Flinders in July (specific questions)

Submitted: Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 12:38
ThreadID: 5378 Views:2271 Replies:9 FollowUps:12
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Hi everyone, I'm looking for some advice. Due to altered circumstances my brother is now able to a trip to the Flinders (from Sydney via BH). However, with only a few weeks to prepare, he is getting a bit "wound up" with some of the decisions required.

He runs a Ford Explorer (originally purchased to tow a boat and possibly in line for a change soon), that he needs to prepare for the trip. It's done 100,000 kms and the shocks are gone. The thing only has 3 leaves in the rear springs! I don't know what tyres he is running but I'll bet they're road-biased. He realises he'll need to replace the front and rear shocks and do something to revamp the rear springs, especially as it will be fully laden. However he has been told, variously, that he should have the springs reset and add 1 leaf, just add 1 leaf, replace the whole lot, and just add PolyAir bags.

He was considering Rancho 5000 shocks for the front and Rancho 9000 (adjustable)for the rear, or an OME set-up from ARB. He's put off a little by the $2,000 price tag but has come to realise any option will cost at least $1,500.

Any advice on the best suspension mods, or a recommended Sydney workshop?

Also, I'm concerned he will rip those HT tyres to pieces on the roads in. Has anyone been there recently? What are the road conditions like? Will HTs cut the mustard or can he expect to be performing many repairs? What tyre pressures are recommended - road pressures or something around 25-28 psi?

RohanTalk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
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Reply By: Pipeliner - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 12:47

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 12:47
I was up there end of April in a stock Jeep Cherokee with the original tyres (2000km on the clock). Went on the Echo Camp Backtrack at Arkaroola and the Arkaba Station track - no problems.

The Flinders is well set up for tourists, and you can get to most of the scenic attractions without having to worry too much about vehicle preparation - apart from the obvious of course, the stuff you do for any trip anywhere.

Bear in mind that most tracks are operated commercially or are National Parks, and may be closed if there has been heavy rain.
AnswerID: 22194

Reply By: Dean - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 13:01

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 13:01
Rohan K, Was up that way in April, drove around Argadell's including Mt. Arden, on HT's with no probs.Tyres have done 32,000 and ran 30psi.
AnswerID: 22197

Reply By: Outnabout David (SA) - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 13:37

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 13:37
No matter what the tyre is that you are running you could either stake or puncture it. I have driven up there on Grandtreks and not had a problem and have punctured a light truck tyre, its all a matter of luck and reducing the chances of problems. Whatever tyre you run the best advice is to drop tyre pressure 10 psi on the dirt and drop speed to a max of 80kph. That way the tyres will be more likely to conform and roll over the rocks rather trhan puncture plus ypou get more time to view the magnificent scenery. The logic behind the lower pressure is simple. How easy is it to burst a half flat ballonn compared to a fully blown up one?We have so little time to enjoy our land
AnswerID: 22202

Follow Up By: Pipeliner - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 13:49

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 13:49
This is only a good idea if you have an air compressor to re-inflate the tyres, as there is a good bitumen road to take you between the sites you will want to visit and very few service stations!
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Follow Up By: CJ - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 16:25

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 16:25
Outnabout David,

Do you suggest 10 PSI in loose sand only? I thought you should then re-inflate to at least 20 psi for dirt roads. Remember that your tyre pressure need to allow for the added weight of the truck when fully loaded. I would not want to travel 80km/hr with 10 psi



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Follow Up By: Outnabout David (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 08:25

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 08:25
You are right, you need an air compressor but I was assuming that anyone going 4wd would have both a compressor and basic recovery gear packed in the car. Anyone not having these basics shouldn't be going into 4wd country IMHO.We have so little time to enjoy our land
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Follow Up By: Outnabout David (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 08:27

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 08:27

You mis-read my post. Tyre pressures should be reduced by 10 psi. ie if you run 38 then reduce to 28 but make sure you reduce speed accordingly.We have so little time to enjoy our land
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Reply By: Pete G - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 14:13

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 14:13
We were there last year. There should be no problems with the H/T tyres on the major roads to the major destinations. Off road with care should be OK if on recognised tracks. May be an idea to carry a spare tube & a large gator patch as a substitute for a 2nd spare. If he has a tyre kit take it but not absolutely essential

Sounds like the rear springs and shockies need some attention - although I only run the Standard Patrol suspension - this handled it easily.

