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Old 7th July 2010, 10:58   #1
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Default Off Road Driving Techniques

Dear all - its been around 2 weeks since the AKC / EXAMM ended and the results are declared for all to see. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have been quietly reading all the posts in all the threads. One area which emerges very strongly is "Off Road Driving Technique". I am by no means an expert but I have managed to teach myself a few procedures by seeing stalwarts drive and also by being part of various Great Escapes over the years starting January 1996 to-date, which gave me a unique window of opportunity to experiment various ideas and techniques. Being a test engineer, these techniques have also helped me in doing my normal job.

Some of the queries raised were "Do I drive in Low 1st, Low 2nd or High 1st"? "How much do I steer? Do I go slow or fast"? etc. Therefore, I thought of starting this thread as I feel that it will form a very useful databank for all of us to draw information from, as and when required. Therefore, please do post your comments related to this topic. It will be very interesting to share experiences and learn from each other.

I am attaching a photograph of me taking the Thar through the series of articulations during the AKC. It went straight through without any difficulty. Maybe we can start by analysing this process, hence the picture.

Dear Moderators - I am starting this thread in the "excursions" section as by doing so it will remain near to the EXAMM / AKC threads as it is a related topic. However, you may like to move it to its relevant section if so required.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Last edited by DHABHAR.BEHRAM : 7th July 2010 at 11:04. Reason: add info
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Old 7th July 2010, 11:06   #2
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Pics with explanation as to how to take that obstacle will help people a lot.

Thank you sir, for starting this thread. It will be a blessing for people like us who see and experience OTR's and alike by just reading it and viewing it here.

Last edited by malgudi : 7th July 2010 at 11:06. Reason: spelling mistake
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Old 7th July 2010, 11:49   #3
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Default Driving Tips

Hello DB sir,

I think this thread will be incomplete without a mention to the CJ3B Manual.

From you pic it looks like you are approaching the Articulations Bumps diagonally to prevent the wheels from lifting.

Regards,

Arka

PS - The 1963 Manual & Driving Tips are from the CJ3B Page.
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Old 7th July 2010, 12:13   #4
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Dear Arka - your comment on diagonal approach is absolutely correct. The same technique is used to tackle speed breakers on a normal road. Take each tyre over the speed breaker, one at a time. You need to develop very fast reflexes and your mind, eye, accelerator pedal and hands on the steering wheel co-ordination must be extremely quick and fluid so that before the person sitting next to you begins to realize what has just happened, you are out of the obstacle in a flash and long gone.

Off road, its not any different, although the speed is much lower here.

For us, the original CJ3B manual is gospel truth.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar

Last edited by DHABHAR.BEHRAM : 7th July 2010 at 12:14. Reason: add info
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Old 7th July 2010, 13:13   #5
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GREAT TOPIC !

Me offroading on sand is way different then what you guys seem to do here.
Looking forward to read and learn some of the best techniques used by you guys on rocks, mud etc...
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Old 7th July 2010, 15:03   #6
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Great thread. Waiting for many techinques to be unravelled here. New bees like me can learn a lot .
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Old 7th July 2010, 19:17   #7
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Default Off Road fundamental approach...

The most important, by far the most elementary approach to an obstacle is to learn/understand its characteristic. Most people get stuck not coz of lack of competence in self or the off-road vehicle being used but lack of judgement/foresight, mischief or pure mis-calculation.

My take;
1. As much as possible, always survey the obstacle on foot before slotting into the most relevant gear, which in itself is pure contextual in nature and least said- highly subjective to man and his machine.

2. Learn to understand the terrain yourself and build a strong foresight over a period of time than to just listen to the umpteen number of Guru's sitting and standing beside you, each giving a unique suggestion. Never handicap yourself with lack of decision making skills by constantly following what others say or do. It may work for them but you, not you. Morover, you learn better when you make mistakes. Having said that, never ignore historical performance data, trends and suggestions from credible 'ol folks. Lessons learnt should never be forgotten, they are life long assets.

3. Identify experienced spotters and believe in their judgement eyes closed but when you close your eyes visualize the obstacle you have just surveyed

I leave the rest to the pro's...

