Principles of Overlanding: Building a 70 Series Land Cruiser
Scott Brady and Paul Marsh discuss the Principles of Overlanding, selecting and modifying a 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser. Paul shares his experience building hundreds of 70 series models for trans-continental journey (primarily in Africa), including his own projects. Paul also assisted with the preparation of the VDJ78 for Expeditions 7, setting it up for travel in Antarctica. Scott shares his experience racing a PZJ73 in the Outback Challenge and also owning an LJ78 and BJ74. Additionally, Scott shares his experience building the VDJ78s for Expeditions 7, and using the platform with Greg Miller to take the same Land Cruiser to all seven continents.
*transcript is unedited*
Scott Brady: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I am your host, Scott Brady. And for this week's conversation, we're going to go into the principles of overlanding, building a 70 series land cruiser. The 70 series land cruiser is iconic and it is currently the gold standard for. around the world vehicle builds, and this is because the vehicle is not only extremely durable, but it's also exceptionally reliable and in various forms.
It's also very easy to live and operate out of, including in very technical terrain. Personally, I've used 70 series land cruisers around the world. We used a 78 series to take the same four wheel drive to all seven continents with the expedition seven trip. So we go into my experience with the 70 series, but This conversation would be incomplete without an expert on the subject.
And for that, we have Paul Marsh. Paul [00:01:00] is extremely experienced with the 70 series and he understands a lot of the weaknesses of the platform. So he talks at length about how to prepare a 70 series for long distance travel. The systems that he uses, the issues in, in the vehicle that he addresses in various ways.
But we really take a pragmatic approach, a very simple approach towards the vehicle because it benefits from not being overbuilt despite its capacity for load. This is a very important conversation about a very important vehicle. So please enjoy our principles of overlanding, building a 70 Series Land Cruiser.
And a special thanks to Rocky Talkies for their support of this week's podcast. Rocky Talkies are backcountry radios designed by a small team in Denver. The radios are extremely rugged, easy to use and compact weighing in at just under eight ounces. They have a range of one to five miles in the mountains and up to 25 miles line [00:02:00] of sight.
The batteries will last from three to five days and you can recharge them easily via USB C right in the vehicle. Our team uses Rocky Talkies and we also used them recently at the Overland Expo. The next Overland Expo, stop into our booth and say hello and check out the radios for yourself. And as a listener of the Overland Journal podcast, you can get 10 percent off a pair by going to rockytalkie.
com forward slash Overland Journal. Thanks again, Rocky Talkie. So thank you Paul Marsh for being on the podcast again for those that are listening You can you can listen to Paul's story and a lot of his advice in general around overlanding in One of our previous podcasts, but today we're gonna go through the principles of overlanding building a 70 series landcruiser and if I was to say If there was a single vehicle that I had the most respect [00:03:00] for in overlanding, it would be a 70 series Land Cruiser.
For me personally I've trusted my life to those models on seven continents, and I've owned many 70 series, and they have been a source of joy and dependability and adventure for me throughout the last couple decades. So, let's start off with What was your first experience with a 70 Series that you, that's notable that you remember?
Paul Marsh: Scott, it's such an interesting story, and thank you for having me on the podcast again. It's great to be able to connect with you and see you after so many years if we haven't
Scott Brady: seen each other. I know, although it seems like it was just yesterday. And that's a 70 Series story too, which we'll get to.
Paul Marsh: So, I'd done my trip through Africa and came back into Botswana where I was living.
And I had my eye on a 70 Series Troopy, well a 78, but it was an old one. [00:04:00] It was left hand drive, and I just saw this truck and I just knew I had to own this truck. But I couldn't quite afford it, and then it was a question of how was I going to buy this truck. I have a firm belief that if you visualize something, you can create anything that you want.
Yeah. And I absolutely use it day in, day out. I use it with my, my hobbies. I, I fly para motors. Mm-hmm. And I visualize my, you are, so, my training and , I'm so
Scott Brady: like, like our, our. Do South Africans get a paraglider, like wind, paramotor, sailor, when they, when they're born? No, when you're born. I think
Paul Marsh: it's part of the package is the paraglider.
And then when you can walk, you get the paramotor.
Scott Brady: And then, and then you're, you're, you're you're, you're christened in a, in a cage with a great white or something like that.
Paul Marsh: It's near enough. Yeah. Yeah. And we pretend not to be too rugged.
Scott Brady: That is so funny. That is such a common thing for South Africans,
Paul Marsh: for sure.
It's true, I guess, in a way. But yeah, so, [00:05:00] visualizing is really powerful. And this was a dream. I wanted this truck. And a friend of mine, who I'd known for a long time, he said, listen, you know what? Let's build this truck up together. Let's build this amazing truck. And I've come back from this amazing...
Expedition, one and a half years, traveling through
Scott Brady: Africa. And that was in a Hilux,
Paul Marsh: wasn't it? That was in a Hilux. So a Hilux, you know, a Hilux, a simple Hilux, solid axle in the front, okay, it had all leaf springs, but it was a strong, trusty truck. They're not strong, as in, as in solid for a lot of weight, but it was a reliable vehicle.
Sure. You know, what I broke on it was through ignorance and overweight and mistakes I made. But seeing that, and... Knowing that the next truck we could have would need to be something stronger. Something that could really just pound those hard roads. You know, when you drive on some of the roads and the corrugations are endless, and you know this poor vehicle is taking an absolute beating.[00:06:00]
You know, you're looking for a truck that's going to be solid. That's right. Simple, a simple, solid, reliable truck. That's right. If I can put it back to that. And, you know, the 70 Series has got a lot of value in what they have. I guess the Troopy is one of my favorite trucks. Yeah. The truck behind us is a Troopy and we build a lot of Troopys for clients.
