Rookie tourist shopping

David Giguere responded to the Lowell Thomas post below with this intriguing comment:

“I wonder if the 'behemoth' truck is one of the Nairn Transport Company vehicles that operated in that part of the world and offered a Beirut to Baghdad route. Nairn also used Cadillac and Buick cars. Thanks for posting the story and video, fascinating stuff!”

He also posted a link to an interesting Wikipedia entry about Nairn, here.

And that begs a short related tale. 

While in Jerusalem last November I spent several days exploring the old town and its cacophonous warren of shops, which sell everything from snow globes of the Dome of the Rock (not kidding) to half lamb carcasses, spices, pots, clothes, jewelry, and antiques. Short video here:

Late one afternoon I was headed back through a passage I’d been through several times before, when I was stopped in my tracks by this:

Oh. My. God. 

How could I have missed it, and could any overlander possibly live without this poster hanging somewhere in his home? Bought in a souk in Old Jerusalem?

Of course not—so, in my dilerium, I made the most fundamental mistake any rookie tourist could commit in any souk anywhere in the world. I leaped into the shop, where the owner sat calmly sucking on a hookah, and, my eyes wide with avarice, shaking finger pointing, said, “Do you have those posters for sale?”

The man slowly exhaled a cloud of cool blue smoke, pulled the mouthpiece from between his lips, and smiled.

Shit.

“Why yes, my friend, I do!” He put up the pipe and pulled out a box stuffed with rolled posters in cardboard tubes. “What size would you like, my friend?”

What does one do at that point? Put on an utterly transparent sham of hard bargaining? Of course not. I picked a tube that would fit on the rear rack of my bicycle, asked how much, and he smiled and named a figure I won’t repeat here out of abject, head-hanging shame. I sighed and pulled a half dozen bills off my roll of shekels. At that price there was bugger all hope of buying extras for my friends Graham and Connie, or Nick, or . . . (And could I find that poster anywhere else in that entire city? Nope.)

Oh well. Let them get their own. I’ve got mine. 

And boy did I pay for it.

The first "adventure trailer" and "earth cruiser?"

If you know anything about T.E. Lawrence you are aware of Lowell Thomas (and vice versa, I suppose). Thomas, the indefatigable journalist and travelogue producer, was nearly single-handedly responsible for making "Lawrence of Arabia" a worldwide legend through his sensational traveling multimedia show, With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia, seen by over four million people in the years following World War I. 

Lawrence and Thomas in Arabia

(Ironically, it almost never happened. Thomas was originally scheduled to cover the Great War in Europe to drum up support for the potential entry of the U.S. into the conflict. When it became obvious that trying to romanticize the gruesome quagmire that was the Western Front would be futile, he looked for a more promising theater, and thus landed in the Middle East.)

After the success of the Lawrence show, Thomas went on to star in and narrate innumerable other travelogues, of which one is this nine-minute 1940 production, Royal Araby. My friend Bruce sent me the link after he spotted one of the spectacular armored Rolls Royces employed with great effectiveness by Lawrence during the war, this one still in service years later. Indeed at about 2:38 you'll spot the turreted vehicle front and center. (See here for an account of one of Lawrence's unarmored Rolls Royce cars, and the impressive bodge repair he managed under enemy fire.) 

But something else caught my attention: two of the vehicles used by the Thomas expedition. One, an American sedan, is towing what could easily be taken for any number of the modern "adventure trailers" so popular with overlanders. Behind that is a behemoth of some sort of articulated truck with what would seem to be spacious living quarters in the back section.

I must try to find out more.

Check it out on YouTube, here.

Recovering a semi truck

In my last post (here) I mentioned using a set of MaxTrax to recover a semi at the 2015 Overland Expo.

Found the video.

Also visible are the Crux Offroad aluminum bridging ladders (here), which also survived with only minor bending and were perfectly serviceable afterwards. Since bridging ladders are designed to be rigid, the fact that these—intended for vehicles the size of Land Cruisers—survived at all was equally impressive.

Originals versus copies

I remember distinctly my reaction when I first laid eyes on a set of the then-brand-new and revolutionary MaxTrax recovery mats. 

It was something along the lines of, “Eew.”

Plastic sand mats? Orange plastic sand mats?