Last edited by The Wolf : 7th July 2010 at 19:25.
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Old 7th July 2010, 19:33   #8
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Excellent thread and really look forward to learning stuff, both theory and practical.

My first lesson was from an ol friend who lives and earns his living in one of the god forsaken part of Kerala. I can say he taught the ABC of offroad driving to me. One important lesson i learnt is listen to others, esp the ones who knows the terrain well and drive/driven there.

Contrary to what The Wolf posted (point 2), when am lost i completely go with my friends advice, Guru's or not. Coz when you go with an experience lot, there would be many dangerous situations, where one needs to completely follow instructions to avoid harm to man and machinery. Even when its questioning all your lessons and logic.

In general keep your ego's as far as possible in a sport like offroading, and i would any day give it to Gogi for practicing this. Hats off to you bro!
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Old 7th July 2010, 19:45   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
when am lost i completely go with my friends advice, Guru's or not.
Well the thing I hate here is when a whole motley of people stand around you and scream their head off in terms of what you should or should not do - when its you sitting inside the jeep turning the wheel.

There's a hell of a lot less confusion if there's just one person doing the talking outside and others just shut the heck up and let that one person take the lead. A lot of the times, its the excessive screaming outside which leads to dicey situations.

Many people shouting = confusion = more BP = more tension = chance of making more mistakes.

Offroading the right way is also a lot about being calm and collected - whatever the situation you might be in (in addition to the people around you). Ofcourse, I've been there quite often
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Old 7th July 2010, 19:49   #10
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A great and much needed thread Behrambhai. Thanks for starting this.

Wolf what you say is absolutely right. thats the way to do it. Watch and learn, watch and learn. Thats how i do it.
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Old 7th July 2010, 20:11   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Wolf View Post
1. As much as possible, always survey the obstacle on foot before slotting into the most relevant gear, which in itself is pure contextual in nature and least said- highly subjective to man and his machine.
This is definitely the first step, unless you know what the situation demands, avoid venturing into it. This is somewhat similar to "Pre-flight briefing" given to pilots on what the probable flight route will be, what weather to expect, what speeds to cruise at etc etc. It is also a good practice to have a backup/contingency plan just in case...

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In general keep your ego's as far as possible in a sport like offroading, and i would any day give it to Gogi for practicing this. Hats off to you bro!
Very well said Jaggu. Gogi praaji is an epitome when it comes to this quality.

Spike

PS- During the recent 3 day event, I saw few guys reducing tyre pressures long before entering the trail and seeing them reduce tyre pressures a few others started emulating the same.
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Old 7th July 2010, 20:41   #12
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Originally Posted by Jaggu View Post
Excellent thread and really look forward to learning stuff, both theory and practical.

My first lesson was from an ol friend who lives and earns his living in one of the god forsaken part of Kerala. I can say he taught the ABC of offroad driving to me. One important lesson i learnt is listen to others, esp the ones who knows the terrain well and drive/driven there.

Contrary to what The Wolf posted (point 2), when am lost i completely go with my friends advice, Guru's or not. Coz when you go with an experience lot, there would be many dangerous situations, where one needs to completely follow instructions to avoid harm to man and machinery. Even when its questioning all your lessons and logic.

In general keep your ego's as far as possible in a sport like offroading, and i would any day give it to Gogi for practicing this. Hats off to you bro!
Hey Jaggu...

Your approach I would believe will work only when you have your trusted band wagon and their chirps beside you If you are a person who desires/ dares/intends to do Off road without their presence or say go Solo or only with your wife or with a couple of non-gurus there your confidence levels will hit its bottom low, wouldnt it? My approach is targeted towards building independent off roading capabilities within self by learning to use rightful fundamental techniques while considering/obeying and falling back on all the suggestions/gyan/opinions/lessons learnt etc that you have been gracefully collating since 7 months within womb (scientifically proved to be the time when human learning begins). One more thing, NEVER fear failure unless of-course that failure means added damage to self, machine, accompanied or terrain.

Having said the above, what Off Road Driving technique is it that you are suggesting through your post, always listen to friends while keeping your ego away??! Sorry I failed to see that, sorry

@Venky: I completely agree with your below statements,
"Many people shouting = confusion = more BP = more tension = chance of making more mistakes".
"the right way is also a lot about being calm and collected".

