was starting to fall. I tried to talk Angela into grabbing the other side of the roof rack and helping me set it on top of the Rover. She did make a valiant effort, but she could not lift it that high. Fortunately, the instructions said to call a friend. So, I called Rich Hinson who happened to be close by. He agreed to come by and help set it on. Man, I wanted to see this on the roof! Rich, Jenny, and Evan stopped in and we commenced to setting the rack on the roof. Viola! It looked great. We are really getting somewhere now. It is really looking like an expedition vehicle.

It was too dark to get pictures by the time I was finished securing it down, but man it looked tough in the flood lights! I went out first thing in this morning and snapped a couple of pictures.

Roof Rack – Not Damaged!

I drove it 20 or so miles and noticed a howl. I will need to check out the mounting and wind deflector to see if I can figure out where it is coming from. Oh Well, all in a days work. Or so I say. If you ask Angela, she says I’m playing with my cars…..

Bernard is in Florida this weekend. One of his “to do” items is to meet with Luis Vassallo of OGE 4×4 (another possible expedition partnership?). Take a look at how Bernard’s rig is coming along.

Bernard Barbour and Luis Vasallo

I received another notice of delivery today. This is probably one of the most important accessories. The roof top tent manufactured by Ironman 4×4 is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow! I cannot wait to get this. Along with the RTT (Roof top tent), is also the 2″ Ironman lift kit. It is going to be one exciting day. Stay tuned for installation and testing info. For those of you not so into the technical side of the preparation, hold on, we will be departing soon and the topics will shift to the trip. Angela told me this info was “boring for girls”. Well, hopefully you will hang in there for the long haul.

Getting ready for Central America…….A quick trip to Michigan??

Posted: May 18, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

**18 days to Mexico!!**  Dead in the middle of the preparations for heading to Central America, we decided to take a quick trip to Michigan. We decided we did not have enough to do, so we packed up and headed north. Ohh, did I mention we decided to drive our 2008 Smart car. What a trip. This is an excellent vehicle for commuting around town, running errands, and saving fuel .Yes, saving fuel that is why we chose to drive this vehicle to Michigan. Upon first check, we averaged slightly over 42 miles per gallon. Yes, that is why we drove the tiny little vehicle measuring just over 8 feet long, bumper to bumper. The overnight bag was packed along with the bathroom bags. Everything was fitting just fine. Wait, we need to take a full-sized traffic light to my Father In Law..There goes the rear view mirror visual. Did I mention there was no cruise control? I mean who usually needs cruise control around town? For that matter, who drives a Smart car 900 miles one way? That would be us.

Amish Consignment Auction- Charlotte Michigan

We made it just in time to attend one of the largest consignment auctions I have ever attended. The local Amish community put on an event that would rival a county fair. In addition to every conceivable household, farm and garden, firearms, vehicles, and garage item, fathomable, is the food. Ahhh, the food. There are pies, breads, cakes, cookies, burgers, hot dogs, ham and cheese, you name it. Pecan pie, strawberry rhubarb, coconut cream , apple, and others. You cannot help but eat several pieces of pie. This is an experience you must try if you are ever in the Charlotte, Michigan area. They hold it twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. Look up Lavern Yutzy. You wont likely find him on Facebook, you will need to meet him in person. He is the owner of the auction company and an all around good guy. Check out his auctions on www.auctionzip.com Well, after a nice dinner at Leos in East Lansing Michigan for Mothers day, we visited family and then decided to return on Tuesday morning. Other than a false call on a check engine light and some rain, and a lengthy detour, the trip home was uneventful. Man, I hope I do not have to drive the Smart car for a few days. Its wonderful in doses….small doses.

Well back home means back to preparations for the trip. I pulled the Land Rover into the garage and began replacing the brakes. I decided to install ceramic brake pads all around. Primarily to help reduce the brake dust. Like many vehicles these days, the wheels on the Rover are pretty open. The dust tends to cover the exterior of the wheel. Ceramic pads eliminate most of this. I ordered slotted and drilled rotors for the front. This will help dissipate heat and reduce the potential for the brake “wobble”. After everything was cleaned with brake parts cleaner, I lubed all of the contact points. This will assist with the operation of the calipers. I took the opportunity while the wheels were off to clean the years of brake dust accumulation from the back side of the wheels. It took several cleanings, but I finally could see the factory rim below the grime. After pressing the brake pedal several times to seat the calipers, I gave it a test drive. The rotor instructions recommended a break in procedure. I performed this and all seems well.

