How to Go Up Big Red

Submitted: Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 20:17
ThreadID: 98144 Views:5464 Replies:8 FollowUps:12
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In a few days time I'll be in Birdsville and will travel out to Big Red. I've been there twice before and got my two Pajeros up to the top on the first run. The NK Petrol manual was just a matter of selecting centre locked low range and running at it in 2nd gear. With the NP diesel auto I again went low range and gunned it up to the top no problems using the auto box.

This time I have a GU III 2004 auto diesel ZD30 Patrol and wonder if a different approach might be better for this vehicle. Can I just put it into 2nd gear low range centre lock and cruise up to the top of this dune or will I, just like with my two Paj's, go for maximum power and let the auto box do the work. The low end torque of the Pootrol suggests the former but advice from anyone who's done this will be appreciated.
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Reply By: rumpig - Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 22:40

Thursday, Sep 20, 2012 at 22:40
as with all sand driving, it's all about tyre pressures.
if you need maximum power to reach the top then your possibly running too high of a tyre pressure. i've seen people try time and time again to conquore the climb going the maximum power route, one of those vehicles running 12 psi rear and 10 psi front tyre pressure and still fail. eventually the vehicle running 12 and 10 psi reduced it to 10 psi rear and 8 psi fronts and he drove straight over with a small run up. thinking it was easy that time around, he pulled up at the very bottom of the climb and with no run up at all drove straight up and over the dune.
on a side note...he only reduced the tyres to 10 psi and 8 psi because i went down to the bottom of the hill after he had originally given up, reduced my tyre pressures to that reading and managed to get over the climb where he and other travellers had failed on numerous (and i mean numerous) attempts earlier. once i'd done it, he couldn't leave me as the sole person to conquor the climb in the time we were there, so copied my tyre pressures and easily drove to the top.
AnswerID: 495328

Reply By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 08:29

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 08:29
Holde whatever your name is.

Take note of Rumpig. "It's all about pressures".

Forget the "gunning it". That's for the hoons and those who do not respect their cars. Just drop the pressures and from a standing start a bit back from the bottom criuse up. You could use 2nd low but if it is as easy as it was with us, just let the car choose its own gear. Try the easiest one first just to get the hang of it.

You shouldn't need more than around 2000 revs. We did it with 15psi, low and "2nd start" from a standing start just back from the loose stuff. We have a 100 series auto TC 4.2td with Cooper Maxx 285 wide tyres.

We wne through there about three weeks back and it was almost standing room only at the top. There was a great big tourist bus up ther. A UHF s a good idea so that someone (there will be one who wants to help) can let you know if it is clear just over the top so that you do not hit anyone. If you have a choice do it at sparrow fart or wait until late evening and go. Not one person around and we just had a little fun.

AnswerID: 495334

Reply By: Robin Miller - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 09:11

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 09:11
I would would have to disagree with some of the wise comments above, and below I show you how to prove this.

Driving a sandy plain is about having the right tyre pressures but ultimately driving big sand hills is about momentum.

Its obviously true that lower tyre pressures provide more floation and get you further almost no what the situation however this is only part of the story.

Consider a flat soft hot sand plain on which you can do many test runs, do several runs at slow speed raising your tyre pressures each time - and you will find there is a high tyre pressure at which you simply bog down and can go no further.

Next do the same run a lot faster - you will simply go further - end of test.

Now the sand on Big Red and similar hills ranges in softnest with the weather etc and this is why you get lots of opinions, somedays its simply easy.

Most can make it when conditions and good many more make it up when they lower there tyre pressures further , but there comes a set of conditions which are just to much.

When you reach this point you just have to go faster !

Anyone who doesn't accept this needs to just move there next attempt to the left and take the progressively harder paths over it.

So in conclusion , on many days just having low pressure is enough , but not always.

Your car is a an auto 3lt diesel with poor low end torque and a peaky power band.
Tyre pressures should be appropriate, but keeping the engine reving in the power band will take you the furthest.

Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 495336

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 09:33

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 09:33
I didn't think of the smaller non turbo motor Robin. Good point. Maybe a few hundred more revs should be the maximum. I was still in 4.2TD mode with the family cars which are all 4.2TDs.

One we day went up the easiest track locked in 2 low with 20 psi all around. But the car was very light then. That is why I did not mention an exact pressure. But it was hard going near the top and I would not recommend it. I don't like to tear the place up. But I must also say that it was early morning after a heavy dew the night before. The sand was perfect. Yep Cheated didn't I!!!

I was after a sunrise panorama for the kitchen splashback. We have been chasing this darn splashback for years. Thank god the search is over. It was one of those "You should have been here yesterday" damned things.

Later that day in the evening we were back down to 15. I havent tried it with a full load as one would have if one were crossing the Simpson.

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Reply By: wombat100 - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 12:01

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 12:01
Fair dinkum mate...If you've gotta ask how to drive over Big Red..maybe you shouldn't be doing it at all...and taking the bypass road..!!!!
AnswerID: 495346

Follow Up By: SKEB - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 12:26

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 12:26
Fair dinkum Wombat..

If you have a read of the post you will see that Holden4th has been up Big Red on previous occasions in two different 4wd's. This post was asking about a different type of 4wd to gauge people's ideas and experiences relating to that particular 4wd. Different 4wd's = different approaches and gaining some insight prior to tackling Big Red in a different 4wd was and is a good idea.