People can live inside. It's
Scott Brady: such a unique configuration and it was the vehicle that we chose for Expedition 7. Greg and I
Paul Marsh: did. And a good choice really because I mean you built that and adapted it to cater for a lot of different scenarios. And I think, you know, when I look at all the vehicles that are available and You know, I've, I've owned most, a lot of them, different ones at times in my life.
Currently I have two 80s, which I'm very passionate about. But a Troupie. Yeah, they're good. The 80s are different and they're great. It's a classic vehicle and I guess that's part of what I like about it. But you [00:07:00] know, when we build the Troupies, there's a lot of value in how you can build it. Because what you're doing is you're creating a small home and this small home takes you Yeah.
Yeah. to the remote places you want to go and explore. And, and the challenge is to build it in a way that you can, you can use it in a comfortable way. You get what you need. You're not going to be sitting on top of each other. So you've got a very limited space. I mean, you know, the vehicle's not wide.
It's not too long. You're sleeping in it. You could eat in it. You could, you know, I guess in Africa you live more around the vehicle and outside because the weather's good. When the weather's bad, you confine to the truck. You
Scott Brady: can find some respite, for sure. Yeah. And so that was your first one, and I'm trying to, I mean, the first time that I ever drove a 70 Series was when...
I had the amazing fortune of being sponsored to race in the Outback Challenge in Morocco, in Africa. And [00:08:00] Patrice Ryder, who is a wonderful, wonderful human being took a huge chance on me. George Caruso is also from Xtreme Outback in the United States, who's the one who introduced me to Patrice, but Patrice basically said he wanted to bring over the...
A, you know, an American driver that could also generate some content and he handed me the keys to a PZJ 73 with with 35 inch tires and a, and a fast winch and, and a good suspension and, and and that was my first exposure to driving. That's Cape Town. And it was, and that was in 2006. And it was so early on in my travels, I mean, I had really not traveled.
to Europe other than when I went there in the military. And I actually just didn't even know if France was right or left hand drive. I can't remember, I couldn't remember, I didn't know. I just didn't, this was so early days for me. And the things that that 70's [00:09:00] series endured. in race conditions, very technical conditions, you know, technical terrain, winching, everything else like that.
Unbelievable how strong
Paul Marsh: they are. And that's the thing, I think, you know, you hit the nail on the head there. They're strong. Yeah. They're strong. They've got a ladder chassis. It's a strong chassis, you know, good engines. The Toyota engines have always been good. Maybe a bit underpowered in certain circumstances, but that's what makes them reliable.
They're reliable. Yeah. You know, you, you drive to the place and you have probably the best vehicle you could have wandering around the bush and it doesn't take away You get great vehicles all around, you know, it's just in particular. I think if I have to look at Africa As a footprint and probably Australia to the Toyota has dominated that platform in a big way I think you know, thanks to Toyota.
They've done a lot of work on putting dealerships and supply But the reality goes down to the reliability It does if I see if I spoke to hunters in Africa when I [00:10:00] question when I went through Africa on my big trip The initial one, I was fascinated with the weak points of vehicles. So I'd stop off at Toyota dealerships, hunting, camps, wherever I could find, you know, what are the problems on the trucks?
And I, you know, I got to learn what the weaknesses were. Sure. And the 70 series had very few weaknesses. I mean. You'd see them if they were tired, you know, and I find, when I see today,
Scott Brady: when I see... Tired means a half a million, half a million kilometers. Well, they kind
Paul Marsh: of run in at about a hundred thousand, maybe more, you know.
Yeah. And I genuinely mean that, you know. Yeah. If you take these engines and you drive them, people, people cringe when you say, I've taken a vehicle of 500, 000 kilometers. I'm going to build it into a truck. Yeah. Actually, if it's not burning oil and it's not smoking and do the injectors and put a timing belt and a pump on...
Sure. It's going to keep going. And they do. They do, yeah. So I think, you know, if you look at sort of the workhorse of Africa, the Land Cruiser has to be one of the vehicles that's [00:11:00] very respected in that, in that field. And I
Scott Brady: believe that a lot of travelers, their primary consideration around a vehicle is Reliability.
I don't want it to break down with on me in the middle of nowhere, and if I do have a problem I want to be able to service it So that's where Toyota has such an advantage because it is the least likely to fail And then if it does there are Toyota dealerships around the world that often times sell, sell the same vehicle, particularly if you're doing long overland trips.
If you're in South America, you're going to be able to get parts for a 70 Series. If you're in South Africa, you're going to be able to get parts for a 70 Series. Same with Australia or anywhere else that really comes to mind for the most part. There are very few markets that don't sell that vehicle.
Other than In North America, which is so sad, which is so sad, you know, and it's, and it, you know, it's, it's not Toyota's fault. You know, there's you and me and Greg Miller and about 15 other guys who want that one that [00:12:00] would really buy one. They're just, and that, I guess it is also important. For us, for those that are listening, it's important to talk about the downsides of the 70 series, which the one that really stands out to me is that it is not, you talk a lot about, you know, is it safe?
Is it reliable? You know, and for me, One of the challenges of the 70 series is it's a less safe car on the road. Yes. Yeah, it is it is much higher Center of gravity. It's a very narrow track. They've kept the track fairly similar to the Land Cruisers throughout history So the braking is a little underpowered Then you also run into the problem where the rear axle is a different track width than the front which can actually create Dynamic situations, especially in mud and ruts.