At the time I was still firmly in the traditional PAP (perforated aluminum planking) camp—they were good enough for the Camel Trophy, right? If anything, I leaned toward the massive Mantec Bridging Ladders—bulky, heavy, but fully capable of spanning a void as well as providing soft-substrate flotation. And either simply looked right bolted to the roof rack of a Defender or Troopy.

Finally, under duress, I tried a set of MaxTrax, sort of squinting to one side the whole time so I didn’t have to look directly at them. And, well, they worked. Not only did they work, they worked better in sand than anything I’d ever tried—the combination of light weight, easy handling via molded-in handholds, and aggressive molded-in cleats resulted in blindingly quick and easy extraction. If they happened to kick up they didn’t produce the awful banging of PAP, much less the potential sheet-metal damage of the Mantecs (which to be fair are rigid and heavy enough that kick-up is rare). Even when torturously overloaded and distorted they sprang right back into shape—as when, for example, we used several sets to help recover the BFGoodrich semi truck that got stuck in the mud at Expo West. 

Suffice to say I was converted—to the point that, when we installed a set on our recently purchased and extremely pukka Land Cruiser Troopy, I didn’t even bother with one of the available earth tones. Our set is proudly the original and instantly recognizable MaxTrax orange—and they look just fine.

In the interim I discovered that MaxTrax work as well in mud as they do in sand (although a MaxTrax packed with mud quickly loses its “light weight” advantage), and that they don’t work very well on ice—devices with sharp metal edges seem to bite a bit better. But I still think they’re still the best-performing all-around traction device available.

The single most common gripe about MaxTrax has been their premium price (“Three hundred dollars for plastic sand mats?”), so it was inevitable that someone would—let’s be diplomatic and say replicate—the design and charge less. And several companies have done just that. The copies range from near-clones of good quality that sell for 20 to 30 percent less than the original, to absolute rubbish available for a third the price.

I’ll be honest up front and say that I find this business model extremely distasteful. Call it arbitrary prejudice, pointless idealism, or admirable moral high ground, per your own philosophy, but I’m firmly in John Ruskin’s camp on the issue. And considering MaxTrax versus competitors, I have some personal experience to reinforce the axiom that you get what you pay for. While that experience is by no means comprehensive enough to be considered statistically significant, I have never broken or even cracked a MaxTrax device, but I’ve now broken or been present at the breaking of no fewer than five lower-priced competitors.

Why is this? Two potential reasons rise to the top. First, it’s possible that my experience is purely coincidental, and that a MaxTrax would also have broken if one had been in use in place of any or all of the units that failed. There is no way to confirm this—even side-by-side field testing cannot control for minute variations in stress. However, it’s also possible that the construction and the material used in the MaxTrax is superior, and less likely to fail under extreme conditions. MaxTrax are made from reinforced nylon, a material I have yet to find listed on any competitor’s product sheet. There’s polyolefin, polypropylene, and simply, mysteriously, “plastic.” Broadly speaking, “nylon” technically can refer to a number of polyamide thermoplastics, so the actual MaxTrax formula is difficult to specify (and no doubt a jealously guarded secret); however, Brad McCarthy, the creative force behind the company, told me it is a “mineral-filled, impact-modified, UV-stabilized Nylon 6.” 

Whatever the proprietary formula, it’s obviously tough. Like all polymer traction products, you must exercise care not to spin your tires wildly when performing a recovery and climbing on to the MaxTrax—it’s possible to melt the cleats. If you do screw up, the MaxTrax has ramps at both ends, unlike some other products, so you can swap the leading edge. They even work pretty well upside down. (I note that the original discount copy and major competitor Tred now advertises a “pro” model with traction cleats claimed to be resistant to friction-induced melting—and a retail price higher than MaxTrax. An interesting approach.)

I don’t think less of those who choose to save on the purchase price and pick a copy of the MaxTrax. But for me, the original is worth the extra cost, both as a reward for imagining, developing, and proving the product in the first place—a massive investment—as well as for what I’ve concluded is arguably higher quality, which, as I’ve mentioned many times, often results in lower cost in the long run.

The Troopy camper, continued

A light-hearted comment from a reader regarding my use of the term “affordable” in the last post about our Land Cruiser Troopy led me to preface this one with a bit of background.

