Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (2024)

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (1)


By Tom Sheppard, MBE, ARPS

3rd Edition - June 1988

1st Edition - February 19822nd Edition - March 1984

ISBN 0-907649-15- 7

Published by the Expedition Advisory CentreRoyal Geographical Society

(with the Institute of British Geographers)1 Kensington Gore, London


Tel. +44 (0) 20 7591 3030Fax. +44 (0) 20 7591 3031

Email: [emailprotected]:

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (2)

Desert Expeditions 2


SECTION 1: PLANNING CRITERIA1.1 Main Criteria1.2 Government Permission1.3 Golden Rules1.4 Logistics1.5 Equipment1.6 Personnel1.7 Cost1.8 Time

SECTION 2: EQUIPMENT2.1 Overall Considerations and Weight2.2 Liquid Containers2.3 Cooking Equipment2.4 Camping Gear2.5 Heliographs/Miniflares2.6 Personal Kit2.7 Appearance2.8 Keeping Comfortable2.9 ‘Office’ Equipment2.10 Other Equipment ListsAnnex A: Personal KitAnnex B: Office Kit

SECTION 3: VEHICLES FOR DESERT TERRAIN3.1 Main Criteria for ChoiceAnnex A: Ground Clearance and Associated GeometryAnnex B: Load Distribution and Lashing

SECTION 4: FUEL, WATER AND FOOD4.1 Fuel4.2 Water4.3 FoodAnnex: Cooking Gear and Food

SECTION 5: PERSONNEL AND TRAINING5.1 Aim5.2 Personnel Selection5.3 Training5.4 En Route RoutineAnnex A: Interview Marking Schedule

SECTION 6: DRIVING AND RECOVERY6.1 Overall Philosophy6.2 Gearbox Transmission6.3 Suspension affects traction6.4 Transmission Brakes6.5 Slippery Conditions, Poor Traction, Slopes6.6 Obstacles, Recce, and Marshalling

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (3)

Desert Expeditions 3

6.7 Flotation on Sand or Salt Flat6.8 Corrugations6.9 Water6.10 Recovery Methods6.11 Turbo Diesels - Stopping6.12 TrainingAnnex A: Use of Land laddersAnnex B: Tandem tow recovery methodAnnex C: Sand ladder table6.13 Driver training progamme

SECTION 7: PHOTOGRAPHY7.1 Cine Filming7.2 Report (1975 Expedition)7.3 Still PhotographyAnnex A: Cine and sound EquipmentAnnex B: Still photography equipment

SECTION 8: VEHICLE MAINTENANCE AND TOOLS8.1 Philosophy - Preventive Maintenance8.2 The Expedition Mechanic8.3 Pre-Expedition Preparation8.4 Nightly Inspection8.5 Tools and Repair Kit8.6 Spares8.7 Fuel Consumption and Records8.8 CleanlinessAnnex A: End of day inspection – 1-tonne Land RoverAnnex B: Spares and Repair kit

SECTION 9: VEHICLE MODIFICATION AND TYRES9.1 Categories9.2 Vehicle Function Modifications9.3 Crew Function Modifications9.4 Expedition Function ModificationsAnnex A: External storage for Land Rover windows (pre 1984)Annex B: Sun compass mountingAnnex C: Roll-over-bar

SECTION 10: MEDICAL AND SURVIVAL10.1 General Philosophy10.2 Heat and Water-Balanced Related Problems10.3 Gastro Intestinal Disorders10.4 Stress10.5 Routine Medical Problems10.6 ReferencesAnnex A: Water requirments: Water balance and SurvivalAnnex B: Medical Kit

SECTION 11: NAVIGATION, MAPS, RESCUE AIDS11.1 Constituents11.2 Application11.3 Ingredients of Dead Reckoning Navigation

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (4)

Desert Expeditions 4

11.4 Independent fixing-astro11.5 Independent fixing-satellite navigation11.6 Other Aids11.7 Golden Rule11.8 Equipment11.9 Maps and Guides11.10 Rescue Aids11.11 Scale of EquipmentAnnex A: Example of Dr Log plotted out to give traverseAnnex B: Principle of ‘Dibbs’ MirrorAnnex C: Equipment List: Navigation kit and mapsAnnex D: Simple heliograph – construction and useAnnex E: International Ground /Air code



Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (5)

Desert Expeditions 5


1.1 MAIN CRITERIAGovernment PermissionLogisticsEquipmentPersonnelCostTime

1.2 GOVERNMENT PERMISSION Four avenues of initial approach.British Embassy Overseas. Can steer you round obstacles, indicates where help will be available,put you in touch with appropriate government departments.Embassy in UK/Europe of Country Concerned. Of variable use. Frequently staffed by ‘cityslickers’ unfamiliar with regions you wish to visit and unsympathetic or suspicious of anyoneplanning to go there. However can be helpful.Corresponding Organisation Overseas. A brother university or research institution overseas inthe country concerned can often strengthen and authenticate requests for clearance.Foreign Office, Whitehall. More often than not far more human and sympathetic than popularmisconception allows -despite expeditions not being their job. Will frequently direct your enquiriesto best sources.

1.3 GOLDEN RULESAdapt and maintain, on the expedition, a sensitivity to the country’s sovereignty; tact andpatience are essential. Though locked into it, foreign officials do not like bureaucracy much morethan you do. Recognise the rules they have to apply.Allow plenty of time for Government permission. Letters are not always answered. After yourhomework, ideally, a visit to the country can work wonders for tricky clearances prior to the actualexpedition.

1.4 LOGISTICS Distance from main supply points govern the shape of an expedition.Headings to consider:Fuel, water, food.Vehicle or other spares, arrangements for fly-in, etc.Availability of fuel, water and food affects choice of vehicles with appropriate payload (and/ornumber of vehicles/animals in convoy).Availability of fly-out facilities for casevac or, e.g. sending out live samples in natural historycollections, exposed film, etc.Communications/Rescue. Always plan to be self -sufficient if possible -multiple vehicles (3minimum), experienced deputies capable of navigating, etc. A void relying on outside agencies.Nearest comprehensive medical facilities and likely costs.

1.5 EQUIPMENT Capability and scope of an expedition is critically affected by availableequipment and its characteristics especially vehicles and equipment below:

Vehicle. Size, cross-country capability (irrelevant unless driver skills also considered - see below),range, and payload. Tools, spares and servicing aids must be studied.Scientific Equipment. Apart from the obvious equipment associated with a scientific programme,photographic, film, navigation equipment and requirements.Medical Supplies and Food.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (6)

Desert Expeditions 6

1.6 PERSONNEL A number of difficult criteria have simultaneously to be satisfied:

Skills and Disciplines. Getting the right skills within a given small group for theplanned programmes plus linguists. Pre-expedition training for all team members is essential.Availability. Time away from other commitments over the same period. This includes training andpreparatory work prior to the expedition.Multi-Role Capability. Few expeditions can afford prima dona single-discipline specialists.Everyone should be able, when called upon, to cook, change a wheel and, above all, drivedelicately.Fitness. Physical fitness essential.Compatibility. Vital. Trust ‘gut-feeling’ at the selection stage.

1.7 COSTSelf evident, but beware the tendency to under-estimate by omitting such items as insurance costs,vehicle carnet indemnities (if required), reserve funds, contingencies (as well as medical insurance)for possible casevac. Especially beware of glib hopes of ‘making a film’ or ‘doing articles’. UKtelevision people are tight-fisted and very reluctant to buy from non-union film makers, besideswhich production of a film is overall probably more work and cost than the whole expedition.

1.8 TIMEUniversity vacations are at the worst possible time of the year for desert expeditions. Allow timefor acclimatisation. Especially allow time for planning, vehicle preparation, team training andgetting everything right before departure.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (7)

Desert Expeditions 7

Section 2: EQUIPMENT

2.1 OVERALL CONSIDERATIONS AND WEIGHTSWeight and bulk, in that order, are overriding considerations in choosing equipment. There isalways a conflict between what you would like to take and the spare payload available on thevehicle. Never overload your vehicle; respect the manufacturer’s figures for gross weight.Lightness is very important -most of your payload is going to be fuel and water. As in all aspects ofexpedition work, there is no substitute for detailed planning. You will make endless lists, and listsof lists even, but it is the only way to ensure you have the right equipment when you need it.

2.2 LIQUID CONTAINERSFuel. Built-in tanks cannot be off-loaded when a vehicle is badly bogged but do offer compactstorage. Metal jerry cans can hardly be bettered for safety and handleability. For large quantities,45 gallon steel drums are good but a large ex-truck tank’s rectilinear shape is lighter and savesspace. Dipsticks and accurate gauging daily are essential to give a really accurate daily mpg. Likeevery thing else, the drums must be lashed down. De-cant from large containers via a siphon tubeand jerry can (with calibrated jerry-can dipstick); gallons put in since last full gives mpg.

Water. For large Quantities, 45 gallon drums, hard-polythene lined, can sometimes be obtained (exchemicals storage). Otherwise hard polythene jerry cans, military pattern, are unsurpassed fornormal use. If thin “civvy” ones have to be used, lash them down with padded or felt-lined cradlesand they will last. Soft, flexible polythene will taint water even in small water bottles; warm andchlorinated, it tastes ghastly.

2.3 COOKING EQUIPMENTCamping Gaz is ideal if you have no gas supply problem. Otherwise Optimus IIIb petrol stoves arelight, compact and effective and run off vehicle fuel; so does the Coleman Peak 1 with even moreheat output and rather less noise and drama. Both stoves run well on 2-star petrol but co*ke-up on 4-star. Stainless steel pots can be “washed-up” in sand without producing the black grit aluminiumdoes when scoured; for even heat spread from the petrol stoves, use the ones with thick bases (Seenotes ‘Fuel, Water and Food’).

2.4 CAMPING GEARTo save weight don’t take a tent; the desert stars are too good to miss anyway. If cold will be aproblem use a fibre-pile inner to your sleeping bag, plus a Goretex bivvy-bag. This latter, winter orsummer, keeps out warmth-seeking spiders, etc. A mosquito net (one-point suspension type) isessential in some parts of the south. It will often stop enough breeze to double as a tent.Polyethylene foam Karrimat-type sleeping mats weigh about a pound, are warm and comfortableon smooth ground and lighter than the 10 lb safari bed; try them during training first as they may betoo thin if you are bony and thin. Mosquito net tucked in round it keeps insects out but do bethorough as they can be very persistent. It feels very cold indeed in the desert overnight, except atthe hottest time of the year, especially if other than flat calm -despite temperatures being no lowerthan 0 to 100C. Take a really good sleeping bag (full length zip) and a tracksuit to wear inside ifyou feel the cold.

2.5 HELIOGRAPHS/MINIFLARESIssue to each member of the team, also whistles, and personal rescue/emergency signals. (See noteson Rescue Aids).

2.6 PERSONAL KITWhat you wear plus 45 lbs, excluding sleeping bag, is a reasonable allowance for a longexpedition. Be firm about weight limitations. Nylon stuff bags for peeled-off clothing, a “small kit”zip bag for regularly used items and cameras, and a “best” bag or suitcase for clean stuff ensures

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (8)

Desert Expeditions 8

that what you take is safe and clean. Draught-excluder foam at the suitcase lid edge will help keepout dust. Thin leather gloves keep hands clean and unlace rated in mucky mechanical jobs (alsofree from sunburn in open vehicles) - washing water will be scarce so it pays to keep clean.

2.7 APPEARANCEBeing on an expedition is not a mandate for being unwashed, unshaven and scruffy - there arecheaper ways of achieving that. Keep fresh clothes to change into before entering towns after longperiods out in the desert -especially if you seek police/immigration permission for the next leg.They are not normally impressed by unwashed foreigners.

2.8 KEEPING COMFORTABLEYou can have a refreshing and effective daily wash with a wet Kleenex or Scotty towel. A Braun“Sprint” battery shaver will give over two months shaving on one set of alkaline cells. Disposablepaper underwear (from Boots) is useful. Take a spare pair of sun- glasses, lots of lips lave andNivea, sun oil or aerosol, a wide brimmed hat and a really reliable torch; a Pietzl head-mountedtorch is invaluable, leaving both hands free for what you are doing. “Washing up” is often done insand so take a stainless steel plate and a glazed china mug. List and weigh all your kit well inadvance. An example of one man’s personal kit taken on a 3 month desert expedition with minimalen-route replenishment is listed at Annex A.

2.9 ‘OFFICE’ EQUIPMENTIt is worth thinking in detail about exactly what you will take. An example of ‘Office’ kit taken onone expedition is listed (NB lack of vehicle carnet -unnecessary in Algeria) at Annex B.

2.10 OTHER EQUIPMENT LISTSLists of other equipment to be considered are as follows:

Vehicle recovery equipment -see Notes ‘Driving and Recovery’Camera equipment -see Notes ‘Photography’Vehicle Spares and Tools -see Notes ‘Maintenance and Tools’Cooking gear and food -see Notes ‘Food, Fuel and Water’Navigation equipment and Rescue Aids -see Notes ‘Navigation, Maps, Rescue Aids’Medical Kit -see Notes ‘Medical and Survival’

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (9)

Desert Expeditions 9

Annex A (Equipment Notes)



CLOTHES WORN AT STARTBerghaus Igloo windproof jacket in Goretex and Thinsulate. Light golfing jacket (in lieu ofpullover). Denim shirt and thin towel neckscarf. Jeans. Woollen socks. Lightweight leather boots.Vest and pants. Thin leather gloves. Cloth hat. Keychain on belt with vehicle cash box key etc.

SMALL GRIP - White “Adidas” Bag 16in x 5in x 10in. Wt 13lbs incl. contents.Sponge bag with Braun battery shaver. pre-shave. toothbrush and paste. nailbrush. Head andShoulders Shampoo. Nivea. hand towel. Soap and Jeycloth in screw top plastic butter dish (used aswashing bowl). Hairbrush. track suit pyjamas. Needle/cotton/etc. Sun oil. tweezers. nail clippers.insect repellent. Murine eyedrops. Puritabs. Nivaquin. plasters. paracetamol tablets. Mac throattablets. Spare socks. Foot powder. A vomine travel sickness tablets. Two handkerchiefs. Threepaper under pants. Alarm clock. Sun-glasses and tinted glass goggles. Torch. Mirror/heliograph.Thermometer (0-500C). Penknife (Swiss Army). Whistle. Length of nylon cord for clothesline etc.Spare gloves. Bootlaces. Small carborundum stone. Mug. spoon. stainless steel plate. Compactcamera. Pocket tape recorder for notes. photo data etc. Horse-tail fly whisk.

FIBRE SUITCASE - 22in x 13in x 7in. Wt 22lbs incl. contentsTwo tubes toothpaste. two packets Mac throat tabs. Three sets spare Duracell shaver batteries. I setU2 type Duracell torch batteries. Two bars of soap. Two tubes shampoo. Three tubes Nivea cream.6 Lipsalve. Plastic bottle sun oil. Fifteen paper underpants. Two cotton underpants. Two cottonvests. One pair jeans. J pair cotton trousers. One cotton shirt (long sleeves). One shirt (shortsleeves). One cotton towelling shirt. One pair KD shorts. One pair KD long trousers. Sixhandkerchiefs. One spare cloth hat. One medium towel. Three pairs socks. Swimming shorts. Sparesun glasses. Spare gloves. Bottle of liquid detergent (for clothes washing). Towelling scarf.Survival knife. Plastic coat hanger. Spare glass goggles. One box Kleenex tissues. Three spareJeycloths. French phrase book.

STUFF BAG - Nylon. 19in long x 10in diameter, Wt 6.51bs incl. contents.Second stuff bag (for peeled off clothes. quilted suit (like fibre-pile suit). nylon anorak andtrousers. Overalls. Button-on-hood for jacket.

OTHER PERSONAL KITSleeping bag. Goretex ‘Bivvy Bag’. mosquito net. inflatable pillow. sleeping mat. one litreinsulated plastic water bottle.

BELT-POUCHCurrently available zipped ‘men’s handbags’ that can also be attached to a waistbelt are a safe wayof carrying passports. travellers cheques. UK drivers licence. credit cards. inoculation/vaccinationcertificates. cash. six spare passport photos. receipts etc. for cameras/watches carried etc. toeliminate risk of theft from kit or hotel rooms.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (10)

Desert Expeditions 10

Annex B (Equipment Notes)



In Samsonite Briefcase 12in x 15in x 4in* See personal kit

* Passport, vaccination certs Sealink and SNCM FerryBrochures6 spare passport pictures Air mail envelopes* Ferry tickets (Channel and Med) Blank post cardsCash, Travellers cheques Elastic bands

(to vehicle cash box) Ball of stringKey to vehicle cash box Spotstick (glue)Expedition file with selected papers UK cheque bookVehicle Insurance Policies List of addresses (in file)Vehicle Green card Medical insurance policy

(overseas insurance) Address labelsVehicle Registration document Stick of chalk (for marking cans)‘Permission to drive’ letter if vehicle not owned by you AA multilingual car parts guide* UK and IntI Driving Licences French dictionaries:

Collins Gem and HarrapsList of goods carried (French) Thermometer ( -20oC to +50oC)A4 lined paper pad Carbon paperClip board Photo-copies of proposed routeDaily Log book, A4, spiral bound Keys to shovel and ladder rackSellotape Ink and penScissorsFelt marker pensBall point pens, pencils, markers (in zip pencil case)Books: Desert Animals,

Larger Mammals of AfricaAppropriate scientific monographs, etc.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (11)

Desert Expeditions 11


3.1 MAIN CRITERIA FOR CHOICEExpected terrain affects how athletic a vehicle you need; logistics and expected additional payloadaffect the size of vehicle you need.

Criteria:Size4 wheel drive (4x4) or 2 wheel drive (4x2)Power-to-weight ratioWeight distributionGround clearance, associated geometry, suspensionPetrol or dieselHard top vs soft topTyresModificationsTrailers

Many expeditions have to do with what is available or what they can afford but an examination ofthe above criteria helps assess your vehicles in their operational roles. Normally. never take lessthan two vehicles -three is best since the load from one (broken down) can be transferred andspread without seriously overloading the remainder .

3.1.1 SIZEIn general a large (say 4 ton) truck can support itself and a team over a greater distance and/orlonger time than a small vehicle. such as a Land Rover. can. It is a direct function of payload (i.e.fuel or supplies it can carry) and there is no substitute for detailed and accurate calculations ofrequirements. Power-to-weight ratio drops sharply as size increases so watch this if any bad crosscountry work is involved. Power-to- weight ratio equals cross-country capability and is usually adirect trade-off for size and carrying capacity.

3.1.2 4x4 or 4x2. A robust 4x2 with big wheels and a couple of willing crew to push is surprisinglycapable so do not automatically go for the cost. weight and high fuel consumption of a 4x4; aclassic frequently seen in Africa in appalling conditions. is the Peugeot 504 pickup. On many -butby no means all -tracks. this will do. There are now a multiplicity of pick-ups on the UK market.some in 4x4 form. but check carefully the payloads. ground clearance. wheel size and wheelbasebefore making your choice. Consider a 4x2/4x4 mix in a multi-vehicle team. Off-tracks or onknown tracks with much soft sand 4x4 is essential; but remember that the wrong tyres, tyrepressure and driving technique can see a bogged 4x4 passed by a 4x2. Whichever you choose neveroverload it. See also Section 6 (Driving) regarding full-time and part-time 4x4.

3.1.3 POWER-TO-WEIGHT RATIOImportant (with weight distribution and ground clearance) in really demanding off- tracks terrain.40-50 bhp per ton of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) encompasses the best off-road vehicles such asthe Range Rover, Land Rover One Ten 3.5 litre, Volvo C303, Rover l-tonne military etc.. withoutgoing to “gas-guzzling” extremes of over-powering that make US vehicles (Blazer et al)completely unsuitable for serious desert work. The old 109in wheelbase 2.25 litre Land Rovers arejust about acceptable (but see below). short ones better. Trucks tend to be very low onpower/weight so think hard before taking on a combination of demanding logistics (size) anddemanding terrain which need an athletic vehicle.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (12)

Desert Expeditions 12

3.1.4 WEIGHT DISTRIBUTIONIdeally this should be 50/50 front/rear and is achieved with the I tonne Land Rover (military) orVolvo. LWB Land Rovers and Range Rovers tend to be tail heavy, especially when at max GVW.When loading, keep high density items well ahead of the rear axle and use heavy duty rear springs.

