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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, long time no see. You may remember me as the first guy who put in an aftermarket sunroof in and posted about it: http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/socal-region/27372-got-sunroof-installed.html The pictures are broken now, but you can see the sunroof in my avatar. I will dig the old pics up if anyone is interested in seeing them.

Anyway - I am planning to leave in about a month to drive my FJ all the way to the southern tip of South America. As far as I can tell I'm the first person to do this trip in an FJ, or at least to blog about it. And what's the point of driving all the way to Tierra del Fuego if you can't blog about it? So I'm going to assume I'm the first person ever to do it. :rocker:

The final destination is Ushuaia, Argentina - the southernmost city in the world (Chile argues that it's Puerto Williams - but most say that's not really a city just mostly a Navy base). So that's the name of my blog: Home - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America

I'm a pretty avid landscape photographer, here are my pics from last years trip to Patagonia (I did not drive): https://500px.com/500px398/galleries/patagonia-2017

And here's highlights from a bunch of other trips over the last 12 years (most with the FJ - which has certainly come in handy getting into dicey spots): https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157625760004379

Current plan is to leave LA about Dec 15th and drive down Baja, then take the ferry over to Mazatlan and eventually make my way over to the Yucatan - eating lots of delicious things along the way. Mole Negro in Oaxaca and Mole Poblano in Puebla are going to be highlights of the trip for me.

I am meeting some buddies in Tulum about Feb 1st. They're driving around the world on their bikes, taking a month to ride, then work for a month (they're all pilots). This is them: https://www.facebook.com/endofallroads/

So if anyone has any advice, please let me know. Or even better wants to meet up for any parts, co-pilots are always welcome. See my blog for more details.

Oh yeah, I put in a tuffy locking storage drawer - very happy with it: Preparations! - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America



The idea is to provide an extra layer of security against smash and grab, but also if I have to use "roll on, roll off" shipping, where you basically have to empty your car of anything that can be stolen. I figure I can put semi-valuable stuff like tents and tools in there, and hope they don't pry it open.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
One thing I could use some advice on is a cheap/low maintenance way to store some extra gas cans. Current plan is to just bungee then to the roof rack and maybe add a locking bicycle chain so they don't get stolen.
 

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Sounds a great trip! From your amazing photo’s looks like you’ve already been to some great places. Look foreward to photo’s of this one. Ikd be putting in an aux tank for sure rather than carrying lots of cans.

Are you driving the Darian Gap?
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks I will look into an aux tank. The last I checked in 2008 or so I don't think there were any options. I didn't realize there were now. Is the Man a Fre tank the one everyone goes with?

Edit: well hmm, looking around I'm guessing that Man a Fre tank is gonna cost me at least $3k with parts and labor. I'm not really looking to put that kind of coin into the FJ before taking it on a trip where it very well might not come back. Back to strapping gas cans I guess.

I have to ship over the Darien Gap, biggest PITA of the whole trip. No ferries, just normal shipping. Either container shipping - which is safer and you can leave stuff in the car, or "roll on/roll off" where you have to basically leave your car open and nothing of value inside. Problem with a container is you have to find a partner to share the container - or it's a lot more expensive.

So that's what the storage box above is for. Hopefully they won't break into that if I do RORO shipping. Also as an extra layer of security if someone smashes my window. And what's really cool is when you look in through the windows you can't even tell there's a false floor.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
New plan for extra gas is to emulate this: http://www.fjcruiserforums.com/forums/2347581-post2.html



It's perfect for me - cheap, and I can always re-improvise if the cans get stolen. I'll run a locking bicycle chain through them for extra security. Also I like sand color much better than red because it doesn't advertise FREE GAS quite as well.

I just found a couple of those tanks on ebay for $50 apiece. Now I just need to figure out the right straps.

