A whistle stop tour of Morocco.

After the last trip to Gambia during which we spent a couple of days in Morocco, I felt Morocco deserved a return visit. With a small bit of effort and planning, Morocco offers all the hustle and bustle of market cities, spectacular and vast scenery and a diverse and welcoming people.

The plan was for me to drive down. Ferry from Dublin to Cherbourg, drive through France and Spain and get a fast ferry from Tarifa to Tangier. I had allowed 3 nights, but in the end I did the drive in 2 days. I arrived in Tangier a day early to collect Deirdre and Ben who had flown from Ireland.

We now had 2 weeks for fast loop round Morocco.


We spent 2 night in Tangier, stayed in a lovely old Hotel (El Minhaz). Looked like it was the place to be back in the 20’s or 30’s and still retained it charm. From Tangier we headed to Fes. There were two options, the direct and shorter route or the longer motorway route. Given it was a long drive we choose the motorway, although longer in Km’s it is generally shorter in actual driving time as the secondary national roads can be very slow. We stayed at a camp site outside Fes, it turned out to be great as it had an impressive water park attached to the site. We visited the old Medina, the tanney’s and markets.


From Fes we drove to the Cascades d’Ouzoud. It was along slow drive, but with all things in Morocco the scenery makes up for slow progress. The cascades were pretty spectacular, far more impressive than expected. As it turned out the day we visited was the first day of the holidays after Ramadan so the place was busy and full of fun. We stayed at the well know ZebraCamp, lovely food and great hosts.



From Fes we drove to Ouarzazate. This turned out to be a very slow drive, but the drive over the high atlas mountain was worth it. The road was bad in places but thankfully because of the holiday period it was very quiet. Quarzzate was our base to take a trip to the desert. The trip to the desert was through the anti atlas mountains (Dra’a valley) to Merzouga. From Merzouga, we head to the Desert (a short camel trek to the tents). Dinner and sleeping under the stars. Before returning the next morning. The drive back to Ouarzazate was even better via the Valley of Roses, Dades Gorges, Todra Gorges and the Oasis of Skoura.



We stayed the night again in Ouarzazate before the drive to Marrakesh.

We stayed at Manzul La Trotue, a lonely guest house, RV parking, Clamping all in one place. Great food here and a short taxi ride to the Old Medina in Marrakesh. We found the markets and streets in Marrakech less claustrophobic than Fes and easier to navigate. The following day we visited the yves saint laurent gardens in Marrakesh, beautiful gardens hidden away of the busy streets.


Yves St Laurent Garden

From Marrakech we headed to El Jadida, a coastal town, we spent 3 days here before heading back to Tangier and through Europe and home. The Landcruiser was flawless yet again, the extra solar panel made a big difference. The fridge held up prefect considering it was in the mid 40’s for most of the trip.


Classic Toyota Show in Frosses – Donegal

I have been trying to organize the back of the 60 to accommodate one person on the trip to planned next October. The plan was to have a bed with storage under along one side. The pull out fridge and small storage on behind the passenger side and maintain seating for driver, two passengers. Here’s a photo of the rough setup


So to test the camper idea, took the 60 up to Donegal for the weekend. The set-up will work fine, just needs to adjustment and additional. Need to get a mattress foam and sort some blinds out. They are the main problems, there are a few other bits like battery, compressor and better organization of space. but I think it could work 🙂

Anyways here a few photos of the weekend and the other 80’s that came along.



Adventure Overland Show – Stratford upon Avon

Thought I might do a quick note on the Adventure Overland Show. Didn’t know what to expect other than it was held in Stratford upon Avon. We got the ferry from Dublin Port to Holyhead and drove to 200 miles, with a small detour on the way to see a very special Land Cruiser mechanic (somewhere near Shrewsbury).

After an early start and the detour we got to Stratford it was late in the evening when we arrived, pitched the tents got something to eat and got ready for the BIG show.


Well I’m afraid the BIG show was not so big after all. There was plenty to see, but would be hard pushed to get two days out of it. Thankfully there were a few interesting people to spend the day talking to, West Coast 4×4, being one of them.

Plenty of Land Cruiser people around, and a few Land Cruisers in the camp site to poke around in.

For those that have between €250’000.00 t €500’000.00 you could pick up one of these beauts


The real bonus to the trip was the mechanic in the secret location near Shrewsbury, when stop by his workshop on the way back, 3 hours the first time round wasn’t enough. The guy Scott was pretty relaxed when it came to giving us keys to his Land Cruisers. We got to drive 4 of the trucks and could have spent all day there but we had a ferry to catch.

Overall it was a good weekend good fun with the lads, just a pity the show wasn’t bigger. We all came to the conclusion that we’ll be going to Germany next year. It’s the only place if its serious Overland Expo’s your looking for !

Heat Wave !!

Heat wave

Well that’s officially any warm weather of 25 degrees in Ireland.

And with that time to load up the old land cruiser and have some fun. Took the truck to the Lough Ramor, Virginia, Co. Cavan. Great lake for swimming and a bit of canoeing.


The truck is driving great, discovered two great features for warm weather and boring motor ways. The AC (via opening vent in foot well) and Cruiser control (via Hand throttle ), two essentials for the modern travelerImage



All Done … Well for now anyway !