3.1.5 GROUND CLEARANCE, ASSOCIATED GEOMETRY, SUSPENSIONThese are all headings contributing to the 1-tonne Land Rover’s exceptional performance in theworst cross-country desert conditions. Minimum tail and nose overhang allied to big wheels (goodunder-axle clearance), good under-belly clearance and a shortish wheelbase give clearance overobstacles. Really supple but well damped suspension (the Range Rover and One Ten Land Roverare the best) contribute to the optimum traction in soft or poor-grip conditions. (See Annex B)

3.1.6 PETROL OR DIESELGenerally, petrol engines are lighter, more powerful, more thirsty, and cheaper than diesels.Diesels, especially the larger ones, are often longer lasting than petrol engines; they (the large ones)have a wide and flat torque curve making them very suitable for soft sand and slogging. The small,modern, high revving diesel -despite the folk-lore depicting all diesels as sloggers:- often has quitea peaky power curve demanding frequent and rapid use of the gearbox. Diesel vehicles often lackthe sprightly panache required for really demanding dune crossing though the latest turbo dieselsdo well. Diesel fuel (45 p/gal, 1987) is a quarter the price of premium petrol in Algeria.

3.1.7 HARD-TOP VS SOFT-TOPA soft-top Land Rover can be made reasonably thief-proof, is lighter, less tin-oven-like than ahard-top and lends itself to real open-air driving in the desert - very agreeable. It also fortuitouslyeliminates the possibility of preposterous roof-racks which should be avoided.

3.1.8 TYRESRadials are always better than cross-plies. Mud-type treads are bad for soft sand; Michelin XS tyresare the best desert tyres in the world -radials with a very clever tread pattern. They should bewatched on wet tarmac (poor adhesion) and, as with all radials, you must avoid sidewall damage onrocks. They have a range of pressures - about 50% of road pressures on very soft sand, 75% ontracks -enabling amazing performance to be extracted from them on very soft ground. Never run faror fast on soft tyres, always re-inflate to track or road pressures after soft sand has cleared. Alwaysuse Michelin tubes (butyl) in Michelin covers. Don’t be taken in by the Goodyear Unisteel ‘copy’of the XS available in 12.00x20 (Bedford) size. (Michelin at Stoke-on-Trent or Harrow will supplytyre load/pressure data).

3.1.9 MODIFICATIONSRecommended are: (but see notes on Vehicles Modifications and Tyres).

Oil temperature gauge‘Swirl’-type air intake coverElectronic ignition (Lumenition works well)Gaiters on prop shafts and steering jointsBattery master switchBolted-in lockable cash/valuable box under bonnetVentilated seat backs (basket/wire)Extra fresh air ventsDouble roof on hard top Land RoverTie-down points to secure load to eliminate rattlesAvoid roof racks.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (13)

Desert Expeditions 13

3.1.10 TRAILERSNot as bad as often thought though an obvious problem reversing out of boggings. However, agiven load may be spread over 6 instead of 4 wheels and so long as 2-3 people are available tomanhandle, and the trailer is loaded to only .5 to .75 maximum load and fitted with XS tyres at theright pressure, it can be invaluable.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (14)

Desert Expeditions 14

Annex A (Vehicle Notes)

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (15)

Desert Expeditions 15

Annex B (Vehicle Notes)

LOAD DISTRIBUTION AND LASHINGExample of loading and lashing used on long distance expedition. Aim is to achieve 50/50front/rear load distribution if possible; also to stow high density loads (such as water drums)ahead of the rear axle to help achieve scientific instruments are also stowed as close as possible tothe mid-wheelbase position.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (16)

Desert Expeditions 16


4.1 FUEL4.1.1 How much to carry. It is as vital to carry sufficient fuel and sensible reserves in the desert asit is not to overload the vehicle. Fuelling points are invariably widely spaced; the distance betweenthem -as shown in the notes on Vehicles for Desert Terrain - is a major criterion in selection ofvehicle, total payload and payload left over for crew and other supplies. If D is the distancebetween fuelling points:

Total gallons required = D + 25% + 100 miles all divided by the expected mpg.

(i.e. a reserve of 25% plus 100 miles to cover diversions and difficult going).

4.1.2 Distances. Away from tracks (e.g. an expedition reaches a base supply town and thenbranches out to a study region across country) D will be a distance measured off a map. Factor itaccording to terrain; on a big map (1:1m say) actual distance will be about 1.2 times measureddistance, given reasonable going such as gravel and some stony regions. Savannah, slow goingwith much zig-zagging between grass tussocks will 1.3; sand dunes 1.5 to 2; smooth sand/gravelplain 1.1.

4.1.3 MPG. Some actual Mpg’s encountered are:Tracks and TarmacLand Rover, I-tonne military (V8) 14-18 mpgLand Rover, LWB, 6 cyl, UK-Gulf 15-18 mpgLand Rover, 2.51 Turbo Diesel 23-27 mpgRange Rover, UK-France touring 14-21 mpgRange Rover, + 12 cwt trailer 9-19 mpgRange Rover, 7.50 x 16 Michelin XS tyres

bad track: 12-15 mpgfair track, tarmac: 15-20 mpg

Off Tracks, Open Desert (Sand, Rock, Some Dunes)Land Rover, I-tonne military (V8) 7-14 mpgLand Rover, L WB, 6 cyl, Libya 11-14 mpgLand Rover, LWB, 4 cyl, Mauritania 10-12 mpgLand Rover, 2.51 Turbo Diesel 22-25 mpgRange Rover 10-15 mpgBedford RL 4-ton truck 2-5 mpg

4.1.4 Fuel Accounting. It is essential to do a nightly calculation of MPG and check on fuelremaining in tanks and cans. Know the exact number of gallons to top up each night and divide itinto distance covered. Use a jerry can dipstick calibrated against a petrol station pump in the UK toestablish the fuel put in.

4.2 WATER4.2.1 How Much to Carry? The human body is a machine relying on the simple - unchangeable -laws of physics to maintain water-balance and ultimately, to maintain the performance of itsthermoregulatory apparatus. There is thus no such thing as a tough person being able to do withless water than a cissy. Both respond to the same laws, like it or not. Both will only perform well ifthey have enough water each day. A simple guide to ‘enough’ being the frequency and colour ofurination. Infrequent urination, passing dark urine (that sometimes stings), often accompanied byheadaches and extreme fatigue are indications of insufficient water intake. Dizziness, nausea,cessation of sweating and a rise in body temperature indicate things have gone too far and the

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (17)

Desert Expeditions 17

person is in danger -see notes on Medical and Survival (also guide to survival on given amounts ofwater).

Personal experience over a number of expeditions show water required at low physical work loads:

1.5-2 galls/head/day with night/day min/max 5 to 35oC

2.5 to 4 galls " " " " 25 to 45oC

4.2.2 For How Many Days? No hard and fast rules here but a minimum of three extra days’ worthis a prudent reserve to cover. say. time-consuming breakdown repair work. Thus a journeyinvolving 6 days’ travel should take 9 days’ water. Radio, rescue facilities, work load at regions ofscientific study, replenishment potential must all be considered.

4.2.3 Purification. Halazone (Steratabs. Puritabs etc) are effective. If in doubt purify, though mostcommunal tap supplies in Algeria appear to be satisfactory to use as they are.

4.2.4 Survival Consumption Rates: See notes ‘Medical and Survival’.

4.3 FOOD4.3.1 Dehydrated or Tinned. Weight being an ever present problem. the lightness of dehydratedfoods has its attractions. In general, if water is readily available en route the weight saving can beconsiderable and provisioning for a whole expedition is feasible using dehydrated foods. However,over long waterless regions dehydrated food plus the water with which to reconstitute it weighs asmuch as fully constituted tinned rations - and is probably less pleasant to eat as well as requiringmore cooking fuel.

4.3.2 Eating Patterns. Long hour, hot days and night temperatures, that subjectively, feel verycold characterise the desert expedition environment. Contrary to what might initially be expectedthere is a requirement for substantial and filling meals -though not at the midday period. Manyexpeditions find it both desirable and convenient to use an eating pattern something like that listedbelow.

Breakfast - Cereal or porridge (with hot milk) orsausage and beans type.

Bread/biscuits with margarine/ jam


Lunch snack – Bread/biscuits with tinned savouries/ jam.

Tinned fruit


Evening halt – Tea followed an hour later by:

Meat and veg main course


Biscuits if required

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (18)

Desert Expeditions 18


4.3.3 Diet. No special changes of diet are called for or wanted. High protein, low residue foodssuch as tinned stews, especially when combined with the possibility of inadequate fluid intakeassociated with high ambient temperatures can lead to constipation so take care to include plenty oftinned fruits, and other palatable roughage such as All Bran breakfast cereal. Naturally bread andfresh fruit and vegetables should be bought locally where possible en route. Baking your own breadis feasible -a one cubic foot metal box oven (covered with cooking foil externally to cut heat loss)used over a petrol stove is efffective; breadmix, dried yeast and water are the ingredients. As wellas common sense considerations of what is nourishing and palatable, remember ease and speed ofseparation are important as well as elimination of water-wasteful operations such as rinsing rice orelaborate washing-up, (see below). Opal Fruits or similar sweets for sucking en-routerecommended.

4.3.4 Cooking Stoves. As mentioned in the notes on Equipment, Camping Gaz is an ideal cookingmedium -clean, safe and controllable -but cylinders are heavy and there can re-supply problems. Itis however, widely available in Algeria and expeditions based near large settlements may find itsatisfactory. Petrol stoves are very light, extremely efficient, and run off vehicle fuel (2 star) so areprobably best for most expeditions. Kerosene stoves are not recommended since a can of specialfuel is required -again extra weight.

4.3.5 Utensils. Paradoxically, it is worth investing weight in stainless steel, heavy-based cookingpots -they spread heat without burning the food and are easier to wash up with inimal water (notethere is no extra water allocated for cooking. All, including washing-up and personal washing,comes out of the per-head daily allowance). Heat food in the tin (in boiling water) where possibleto save cleaning; for this a thin alloy saucepan or pot can be used.

4.3.6 Hygiene. Hygiene must be uncompromisingly high. It is worth reading that sentence aain.Always camp away from population centres if possible. Be meticulous about burning and buryingrubbish -or take it away with you to a place where you can bury burn. Paper kitchen towels aidhygiene, are invaluable, multi-purpose and light; take plenty. Insulex mugs (double-walled plastic),though hard to keep clean, are highly commended for keeping hot drinks hot. See Annex for somespecifics on food and cooking gear.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (19)

Desert Expeditions 19

Annex (Notes on Food)


Below is a list of equipment and food taken on a 6-week one-man expedition in desert regionsusing bought-out oranges and bread when available. It may serve as a guide to be modifiedaccording to numbers and special requirements.

Cooking gear and storage: In insulated ‘Picnic Box’ 12 x 14 x 7 1/2

Olfstrom stainless saucepan (thick alloy base)Stainless plate and lidKnife, fork, spoon, teaspoonAlloy kettle2 dishclothsAllloy small saucepan & lid (for heating tins)Plastic stirring spoonInsulex mug2 jeyclothsChina mugTin opener‘Guest’ mugNylon Pan Scrubber250ml plastic containerPlatic bag with: Matches, lighter, handle for small saucepan, sterotabs, key for sardine

cans, compo tin opener, vitamin tabs, spare jets for Optimus stove.

Not boxed: Coleman Peak I petrol stove,Camping Gaz Bluet 200 standby stoveWater syphon pump (jerry can to kettle)Petrol syphon pump (jerry can to stove)

Food: 2 boxes each containing 10 24hr GS military ‘compo’ rations and Food extras(approx 7 days and supplement to above):

72 teabags2 lbs sugar3 pkt Ryvita1 tub Flora margarine1 lb marmalade1 tin Smash dehydrated potato1 jar marmite10 pkts Opal Fruits4 pkts dried soup4 pkts Bachelors inst custard8 kts Rise & Shine (Kellogs)1 lb Salt12 small tins of fruit1 large Marvel milk powder7 small tins meats (corned beef, steak/kidney, sausage/beans)7 small tin tomatoessmall tin curry powder1 small Fairy Liquid

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (20)

Desert Expeditions 20

1 roll narrow aluminium foil1 pkt All Bran 680 grmPepper4 dehydrated Beef Risotto (Vesta)1 pkt Alpen3 rolls Kleenex Kitchen towels1 bot Dynamo liquid deterg1 box Kleenex tissue3 toilet rolls

End -of expedition unused rations:12 (out of 20) compo rations3/4 bottle Fairy Liquid3 beef risotto1 helping All Bran1 tin fruit1 roll Kleenex Kitchen towel1 sausage/beans2 1/4 rolls toilet paper1/10th tin MarvelAbout 1 doz small pkt sugar ,3 spoons sugar (!), milk etc from Compo rations2 pkts RyvitaAll the pkts dried soup.

Would have liked more:FloraMarmaladeCerealSmashMarmiteBachelors Instant Custard

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (21)

Desert Expeditions 21


5.1 AIMThe aim of all personnel selection and training prior to an expedition is to make that expeditioneffective. That is not so self-evident a statement as it may at first appear since the effectiveness andteam effort from an expedition are influenced by many subjective and intangible factors outside theapparently cut-and-dried business of recruiting say, one mechanic, two cooks and four geologists.

Inextricably tied in with the Quantifiable such as age, paper Qualifications and number of previousexpeditions a candidate has done are a person’s adaptability, cheerfulness, practicality, sensitivity,compatibility with others and motivation for the project. All these are Qualities that affect theachievement of an expedition to a great degree since they have a critical effect upon its morale andteam spirit.

The leader must assume a god-like role in selecting his team and enormous responsibility lies withhim. But if the writer had to crystalise the lessons of the past 20 years, two main points come out:

Motivation -keenness to be on the expedition -is the most important single factor in the selectionof the candidate.

Always trust your own judgement and ‘gut-feeling’ about a candidate and never take anyone youare unhappy about.

The following paragraphs report on the actual personnel selection and training for an 8- man,100day expedition in the Sahara and its subsequent effectiveness.

5.2 REPORT: PERSONNEL SELECTIONThe ultimate aim in personnel selection and training was the same as the philosophy of the wholeexpedition -infallibility. The problem faced was very akin to that of flying an aircraft: a humanbeing on its own at 30,000ft is in a potentially very dangerous position but with adequate trainingand teamwork in the right machine the situation can be made safe. Likewise in a desert expeditionthere is no room for error; the consequences of error or failure are so serious as to be unacceptable -hence infallibility must be the aim. Most failed expeditions or enterprises fail through human error-either directly through insufficient training or indirectly through poor planning, i.e. failure toappreciate dangerous contingencies or potential natural hazards.

In this expedition the keynote was proper operation of the vehicles up to, but not beyond, theirlimits. These limitations vary according to terrain, load, speed etc, and a prime requirement in allcandidates was ‘mechanical sympathy’. From this, with training, would stem good driving and,with perception and sensitivity, driving as nearly infallible as it was possible to get. On top of‘mechanical sympathy’ had to be motivation -the next most important Quality. Sheer keenness onthe project would breed resilience and tenacity, lend motivation to train, to perfect skills, toovercome obstacles and, in an environment of similar motivation from others, go far along the roadto establish compatibility with the team.

A great deal of individual expertise was required in addition to the Qualities common to all teammembers mentioned above. The overall requirement on the personnel side was summed up in theoriginal call for volunteers: “Expedition conditions are likely to be demanding. Extremes oftemperature (hot and cold), long periods of travel over rough, bleak, uninhabited terrain, andrepeated physical activity will be the background against which very high standards of humanreliability will be essential, manifested in care of vehicles and equipment, the highest standards ofcross-country driving and general attention to detail in the discharge of often routine tasks”. If the

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (22)

Desert Expeditions 22

expedition is to achieve its aims and the necessary harmony within the team maintained, fitness,stamina, sense of humour and above all the strongest motivation towards this kind of project willbe essential in all team members. The optimum amalgam of the following Qualifications will berequired within the team and many may apply to each team member:

Previous expedition, hot climate or desert experienceCross country driving experience on Land Rover or BedfordMechanical aptitude or sympathyRadio operator/fitter experience (RF)Use of theodolite for astro fixingGeological Qualifications or knowledgeMedical QualificationsKnowledge of French or Arabic

Some skills were more difficult to find than others and the choice was sometimes limited.Nevertheless the criteria mentioned, reinforced by hindsight experience on the expedition, remainvalid and precisely to the point. 155 volunteers were forthcoming initially. The requirements aboveand the additional problem of location and availability for training whittled this three months laterto about 40 for interview. To make interview selection as objective and Quantitative as possible,candidates were marked in accordance with Annex A and a ‘short list’ of about 20 went on to crosscountry driving tests at Aldershot. This was very time consuming but was aimed at choice not somuch according to overall competence at that time but according to mechanical sensitivity andtraining potential. A group of about 12 then went on to regular driver training from March/Apriluntil October/November. This was combined with camping-out at the rough-terrain training areasnear Aldershot and Bordon in Rants and was used as a familiarisation on expedition procedures forthe future.

Selection of the team from the 12 then depended upon the results of the training set out below andupon the degree to which the criteria in para 7 could be met by various combinations of personnelfrom within the group. The inevitable Service commitments such as postings, availability ofreplacements etc., had a further effect on the selection. Selection of prime team and reserves fromthe group of 12 was made late in October. Two of the three reserves subsequently withdrew.

5.3 TRAINING5.3.1 Driver Training. Driver training was allocated highest priority in the training programmesince cross-country driving is not widely practised and is very rarely taught in such a survivalorientated context. The training notes used (Annex D to Notes on Driving) angles towardsproficiency on the 109in (.75 ton) long wheelbase 4 cylinder Land Rover (Series II) withsynchromesh on 3rd gear only. This vehicle is a good training vehicle since it has an unforgivingride, relatively poor axle articulation and limited underbelly ground clearance and steering lock.Accent was on meticulously careful driving, on-foot recce before an obstacle and marshallingthrough hazards where clearance was in doubt or where tyre damage might result. ‘Tyreconsciousness’ was also emphasised -different pressures for road, track and soft going, differentpressures for rock and sand, the effect of weight on recommended pressures and the vulnerabilityof radial tyre sidewalls to rock damage. The team also practised removal of tyres without damage.In the driving sessions deliberately ‘impossible’ traverses were attempted so that precisemarshalling, ‘landscaping’ (removing obstacles by shovelling), and single and tandem towedrecovery could be practised. Trailer towing cross country, reversing and de-coupling for recoveryas well as extreme climbs and descents were all practised in the roles of the driver , marshaller, andsupervisor. All vehicles were driven where possible without side windows or canvas roofs (as onthe expedition) in order that optimum visibility could be obtained. Each team member had a 2-4hour familiarisation/assessment drive during the personnel selection stage. Week-end training, ofwhich each team member had about 6 sessions, began in June and was invariably combined with at

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (23)

Desert Expeditions 23

least one night camping out without tents. Naturally some feel for compatibility within the teamwas possible during the training.

5.3.2 Servicing. In addition to basic knowledge taken into consideration during selection, afamiliarisation visit to Rover Splihull and a Servicing School session of four days at BritishLeyland Allesley was arranged.

5.3.3 Astro Navigation. A two week course at the School of Military Survey on desert navigationand astro fixing using a theodolite was arranged for four of the group.

5.3.4 Language Training. The leader took a nine-week refresher course in French prior to leavingon a diplomatic visit to the expedition area in June.

5.3.5 Cinematography. Three members of the group attended a week’s course on cinematographyat the Fleet Photographic School at HMS Excellent. The actual cine cameras to be used on theexpedition were available to practise on; this was considered essential to achieve the requisitefamiliarity.

5.3.6 Parascending. Weather continually forced cancellation of projected training sessions but onewas achieved. There were experienced parachutists in the team.

5.3.7 Medical Training. No doctor was available to include in the team but there was in any case aneed to have all members familiar with the most common contingencies. The RAF Institute ofHealth and Medical Training at Halton arranged a two day briefing for the team and includedpractice at the administration of intra-venous saline drips in cases of heat exhaustion and severe de-hydration. Emphasis was laid on water purification procedures, treatment of gastro-enteritis,precautions against endemic diseases, inoculations and the use of various drugs.

5.3.8 Fitness Training. This had for the most part to be left to the individuals but the limitations ofboth the concept and method of administration were appreciated. It was impossible to say withcertainty that a given type of training would produce a given result on the expedition since, asmentioned above, motivation was far more important. It could be said, however, that for a givenmotivation a better stamina and tenacity would come from a fit man than an unfit man. The type offitness and training required was open to considerable discussion but Aerobic training (1.5 milerun) offered an easily quantifiable criterion to work against. Whilst this was good for CVRdevelopment and tone, circuit training was used as a more general fittening process. All thistraining, done in the candidates own time and as a result of his own willpower, is also a usefulindication of his general motivation and as such is an aid to the final selection process. The trainingwas generally unpopular and it was necessary to run a test weekend to establish standards; trainingwas also continued again on an individual, voluntary, and not very effective basis during the pre-departure phase. Hindsight dictates that stricter supervision and go/no-go tests (with due allowancefor the widely different types of fitness for different people) at regular intervals would have beenmore advisable. However, eventual standards by the Aerobic training criteria were good orexcellent.