I may not have to use it, but having that extra 10 gal will give me so much peace of mind. Otherwise I'd practically have to fill up every half tank out of fear of running into a dry patch.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hola fellow fj cruisers! New touchy-feely blog post is up: Taking time to equalize - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America

Current plan:
  • Leave Wednesday (the 20th)
  • Chill out with 2p2er Gramps in Tijuana for a night
  • Maybe camp at La Jolla campground south of Ensenada - or maybe barrel further into Baja
  • Camp and hike for a few days in Sierra de San Pedro Martín national park in central Baja
  • Make my way to La Paz, take the ferry over to Mazatlan on the mainland
  • Maybe head down toward Puerto Vallarta and chill on the beach for a bit
  • Go north a bit to San Miguel de Allende for a few days
  • Make my way to Puebla for a week-long intensive Spanish school a this place: https://www.livitspanish.com/ which comes highly recommended
  • Hang out in Oaxaca for a few days at a couple campground which are hubs for "overlanders" - who are people doing what I am doing, except most of them have some sort of camper van or RV, and eat lots of mole. Food in Oaxaca is a highlight of the trip
  • Make my way over to Tulum by Feb 1 - to meet up with some friends who are doing a similar trip (except the whole world) on their motorcycles: Home - End of All Roads (they're all pilots with a lot of seniority, so they're taking a month on/month off to ride - 3 year trip around the world)
  • Hang out in Tulum for a couple weeks
  • Then all signs point to a very pretty girl I work with coming to hang out with me for 3 weeks, drive from Tulum, check out Belize for a week, then Guatemala
  • After that it's pretty wide open, but I will probably try to find another week-long intensive spanish class in Antigua, Guatemala
  • Then my motorcycle buddies will be driving the rest of the way through Central America starting March 15th
  • Then I still have to be in Patagonia on 4/16 but I will probably fly because I have determined it's ridiculous to try to drive down there that fast
So that's the latest - unless someone has done this without blogging about it - I think I'll be the first one to make this drive in an FJ. Keep up with the blog for more.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
And we are on the road (left Thursday). The longest journey starts with the first beer. Or something like that.

Did a Tijuana bearded gringo brewery/gastrobpub-crawl with a poker buddy. He had tons of good inside info. on how to be an American in Mexico. My back was killing me after 3 days of nonstop packing and moving, and I felt sick yesterday. So I decided to get a cheap hotel room in Ensenada and am resting - hoping i feel good enough to do a hard hike or two soon in this National Park: https://moon.com/2017/06/parque-nacional-sierra-san-pedro-martir-baja-mexico/

I probably won't post here too often, but feel free to follow my blog: Home - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America I have heard now of one other person doing this with an FJ, but she didn't go all the way to Ushuaia. So I could still be the first ever to do the entire Pan-Am highway in an FJ. Probably not though, not everyone blogs.






That's the good stuff.


Best al pastor ever. These burned their way out today.


Friendship Park, where the border meets the sea.




We are strawberries we want to be food. Do not step on us!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks! Some new blog posts coming (as soon as I can get my pics to upload on crappy wifi). I had a little 4x4 adventure with my FJ in north-central Baja but wussed out and went the long way around. I probably would have made it. But the idea of puncturing something in the middle of nowhere (I have no skid plates or winch :( ) and I still can't speak Spanish for **** kind of spooked me.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
New blog post is up - this one has an attempted off-roading adventure! Anyone know if I can get skid plates and a proper winch in Mexico somewhere?

Baja 4x4 aventuras and Shipwrecks - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America

Previous posts since I've been on the road:

Christmas Eve posole - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America (I show up in the middle of nowhere at 5pm on Christmas eve and get invited to eat Christmas Eve posole with the family - highlight of the trip so far)

And we're off... - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America (start of the actual trip, some tasty food)

I will just say that Baja is incredibly safe. The worst I've heard about down here is petty crime. There are snowbirds all over the place from the US and Canada. If it's safe for a 70-year-old couple in a $200k RV, it's safe for anyone.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Stupid noob 4x4 question: when I'm in 4WD-low are there conditions where I should be using A-trac, or RR-diff lock, or both, or neither? I usually just turn them both on to get the most traction. So far down here in Baja when I'm in 4WD it's either sand or gnarly roads up to this bad:



I haven't been letting the air out of my tires either but I guess I should be. I have a 12V pump - not sure how long it takes to air back up as I haven't used it yet. I bought a come-along winch at Auto Zone for $20. Hope I never have to use that.

I really wish I had at least gotten some skid plates in the states.
 

