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Old 16th December 2015, 10:32   #226
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Spent the last few days driving the Jeep in coastal Karnataka and quite a bit of off-road stuff in the Western ghats (Kodachadri climb).

Notes:


- Engine and transmission are top notch in terms of power delivery, if not in refinement. The low range ratio of 2.5:1 seems very adequate for the impressive amount of torque put out by the DI diesel. The 4 speed transmission is almost superfluous.This is a welcome departure for me since my experience is primarily with large gasoline engines where crawl ratios >3:1 are required for good performance.

- Steering has excessive play resulting in very poor precision, which we have traced primarily to the drag link and bellcrank. These parts will be replaced with a ball-jointed drag link and modified bellcrank that can accept a tapered ball-joint stud.

- The turning radius is inadequate. Going up Kodachadri required 3 point turns in multiple places. Need to understand what our options are to improve this.

- Brakes are currently not working to 100% potential. They need to be pumped twice to get full stopping power. This could be faulty seals in the MC or pad knockback, not sure which. We will start with the booster/MC.

- There are many squeaks, rattles, noises and assorted harshness which I need to learn to ignore. This is not a Land Cruiser.

Our first upgrades were a good set of head lights and turn signals. The roads in this region are treacherous and a callous attitude prevails, with many vehicles permanently on their high beams or illegal driving lights. In our experience over the past few days, a flash of the LED light bar is enough to set right 90% of these idiots.

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The setup is

- 22" Hella LED light bar that delivers about 5000 lumens of raw 6000k white light. The optics are not too great which means there is a lot of scatter. Perfect off-road and tight ghat sections when there is no incoming traffic. Turning this thing on makes you forget you're driving at night, quite literally.

- Hella 1200 fog lamps mounted as low and wide as practical. We were unable to test the performance although I doubt they will be worse than no fog lamps.

- Tecniq USA LED 2-function marker+turn signals. These are PC rated meaning they are viewable from a 90 deg angle. Most LED lights have poor visibility from off-center.

- Tecniq USA 2.5" round LED marker lights. The function of these is to fill the ugly holes next to the front grill and look cool due to their radial light pattern.
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Old 16th December 2015, 10:53   #227
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Wow, a very different look. The LED lights have changed the character significantly.

I had told you that the engine is the best part about this Jeep. At Kodachadri it must have raised eyebrows among the local Jeepers.

BTW, what did you mean by 4 speed transmission is almost superfluous?
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Old 16th December 2015, 11:13   #228
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Definitely, we got a lot of interest from drivers and tourists alike. They wanted to know if it's a Thar or a DI turbo engine etc. We were secretive with where we got the lights from lest it falls into the wrong hands hehehe. We used 4-Lo with the front hubs unlocked in order to reduce driver fatigue during climb as well as descent. It was mostly done in 3rd gear .

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BTW, what did you mean by 4 speed transmission is almost superfluous?
I meant that the engine has so much torque, the gearbox is almost not needed.
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Old 16th December 2015, 11:48   #229
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Originally Posted by ananthkamath View Post
We used 4-Lo with the front hubs unlocked in order to reduce driver fatigue during climb as well as descent.
You turned it into a RWD.

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Originally Posted by ananthkamath View Post
It was mostly done in 3rd gear .
Conditions must be dry now. It is more challenging in monsoons.

Will you be around during Christmas, I should be back in Manipal by then. You can meet the Udupi offroaders.
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Old 23rd December 2015, 16:15   #230
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I'd like to hear experts' opinion on this. This spacer for the transmission mount cross-member worries me a little bit. Is this a common practice for modified vehicles or is this an OEM part? I hope to get it replaced with a tubular steel or solid steel spacer.