The road from Yunta to Arkaroola (300km) was corrugated in places and some of the creek crossings were a bit sharp. As a guide we averaged 60-70 kph for this section. A 500km fuel range would be adequate as long as you top up as you go. Petrol is readily available as long as you are not fussy about the brand.

Take plenty of warm sleeping gear - otherwise the mould for the brass monkey might come in useful. Minus 7-8 is not uncommon at night. Once the sun comes up the days are quite warm.

Please have your brother follow the usual recommendations for outback travel, although if staying on the major roads, help is not too far away. It would be a good idea to allow/carry enough food & water to allow for a minimum 24hr delay. If going offroad then up this.

The shop here has a couple of useful maps for the area.

From NSW we went Yunta to Arkaroola then up & back to Maree, Leigh Creek Hawker via Blinman , Craddock, Orroroo, Peterborough.

Refer to previous recent posts on the Flinders (last 2 weeks)
Refer to previous posts about passing through Wilcannia.



AnswerID: 22205

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 09:14

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 09:14
Thanks Peter. I'll pass this info on. I noticed on the weather reports the other night that Bourke got down to -4 and Cooma was -8, so I expect it will be getting pretty cool out there.

I'd forgotten to mention Wilcannia to him. Thanks for the reminder.Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14652

Reply By: Member - Wherethehellawi - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 14:22

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 14:22
road conditions in the Flinders are generally good. Most sedans can get around the flinders ok but not the sky trecks etc. but in a 4x4 nothing to worry about really.

Off up to the Gammon Ranges on the 22nd and will be coming back thru the flinders (wilpena and hawker) on 28th june. will let you know if anything out of the ordinary....ie vastly different from last 8 trips over 8 yrs to this destination at this time of the year.

Arkaroola has an interesting track which again should be ok for explorer on highway rubber. unless of course it gets really wet...

AnswerID: 22207

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 09:16

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 09:16
Thanks Richard. I'd appreciate that. He intends to visit Hawker, Wilpena and Arkaroola, but generally stay in the eastern and northern regions.Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14653

Reply By: ThePublican - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 17:25

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 17:25
Rohan,,Ive had the Explorer since new in 97,,polyairs the go for the rear,,did the Flinders last year Aug/Sept,,the Explorer will go anywhere any STANDARD 4X4 will go.
AnswerID: 22220

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 17:30

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 17:30
Thanks Publican. I have PolyAir in the back of the Pathfinder (coils) and find they do their job well.

Did you have them fitted, or do it yourself? Ever had any problems with the bags in terms of damage (from rocks, etc)? Have you retained the standard leaf springs?Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14601

Reply By: Member - Rohan K - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 17:41

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 17:41
The general consensus seems to be that, with a little common sense (suspension issues not withstanding), the Explorer should have no problems.

I reckon, if getting rid of the Explorer sooner rather than later is on the cards, the cheapest option for the suspension will be PolyAir bags and new shocks.

Thanks for the responses. I'll pass your comments on.
Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
AnswerID: 22222

Follow Up By: ThePublican - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 16:51

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 16:51
Rohan,,Fitted polyairs myself, from memory took one to one and a half hrs and 5/6 stubbies,,still on original leaf springs and shocks also,,tow a camper trailer every 4th week,,weighs in at 750kgs loaded,, 22lb in polyairs and would not know trailer is there if I didnt see it in the mirror,, as for tyre pressures in the Flinders ?? can vary from normal h/way pressure down to soft sand, back to way high to stop straking,, we followed one supposedly "easy" track and had to change air pressure 6 times in 56klm,,, as for " local " advise on tyre pressures it seems to vary more that the weather in a single day in Melbourne,, was told soft at Marree ,hard at Mungerannie,soft at Birdsville, so who knows,,shredded a tyre 20klm from Mungerannie ,, 2 punctures [ flint thru the thickest part of the tread ] inbetween Mungerannie and Birdsville,, its more like luck of the draw,, all tyres were new with less than 5,000klm...
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Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Thursday, Jun 12, 2003 at 10:11

Thursday, Jun 12, 2003 at 10:11
Thanks Publican. I forwarded your response to him and he was glad to hear from an Explorer owner. It seems you guys are bit like Pathie owners - the ones that actually use the 4x4 capability of the vehicle being few and far between).

Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14684

Reply By: kezza - Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 21:37

Tuesday, Jun 10, 2003 at 21:37
Re tyre pressures for flinders area - was there in early may - word from some of the tyre people at Leigh ck, Copley and Marree - "we run our tyres at 40 psi on these roads" Pink roadhouse says drop em to 24 - 28psi on the local roads

common statements were - to be lucky if you got 30-40,000klm out of a tyre in these parts
My opinion - Low tyre pressure for slow slippery rocky uphill and sand and mud(10-24psi) depending on load. High pressure for high speed 80kmh+ Medium pressure for medium speeds on outback roads.

Seems low pressure saves you fom some sorts of tyre damage - but opens sidewalls to staking - high pressure saves you from sidewall staking but can cause intrusions into steel belts etc locals think high pressure best compromise on their roads but I dont think anybody can say for sure what is best - you really have to have a compressor and adjust pressure as needed.

same goes for tyre brands and types - they see all brands and all types with punctures - obviously your most puncture resistant will be the MT types and your least resistant will be HTs but luck, good driving skills and a bit of black magic seems to be the recipe
AnswerID: 22250

Follow Up By: Member - Rohan K - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 09:23

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 09:23
Thanks Kezza. Funny, isn't it. You'd think with some of the issues we face 4WD'ing, there'd be a right way and a wrong way, and that's true for a few things. But with many, like this, it seems everyone has their own ideas on the best method, which seems to work for them while others have directly opposing views and that seems to work for them. I guess it depends on so many variables, such as track type/condition, vehicle set-up/weight, tyres, weather, driver skill and personal preferences.

I've recommended he get himself a reasonable (but inexpensive) compressor, so he'll be able to suss it out for himself.
Talk is cheap ...
Rohan (Sydney)
FollowupID: 14654

Follow Up By: Pete G - Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 10:33

Wednesday, Jun 11, 2003 at 10:33

What Kezza said about the locals going for the high pressures is the norm for the opinions in the area.

Personally, I think the use of the round thing in the drivers hands is what is more important. Apart from sand and other extreme conditions over a short distance the reduction of pressure is fraught with dangers.

A tyre at lower pressure builds up heat (bearing in mind that on such a trip you are running near maximum load). The heat generated in a tyre is a function of speed, pressure and load. (The old truckies used to run higher pressures so they could carry more load without having as many blowouts. For a given load the tyre will run cooler if a higher pressure is used)

If lower pressures are used it is essential to reduce speed. Otherwise the heat buildup can reduce the tyre life.

I have over the years travelled extensively in these areas in both 4WD and Passenger based vehicles and have always run "standard" tyre pressures.

I have seen the damage people do.
However, personally I have never damaged a tyre through the tread although in a car I have done damage through the sidewall.
(it was a hired one!! with crappy baggy radials - anyone rember the old uniroyals )

To my way of thinking the issue is a trade off between standing the sidewalls up and taking a harder knock on the tread.

I am with running slightly softer within the manufacturers recommended range for the tyre but keeping an eye on what this does to the shape of the tyre.

Speed also plays a part as well - it is a case of driving to the conditions - those who pass me seem to have more problems. (I must say that I do not wear a hat and make good time nothwithstanding.) I cannot really give any guidelines except to say that roads in these areas are not freeways and as such do not expect to do 110kph on them.

A tip I could suggest is to listen to the rocks flicked up by the tyres hitting the underbody and then drive to this (ie the rattle of small gravel is OK but loud thumps are not). In conjunction speed should be such that if need be you can drive (not swerve!!! or have to continually brake sharply) around rocks with comfort.

However, use of the round thing that the driver holds and travelling at the right speed is far more important.



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Reply By: phil - Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 09:39

Friday, Jun 13, 2003 at 09:39
Grindells Hut area in the Gammon Ranges is a magic place to spend a couple of days.
Wonderful walking around there. Was there 2 weeks ago. Road in was recently worked on.

Spent 4 weeks around the Flindeers with a Mazda 4WD ute and the original HT tyres. Had 1 minor cut in a sidewall on the Paralana Springs road at Arkaroola. Fixed at Arkaroola for $25. Ran 30 front, 35 rear.

AnswerID: 22396

Follow Up By: Member - Wherethehellawi - Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 11:42

Saturday, Jun 14, 2003 at 11:42
the hut can be hired out by contacting Balcanoona rangers quaters. Hut has hot and cold running water together with 24 volt lighting and gas cooker and if your like us Crayfish for 3 nights as entree.Geez were spoilt!!!Richard
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