|6th November 2009, 20:16||#1|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2009
Thanked: 1,429 Times
Project Nomad - The quest to build an adventurer Gypsy King
At the outset, let me make it clear that I'm neither a hardcore OTR fan, nor a "stylebhai" who likes to mod his vehicles with flashy accoutrements just for the sake of showing off at city boulevards. I like my vehicles to be reliable, stock as far as possible (except where a mechanical mod actually improves its performance or aesthetics) and capable of traversing long distances.
Besides being a motorhead, I've always been a fan of travelling. Our family makes it a point to go on atleast 2 long trips a year, and short weekend trips are very much part of our lifestyle. For the last decade or so, we've more and more relied on our cars to take us places. The Amby (good hauler, but better be well prepared for setbacks), M800 (reliable at the drop of a hat), Indica (dire opposite of reliable) have all done their duty. Latest, and the best new kid on the block is the Verna CRDI, a true long distance champ in every sense of the word. Powerful, fuel efficient, very very reliable - ensures hours and hours of tireless motoring.
But there are places where a stock car can't take you. Think about Gorumara forest (or Ranthambore, Kajiranga, or any forest for that matter). Easy to drive over, but once inside the forest, your only option is a light offroader that will dance through the trails without getting you stuck. Take a car, and it will scrape its underbody, damage its suspension, and most likely, leave you stranded at the mercy of Mr and Mrs wild animal.
Or think about North Sikkim. Breathtakingly beautiful, but one wouldnt dare to take a car into those unforgiving roads. (The army also wouldnt grant you a permit if you pulled up in a flashy Verna, but thats another matter )
Or the Rann of Kutch. I dont think 2wds have ever set foot into the Rann Salt Flats.
So what's the solution for a travelhead who not only wants to drive over to these exotic locations, but also wants to explore them on his own wheels? Bengal, Assam, Orissa and Chattisgarh hold some much virgin natural beauty, but where's a car that can comfortably haul 2 (or 4) people over the highway, and take them off road once there?
And that last sentence, gentlemen, is the reason for my brainchild - Project Nomad.
Why the Gypsy King
Well, a year ago, when I first started thinking of an alternative vehicle that would go highways and off road, my first logical suggestion was a Jeep. A CJ or an MM. Unfortunately, these vehicles are too cramped, too noisy and uncomfortable to do long highway trips. I love the shattering off road ability, the simplicity of design, the image - but I can't stand feeling deaf, and shaking like a vibrator after 2-3 hrs of highway driving. And how exactly do you drive a Jeep fast?
The next solution was to buy a used (no money for new) high- end 4wd like a Safari 4X4, Endeavour or Tucson. But I dont trust Tata, and found practically no good examples of the latter at my budget.
The solution came when I visited a tea garden in July this year in Shilchar, Assam. Belongs to a client of ours. This particular garden is the largest they own, about one third the size of Kolkata (not kidding). Most of the garden has no roads whatsoever, only muddy rocky trails. The garden is so big, and the roads so bad, that if your vehicle gets stranded in one corner, rescuers will take atleast 4-5 hrs to reach you. By that time you would probably have been abducted by the terrorists, who're rampant in this part of the country!
In 1999, these people bought 5 Gypsy King HTs for use by the Garden managers, modified them to make 4 doors but left the mechanicals intact. 10 years later, each vehicle has 60-70K on the odo. Besides the managers themselves, they are driven by 2 (unbelievably bad) drivers. One such vehicle (w driver) was given to me for my 2 day stay. The driver proudly told me that the vehicles never see timely servicing, parts are changed far past their scheduled duration, but they hardly break down.
Over those 2 days, I fell in love with the Gypsy. Made the mistake of sitting on the rear seat once (almost broke my spine and head), then reverted to the front seat. The engine sounded pretty smooth even after 10 years. Dashboard was basic.
Off road ability of the vehicle was unbelievable. The driver would drive it at full pace over those muddy tracks, and the car went dancing over the terrain like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. No finesse, not smothering the terrain like a heavy SUV, but a hell lot of fun!
After much coaxing, the driver also allowed me to drive the vehicle for a short stint. Since I've learnt driving in a Mk2 Amby, the absence of PS didnt bother me much. Just gunned the throttle and went dancing over rocks. The experience was pretty much like when I drove a petrol engined Willys Jeep for the first time (thank you UBS sir). Basic but fun transportation!
