All posts by Thomas Kaiser

Up and down – high and low….

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…from Argentina via Chile to Bolivia

On New Year’s Day, we all set off together – i.e. the whole Panamericana group – towards the Pacific. For this day, the route was set and we – Chantal and I (Tom) – had almost no other choice. Our common destination for the day was east of the “Paso Agua Negra”, where we settled down for the coming night at an accommodation of an Argentinean mountaineering club at 3’000 metres; so to speak as acclimatisation for the coming day. Read More

From zero to 4800 and back to zero

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The Fitz Roy (granite mountain) waved goodbye to us a little bashfully and soon it disappeared in our rear-view mirror. For us, as well as the whole group, we continued northwards on the “Panamericana”. Whether it really is this dream road or not is beyond my knowledge. Here in southern America, people argue about strange things, e.g. who invented pisco (brandy) or where exactly the potato comes from. It’s no different with the “Panamericana”; every country thinks it has the original. Read More

Over Tierra del Fuego to the slopes of Fitz Roy

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The first border crossing on our journey south gave us all – the whole group – a bit of a “stomach ache”, and it was with some uncertainty that we headed for the border post. After leaving Argentina, we entered Chile with a procedure that has long been a thing of the past on the European mainland. But, the Chileans were also kind to us and with the help of our tour guides, it was no witchcraft in retrospect. From then on, we changed the border between Argentina and Chile more and more often and with the composure we had acquired, we headed for the respective border posts. Sometimes it was really easy, at other crossings the guardians of the respective nations looked very closely and it took a good 3 hours – without batting an eyelid – until all papers and checks were done. Read More

Going to Argentina

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We had to be patient for a long time; now the day had finally come when we had to say goodbye to all our family and friends for a longer period of time. For us personally, something “tangible” was finally moving again and the next big adventure was within reach. After more than 4 years of travelling “on our own”, we will join a guided group through South America to experience the Panamericana. This time we preferred the safety of a group to the absolute thrill. After the two years with Covid, we are looking at things a bit more soberly and don’t want to be exposed to the arbitrariness of the authorities somewhere alone. Read More

…and the dear technology

(The information is listed consecutively and contains some very interesting details. Just scroll through for more details).

August and september 2022

Repairs and maintenance

At the end of August our Jeep was put through its paces at Allrad Pauli in Buchloe – a specialist for Jeep Wranglers. Finally, our mobile home must not only pass the Swiss technical inspection, but also master for the next x-thousand kilometers without major problems in South America. Anyway, the 85’000 kilometers over “hill and dale” left their marks and we did not always spare the fully loaded car.

The following work was done:

  • Periodic service, i.e. change of all oils and filters
  • Cleaning of the injectors (engine).
  • Brake pads replaced.
  • Replaced flat belt on engine and associated belt tensioner.
  • Replaced the steering push rod as there was too much play in the bearings.

The constant overheating of the gearbox was also investigated more closely Peter Pauli suggested that we change the gearbox. In South America, we have to be able to rely on functioning technology. A repair of the transmission would only hinder our trip and possibly mean the end, since probably in South America no replacement transmission for our Jeep could be available. The stored old malfunction was a mystery even for the professional and cannot bode well.

While the transmission will not be replaced with an 8-speed automatic – would really be the “ultimate” – a revised and strengthened 5-speed will certainly and reliably continue to serve us.
Anyway, we made an appointment to have the transmission changed.


Hardly at home and recovered from Covid-19, we went to Thun to Offroad Böhlen. As OME representative he took care of our chassis. As mentioned above, the many kilometers off the road left their marks and our “ride” soon resembled a rocking horse than a well damped car.

The preparations for the periodic technical inspection (MFK) also included new tires. Again the windshield had to be replaced. A stone of an oncoming truck gave our new windshield again a bigger hole at the outer glass, which is not tolerated during a vehicle inspection. During further preparations, various small items came to light and had to be replaced.

The following work was done:

  • Chassis check and replacement of defective parts (tie rod).
  • Axle beater replaced.
  • All dampers and the steering damper replaced.
  • New and stronger springs installed in the rear, better tuned for the weight.
  • New windshield.
  • Periodic vehicle inspection (MFK) by the cantonal authority.

