Category Archives: campervanculture.com

Morocco Overland Episode 5 – Sahara

Back when we came up with the idea to make a set of adventure travel videos of a trip through Morocco and the Sahara our minds would often wander while trip planning about sand dunes and the feeling of true wilderness. In part 5 we sure got lots of it and loved every single moment of this section. We were a long way from the nearest town or even road, we had to get our water from wells and carry enough fuel for 600km as well as food and other supplies.

You will find that part 5 is longer than previous videos we have made. We have done this longer video so you guys can get to follow us along and get to know us and what we are really like. You get to see the equipment we use on trips and how we use it, everything from our cooking equipment to our recovery equipment and of course out trusty Trasharoo. We took the chance to tag an abandoned Land Rover out in the desert with some of the stickers that the companies that have shown us support gave us. So grab a seat, get comfortable and enjoy part 5.

Part 6 to follow very soon…

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 5 – Sahara from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Fox shocks - fully adjustable-1

Fox shocks & Gowesty Springs – a few months in…

Background

I have fairly recently fitted a set of Gowesty Camper Products progressive springs and Fox 2.0 shocks to my van. It took a lot research before i decided on a shock and spring set up due to a few reasons which i will explain.

Jargon (Techy stuff)

My main reason for looking for a new set of springs was that for sometime i had been running spring spacers to lift my van. This is a very common way of gaining some ground clearance on a syncro, It’s a great cheap way of gaining some ground clearance, but it has its compromises.

By adding spacers you are moving the position of the spring which gains you ground clearance, however the range of movement in the spring does not change, it is just moved in relation to the other suspension components.

I wanted to fit a set of springs that would give me the ground clearance i required  without any/bare minimum of spacers The Gowesty progressive springs seemed to fit the bill. I have fitted the 2″ lift version on the rear of my van and zero lift to the front (i’ll explain why in a minute).

Gowesty-springs-Als

A knock on effect from fitting spacers or longer springs is that the shock absorber stays in it’s original position making the shock operate within a range that it was not designed for, most often resulting in ‘topping out’ (shock reaching the end of it’s downward stroke). Not only does this cause irritating noise but means that the damping characteristics of your shock absorber will be working incorrectly, you could also be causing damage to the shock itself.

More Jargon…

So you might now ask how is it possible to lift your van for extra ground clearance without encountering this shock absorber problem. Put plainly If you fit longer springs then you should really install shock absorbers with longer travel and damping characteristics to match.

The shock absorbers that were on my van were a standard set of 14″ Syncro Boge of unknown age. I had fitted a set of extensions to both the front and rear shocks to try and eliminate the topping out i experienced after lifting my van, this worked ok and kept the shocks relatively quiet, but long term it could well have played a factor in the demise of my shock absorbers.

As part of my upgrades i had also fitted larger wheels and tyres, this helps gain ground clearance but also adds in another factor to the suspension set up. A larger wheel and tyre weighs much more and as such requires different damping to keep the additional weight under control.

TyresSizesWebThose are my tyres on the right.

Shock absorbers have to work much harder than normal to try and keep control of the extra weight bouncing around,  as a result the oil inside the shock gets very hot. This heat is eventually transferred to the seals and over time the seals degrade and oil starts to leak from the shock body and the damping characteristics are severely affected.

This is exactly what happened to my front shock absorbers whilst in Morocco. The corrugated and potholed roads required a great deal from the suspension and my tired shocks trying to keep control of my heavy wheels resulted in over heated seals and losing all of the oil from both of them. This wasn’t much fun believe me, although the T3 performs remarkably well with no shock absorbers, it still meant that hours on end driving the bad roads was uncomfortable to say the least.

I decided to fit the Fox 2.0 fully adjustable shocks as they have the widest range of compression and rebound damping available on the market. Rebound damping being a very important factor here.

IMG_2276
When a wheel hits a bump and is forced upwards towards the vehicle, this is called ‘compression’ and when it starts it’s downward movement after the bump, this is called ‘rebound’. Rebound damping is what controls the speed at which the wheel and tyre travels back to its original position. Everyone has experienced the pogo stick bouncing sensation in a T3 after a bump in the road and this is caused amongst other factors by inadequate rebound damping. This effect is made even worse when larger, heavier wheels have been fitted.

The front Fox shocks also have adjustable spring platforms enabling the ride height to be set to exactly where you want it, this is the reason for fitting the zero lift springs on the front. If i had fitted 2″ lift springs then the minimum ride height achievable would be 2″ higher than normal, whereas with the zero lift versions i have a much more useable range of adjustment. The Gowesty springs are a ‘progressive’ spring, this means that the ‘rate’ of the spring changes as it is compressed through its range, the more it is compressed the more the spring rate increases.