@V-16: Thanks mate, you seem to be the independent types...

Behram Sir: great thread, thanks for initiating!

Last edited by The Wolf : 7th July 2010 at 20:47.
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Old 7th July 2010, 23:18   #13
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Dear Wolf - in your post, you are 100% correct.

Before you clear the OTR obstacle in the vehicle, YOU MUST CLEAR IT IN YOUR MIND! IF YOU HAVE CLEARED IT IN YOUR MIND, MOST OF THE TIME YOU WILL CLEAR IT IN THE VEHICLE.

Dear all - let me illustrate my above statement by now taking you through the series of articulations for which I have posted the photograph in my first post above. I saw that there was a fence on my left side. One of the poles of this fence was lying on the road. There was only around 6" of space between the fence line and the start of the ditch. I had to position my front left wheel exactly 1" from the wire. My front left tyre went exactly between the wire and the fallen pole. As this area was not undulating, my vehicle tilted only to the right as I knowingly steered my front right suspension into the ditch. Therefore, I knew that I was stretching only one side of my front suspension. As soon as this right side ditch started to clear for which I was applying only marginal power in correct gear, I took advantage of the terrain and cross locating my vehicle to the left as much as possible, I positioned my front right suspension on "relatively" level ground before lowering the front left suspension into the next ditch. Please note that all this was first achieved mentally by me, just looking at the obstacle. I had already "completed" the obstacle in my mind. I knew the exact positions of both my front tyres all through the length of the obstacle. My hands were following the commands from my mind, the small flicks on the steering wheel were neither over nor under reacting. At the point where the vehicle entered the second ditch, it obviously self steered towards the left which I had expected it to do, so I just held the steering wheel a little more tightly at that spot, then allowed it to self settle at the bottom of the ditch to a very accurate angle, so that the angle of attack of my front left tyre at the bottom of the ditch was normal to the ditch centre line, therefore offering the line of least resistance. The left crawled up, the cycle repeated and I was out of the obstacle.

I am only mentioning here, now you analyse - if I want to position only one front suspension into the ditch, what am I supposed to prefer? IFS or rigid axle? Of course IFS. The rigid axle will pull both ends simultaneously so you will not get the degree of angular freedom that you will want to independently exercise over the suspension without any constraint. I once again state that I have nothing against rigid axle.

I am only mentioning here, you further analyse - if I have to position my vehicle's front right tyre exactly where I want it within half an inch of positioning accuracy all through a serpentine course in real time, which steering gear will I prefer, one that is direct or one that has a lot of indirect linkages before the movement finally goes to the steering knuckles? Of course I will prefer a direct rack and pinion steering. I state that I have nothing against worm and sector or recirculating ball type steering.

Gear position and power delivery - The terrain dictated that I had to perforce crawl. So "low range" was a no-brainer. I prefer to start off in a relatively "high" low ratio gear. Many times I start in "low 4th" ratio also, there is no harm as it almost equals "high 2nd". I go a notch down if traction demands it. I feed just enough power to go through, maintaining a no-fuss, no-nonsense headway without slipping the clutch. It is extremely rewarding to have loads of reserve power, because the fun is in having the power below your right foot and then using it responsibly.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar

PS - I am a vehicle test engineer. I have the best job in the world.

Last edited by DHABHAR.BEHRAM : 7th July 2010 at 23:22. Reason: add info
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Old 8th July 2010, 00:05   #14
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This is a great initiative Behram. I'll be glued to this thread to learn the analytical reasoning behind each technique.

BTW, I am hearing the word ego a lot since EXAMM/AKC event, if I recall correctly that was never or rarely mentioned before. What just changed?
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Old 8th July 2010, 00:30   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear Wolf - in your post, you are 100% correct.
Thank you for your acknowledgement sir...

