Vehicle Recovery Equipment

The choice of what recovery gear to take, and what to leave behind, is a constant consideration. Different people have different philosophies, which are generally tied to people’s style of travel. Here we discuss our approach and what works for us. Recovery Equipment includes three categories

  • Spare Parts
  • Extraction Gear
  • Tools

It is important to note that this list is at the “research” stage, and we have not yet had the luxury to “battle test” it with many years of overland travel. It is being constantly updated as we learn. This list is also influenced by our two year trip around the world in of trusty Land Rover. During that trip we took the bare minimum and never seemed to need more. Details are described in this post.

This list is specific to our Earthcruiser, and for our recovery and not the recovery of others. Further, it is adapted to our style of extended and autonomous overland travel. There is always a trade-off between taking too much vs being stuck for longer, waiting to get the needed part flown in to replace the one that just failed. We skew towards taking less spare parts, knowing we will might be stuck for a week or two waiting. This of course is only possible if time is not a big factor, and is thus part of a bigger philosophy around our plan-as-we-go style of travel. We rarely travel with others and therefore can not assume or rely on others being nearby to offer encouragement, advice, tools and spare parts. The Internet and community forums can be a great source of encouragement, advice and opinions.

Spare Parts are those parts which we carry with us and allows a more convenient and rapid replacement should the original part fail. They include consumables like filters and fluids.

Failed parts can be either be replaced with working parts or they can be repaired to be made to work again, at least for a while. The choice to replace or repair is often determined by the strength of the local supply chain. Replacement is preferred and is standard practice in developed countries with a strong supply chain. But in many cases a local repair, especially in less developed countries, can allow travel to continue creating more time and logistic options to get the needed replacement part. For example, in Laos the Double Cardan joint on our Land Rover front prop shaft severely failed, but was repaired with grease in a few hours by a local repair shop and this repair lasted 3,500 kms. We eventually replaced the failed bearings a month later in China (from parts supplied out of Australia). Certain parts can’t be fixed, so replacement is obviously the only option.

Extraction Gear is less complicated, and although more gear means being stuck for less time, the reality is that being stuck is typically measured in hours and not days or weeks. Extraction is also less dependent on the specifics of our truck. We are also not afraid to seek or accept help from others if we are truly stuck. Just like we are happy to help others when we can and it makes sense to do so. These considerations combine making it easy to justify taking less extraction gear. And as a result, gear quantity is replaced with gear quality.

Again we skew to taking less than more. For example we have a kinetic/snatch strap, but this is not included in Overland travel kit. It might be thrown in if we are 4 wheel driving with others on a short local trip.

Tools are the third category of recovery equipment, which are used to replace or repair parts of the truck.

It is easy to reason that extraction gear are also tools. And while this is clearly true, they are tools with the specific purpose; to extract the entire truck and not replace or repair individual parts of the truck. And for this reason, we feel it makes sense to categorize them separately.

A special thanks to Randy (EC #37) for his help in putting this list of tools together.

Vehicle Extraction Gear

The following is what we carry as part of extended Overland travel. Mainly this list is used for self-extraction, but can be used in conjunction with others as part of a more involved rescue. We have more extraction gear than listed here, but what we carry has been paired back to the minimum. Additional extraction gear would be carried when going off-road and not when Overlanding1.

  • On our front bumper is a 16,500 lbs WARN winch (with 3/8” x 100’ synthetic rope from Spydura rated to 17,600 lbs and Epic winch hook rated to 18,000 lbs with beverage opener).
  • Winch line extension (from Blue Ridge Overland, 3/8″ by 50′, rated at 17,600 lbs MBS).
  • Two soft shackles (from Bubba Rope, 7/16″, rated at 45,000 lbs MBS).
  • Tree saver strap (from ARB, 10′ long, rated at 26,500 lbs MBS for straight pull).
  • Hitch pin to connect to rear hitch receiver to create a towing point (from factor 55, rated to 9500 lbs WWL and 50,000 lbs MBS).
  • A general purpose tow strap (working rating of 3,333 lbs). Will probably upgrade this tow strap.
  • Four Maxtrax MKII Vehicle Recovery and Extraction boards. Coloured Olive Drab to match Molly. And two go-treads traction boards, which have only ever been used to level the truck while camping.
  • Shovel with long handle and work gloves.
  • Regulatory breakdown equipment, including two high visibility vests, a warning triangle and some roadside chemical lights. These items are also useful in avoiding overzealous police officers trying to exact money from us.
  • One set of snow chains. We carried snow chains in Sterlin, and thought we would never need to use them, until we did. Same for Molly, we wouldn’t want to be driving on a snowy road without knowing we had snow chains. Like the regulatory breakdown equipment, useful to carry chains for compliance reasons.
Spare Parts