A decade ago Roseann and I had the idea to take the money we would have spent on, say, a new 4Runner, and instead refurbish a classic expedition vehicle—in that case a 1984 FJ60 Land Cruiser—with a modern turbodiesel engine and five-speed transmission, Old Man Emu suspension, and ARB diff locks. The result, after we re-engineered some egregious flaws in the original engine/transmission swap hack job done by a prestigious California company, was remarkable: a comfortable, capable FJ60 that had 40 percent more power than stock yet exceeded 25mpg on the highway. And since we had started with a straight and rust-free but tired FJ60 puchased for just $5,000, the total cost actually came in well under the sticker of a new 4Runner. And as you can imagine got a lot more attention.

There are some obvious downsides to this concept. First, no matter how much refurbishing you do (short of a mega-dollar frame-off restoration), you’re still dealing with an old vehicle capable of concealing potential problem areas despite a thorough pre-purchase inspection—and you won’t have a 50,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty to fall back on. (On the other hand you’ll be dealing with a simpler vehicle with fewer advanced systems to fail . . .) Second, no bank is going to loan you funds sufficient to purchase a new 4Runner once you admit you’re actually planning to spend it on a 25-year-old Land Cruiser. You’ll have to have the money in hand, or figure out alternative financing (or plan on a gradual refurbishment process). Finally, securing full-coverage insurance for a vehicle you insist is worth five times its Blue Book value will be challenging. You’ll need to investigate classic-vehicle specialists. Nevertheless, we were delighted with the turbodiesel FJ60, and eager to try the same approach again. 

This time around our goal was more ambitious. We wanted to start with the vehicle we both feel is, all things considered, the best expedition machine on the planet, the Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series Troop Carrier, or Troopy, powered by the company’s durable and efficient 1HZ overhead-cam diesel engine. With an excellent example secured for about $16,800 U.S. (see here), we were on our way. Next, we wanted to convert it to an efficient, self-contained camper which we could live out of comfortably for weeks or months on end if desired. This could easily have been accomplished by grafting on an oversized shell over the rear chassis, but neither of us wanted to do more than fractionally alter original lines of the vehicle, or risk the potential structural, handling, and GVWR issues of inflated non-stock bodywork—and doing so would have quickly blown through the target budget. So we limited surgical modifications to the excellent Mulgo pop-top roof conversion from the Expedition Centre in Sydney, which with a barely noticeable raising of the roofline gave us both full standing headroom and a full-size drop-down bed. Further initial modifications addressed fluid storage and outdoor shade (read here).

Next, Roseann sketched plans on her iPad Pro for interior cabinetry, using the experience gained with ownership of two Four Wheel Campers and several iterations of more basic camp setups. This was the most critical part of our modifications: Roseann likes to cook no matter where she is on the planet, so a well-stocked galley was mandatory. And we like to have as much luggage and equipment as possible stored in closed lockers rather than simply strapped down and visible to passers by.

With some guidelines from Daniel at the Expedition Centre, who has overseen many such conversions, the layout included a bench on the passenger (left) side of the vehicle, to maintain rear-quarter visibility from the driver’s seat, and a galley and cabinet/drawer stack on the driver’s side, which, uniquely, included provisions for our Kanz Kitchen chuck box/stove so that it could be used in situ, or removed and set up on its legs outside, comprising along with the drop-down Front Runner tailgate table and Eezi-Awn Bat 270 awning an outdoor kitchen for fair-weather cooking.

Also specifed by Roseann were two flat roller drawers, each securing a Wolf Pack cargo box containing kitchen supplies and basic foodstuffs. With the Wolf Packs pulled out and stacked near the Kanz she would have a complete kitchen with an unobstructed view (one of her—very few—complaints about our Four Wheel Camper is that its fixed galley necessitates cooking inside even in nice weather). The only fixed interior kitchen item would be the sink, fed with a pressure pump from the chassis-mounted 90-liter water tank. When cooking outdoors, water is available via the ingenious Nemo Helio, an air-pressurized water delivery system for shower or galley, with a 2.9-gallon capacity. The National Luna Weekender fridge-freezer, locked down crosswise just inside the rear doors, would be accessible from either inside or outside with its hinges configured longitudinally.

Next, Daniel sent CAD images of the plans, done to exact dimensions, and with the details sorted, we sent the okay to start construction.

Critical last-minute tests of cabinet fit.