5.3.9 Miscellaneous Training. Other training carried out came under less formal categories butcovered familiarisation with the radio-equipment, camping gear, gravimeter, vehicle servicing andtuning gear and preparation of reptile preservation equipment.

5.4 EN ROUTE ROUTINEEnroute routine was important to establish, particularly in relation to job allocation so that all thetasks were adequately covered and evenly spread amongst the team. In general, camp was set upaway from centres of population or villages since this presented least hazard to health or from

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (24)

Desert Expeditions 24

potential thieves. Lightness being of prime importance since most of the vehicle payload wasallocated fuel and water, full sized tents were discouraged though lightweight units were producedand used by some members.

The team rose just before dawn and aimed to be on the move about 60- 75 minutes after getting up.Breakfast was eaten, tyre pressure and vehicle coolant water checked; sun compass settings werechecked (Local Apparent Time calculation and latitude setting as well as alignment compared witha magnetic compass). Set convoy order was maintained and was as follows:

Lead vehicle. Leader and navigator/co-driver.Prime Navigation Gear, cine sound and still photographic gear. Green expedition flag on pole toaid identification by following vehicles.

Second vehicle with trailer. Geophysicist and deputy leader/French interpreter.Gravimeter and aneroids, medical kit, spares and tools.

Third vehicle with trailer. Radio operator and Arabic translator. Radio gear .

Fourth vehicle without trailer. Cook, 3rd mechanic. All cooking gear, water pump and filter. Redensign on pole to aid identification by lead vehicle.

Route information and DR log was kept by the lead vehicle co-driver (see Annex A, Notes onNavigation) and stops were made normally every 20km for gravity, aneroid and temperaturereadings. Water bottles could be refilled during gravity stops. Stops were also necessary for filmingand where possible these coincided with gravity stops though inevitably they could not always bepredicted either in location, time or time taken. The timing of the radio-call at 12.00 GMT wasmade the basis of the lunch halt. Normally a stop 10 minutes before 12.00 GMT was enough timeto get the aerial erected and whilst this and the radio call were going on the lunch snack and tea wasbeing prepared. It was seldom possible to achieve the combined lunch stop and radio call in lessthan one hour and frequently where there was a lot of signals traffic it took longer. Water bottleswere refilled at lunch time and sometimes cine camera film changing was carried out.

Afternoon routine was similar except that drivers and co-drivers exchanged seats at lunch time.This gave each man 24 hours driving broken by a night’s rest. The expedition halted about 1.5hours before sunset in order that the majority of the evening workload could be achieved duringdaylight. In particular any vehicle maintenance or repairs could be done before dark. The camp wasset up in an open ended square formation, the two trailers forming the up-wind side, the leadvehicle the western side and the cook vehicle the eastern side with cooking being done a safedistance away from petrol containers the vehicles carried. Each vehicle had a 12v fluorescent lightwhich could be clipped where required for evening work. Particular tasks to be done at the eveningcamp halt were:

-Vehicle daily inspections-Refuelling and calculation of mpg. Refilling cans.-Prepare initial brew of tea and main meal later-Begin reduction of gravity data.-Calculate DR position and gravity station positions.-Set up Theodolite for subsequent after dark astro shots.-Remedy any vehicle unservicability.-Refill (and if necessary purify) water jerry cans.-Mark and preserve any lizard collections.-Mark and pack any rock collections-Catalogue still film shots

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (25)

Desert Expeditions 25

-Catalogue cine film sequences-Clean and reload still and cine cameras-Monitor and log any cine sound recorded-Write up daily log-Enter any expenditure in accounts-Re-stock rations from main boxes-Layout bedding and personal kit, wash and shave (.5 pint)

Normally one or two members of the team were working until 10 or 12 pm every evening. Guardswere not routinely mounted but when this was done (in populous areas) a roster of 1 hour per manwas adhered to since this way there was not too much disruption of sleep. The cook. who alwayshad early duty was given the last position on the guard roster 5 to 6 am.

Staying in hotels and rest houses when it was necessary was found to be more trouble than it wasworth -albeit the showering and clothes washing facilities were welcome. It was invariably aftersuch stays in towns that gastro enteritis infections struck the team; the desert and open country wasalways cleaner and more healthy.

A small expedition such as this demanding a multi-skilled team all imbued with a common feelingfor mechanical things and a love of the desert is probably one of the most difficult selectionproblems it is possible to find. The most important single selection criterion is keenness since itleads to the drive to attain the high standards required. provides at the same time the enjoyment ofthe environment that lessens stress which in turn produces the team spirit that overcomesunforeseen difficulties.

Together with thorough planning. the training -especially the driver training -was one of the majorfactors leading to the success of the expedition. Care in the operation of the vehicles whilststationary or on the move was the theme of the training and thoroughness and attention to detail thekeynote.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (26)

Desert Expeditions 26

Annex A (Personnel and Training Notes)


*These maxima introduced appropriate weighting according to the importance of theattribute

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (27)

Desert Expeditions 27


6.1 OVERALL PHILOSOPHYRestrained, sympathetic and alert driving is probably the most important characteristic to inculcateinto any expedition team going on a long and arduous expedition, especially if it is likely to covermany miles on tracks or across open country. We are unhelpfully surrounded by four-wheel-drivemagazines that feature brutish driving, airborne vehicles, flying dust, chrome spotlights anddummy exhaust pipes as though these were the ingredients of professionalism. In a sense, since it isnormal for the media to dramatise trivia and lionise the extrovert, we have at least an inverted guideon what to avoid. The vehicle is the very core of the expedition; certainly considerable cost, if notlife itself, will be at stake if it is not looked after well and driven considerately. Whilst the best4x4’s do convey a feeling of being unstoppable, anything will break given enough abuse, so theurge to prove one’s manhood (or liberated status) by driving with excessive panache must beresisted.

But points of technique are important as well as just care, since there will be times, especially insoft conditions, where all the vehicle’s power output will have to be used.

6.2 GEARBOX AND TRANSMISSION6.2.1 Main Gearbox. Know your gearbox and, if it is manual, especially know which gears havesynchromesh; those that do not you will have to double-de-clutch into, changing up or down.Practice this until a smooth silent change can be made into all gears - including first -even overrough going. A void slipping the clutch. Keep your foot off it unless starting, stopping or changinggear. This may require will-power but it will save the life of your clutch.

6.2.2 Transfer Box (Range Change). Most four-wheel-drive vehicles (4x4s) have a low ratioselector (sometimes called a range change) that will gear the vehicle down by a factor of about 2:1whatever gear is selected in the main gearbox; it is termed a transfer box because as well asdropping the overall gear ratio, in many cases it transfers the drive not only to the rear propellershaft but also to the front propeller shaft and hence effects a change from two wheel drive (4x2) tofour-wheel drive (4x4) when appropriate selections are made -the Red knob moved aft in the series1, 2 or 3 Land Rover . Vehicles with a transfer box of this kind will usually have a means ofselecting 4x4 in high ratio as well (Yellow knob pushed down in the Land Rover); the control canbe either separate or an intermediate position on the range change lever. Follow the manufacturer’srecommendations regarding when range changes can be made; in many older vehicles this must bedone while stationary. Whatever the technique recommended, the over-riding consideration is tomake these changes without clunking, crashing gears or shock loading the transmission. This canoften be accomplished with a straight double-de-clutch using the range change lever. Sometimes,though, the main gearbox ratio must be changed at the same time, as in the Land Rover. Ways ofaccomplishing this are indicated at Annex D lessons 5 and 6.

6.2.3 ‘Full-Time’ and ‘Part-Time’ 4x4. It is essential to be aware of the differences between‘part-time’ 4x4 -i.e. a two-wheel-drive vehicle in which you can select four wheel- drive whenrequired -and ‘full-time’ 4x4 in which the vehicle is in four-wheel-drive all the time. As indicatedbelow, even this ‘full-time’ 4x4 can be with or without locking of the centre differential.

‘Part-Time’ 4x4. Lets take the case of a Series 2 or 3 Land Rover. Driven on normal roads, thevehicle is in high ratio (red knob forward) and two-wheel drive (yellow knob up ). If you need 4x4in high range just press down the yellow knob; this can be done on the move but depress the clutchas you do it. Selecting low range by pulling the red knob aft selects 4x4 as well as lower ratios.Stop before you do this (but see Annex). When either of these selections is made, the front and rearpropeller shafts are geared, invariably, together. As well as improving traction this also means thatthe small differences in revolutions-per-mile between the front and rear wheels (due to steering etc)

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (28)

Desert Expeditions 28

cannot take place so, on hard roads, the transmission system is placed under higher than normalstrain and rotational tyre scrub will take place. If you drive a Land Rover in 4x4 on hard grippysurfaces and try a full-lock turn you will feel the stiffness in the steering and the odd feedback fromthe front wheels. On loose surfaces the wheels can slip rotationally and so accommodate thisdifference in axle speeds. Note that this basic problem is caused by the front and rear prop shaftsbeing geared, invariably, together.

‘Full-Time’ 4x4. In a vehicle where drive is always to all four wheels, such as the Range Rover orthe Ninety and One- Ten Land Rover, this transmission wind-up and tyre scrub is eliminated byputting a differential gear between front and rear prop shaft. Normally this effects a variablegearing between the front and rear axles, that can accommodate the difference in rotational speeds;to quote an extreme case, if the rear axle was locked so that it could not rotate then all the drivefrom the engine would be fed, through the differential, to the front axle and the front wheels wouldrotate twice as fast. Thus a ‘full-time’ 4x4 with this centre differential can be driven on firmsurfaces without detriment to the wear of tyres or transmission and without odd steeringcharacteristics. But it is still possible for this elegant arrangement to be misused by an ignorant orforgetful driver. Provision is made to lock this centre differential to cope with extreme off-roadlow-traction conditions such as deep mud or sand. The front and rear prop shafts are then geareddirectly and invariably together. Thus a driver who engages this diff-lock in soft going and forgetsto disengage it on tarmac will be causing excessive tyre wear and stress on the Transmission shafts.

6.2.4 When to use 4x4. Having said all this -and it will be clear that the main use of selectable or‘part-time’ 4x4 is in poor traction, soft sand, conditions -there are still other times when 4x4 shouldbe selected. These are when travelling corrugated (see Corrugations) or exceptionally rough tracks.In these conditions the shock load reversals on half-shafts are extreme as the wheel jumps from onebump to another; use of four- wheel-drive spreads these loads over four half-shafts rather than twothus halving the fatigue loads. Using a ‘full-time’ 4x4 vehicle in these conditions it would not benecessary or desirable to lock the centre differential; however, during use of such a vehicle in verysoft sand, it will often be beneficial to lock the centre differential to prevent a single spinning wheelfrom robbing traction from the other three. With the diff-lock engaged at least it can only robtraction from the other wheel on its own axle (unless, as in the Mercedes Gelandewagen there arecross-axle diff-locks as well.)

6.3 SUSPENSION AFFECTS TRACTIONA more common problem associated with transmission and which is probably responsible for morethan half of all ‘failed traction’ situations -bogging in soft-going included -is the ‘diagonalsuspension’ case. Imagine a driver’s eye view approaching a shallow V- shaped ditch goingdiagonally, 300 left of dead ahead direction, from distant left to foreground right. In crossing it thevehicle will reach a condition where the front right wheel is on the far side of the ditch, the rear leftis on the near side of the ditch (the diagonal suspension situation) and the other two remainingwheels are hanging down into the bottom of the V. When the ditch is deeper than the extent of thewheel movement allowed by the vehicle’s springs, these wheels (left front and right rear) will spinin thin air and, owing to the axle differential, all the power will go to them and traction will be lost.Different variations of this classic basic situation will manifest themselves in a hundred ways -scrambling up bumpy slopes, crossing ruts, on rough ground or in soft going. Almost invariably itwill be ‘diagonal’ wheel-spin that stops a 4x4 in severe going. A lockable or limited slipdifferential in the axle(s) is the answer but if this is not available it helps to be on the look-out for,and quickly recognise, this condition and stop before wheelspin makes things worse by scoopingsand or earth beneath the afflicted wheels. The torque of the propeller shaft power tends to tilt frontand rear axles in opposite directions relative to the chassis in a soft-sand-and-wheelspin bogging:avoid wheelspin, admit defeat early, reverse out.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (29)

Desert Expeditions 29

By quitting early, excessive under-wheel scooping is avoided and reversing out conveniently tendsto tilt the axles in the reverse direction thus enhancing your traction for getting out backwardsanyway. As in line one, it comes down to restrained, sympathetic and alert driving.

6.4 TRANSMISSION BRAKESA final point on transmission: where a transmission brake is fitted (a brake drum on the prop shaftbehind the gearbox as on the Land Rover, Range Rover or Bedford MK); it should never be usedexcept when the vehicle has been brought to rest with the wheel brakes and is stationary. If used onthe move it can cause half-shaft failure and severe stress in the transmission. Think of it as aparking brake only.

6.5 SLIPPERY CONDITIONS, POOR TRACTION, SLOPESJumping off a meringue or piecrust is the best analogy to poor traction conditions - mud, sand, bog,snow or slippery hills. Low surface strength and low shear strength are common to all and thedemands of both must be reduced. Fitting big, high flotation tyres and lowering tyre pressuresreduces vertical load per square inch and going from two to four-wheel-drive halves the shearstrength required of a given piece of ground. (See diagram at lesson 2, Annex D). Both theseremedies must be allied to smooth driving, use of the highest reasonable gear and very gentle use ofthe accelerator. This implies, too, getting the required gear and speed before the obstacle -a gearchange at the wrong time can sometimes cause a bogging or a failed ascent. The driving techniqueis especially important on slippery inclines where too Iowa gear (say first, low range ) will makewheelspin all too easy to induce; a climb can more reliably be made by using second gear and agentle right foot.

Avoidance of wheel skidding (the opposite of wheel spinning but still a major difference betweentyre speed and ground speed) must be borne in mind also when descending steep slopes -the samegear must be used to go down as would have been appropriate for going up; most usually secondgear low range, occasionally even third, never first. (First gear low range is best used for slow,controlled traversing of really rough savage going such as rock, boulders or ‘doorsteps’; there isgenerally too much torque for poor traction conditions and wheel spin results). Too Iowa gear in adescent enhances the possibility of a sliding glissade where the engine cannot ‘catch-up’ with therate at which the vehicle is sliding down the slope.

6.6 OBSTACLES, RECCE AND MARSHALLINGIf in doubt, recce on foot -hills, gullies, bumps in the track, anywhere where you have any doubtsthat the vehicle can clearly traverse the obstacle ahead. On the umpteenth hot, sticky day of a roughexpedition in the tropics the temptation to press on and hope for the best will be high, but the costof getting it wrong -just once -will be higher . The passenger should be used as a marshaller whereclearances (especially over rocks under the vehicle) are tight. There is a tendency for everyone toshout at once in these situations but the driver should take his directions from just one marshaller(about 40ft ahead and facing the driver with a good view of all four wheels and the under-bellyclearance). These directions should be visual rather than by shouting and mishearing over enginenoise. An agreed system of marshalling signals should be practised during pre-expedition drivertraining; go-right, go-left, advance, stop and reverse are all that is necessary. The driver must obeyand trust the marshaller completely and watch him, not the track, when being guided.

In difficult going of the kind where marshalling is needed, shovels should be regarded as anemergency low gear and must regularly be used to safeguard the vehicle; if the obstacle is likely tohazard the vehicle then ‘landscaping’ can remove the offending rock or bump or provide a feasiblepath for a wheel. Do not skimp the digging; invest another five minutes in shovelling and be sure ofgetting out first try.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (30)

Desert Expeditions 30

6.7 FLOTATION ON SAND OR SALT FLATAll sand offers better flotation and traction when cool, dewy or damp; a bad bogging in the heat ofthe afternoon will be easier to get out of around dawn (and will cost less water -see DesertSurvival). Soft sand on the tracks, churned by previous vehicles, is different from the sand in opendesert where there is a definite top crust structure. This crust will be broken by the passage of onevehicle and following vehicles should not follow in the same wheel marks. On tracks the oppositecan sometimes be true; a previous vehicle in some types of sand can favourably compact it for theone behind.

Salt flat -sometimes shown on maps as sebkha or chott -consists of a crust of unpredictable strengthfrequently disguising soft salty bottomless mud beneath. A bogging in this can often be forever.never drive at random over this. If there is a well used track it should be safe, but even a metre orso away from this can be disastrously soft.

6.8 CORRUGATIONSIn desert, savannah or bush areas, unsurfaced tracks which carry heavy traffic and are not regularlygraded or scraped will often develop a surface of transverse corrugations. These parallel ridges, atright angles to the vehicle’s path, can be as high as 10-15cms and spaced 30-60cms apart. Taken atthe wrong speed they can nearly shake a vehicle to pieces. A ‘best’ speed, dictated by yourvehicle’s suspension rate and tyres, will result in at least the vehicle body and occupants having arelatively smooth ride though the springs and shock absorbers will be going through hell. Thisspeed is generally 50- 70 kph (30-40 mph). Do not go much faster; remember you are virtuallyskipping from crest to crest and adhesion for braking or rapid steering response will be very muchreduced.

6.9 WATERAfter flash floods or en route through non-desert areas there may be times when you drive throughwater. People are easier to un-bog than vehicles so follow the recce-on- foot rule and wade throughfirst to test the condition of the bottom (rocky? level? soft?) and also the depth. If the depth exceedsthe height above ground of the fan, the ensuing under-bonnet spraybath could cause ignitionfailure; remove the fan belt, use WD40 spray on the ignition harness. Sometimes in marginal casesan old coat or sack over the engine (well clear of the fan) will keep the ignition dry. On Land Roverand Range Rover where one is provided, insert the wading plug into the clutch bell-housing and, onthe latest 2.5 litre diesel Land Rovers a wading plug must be fitted to the drain hole in the bottomof the cam shaft belt drive housing. It is essential to remember this one as damage to the toothedbelt and major engine damage can be the final outcome. On any vehicle, try if you can to block theaxle breathers before wading. If you do not, the sudden cooling and contracting of the axle casingscan cause water to be sucked in through the breathers and contaminate the oil. Finally always driveslowly in water to minimise spray and bow-waves. The magazine photographers would have youbelieve it should be one with the maximum commotion but, again, the media are wrong.

6.10 RECOVERY METHODS6.10.1 Shovels and Sand Ladders. Shovels, aluminium sand ladders (5ft 6ins long and l3ins wide,rung at 5.5in pitch), a long tow rope, a high-lift jack and a winch are, in that order, the bestrecovery aids to free a stuck vehicle in the event that it has passed the stage of being able to reverseout of soft sand. The ‘sand’ ladders can be used in any conditions to put beneath or ahead of thewheels to give support and traction (see Annex A). Where it is necessary to make do, planks, orbranches (e.g. palm fronds) can be laid down to support the vehicle. Often diagonal suspensionhang-ups will occur where it will be necessary to dig away beneath one or both of the supportingwheels and lower the vehicle to a parallel-axle condition. Sand ladders can also be made to serveother purposes such as tables or sleeping platforms. (See Annex C).

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (31)

Desert Expeditions 31

6.10.2 Towing and Pushing. A long tow rope (long enough to enable the towing vehicle to beclear of the soft going -at least 50m) and a tow from an accompanying vehicle is, if sand laddersare not effective enough, the next most effective recovery method. The effort, however, must beco-ordinated -the clutches on the towed and towing vehicles must be engaged at the same time.Again an external marshaller can best give the signal. A tandem or multi-vehicle tow (See AnnexB) is even more effective in the worst conditions and again co-ordination by signal is vital.Winches are slow, heavy, expensive and hard to match to road-wheel power and there is nothing towinch onto in real desert; however, they have their uses in recovering a thoroughly ‘dead’ vehicleor in emergencies such as righting a vehicle that has rolled over. The most surprisingly effectiverecovery aid, in conclusion, is the human shoulder. Despite their small horse- power output, agroup of pushing people can work wonders, even making sure that a towed recovery will work firsttime. A Tirfor hand winch is light, cheap and versatile.

6.10.3 Snatch Towing. The advent of special ropes made of an elastic material has meant that thestatic tractive effort of the recovery vehicle can now be augmented by its kinetic energy in a‘snatch’ recovery. A tow rope of 10-20 metres length is used and the towing vehicle starts withconsiderable slack in the rope -probably about 25%. Again using synchronised power on bothvehicles, recovery of a badly bogged vehicle is spectacularly and elegantly enhanced by thismethod. One such rope is a Viking 3-strand, staplespun I" diameter polypropylene rope made byBritish ropes of Carrhill, Doncaster (tel: 0302- 4010). Cautious experimentation before theexpedition with the main variables -amount of slack and speed of snatch -are well worthwhile,starting with minimal slack and minimal speed difference. Needless to say only proper tow hooksand towing eyes should be used otherwise the snatch will cut the rope on any sharp edges (such asbumpers) and also helpers should stand well clear of the rope in case of breakage. On no accounttry snatch towing with other than special ropes; serious damage can be inflicted on both vehicles ifinextensible ropes are used in this way.