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Before you clear the OTR obstacle in the vehicle, YOU MUST CLEAR IT IN YOUR MIND! IF YOU HAVE CLEARED IT IN YOUR MIND, MOST OF THE TIME YOU WILL CLEAR IT IN THE VEHICLE.
Very well said. Sounds nice and works well. Every activity which contains a series of activities requires Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing. This is management funda, but in reality our brain functions exactly like this. The only difference is there is no particular order to a thought process, thats why we get stuck sometimes may be...sometimes in a situation and sometimes in a rut. All the same when you do. When we get our thought process in a correct linear sequence, like your logic containing the 6", the left wheel, the fence, the 1" and the fallen pole, we most likely will clear the obstacle

Conclusion, extensive planning and mental math...followed by best effort + prayers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear all - let me illustrate my above statement by now taking you through the series of articulations for which I have posted the photograph in my first post above. I saw that there was a fence on my left side. One of the poles of this fence was lying on the road. There was only around 6" of space between the fence line and the start of the ditch. I had to position my front left wheel exactly 1" from the wire. My front left tyre went exactly between the wire and the fallen pole. As this area was not undulating, my vehicle tilted only to the right as I knowingly steered my front right suspension into the ditch. Therefore, I knew that I was stretching only one side of my front suspension. As soon as this right side ditch started to clear for which I was applying only marginal power in correct gear, I took advantage of the terrain and cross locating my vehicle to the left as much as possible, I positioned my front right suspension on "relatively" level ground before lowering the front left suspension into the next ditch. Please note that all this was first achieved mentally by me, just looking at the obstacle. I had already "completed" the obstacle in my mind. I knew the exact positions of both my front tyres all through the length of the obstacle. My hands were following the commands from my mind, the small flicks on the steering wheel were neither over nor under reacting. At the point where the vehicle entered the second ditch, it obviously self steered towards the left which I had expected it to do, so I just held the steering wheel a little more tightly at that spot, then allowed it to self settle at the bottom of the ditch to a very accurate angle, so that the angle of attack of my front left tyre at the bottom of the ditch was normal to the ditch centre line, therefore offering the line of least resistance. The left crawled up, the cycle repeated and I was out of the obstacle.
IF I see you do it, I will most likely do it given similar or better vehicle. If I fail its either a flaw in your explanation or you were just lucky. LOL

Jokes apart, Sir, you did not mention which gear you used to clear this one but Im sure you had to use Low ratio if you had to take it r..e..a..l slow. I doubt a turbo charged engine will let you crawl in 3rd/4th gears (High)without losing ground at the point of full spool. I would be surprised if its not so. Pls correct me if Im wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
I am only mentioning here, now you analyse - if I want to position only one front suspension into the ditch, what am I supposed to prefer? IFS or rigid axle? Of course IFS. The rigid axle will pull both ends simultaneously so you will not get the degree of angular freedom that you will want to independently exercise over the suspension without any constraint. I once again state that I have nothing against rigid axle.

I am only mentioning here, you further analyse - if I have to position my vehicle's front right tyre exactly where I want it within half an inch of positioning accuracy all through a serpentine course in real time, which steering gear will I prefer, one that is direct or one that has a lot of indirect linkages before the movement finally goes to the steering knuckles? Of course I will prefer a direct rack and pinion steering. I state that I have nothing against worm and sector or recirculating ball type steering.
No doubt about the advantage one can have with IFS and DR steering system. By the tone of your voice looks like you've heard people claiming otherwise. If so, I'd like to hear why, whats the advantage of using archaic technology?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Gear position and power delivery - The terrain dictated that I had to perforce crawl. So "low range" was a no-brainer. I prefer to start off in a relatively "high" low ratio gear. Many times I start in "low 4th" ratio also, there is no harm as it almost equals "high 2nd". I go a notch down if traction demands it. I feed just enough power to go through, maintaining a no-fuss, no-nonsense headway without slipping the clutch. It is extremely rewarding to have loads of reserve power, because the fun is in having the power below your right foot and then using it responsibly.
I had read a post of yours deliberating the above approach a couple of weeks back in another thread, I applied it last week at a small time OTR, worked fine for me. The best part is, it lets you cut through muck and clay piles in a jiffy...just a little zig-zaging, thats about it!


Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
PS - I am a vehicle test engineer. I have the best job in the world.
C'mon rub it in as hard as you can, the first time it was that ferrari bloke sayin this
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