Ceramic brake pads

I had ordered a swing away bike hitch online, and it arrived via UPS. The swing away design allows the bikes to be loaded and “swing away” in order to open the rear door. It’s a great design, although, they tend to cost considerably more than a conventional rack. After searching extensively, I finally settled on a Hollywood brand rack. This was a good balance of quality and price. The rack arrived promptly, and I was anxious to set it up. The box was packed very nicely. Everything was wrapped securely in padded wrap. Upon opening the box and wrapping, lo and behold, I began to notice damage. Ironically, the box did not display damage on the exterior. That led me to believe one thing. The rack was damaged prior to shipping and then wrapped up. I was not happy. I contacted the seller (Ebay seller). While waiting on hold, I noticed some writing on the box. After closer examination, I identified a “RA number” in other words a return authorization. Now I know it had been damaged and returned before. I provided pictures to the customer service rep. I was informed that unfortunately, the rack was no longer available. They said they would allow me to return it for a refund. This was not acceptable. I already knew, I would not be able to compete with the price I had paid for this one. I asked them to see what they could do. Approximately an hour later, I received an email apologizing for the inconvenience. They said they had issued a full refund, and that I could keep the hitch at no charge! Wow talk about customer service. I was able to fix the problem and use some satin Rustoleum to seal it up. After assembling the unit, it looks like new. Thank you Hollywood Racks!

Hollywood Bike rack

Stay tuned…..all of the fun stuff coming up (roof rack, tent, lift kit)


Our departure date is rapidly approaching. We have been planning for this trip now for nearly a year, and now here it is, staring us in the face. We are excited,  and stressed at the same time. Do we have all of the things covered to keep the business running while we are gone? Have we thought of everything we need to take with us? Are the vehicles mechanically ready? Dozens of unanswered questions. But that is all part of it right? I mean anytime you are going to take a 3-4 month excursion away from your daily routine, you have to expect the unexpected. I have spent the past few months preparing the vehicle that we will be driving into Central America: A 2004 Land Rover Discovery 2. Bernard is driving his 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser. We will be convoying down and meeting up with many online friends and contacts that we have met during the planning stages. We are looking forward to making these connections. We have made many friends using many outlets including Facebook see our page: www.facebook.com/centralamericaoverlandexpeditions

 

 

Welcome to the new blog of Central America Overland Expedition!

Posted: May 12, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Please allow me to introduce our company to you: Central America Overland Expeditions. We are a relatively small, new company entering the Expedition Travel arena. We specialize in Overland Expedition travel, via Land Rover Discovery & Toyota  Land Cruiser to Central and Southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. An average tour with clients will run five to seven days though Rain Forrest/Jungles, Mayan Ruins, Colonial Towns, and the Atlantic and Pacific coast of Central America. Typically our clients will be picked up at an Airport, at which time they will spend the next several days with us seeing Central America in a way that the average tourist is not able or would not ordinarily have access to. Our clients are the adventurous type and will not mind spending a few nights in a roof top tent, hotel/hostels, as well as lodging with a local village host families. They will also be prime candidates to return home and outfit their vehicles, and tell their friends/club members about the products they experienced on the expedition.  Although we are small and new, we bring an immeasurable amount of expedition experience.

Owners Profile:            Scott Woodhams, Scott has made numerous cross-country trips including Augusta Georgia to Anchorage Alaska via the rugged Alaskan Highway, as well as many other long-range driving excursion throughout North & South America. He is an avid 4×4 enthusiast and club member with a wealth of knowledge modifying, maintaining, improving and servicing expedition/off-road vehicles. He currently owns and operates a 2004 Land Rover Discovery 2 outfitted for extensive overland use.

Bernard Barbour, Bernard is an US Army Veteran with a wealth of experience and knowledge. His experience includes Driving in such places as Turkey, Chile, Korea and several cross county trips in the USA all while maintaining, servicing vehicles, and instructing drivers. He has a charismatic personality, with a “Can Do” attitude. He owns and operates a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser also outfitted for rugged expedition tours.

We are seeking strategic partners to provide sponsorship. Currently we have a need for new expedition items that will be used for research, testing, and reliability. We will be reporting the real world reliability of these products in everyday use. All of  the following products will be used exclusively by our company/staff  on our expedition vehicles. We will be using Land Rover Discovery’s I & II  1994- 2004 models exclusively, along with Toyota Land Cruiser. These vehicles have recently completed a full service to include all fluid changes, brake service, drive shaft service, head gasket replacement and all other known issues that could potentially become a problem. At this time we are looking for sponsorship of the following items :

Roof Racks

Winches

Roof Top Tents

Dual Battery systems

Sand Ladders

Recovery gear

GPS/Navigation

Sleeping bags

Hammocks

Lights

Winch Bumpers

Tires

Fuel

Lift kits (2”-3”)

Snorkel kits

We will be testing, analyzing , & evaluating equipment. We will promptly post all relevant advertising on our websites, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, News Print media, and word of mouth. Additionally we will proudly display your marketing/decal on our vehicles, as well as adding a link to all of our web media. Any and all items will be considered and appreciated. Our sponsors will be notified often about the condition, operation and ease of use and any recommendation for improvements/ modifications.  We will be departing Augusta, Georgia the first part of June 2012 and traveling through September 2012. During this 90+ day shake down we will travel throughout Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala. On this trip, we will be conducting a feasibility study including research and surveying destinations for our clients.

Follow us for real world reporting on products you want and love. We will take you along for the day by day excitement of the expedition lifestyle and insight into the real Central America!