So now I've decided. The donor vehicle has to be a Gypsy King, preferably a MPFI model.
Some basic guidelines:
Well, I've been doing a fair bit of scouring around (thank you UBS, Harjeev, AbheekG, Krishnathanthri and Abhishek_d-Zulu). Read almost all the Gypsy threads on Tbhp. Looks like this is what my choices come down to:
1. Buy an ex-army vehicle and get reliable mechs to carry out extensive engine overhauling and body work to get it back into shape. State of suspension doesnt matter much, since I'll be modding the stock suspension.
2. Buy a second hand civilian vehicle and carry out the same restoration.
3. Buy a new gypsy off the showroom and mod it out in my own way.
Option 2 is pretty ruled out from the start. Kolkata particularly has no civilian Gypsy Kings for sale, and even if I found one, the owner would ask for an exhorbitant price.
Option 3 is the best option in terms of peace of mind. I'd get a reliable vehicle out of the box, and the chassis and engine would not be tired out. But it would cost me 5.7L on road to buy a new Gypsy HT in Kolkata, plus atleast 1-1.5L to install all the planned mods. Expensive.
(I'm still open to this option though. Have already discussed selling off the useless Indica to finance the down payment. Dunno if I can arrange finance for the remaining amount)
Option 1 is the best option from a cost viewpoint. I can spend upto 1.25-1.3L if I find a decent MPFI example. Have some trusted mechs who will do quality work on the engine and body. But need some advice on the registration process.
Harjeev told me there are some decent examples lying in Mayapuri, which he's not sure are Carb of MPFI. I'm primarily looking for an MPFI vehicle, so any definite pointers are welcome.
Panagarh in WB has a lot of Gypsys lying around, but last heard (Joseph - NOS Power went to have a look) they're all Carb.
Any information ex army Gypsies elsewhere in the country is welcome.
Part II: Planned Mods
Again, besides talking to experienced people, the primary documented source of information was tbhp itself. Here's a list of mods I plan to install:
1. Air Conditioning - If I have to do 7-8 hr highway trips, I better have an airconditioned car. Is a Sanden 507 compressor and a Superking Blower a good combo? Both of these are easily available off the shelf.
I guess one would also have to install a heavier capacity radiator to support the load of the AC. Please help.
2. Power Steering - Not a necessity, but definitely a great comfort. Was checking out AbheekG's video on Youtube about installing power steering in his Gypsy. Discussed the concept in detail with UBS, and he too concurs the conversion would not be too difficult mechanically.
UBS has worked out an alternative PS solution for one of his own Jeeps. Will explore that option too.
3. Composite Fibre Leaf Springs - Drawing inspiration from the experiences of many tbhpians who are using this tool, sent a mail to Dr Pawar of Dr Nano INC. Surprisingly, the gentleman called me up the next day, and we had a long discussion.
The CFLs are direct replacement. They come as separate sets for the rear wheel (12K) and front wheels (10K). I explained my idea of a touring Gypsy, and Dr Pawar said they had a "comfort" set that would improve the ride quality by miles. The rear leafs were so comfortable by themselves, that Dr Pawar suggested I only order them at first, and look for the front set a few months later only if I feel the ride needs further improvement.
4. Gas Filled Dampers - There's a guy in Kolkata who custom manufactures such stuff (bet you didnt know that, eh?). Basically the stock Gypsy damper with some sort of viscous oil that improves the handling by miles. Good for Rally Gypsys also. Will explore this option, as also try out the Konis suggested by Headers in some post. Experiences welcome.
5. AT Radials - Decided on 215/75 R15. IMO, anything more is overkill for a 80 Bhp car.
First choice is the Yokohama Geolandar AT S. Reliable, proven, easily available off the shelf in Kolkata.
Second choice is the Michelin Latitude Cross. Came across this unique tire in Rossi's Gypsy thread. Looks to be a curious mix of on road and off road tread. Check it out (pic taken from Rossi's thread).
6. Hella 3000/Lightforce 240 Driving lamps - Very powerful stuff. Necessary for night driving, as I found the stock Gypsy headlamps woefully inadequate.
Some other cosmetic mods like Alloys, replacement front and rear seats (also changing the layout of the rear seats), paint etc are in the offing, but not important at this stage.