Last piece of the Jigsaw …

First things first, the suspension, well it seems the uncontrolled and erratic bonce is gone. After a few e-mails, and some measurements, Bob (Tpi4x4) diagnosed the problem, there was a mismatch on the shocks and… now the erratic bounce is gone !!!. Thanks Bob.
So now to the 5 Speed. It’s one of those things, you hear people say ‘Can’t believe I ever managed to drive it with a 4 speed’. Well is true, I cannot explain the transformation in the old TLC now that the 5 speed is installed. It’s changed the TLC from a MF35 to something that could now be driven everyday with pleasure. The gear ratios are far better, no long gap between 3rd & 4th and that mythical 5th gear on good roads, the holy grail . But its more than just the gear ratios, there’s a serious reduction in overall sound in the cab. With the revs kept at a sensible level the ear deafening drown is gone. Driving the old TLC is now a pleasure.
So now with the turbo, power steering, 5 speed box and some sound insulation, It’s the first time in a while, where I felt I could actually take on a seriously long drive and look forward to it.

Shake Down

Went for a drive over the weekend with a few Land Cruiser owners to give the old BJ41 a proper run. Covered a decent few miles over three days, some rough back roads and a couple of forest trails. Was a bit worried that the truck mightn’t be able to keep up with the group. But as it turned out the 41 had no problems. The only time the 41 fell behind the group was on good roads with speeds over 100km/p. So here’s a list of the good and the bad from the weekend


Plenty of power with the turbo, no problem climbing hills and staying with the newer and bigger 80 series.

The 41 felt tight and held the road pretty good. Brakes held firm and held a straight line when braking hard. 

With very little play in the steering and disk brakes up front, they gave the 41 confidence in tight twisty roads.

Original seats are actually pretty good, well sprung and pretty comfortable over three days

Water and oil temps stayed where expected

Never have to worry about being cold in the 41, plenty of heat transmitted from the engine and great box through the firewall and directly above the gearbox 🙂


The suspension is all wrong, causing the 41 to bounce when hitting any kind of bump. 

Four speed gear box. The gear ratios are not well spread. Third gear is too short and fourth gear to long. 

Noise in the cab over a few hours can be a problem.

The only time the water temp moved above cool was long hill climbs with low gears and high revs. But even then nothing to worry about.


So .. what next

The reason for the trip was to see how the old BJ41 would feel and coupe if taken on a proper long trip. Well the answer is the 41 would coupe no problem, I’m afraid its the driver that would give in first. The gearing can be sorted with a 5 speed, hopefully this might help with the noise in the cab as the longer gear ratios could keep the revs lower and keep the drown in the cab down a bit. Have a 5 speed ready to put into the truck, hope it actually fits. 

The biggest problem (driver issue ) is the suspension setup. The way it is now it would be pretty much impossible to drive the truck for more than 3 hours without feeling your neck of back might actually disintegrate :).

The problem with the suspension is the bounce it causes when faced with any kind of dip or bump in the road. Its not just a single bounce, it more like continuous series of bounces till the truck settles again.We all had a good look at the suspension setup and figured the problem is with the rear.  There is little or no give in the front springs and there is plenty of flex in the rear springs.It feels like the back end is where the bounce is generated and given the rear is so light there is no weight to counter act the bounce. 

So first step is to replace the rear shocks and see if they can absorb and limit the rear flex, if that fails I’ll have to look to get different springs.

Let you know how it all works out.



What a difference a Year Makes …. !

Monday, 7 January 2013

What a difference a Year Makes …. !

Toyota Land Cruiser Restoration FJ40 BJ40 BJ41 TLC

Well believe it or not it is close to one year since I started this blog. The first post was on January 30 2012. Just shows how optimistic I was back then, ordering superficial bits and pieces without actually realizing how bad the bodywork was on the old BJ.
But then again I didn’t realize what I actually wanted other than I thought it looked cool !.
Thats the problem with Toyota Land Cruisers and I suppose any other off road truck that you think you might want to change to suit your own needs. The second you start down the run of changing/upgrading the possibilities are endless. The only barrier is the amount of money you want to spend.
I my case I wanted the truck to look a certain way and wanted confidence that everything would work as it should and add a few modern upgrades. But most important I wanted it to last and hopefully not have to replace anything in the next 30 years !.
So where are we 12 months later.
Pretty much on the home straight. The body work is now complete. The running gear is all done, engine is wired and was started for the first time in 11 months !. Wiring is 90% done.

So whats left …
The last shipment of parts is now on the way. The list of items to be done now fits on one A4 page .. that’s is a milestone in its self.
* Some small wiring issues, spot lights, glow plugs, stereo and speakers.
* The seats need a bit of attention.
* Front bumper being chopped and painted
* Roof rack
* Fit top section
* Emblems

The good bits ..
The paint is prefect for the truck. The sound of the lockers engaging is the best. Full stainless steel exhaust. But probably the one thing that will make the most difference is the electric steering, it works better than we thought.

So the big question … Is it worth it ?
I’ve been thinking about it and the truth is the money can never be recouped. But I think that’s the nature of any restoration/rebuild.  The pleasure is the research, the knowledge you pick about, the decisions based on friends/forums/experts. But most of all its a one of a kind, unique, hopefully something that will last and give a few years enjoyment.

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