Paul Marsh: And you feel it. You actually feel it. And I think that's the, that's the challenge. You know, yes, you can [00:13:00] overcome that problem. Yeah. A few different ways. Yeah. And you know, there's, there's no right or wrong solution to that. It's about how you approach it. Yeah. But the point is. In my mind, that should have been fixed long ago by Toyota.
It should have been. Because they widened the front axle to accommodate the V8. At that point, they should have widened the axle at the rear. And Toyota, if you're listening, widen the rear axle. We're tired of having to make compromises and fix it. So that's probably the one. Is it a downside? Yes, it is a bit of a downside.
Is it a weakness? Yes, because if you're going to repair that axle width... Correction. You've only got a couple of ways to do it. You're either going to fit an axle that's made wider, and now you limit the same problem with if you break something or damage something, you can't repair it. That's right. You need special parts along the drive shaft, you know, that goes through.
And if you put spacers on, which is an option, you've got to be very responsible in how you manage and look after that.
Scott Brady: Constantly making sure that they're to torque.
Paul Marsh: Exactly. And that, you know, people question the whole [00:14:00] what's right and wrong. There isn't a right and wrong. Are you going to manage it responsibly?
You know, it's like scuba diving. I taught scuba diving for years and I always said to people, it's the safest sport until you break a rule. Okay? Break the rule and you'll
Scott Brady: die. Simple. Yeah, very good chance
Paul Marsh: you'll die. Yeah, that's right. Exactly. So, you know, when you look at what can go wrong we manage that.
You know, as you say, it's narrower it's got higher center of
Scott Brady: gravity.
Paul Marsh: Higher center of gravity. So again,
Scott Brady: The ride quality isn't quite that of, like, if you were to take a 200 Series Land Cruiser, It would be safer. It would be just as reliable. Yeah, it would be, it would be sa it would be safer for sure.
Paul Marsh: as practical to build up. I think
Scott Brady: that that's, that's the challenge. They have less interior space, more expensive, and they more electronics and they're more complicated. Yeah.
Paul Marsh: So what you've got with, you know, the, what we still quite fortunate about in South Africa is we can still buy the, these trucks with a very basic engine.
Mm. So the classical one, H Z. Engine is a beautiful engine because it's, it's reliable and
Scott Brady: [00:15:00] it will do normally aspirated. And in general, although you will hear. Significant banter on the internet about people who will turbo these engines in general. It's not a good idea Yeah,
Paul Marsh: you know the thing is we've done it When you do something like that again, it's a massive responsibility on the driver You put everything in place to try and make sure that you Mitigate any danger or damage to the engine ultimately you will damage the motor in some way That's so it's better if you had a choice I mean what we do and have done is we've taken some of the older engines because we want the simplicity So we've taken engines out of the 80 series the 12 one HTT motor or the 24 valve one HTFT motor Both mechanical injection pumps and we've dropped them into the troopy Now you've got a turbo diesel and you've got a, you can put it back to permanent four wheel drive, stronger gearbox.
So, yeah, the 70 Series, these troopies, they had some weaknesses [00:16:00] on the gearbox. I think for, if you bought a brand new truck, in the lifetime you own it, you probably wouldn't notice that. If you've bought an old one, we always pull the boxes apart to inspect them and that's probably when you do the, the sort of upgrades.
Scott Brady: Yeah, sure. You know. And when we drove... The 78s in Expedition 7, we had a single failure in the entire trip and it was not a reliability issue. It was actually the, the brush on the canning stock route actually wore down the wiring on the rear locker solenoid. It actually, it actually ground it down until they shorted it out and it stopped working.
So it wasn't even a piece of plastic. And 80, 000 kilometers and seven continents with those vehicles. Unbelievable the, the reliability of that platform and the interior space like you talk about because we slept inside the vehicle. So being able to sit upright [00:17:00] inside of a wagon. You also remove the passenger rear doors, which saves weight.
It gives the structure better integrity. It actually improves a little bit of security, particularly if you go with, with a wagon, with a van style. Well,
Paul Marsh: it is very much. You've got the two front doors, two doors at the back here, and so you're quite right. You don't have as much accessibility, but when you're building a vehicle, These are built for two people, so you know, you're not building it for three or four, and if you are, it's a compromise.
Scott Brady: and we did that. We had it compromised. Yeah. We kept the rear seats so we could take passengers, yeah. And
Paul Marsh: you know, it's, there isn't, people often ask, what is the most ideal vehicle you could possibly have? There isn't one. Yeah. Because your needs and the needs, so you've got to learn to be flexible.
And that also comes in a number of ways, you know, these have two fuel tanks, the two 90 liter fuel tanks, which is fantastic. Fantastic. Do you need more fuel than that? You don't. And if you do for one small trip, or one big trip, [00:18:00] should we say, take a few jerry cans, add it into the tank and... Probably give those cans away, and you don't have to worry about it.
And you're done with it. And then water, what we've done in this particular one, we've actually roto molded our own water tanks, so we've got water tanks in the cavities. So left and right cavities, 25 liters on each side. Perfect. And a 50 liter tank at the back, behind the rear tank. So now all the water, 100 liters of water, and 20 liters in a lifesaver jerry can, gives us enough water capacity.
So you've got enough water and enough fuel. Those are your two heavy payloads. And these can carry the payload. So, if you have to, there's three different models, or four actually, if you've got the 79 single cab, double cab 79, you've got the 76 wagon, which is similar to this with four doors. Yep, it's a nice car.
It's a nice car, because it's well balanced, the roof's not quite as high, you can build it out for two people. A little bit shorter wheelbase. 200mm shorter, so your roof sleeping capacity is a bit shrunk. Here in South [00:19:00] Africa we... A couple of companies do roof conversions for them, so you can still cut the roof off and put a, a roof where you can access it from inside.