All this planning was done with measurements, drawings, and instinct, and organized from 6,000 miles away, so we had some apprehension until we saw the finished product installed. And one night’s use was enough to lay all doubts to rest. Cozy? Yes—but both of us could sit inside while one cooked if it was frightful outside and we wanted to be buttoned up. Storage space was simply massive—we were stunned at how much of our gear disappeared inside the side and front bench and cabinets. Total time to pitch camp, including raising the roof, deploying and staking down the awning, setting out the folding table that stores cunningly in a slot in the bench, and setting out our Kermit chairs, was under 10 minutes.

Is it without compromise? No. It’s still the back of a stock-bodied Land Cruiser Troopy, not the interior of a 25-foot Airstream. The comfortable dinette of our FWC is missing: Although two can eat inside sitting on the benches and sharing the slide-out table, there are no backrests, and the neck-height ledge running down both sides of the back above the windows—the support for the bed when it’s dropped—precludes leaning back very far anyway. With the bed deployed there is only a two-foot-wide standing/climbing-up space between the back of it and the back of the vehicle, just enough room for one person to dress or undress. But these are mere quibbles when you consider we’ve constructed a home away from home completely contained inside an expedition vehicle of towering strength, reliability, and capability.

This photo shows the wood front of the Kanz closed; it is dropped for cooking.

In terms of workmanship, the plywood cabinetry is of very good, void-free quality, but standard five-ply construction. Screw holes are filled, corners rounded, and shut lines uniform. In a perfect (and much more expensive) world I’d have had them made from multi-ply Baltic birch and had the drawers finger-jointed or dovetailed; however they look handsome as is and should be perfectly durable.

The Kanz on its legs plus Wolf Packs comprise a complete outdoor kitchen. Roseann is recognizable by the spotted headscarf and numerous bits of weaponry on her belt.

Systems management is dealt with in two locations. In the face of the cabinet under the sink are a level gauge for the water tank and a power meter for the batteries (as well as the rocker switch for the faucet, which is on-or-off and could be improved with a variable-pressure control). And behind the driver’s seat is a recessed compartment containing the charge controller for the solar panel, a fuse panel, the easily replaceable water pump, and the hard-mounted ARB Twin compressor. There is room left over for the air hose and chuck for the compressor, and a tire repair kit. 

Our best gauge for the success of a camp setup is that after several days out, when we take a break at a nice hotel to see a town and do laundry and shopping, we find ourselves missing the camp. That has definitely been the case with the Troopy after a tour of southern Australia and a loop through Tasmania. 

What’s next? We’ll be leaving the vehicle with Daniel again for some odds and ends: security bars for the windows, a center console yet to be designed, storage and ready access for our binoculars.

On a more major scale, the aftermarket rear springs, which were on the vehicle when we bought it, are not quite managing to hold up to the additional weight of our modifications. There’s a barely noticeable sag when fully laden with fuel and water, and neither of us can tolerate any sag. So we’ll be investigating options. I’d also like to have an ARB locker in the rear axle, since factory lockers were sadly not fitted to this particular Troopy. The brakes, despite being discs on all four corners, could use improvement. Other than that, there is very little we feel would actually enhance the vehicle.

How about the budget target? Going back to our 4Runner comparison, the current base list on a mid-range 4Runner, the TRD Off Road, is $37,335. We are just a touch above that now—including the vehicle, pop top conversion, solar panel, water tank, Kaymar rack, all the interior work, all the systems controls, and numerous odds and ends, we have spent $38,930. However, next I'll detail the addition of a pair of decidedly optional bits that will move us up closer to 4Runner Limited territory. (#recaro . . .) 

Building an affordable Troopy camper

When your overlanding vehicle has a cargo area large enough to return echoes, you have a lot of options for configuring it. The basic, perfectly functional route would be to install about 40 tie-down loops in the floor, strap in a ground tent, cots, sleeping bags, a few jerry cans of water, a fridge (or three), and a chuck box, and go camping.

We sort of went the other direction.

Last year we drove our 1993 Land Cruiser HZJ75 Troopy (in the company of friends Graham Jackson and Connie Rodman in their own Troopy) from Sydney to Alice Springs and subsequently across the Simpson Desert via the Madigan Line (see here and here). Before the trip, Daniel Fluckiger at the Expedition Centre in Sydney neatly sliced off the roof of our perfectly sound vehicle and installed his signature clamshell pop top incorporating a full-sized drop-down bed and mattress. Although that was the extent of the modifications for that journey, the implications of having full standing headroom in the back of a Land Cruiser were clear, and we left the vehicle with Daniel to complete its transformation into a fully equipped camper that would retain the trim (?) original contours of the 78 body.