6.11 TURBO DIESELS -STOPPINGDue to the extremely high rpm at which turbo-charger impellers turn, most vehicle manufacturersusing turbos lay down a procedure for switching off the engine. To ensure the turbo has slowed tominimum speed, switch off the engine only after 10 seconds of idling; to switch off with the turborunning at high speed means it would run-down from high rpm without positive oil pressure to thebearings. This could cause bearing failure in the turbo charger .

6.12 TRAININGFor any expedition involving track or off -road driving, special sessions of driver training on roughcountry are really worthwhile -as well as enormous fun. (See Annex D). Special permission cannearly always be obtained for use of military training areas. It is far better to make your mistakesthere first than with a heavily laden machine overseas. Finish off the session with an egg-and-spoonautocross (spoon held out of the passenger’s window); it makes for just the kind of smootheffective driving required. Driving is tiring; on an expedition with a two man crew, have Driver Ahand over to Driver B at mid day and vice versa next day thus ensuring a mid-session night’s sleepin any 24 hour duty cycle. Off tarmac, never drive at night; it is too easy to hit unseen pot-holes andto get lost. On hard roads night-drive only if absolutely necessary; in inhabited regions of Africa,India and the Middle East unlit vehicles, bicycles and bullock-carts abound and compete withsleeping livestock for your road space.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (32)

Desert Expeditions 32

Annex A (Driving Notes)


"Avoid wheelspin, admit defeat early..." in a soft sand bogging. If the reverse-out policy has failedthen the sand ladders will come into their own. By scraping away the sand in front of the wheelsthe vehicle can crawl onto the sand ladders and get enough forward momentum over their length tocarry it on and out of the soft sand. Often the harassed ‘crew’ will have to rush round to the frontof the vehicle in order to throw the ladders in its path again to preclude another sinkage. The LandRover must keep going until it is back on firm sand; then the ladders must be dug out and carriedto where it has stopped.

A suitable sand-ladder for a Land Rover or Range Rover is 5 1/2 ft long, 13in wide with rungsspaced at 5 1/2 in

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (33)

Desert Expeditions 33


The main application is in a very severe bogging. where the first tow vehicle cannot itself get ontothe optimum firm ground or where a large vehicle has to be extracted by two smaller ones. Aclassic application is shown below {though the two ropes. for the diagram. are shown much shorterthan they would normally be); a large vehicle has stuck on a loose stony hill where there is alsoloose sand. The large vehicle had not the power /weight ratio to climb the slope all the way andsticks near the top.

Marshaller first waves vehicle B forward till tow-rope A-B is taut; then he ensures tow-rope B-C istaut. Then, with all three vehicles’ engines used and all in the best gear (low range, second gear,in this case in order not to over-torque the loose ground), he drops his arm and on the signal all

three drivers let in their clutch. It is essential that all the drivers take their ‘go’ signal and ‘stop’instructions from one man – the marshaller.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (34)

Desert Expeditions 34

Annex C (Driving Notes)


A simple modification with tubes weighing only a few ounces can convert a pair of sand laddersinto a camping/cooking table or sleeping platform

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (35)

Desert Expeditions 35

Section 6 cont


Note: Assumes Series II Land Rover. This affects lesson 1 and 5. The principles of Lesson 5 can beapplied to other vehicles including late Land Rovers and Range Rovers.

Abbreviations: 4WD = four wheel drive, H = high box, L = low box, 4L = 4th gear low box, etc.


BRIEF. Re-cap on uses of all three levers. How, when and when not to engage 4WD; engage lowonly when stopped. Hand brake on only when stopped. Engage R, lor 2 quietly by touching 3rdfirst. Implications of differential on soft going. Synchro only on 3rd, hence need to double-de-clutch shown by arrows, (Series II Land Rover).

Note especially the upward double from 1 to 2.

PRACTICE. On level tarmac practice changes up and down both H and L boxes using all gears;double-de-clutch appropriately. When quiet on tarmac, repeat on bumpy ground.


BRIEF. Low surface strength plus low shear strength equals poor traction. Lowering tyre pressureshelps the one, going into 4WD helps the other by halving horizontal stress. Also gentle right foot;smooth driving and high gears reduce horizontal stress. Analogous to jumping off a meringue.Practical application: use 4WD, lower tyre pressures, avoid wheelspin. If in trouble quit early andreverse out -rather than dig yourself in. Get out of 4WD and blow up tyres as soon as possible.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (36)

Desert Expeditions 36

PRACTICE. Applicable throughout all driving cross country. Demonstrable on mud or grass steepslopes that use of 2nd gear gives better traction and less wheelspin than lst.


BRIEF. Basic rules:

On-foot recce if in ANY doubt.

Same gear down a slope as you would use going up.

Always go straight at a slope, not diagonally.

Best traction when no wheelspin so don’t select too Iowa gear. Emergencies: down:- de- clutch andgentle cadence braking; up:- quit early before wheelspin slews you, then dead engine reverse re-start.

PRACTICE. Demo effects of too Iowa gear, demo reverse re-start. Famil on steep ups and downs.Long test hills with rapid gear change to consolidate lesson 1.


BRIEF. Lowest points diff drain plugs. Chassis cross member is strong point. Plough- through onsoft ground only. Implications of approach and retreat angle when crossing ditches; beware towhooks, silencers etc. Main principles on-foot recce first then marshaller using signs not voice.Driver watch marshaller not road. Minor dips to be taken diagonally to avoid both-wheels-at-oncethump; but beware the frequent problems of diagonal suspension wheel spinning. Dig or removeobstacles in path. Make vehicle ‘flow’ over rough ground rather than jolt; use IL for enhancedcontrol over large rocks, steps, etc. 4WD spreads transmission shocks anyway, always use on roughground, corrugations, etc

PRACTICE. Cautious gully driving after on-foot recce. Practice marshalling procedures andthreading between boulders, use sticks placed in the ground for practice first. Try low speed crawlover rocks in IL. Provoke diagonal suspension practice distant width- judging using two assistantswith vertical poles.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (37)

Desert Expeditions 37


BRIEF. Very useful where stop and restart in 2WD not possible, e.g. softish sand.Remember 4L = 2H approximately in terms of road speed for a comfortable change.Steps:


Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (38)

Desert Expeditions 38


BRIEF. Basically a straight double-declutch operation remembering that the low ration is abouttwice the high ratio and that therefore the revs for a given road speed will have to be approximatelydoubled when you change from the high box to the low box. Useful in a deteriorating terrainsituation where stopping is not advisable or convenient. Cross over from high to low box when youhave got down to 2nd gear high box and are then further losing speed for a severe obstacle to come.

PRACTICE. Practice in real conditions, is in bad going where the vehicle will decelerate duringthe double declutch. You will find it hard or impossible to do on tarmac.


BRIEF. With and without tow. With no tow, ‘landscaping’ usually inevitable but try reversing outbefore situation gets too bad. Admit defeat early rather than dig in with wheelspin. Self-recovery:lower pressures, off load, clear obstacles manually, brush-wood etc. under wheels for grip, thirddegree by jacking vehicle up and placing driveway under the wheels. Tow recover principles: longtow rope so towing vehicle on firm ground, co-ordinated use of power from both vehicles directedby assistant’s signal. Tow points: beware axles and centre of bumper. Tandem tow: same principlesbut two vehicles pulling one. Stand clear of ropes in tension.

PRACTICE. Practice probably self generating. Demo recovery tow, tandem tow.


Special application of all the foregoing. On dunes don’t brake, coast to a halt in case sand crustbreaks. Very careful pull-away. Pie crust analogy, sand worse when previously traversed, henceavoid preceding tracks. Low tyre pressures, sand tyres, gentle right foot, use highest 4WD gearpossible. Firmer going when damp. Cool dewy morning better than hot noon. Beware followingwinds, overheating. Recovery with sand ladders, psp or tow. Topography: avoid soft small hollows,beware dune crests, slip faces. On foot recce as necessary as always, post helper on dune lip ifdescending. DIBS mirror invaluable.

EXERCISESThe following exercises consolidate lessons, especially d:

Through the Gears. Start in 4L, use all the gears and cross the finishing line at 25 mph.Technique: start in 4L, down to 3L, 2L, I L using minimum distance, up to 2L, then into 1H,accelerate hard in 1H and 2H, use 3H and 4H as late as possible. ‘In gear’ means foot off clutch.Marks deducted for noisy changes.

Slalom. Drive start to finish through alternate poles; then reverse through same course.

Reverse into parking slot. Reverse into ‘kerb side’ slot 1.5 times vehicle length, 6ft wide.Poles to be used as markers, wheels to be within 12in of kerb.

Egg and Spoon Auto Cross. Navigator holds egg and spoon out of window during marked outcross country route. Smooth driving counts. Very good value as an exercise.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (39)

Desert Expeditions 39


7.1 CINE FILMINGFilming as a Source of Expedition Funds. Probably the most common error in the context offilming expeditions is the belief that a film will readily generate money for expedition funds andthat TV companies or cinema circuits will readily accept it. A clean living, noble minded,scientifically orientated expedition leader would be forgiven for concluding (after looking into it)that the world of marketing documentary films is hard, nasty, small-minded, parochial and short-sighted; a world where quality of production or the greatness or beauty of what it portrays are ofless importance than who backed it, the union membership of who shot it and the size of attendantcrew.

If the above is a surprise or taken as exaggeration it may still achieve its aims of alerting theexpedition leader to what may be in store if an independent film is envisaged. Costs will be theother surprise. In one 3-month Sahara expedition the money turned over in producing the 52 minutefilm documentary was well over twice the whole expedition budget. Of that, post-shooting costs(production) comfortably exceeded filming costs up to the end of the expedition.

The best strategy for an expedition film, therefore, is to obtain prior backing and co- operation ofthe ultimate users -e.g. a TV company. The notes that follow are included as a guide to selection ofequipment specifically for vehicle-borne expeditions in desert conditions based on the report of theexpedition mentioned in paragraph 3 above.

7.2 REPORT (1975 Expedition)

7.2.1 Film Equipment and OperationsA complete list of still, cine camera and sound equipment used on the expedition appears at AnnexA. There was a subjective feeling that if the expedition was to succeed as a ‘first’, then there shouldbe a film record. However, much harder commercial factors had to be considered before such anexpensive and time consuming project could justifiably be embarked upon. The involvement of asponsor was based on their having a copy of the film -or an edited version -as a soft-sell film forinternal use showing their products at work. The existence of a film was also an inducement forother organisations to lend equipment. The film itself had to be a self -supporting, indeedprofitable, prospect for any production company to become involved in since an outlay of not lessthat £6,000 was likely to be involved, plus a very large number of skilled man-hours over a periodof a year or more. Professional editors, script-writers and post production facilities would have tobe used. Advance marketing of the film idea was done by me in UK and France before departure. Asmall production company became interested in the film and agreed to cover production costs inexchange for marketing rights. For the four month period involved it was cheaper to buy and laterre-sell the cameras rather than hire.

The size of the team precluded the luxury of a cameraman and sound man who did nothing else.These skills had to be superimposed on the people we had. The demands of leading the expedition,covering still photography and making a marketable film as well were severe.

7.2.2 Cine Camera EquipmentEquipment had to be chosen and obtained and the selection process was to be far fromstraightforward. Conditions would be as hostile to camera gear as it is possible to imagine.Temperatures would range, in the shade, between maybe 4 and 44oC but this was nothing to theacquired temperature of a matt black object in the fierce solar radiation to be encountered.Vibration and bouncing of the vehicles would be ceaseless for something like 3.5 months and dustwould be a continuous enemy. In newsreel photography, spontaneity and getting it as it happens arethe main considerations. In contrast ‘story’ filming must be impeccable and no excuses are

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (40)

Desert Expeditions 40

accepted; the scenes can be controlled and the photography must be as good as it is possible tomake it. In expedition photography have the worst of both worlds. The most filmable subjects arethe spontaneous ones; you must be ready to grab the camera and be filming within seconds of beingabout your normal expedition duties. Yet the standard of filming - television standards are rising allthe time -must be first class. What is more, in a small expedition you will have to steel yourself tograb the camera before anything else. Resist the temptation to rush to look or assist in other waysfor the moment will be gone before you have the camera whirring. Financial survival of theexpedition depended on such things and the time spent checking out a ‘drama’ situation was cut tothe minimum.

The very best in quality was the aim and this meant expensive l6mm cine cameras, extra (wideangle) lenses, a fluid head tripod, sync sound and top quality negative film. Selection of equipmentfrom-first-principles applied since the expedition was in the unique position of starting a small filmunit from scratch; and one with special operating conditions and requirements. A camera with apower-zoom -variable speed for preference -and a wide angle lens became a necessity; also a filmcapacity of more than l00ft to preclude the need to change film too often in dusty conditions. Thecamera must be self-contained, not too heavy, not too expensive and above all ready to shoot themoment it was lifted from the box -no power packs, no slings or harnesses.

The prime camera chosen was the Beaulieu l6-news since it fulfilled the criteria better than anyother. It offered a 9.5 to 57mm power zoom with variable rate, 200ft reel loading and handled well.A 5.7mm super wide lens was obtained as well which was invaluable for the occasional use it got.An even lighter ‘grab’ camera, usable as a back- up was needed, and the Canon Scoopic l6Mcomplemented the Beaulieu and was kindly obtained on loan.

Bearing in mind its limited specification, the Canon was hard to fault. The Beaulieu offered morebut was heavier and more expensive; it also had some ergonomic anomalies about it that took somegetting used to. Overall, however, it was excellent for our purposes and worked well.

No camera is better than the steadiness with which it could be used and a fluid-head tripod forsmooth panning and tilting was essential. A Ronford Baker F2 fitted the bill admirably though thefluid-head stiffened up in the heat and had to be kept cool and in the shade as much as possible.Another invaluable aid to camera operation enabling really rapid ‘clunk-click’ mounting of thecamera was the Dufort wedge. Either camera could be mounted in about two seconds without anyturning of screws or wheels.

Eastman negative Type 7247 16mm cine film was used; it yields good 35mm blow-ups too, acogent point when marketing of the film is to be considered.

7.2.3 SoundFirst-principles resolution of the sound problem was also resorted to. Exotic machinery is pointlessif the weak link in the chain is a tiny TV speaker or the quality of sound that a 16mm optical soundtrack can handle. Also, in the field the recording would be of voices, engines and petrol stoves soagain hi-fi was not paramount. Ease of operation (there would be no separate sound man) and easeof protection from dust were essential too. Disregarding price for the moment the main apparentcontenders, the Nagra and Uher were assessed. The Nagra had a needlessly high specification, wasvulnerable to dust and ergonomically poor. The Uher shared these problems and additionally theone obtained on trial performed badly (hiss) and needed constant monitoring.

Looked at objectively, cassette sound had considerable advantages over reel-to-reel and offered allthat was required in audio quality. The machine finally chosen was the Sony TC153SD (modern,light-weight equivalent is the Sony TCD5M -performance figures in brackets). Frequency response50 to 12500 Hz DIN (30 -17000Hz) comfortably encompassed the audio requirements; SIN ratio

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (41)

Desert Expeditions 41

with FeCr tape and Dolby B at 53-58 db (59 db, Dolby off) compared favourably with the Nagra;cross-talk with a suitably attenuated cine pulse output was measured as about the same as theNagra. Big simple controls and lead-access all on the front panel could be operated easily, andthrough a poly the ne sheet to keep the dust out. Sony FeCr 60 cassettes gave 30 minutes per side,minimising tape handling in the dusty conditions.

Considerable pre-expedition testing of the entire cine package was essential and provedsatisfactory. The disadvantage of the vulnerability of the thin, slow-moving tape was offset by theease with which it could be protected. Selection made itself almost entirely on performancegrounds; the fact that, additionally, the Sony was half the cost of a Uher and a tenth of the price ofa Nagra clinched it.

7.2.4 MicrophonesThe problem of microphone selection was even more confusing. Though many of my sync-soundsituations would be ‘set-piece’ affairs where the ‘stars’ would know they were on tape andtherefore available for fitting neck mics, a distant-sound directional mic facility would have beenan advantage. ‘Professional’ advice was abundant and again so fragile was its technical base that anassessment was made based on what actually finished up .on tape, and above all the type of soundsthat would be recorded. The great truths discovered about an exotic looking parabola mic and aSennheiser 815 gun and 415 super cardioid (apart from their price) was that their directionalqualities were only noticeable at high frequencies. Even at 8 KHz the 815 had an acceptance angleof around 30°. Out of doors test pieces were spoken in loft and 25ft circles around the microphonepositions and when all the mics were compared on tape the Sony ECM 280 - compact andrelatively cheap -was the choice. Sony ECM50 neck mics were used where possible in the highwind conditions that prevailed most of the time in the desert. An ECM 170 omni-directional micwas also taken.

There would have been much to commend a radio mic for sequences involving crews talking inapproaching vehicles but, it was hard to get a demonstration and this equipment can be unreliable.

7.2.5 Battery chargingGermaine to the whole equipment selection process was the problem of actually running it. Ni-cadbatteries are very particular in their requirements and no two seem to be alike. A commonrecharging method direct from 12v DC would have been ideal but, apart from untried lash-upswhich could have been unreliable, eventually a 240v AC source via a transistorised invertor wasused. Caravan-type electric shaver invertors would work on some of the equipment but the Canonbattery charger required nothing less than a precise 50 Hz sine-wave AC before it would work. Aclumsy but effective sine-wave invertor by Valradio was thus used for all the battery charging. Itwas also expensive and not too efficient. Though claiming a 70% efficiency this only applied at fullload; at the tiny current outputs demanded by the various units being charged it was using morethan 5 amps from the Land Rover battery to put out only 37 watts. Thus the final inconveniencewas that it could only be used for short periods during static parking and had to do most of thecharging with the vehicle on the move.

7.2.6 ProtectionFull protection against vibration, sun and dust and instant operability of the equipment when the lidwas opened dictated design of the boxes for cameras and recorder . Samuelsons’ aluminium boxeswere used, polythene foam lined and with additional external cladding to minimise heat absorptionby the aluminium itself. The recorder box was designed so that the unit could be run with the lidclosed, thus facilitating unobtrusive ‘wild sound’ recording.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (42)

Desert Expeditions 42

7.2.7 Film StorageFilm storage was in a wooden box, polystyrene lined, white painted and always kept in the shade.A picnic ‘cool box’ was used as a ‘ready-film’ box, taking the likely film needs for the day. Themain box was left open at night to cold soak and not opened uring the day unless essential. Thisway the contents kept cool for most of the time. Only where night temperatures seldom fell below25oC was the system found to be lacking. There was no film damage or failure due to heat.

7.2.8 Shooting, Processing and Post-ProductionAs for the filming itself, the broad outline of the film had, of course, been established beforehandand it consisted of a main plot showing the progress of the expedition and the terrain it passedthrough with planned sequences to show the special work of each member of the team. At all timesan ‘edit-in-the-camera’ approach was used where possible. When a sequence of a certain operationwas to be shot, invariably a small shooting script with an exact shot order, length of shot, close-upor long shot was made. It always resulted in the filming being completed far more quickly and withless disruption than ad-hoc shooting. Shot sequence and content were recorded on a Philips 95pocket tape recorder and subsequently transcribed with references to second camera, sound (ifused) time, place, etc. Opportunity filming, of course, could not be planned, but where it occurred ittoo was written up on film data sheets. Exposed film went back to the UK as soon as possible afterexposure. Feedback was essential and the production company informed the expedition of theresults.

In use, the equipment worked very well. The Beaulieu was covered in aluminium kitchen foil toreflect solar radiation. The Sony recorder emerged from its final polythene bag in UK as pristine aswhen it left four months earlier. There had been, of course, nightly and painstaking cleaning of allcameras en route and meticulous use of polythene bags to exclude dust.

Subsequent production cost exceeded those of shooting and mounting the film project by aconsiderable amount due to the use of professional studios, editors and dubbing engineers. About15,000ft of film was shot to produce material for an hour -a shooting ratio of about 7:1 -fairly goodfor this kind of film.

Cine equipment list is at Annex A.

7.3 STILL PHOTOGRAPHY7.3.1 Still Cameras. On a similar expedition notes on stills photography were made as follows:Two Canon T90’s and a Nikonos 5 were used as the basic equipment, one Canon for colour, onefor black and white; the Nikonos was the ‘sandstorm’ camera and was loaded with colour. Thefinest grain film was used. The accessories, lenses and other equipment are listed at Annex B. Theoutfit (except Nikonos) was carried in foam cut-outs in a Samsonite ladies vanity case -lightcoloured ABS plastic of high resilience and low thermal conductivity and capacity. The box wasrubber mounted (strapped down) within easy reach of the user at all times. The optics andconstruction of Canons are obvious reasons for their choice but the main points in their favour arethe quick bayonet lens changing and the spot metering system that is essential for the high contrastdesert light conditions where a vague ‘centre-weighted’ system would not be precise enough. The15mm and 24mm lenses were used more than any others as they gave a feeling of being amongstthe subject for close-ups and also convey precisely the immensity of the desert where distant shotswere required.