So the one advantage of building a vehicle like this 76 Troopy is that you can have access to your sleeping accommodation from inside. Now for some people that's really valuable. You know, you come down at night, you can have a port a loo in the middle of the aisle, you can, you don't have to get out the truck.
You know, you basically, you could sit down, you could make a coffee. So that's the one way of looking at it. It
Scott Brady: definitely, from my experience, it seems to be the most common. Long trip. Two person. Yeah. Platform is the 78, you know, and then you can even get a 70, which is a two-door short wheel base. Yeah. And those are super
Paul Marsh: char.
They're very, they, they're great, they're rich, fine.
Scott Brady: The old ones super, very rare, super charming. And then for a period of time they made a mid wheel base. So they made a 73 and a 74. Yeah. I raced the 73. I owned a 74 with a [00:20:00] 13 bt. Yeah. And we drove that for. The longest time right hand drive, we got it out of Japan, and then they even had the light duty 70 series, so they had a 71 and a 77, so, no actually a 78, I had an LJ78, so it had like basically Hilux or 4Runner drivetrain in it the small 2LTE diesel, light duty 5 speed, it had the heavy duty Land Cruiser transfer case, but then it had the light duty Hilux axles.
So that was another variant of the 70 series So there's so many but if you're looking to buy something used to travel yourself or with one other person I tend to push people towards the 78. Would you feel like that? That's I think for
Paul Marsh: two people. It's probably One of the vehicles that you could take, there's two, two things to consider and I'll ask the question to my clients I go, are you wanting to travel out of Africa?
Okay, because if you want to go to South America, you're gonna need a turbo motor in some form Okay, because of the elevation, because of the [00:21:00] elevation so, you know If you drive the one HZ and we can't in South Africa get the petrol version of these And we can't get the v8 version of this Now, you know, I'm not gonna knock the v8, is a sensitive engine with a fuel capacity Quality of fuel you have, so you have to be much more careful
Scott Brady: with the quality of fuel.
We would have to change filters much more
Paul Marsh: often. Yeah, yeah. You're changing filters more often. You've got to, you know, manage your fuel, check the fuel quality and that. So, if you're not traveling to South America, then, you know, the 1. 8Z is not going to be fast. You're going to know that when you're coming up behind a big truck, you may not have the power to overtake as you'd like.
But it's never going to let you down and the clients we've actually swapped engines out and done those conversions here Gives them that extra power, which is very nice, but it's an expense. Yeah, it's quite an expense. Do you need it? It's a lot of money to add into a car. So I'm very happy to drive the 1 8 Z naturally aspirated I just take it slows me down.
Yeah, and then you kind of
Scott Brady: don't rush. And that's safer. [00:22:00] I mean those V8 78s, I mean we We were doing the equivalent of 160 kilometers an hour in North American roads. And that is a, those are checks that that chassis may not be able to cash. Yeah, yeah. So I actually think that the 1HZ is so well paired.
It's well paired, yeah. For the engine, for the vehicle, because it just slows you down. 80 kilometers an hour becomes the new 160. And it's...
Paul Marsh: So, you know, when we look at a truck like this and we've had, there's a new one outside actually for one of our clients and then, you know, you look at the new one and then you look at what we've done to it and the process of going from the basic out of the factory truck to something that's sitting behind us is a fair process.
So I break it down into phases. So there's phase one, which you're going to do the exterior bolt ons.
Scott Brady: And what do you normally focus on for the exterior
Paul Marsh: bolt ons? Always put a bull bar on, okay?
Scott Brady: And what are your thoughts around bull bar? What are some of the brands you like? Or [00:23:00] what are some of the key features that The key thing on
Paul Marsh: the bull bar is really about has it been well manufactured?
So I don't want it to rust, okay? And has it been tested? That's another thing. So that the airbag is still work, you
know? And not everyone can vouch for that. So, yeah, that's important it's the question is... Is it good to have a billboard or not good? Well, you know, it's going to save your vehicle if you're in the middle of nowhere and you hit an animal. Sure. Okay, and that's for sure. So if it relies on you getting out with your vehicle and being safe, that's one safety feature you're putting on.
Sure. It's like anything, you know, how you drive your vehicle responsibly. You can have a normal bump on, you know, you trash your vehicle and you've got a problem. But the bull bar is something we do fit. Sure. So bull bar, underbody protection, the rear bumper at the back. And
Scott Brady: do you always fit a winch to the bull
Paul Marsh: bar?
No, no, not at all. It depends where the client's going. You know, not
Scott Brady: everyone needs a [00:24:00] winch. the desert, you really don't need a winch. Well, exactly.
Paul Marsh: You're hooking up to it.
Scott Brady: There's not many trees around. And usually a set of Maxtrax does the
Paul Marsh: trick. You know, Maxtrax, a high lift jack and a shovel are my go to.
And I always say to folk, if you've got a set of max tracks, a high lift jack, a wheel lift that you can hook on, a wheel lift is something you hook on the wheel and you jack up the wheel and axle together, you're jacking the high lift jack from the side and not from the back or front, which means you don't lift the whole body up, you lift the axle, and then you can, so effectively if you're The vehicle's bogged down to the chassis and to the axles.
You want to lift that up before you start trying to... Sure. Winch it out and get it out. Especially if it's in the mud. So, you know, that... Those bits of kit and knowing how to use it. You know, high lift's got really bad press. And you get the more modern... Hydraulic versions of the high lift jack, which are really good.
But learn to use that. It's a tool. It's a tool that is invaluable in recovery. So learn to use it safely.