The first task was to eliminate the bank of internally-secured jerry cans we’d needed to ensure an adequate supply of water on the 600-mile no-resupply route across the Simpson. Daniel had the solution in the form of an exquisitely constructed 90-liter (23 gallon) stainless-steel tank mounted solidly under the floor between the chassis rails, in the perfect position to preserve—in fact microscopically enhance—the center of gravity. The tank’s multilevel construction ensures clearance for the driveshaft and axle at full rebound. A pump will deliver contents to a sink inside, and a gauge monitors the level. Despite the snug fit and complex construction, the tank can be removed if needed by simply disconnecting the driveshaft.

With dual (stock Toyota) fuel tanks totalling 48 gallons (and an efficient diesel engine), and 23 gallons of water, it’s unlikely we’d need extra capacity; however, it’s smart to have backup, and also a way to manually refill both fuel and water. So Daniel installed a Kaymar rear bumper with dual swing-out posts.

Daniel and Roseann inspect the jerry can/gas bottle holder for the Kaymar.

One will carry the spare tire (and our nifty outback braai); the other incorporates a bespoke dual NATO can carrier—one diesel and one water—and a mount for a gas (propane) bottle. The Kaymar rear bumper/rack is still the standard by which others are measured for strength and convenience, and the ball-bearing swing-outs have proven rattle-free after tens of thousands of kilometers of outback roads. 

No matter how clever the interior of the camper proves to be, we have no intention of holing up every night. On the inside of the rear door we find a drop-down table from Front Runner, this one distinguishing itself from similar items with the addition of a slide out side extension—brilliant. The Front Runner table, combined with our Kanz Kitchen chuck box (which incorporates a Partner Steel stove) means we can arrange an efficient outdoor kitchen in a few minutes. 

But what about shade for that kitchen in the desert? We have that . . . covered, with an Eezi-Awn Bat 270º awning, mounted on mighty aluminum brackets to the passenger (left) side of the vehicle. Fully deployed, it shades both side and back, providing plenty of shelter for cooking, eating, and relaxing. If desired, side wall panels can be added for privacy or blocking wind. 

Next up is the core of the Land Cruiser camper concept—interior plywood cabinetry made to our specs, with a recess designed to secure the Kanz Kitchen so it can be used in situ or removed to stand on its legs outside. We'll also be addressing the stock seats, completely collapsed after 23 years of what must have been ample Aussie backsides riding in them.

The Expedition Centre is here. Front Runner is here. Kaymar is here. Eezi-Awn products (and many others) are available through Equipt, here

 

Building a zero-hour F engine

If you’re only going to rebuild an engine every 20 years or so, you might as well do a thorough job. That’s been the guiding principle for both me and my master Toyota mechanic and friend Bill Lee, as he disassembled and inspected the six-cylinder F engine and transmission of my FJ40 (see this post for background). Actually it wouldn’t have mattered whether or not it was my guiding principle—Bill would have refused to do it any other way.

The engine had been showing distinct signs of power loss, although oil consumption was not unusual. Teardown revealed one certain cause: the camshaft was badly worn, and on a couple cylinders was clearly not producing much lift on the intake valves. Bill’s explanation for this was illuminating. Apparently on start-up of an F engine, the cam is the last part to receive oil from the pump. Generally this is no problem as residual oil provides plenty of lubrication—unless the vehicle is parked for long periods, in which case the oil will drain away from the cam lobes. The cam will then be without oil for the first 10 or 15 seconds after starting. And—surprise—for several years my FJ40 has seen long periods of idleness while we were traveling overseas, using the Tacoma and Four Wheel Camper for journeys in North America, and putting miles on various long-term review vehicles. Shame on me. (Bill suggested changing to an oil from Joe Gibbs Racing that displays cling properties superior to standard oils. And driving it more.)

Once Bill had the engine disassembled entirely, he called and we had a chat. The cylinders were in excellent condition, still within specs, even still showing factory cross-hatch honing marks. The pistons came right out, Bill reported—no wear ridge at all. 