The Nikonos is extremely rugged and also designed as an underwater camera. What is waterproofis also dust proof and sandproof and it was used for difficult-conditions photography, e.g.sandstorms as well as for ‘grab-shots’; it was kept, set for prevailing exposure conditions, withinarm’s reach.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (43)

Desert Expeditions 43

7.3.2 Cleanliness. As with cine and sound, minute attention to cleanliness was paid with the stillsequipment. An anti-static gun, designed for records, was used together with a camel hair brush andblower. Film changing was, wherever possible done under calm conditions at night. The cameras,within the vanity case, were kept in polythene bags; when removed from the case the bags were nottaken off until the picture was about to be shot. Ever-ready cases were not used as they affordedinadequate protection from shock, heat and dust.

7.3.3 Picture Making and Pitfalls. Content, viewpoint and interpretation are so subjective inpictorial photography that no valid comment can be made in a report or notes. The following,however, apply to record and pictorial photography and are worth considering:

Metering: Predominantly very bright conditions, when using TTL metering on an SLR camera -orany automatic metering -will lead to too small an aperture being used for good overall exposure.Since you want to portray the brightness in the scene, you do not want the meter systemovercompensating for it. Readings must therefore be taken on a balance of light and dark subjectmatter or, ideally from an ‘18% grey’ Neutral test card made by Kodak. An incident light meter isanother solution to the problem. A spotmeter (Pentax Digital Spotmeter is invaluable where verydemanding transparency shots are to be taken.

Filling the Frame: Keenness to fill the viewfinder sometimes leads to the abandonment of shots ofdistant terrain that would have conveyed considerable meaning even with a 50mm lens. LongLenses: Very useful for mirage shots and the like, long (even circa 400mm) lenses are, even in thestrong light conditions which enable short exposures to be used, very hard indeed to keep stillenough for really good results. This is mainly due to wind which affects the camera even when on amassive theodolite tripod. (Normal ‘amateur’ tripods are usually not rigid enough for a 400mmlens). Raising the mirror on an SLR before exposure is a worthwhile precaution.

Direct Sun: Matt black camera equipment gets very hot very quickly in desert sun. Silver foilcovers, multi-layered white handkerchiefs, sun hats over the camera and lenses are some ways ofkeeping heat load down when the equipment is in use.

Film Temperature: Given commonsense, colour film is amazingly tolerant of high temperatures. Inthe writers experience the tolerance limit was reached only once in 20 years -daily maxima of 40-45oC over a 3.5 week period with night lows of not much below 22-30oC. Under these conditionsthe film spoiled noticeably -pale overall colours, magenta cast in some transparencies and magenta‘blobs’ in others. High temperature tolerance applies for short periods only. Electrolux make asmall 12V lightweight cooler (called the RC30 ‘Sunnycool’) which is ideal for film storage.

Shooting for Audio Visual Presentations: When shooting material for A V slide/tape presentations,this use must be in mind continually. Movie-sequence type shooting must be carried out in manyinstances and shot-to-shot dissolves planned.

7.3.4 EquipmentStills photographic equipment is listed at Annex B.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (44)

Desert Expeditions 44

Annex A (Photography Notes)


Ready Film Box (used for stills film) Recorder BoxMasking tape, screwdrivers Sony TCI53SD Stereo CassetteRecorderK2 -10 x 20. FP4 -10 x 20. HSE 4 x 20 Mics: ECM280, ECMI703 Polaroid packs, 4 ND gelatine 2 x ECM504 exp meter batteries Mic leads: ECM50 ECM280/170Braun Charger, 2 pin adaptor Spare FeCr cassetteLong lead for Sony charging Mains charging lead 2 pinSony BP8 batt, ECM50 clips Headphone plug - stereo-2 xmono dinHeadphones, stills records Headphone adaptor lead -stereo -2 xmono55mm blue, 48mm orange filters Head cleaners, cotton wool & feltDufort wedge nylon buttons Cleaning fluid

Charging/mic bung for case

Beaulieu Camera BoxBeaulieu 16-news cine camera Main Film Box (Also used forStills Film)Agenieux zoom 9.5/57mm, hood filter A. Steel box: 16 FeCr cassettesKinoptic 5.7mm lens, hood. filter Mic lead 280/170Filters: 85N6 for zoom Instruction books: Canon FI

85N6 & ND3 for Kinoptic Gill. Scoopic. Beaulieu.200mm lens, Pentax mount Lunasix. Flashgun.PhilipsAdaptor C-Mount/Pentax Recorder. Sony Recorder&3x conv. for Pentax lens to make 600mm Mics. FeCr cassetteDufort wedge and allen key 7274 – 40 x l00ft reelsRemote and charging lead (12v) AVO Meter, electrical smallsSync lead. 100ft reel 12v soldering iron & solderPlastic cover for battery 4xMN 1500. 5xMN 1604batteriesLens brush/blower. Felt pen (Mic. Philips)Film data sheet, pen TC153 wksp manualPhilips 95 Pocket memo recorder 85N6 gelatines

Polybags, Kleenex

Canon Scoopic BoxCanon Scoopic 16M cine camera B. K2 -40x36. 20x20. HSE -20x20Dufort wedge and allen key FP4 -30x36. 10x202 batteries. mains charger Sixtino meter, TC153 strapFilters: CCA on: 4xND lens + meterLenshood. Lens brush/blower C. 7247 –1 5x 200, 3 x 100100ft film, empty tin Polaroid 10 col. 10 B/WChest pad. Film data sheet K2 –2 x 20; HSE 6 x 20

8 ND gelatines

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (45)

Desert Expeditions 45

Bic pens. stills film notebooks,Spare film data sheets.

ABBREVIATIONSK2 = Kodachrome 25 ) 7247 = Eastman 7247negative 16mmFP4 = Ilford FP4 ) 35mm stills 4 x 200 = Four 200ft reelsetcHSE = High Speed Ektachrome MN = Mallorymanganese alkalinebatteries

35mm stills

NOTESReady Film Box -soft insulated picnic .cold box’ with zip.Beaulieu & Recorder Boxes -aluminium alloy. polythene foam cut outs Specially made

by Samuelsons. London.Canon Scoopic Box -supplied with camera. Painted white with upholstery paint.Film box -wooden -36inxl2inxl0in. Painted white. polystyrene lined. Lockable. Steel

box to protect cassettes from magnetic fields 10inx7inx4in

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (46)

Desert Expeditions 46

Annex B (Photography Notes)


The following list shows equipment used on a recent small expedition in the Sahara, in the field forsix weeks. There was no special photographic task.

Photographic Gear

Samsonite ABS Plastic case 15in x 7in x 8in: (Ladies vanity case, foam lined)2 x Canon. T90 bodies Canon Extender FD 2x-A & intrsLenses: 35mm, 24mm, 15mm, 200mm Cable release

50mm macro Canon flash shoe5x orange filter (b/w) co*kin filters, grads etc.Small Bott lens cleaning fluid 6x red filterSmall paint brush Blower

Second CaseCanon 300TL flashgun Pentax Digital SpotmeterMini tripod 3x orange filter for NikonosNikonos camera & instr bk


Helmet Box 12in x 12in x 12in: (polystyrene tile lined)Film: 30 Kodachrome 25/Fuji 50 Nikonos spare O-rings21 Panatomic X/T -Max 100 3 spare Px625 batteriesKodak Neutral Test cards 3ft flash gun extension lead (18% grey) Instruction books: Canon T90Tempo marker pensFilm record books

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (47)

Desert Expeditions 47


8.1 PHILOSOPHY - PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCEThe whole philosophy behind keeping the expedition vehicle fit can be summed up in two words -preventive maintenance. A really thorough, no-compromises service and overhaul before theexpedition will payoff far better than trying to cope with problems as they arise in the field. Vitallyallied to reasonable and sensitive driving (see notes of Driving) maintenance on the expedition willprobably then be limited to the 20 minute nightly inspection and rectification of minor defects enroute (see below and Annex A).

8.2 THE EXPEDITION MECHANICA very great deal depends upon the team member taking on the task of mechanic - more even thanwould be expected. It becomes a manifestation of personality and sense of duty and tenacity. Aneagle eye for detail, a mature ability to face facts, a total devotion to his task, an ability to influencehis fellow team members, and as much mechanical knowledge as possible are some of the qualitieshe must possess. And he will have to display them during the pre-departure overhaul, for here nodetail of the vehicle’s condition must escape his notice, nothing can be glossed over, no hope-for-the- best attitudes adopted. The hard facts must be faced and acted upon when oil leaks, mechanicalwear and the implications of remedial work necessary are being considered. Faults will not goaway or cure themselves just because it will be expensive or difficult to fix them -any more thanthey will in the field just because there happens to be a sand storm blowing. It is in just theseconditions that the old cavalryman’s attitude of seeing to the welfare of his horse before attendingto his own needs at the end of the day will payoff .

One of the first facts to face is the expedition mechanic’s own experience and knowledge. Heshould know his own limitations, know and admit what he does not know and work with moreexperienced people in preparing the vehicle. But even here there is cause for considerable cautionfor many ‘experts’ in vehicle maintenance are jaundiced, ever open to expedient compromise andwill rarely have the keen expeditioner’s enthusiasm for thorough preparation. The crossing of thistightrope will be good training for those to follow. Do not accept glib assurances about somethingbeing ‘alright’ until you are personally convinced. There is no special mystique about engineeringthat puts it above commonsense explanations -whatever the subject. Be gently insistent.

8.3 PRE- EXPEDITION PREPARATIONA new, run-in vehicle is the best way to start an expedition but budgets do not always stretch to thisand a critical and thorough examination of the expedition machine must start as soon as it isacquired -even if it is new. A workshop manual is essential. Start at the ground and work up. Arethe tyres right for the job and in top condition? (It is best to start with new ones). Wheel bearings -free, with correct end float? Brake drums off to check linings and operating cylinders, also hub oilseals. Are the axle cases bent? A ripple on the top surface will normally tell. Axle breathers mustbe serviceable, also differential housing oil seals and gaskets. Spring-eye and shock absorberrubbers and mountings, spring-to-axle U bolt fixings; check no spring leaves broken or undulyeroded by dust or rust. Prop shaft sliding and universal joints should not have excessive rotationalor vertical play. Check underside of engine and gearbox for oil leaks - especially from around theclutch bell-housing drain hole since a slight leak there might indicate an oil seal failure in the rearmain bearing and the possibility of oil getting to the clutch plate -disastrous if it happens in thefield. Engine- and gearbox-to-chassis rubber mountings should be checked, also condition of allbrake pipes and hoses (the clutch hoses and mechanism come into this too) and the security andcondition of the whole system. If in any doubt about the exhaust system change it. Trying toremove it in the field when it is very old, fragile and badly corroded can lead to discovery ofimmovable or broken studs in the exhaust manifold when you will have neither the extractors norspare studs.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (48)

Desert Expeditions 48

Similar thorough visual inspection in the engine compartment should be carried out, again being onthe look-out for oil leaks, condition of hoses, clips, wiring, fuel pipes and unions, exhaustmanifolds, radiator. Unless virtually new renew water and heater hoses. A compression test on eachcylinder, plug and carburet tor condition and a check of engine tune on an electronic timer will beessential and leads to a full functional check of all aspects of the vehicle -steering, brakes, clutchperformance and adjustment, engine power, gear boxes and transfer box controls. If in any doubton shock-absorbers, renew them. It is worth fitting contactless electronic ignition if this is notalready standard; the contact breaker type is susceptible to dust erosion and needs frequent re-tuning to maintain best power and economy in the field. The Lumenition type has been used in theSahara at under-bonnet temperature over 82oC -a very severe test. (See notes on VehicleModification).

Careful reference should be made to the workshop manual for limits and settings - beware theknow-all mechanic who uses figures that are ‘OK for most engines’. The whole examination islittle more than a methodical and commonsense check of the complete vehicle and should naturallybe combined with a major schedule service (such as a 12, 000 mile check) and oil and filter change.There may well be special grades of oil recommended by the manufacturer for high operationtemperatures. (See notes on Vehicle Modifications regarding oil coolers and temperature gauges).

8.4 NIGHTLY INSPECTIONAs with the overall philosophy, prevention is better than cure and a thorough nightly inspection ofthe expedition vehicle is essential in order to nip trouble in the bud and prevent actual failures. Anend-of -day inspection schedule for a 1-tonne Land Rover is at Annex A, it can easily be modifiedwith additions or deletions for any vehicle. The expedition must stop to camp wherever possiblewith sufficient daylight left to enable the vehicle inspection and routine maintenance to be done indaylight (about 1-1.5 hours before sunset).

A groundsheet, pair of overalls, old beret and pair of working gloves are invaluable for working onthe vehicle; washing water and laundry are always a problem on expeditions and the Ragged Lookfor expedition folk went out of fashion years ago. Check tyre pressures and coolant level first thingin the morning when cold; don’t fill the radiator to the brim as the coolant will only expand outthrough the overflow.

8.5 TOOLS AND REPAIR KITThe toolkit must be assembled with an eye to the particular vehicle and the pre- departure work onit will have brought to light most of the ‘specials’ required such as extra long socket extensions,wry-neck spanners, special sized sockets, thin rimmed ring spanners and whether the vehicle nutsand bolts are metric, AF or a mixture of thread types. This is where a sober and painstaking scanthrough the workshop manual will pay off as it will indicate where special tools are required. Thiswill also focus attention on what jobs can and cannot be undertaken in the desert.

Vibration and bad tracks can often cause fatigue failure of vehicle parts in the field andblacksmithing or sheet metal repairs may be called for. Hacksaws, files, metal shears, a largeassortment of nuts and bolts and pop rivets, a rivet gun, large hand drill and set of drills should betaken with this is mind. A small clamp-on vice that can be mounted on a bumper or tailgate is wellworth the weight. Two jacks are better than one, and if one is a high lift bumper jack it can often beused in recovery situations enabling sand ladders to be placed under the wheels. Tyre inflator -spark plug or electric motor type -will be needed frequently, as well as wide ranging repair kit fortyre tubes and the vulnerable side walls of radial covers. Use bags for the tools rather than steelchests; bags do not rattle.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (49)

Desert Expeditions 49

8.6 SPARESThe main spares kit needs disciplined and realistic thought. A thorough pre-expedition overhaul isbetter than a large spares pack; careful and infallible driving can lessen the en route requirementeven more -springs and half -shafts, for example, are broken by drivers and do not fail of their ownvolition. (See notes on Driving re transmission brakes and half -shafts). However, hoses, fan belts,clutch and brake cylinder rubbers, electrics such as fuel pumps, coils, condensers, HT leads andalternators are less predictable and are worth taking. Carburet tor diaphragms, oil and fuel filters,air filter elements, electrical repair materials such as wire, terminals, l2v soldering iron, tape, fuses,bulbs should be taken, as well as a length of plastic tubing to use as a gravity fuel pipe with a can ifthe system fails.

A spares kit taken on a recent single-vehicle expedition is shown at Annex B and can be modifiedaccording to vehicle type and its particular strengths or weaknesses.

8.7 FUEL CONSUMPTION AND RECORDSKeep a notebook in which you record mileage, price of petrol bought, mpg, accidents and any partsfailure or defects and remedial action taken. Note especially those items that will need attention atthe next full servicing. (See notes on Fuel etc).

8.8 CLEANLINESSFinally cleanliness. Beating sand and dust on a hot-climate expedition may sound impossible butwith care it need not be. Remember that every level-plug and filler cap removed carelessly canshake dust into the oil it is designed to keep in. A one-inch paint brush in a jam-tin half full ofpetrol should be used rigourously to clean down these or any sealing surfaces or parts beforeremoving or working on them -or even to clean a suspected oil leak so that its condition can benoted next evening. It is again just a question of facing facts -a few grains of sand can destroy abearing.

Cleanliness is especially important when mending punctures. Including a grain or two of sandbetween the inner tube and case of a hard-working radial tyre will ensure, as night follows day,another puncture later on. Cleanliness is perfectly feasible when fitting tyres; a large ground sheeton which to carry out the operation is essential.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (50)

Desert Expeditions 50

Annex A (Vehicle Maintenance Notes)


Begin in co*ckpit, then clockwise from front of vehicle -Use torch

NB Do not check coolant till cold.

Remove Engine Cover Under Front BumperFan and compressor belts Track rod, drag link ends,gaitersAlternator belts Oil-filter-to-cooler pipesCoolant hose clips (13) Steering relayIgnition harness Hydraulic pipe on axlePetrol unions Axle breatherOil leaks Anti-roll bar mountings,endsWater pump, leaks Road spring front eyes,bushesRadiator rear face Axle U- boltsRadiator front face Diff drain and filler plugs

Swivel pin housing seals(Leave engine cover off -oil check later) Brake pipe jump hose

Brake pipe to back platesBrake pipe junctions

Cab Steering damperBattery: Tyre inner sidewalls

Leads secure Front shock damper,leaks, bushes

Wingnuts tight Brake back plate, leaks atbottom

Fluid levelEngine intake clear OS Front Wheel ArchPyros, compass, light ok Steering box, leaks,fretting

Engine side panel off:Hydraulic fluid, front brakes (L) Ignition harnessHydraulic fluid, rear & clutch (R) ManifoldBrake pipes at servo and cylinders HosePipe unions on bulkhead (3) Tyre sole and outersidewallBrake and side lights Rear of shock damper,leaksFlashers Swivel pin housing, fillerBrake failure light Road spring rear eye,bushes

Starter motor andsolenoid, leadsFront Grill Area Rear of oil pump, leads,leaksPipe unions, outer ends (3) Front prop shaft, gaiter,playCoolant hose junctions (8) Front diff nose sealDiff lock suction pipes secure (3) Exhaust pipeSteering relay ball joint gaiters

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (51)

Desert Expeditions 51

Hydraulic union on cross member

Under Engine and Offside NS Wheel Arch, FrontSump bolts Engine side panel off:Bell housing drain plug Ignition harnessGear box, transfer box Exhaust manifoldDiff look vacuum pipes (2) CompressorhosesHand brake mechanism Tyre sole and outersidewallFuel tank. Leaks, damage Headlight wiring harnessRear prop shaft, gaiter, play

(hand brake off) Engine CompartmentRear diff nose seal Check engine oilRoad spring. front eye, bush Replace engine cowlRear shock damper. Bushes, leaksTyre inner sidewall Next morning:Brake back plate, leaks at bottom Check coolant levelBrake pipe junctions Tyre pressuresBrake jump hose

OS Rear Wheel ArchTyre sidewall and soleRear light harnessTail pipe secure

Rear of VehicleRoad spring rear eyes. OS & NSExhaust pipe and silencerDiff drain and filler plugsLoad sensing linkagesBrake pipe on exle. all junctionsTyre inner sidewallsAxle breather hose

NS Wheel Arch, RearRear light harness

Under NearsideTyre inner sidewall (rear tyre)Brake backplate for leaksRear shock damper. leaks. bushesRoad spring front eye. bushExhaust silencer and pipeCompressor tank and hosesSmall pipe on top of tankGearbox oil filler plugs (2)NS exhaust pipeClutch slave cylinder and hoseRoad spring rear eye. bushFront shock damper. leaks. bushesSwivel pin housing. fillerTyre inner sidewall (front tyre)Brake backplate. leak at bottomBrake pipe unions

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (52)

Desert Expeditions 52

Annex B (Vehicle Maintenance Notes)


The following list, based on a desert expedition involving a single Range Rover, can be used as aguide -not exclusive or exhaustive -to spares requirements.

Vehicle Spares, Tools, Tyre/Repair, non-boxed items

Box 35 x 14 x 10inXenon timing light, tacho-dwell meter Ignition coilCarb Spares (jets, diaphragms, gaskets) Oil filterFuel pump Distributor cover2 x air filter elements Speedo headAlternator Speedo gearbox gearHT cable Spare luminition kitSet plugs 3 x fuel filter elementsSpeedo cable complete GasketSpeedo Angle drive 3 fan beltsMain hoses top & bottom (coolant) Clutch master/slaverepair kitClutch jump hose Hub brg tab washersFront tracta joint seal 3 wheelnutsWindow winder handles -2 Spare fluorescent tube15ft 0.25in plastic tube PadsawHacksaw and 3 blades Avo MultimeterLarge handbrace drillPyrotechnics (rescue): 4 smoke/flares, 3 x 900ft rockets, 2 pkts mini-flares, 1 parachuteflare, 2 Sowester orange smoke.