Scott Brady: And it can even be used for winching or to [00:25:00] complement a winching
Paul Marsh: operation. Yeah, you're gonna, you know, and again, if you understand how that can happen and be used. So, so that. Another vehicle is.
better than a winch because you've got so much more flexibility backwards, forwards, whatever. But do you have enough length on your rope, you know, on your tow rope or your tow strap? If your tow strap's 10 meters, quite often we'll take a synthetic winch cable and we'll just put two eyes, make it an extension, make a much longer extension to
Scott Brady: pull something.
And they're lightweight and they're very, they're very compact.
Paul Marsh: Yeah, exactly that. So, you know, when you're looking at recovery and how you're going to recover a vehicle, your question is, do you need a winch? Well, no, but a certain people, if they said to me, I'm going to go through West Africa and I'm going to be engaged in a lot more mud and stuff.
Well, it's like an insurance policy. Hopefully you don't use it. If you've got it, you may need it. But yes, would you put it on there? And also
Scott Brady: I find that in scenarios like that, you can really help locals. People have slid off the road, and then [00:26:00] you're not... Exposing your vehicle to so much stress and strain, doing a recovery, you can just slow things down, use the winch, pull the vehicle back up onto the road, you've done a good deed.
And it's nice to do. You know, absolutely. But I think the... And sometimes they're blocking the road and it's the only way through, you gotta get them out. And you're gonna help
Paul Marsh: them, and that's always the case when you're traveling, you know, you know how many times you've helped someone. Yeah, for sure. But then again, know how to use the equipment safely.
A winch is very dangerous if you don't know how to use it safely. Yeah, the loads are... Yeah, and then, you know, people are hooking winches up and expecting them to pull a car where it shouldn't be pulled out. They're going to pull the bumper off. So to go back to what we do, you know, you're bolting on something on the front, so to protect the car, your suspension is carrying the weight of the car, so you're really going to calculate that out, and are you putting, you know, suspension which is parabolic suspension, has a place in the market, absolutely, it's a little bit more comfortable, it's coming out, it's more favored.
some of the guys like the ride of a parabolic suspension [00:27:00] as opposed to a normal leaf suspension, but you've got to get the suspension right. You do. You know, too high, too hard it doesn't work. So, you know, if people understand the springs are there to carry the weight correctly balanced out with the shock absorbers.
And I've seen a lot of people request the most fancy, most expensive shock absorbers. That they never learn how to adjust properly. So, you know, again, if you're fitting a suspension, that's a specialized suspension. Do you need it? Don't you need it? You know, it's
Scott Brady: and making sure that that suspension is serviceable or that it has a long service life A lot of the race suspensions they're designed to for a race or two Yes, and then to be rebuilt and you don't want to try to do that in the middle of nowhere and you all you definitely don't Want to change the suspension where stock components can no longer be fitted because if you break a coil spring And you're in the middle of zambia.
It's a good chance. You can find a stock 70 series spring And maybe [00:28:00] you're sitting a little low in a corner But you can make it to the next city to DHL in a replacement or something like that. You can actually get something. So you definitely, you want to really avoid customization on the suspension, custom shocks.
Paul Marsh: really Custom shocks you know, there are guys who do some remote reservoir shock absorbers. Some of them are absolutely great. You know, do you need them? Well, you know, it's going to improve the ride, for sure, you know. And then
Scott Brady: they just have so much more fluid volume, so they're less likely to fade
Paul Marsh: and everything.
Less likely, and you know, but again, have you carried spare bushes? Yeah, exactly. So when you're looking at what you're doing to the vehicle, at the same time, you've got to look at if it's an older vehicle, what are we replacing, and what spares can I keep from the old parts I've taken off? Yeah. And what spares do I need to replace and carry, without carrying too much?
Because the whole thing is weight. So your aim is to keep the vehicle to get the load load, as we all know, as low as possible to keep that center of gravity low, for sure, as we all know, that's important, especially on a 70. Yeah, [00:29:00] the double cabs are worse. And the fact that the double cabs don't carry the weight as well, they tend to sit nose up, you know, you're putting a lot of springs on the back because you've got a great big fuel tank behind the rear axle.
A lot of leverage. Generally, rear bumper, two spare wheels, so you, you've got that. Here in South Africa, some of us, the clients will, will extend the chassis and then you can put the spare wheels behind the cab, between the load bin and the, and the, and the cab. It makes sense. So that brings your weight further forward, which is what you're trying to balance that out.
So, so getting the vehicle to drive properly and also tire choice. Now I've watched people, you know. Do you go for steel rooms or alloy rooms? Question. What's your preference? Well, if someone's going out of Southern Africa, definitely steel rooms. Within South Southern Africa, you're going to find a pretty good tire place.
You're carrying two spares. There's nothing wrong with alloy rooms. You might damage them a bit if you use a wheel lift on them. But they balance up well, and you've spent the money on them [00:30:00] already. So they're good. They're strong enough, you know. Especially like a factory Toyota.
Scott Brady: Factory
Paul Marsh: Toyota, yeah. I'm talking about factory.
They're quite strong. They are, yeah. And they're light, and they're good. Once you're going further north, you're going to find that often if you have to repair a tire, it's not always with a machine. Using two tire levers. Yeah. And then you can damage the rim, and then it doesn't seal. So, you know, when people come and do training, we'll teach them how to plug tires and carry.
I actually... Pack in patches to repair the sidewalls. Sure. Knowing that they may not do it themselves. But a guy who can fix tires might be able to repair the tire sidewall. And if it's a temporary fix as a spare, it's, it's, it's, it's a chance. Gets you to your next city, yeah. And then the rear bumper is important if you're going to fit a rear bumper.