Our resident designer Tbhpian, Ayan, is quite a talent. I discussed Project Nomad with him, and he drew out this wonderful rendering at a moments notice, giving vision to my thoughts. Do check out the guys talent.
So all 4wd gurus, as you can see, I've done quite a bit of research on Project Nomad. Please please advise me on all aspects. I'm serious about this project, and will see it to fullfillment. Looking forward to your help.
Last edited by predatorwheelz : 6th November 2009 at 20:25.
|6th November 2009, 21:07||#2|
Join Date: Mar 2006
Thanked: 108 Times
All the best for project nomad.The first few lines were like reading my own mind
I too have a aspiration to get a jeep or gypsy.but time and money will decide when and where.
|6th November 2009, 21:35||#3|
Join Date: Oct 2009
Thanked: 3 Times
I would like to buy a ex-army gypsy. I prefer the carb ones. Can you help me on how it make this happen? How much will it cost me?
My cousin had a gypsy that do match the drawings. I cant find the pictures of the same in my lappie. I am sure to find them in the desktop. I will post those pictures soon
|6th November 2009, 22:42||#4|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Thanked: 12,384 Times
It is seriously looks like I have written these lines, only thing is that the english is much better that what I could have managed... I have very similar ideas (if not exactly same..lol) and will follow you thread closely.
|7th November 2009, 03:11||#5|
Join Date: Aug 2009
Thanked: 6 Times
I'll be following this thread closely!
First off, you;ve probably thought of this, but i'll mention it anyway - once you purchase a brand new gypsy, the warranty is probably going to go bust, if you carry out the mods you have in mind.
Nonetheless, I agree, that it would be more reliable, than an ex-army.
Powersteering is not a necessity, unless you want to use this as your daily drive in congested city roads.. That too, would be a luxury in my opinion.
If you do want to put one in anyway, then I suppose one of the better options, would be to source a used Suzuki Jimny powersteering from Dubai - I hear you get them really cheap there, and they'll be the best fit - If I'm not mistaken.
CFLs, to me, look like a wonder solution. I can't wait to try them out myself (after i get my own Gypsy King )
Now, coming to the 'source your Gypsy' part - initially I was to purchase a brand new vehicle, but eventually decided to go in for a 2nd hand MPFi - I've never owned/extensively driven a gypsy before, but I do have some long trips (Ladakh, some day!) planned too - and from what I hear, high altitude is something a carb gypsy doesn't agree with too well.
If things go as planned, I should be able to pick up my MPFi (2005 model, excellent condition, with maxxis mudzilla tyres) for about 3.5Lakhs.
I suggest you try to find gypsies for sale all around the country. Goa seems to have quite a few, if I'm not mistaken.
Ex-army: Get into this, only if you're willing to spend a considerable amount of time (& money) to restore the vehicle!
Anyway, if I hear of a 2nd hand for sale, I'll keep you in mind!
P.S. - How much for these particular gas filled dampers, any idea?
|7th November 2009, 08:20||#6|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Thanked: 13 Times
Nice write up. Could you tell me where to find these gas filled dampers? You said they are custom made..are they reliable? How much they cost?
|7th November 2009, 09:37||#7|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Thanked: 5,225 Times
Man, you are a braveheart to consider a Gypsy as a long distance family cruiser. Kudos of you to try & go down that path. All the best for project "nomad" and would keep an eye on this thread.
Mechanicals: As far as mechanical mods are concerned, a gypsy is literally bullet proof and would not need any mechanical mods for highway cruising. So, if you get a well maintained Gypsy, you don't have to worry about the mechanicals
Off-Road Capability: A stock gypsy will go anywhere (YES ANYWHERE) of the places that you intend for use. No need for ANY modification for off-road capabilities
DON'T put alloys in place of discs of you plan long cruises all over india. The steel wheels are good and strong and can be repaired easily in case of damage.
DO replace the front seats at first opportunity. That could be a weak link in your comfort factor, even after you have dome all the mods for comfort. If not changing seats then get good cushioning & lumbar support done on existing seats. OE seats are PATHETIC and will leave you fatigued even after a couple hours of highway driving
Last edited by khan_sultan : 7th November 2009 at 09:39.
|7th November 2009, 09:59||#8|
Join Date: Mar 2009
Thanked: 8 Times
Ex-Army gypsy's will all be carb atleast till 2011. This is because they started getting MPFI versions only from 2003 and they dispose their vehicles after 7 years.