Box 21 x 9 x l0in (Vulnerable items after line 6 in Cadbury’s Smash tins)5 500ml squeezy packs 90EP oil Plus Gas dismantlingfluid0.5kg tin Castrol LM grease WD40 with long nozzlelkg tine Tricholethyene cleaner/ 2kg misc nuts and boltstyre buffer Pop rivetsPop-riveter G-clampSheet metal nibblerElectric connectors Insulation tape, plastic, 3rlsHermetite Gold sealer 3 tubes Bostik No IAraldite Rapid Electric wireAraldite Normal MagnetJubilee clips (0.5, 1.5, 2, 4in) Drills 3/32-32/8) chisel,centre-pop.Spare bulbs: Stop/tail 5/21 w x 2, indicators and reversing 21 w x 2, day-notice lights 21 wquartz x 1, side light x 1, interior festoon 6w x 1, interior bulb 10w x 1

Box 17 x 15 x 6in3 Michelin 16J9 7.50 x 16 tubes Tyre inflator hose (glovecmp )Tip-Top tube patches lOx No5, 30x No 3 Emery paper, wet and dry250ml Tip- Top Vulc fluid (for tubes) Tip- Top cover repairs 10RX50

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (53)

Desert Expeditions 53

1 litre Tip- Top repair filler A & B 250ml Tip- Top specialcementRoughners, bent rasp, buff (for covers)Michelin rubber lube grease 250ml Tip- Top SpecialbondValve caps (Glove compartment) (filler adhesive)2 tins Lockhead Universal 329 hyd fluid 5 Schrader valve coresPlastic padding ( I hard, 1 elastic) 3 x 18in tyre levers12vDC soldering iron Holts fibreglass repair kit2 tubes Dukhams Palmit with Cataloy

Other tools etc, not boxed:Workshop manual and parts book, owners manual2 tool bags with tool * 1 set sockets (AF, Whit,Metric)2in vice and clamp Metric spannersJerry can dipsticks Syphoning tube for auxfuel tankSpare elastic cord/hooks Shears, files, smallhacksawRadiator sealant (Gloves compartment) (in tool bag)4in x 48in 18swg alloy -4 strips Distilled waterRoll lashing tape 2in Palmit (glove comptmt)Second jack Spare ign keys (in officekit)Inspection lamp (fluorescent) Spare door key (taped toveh)Torch Wood blacks for jacking -2Footpump Grease gunPlastic syphon for oil + Everready Motormatelamp2 gall steel can for engine oil

Recovery gear2 x shovels 2 x 5.5ft aluminium sandCapstan winch laddersTowing rope and shackles 50m winch rope

* Comprise normal comprehensive owner-mechanic toolkit evolved for the vehicle

+ Available from ships chandlers. Invaluable for filling gearboxes with combinedlevel/filler plugs.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (54)

Desert Expeditions 54


9.1 CATEGORIESMost modifications fall into three categories and it helps to consider them in this light whendeciding what, if anything, needs to be done to the vehicle on which an expedition is based.

Vehicle Function. Modifications to safeguard and enhance the performance of the vehicle.

Crew Function. Ditto for the crew -generally these affect crew comfort.

Expedition Function. Special fitments related to the role of the expedition, mounting of specialinstruments, tie-downs for equipment, lockable compartments etc.

9.2 VEHICLE FUNCTION MODIFICATIONSThese will vary widely according to the vehicle, the terrain over which it will be used and the timeof the year it will be operating. Based on an average UK-based Land Rover, the following list willreadily read across to other vehicles from 4x2 pickups to a 4-ton Bedford truck.

9.2.1 Oil Temperature Gauge and Oil Cooler. The former is essential, the latter less so -provided the vehicle is stopped to cool when the oil temperature is high. Remember an oil cooleronly cools engine oil; transmission oil gets very hot too so some thought must be given to thiswhen driving.

9.2.2 Air Filter. Requirements differ with vehicles. The basic oil bath filter on a Land Rover isexcellent. The latest large paper element type is even better. A raised intake pipe with ‘top-hat’swirl separator on top can be added for exceptional conditions of dust. Look at each vehicle forstrengths and weaknesses here -e.g. the unbelievable wheel-arch air intake on the standard I-tonnemilitary Land Rover (easily modified to inhale via the battery compartment) or the forward-pointing intake snout in a Range Rover (modified with Land Rover swirl separator over anextension on the end).

9.2.3 Petrol Filter. Many vehicles already have one. If without, consider fitting one with arenewable element such as fitted to the Range Rover .

9.2.4 Ignition Contact Breakers. On the Rover V8 engine these are short lived even in the UK.With powdered dust on desert tracks they are much worse due to attraction of the dust into thedistributor head; the same problem affects many vehicles. Contactless electronic ignition is highlyrecommended. The Lumenition system has worked faultlessly on a Range Rover over some 12,000miles and engine timing is maintained throughout.

9.2.5 Fan. In the writers experience add-on electric radiator cooling fans such as the Kenlowe notonly perform inadequately in really demanding conditions but the mounting can come loose oncorrugated tracks and put the fan into the radiator core. Some vehicle manufacturers offer a fanwith more blades for hot climate use; this is far the best bet. Most standard fans are perfectlyadequate.

9.2.6 Battery Master Switch. This involves heavy cabling but is a useful safety (and anti- theft)device in the event of electrical fires. Potential faults in old vehicles seem to be brought to a headby dry, desert operations. The writer has experienced three electrical fires in Land Rovers on desertexpeditions -saved in two cases by the battery master switch Build standard and electrics on post-1983 Land Rovers is enormously improved; more fuses are provided too so a battery master switchis not essential for safety.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (55)

Desert Expeditions 55

9.2.7 Tachometer. Not in the luxury class it may seem, but useful for a sensitive driver to avoidover-revving and, surprisingly, under-revving by slogging too long in too high a gear.

9.2.8 Sump Guard. Not necessary on Land or Range Rovers because the axle casing protects theengine sump but it may be useful on some 4x2 vehicles to guard against rock damage. It is essentialto consider sump cooling before fitting one since ambient air over the sump is usually the only wayengine oil is cooled. Perforations in the guard or a duct to funnel air between it and the sump maybe solutions. Fit an oil temperature gauge as well anyway.

9.2.9 Fuel Tank Protector. Aft-mounted fuel tanks (Range Rover, 6 cyl Land Rover and manypick-ups) can be very vulnerable to tail-down bumps resulting from thoughtless driving up steepbanks. Some manufacturers (e.g. Rover) provide a tank guard as an option. They are rather heavybut are worthwhile.

9.2.10 Propeller Shaft Gaiters. The sliding joint of a prop shaft is very prone to up dust stickingto grease after extension -happening all the time on undulating tracks. Spline wear and shaftvibration develop quickly unless a concertina gaiter is fitted between the two parts to exclude dustand mud. Standard option on Rovers; the same gaiter would fit many other vehicles.

9.2.11 Tracta-Joint Gaiters. The steering swivels on all Rover and Bedford models are vulnerableto dust and sand sticking to or getting under the wiper seals. Leather gaiters are available forRovers and can be made for other vehicles.

9.2.12 Tyres. As mentioned elsewhere in these lecture notes, the Michelin XS is the best deserttyre made -by reason of its radial construction, and brilliantly conceived tread pattern. Regrettablythey are not available in a wide variety of sizes but a small degree of oversize fitting is acceptable -e.g. fitting the 7.50 x 16 onto a Range Rover or short wheelbase Land Rover. In the former case thebody panels at the wheel arch will have to be trimmed back. Oversize tyres cannot be fitted to allvehicles with impunity as they will affect the torque loading on the transmission (and thus itsfatigue life) as well as the overall gearing of the vehicle -including the accuracy of the odometer(see notes on Navigation). If an XS tyre is not available, a radial tyre with a moderate tread profile- i.e. not a ‘knobbly’ -is preferable to a crossply. Sidewalls on radial tyres are thin and thusvulnerable to rock damage and careless driving. Driving must be adjusted accordingly and a‘sidewall awareness’ developed.

9.2.13 Roll-Over Bar. If vehicles such as Land Rovers are used ‘topless’, with windscreens etcremoved to save weight, then fitting a roll-over bar is a wise precaution. Steel tube of about 2indiameter should be used. It is essential that it is adequately anchored to a strong point on the body(or chassis) and that it is stressed to take impact from the front as well as from the side. (see AnnexC).

9.3 CREW FUNCTION MODIFICATIONSThese are mostly aimed at crew comfort and habitability of the cab:

9.3.1 Ventilated Seat Backs. Few production vehicle seats are sufficiently ventile to avoid sweatydiscomfort in hot climates, though fabric upholstery on more up to date vehicles helps enormously.Seat/back pads of plastic mesh and sprung wire can be bought and ensure .75in of air between theseat and occupant. Alternatively some of the thick sheepskin-type seat covers are also effective.

9.3.2 Extra Floor Insulation. Effective against noise and heat (especially in Land Rovers) is .Sinfelt or the special under floor material offered by car interior silencing firms.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (56)

Desert Expeditions 56

9.3.3 Double Roof. If a hard-top Land Rover is used, a double roof is very worthwhile. Even withone fitted the interior temperature will be very high for most of the day. A similar solar shield, withair gap, is worth considering for any metal-top vehicle.

9.3.4 Extra Ventilation. Van roof ventilators with opening flaps are worth considering for anymetal-top vehicle. If workshop facilities permit, a top-of-the-windscreen scoop can be devised toduct face-level air to the interior through eyeball vents. On Land Rovers the side windows areeasily removed by undoing two nuts. (See para 4h and Annex A).

9.3.5 Interior Lights. Caravan-type fluorescent tube interior lights are invaluable, especially onenear the back door/hatchback of a vehicle to use as a camping and cooking light.

9.4 EXPEDITION FUNCTION MODIFICATIONSA complete list of these modifications is impossible without reference to the exact nature of theexpedition. The following will be common to most:

9.4.1 Sand-Ladder and Shovel Racks. External mounts with over-centre clips afford readyaccess, easy shedding of residual sand when re-stowed and, with bicycle locking chains,straightforward security in inhabited regions.

9.4.2 Winch. Most winches are heavy, expensive and suited more to mud recovery than desertboggings. In general better to do without and (see notes on Driving and Recovery) use sand-laddersor towed recovery.

9.4.3 Internal Tie-Down Cleats. Lashing down the vehicle load is essential to avoid damage tovehicle and equipment. Loading up the day before departure will not do; a detailed loading planmust be made (main weight forward) and appropriate tie-downs and strapping worked out. Lashingcleats are available on the Land Rover parts list.

9.4.4 Cash/Valuables Box. A standard office cash box bolted under the bonnet with boltsaccessible only from inside the box is a valuable modification.

9.4.5 Special Equipment Mountings. Careful thought must precede the loading of valuable ordelicate expedition equipment such as gravimeter, theodolites, radios, cine cameras etc. The mid-wheelbase point gives the gentlest ride so this region, if possible, should be chosen for mountings.Anti-vibration mounts (Govt-surplus instrument/radio shops will have them) can be used butbeware rubber-only mountings; without the essential damping such mounts can actually giveequipment a rougher ride than being bolted direct to the floor. If in doubt, a light plywood box withsmall poly the ne bags full of polystyrene chips or pellets will give a cushioned and reasonably welldamped ride to delicate equipment.

9.4.6 Jerry-Can Mountings/Roofracks. These are almost invariably a symptom of trying tosqueeze quarts into pint pots -since their adoption usually means the vehicle maximum designweight (GVW) is being exceeded -external jerry can mountings and roofracks should be avoided inany serious expedition. Firstly the GVW must never be exceeded, secondly the aim must be to keepthe load within the wheelbase thus keeping pitching and rolling moments low and within theroutine capability of the shock dampers. Where the vehicle has a low-density load inside on seats -such as people -and a roofrack load can still overall keep within GVW, then it may be acceptable.Or where the main load is bulky and not too dense, very light bulky items such as sleeping bags orempty cans can go on the roof. Provided there are at least two or three people in the vehicle, atrailer is a better solution than external racks. (See Notes on Vehicles for Desert Terrain).

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (57)

Desert Expeditions 57

9.4.7 Moveable Spotlight A scuttle- or windscreen-pillar-mounted spotlight (or the currentlyavailable plug-in quartz iodine handlamp) is invaluable when caught out trying to find a camp siteafter dark and for general camp use.

9.4.8 Pre 1984 Land Rover External Window Stowage. Having removed the door windows on aLand Rover for extra ventilation, stowing them can be a problem. This can be achieved using theoutside of the door panel as a rack. (See Annex A).

9.4.9 Dibs-Mirror. (See Notes on Navigation -Annex B and pg. 69). Requires thought and care ifthe ability to reflect the sun onto the ground ahead of the vehicle with the sun in any position is tobe achieved. Most demanding is when the sun is near to setting in a 7 o’clock position to the driver-also a set of conditions where a DIBS-mirror can be most needed. A single-arm door-pillar mirror(flat) off a large van or light truck is the best starting point.

9.4.10 Sun Compass Mounting. Demanding again since visibility by the driver must be achievedas well as easy on-the-move access for re-setting the shadow marker. Additionally the compassmust be free from interference from the shadows of other equipment - including the crew (SeeAnnex B).

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (58)

Desert Expeditions 58

Annex A (Vehicle Mods Notes)


Diagram shows stowage for Land Rover windows, removed for better ventilation, on a ‘take along’basis.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (59)

Desert Expeditions 59

Annex B (Vehicle Mods Notes)


Sun compass mounting – close to the ideal – shown on the 1-tonne military Land Rover. Visibilityis good for both driver and passenger.

Use and mounting of a sun compass – on any vehicle – is greatly enhanced by removal ofwindscreen

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (60)

Desert Expeditions 60

Annex C (Vehicle Mods Notes)


Roll-over bar shown on US ‘recreation vehicle’ CJ5 Jeep illustrates well the principle of fore-and-aft bracing as well as lateral strength. Installation is a wise precaution in any vehicle to be usedwith upper bodywork removed to aid visibility and save weight. Compare with roll-over bar shownin Anne B which, though amply strong in roll, is inadequately braced for-and-aft.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (61)

Desert Expeditions 61


10.1 GENERAL PHILOSOPHYThese notes are not written by a doctor. They give a practical and limited ‘user view’ of expeditionmedicine as applied to desert environments. It is important that medical knowledge is regarded inthe same light as any other specialisation in an expedition context, that it be stripped of itsmystique, that it be approached with the proper thirst for knowledge and humble regard for truththat makes any subject the slave of ordinary logic and what we regard as common-sense. Again, aswith any other subject, the ‘student’ must, in his worship of Truth, be alert always to what he doesnot know. The reference books listed in the bibliography, treat medicine in just such a light and theexpeditioner is spared the ‘you would not understand’ approach luckily becoming less prevalent inthe medical profession these days.

Desert expedition medical problems are likely to fall into the following categories:

Heat/water-balance related problems.Gastro intestinal problems.Stress.Normal medical problems -little different from those manifest anywhere else.

These notes are naturally limited in scope; they will deal mainly with first-handexperiences with some referenced information included as well.

10.2 HEAT AND WATER-BALANCED RELATED PROBLEMSA basic appreciation of the physics of heat transfer and the phenomenon of cooling by evaporationis a great help in appreciating nearly all aspects of heat and water-balance related problems.

Steaming soup in a large soup plate will cool more quickly than in a jug because there is a largersurface area from which evaporative cooling can take place. Water (steam) is lost in theevaporation process. The human body uses a porous skin and evaporative cooling (sweating) tokeep cool (i.e. to maintain a constant 36.9oC body temperature in the face of what would otherwisebe a heat build-up due to energy expenditure); in doing so, water is used. The greater the amount ofheat to be shifted (or the more energy expenditure during the heat of the day) the greater the loss ofwater. If the ambient temperature is above the body temperature then, to prevent body temperaturefrom rising, water is lost through evaporative cooling even when standing still. In any emergencywhich becomes a matter of survival, there will almost invariably be a water shortage too so itsconservation is vital; extracting a severely bogged vehicle will cost less water if the work is donepre-dawn (the sand is firmer then anyway); any walk for help should be done at night, resting in theshade during the day; loose, long sleeved shirts and trousers will allow enough evaporative coolingbut not lead to the wasteful loss that shirtless bodies in low desert humidities incur. Remember theslow steady work rate of desert dwellers and the slightly more humid and therefore evaporation-limiting ‘micro- climate’ with which their loose robes surround them.

In temperatures over about 42oC high winds, sand storms or riding shirtless in a fast movingvehicle will promote high heat-gain by the human body from the air through conduction (contactwith hotter substance, like putting a kettle on an electric hot-plate); considerable and excessivewater loss will result from combating this thermal onslaught and clothing must be donned to limitthe heat-gain. This is the opposite of the wind- chill factor so well known in winter survival but isavoided by the same means - insulation. The difficulty in detecting excessive sweating is that, inthe exceptionally low humidities prevailing in true desert, sweat evaporates instantly and the skinappears to remain dry all the time -unlike the sweat-soaked shirt and streaming face that manifestsitself in hot-wet jungles.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (62)

Desert Expeditions 62

In survival conditions, remaining in the shade and limiting heat-load by use of light colouredclothing, hat and possibly an aluminised ‘space blanket’ shelter will also reduce the amount of heattransfer the body has to combat by evaporative cooling. A ‘space blanket’ will be found a usefulaid in general camping as well.

The simple relationship, covered in the above paragraphs, between heat -be it ambienttemperatures, workload-induced or a combination of both -and the human body’s waterrequirement now makes the mechanics of heat and water- balance disorders easy to understand.The pure laws of physics determine that a body (human) of given mass, subject to a given heatload, will, in order to maintain a constant 36.9oC, have to receive a certain amount of cooling -nomore and no less.

Nature being what it is, the human body is equipped with a supremely elegant thermo- regulatoryapparatus that gives different areas of the body different capacities for heat transfer and thenarranges to switch sweating on and off until precisely the right body temperature is achieved.Deprive the body of this apparatus (by working in a rubber suit or not replacing water sweated out)and you invite trouble. There is thus no such thing as a ‘tough guy’ who can do this with less waterthan anyone else; if your water balance drops then, in general and in time, symptoms ofdehydration will manifest themselves.Normally the order is roughly:

ThirstHeadachesDark coloured urineExtreme fatigueNauseaDizzinessCessation of sweating and rise in body temperature -i.e. thermo regulatory failure.

This latter is frequently the end of the line and may have been preceded or accompanied bydifficulty of breathing, inability to walk etc. (Refs A and D).

The simple remedy for this kind of dehydration is drinking water and stopping the heat load (i.e.cease working, rest in the shade, etc). It may be necessary in extreme cases such as thermoregulatory failure to arrange artificial ‘sweating’ -evaporative cooling of the body by wetting theclothes with water; this is very effective in dry deserts though it uses a lot of water.

The simple remedy, however, is not so simple if the dehydration is partly or entirely due to gastrointestinal disorders that have caused water loss through vomiting and/or . diarrhoea. In this case thepatient frequently cannot keep water down and the only way to re-hydration is administering anintravenous drip. The speed and effectiveness of this as a remedy borders, to unfamiliar eyes, onthe miraculous and a 20 minute transition from unconsciousness to weak joke cracking has beenobserved in at least one patient. It is advisable therefore, for two or more members of an expeditionto be able to insert a saline drip and for appropriate packs to be taken. (Steraflex).

The aim, in normal expedition activities, since your body will be coping with plenty else besides, isthus to maintain full normal water balance. The best guide to this is the frequency and colour ofurination; if these are normal then you will be safe. In general "little and often" drinking from yourown regularly topped-up water bottle is the best way to achieve this.

In survival situations (Refs A and D) it is permissible to reduce water balance by 1 to 2 litres (i.e. amoderately severe sensation of thirst but not too much impairment of overall efficiency) and thendrink at the rate at which sweating is taking place. In this way, every drop of water will be put to

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (63)

Desert Expeditions 63

good use and this risk of wastage by possibly excessive drinking followed by too-free urination orsweating will be avoided.

It takes five days or so to acclimatise to a hot climate (i.e. for the thermo regulatory. mechanism toadjust -Ref A). Once this has been achieved, acute awareness of the symptoms of dehydration mustbe inculcated into the whole expedition team and the need to avoid them accepted. Thirst alone israrely the most reliable guide to water balance; sometimes thirst will be quenched before full waterbalance is achieved.

Some typical consumption rates for water are given in the Notes on Fuel, Water and Food (pg. 15).At Annex A tables give water balance requirements on a rest-in-the- shade basis and also expectedsurvival times and walk-out distances on given quantities of water (Ref D).