Because a lot of aftermarket products. Some of them are not all expedition designed for serious expeditions. So you need to understand, am I actually building this truck to go on an extreme expedition? I'm going to be using this truck and getting in it for a [00:31:00] year long trip. And that's going to influence the different products that I would choose for the truck.
And there I'm based on the quality of the product, you know. Does it, what are the, what are the chances of something breaking? And if it does break, is that a weakness in the product? And that, that has to, you're not going to find that in all of the sales gump. You don't.
Scott Brady: For sure. You find it from talking to other people.
Paul Marsh: People who, and some people will say, that's the rack I don't want because of this weakness. Or you repair it and you just make stronger. Sure.
Scott Brady: You know, that's also okay. And what's the rear bumper that we have here on this
Paul Marsh: 70 series? This is one of my favorite rear bumpers. This is made here locally in South Africa.
It's made by GOBI X. GOBI X is a company I have a lot of time and respect for. It's owned by Chris Engram and Shane Garcia. And these guys, Chris is the founder member. And they've built a fantastic company. This particular bumper, they've developed bumpers for most of the vehicles, all the 70 series.
They've got some front bumpers they've developed, they've got underbody protection. Their wheel [00:32:00] carriers are, if you want to test a product, give it to the higher companies. Sure. Exactly. Higher companies. People who drive the trucks either don't have the experience or don't care. So your products, if it's going to break, it's going to break on a higher car.
For sure. So I'm always kind of, you know, and these have been through the mill. These guys have refined their product. And
Scott Brady: again, it looks, it looks good. You can even see that, that Delrin pad that the. That the swing out slides up on looks quite robust So
Paul Marsh: it's got a it's got a gas shock and it holds itself open.
They've got service kits for them So, you know when I look at products like in South Africa if it wasn't available in my country would I import it? Well, I'd see what's available because whatever's available is going to be your best line of getting service and help as long as it's built And it's gonna last so anything we bolting on to the truck you're looking and saying Will it last, the longevity of the expedition, or the lifetime of what I'm doing?
And can I service [00:33:00] it, and can I get spares and help if I need some
Scott Brady: support? And your primary goal with the rear bumper is to fit a second spare.
Paul Marsh: Okay, so there's always that debate, do I take one or two spare wheels, well just think about it, you're middle of nowhere, you use your spare, you're high and dry if you haven't got a second spare.
Sure. So then you're looking for a garage. yeah. If something happens again. And we always say it doesn't, but hell, I've had trips where I've used up both spares and more. Yeah. And you probably have. And not often. You know, maybe it's... 5 percent maybe even not even as much as that. So it's the what if yeah And do I take the risk or don't
Scott Brady: I and the 70 has the payload to be able to take the second?
Paul Marsh: Yeah, it does spare tire, you know And I think with most vehicles if you can look at where your balance is on safety Mm hmm, that would be a high criteria for me that I know I've got good tires Yeah Or I'm gonna be prepared to pull the tire for the tire levers and fix it and put a tube in to reinflate to Yeah, for sure.
So, [00:34:00] so yeah, that, that said.
Scott Brady: And I also really like a front and rear bumper because one of, one of the, the realities of traveling in unique places or developing places is that you, you're in the cities and getting, getting in accidents happens. Yeah. Yeah. And by having these big bumpers on your vehicle, it does inspire a bit of respect by the locals.
Absolutely. They do give you a little bit more space when they're staring at that that's true. So I think that that's one of the other advantages of a bumper is those minor fender benders, or when you're parked along a road and somebody You know mismanages the clutch and they roll into the back of your vehicle I mean you you may not even notice that it happened other than their paint on your bumper Yeah, yeah, so I do like that too.
Paul Marsh: It's insurance. I mean, I've got a client who Testing is brand new [00:35:00] Truck like this, and he had a big accident, and it wasn't his fault, massive big accident. Had it not had a front bull bar, it would have written the car off. Wow. And he just built the car like this, so I don't want to tell you the amount of money spent on it.
Right. Right off. Right. Test trip, before you've started. Wow. So, you know Again, we're looking at you taking a truck, which is your home, and you, that you're putting all your safety and everything in there. You want to make sure that it's going to get you there and back. Absolutely.
Scott Brady: So, talking a little bit more deeply about the 70 Series.
On the 78, how do you normally like to build out storage, living area, what are some of the key things that you have found works in the 78?
Paul Marsh: So you've got a quite a limited space, okay, so you're trying to maximize everything in there. So it starts off by looking and saying that the biggest component that's often going to determine what you need to, the layout.
[00:36:00] is is your fridge, your water, okay? Now on this particular vehicle, as I said, we've got water tanks we've designed and they're in the cavities. So we've taken any water that would normally sit inside the car or under the car, and we've kept that space just for
Scott Brady: living. So you've removed the, those side panels, and you've put water tanks in the The,
Paul Marsh: the Rotomols were designed by a friend of mine who owns a company here who builds a true piece for me.
And we've basically done the, he's, he's designed the molds and we've roto molded the tanks. So they're filled from the rear quarters on each side. Unbelievable. So both tanks can carry 25 liters. And then the plastic tank under the back carries another 50
Scott Brady: liters. And do you, and do you connect the two together or do you
Paul Marsh: have two fills?
Yeah, we connect all of them together. So you can isolate them, means you can keep 25 liters separate and you can... You can sort your water up, or you can, and they'll feed from the bottom tank. And then what we've done with that, so the basic process looks, when I sat down [00:37:00] and started the design process, it was like, I built a lot of troopies.
What really worked and what didn't work? One of the things I felt people got wrong was using the space carefully that you can access the space. Okay. So when I say that, I mean, you've got to, if you're going to cook, you want to be able to get what you need for cooking. If you're going to get your recovery gear, you don't want to open up the whole back of the car to get your recovery gear because you make yourself vulnerable.
