Tyre pressure in the Desert

Submitted: Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 09:36
ThreadID: 24858 Views:2768 Replies:4 FollowUps:4
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Just back from the EO get together in Birdsville and have another comment on tyre pressures. We were out having a play on Big Red, seven vehicles, all aired down to around 15lb, having a ball going up and down the numerous tracks, none having any difficulty. Even my missus drove up a couple of times, no problems.

Over the radio we hear a group approaching from the desert and eventually spot the leader of this group on the top of the next dune west, waiting for one of his party of 4 to be snatched from a bog hole. The desert was pretty wet and it turns out that this group just managed to get out of Dalhousie before the Rangers closed the track, so they were travelling in very marginal conditions.

Anyway, we were all still having a blast on Big Red and because we were all running low pressures the tracks were holding up well. Along comes the desert party:- a 100 series, an 80, a Troopy and a defender. The first one lines up and gives it heaps and only gets about half way up. Backs off and second one has a go, only gets about half way up. These two proceeded to have a few more attempts with no luck. When politely queried about tyre pressures we found they were all running "highway pressure" and had been doing so all the way across the desert.......! Claimed that Big Red was the first dune they had any trouble with!
Eventually they were persuaded to lower their pressures and hey presto, up they came. Still took a couple of goes as they were still reluctant to air right down first time.
Anyway, off they went, slapping each other on the back and hi fiveing etc. I decided to have aonther run so went down the western side, turned around and boy what a mess! The track was so chewed up from these 'heroes', it was a complete mess. The Paj still got up no worries, admittedly I was not fully loaded at the time, the heroes obviously were.
Moral of this little tale is just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. These di%^#!@*ds drove right across the Simpson in very marginal conditions with highway pressures in their tyres. They obviously COULD do it but that doesn't mean they SHOULD have!
Wonder what sort of mess they left the rest of the dunes in....

BTW, had a ball in Birdsville and it was great to put faces to names. We are looking forward to more get togethers like this, hopefully in a warmer, drier climate :-) Our total trip was a 6000k lap of QLD. Went up the coast as far as Innisfail then went inland, down the Kennedy Development Rd to Hughenden, Richmond, Winton, Longreach, Windorah (camped on the banks of the Cooper Creek) Birdsville then home. Only problem was a broken spring on the camper, 20Ks west of Roma on the Warrego Highway, by far the roughest stretch of road on the whole trip.

Back to work now and saving for the next trip.

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 10:30

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 10:30
Not just the tracks, but the tyres, suspension, vehicle and passengers suffer.

As soon as I leave the bitumen, my tyres go down to 25psi - thats on any gravel surface and with any load. On sand, and bad corrugations, 20psi or less.

As a result, in the past 6 years and umpteen desert trips, I have had no punctures and no suspension problems. That includes 4 Simpson Desert trips including the Madigan Line and Hay River, 3 Anne Beadell Hwy trips and a heap of others.

Just returned from the Hay River - 8 vehicles in our group - all ran low pressures - no punctures and zero vehicle problems. Two years ago, had a group of 12 vehicles across the Simpson - no punctures.

I can't understand why anyone wants to keep the pressures up in 4wd tyres. Maybe it was drummed into them asa baby??? :-)))

AnswerID: 121084

Reply By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Moses - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 11:05

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 11:05
Hi John and Mrs Bitchi,

Just home overnight for a three week working stint before going back North and getting Moses who is bathed in sunshine as we speak, North of Mackay on a lovely headland surrounded by wallabies. Too idyllic to be home in cold Victoria right at the moment.

I was amazed at the guys you mentioned and their self-riteous approach to the tyre pressure angle as "we have no reason to change as we have done the desert at 40psi" Sorry, I was coughing as I was laughing in to the UHF microphone at their failure to get half way up Big Red. I did hear afterwards from one of the guys he actually still had the plackarded 40psi front and 50psi in the rears as the Landrover manual stated. Really good for carrying one tonne loads on paved streets but damages sand tracks.

Another painful thing was that they were carrying EO stickers which would otherwise have shown some access to knowledge! The EO stickers came with the Desert Passes purchased through EO obviously in a package deal. I actually saw some other EO stickers along the highway East of Boulia on the road to Winton on towed CTs.

As you say John, it was great to put names to the faces and to have spent four days touring with Wim and Judy before getting to Birdsville too with four nights camping with water views close at hand at Cullyamurra Waterhole, Coongie Lakes and at the Cudelga Waterhole, near the ruins. It was great to have a longer time with these members, excellent company you are Wim and Judy, thank you.