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In general, use 4WD Hi for anything over 30 mph. (some of this sounds like you may know) 4WD low for anything that is rougher and under 30 mph. A-trac and diff locker only work in 4-Lo. Leave A-trac on most of the time in 4 Lo, since its electronically activated during wheel spin it can't hurt to leave it on.

Use diff locker on very difficult obstacles and avoid turning on high traction surfaces. Turning on dirt is fine.

Honestly from the picture you should be fine without using the diff locker. Engage it if you get stuck or forsee wheel spin to make an obstacle. Airing down will give you a little bit more grip and make the ride a little smoother if you are driving on very rough roads. Those little compressors take quite awhile to air up a set of tires.

Have fun on your trip! If you have never heard of another FJ driving to Ushuaia that basically makes you the first as far as I'm concerned. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Awesome advice - thank you! I know the hi-lo thing, but I will stop using RR-diff lock unless I get in trouble. And since I'm usually solo I don't plan to ever push it that hard.

Supposedly there was one road out here with washboards and super sharp rocks that would pop any tire if you don't air down. I didn't go on it so I can't confirm.

Yeah if someone else has done it in an FJ, they didn't blog about it. So did it even happen? ohmmmmm

Btw I got that car carrier on top after a few days on the road with way too much stuff in my cab. Someone in another thread told me to check the cross bar hand nuts (whatever you call them) as they come loose every few days. Sure enough they were. So I got some little pressure washers - and they've stayed lock tight so far - even over tons of washboards.
 

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If your able to drop your PSI to 20-22, that will improve your traction and reduce the likelihood of a puncture. You won’t be able to travel as fast on the hardballs but that would be a manageable pressure to get you to the next town where air might be available. Also looks like your carrying a decent amount of weight on the roof so be careful on the off camber stuff. Take your time and walk the difficult sections if needed in order to recon the best route...
A-Trac is a traction aid and like Iconic mentioned, won’t hurt to keep that button engaged to allow it to do some of the thinking for you. It will only engage in LL and is a great tool for off camber climbing when keeping all of your tires on the trail is difficult. Diff lock can be used when trying to climb over a difficult obstacle when a bump might be needed to get you over it.
4HI will probably be the best for the sandy areas.

Stay safe and keep posting!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks - it's mostly light stuff in the top carrier. But the jerry cans are full and 10 gallons of gas weighs about 63lbs. I should probably use those and fill them again when I think I'll need them - which might not be until Argentina. I've heard they might hassle me about full gas cans at border crossings.
 

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I'm going to differ slightly from advice given about A-Trac.
Basically I don't use it until it's needed. If and when my wheels start spinning, then I hit A-Trac or the rear locker depending on terrain.
Iconic and Joabmc are not giving bad advice, I just use mine differently.
Also, in going down a hill like in your photo, I put it in 4lo and let the engine and transmission do the work so as not to overheat my brakes.
Also, do visual inspections of the rig every morning, especially if you've been on washboard roads. Things like to come loose, as you know.
I also had my fuel on the roof rack on my first expedition into the desert. I kept hearing a LOT of rattling and caught my crossbars just in time, before they came loose.

Do some research about fuel in Bolivia. They have some rule or law in place about selling to tourists.
According to the Overland Expedition video's some stations will sell it to you, but at tourist prices.
It'll be good to start calculating what your mileage is so that you can map out that segment of your trip.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks will do.

FYI - I bought some little pressure washers for the 8 crossbar nuts - which seem to be doing the trick. After a few days of lots of washboards they were still super tight. After like 5 more days they loosened up just a little. But I can live with that. I really didn't want to mess with lock-tite.

Baja might be the most off-roading I do for a while. I'm on the mainland now.

Here's the latest blog post btw: 2 Bahias, 1 Cove - Ushuaia or Bust, Drive to South America

I have another post on the way soon which has a little more 4x4 fun.
 

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Hi, I did this trip in my FJ in 2009/2010. It was an easy and incredible drive! I didn't add any extra fuel reserves and never really needed them. I am still in Argentina with my FJ. The biggest hassle is shipping from Colon to Cartagena. It's not difficult, it is simply time consuming and expensive. What are you going to do after you reach the bottom?

 
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