IMG_2280 rear-shock-spring-als

The adjustable versions of the Fox shocks have 8 different damping settings ranging from very hard for road use to very soft for off-road, this enables fine tuning of the suspension in a way not possible with other systems, additionally the adjustable versions have remote oil reservoirs that vastly increase the volume of oil in the shock absorber giving much better resilience to overheating.

 

There is also 1″ of extra down travel available with the true monotube design of the Fox shocks without losing any upward travel which eliminates the need for any extensions to try and deal with topping/bottoming out of the suspension system.

Hopefully you can now see how i ended up settling on the Gowesty/Fox set up, It just ticked every box.

Enough of the jargon, how do they ride?

Road driving on the new system has possibly been the biggest surprise since fitting the new suspension. I always assumed that i would notice the biggest difference whilst driving off-road over lumps and bumps but in actual fact road driving has been dramatically changed.

vanVsyncro

My van is quite heavy and lifted quite high and before the upgrade to experience a fair bit of body roll when cornering. This has been almost completely eliminated, i am now able to keep my speed up through corners in a way that would have felt a bit twitchy previously. The van feels ‘planted’ through corners and generally far more stable.

Bumps in the road are also far less of a worry now too, especially speed humps. Where i would have had to slow down to a very slow speed to prevent everything on the dash board being flung into the air and the pogo stick bouncing after the bump would have me holding on for dear life, i can now approach harsh bumps without this worry.
Hitting the bump itself feels far more comfortable but the most noticeable difference is what happens afterwards. Just after the bump where you would normally expect to start being bounced around the rebound damping kicks in and the van just settles straight back to its normal ride.

Off-road i cant fault the ride at all, the system feels supple enough to soak up all the little bumps from rocks and tree roots etc, whilst still being able to quickly react to larger hits also. Higher speeds off-road are a more pleasurable experience as those unexpected gullies or potholes that can sneak up on you don’t have you clinging to the steering wheel bracing for impact anymore.

Even at times when you can feel yourself wince as you really think you’ve pushed it too far the Fox and Go Westy spring combination just seems to suck it all up.

Morocco Overland Episode 4 – Into the wilderness

This time in part 4 we venture further into the wilderness where the roads became more demanding and the terrain starts to take it’s toll on the vehicles. Apart from us changing a prop shaft back in Fez this was the first time we had to sort out actual mechanical issues that stopped us in our tracks.
While driving along a desert highway we got our first sighting of camels and with that we pulled over to get a closer look. We met some Berber people who took us down an ancient underground canal that was used to take water from the mountains into the desert oasis. Part of this trip was to be an educational experience for 8 year old Isaac and this turned out to be a very valuable geography lesson about the true Morocco for him. After surfacing from below the desert we had tea with the Berbers (something we had started to get used to every time we met one of these very hospitable people) and as we were about to say our good bye’s Alan and Jed noticed a small group of 4×4′s heading off the road and into the open desert. When they asked the Berber, “Where are the 4×4′s heading?” his answer was “Voth”. We had read a little about the work of “Voth” before we had left but could not find exactly where they would be online. We soon realised why as we set off into the desert to take a look for ourselves….
As the days went on we went from desert to gorges to mountains with truly amazing driving and wild camping. New years eve was spent around the Roadii Grill where we had one of our big cook ups after buying a kilo of some kind of animal hung up in a hut at the side of the road. After that we went much higher and more remote and that will take us into part 5 and the Black Rock Desert, but for now kick back and come drive with us…

If you are interested in any of the equipment we use or our Campervan Culture branded clothing then please feel free to check out our web shop.

Morocco Overland Episode 4 – Into the wilderness from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

gowesty_logo_large_web

We’ve teamed up with Go Westy!

We’re proud to announce that we are now able to offer Go Westy Camper products to the United Kingdom. We’ve teamed up with Go Westy to bring you quality parts made by quality people.

We have a selection of parts available right now on our webshop. Have a look here for whats available: http://www.campervanculture.com/product-category/gowesty/

We will be adding much more to the store as time goes by so keep an eye out for some really tasty parts landing real soon!

Also, if there is something you have been yearning after from the Go Westy range, then make sure to get in touch. We can take pre-orders on products if we don’t already have them in stock so that you can guarantee getting them added to our next shipment.

Here’s to the good ol U S of A

DCIM104GOPRO

Morocco Expedition – Fes

I awoke quite early the next morning with thoughts of the days hustle and bustle. There was no chance of getting back to sleep so I decided to get up, put some tea on and see what was going on around the campsite. It had obviously been quite cold over night. The water in the stream that runs along the boundary of the campsite was pouring steamy vapour amidst the shafts of bright sunlight that filtered through the foliage of the tree canopy. Our rendevous with our guide for the day wasn’t until 10am so after a bit of tidying up around our camp we had plenty of time left for multiple cups of tea and coffee as well as a substantial breakfast. At the meeting point we found the rest of the people we would be sharing the tour with; a couple from Germany traveling with their teenage son and another German couple enjoying their retirement. The taxi arrived and we were greeted by our guide; a towering stature of a man. He must have been at least 6’ 6” and had more ear hair than I think I’ve ever seen on a single person before. Continue reading

Phew..! We made it.. Webshop Open.