Molly will be stocked with a minimum of spare parts. Clearly we are planning to go to some far off places, and for sure some of these places will not have the parts, or even services, that we will need to complete a part replacement. So having some spare parts makes sense, the difficult part is trying to predict which parts might fail and thus what makes sense to have handy versus what is better left behind.

Our focus and philosophy is to carry spare parts that are known to fail, that fail without warning, are hard or not practical to repair and are small enough to carry so they don’t take up too much valuable cargo space and payload allowance. The other important consideration is our lack of skills, so we need to be realistic on what we can do ourselves. The spare parts list has been divided into the following sections, with both critical and non-critical parts and includes the truck as well as the camper.

  • Mechanical
  • Rubber
  • Electrical
  • Sensors
  • Consumables

Critical parts, are those parts, that should they fail, then Molly as a whole will also fail. Molly is critically dependent on the correct operation on these parts, and no work around is available. For example, the ECU is a critical part. Non-critical parts are the opposite, if they fail, Molly can continue with either a work around or continue in limp home mode. The front prop shaft is non-critical, as it can be disconnected if it has failed2.

There is chance that some of the spare part being carried will not work when required. In some cases we pro-actively swap the current and working part with the spare, proving that the spare works and making sure we have the right tools to complete the swap and know how to do it. The original part then is added to the spares parts box.

Further research and talking to Fuso service centers and other Earthcruiser owners is needed before this list can be finalized.

Mechanical – Critical
  • Some spare wheel nuts, both left and right threaded. Because they do come off even if they shouldn’t. We do have loose wheel nut indicators, and carry some spares of these as well.
  • Oil drain and level plugs, for engine, transmission and diffs (MK666976, MK666977, ME609400, ME609401, MB001293, MB001294, ME609555, MF665007).
Mechanical – Non Critical
  • The DEF Dosing unit is known to get clogged and cause the truck to go into limp-home mode. Apparently an easy fix, just rinse the injector with warm water. We carry a new clamp (ME556057) and Gasket (ME556058) to make this procedure easier.
  • The service interval for the PVC filter replacement is 30,000 miles (48,000 kms) or every 36 months. The PVC can go bad early, so carry PVC Filter (QC000454), Shaft Seal (MK667058) and Housing O-Ring (MK667060).
  • House fresh water pump by Whale (FW0814). We have already had two of these fail on us, so seems reasonable to carry a spare.
  • Motor to retract and deploy the house steps (Kwikee 676061). This motor has failed on us in the past.
  • Drain plug for secondary fresh water tank (add specs).
Rubber – Critical
  • Full Size spare wheel and tire, 20 ton hydraulic bottle jack, wheel nut wrench3 and a “nut buddy” to loosen tight wheel nuts. Taking a second spare wheel or just a second tire is not going to happen, and something we would never consider. If we are going places that need a second spare tire, well maybe that is not a place we want to go. Our tire size (315/75R16) is fairly standard worldwide. We also carry the ARB Speedy Seal Tire Puncture Repair Kit and have an onboard air compressor with two air hoses and tire inflator.
  • Serpentine Belt and tensioners. Belt (MK667789), Belt Tensioner (MK667238), Alternator Tensioner (MK667237)
  • Brake hose to wheel (MH033291). We have had one of these fail already, but that should not happen again.
  • Replacement coolant and other engine hoses are not carried, but the tool bag contains repair tape.
Rubber – Non Critical
  • None.
Electrical – Critical
  • ECU. Yes, you heard it right, an Engine Control Unit (MK6677310). Seems like a strange choice, as ECUs just don’t fail. We purchased a second ECU, had it flashed with our VIN, the FUSO latest software and a small modification to improve engine performance when at high altitude and in parts of the the world where we can’t get ULSD diesel. We did this to allow us to run on low quality diesel, but also has the added advantage that this second ECU can also be a spare. The local FUSO dealer thought we were crazy. More on the second ECU can be found here.
Electrical – Non Critical
  • A small collection of bulbs and fuses suitable for our truck. Some electrical wire, because you never know.
Sensors – Critical
  • To be researched and completed
Sensors – Non Critical
  • To be researched and completed
  • PM Filter Kit (KT212007). Includes air filter (ML242294), oil filter kit (QC000001) and fuel filter and o-ring (ML239124)
  • Mobil Delvac LE 5W30 synthetic motor oil (API CJ-4). In countries with high sulfur content in the diesel, it is important to use engine oil with low SAPS, to further help the DPF from not getting clogged.
  • The Webasto stove has a fuel filter that needs to be replaced every 12 months (1319466A). The air and water heater does not have a fuel filter.
  • Seagull water purification filter (RS-1SG) which needs to be replaced yearly.
Spares Parts not Carried