I would suggest that you opt for a brand new soft top gypsy. You can make a top as per your specs then (the price difference between the HT and ST is about ~60K).
I would suggest that you use the Gypsy without PS for some time and then decide. I have 235/75R15 Goodyear RT/S on my Gypsy, which is used quite often in city, and I do not feel that the steering is very hard - Even in traffic - And I am definitely not some muscle bound hunk!!
I have seen some good condition MPFI Gypsy's in the market available for about 3+ Laks while Carb ones go for about 2 Laks - Price varies according to the condition and accessories offered.
One more point to keep in mind - Though all parts for a Gypsy are available most parts are not off the shelf - you have to order and wait for the part to arrive!!!
The main question you have to answer is whether you have the time to test a second hand vehicle in a myriad of conditions prior to your long journeys, to ensure that all is working as it should??
(please keep in mind that most Gypsy owners have removed the front drive shaft to increase mileage!!)
Since you are planning long drives which includes on and off roading, My humble suggestion would be to buy a new vehicle.
Waiting for your build up thread now
|7th November 2009, 15:09||#9|
Join Date: Sep 2009
Thanked: 3 Times
hey predatorwheelz a very nice n sensible writeup indeed.
would be looking up this thread very closely as i'm smelling a very good n wise project coming up.
as i noticed your expectation fore a used mpfi was 1.25 to 1.3L
bro as far as i've searched n surveyed an mpfi is a sellers product. i saw an mpfi 2001 model at Bhopal a few days ago which was coated 2.65L
|7th November 2009, 21:55||#11|
Join Date: Jul 2009
Thanked: 7 Times
Great going buddy...Some Gyaan
1. Get a second-hand king preferably MPFI(your budget should be between 1.8 to 2.2 for the same) & with a HT(long distance touring)...
2. Stick to rear CFL's only front ones aint the right size...
3. Lots of good threads on the Airconditioning, its a necessity...
3. I will sweare by the Michelins!
4. Replace the headlamps with new stock headlamp(original Lucas glass ones) with the right wires cut-outs & 100/130 bulbs & compare them with the Rallye 1000's
Will follow your thread closely...
|7th November 2009, 22:23||#12|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jan 2009
Thanked: 732 Times
I just purchased a hard top Gypsy. The price difference between hard top and soft top is only about 30K.
Long time since i heard about your Gypsy. Hope, its doing good.
Regarding the bulbs you've mentioned, i read that the reflectors crack on using a higher wattage bulb. Have you been using these on your Gypsy? Have you been facing any such issues? The OEM bulbs are not that good. I am badly looking at some alternatives.
|8th November 2009, 07:31||#13|
Join Date: Aug 2005
Thanked: 12,384 Times
|8th November 2009, 08:17||#14|
Join Date: Dec 2005
Thanked: 92 Times
THe GYpsy is not the best long distance tourer. But to get into many forests and explore them thoroughly, you definitely need a light 4WD and that is where the Gypsy comes in.
In addition to all that you have mentioned, i would add a good pair of driver and nav seats: the stock Gypsy seats are not good on long drives.
Last edited by Dippy : 8th November 2009 at 10:10. Reason: Post edited. The use of slang and abusive language is strictly prohibited on Team BHP.
|8th November 2009, 09:08||#15|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2007
Thanked: 4,237 Times
I have a question: Why not hire a gypsy when you need it? This is alot of pain for little incremental value.
Not to mention you run the risk of divorce and dispossession from inheritance if you travel with family in a gypsy () - I once traveled 150km a side from a friend's place in Mumbai to Phansad wildlife sanctuary. By god ki kasam, every other bone in my body told its exact location (courtesy the roads). It was AWESOME off the road, but I got sick from all the thrashing around the gypsy subjects you to (navigator seat).
Sorry to rain down on your thread but I see alot of effort being planned. My little exp with autos tells me that there's no substitute for a brand new stock vehicle (like starter has done). Any army used vehicle will have been used for all of its possible usable life and then some (my friends say that its disposed only when the best of mechs think its not worth the effort at all)