So where am I going to store everything? So everything had to, I took the list of all the kits that we normally put in and figured out where would we put everything. It doesn't help to build a vehicle and then give someone a checklist of what to go and buy. Sure. And they sit there for hours trying to figure out how they're going to pack it.
Yeah. And then it becomes a nightmare. So we figured out and said, okay, where is everything going to go? Now, ergonomically, when you sit in the back of the truck, remember, we've cut the roof off this truck, and we've put on a roof which pops up to create a [00:38:00] tent sleeping area. And when the roof pops up, so does the floor go up, so you can actually stand in the vehicle when you're not sleeping.
Equally, you can put the floor down and you've still got a space at the back that you can climb up to the top. Or come down, sit down and make a cup of coffee in your tent. Now,
Scott Brady: the four... You have an early riser in the crew. No, no,
Paul Marsh: it's your wife saying, Honey, will you make me a cup of coffee? Sure. So the other thing that I found is that people build the storage too high, and it's a small space, and if you know ergonomically, or let's, should I say, aesthetically, in a small space, you need to keep things low.
So, we try and keep as much light into the vehicle. So you can keep the windows. You can keep all the windows. Some of them you can add gull wings that you can open up fully. So you're looking for access. And
Scott Brady: that also creates this forced lower center of gravity too.
Paul Marsh: It does, yeah. And then you look and say, well, okay, where do we put a fridge?
[00:39:00] Yeah. Okay, now most people want to put the fridge right at the back door. So I've divided the vehicle up and go, if this is my kitchen area, Now, you know, one of our designs, the left hand side pulls out and we've got a cooker and we've got a cutlery drawer and a chopping board, and that's your cooking station.
You can equally take a multi fuel cooker and you can go and put it on the table. On the left hand side, we've got a table that folds down. Which allows you to cook outside. Okay, so you can cook outside there. You can come into the vehicle. If you, very few people cook in the vehicle. Remember, cooking in the truck is
Scott Brady: more for Europe.
For sure, and the smells. I mean, you get all the cooking smells. You get
Paul Marsh: all the cooking, the mess. So, generally, and you know, and I'll look and I'll say, well, if you're going to stop and make a coffee, that's the one pleasure I have. And I think often people don't take that time to stop because they don't have, Quick access to their coffee cups and all that.
Yeah, they yeah. So then it's a hassle. Yeah, sure. Whereas if you stop, and we've developed a coffee station which actually sits in the back [00:40:00] door here. Clever. Now, you've got a coffee station, you can stop, open one door, drop it down, jet boil, tea, coffee, sugar, milk, and you can have a nice coffee. Nice. Okay.
When you're closed up in camp, you want to climb into the vehicle, you want to be able to sit there if you wanted to do any work, and you want to be able to sit in there if you needed to for bad weather. So in clement weather, that's the value. One can sleep, one can sit down, watch a movie, do some work. So you're trying to make this multifunctional vehicle where you live in and out.
So a side awning gives you cover over the outside areas on a 270 degree perimeter, so you've got a bit of shade. And then you're looking at how do we, how do we do the electrical power? So we went and built a wiring loom for this truck. For security we added lights on the outside to give perimeter lighting, so at night you can have, once everything's up, you can put perimeter lights on and animals will stay.
You can see if, you can
Scott Brady: see if, you can see if it's a lion, [00:41:00] yeah, or whatever.
Paul Marsh: They're sitting just in the shadows waiting. But that's, that's very true, you know, animals, it's
Scott Brady: a good perimeter. It is, and it. It just gives you that one little space to go out and use the loo real quick, so. And you know,
Paul Marsh: that's one fear people have.
It's like, oh my god, I'm going to go down, the lions are going to eat me. No they're not. Yeah. So, you know, that's, that's understanding that.
Scott Brady: At least it's not likely that they will. Leopard maybe. They're clever. They're clever. They are clever.
Paul Marsh: But you know, the other thing is you get to, you get to see some amazing animals at night.
And I always say to folk, don't forget that the night animals come out at night. Yeah, yeah. You've got a light wolf. Torch you can put on it looks stunning. You can catch these animals right in your
Scott Brady: campsite. Yeah, so incredible
Paul Marsh: Now what folk don't think about is sometimes you've got to remove all this kit You know and in these designs we've got air heaters.
We've got hot water heaters running off the diesel but what if you have to take this all out? Yeah, so when it's built The floor goes down, the [00:42:00] floor gets fitted to the floor of the vehicle and then everything else gets fitted to the floor that you can quickly take out. It's modular, yeah. It's modular.
Nice. So it's, it's important. So, you know, the focus is to to to modular. So when we sat down and did the designs and Sculpt cleverly designed everything, the idea was can we build it in a way that we can modulate, do it with a few offerings? Mm-hmm. Because the biggest challenge you have with any vehicle that you build up custom is that it doesn't get tested until you test it.
'cause it's a brand new build. Sure. It's like a house. You go into a brand new house and you test everything and hopefully it all works. And if it doesn't, the guy comes back and tweaks it. If you build the same house seven times, by the seventh rendition, you've got it pretty much right. That's right. So, that's exactly what we've done here.
Scott Brady: and it just looks fantastic. I even, yeah, I mean, the MOLLE panel for attaching small items on the back. It just looks, and the floor looks very durable. Yeah, just what a neat, what a [00:43:00] neat setup you've got in there. Yeah. And then, what do you normally like to do for tires? What's your, what's your current go to on a vehicle like this?