Camped beside Bro Willem and Judith at the Birdsville Caravan park too, and to catch up with Ruth and Ian again and the Saturday night dinner at the Big Red Cafe, around the fire with drinks too and Karstens' entertainment.

A great time folks and thanks for your company.
AnswerID: 121087

Follow Up By: GOB & denny vic member - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 17:40

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 17:40
goodday john
did you leave heather and your wallet up north as well lololol

we leave on the 5 -8 do ypou need a lift back we will be in mackay about the 17 th
may be able to catch up if you are still in the area
will send a mm closer to the time

FollowupID: 376197

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Moses - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 22:01

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 22:01
g'day Steve,

Unfortunately I brought it back almost empty apart from the fuel dockets. We will be almost home on the 17th so we will obviously cross over on your way North and our way South somewhere along the way. The mobile number is on the rig pic page or can mm you with the CDMA number if I haven't already given it to you.........
FollowupID: 376256

Reply By: Boo - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 17:22

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 17:22
Mr Bitchi,

Great to hear you all had a good trip. We're planning a similar trip next year towing a camper trailer.

You mentioned that you had a spring break on the camper, what sort of springs were they and how much weight approx. were you carrying. Any tips you can suggest for towing a camper across the desert areas would be appreciated.

AnswerID: 121149

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic)&Moses - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 21:55

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 21:55
Hope you allow to be able to go back for it if it breaks down Boo as you see frames about. Friends say there was one being stripped of some of the gear as a family left it. It may take a few days to go back for recovery dependent on where it happens to break up
FollowupID: 376253

Follow Up By: Member - MrBitchi (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:28

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 08:28
It's a 7x5 off-road box trailer with a soft floor camper on top, leaf springs, dual eye type not slipper. Was carrying about 800KG I guess, camper and all the gear. Snapped the main leaf on the drivers side. Had a new spring pack fitted in Roma, about $150 inc labour. Now the trailer sits lop sided as the originals had sagged quite a bit. Will get a new spring on the other side and carry the oldie as a spare. Trailer is about 5 yrs old and has done some fairly major trips. This is the first problem I've had with it.
Never towed it the desert on this trip. Camped at Birdsville for 3 days and played from there.

Tips for towing in the desert areas? Load up and take a trip to somwhere like Fraser Island or Stockton Beach and practice in the soft sand before you go. Learn what your vehicle and trailer are capable of first.

LOWER YOUR TYRE PRESSURES!!!!!! 15LB is a good starting point for really soft sand.

Any well sorted off road capable trailer is capable of being towed in the desert with correct tyre pressures and a powerful enough vehicle. The thing to be concious of is if you have to have it recovered because of a breakage it's gonna cost you a bomb. Make sure you carry spares such as a spare main leaf spring, (the main leaf is the only one you'll ever break, no need to carry a whole spring pack) bearings and grease, adequate spare tyres and anything else that will stop you moving, plus all the tools required to replace bits. A spare tow pin is also a good idea if your hitch is the pin type (Treg or Orac etc).
Also remember your going to chew up a fair bit more fuel with a trailer on the back. For something like the Simpson you need to allow for at least double your normal towing consumption as most of the time you'll be in 2nd gear.
If you're just stiking to the main tracks, Birdsville, Strezlecki, Oodnadatta etc then normal gravel road conditions apply. None of these major tracks usually present any difficulty other than endless Ks of gravel, bulldust and corrugations.

Enjoy your trip.
FollowupID: 376276

Reply By: Boo - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 17:39

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 17:39
Hi John,

Thanks for the information. We will be towing a full off road All Terrain Camper Trailer, it has 8 leaf double rebound springs, and we intend to carry a spare set of springs, bearings etc and all necessary tools. The trailer is currently being constructed so it won't have done too much before we do this trip. We don't expect to have too much trouble but plan to take all precautions so as to be prepared for any eventuality. We will be travelling in a convoy of three other vehicles so if something does go wrong I'm sure between us we will manage. As for other peoples comments about trailers breaking down and having to be left there until it can be recovered, I doubt this will be an issue as this trailer is built to withstand these types of conditions, it is my understanding that the trailers that have had problems have been either ill prepared or of the wrong standard for the conditions.

Thanks again,
Kerrie (Mrs Boo)
AnswerID: 121332

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