Nothing constructive to add, don't add anything at all.

Phew. I feel better now.

Good luck Holden4th, wish I was out there.

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Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 16:53

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 16:53
X2 Simon
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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 16:21

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 16:21
All about tyre pressure my friend

Anything near 12 psi (hot) is good. Easy as !

Just do not turn too sharp.

next time I am up there, I am gunna back up Big red.

Why, because I want to !

AnswerID: 495364

Follow Up By: Member - PJR (NSW) - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 16:55

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 16:55
Always thought that you were a bit "backward".

Don't blame me. You said that you wanted to do it backward.

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Follow Up By: Member - Rob S (NSW) - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 17:06

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 17:06
That's what i did to show a few people about tyre pressure,
Reduced the tyre pressure in the 285/75/16 BFG AT on the 80 series to 12 psi all round,
Drove only half way down big red stopped put in reverse and backed back up ,no running start just took of in the soft sand,not a problem
in 2nd gear low range nice and slow. and fully loaded with gear.

After watching this group of other vehicles get a running start from half way across the clay pan and didn't make it over on the first few attempts.

Though i will admit i didn't make it over the first time from the bottom with 18/20 psi in the tyres lol


I only ever made one mistake
and that's when I thought I was wrong!

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Reply By: philw- Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 19:50

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 19:50
There's plenty of video's on Youtube of 2WD vehicles romping over Big Red with consummate ease . It's the driver,not the vehicle.
AnswerID: 495374

Reply By: Holden4th - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 20:27

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 20:27
Thanks for the replies which have been very informative. I crossed the Simpson last in 07 ( very dry and powdery year) in the NP auto diesel and remember giving it a lot of stick and got up all but 7 of the dunes on first try. TThe auto box worked brilliantly.

The auto on the Pootrol is a very different beast and I'm not sure if the box will want to drop into third gear half way up BR which will mean I lose serious momentum. I believe the Pootrol has much better low end torque than the Paj and having watched both a Pootrol and a Troopy quietly crawl up some serious dunes on the French Line I would like to know if I can do this in my current vehicle which is an 04 ZD30 with 330 ks on the clock.

I guess that tyre pressure is vital and I intend to drop the Maxxis 771 ATs to 15 psi. I figure that if I put the stick into 2nd gear then I can maintain a constant torque and quietly stroll up to the top of the dune. Just to make things clearer I'll be doing this from the Birdsville side.
AnswerID: 495377

Follow Up By: Big A - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 21:13

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 21:13
S**t! Birdsville side! 1HZ trayback, 4WD, high range, second gear and probably 30 PSI all round with BFG ATs. PoP. (Piece of urine.)

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Follow Up By: wjh41 - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 22:27

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 22:27
Thats the whole problem when people talk about conquering big red,is it the bit you reach coming from birdsville or the bit you reach coming from the desert and which track ????? is anyone else confused. Wally
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Follow Up By: Holden4th - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 06:46

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 06:46
I'm going up the Birdsville side. I've got an 85 year old mate with me who has never seen the Simpson desert so I thought it would be good to take him to the top for a look. I've been up from the other side and know that it's considerably more difficult unless you take the 'chicken run'.
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Reply By: Crackles - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 23:27

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 23:27
From the Birdsville side high range 1st at 20 psi would probably do the job.
From the west on easy option 1, 15 psi in 'drive' low range, at a steady pace.
From the west on hard option 2, 15 psi held in 2nd (to avoid changing up)reaching max torque 20m from the top.
From the west on very hard option 3. Unlikely to succeed in a 3L Patrol but try emtying the car, lowering to 8 psi & hold in low 2 on the rev limiter.
From the west on virgin sand to the left of option 3 you will need an FJ Cruiser at 8 psi using all 200 KW's. No Patrols should even bother, simply too heavy ;-))

Cheers Craig..............
AnswerID: 495389

Follow Up By: wjh41 - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 07:05

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 07:05
Hello Crackles,good explanation however I will let you know how 4.2TD fully loaded ute goes in 2 weeks Wally
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 10:19

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 10:19
G'day Wal. I suppose the underlying message is while low tyre pressures will definately make it far easier, power to weight will ultimately determine success especially on the hard options. The big turbo diesel 80 & 100 series in our group loaded for the crossing didn't even look like making the hard option 3 weeks ago despite very experienced drivers.
Have a fun drive, the desert is looking great.
Cheers Craig..................
FollowupID: 771036

Follow Up By: Big A - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 16:27

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 16:27
Well, I was just too lazy to let the tyres down unless I had to, so that is why I tried at the pressure that I drove out from Birdsville on. Got to the top on the easy side, easily. I did not feel the need to prove myself or the old girl by doing Big Red from the west.

Wonderful sight, especially with Lake Napparenica with that much water in it.

The road out was the roughest we were on, except for the west part of the Barcoo. (On the outer Barcoo, where the graders are few!)

This was a few weeks before the races.

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Follow Up By: Off-track - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 22:14

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 22:14
I did it once too lazy to let tyres down as well; up the east side at 40psi 2nd low. Didnt even look like getting into bother, but it was slightly damp underneath so that would definitely have helped.

I didnt push my luck on the west side though...
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