If something fails beyond what we are carrying, then we will be spending a little extra time in a location where we were not planning to spend a little extra time. There are a number of items that almost made the list:-

  • Brake Seal Kit (MK528490).
Basic Tools and Stuff

We have a STEP22 Pangolin tool roll filled with basic tools and a Adventure Tool Bag filled with “stuff”.

Our tool roll contains a basic tool set. Just enough to complete simple jobs and includes

  • Pouch 1. A 10 piece flat-head and Phillips head screwdrivers set, terminal driver and hex driver. Set of metric Allen Keys.
  • Pouch 2. Vice grips, 2x channel lock wrenches, electrical crimper, wire stripper, long nose pliers, curved long nose pliers, regular pliers and wire cutters.
  • Pouch 3. Metric socket set, 4mm to 9mm 1/4″ regular sockets, 3/8″ to 1/4″ driver adaptor, 10mm to 19mm 3/8″ regular and 9mm to 18mm 3/8″ long sockets. Two 3/8 socket drivers. Short medium and long extension bars. Medium crescent wrench.
  • Wrench roll. Metric spanners 6mm, 8mm, 10mm to 19mm, open end and closed ratchet end. Duplicates of 10, 11 and 13mm.
  • End pouches. Various hex bits, drill bits and reamer bit.

The tool bag contains the following stuff

  • Electrical: electrical tape, cloth loom tape, cable ties, coloured heatshrink, spare fuses, electrical wire, crimp terminals, 12 volt soldering iron, solder, multi-meter, dc amp meter and OBDII reader.
  • Plumbing: Assorted hose clamps, thread tape and Silicon self fusing repair tape.
  • Grease. Mini grease gun and red n tacky grease cartridges, cans of WD40 and dry lube.
  • Collection of assorted metric stainless steel bolts, washers and nuts.
  • Duct tape. Ball Peen Hammer. Measuring tape. Work gloves. Torque wrench.
Specialist Tools
  • No special tools yet. Maybe need to add a snap ring or cir-clip tool for the PCV filter.

We carry electronic versions of the following useful manuals.

  • Owners-Manual-FUSO-2017-FE/FG
  • 2017 Service Manual
  • 2017 Fuso Diagnostic Codes List
  • Fuso-Group-13E-Engine-Control
  • Body Equipment Mounting Directives – Fuso-2017-FE/FG
  • Earthcruiser Manual
Other Items

For those truly off grid adventures and for emergency only purposes, we also carry

  • MSR Whisperlite International stove and small fuel bottle, just in case our main stove gives up the ghost. It can burn diesel, but prefers gasoline or white gas.
  • A hand pump Katadyn water filter for water purification and some water purification tablets.
  • Space Blankets that also act as ground sheets.
  1. The above extraction gear is only sufficient for a simple single pull recovery. In addition to the above gear we also have 1) kinetic strap from ARB rated at 33,000 lbs MBS, 2) 2x Recovery Rings from 7P rated at 40,465 lbs MBS, 3) 2x 7/8″ Van Beest Screw Pin Shackle rated 85,800 lbs (MBS), 4) 1x 20′ bridle strap from Masterpull rated at 21,500 lbs MBS straight pull (Macgyver). With this additional recovery gear we can setup for a double or triple pull. ↩︎
  2. Even if the front prop shaft was a critical item, we would not take a spare. The likelihood of catastrophic failure without early warning signs, combined with the large size and weight of the front prop shaft, makes the “do not carry” decision easy.  ↩︎
  3. Precision Instruments C4D600F36H 3/4″ Drive Torque Wrench and Breaker Bar Combo Pack. This is used to change the wheels, because you want to be able to change the wheels when you need to. ↩︎