Paul Marsh: it's, it's, it's more about what's available, you know. And on the true piece, you know, the 1HZ is not a massively big engine, so you know, and you're also looking at what's available. So, 265, 75, 16, we keep to the 16 inch rims because they're available. We look at what some people go 285s because they just look a bit better.
It's always a compromise.
Scott Brady: I think that, I think that. The 265 75 16 has a lot of, a lot of merit. We ran the 255 85 16 mud terrains because we knew we were going to be in so many different conditions in, in our travels around the world. But. I'm also seeing that a lot of the newer vehicles, even in Africa, they're on a 17 inch wheel now.
Yeah. So there are 2 65, 70 R 17. Yeah.
Paul Marsh: So the thing is, you've got, you've got [00:44:00] more on a 16 inch room for sure. So you remember this is a very basic vehicle for, so if I have a problem and I go into a Hunter's camp or lodge or something, they'll have a like to have a help that's Or lend me a tire's That's right.
In a room's. So that's, we're always looking at. What if that's what if scenario and how can we resolve that? Yeah, you know and yes It's not wrong to put taller narrower tires on. Yeah, it's in fact, they're really good. You know, they go good But how do you replace
Scott Brady: them, you know?
Paul Marsh: That's what you're gonna look at.
You know, if you if you need it,
Scott Brady: we were lucky because we had well at one point we had eight spares. So, so between the four vehicles. Well I, I didn't have a single flat. Yeah, there you go. In all of the travels, but yeah.
Paul Marsh: Look, the Mud Terrain's a great tires. Generally if someone's going into East Africa and round off.
You just don't need it. I wouldn't use it. Yeah, you just don't need it. Mud terrain is a great tire, as you said, for what you use. They get
Scott Brady: noisy. Yeah, very noisy. Yeah, very noisy. And the fuel economy goes down. Yeah, yeah. So, yeah, for, for West Africa, I think it makes sense, but for East Africa, [00:45:00] not so much.
And for most of the world, an all terrain is just a great choice. It's a good choice of tire. Less fatigue on the driver and better wet weather stopping, handling if you get into ice and snow. You know, they perform better than a mud terrain does. You know, when
Paul Marsh: you talked about what are the weak points on the vehicles, again, you know, one of the safety issues is upgrading the brakes.
Yeah. And that's something that gets done on all of our trucks. Yeah. We'll upgrade them. And you've got a number of options you can do to upgrade the brakes. So, yeah, I think the important part is making sure you've gone through the weak points of the vehicle, making sure you've got the safety elements right, the suspension, the tyre choice, the upgrades that you need to put in the suspension and get that right.
To get the weight in a position where the vehicle feels comfortable to drive, you know, and then again. You know, is the layout where you can access it, really. So it's, it's a very fine
Scott Brady: balance. It is a fine balance, isn't it? [00:46:00] So, you've probably built hundreds of 70 Series Landcruisers in your 30 years of this profession.
What's your favorite model 70 Series? What's your favorite?
Paul Marsh: The favorite has to, and all of them are built, I mean. The 78 is really my favorite. You know, I think the, I just love the fact that if, if you want to, you can climb in the back, you can get a water hole. So it's got, for me, the most amount of flexibility.
Yeah, for sure. And I think that's probably the, the real, Option that I can sleep in the truck without the roof off, I can climb in the back of the water hole. It's,
Scott Brady: yeah. And if, and if you were to give people advice on the, what are the top three things that they need to make sure that they do for that 78.
What's the top, top three items that they need to... On any
Paul Marsh: model of 78. Yeah. I think get the suspension right. I've seen too many people with, you know, the suspension is not right and again, choose a [00:47:00] suspension that you can get spares and components for. That's really important. Your layout, you need to give a lot of thought to your layout because you spend a lot of money on building the interior and it doesn't have to have everything.
It can be a simple layout with just boxes to start. Sure. And I
Scott Brady: think often people... There might be a... Great place to start, because then you can move the boxes around and say, actually, I like it this way, or I like it, or
Paul Marsh: just to get a feel. So I think often people start down the journey of building their vehicle from all the pictures they've seen from all the Pinterest photographs, you know, how many people bring me Pinterest photographs and they actually haven't got enough experience.
Sure. So I go with less and add to it as you go along. If you need it, the safety critical stuff you have for sure. So yeah, that's the second thing I'd say is
Scott Brady: really important. So if someone is ready to build their 70 series to go around the world, how do they find out about you? How do they contact you?
Paul Marsh: So if you go onto my website, [00:48:00] PaulMarsh4x4. com they can connect with me. And what we normally always set up is a, is a way to have an initial discussion, I'll consult to them and then I'll project manage the entire build. Using the companies that I have endorsed and then what we'll do is we'll make sure that the car can be From purchase to when they go with training so they feel confident to go.
That's the aim of what
Scott Brady: we well And I and I've used your help in the past. We built the the 78 series for for Greg and me to take to Antarctica and we put somehow managed to shoehorn some 38s on there for a short period of time So I've seen your work in action. I've seen your industrious nature and your ability to pull together Key suppliers and support to get projects done on time.
So i'm grateful for the work that you do and i'm grateful for your time today The 70 series is what I like to call a pinnacle overland [00:49:00] vehicle. There are very few And that is one of them. So it's something and now that even in north america, they're 25 years old many of them so you can now you can start importing you can start importing them So don't be afraid of a 25 year old.
Well, I think
Paul Marsh: that's the vehicle to look for because we've done a few Yeah, exactly find one rebuild it and take it back off you go. Thank you scott. Thank you for your time time. Thank you. Appreciate it good
Scott Brady: to catch up again And we thank you all for listening go take a look at that 70 series and we'll talk to you next time.