Sweat contains salt and a lot of sweating will cause salt deficiency unless an appropriate eye is kepton intake. This is best taken as extra table salt with food. This is particularly important during thefirst week when heat adjustment takes place. Salt tablets are unreliable because they often are notdissolved in the stomach and the gut and pass unchanged in the motions. In some people they alsocause vomiting. Table salt is both cheaper and more effective. You will find that even largeamounts of salt are very palatable in a hot climate.

10.3 GASTRO INTESTINAL DISORDERSAs with water depletion and heat load disorders, so with gastro-intestinal problems; prevention isbetter than cure. And as with heat/water balance disorders the subject cannot completely becovered in notes such as these.

10.3.1 Prevention. In general, desert conditions are extremely healthy and the most usual places topick up gastro-intestinal disorders are inhabited areas where hygiene is poor and the fliesproliferate. Precautions are obvious, as they are in the conduct of normal camp duties, especiallyaround the ‘kitchen’. Thorough washing-up and cleaning of utensils is important also becauseremnants of food on them will attract flies.

10.3.2 Treatment. Most of the agony caused by severe diarrhoea is due to loss of potassium saltfrom the bowel. Slow-K (Ciba) is a valuable source of additional potassium, as is orange or lemonjuice concentrate if you have it available, for instance in tins. If you start getting diarrhoea youshould immediately try to stop it, for the fluid loss and potassium loss can be considerable. Severalmedicaments may be effective. Codeine phosphate 30mg tablets 2 at once and 2 every four hoursuntil you seize up have been shown to be more effective than Lomotil (diphenoxylatehydrochloride) or Imodium (Ioperamide hydrochloride). If you prefer to take Lomotil take 2 tabletsat once and one tablet every 6 hours until the diarrhoea is controlled. If you like Imodium take 2capsules at once and one after each loose stool until the diarrhoea is controlled. Do not take morethan 8 capsules a day. Tincture of opium is very effective; 10-20 drops will control even thefiercest diarrhoea but it makes a mess if the container breaks. Kaolin and Kaolin and Morphia arebetter avoided.

Note: Typhoid and paratyphoid do not as a rule present as diarrhoea but with a fever andusually constipation and a headache and dry cough. There is no virtue in takingprophylactic antibiotics of any kind to try and ward off infection. Entero-vioform should beavoided at all costs. Controlled trials have shown that it makes no difference on theincidence of diarrhoea and in some unfortunate individuals there is severe damage to theirnervous system.

10.3.3 Constipation. This is a virtually standard problem on desert expeditions mainly due to thesmall intake of food, low residue diet, lack of roughage, and high water absorption due to high

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (64)

Desert Expeditions 64

ambient temperature. Again prevention is vastly preferable to cure. Whilst inclusion of largeamounts of tinned fruit in the diet helps, a breakfast cereal such as All Bran is a reliable means ofavoiding problems. Dulcolax tablets appear to be a non habit-forming cure.

10.4 STRESSLittle can be said here about this except to remind you firstly that stress will be present andsecondly that it can have tangible effects on health even apart from those expected such as mood,irritability, etc. Appetite, digestion, headaches, migraine and extreme fatigue are among thoseobserved as was the resumption of long given-up smoking by some.

10.5 ROUTINE MEDICAL PROBLEMSSpecial-to-desert disorders can include:

10.5.1 Sore Eyes. Goggles, sunglasses, and ample supplies of eye drops such as Murine should betaken. Irritation due to dust, very dry air and sometimes from infection or sties can occur .

10.5.2 Colds, Catarrh, Sore Throats. A frequent complaint in the early stages of a desertexpedition. Take plenty of your favourite throat tablets, e.g. Macs, Strepsils.

10.5.3 Boils and Sties. Frequently encountered after some weeks in the field. A burst of antibioticswill cure.

10.5.4 Sunburn. Despite constant warnings, the average Caucasian is drawn irresistibly andinevitably to at least an initial dose of excessive sunburn. Desert sun has a far higher UV contentthan European sun due to very clear skies and high sun angle and is also reflected from the lightdesert surface; both these help achieve this initial ration of pain and peeling with extraordinaryspeed. Long sleeved shirts and really effective sun oils should be used. Among other effectiveultraviolet light barrier creams is Uvistat. It is important to remember that the lips can get verysunburnt and the makers of Uvistat produce a special lipsalve which is effective. If you have gotseverely burnt an appropriate corticosteroid cream will, if applied early, remove much of theagony.

10.5.5 Seasickness. Worth taking precautions against on the Mediterranean ferries in order topreserve the required energy for getting through customs and immigration.

10.5.6 Burns. Accidents from cooking stoves or hot exhaust pipes can happen and appropriatemedical kit provision is wise.

10.5.7 Accidents, Aid To Local Population. Always be prepared for the necessity of helping outat the scene of motor accidents possibly not associated with the expedition. There will always belocal population and desert dwellers seeking medical help which even small expeditions are wellable to give. The most commonly sought help concerns:

Eye infections -especially in childrenEar infections -" " "Small cuts and sores that will not healHeadachesFevers -could be Malarial in travellers from the South. Many seek Nivaquin.

An example of a recently used medical kit is at Annex B.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (65)

Desert Expeditions 65

10.6 REFERENCESA. Exploration Medicine, edited by Edholm and Bacarach, published by John Wright and

Sons, Bristol, 1965.B. Preservation of Personal Health in Warm Climates, Published by The Ross Institute of

Tropical Hygiene, 1973.C. Some Notes on Expedition and Mountain Medicine by R N Illingworth, published by

Expedition Advisory Centre.D. Desert Survival -PAM(AIR)225 published by the Ministry of Defence, 1975.E. The Traveller’s Health Guide by Dr. Anthony C. Turner, published by Brathay Hall

Trust, Cumbria, England, 1978.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (66)

Desert Expeditions 66

Annex A (Medical and Survival Notes)


(NB Typical normal water consumption rates are given in Notes on Fuel, Water and Food)

WATER BALANCE -REST CONDITIONSThe table below is of use when planning the logistics of a situation where maintenance of waterbalance -and thus full mental and physical efficiency - is required:


Max daily temp 0C Litres per 24 hours43 5.338 2.433 1.228 and below 1.0




1. Resting in shade at all times

Max dailyshade 0C


Total available water per man – litres

0 1 2 4 10 20

2.5 2.5 2.5 3 3.5 4.53 3 3.5 4 4.5 74.5 5 5.5 6.5 8.5 127 8 8.5 10 14 209.5 10.5 11.5 13 19 3011 12 13.5 15.5 22.5 34.512 13 14 16.5 23.5 36.5

2. Walking only at night andresting in the shade by day(approx distance walked shown inbrackets – kms)


Total available water per man – litres

0 1 2 4 10

1(40) 2(40) 2(48) 2.5(56) 3.5(64)2(40) 2(40) 2.5(48) 3(56) 3.5(64)3(40) 3.5(40) 3.5(48) 4(56) 5(72)4.5(48) 5(48) 5(56) 6.5(72) 7.5(88)7(65) 7.5(70) 8(78) 9(100) 11(112)8.5(83) 9(91) 10(105) 11.5(125 14(160)9(90) 9.5(98) 10.5(130) 12.5(175) 15.5(225)

Note the use of the term ‘survival’ -the person’s condition toward the end of the periods indicatedwould be extremely serious.Tables based on information in UK Ministry of Defence (RAF) pamphlet PAM(Air)225-Desert Survival. See also Exploration Medicine by Edholm and Bacharach, published by JohnWright & Sons, Bristol, 1965.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (67)

Desert Expeditions 67

Annex B (Medical and Survival Notes)


An example of recently used medical kit for a one-man expedition is shown below:

Medical Kits

Box 1, Steel Ammo Box, rubber seals, 10in x 7in x 3.5in250ml Savlon 1 x 3in crepe bandage 5yds3 medicated lint dressings 2 x 3in crepe bandages 4yds4 Steri-strips (pkts of 5 9 disposable syringes & needles

suture grips)10 hypodermic syringeSterile burn glove4 x 2ml ampoules Maxolon (anti-emetic)15 medi-swabs10 x 2ml ampoules Fortral (pain)5 medi-prep swab25 SenokotMurine Eye Drops15gm Cictrin anti-biotic powder in ‘puffer’30 tabs Septrin anti-biotic15 tabs FortralTetracycline eye ointment5 tabs Dexedrine25 Tabs Paracetamol100 tabs DistalgesicDixarit/Valium (migraine)Clinical thermometerMisc Elastoplast airstrip*HP67 magnetic programme cardsTube Brulidine (anti-magnetic storage)16 tabs Magnapen oral penicillin

Box 2, Steel Ammo Box, rubber seals, 10in x 7in x 3.25in100 Lomotil3m plastic adhesive strapping25gm cotton wool50ml 2% tinc iodine (Also for water purification)50gm tube Uvistat100gm Metamucil4 Gilette scalpelsSpare clinical thermometerTablets for dysentery**3 lipsalves.

Books: Exploration MedicineRost Inst Health in Warm ClimatesTravellers Guide to HealthDesert Survival PAM (air) 225

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (68)

Desert Expeditions 68

Quick-access medicines in personal kitIn polybag: Evasun 5 sunoil

Boots insect repellant sprayMurine Eye DropsAvomine travel sickness tabsLomotilSenokotPuritabsNivaquin

** For amoebic dysentry: either metromidazole (Flagyl) or mepacrine

For diarrhoea: Codeine phosphate 30mg tabs are unsurpassed

* Have some micropore dressing strips as well (many people are allergic to ordinarytzinc oxidet dressing strips)

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (69)

Desert Expeditions 69


11.1 CONSTITUENTSThe constituents of effective navigation in desert regions, listed in ascending order from the mostfundamental to the most esoteric are:

1. A meticulous, even perfectionist, navigator who worships at the altar of Truth rather than thealtar of convenient results.

2. Maps, a compass and binoculars.3. A vehicle odometer of known accuracy.4. A navigation log.5. A theodolite, accurate time source and appropriate means of calculating astro fixes.6. Satellite navigation equipment.

The ingredients are also listed in order of importance; numbers one through four are necessary forall types of navigation in desert regions.

11.2 APPLICATIONNavigation methods and equipment requirements will vary according to terrain and whether on oroff tarmac or tracks. Type delineation as follows:

On Tarmac. Ingredients 1 to 4 above required -though compass will likely not be necessary all thetime.On Tracks. Ingredients 1 to 4 above required. Resist the temptation to believe you are on the righttrack; always monitor your general heading on the compass and cross- check with map.Off Tracks. Cross-Country. For up to 100 miles of not-too-difficult going ingredients 1 to 4 maysuffice provided a sun compass or very painstaking use of the magnetic compass is applied (i.e. allreadings taken well away from vehicle). For distances greater than this the accumulated possibleerrors of this kind of navigation really demand ingredients S or 6 to achieve independent positionfixing once a day. These are generalisations that vary according to the complexity of the terrain, theroute taken, the objective to be found and the competence of the navigator .

11.3 INGREDIENTS OF DEAD RECKONING NAVIGATIONThere is not scope within this course to cover in practical detail advanced forms of desertnavigation, use of sun compass, or independent position fixing aids. There remains, however, muchthat can be applied to enhance general navigation accuracy and the following notes may be of help.

11.3.1 Navigation Log. Essential for any map reading or navigation in desert regions -on or offroads or tracks -is the navigation log. The navigation log is physically no more than anappropriately ruled (See Annex A) spiral bound shorthand pad (so that pages fold back onthemselves). Its purpose is to record time, odometer readings, headings, bearings of landmarks orany significant navigation feature such as a branch or intersection of a track, a distant village orhill, a well, a vehicle seen from which you may later require help. Apart from being an invaluablerecord of your journey it has two main applications and a third important one:

Basis of Estimated Position. Record from which DR position is deduced -See Annex A.

Re-Appraisal of Position. Frequently, when you are on what you think is a well definedtrack to your planned destination you will find that the track peters out or takes up a heading wildlydifferent from that required. Knowledge of previously encountered branches in the track orlandmarks, together with knowledge of how far back down the track they were, can indicate whereyou may have taken the wrong turning or jumped to the wrong conclusion about your route.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (70)

Desert Expeditions 70

Nothing compares to the alarm and sinking feeling of knowing something has gone wrong with thenavigation; a well kept navigation log will keep you out of trouble.

Rescue. Noting where other vehicles, villages, settlements or wells were last seen is vital if facedwith a sudden accident or breakdown. Feasible walking distances, visibility of rescue flares,decision on whether to go on or go back can be accurately based on a good navigation log.

11.3.2 Mini Tape Recorder. Because of the difficulty of writing the navigation log in a bumpingvehicle, enroute details can be recorded on pocket tape recorders such as the Olympus Pearlcorder,the Philips 0095 or the Sony note-takers. They can be protected from dust by wrapping in apolythene bag with elastic bands. Controls and microphones can still be operated through thepolythene. The written log is then transcribed at convenient halts or in the evening.

11.3.3 Magnetic Compass. Despite its simplicity the magnetic compass can be misused.Important reminders:

Aiming. Use a prismatic or accurately aimable compass, preferably fluid damped. Put the hairlineprecisely on the objective.

Ferrous Metal Influences. Use the compass well away from your vehicle (10 metres). Ensure noother ferrous metal influences -items in your pockets and the most easily forgotten, steel framedspectacles or metal hat-badges.

Needle Pivot. A ‘sticky’ or worn needle pivot can often go unnoticed. When accurately lined up onyour objective move your line of sight first left then right by about 3° and check the needle doesrespond. Re-align your aim and then take your reading. Store your compass where it gets a gentleride.

Magnetic Variation. Variation (the difference between true and Magnetic north) must be applied toall readings. It varies for given areas year to year. Ascertain value before leaving UK; Directorateof Overseas Surveyor sellers of aeronautical maps will know the up to date figures. When you getto your region of operations, the local aerodrome (if there is one) will know the value. If you have atheodolite you will be able to ascertain magnetic variation yourself by reference to (true) starazimuth. (Leave the theodolite on the known azimuth of your last star shot and align the horizontaldegrees scale accordingly. Next morning compare theodolite and compass bearings of a givendistant object).

Quartz Watches. Analogue watches (those with hands) running off a quartz movement generate aquite powerful magnetic field. Insidious and dangerous errors from wrist worn watches affectinghand-held compasses have been found. Whatever your watch, check its effect, remove it if in anydoubt.

Vehicle Mounted Compass. Despite ‘correction magnets’, a compass mounted in a vehicle is ofdubious if not dangerous reliability for desert navigation. The fascia/windscreen/scuttle area,normally used for mounting a vehicle compass is a region of magnetic turmoil in the vehicle -alsorandomly affected by electrical services in use, contents gauges etc. to say nothing of the ferrousload on the vehicle. Bump, sway and acceleration errors further increase unreliability andimpracticality.

11.3.4 Sun Compass. Tantalising to write about since sun compasses are not available to buy.An ex-WW2 Coles, if obtainable, is ideal for desert use, giving on-the-move readings, immunefrom magnetic errors, accurate to 10. Beware levelling errors when used on vehicles with self-

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (71)

Desert Expeditions 71

levelling suspension such as current Range Rovers and some Land Rovers. (For mounting seeNotes on Vehicle Modification, Annex B.)

11.3.5 Distance Measurement. A trip speedometer, preferably in kilometre calibration (withtenths) is recommended. For vehicles with Smiths speedometers, Smiths will calibrate yourinstrument on the tyres you propose using if you take your vehicle to their north London factory. Itis important to know the percentage error inherent in your vehicle. It is often possible to have thisresidual error eliminated; Smiths can put you in touch with firms that do the work.

11.3.6 Dead Reckoning. Measurement of heading and distance as indicated above are theingredients of Dead Reckoning navigation. Travel north 10km, then east 10km then south 10km. Ifyou deduce that your starting point is now 10km to the west you have just -if you have not done itbefore -carried out your first piece of Dead Reckoning (DR) navigation. A log of heading anddistance-on-heading can, when plotted geometrically, yield your present position as a bearing anddistance from your start point. It can be done on a pocket calculator as well. DR navigation is thebasis of the on- and off- tracks methods to be used (see "Application" section above). At Annex Ais shown a typical complete navigation log and the subsequent DR plot resulting from it. Theextraction of heading and leg (distance-on-heading) will be clear from the diagram -i.e. fromGravity Station 74 the vehicles set off on heading of 105°, the odometer reading being 80.8; thisheading was held for 5.8km; next heading was 070°, which was taken up at an odometer reading of86.6km; that heading was held for 4.3km, etc.

11.4 INDEPENDENT FIXING -ASTROA nightly position fix derived from astro (star) shots and thus independent of any accumulated DRnavigation error is highly desirable in any poorly mapped areas, where track alignment is doubtfulor in regions away from tracks (see " Application" page 65). It is essential for mapping of any kindand (see "Magnetic Compass", Magnetic Variation, Page 66) is also a means of determiningmagnetic variation accurately.

Equipment required would be:

Theodolite (T2 grade -accurate to +/- 1in)Tripod (special heavyweight for theodolites)Astro tables -almanac and marine sight reduction tables.Blank plotting charts 1:.5m for appropriate latitudesQuartz time Source, calibrated, and SW radio for time check.

Position fixing to better than +/ -300m is feasible with care. Highly recommended is aprogrammable pocket calculator such as the Hewlett Packard HP67 in which, by use of a magneticcard containing the appropriate programme, completely accurate reduction of the astro shot can bedone without the time consuming and error-prone use of tables. Learning the necessary skills(including star identification) for really reliable use of theodolite to produce consistently accuratefixes cannot be done over a weekend. The School of Military Survey course for ‘crude’ use of atheodolite for desert navigation is two weeks. Practice, taking fixes from precisely known spots, isessential and that, bearing in mind the need for clear night sky in UK with no cloud, makes the totallearning time even longer. The equipment listed above will weigh just about 50 1bs and, especiallywithout the HP67, the fixing will be a time consuming process -1-1.5 hours per night minimum onaverage with a fairly experienced operator. Buying price, new, would be about £3,000 so in mostcases hiring or borrowing would be the aim. Ex-RAF bubble sextants are crude, unreliable andrandomly inaccurate in desert conditions -Le. heat, dust and vibration -despite reasonableperformance at home.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (72)

Desert Expeditions 72

11.5 INDEPENDENT FIXING -SATELLITE NAVIGATIONLike astro in that it is independent of accumulated DR errors, satellite navigation, Le. position fixesderived from each of the five US ‘Transit’ satellites, has exciting possibilities for expedition use. Ithas special application and enormous potential for advanced navigation or basic mapping off -tracks or in open desert. Operating skills are minimal, fixing is automatic and to accuracies of about+/ -100m, size weight and cost are down significantly on theodolite equipment and day /night fixesindependent of clear skies are routinely possible. The rate of development of any equipment basedon microcomputers is breathtaking and the following comments should be noted as written inSummer 1983 and amended in Spring 1988. Points of operational interest and comments relative tothe Magnavox MX4102 and 6102 equipment are:

11.5.1 Size, Weight, Cost, Current. About 30cm square and 8cm deep, the MX4102 weighs5.4kg; the antenna weighs 1.2kg and is 87cm long. Cost is about £2000 and power consumption12-15 watts off 10-30 volts DC. It has been run for 24 hours off a static Range Rover (withoutbattery charging); battery voltage dropped to 10.4v but this was enough to enable the engine to bestarted easily. Use overnight (say 14 hours) or during an evening halt in the field appears feasibleoff a good 57 amp. hr. battery.

11.5.2 Inputs. Required user inputs are:

Latitude/longitude to nearest degree GMT to nearest minute.

Antenna height above sea level -as accurately as possible (fix error is three times antenna heighterror, i.e. a 50m heighting error will cause a 150m fix position error). The 6102 has its ownheighting capsule.

11.5.3 Output and Time-in-Position Requirement. A transmitting satellite is received from‘rising’ to ‘setting’ a time of 12-16 minutes. Although in marine applications on-the- move fixingcan be done where constant heading and speed are held, overland use demands the vehicle bestationary for this time. Once the MX4102/6102 has been on and receiving (even on the move) itcan forecast the time-of -rise of the next 16 satellite passes. With this knowledge, the vehicle canthen be stopped when a satellite is due and a fix taken. The MX4102/6102 has to be on in order thatit can calculate the forecast passes so there is a case for keeping it switched on throughout the dayand sufficient of the evening for it to forecast the next morning passes. It’s memory is non-volatilefor more than 10 hours so it will retain information overnight. The forecast period covers up to 22hours so if, for any reason, the set has to be switched off, a note of satellite pass times before doingso will still retain the required information for the day. Output from fixes is latitude/longitude indegrees, minutes and hundredths of a minute; there is also a readout on time of fix and its quality orreason for rejection.