Unfortunately, we had to do without the desired additional tank, because it was not available at the moment.


“All good things come in threes!” …and off we went again to Allrad Pauli, where our Jeep was given a new transmission. The installed automatic transmission was serviced at 90’000 kilometers on the advice of my authorized dealer in Basel, i.e. all filters changed, flushed and filled with new oil. From this maintenance on – probably rather a coincidence – the transmission worried us more and more and the shifting operations were no longer executed due to very high oil temperature. Only after a longer cooling down the gearbox started to work again. The oil, which had only been in the transmission for about 15’000 kilometers, smelled very strongly of overheated and “burnt” oil.

Peter Pauli was convinced that the cause of this problem could lie in the poor manufacturing quality of the American gearbox manufacturer. However, the cause can only be determined with certainty when the gearbox is disassembled. The malfunction indication could be an indication of this.

The replacement gearbox has been overhauled and various components have been strengthened compared to the original gearbox. This should prevent certain parts inside the transmission from reaching their performance limits during demanding off-roading.

The following work was done:

  • Replacement of the 5-speed automatic transmission with a revised and reinforced transmission.
  • Flushing of the oil cooler.
  • Wrongly set coil springs on the rear axle turned correctly (bends to the rear!).
  • Lengthened the stops of the damper mount on the rear axle by a few centimeters, so that they are not immediately extended to the maximum when the car is idling.

On the front hood, at my request, another step was mounted, so that we can better reach our roof luggage. With various spare parts in the luggage we went back to Switzerland.

Before the Jeep was transferred to Hamburg, the brush wiper of the handbrake had to be mounted correctly on the center console. Who tore the thing off and then just stuck it into the recess is a mystery to all involved.

To make it easier to disassemble the center console for future work, I split it into two parts so that it can be disassembled and reassembled without major problems. The wiper brush by the handbrake handle is back in its intended place and probably holds better than in the original version.
Additionally, I mounted another USB socket on the outside of the console, so that further devices can be connected and supplied with power accordingly.

When mounting the replacement transmission, probably too little attention was paid to the exact position of the shift lever. The transmission’s tiptronic cannot be operated properly at the moment.
Since the Jeep was transferred to Hamburg immediately after its return from Bavaria, this fine-tuning will be carried out in South America.

Conversions, modifications and repairs; May and June 2022

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Repair: Our Gazell cabin, which is made of polyester, was separating more and more in the front part, i.e. at the hinges of the pop-up roof. As a result, we had more and more water in the cabin when it rained.
The manufacturer did not know a quick and effective solution when we asked. With about 60 camping bodies sold, this is only the second case where such damage has occurred. He referred us to his agency in Versoix/Geneva, which in turn recommended a boat builder on Lake Geneva for repair. Read More

Flying visit

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After the many conversions, modifications and repairs, the short trip to England was a good test to see if everything is really as we plan it. During the few thousand kilometres, certain shortcomings or miscalculations will certainly present themselves and allow us to make the final adjustments. Read More

Home holidays

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At the end of April, i.e. during our journey home from Spain to Switzerland, we were already planning our onward journey to Ireland and England. During our short stay in Switzerland, we planned to do some work and changes to the living quarters of our camper. The short time would have been enough for that. With a lot of confidence, we headed for our temporary domicile in Alain’s shared flat. But things turned out differently than we had hoped: Read More

Final sprint home….

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Madrid – Andorra – France – Switzerland
We enjoyed the last evening in Madrid with a fine wine, drew another straight line on the electronic map in the direction of Andorra and were already dreaming of the further eventful paths and tracks off the tarmac. Others drive as fast as possible, we will look for the straightest way and thus venture into somewhat more unknown areas. Read More

On the way home…

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….from Huelva via Portugal to Madrid
The April weather had already caught up with us when we docked at the ferry; the clouds hung low and a few raindrops slapped on the windscreen. Well, there would be no pleasant warmth and sunshine in southern Spain and Portugal. Although the weather forecasts predicted rather wet days, we ventured “cross-country” in the direction of Portugal. Read More