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Last edited by ananthkamath : 23rd December 2015 at 16:21.
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Old 23rd December 2015, 21:54   #231
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That is definitely not stock. You can get the spacer from any of the Mahindra pickups, which will be like a wedge.
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Old 24th December 2015, 11:04   #232
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ananthkamath View Post
1. Engine and transmission are top notch in terms of power delivery, if not in refinement. The low range ratio of 2.5:1 seems very adequate for the impressive amount of torque put out by the DI diesel. 2. Steering has excessive play resulting in very poor precision, which we have traced primarily to the drag link and bellcrank. These parts will be replaced with a ball-jointed drag link and modified bellcrank that can accept a tapered ball-joint stud. 3. The turning radius is inadequate. 4. Brakes are currently not working to 100% potential. They need to be pumped twice to get full stopping power. 5. There are many squeaks, rattles, noises and assorted harshness. 6. A flash of the LED light bar is enough to set right 90% of these idiots.
Dear Ananthkamath - sorry for delayed reply, I just now remembered your request! My reply is as follows:

1. Yes, this is a strong point but it needs to be used carefully. 4WD Low range 3rd gear is most effective as it tracts the power curve nicely.
2. It may be a simple matter of adjusting the backlash, check it out before you do anything major. Preload the kingpin bearings properly otherwise you will get death wobble.
3. This has always been an issue, this was one of the things which got resolved with the NGCS.
4. Seems to be a simple matter of ensuring seal conformance.
5. A couple of hours spent on a couple of Sunday mornings should set things right.
6. Please get rid of this thing or use it very carefully. A guy in a white Fortuner flashed something like this when I was on the opposite side. I gave him a piece of my mind! .

The powertrain is fitted at 6 degrees north-south (means longitudinally). This is done to ensure articulation clearance of the cylinder block and sump with the front axle in spike test. Remember that in the CL / MM architecture, the front axle moves up by 99mm during "spike" (panic braking without disengaging the clutch till the engine stops). The spacers that you show in the photograph are absolute aftermarket nonsense. You must remove them and throw them out. See the bolts used, the gearbox cross member will fall off one day, be careful. For non-NGCS vehicles (like yours), we had designed and used aluminium wedges having 6 degrees angle built into them. Remember that you will need reverse wedges above the long members to ensure correct assembly. These wedges are still available at good Jeep shops. Buy and use them with correct length of M10*1.25 size bolts with nyloc nuts.

Best regards,

Behram Dhabhar
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Old 24th December 2015, 12:52   #233
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post
Dear Ananthkamath - These wedges are still available at good Jeep shops. Buy and use them with correct length of M10*1.25 size bolts with nyloc nuts.
I understood importance of these wedges and spike arrestor after few costly damages.

Dear Ananthkamath: please make sure you spike arrestor installed as well, though both (wedges and spike arrestor) are not costly but very very difficult to find. I had to scavenge from a scrap yard after weeks of search.
Also, please make sure kingpin bearings are good and set correctly, else you wont be able to completely resolve wobble issue.

Regards,
Shubhendra Singh
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Old 24th December 2015, 15:20   #234
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DHABHAR.BEHRAM View Post

1. Yes, this is a strong point but it needs to be used carefully. 4WD Low range 3rd gear is most effective as it tracts the power curve nicely.
2. It may be a simple matter of adjusting the backlash, check it out before you do anything major. Preload the kingpin bearings properly otherwise you will get death wobble.
3. This has always been an issue, this was one of the things which got resolved with the NGCS.
4. Seems to be a simple matter of ensuring seal conformance.
5. A couple of hours spent on a couple of Sunday mornings should set things right.
6. Please get rid of this thing or use it very carefully. A guy in a white Fortuner flashed something like this when I was on the opposite side. I gave him a piece of my mind! .

The powertrain is fitted at 6 degrees north-south (means longitudinally)... For non-NGCS vehicles (like yours), we had designed and used aluminium wedges having 6 degrees angle built into them. Remember that you will need reverse wedges above the long members to ensure correct assembly. These wedges are still available at good Jeep shops. Buy and use them with correct length of M10*1.25 size bolts with nyloc nuts.
Hello Mr. Dhabhar - Thank you very much for the timely reply. Your input is very much appreciated. My comments below:

1. I noticed this when climbing a deeply rutted mountain path, in fact 3rd LO had better driveability than 2nd LO in most places.

2. & 3. Based on some input in my other thread (MM550: Issue with steering precision & turning radius), I'm thinking about changing the steering to the Armada type since it costs the least in terms of time and effort, while still apparently providing a meaningful reduction in steering effort and turning radius.

4. & 5. Thanks, will do.

6. I lugged it here from the US along with other painstakingly procured parts at the cost of my wife's patience for a few days. I'm not going to get rid of it anytime soon. Offroad at slow speed, it is a boon. I assure you that the only times we turned it on on-road was to make our abilities clear to the opposite parties who failed to turn off high beams after repeated warnings.