However. The bores showed vertical scoring, and Bill and I were pretty sure where this originated, as I’d discovered a surgical-strike rodent intrusion in the air cleaner last year, the cleaner itself chewed through and remnants of comfortable rodent accommodations in the housing. I cleaned everything out, but it’s likely some debris had been sucked into the engine in the meantime. (Mystery: After the incident I put hardware cloth over the opening, but Bill found the air cleaner chewed again. Either one got in during the day or two before I installed the screen—likely—or I had the Harry Houdini of mice.) 

The consensus from the machine shop was that the scoring could not be completely honed out while keeping the bore stock, so we decided to bore the cylinders and install new pistons, Japanese-made units from ITM (Toyota pistons are no longer available for the F engine).

The main bearings were in good shape, but given the need for machine-shop work anyway we decided to turn the crank and install one size over bearings. Bill also suggested balancing the components—not a huge deal given the inherent primary balance and even firing order of an inline six-cylinder engine, but every bit helps. The machine shop matched the weight of all the connecting rods to the lightest one by judiciously grinding away material on the caps. (Hey! Less weight means more horsepower!)

Meanwhile, the head has been given a valve job, and equipped with new OEM valve guides and springs—which Bill had to source piece by piece from several dealers around the country. Factory parts such as these are becoming more and more rare. The replacement cam is an aftermarket item; however, it’s a brand Bill has used before with good results. The lifters as well are aftermarket Japanese manufacture. (The last few new OEM F cam/lifter sets sold for near $1,000; this set totalled about $400.)

What else? Bill wisely recommended replacing the oil pump, even though it was working fine. Toyota no longer makes the F oil pump, but the (improved) model from the 2F is still available—however, installing it requires a 2F oil pan as well, so that is in hand. New OEM timing gears will ensure precise cam timing.

Once everything is put back together (with a one-of-few-remaining factory gasket kit), we’ll have an essentially zero-hour engine. It should in fact be better nick than when I bought the vehicle from its original owner in 1978, with 24,000 miles on it.

The header was in good shape, and so ceramic-coated for re-installation.

Next up for attention will be the H41 transmission and transfer case.

Cummins-powered FJ40

As a general rule I’m not a big fan of non-factory-original engine swaps. I’ve seen the results of way too many back-yard hackers bolting Chevy 350s into FJ40s, and Ford 302s into Land Rover 109s. (Not to mention American V8s implanted in Jaguar sedans and even vilely stuffed up the rear of Porsche 911s.)

Even when it’s done well, the result in an FJ40 seems less a Chevy-powered Land Cruiser than a Toyota-bodied Blazer, at least in my book—especially when the engine is coupled to a Turbo Hydramatic auto transmission. Yeah, more power and better fuel economy, supposedly, but the fuel economy often turns out to be chimerical from what I’ve heard first-hand, and unless you want to tow a boat or something, 250 or 300 horsepower in a 90-inch wheelbase seems like overkill. The torque curve winds up in the wrong place. And the lopey firing order just sounds wrong compared to the smooth burble of an inline six. 

With diesel swaps my other-maker prejudice diminishes somewhat, since we’re now looking at potentially significant fuel savings, and a torque curve working in the same region (2,000 rpm) as the gasoline F or 2F. True, I’d still prefer a factory Toyota engine—a 1HZ or 13BT would be a tempting replacement in my 40. However, I’ve seen other options done well.

All this is leading up to the photo you see above. It’s a 1977 FJ40 belonging to Steve Sency of Durango, Colorado, who accomplished one of the most strikingly clean engine swaps I’ve ever seen. Steve sourced a Cummins 3.3BT four-cylinder diesel that had been powering a generator at a cell tower site, and coupled it with an Orion 4:1 transfer case and an NV4500 five-speed (manual) transmission. Notice the braided stainless hoses where a vacuum booster for the brakes would normally be. Since diesel engines do not produce the vacuum inherent in a gasoline engine (because the air intake tract is always wide open), Steve installed a Vickers hydraulic pump on the accessory port of the Cummins. The hydraulic boost system now services the brakes and the power steering. 

Steve reports up to 23 mpg at 60 mph (@2,000 rpm), which, given the roof tent, dual 12-gallon water tanks, and auxiliary fuel tank on the vehicle (not to mention the drag coefficient of the FJ40, roughly equivalent to that of a three-bedroom house), is pretty impressive.

Steve's wife, Linda, enjoying a perfect campsite.

Update: After several requests from readers, Steve sent a few more photos of the engine.