11.5.4 Antenna Position. Despite the ideal obstruction-free vertical mounting requirements laiddown by Magnavox (15ft from vertical obstacles, 3ft above nearest flat surface), the antenna seemsremarkably tolerant of mounting position and in fact pulled in good signals whilst lying on themetal floor of a pickup in motion on the road. In a (soft-top) Range Rover, the aerial placedvertically on the passenger seat worked well. The point is made since ostentatious or peculiarequipment of this kind invariably causes suspicion among border or other police overseas and thereis much to be said for keeping most of the equipment out of sight. A dual-position mounting wouldbe sensible -a proper , exposed vertical mounting being used in the open desert away frompopulation.

11.5.5 Heighting. A potential problem for the 4102 in remote and poorly mapped regions isheighting. Accurate knowledge of antenna height is important for accurate fixes. One way roundthis is the use of a barometer altimeter or aneroid which can be ‘anchored’ at surveyed pointsbefore leaving well-mapped areas and used thereafter to supply relative heights from whichantenna height may be deduced.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (73)

Desert Expeditions 73

11.5.6 Compass Heading and Speed Sensor Attachments. The MX4102/6102 has the MX35flux gate magnetic compass attachment available -a means of sensing the magnetic field withoutany moving parts and displaying it on the alpha-numeric read-out. The device has the means ofautomatically making corrections for magnetic variation and deviation. Combined with a specialgearbox-mounted speed sensor and properly calibrated full dead reckoning waypoint-homingfacility is available.

11.5.7 Mounting. Because its design specification is to the relatively small environmentaltemperature band of 0 to +50oC, great care must be taken to keep the equipment out of directsunlight and well ventilated. Thus the desirable mounting under the windscreen for the on-the-move reading (e.g. with the compass attachment) is ruled out. In 1987 failure through excessiveambient (48oC) and acquired temperatures (circa 65oC) was experienced on 6102.

11.6 OTHER AIDSDibs-Mirror. A large, -say 5in x 7in -flat, forward facing mirror universally mounted from thewindscreen pillar of the vehicle to reflect the sun as a spot of light onto the ground 30-50m aheadcan be of great value off-tracks in the desert as a terrain slope indicator and a direction-of-travelmarker. Its most important use is the former. In conditions of strong high sun on the smoothunbroken surface of virgin sand it is possible to drive over the edge of a dune or into a dune basewithout seeing it. The spot of light gives a point of focus on the sand. The spot disappearing ormoving up, left or right, will give advance indication of a dune edge or slope change. As a headingmarker , once the direction of travel has been established, the spot of light can be adjusted to liedead ahead and then followed. By the laws of optics applying to reflected light, deviation of thevehicle from the desired course by 50 causes the light to move through 100. (due to sun movement,of course, re-alignment of the beam must be carried out every 15 minutes). See Annex B.

Binoculars. Binoculars are invaluable in the desert as distances and shapes are very deceptive.There is plenty of light so large optics (SOmm) are not necessary. Light- weight 10x30 binocularsare ideal.

11.7 GOLDEN RULEJumping to conclusions is the most common source of inaccurate desert navigation. Do not maskinsecurity with arrogance by fitting the ‘facts’ to your hopes or presumptions about position. all theevidence must be weighed, an open mind kept, the conflicting evidence must be disposed of beforethe final conclusions are drawn. Was the hill 20kms back really that indicated on the map? Werethe dunes at the 2 o’clock position the ones mapped? Is the track alignment on the map accurate?You must make a case for establishing a position -rather as a lawyer would -since all the‘witnesses’ may not be what they seem and all evidence must be weighed. An open, analyticalmind and a readiness to face facts is vital.

11.8 EQUIPMENTSee Annex C for equipment list.

11.9 MAPS AND GUIDESTYPES AND SOURCES. Mapping in the UK and Europe is of an extremely high standard and thefirst-time desert traveller should be prepared for a shock regarding map coverage, accuracy, scaleand availability. For the African Sahara use:

Michelin Maps -Sheet 153 and 154. Scale 1:4m, an excellent planning/logistics map. Reliable inmost regions, provides information on regularly used roads and tracks plus details of facilities -including fuel, water, rest houses etc -along them. Essential for any Saharan traveller. Accuracyvaries according to regions -e.g. not good in Mali. After being unavailable for 7 years, a new sheet153 is now out (1983).

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (74)

Desert Expeditions 74

Topographic Map, Series 2201. Scale 1:2m, a reasonably accurate map series for broad- basedplanning. Published by Ministry of Defence, available through map sellers such as Stanfords inLong Acre. All Africa covered.

Topographical Map, 1:lm 1:500,000 and 1:200,000. Coverage and availability problems.Ministry of Defence maps (GSGS series 1301 and 1404) cover most areas but with varyingreliability; many sheets are very old (40 years) and often inaccurate. The French InstitutGeographique (IGN) publish maps of old French colonial areas in Africa and, in the regionscovered, are generally the best available. Coverage at 1:500,000 is limited and at 1:200,000 evenmore so. 1:200,000 maps are sometimes available only through the countries concerned (e.g.Algeria; the others are best obtained by going to the IGN shop in Paris (107 rue Boetie, 5 minuteswalk from the Arc de Triomphe).

Astro Plotting Maps. 1:500,000 skeleton plotting charts GSGS series 4700 are useful for plottingastro shots.

‘Algerie’. Also in French by Hachette. Very detailed, very good. One of Hachette’s Guide Bleuseries.

‘Sahara Handbook’ by Simon and Jan Glen (Lascelles).

‘Guide du Sahara’. Published (in French) by Hachette and available from The EuropeanBookshop, 4 Regent Place, off Regent Street, this is an invaluable guide book with much detailedinformation on tracks, towns and villages. Route and sketch maps provided.

Source of maps for desert regions outside the Sahara are less easily categorised though the startpoint would again be the Ministry of Defence/Directorate of Overseas Survey maps availablethrough Stanfords or DOS.

11.10 RESCUE AIDS11.10.1 Pre-Planning. Consider who the call for help will be aimed at -aircraft, other travellers, adistant village, a radio link, a regular convoy on a given route. Consider also the requirements ofday or night recognition. Consider intervehicle communication. Consider leaving details of yourroute, supplies and actions-in-the-event-of-emergency with local authorities. Evolve a standardprocedure for timings of rescue calls, discharge of flares, etc so as to ensure the appropriate agencywill be looking and listening at that time.

11.10.2 Radio. Radio is a glib solution to any rescue problem. In practice it is not easy. Costequipment, qualified CV operators with appropriate licenses, allocation and clearance forfrequencies by UK and foreign countries, setting up of an appropriate base station and mostimportant of all, setting up rescue facilities that can be mobilised in the event of need -all theseconspire in most cases to render radio impractical for cost/bureaucratic reasons.

11.10.3 Rescue Beacons (Radio), Sarsat. Three satellites now orbit the earth picking up radiodistress transmissions. The Burndept BE522 rescue beacon is made principally for users of sea-going craft and is a transmitter tuned to both the VHF (121.5 Mhz) and UHF (243 Mhz)international distress frequencies. It is a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 16 inches longweighing about 18oz; it has self-contained long life batteries. When activated, the radiotransmissions are picked up by one of the orbiting SARSAT (Search and Rescue SA Tellite) whichrelays and approximate (10km) position fix to the rescue co-ordination centre at Toulouse. Thesatellite orbits roughly every 80 minutes and repeated signals will result in Toulouse alertingappropriate national authorities. What happens then and how long it takes cannot be guaranteed butthe alert is a worthwhile precautionary capability. At the time of writing (1988) the retail cost of a

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (75)

Desert Expeditions 75

BE522 is about £135. It (and other more exotic beacons) is made by Burndept Electronics, TomCribb Road, Thamesmead, London SE28 OBH (Tel. 01-316 4477).

11.10.4 Simple Rescue Aids. Common sense and a browse round a good ship’s chandlers willyield the kind of practical equipment to be taken on expeditions:

Heliographs -very effective vehicle-to-vehicle and ground-to-air. See Annex D.

Smoke flares/rockets. A number of lightweight smoke flares/rockets are available. Select afluorescent green smoke to show up best against the desert. Take a few really high- flying distressrockets or parachute flares.

Whistles. Loud ‘referee’ whistles are light and more efficient than the voice for attracting attention.

Fluorescent panels. Bright green fluorescent fabric panels can sometimes be obtained andaid air to ground recognition.

Air-ground rescue codes. See Annex E.

11.10.5 Scale of Equipment. Small heliographs, whistles, torches and a Mini-flare pack should,where possible, be issued to each member of a team. Make rules that if lost, flares will bedischarged only on the hour and half hour; that way, seekers can be alert at the right time.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (76)

Desert Expeditions 76



The log for part of 17 Feb 75 is shown below, complete with preliminary calculations to set up andcheck the sun compass:

CAMP 24 -17 FED 75. Lat 19° 56.5N, Long 03° 02.5W.Speedo reading 5913

Sun compass into: Mid longitude for days run 2° 15W.Divided by 15 = -9 minute (West, therefore negative)Equation of time = -13 minutesLocal Apparent Time (LA T) = GMT -22 minutesAdd 7.5 minutes for running setting

= GMT -14.5 minutes (set on vehicle Clock).

Sun compass setting check = 226°Magnetic bearing = 232.5°Variation 6.25° confirmed.

Desired Courses for day: 0830/38 km0920/47 km0710/30 km

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (77)

Desert Expeditions 77

Time Obervation Hdg Trip Leg

(Zone) (Deg) Speedo (km)

0735 0715 LAT set 067 0.0 6.4

Pass W. end of small dune chain 4.20745 0730 LAT set. Skirting N edge of dune chain. 083 6.4

13.5Main very long chain north 3-5 km

0752 Distant dunes 1-2 o’c ERIGAT EL THOZLANE 11.6Rippled sand sheet 40 kph

0800 0745 LAT set.Gravity Station 71. 1958.7N,0251.4W 083 19.9

20.1Wind NE 16 kts. Temp 15oC

0815 0800 LTA set0825 Western end os small E-W dune chain

at 9 o’c 1 1/2 km 30.20828 ERIGAT EL RHOZLANE dunes extend from

3 o’c to 12 o’c. We should skirt N end.0830 0815 LAT set0835 Gravity Station 72. 2000N, 0240.4W 083 40.0 15.80845 0830 LAT set. RHOZLANE still on rt.

Extends further than map shows.Wind 21 kts. Temp 18oC. Feels cold.Dunes to N disappeared.RHOZLANE now parallel to hdg I km on our rt.

0855 Dune line 2 km in 9 o’c posn running080-260°. Gravel patches. Scrub grass 49.1

0900 0845 LAT set0905 RHOZLANE now petering out

and clearing to south. Small duneline ahead aligned 080-260.We go right of it. 100 55.8

4.20912 RHOZLANE ended -clear to south now 57.0

Gravity Station 73. 2000.7N 0229.1W0915 0900 LAT set. New hdg 095 60.0 10.0

Very distant dunes 1 o’c. Wind 19-23 kts.Sand blowing.

0930 0915 LAT set. Dunes now from 12 1/2 o’cto 2 o’c running about 070°

0936 Aiming between dunes encroaching onright and new dunes at 11 o’c. 081 70.0

5.30942 0930 LAT set. Dunes on right have petered

out but persist on left 2 km away heading080/260. Rolling rippled sand sheet.Easy top gear. 095 75.3


Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (78)

Desert Expeditions 78

0950 Gravity Station 74. 2000.4N 0217.2W 105 80.8 5.81010 1000 LAT set. Dune line to rt running 075/255 070 86.6 4.31025 080 90.9 1.8

Through dune gap 115 92.7 .8

Mirror dunes 105 93.5.7

115 94.2 1.81035 Now in wide dune valley 7 km wide 070 96.0 1.8

Small dune line -go right 096 97.8 1.0

070 98.81.21040 Gravity Station 75. 2000.3N 0206.7W 070 100.08.01047 1030 LAT set. Wind 28 kts. 23oC

Going in dune corridor. Occasional rocky patches.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (79)

Desert Expeditions 79

Annex B (Navigation Notes)PRINCIPLE OF ‘DIBS’ MIRROR

Optimum mirror to use of DIBS application is about 6in x 8in and must be flat: a convex mirrorwill not project a light spot.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (80)

Desert Expeditions 80

Annex C (Navigation Notes)


Example of equipment used on small expedition to off-tracks regions of Algeria where mappingwas carried out.

In Samsonite Briefcase 12 x 18 x 4.5:

Spiral bound notebook for DR log Star planispheresRuler (mm) BBCWorld Service pgm schedDouglas Protractor and spare Nautical Almanac 1979Compasses and dividersSight Reduction Tables (Naut) ( 15° -300)Pencils, 2H, 3H, 4HRubber Astro forms and instructionsStopwatchHewlett Packard HP 67 and magnetic programme cardsSpare gnomons/cursor for sun compassSpare mag programmes (stored in Med Kit steelboxes)Philips 0095 pocket tape recorder and spare Mallory batt notes;HP67 instr book and keying noted; 12vDC rechargerSpare Wild Theodolite instr bookHP67 spare batts, 3Rover petrol log

Maps: 1:2m Series 2201 Sheets 7, 2 and 3

l:lm IGN or Series 1301. Sheets NH30 Bechar, NH31 Oargla, NG29-30 ErgChech, NG31 in Salah (1301), NG32 Djanet (IaN) and Fort Charlet (1301), NF30Taoudenni, NF31 Fort Lapperine (and 1 spare), NF32 in Azoua, NE30Tombouctou, NE31 Kidal.

1:500,000 IGN. NG32: NE, NW (Illizi); SE (Djanet); SW (Ft Gardel). NG31: NE(Amguid). NF31: NE (Tamanrasset).

1:250,000 Series P502 -old. 8 sheets roughly NE from Tamanrasset.

GSGS 4700 Skeleton Plotting Charts for Astro. Sheets No 12 (1920-2200N); 13(2130-2410N); 14 (2340-2620N); 15 (2550-2830N); 16 (2800-3040N).

Michelin Road Maps. Sheets 153 Africa N & W, 1 :4m; 901 France 1: 1 m; 172Algerie/Tunisic l:lm; 169 Maroc l:lm.

Nav Kit not in briefcase:

Wild T2 theodolite in transit caseWild T2 lighting set and spare batteriesWild T2 GST20 tripodSun CompassMagnetic compass MK III prismatic, fluid dampedPhilips recorder spare mini-cassettesBinoculars 10 x 30

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (81)

Desert Expeditions 81

Heliograph and whistleSony ICF5900W shortwave radio with crystal marker.Hachette’s Guide du Sahara (obtained later en route)

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (82)

Desert Expeditions 82

Annex D (Navigation Notes)


If not readily available from camping shops or ships chandlers, a heliograph canbe made from a small ladies mirror or a stainless steel shaving mirror.

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (83)

Desert Expeditions 83

Annex E (Navigation, Rescue Aid Notes)


Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (84)

Desert Expeditions 84


ALGERIACentre National de Recherches sur les Zones Arides (CNRZA), Universite d’ Alger , 2 rueDidouche Mourad, Algiers.

ARGENTINAInstituto Argentino de Investigaciones de las Zonas Aridas (IADIZA), Casilla de Correos507, 5500 Mendoza

AUSTRALIADivision of Land Resources Management, Rangelands Program at Deniliquin and AliceSprings, Riverina Laboratory, Private Mail Bag, Deniliquin, New South Wales. AliceSprings Field centre: P O. Box 77, Alice Springs, Northern Territory , 5750.

BOTSWANAVeld Products Research, P O Box 2020, Gaborne, Botswana

CHILECentro de Estudios Zonas Aridas, Universidad de Chile, La Serena

EGYPTDesert Institute, El Matariya, Cairo

FRANCEOffice de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer (ORSTOM), 24, rueBayard, 75008 Paris

INDIACentral Arid Zone Research Institute, Headquarters: Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISA T), PatancheruPO., Andhra Pradesh, India 502 324.

IRANArid Lands Ecology Bureau, P.O. Box 1430, Tehran

ISRAELApplied Research Institute, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 1025, Beer-Sheva 84110, Israel

JAPANSand Dune Research Institute, 1390, Hamasaka, Tot tori, Japan 680

MEXICOCentro Nacional de Investigacion par el Desarrollo de Zonas Aridas (CNIZA),Buenavista, Saltillo, Coahuila, and Instituto de Investigacion de las Zonas Deserticas,Plaza de Fundadores, San Luis Potosi, S.L.P ., Mexico

NAMIBIA (SOUTH WEST AFRICA)Desert Ecological Research Unit of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research,Namib Desert Research Station, P .O. Box 953, Walvis Bay, Namibia 9190

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (85)

Desert Expeditions 85

PERUCentro de Investigaciones de Zonas Aridas (CIZA), Apartado 330y 456, Lima

SAUDI ARABIAInstitute of Meteorology and Arid Lands Studies, P .O. Box 1540, Jeddah

SYRIA .Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD), P .O. Box 2440,Damascus

International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Aleppo.

TUNISIAInstitut des Regions Arides de Tunisie, El Fje -Medenine, Tunisie

U.K.Overseas Development and Natural Resources Institute (ODNRI), Central A venue, ChathamMaritime, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TB

Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Tropics (SEPASAT), Royal Botanic Gardens,Kew, Richmond, Surrey

U.S.A.Arid Land Ecosystems Improvement, Agricultural research Service, US Department of Agriculture,2000 E Allen Road, Tucson, Arizona 85719

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, P .O. Box 5607, Tucson, Arizona 85703

Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, P.O. Box 1334, Alpine, Texas 79830

Desert Botanical Garden, P .O. Box 5415, Phoenix, Arizona 85010

Desert Research Institute, 7010 El Barcho, Sparks, Nevada 89431

Dry Lands Research Institute, c/o University of California, Riverside, California 92502

International Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Land Studies (ICASALS), Box 4620, TexasTech University, Lubbock, Texas 79409

Philip L. Boyd Desert Research Center, P .O. Box 480, Palm Desert, California 92260

U.S. Water Conservation Laboratory, Agricultural Research Service (USDA), 4331 E.Broadway, Phoenix, Arizona 85040

University of Arizona, Office of Arid Lands Studies (OALS), 845 North Park A venue, Tucson,Arizona 85719

USSRDesert Research Institute, 744000 Ashkhabad, sad Keshi, Turkmen S.S.R. Academy of Sciences

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (86)

Desert Expeditions 86


BONYTHON, C.W. (1980) Walking the Simpson Desert. Rigby, London

CLOUDSLEY-THOMPSON, I.L. (1975) Desert Travel and Research. Institute of Biology, London

DAVIDSON, ROBYN (1980) Tracks. Jonathan Cape, London

DAY, P R (1982) “Outback ‘80” Report of the Joint British Australian Trans-AustraliaExpedition 1980 (RGS Report 978)

DUNN, G. (1976) "The Working of a Sun Compass". Geographical Magazine 48:647

GLEN, S. & J. (1980) Sahara Handbook. Roger Lascelles, 16 Holland Park Gardens, London W 148DY

HALL, D.N. (1979) Expedition Navigation. Royal Geographical Society, London

HILLABY, J. (1964) Journey to the Jade Sea. Constable, London

JACKSON, I. (1982) The Four Wheel Drive Book. Gentry Books, London

McELDUFF, C. (1975) Trans Africa Motoring. Wilton House Gentry, London

MELVILLE, K.E.M. (1980) Stay Alive in the Desert. Roger Lascelles, London

MOORHEAD, A (1974) The Fearful Void. Hodder & Stoughton, London

MORGAN-GRENVILLE, G.W. (1974) Cruising the Sahara. David and Charles, Newton Abbott,Devon

PAINE, B. (1976) The Green Centre. BBC and Andre Deutsch, London

SAUNDERS, M (1970) Administrative and Technical Report of the British Air MountainsExpedition (Niger) 1969-1970. (RGS Report No.283)

SHEPPARD, T (1976) Report on the Joint Services West East Sahara Expedition 1975 (RGSReportNo.313)

SHEPPARD, T (1980) Desert Course Notes. Royal Geographical Society, London

SLA VIN, K & I, and MACKIE, G.(1981) Land-Rover: the unbeatable 4x4. Gentry books, London

STEVENS, V. & I. (1978) Algeria and the Sahara. Constable, London

TENCH, R. (1978) Forbidden Sands. Iohn Murray, London

THESIGER, W. (1959) Arabian Sands. Longmans, London

WINSER, N. (1974) Report of the Polytechnic of London West Africa and Sahara Expedition 1973(RGS Report No.573)

Desert Expeditions - [PDF Document] (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 6465

Rating: 5 / 5 (60 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Clemencia Bogisich Ret

Birthday: 2001-07-17

Address: Suite 794 53887 Geri Spring, West Cristentown, KY 54855

Phone: +5934435460663

Job: Central Hospitality Director

Hobby: Yoga, Electronics, Rafting, Lockpicking, Inline skating, Puzzles, scrapbook

Introduction: My name is Clemencia Bogisich Ret, I am a super, outstanding, graceful, friendly, vast, comfortable, agreeable person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.