Hi everyone,

Thanks so much for your patience while we have been moving servers. Its a been a roller coaster of a ride getting everything moved over and running again, but we’ve made it.

Thanks also to all the people that emailed wishing us luck and encouragement, you are all amazing!

The webshop is fully open again and now we’re on the new server we will be adding lots of new and exciting products over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

There’s a few exciting bits of news that will be announced too that we’ve been itching to tell you all.

Thanks again for all the support

The CVC team :)

Shop Closure – Don’t worry, it’ll be open again soon…

Hi everyone, we have decided to move our site to a different server to make everything run a little bit faster, smoother and more stable for you all.
This means the webshop will be closed for a little while until we get everything swapped over and up and running again. It shouldn’t take too long, so please bear with us.

Keep checking back if there is something you want to purchase, we’re hoping the shop should be back again in no more than 24hrs.

If you’re really desperate to get hold of one of the products on the site then please drop us an email at shop@campervanculture.com and i’m sure we can sort something out for you.

Thanks everyone

Wish us luck….

Morocco Overland Episode 3 – Journey to Christmas

Having spent time heading down through Europe and crossing into Africa in parts one and two, it was time to get off the roads and into the wilderness. Christmas was fast approaching and after driving off road for over 120 miles we found “the spot” for the big day. In part three we experience varied landscapes that were amazing to drive through and camp in. We go from Fes to the mountains and into massive cedar forests and snow capped mountain roads, then down into the start of some of the desert areas and into the palmeries at the source of the River Ziz.

And yep, we bagged the obligatory Moroccan carpet with a little help from our friends at Smiley Bobs.

So here is part three for you guys and please feel free to leave a comment.

Morocco E3Morocco Overland Episode 3 – Journey to Christams from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Trasharoo Promotion

PROMO ENDED 24th March

If you buy one of our amazing Trasharoo’s and buy a Trasharoo anti sag strap together, we will throw in 1x CampervanCulture.com branded 4m 5 ton tow strap (made in the UK) worth £9.99 and a bunch of CVC stickers for free. This is such a good deal that it will run for this weekend only so get your orders in now before it’s too late… (offer ending Midnight on Sunday 23rd March)

http://campervanculture.com/product-category/storage/trasharoo-storage/IMG_9320

 

Morocco Overland in a T3/T25/Vanagon Syncro. (Part 2, entry to Africa)

We finally made it to Africa.

First stop was the amazing town of Chefchaouen. We were blown away with just how amazing this place was and how cool the people the people were that we met there. It was our first stay at a campsite so far and we stayed at the only campsite just up the hill from Chefchaouen town. It’s a pretty basic campsite by European standards with cracked sinks and dodgy looking plumbing but they do have hot showers and that makes it a good campsite by Moroccan standards. There is free camping to be had across the road at the football field next to the hotel, it looked like a popular spot for fellow overlanders.

Here is a link for www.campingchefchaouen.com

Having acclimatised in Chefchaouen we ventured south and onto Fez. The drive was a learning experience and we soon realised that the donkey was still a main means of travel for lots of Moroccans and road miles took double the time by European standards. You have to adapt your driving style a fair bit because if you drive correctly you would probably cause an accident.
We opted to stay at www.diamantvert.ma while in Fez, it was a really nice campsite that has just had a whole load of money spent on it and has good wifi. We opted to take a guide from Diamante Vert and we had a great day wandering around the city. This is the first time any of us had ever employed someone to show us around a place and it has to be said it was really worth while. We got taken through tiny doorways and into court yards that we would have definitely missed had we ventured out solo.

With Chefchaouen and Fez done and dusted it was time to head out into the wilds and off road but you will have to wait for part three so stay tuned and keep following.

Morocco Overland – Entry to Africa from CampervanCulture.com on Vimeo.

Brand New 2nd Generation Difflock T-shirts

All you guys love our Diff-lock T-shirts so much we decided to release a new style. We’ve reworked the graphics and the logo into a more stylish and striking design to keep you lot looking as cool as possible.

VW Syncro Diff lock panel design on the front with a Campervan Culture graphic on the reverse.

Jed-difflock-2gen

The shirts are the usual highest quality Gildan heavy weight cotton with top quality screen printed graphics.

Get em while they’re hot!!
http://campervanculture.com/shop/culture-2nd-gen-diff-lock-t-shirt/