As far as the wedges go, it is a strange design indeed. The 6 degrees could very well have been incorporated into the transmission mounts, but I do understand your development guys at the time would've had their own constraints to work to. We'll try to procure those parts, if not we'll have to find/make a substitute.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Shubhendra View Post

Dear Ananthkamath: please make sure you spike arrestor installed as well, though both (wedges and spike arrestor) are not costly but very very difficult to find.
Thanks Shubhendra - Yes, the spike arrester is on my list as well. Any chance you have detailed photos of its installation on a MM with a KMT90?
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Old 24th December 2015, 16:37   #235
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Originally Posted by ananthkamath View Post
Thanks Shubhendra - Yes, the spike arrester is on my list as well. Any chance you have detailed photos of its installation on a MM with a KMT90?
Search search!!

Spikee
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-te...ml#post2532881 (Problems after converting MM540XD 2WD to 4WD)

Wedge issue
http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-ve...ml#post2278361 (Got Jeep! CJ3B Hurricane.)

There is a ton of info inside 4x4 section, use the search function and read up.
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Old 24th December 2015, 18:23   #236
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Hi Jaggu - Thanks for the links, I've seen those before. I wanted to check with Shubhendra to see if he had pics of the OEM part with the concentric limiting tube. Judging by the witness marks on my radiator, the mechanical fan appears to have crashed multiple times into it. I'm willing to bet forward movement is more severe as well as more frequent than rearward.

As far as search advice goes, no offense meant, but you're preaching to the choir. I've been part of more forums than I care to count since 2002 and both benefited as well as contributed good technical info. One search on this forum with my username should confirm this .
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Old 28th December 2015, 11:16   #237
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ananthkamath View Post
Thanks Shubhendra - Yes, the spike arrester is on my list as well. Any chance you have detailed photos of its installation on a MM with a KMT90?
Installing spike arrestor is pretty straight forward. it has nut bolt pattern at one end and round ball at another end. That round ball gets fitted on a Yoke in GB cross member and nut bolt side in bell housing.

regards,
Shubhendra
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Old 11th January 2018, 02:11   #238
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It has now been 2+ years since my last update. In this time, a lot of things have transpired in relation to this vehicle. My cousin has been using it on nearly a daily basis, been to a couple of fun (non-competitive) offroad events, and explored the offroad trails of coastal Karnataka as a weekend warrior. Our last engagement with Samurai's old mechanic was to get the MRCBT steering conversion, and the crossmember fix, both of which have worked flawlessly.

For my annual visit to India this December, the two of us really wanted to challenge ourselves and this vehicle to take it above and beyond just local stuff. In preparation for future endeavors, we wanted this trip to have elements comprising a real trans-continental overland journey - long days driving on tarmac, offroad terrain that keeps both man and machine on their toes, exotic and rarely traveled regions, camping in unfamiliar areas, optimizing use of equipment etc. - and most of all, no hotel reservations! Most people we spoke to advised against doing this, citing ride discomfort, questionable reliability, our safety, etc as reasons, which really compelled us to want it even more !

After considering several destinations, we settled on Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, as a stretch goal. As soon as I understood how big this distance is, the fine lads at SG Automotive in Udupi (an authorized Mahindra First Choice location), were enlisted to prepare the vehicle since the old mechanic had labor issues and therefore unable to meet our timing. After a thorough inspection, they came back with a laundry list of things that needed attention (mostly routine suspension and body stuff). 3 weeks and about 30k later, we had a fresh and raring to go MM550 - except, with less than 12 hours to go before departure, Manipal RTO had still not given us fitness certification documents though being inspected and submitted a month in advance. Long story short, a full day of keeping the pressure up with our contact down there yielded results. Gujarat was a go!

Anyway, this is not a travelogue, so I will say this instead. After 4336km (GPS logger distance) of throwing everything at this vehicle - soft sand, salt marsh, thorny scrub, murderous Indian highways and badly broken interior roads, we came out the other end without a single issue. The only thing that broke was the latch on the swingout rear bumper, which was held on with nylon rope until fixed with an oxy-acetylene welder at the next town. I am proud to say both of us held up quite well too, LOL. This has been a journey of a lifetime for me, certainly the first of perhaps several seeing my own home country by road (and offroad ). Some of the high points of the trip:

1. Maintained 75-80kph with ease on most of the 4/6 lane highway between Hubli and Ahmedabad. Overall moving average was a not-too-shabby 65kph!
2. Crossed the emptiness of the Little Rann of Kutch (a misleading name!!) in 4WD Hi / 20psi tire pressure, a total distance of 70km on the salt flat. In hindsight this was quite foolhardy given the continuous light drizzle due to cyclone Ockhi, but we only came to know of this after speaking to several locals - the Rann wasn't really dry enough yet to drive over, and impassable on the Western side. Even light rain is sufficient to start softening the hard crust of mud that forms on top of the marsh. We had no winch or ground anchor, and no backup vehicle. so took an extremely cautious approach opposite to what is seen in most "OTR"s these days - reading the surface well in advance, recce on foot where it looked sketchy, then using a combination of momentum and prayer to get across 20-30 feet of wet quagmire at a time. The satisfaction, no actually the relief, from reaching the rim of the Rann was awesome.....
3. Camped overnight in the middle of the 70km Rann crossing, which was actually sublime! The amount of wildlife here is simply amazing for being an arid desert, and not a soul in sight!
4. Drove all the way to India Bridge about 20km from the Pak border, and met with BSF guards posted there. Almost ran out of diesel due to corrupt gas station attendants at Khavda, but managed to bribe our way through it. Speaking of diesel this vehicle has a true range of 450km with perhaps a 25km reserve, which is fantastic! Mileage for the trip was a true 14.9km/l which is also, fantastic!!
5. Camped at the rim of the Greater Rann (yeah, the Amitabh Bachchan one without the blaring lights or loudspeakers) after finding out quickly that driving across it would be even more impossible than the Little Rann.
The night sky at this spot was quite simply amongst the best I've ever seen, and I've been lucky to have seen some of the best night skies out there! Its pretty easy to see why this border is so sparsely guarded, nothing can cross it when the surface hasn't formed a thick-enough crust yet.
6. Drove about 15km on the rim of the Greater Rann before turning around after deciding the risk was far too great for getting stuck further and further from civilization.
7. Visited several other towns, villages in the area such as Bhuj, Dhordo, Bhujodi and sampled the local cuisine and culture in a comprehensive way (well, within the limitation of a 11-day trip).
8. Visited the amazing Pranlal Bhogilal collection in Ahmedabad after reading about it in Indian Auto and Auto India magazines since I was a little kid.

I'll leave some pictures here for the reader's enjoyment and posterity.

Hardtop MM550 : A family friendly offroader joins Team-BHP-img_20171205_142433.jpg
About the only thing that needed attention during the trip apart from daily fluid and tire pressure checks....shackle grease!


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Driving inside the Asiatic Wild Ass Sanctuary south of the Little Rann.


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Camp in the middle of the Little Rann. This was actually taken at 9pm or so at night. The lights of Zainabad town can be seen in the distance.


Hardtop MM550 : A family friendly offroader joins Team-BHP-img_20171207_155845.jpg
A glimpse of the Great Rann on the land bridge to Dholavira (a Harappan civilization excavated town). The right rear mudflap fell off after being saturated with mud during the Little Rann crossing .


Hardtop MM550 : A family friendly offroader joins Team-BHP-p1010745.jpg
Moonrise over the rim of the Great Rann.


Hardtop MM550 : A family friendly offroader joins Team-BHP-img_20171207_070710.jpg
Camp at the Great Rann. We were self-sufficient for food, water and supplies for the entirety of the Rann crossings. True Overlanding? Maybe!
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Old 11th January 2018, 07:40   #239
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Wow Ananth, that's an amazing trip. Glad to hear the good old Jeep held up. That engine is a gem, isn't it? Those tyres will turn 9 years this year. May be time to change.
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Old 11th January 2018, 08:07   #240
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Thanks Sharath. Yes I forgot to mention the tires while raving about the rest of it. The fact that we didn't have a single puncture or tire issues in ~4500km, I chalk that up to pure luck as opposed to any prep or diligence on our part! We were a bit apprehensive especially on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, to say the least. And yeah that engine needs to get into Ward's 10 best global list!!
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