14 Oct '23I hope you're all doing well. Today, I've got some tough news to share about a product I've been...
13 Jun '23Welcome to my channel! I'm Stephan Fischer, a seasoned 4WD driver trainer and assessor,...
19 Apr '23A little camping hack for controlling small things in the kitchen drawer is shared in Episode 5...
06 Apr '23In Part 4 of our Victorian High Country 4WD Adventure, we explore the stunning Butcher Country...
06 Apr '23============================= GEAR AFFILIATE LINKS (only the gear I use and recommend):...
Daniels Point Road - Watagans NSW - Trip report
- by Stefan Fischer
The morning started with the four vehicles, two Patrols and two Discoverys, pulling up at the
Ourimbah service station. The associated passengers getting together to exchange pleasantries and
start with the usual wind up banter, "Good to see you made it on time for a change" and "Glad to
see the Pootrol made it this far" etc ,etc.
It was a gorgeous sunny morning with a smattering of cloud cover. Perfect for a day of solid,
technical grade 5 4WDing that lay in store for us. It was my first time to Daniels Point Road and I
must say I was a little excited and just a little bit nervous as the tracks reputation of chewing up
vehicles was running through my mind. Stephan had even pointed out that another group had gone
in just weeks before us for what was supposed to be a day trip and ended up getting stuck in there
for a whole weekend. Whilst I was confident that we would not suffer the same fate I was very much
aware that the track should not be driven with a careless attitude and without adequate vehicle
preparation. Speaking of vehicle prep, the vehicles in our little group are built, tried and tested for
exactly these types of tracks. The two Patrols, both 4inch lifted, twin locked and running 35inch mud
terrains. The Disco's, both 4inch lifted, twin locked with one running 33inch mud terrains and the
other 34inch Jungle Trekkers. All vehicles have a complete range of recovery gear including winches,
high lift jacks, straps, rated shackles etc, and all vehicles are well protected with bar work including
bull bars, rear bars, sliders and bash plates. All in all, the right gear for the job.
Pleasantries and un-pleasantries exchanged, we headed off up into the beautiful country side that is
the Watagans. Heading up the road we pass the farm houses and small properties of the area and it
is not long before the road turns to dirt and the potholes start to grow in size. The private properties
are now behind us and the National Parks and State Forest areas are all around us. Time to air down
(hooray). Continuing only a few km's further down the road and passing under the HV transmission
lines Daniels Point Road starts to descend. It's at this point that surrounding bush starts to change as we drop
into the valley where the ground holds allot more moisture compared to the surround ridge tops.
Here it starts to take on more of a temperate rain forest type of appearance and the track is showing
the tell-tale signs of significant water flows with the ruts widening and deepening the further we
All vehicles are now in low range and we are having to pick our lines as we descend deeper into the
valley. The call comes over the radio for a spotter as Kurt, the trip leader comes up to first significant
rut that would happily swallow the Patrol if the correct line wasn't taken. With guidance and careful
wheel placement all the vehicles were through the obstacle but this would now be the norm until
we hit the bottom of the valley. There are significant erosion channels running down the track from
this point that will keep you picking lines from right to left, testing your suspension's travel to its
limits and creating some interesting side angles to test your nerve. Of course, with any erosion the
softer dirt is moved away whilst the harder dirt and rocks remain. This is where you will need to start
taking care as the first of the big rock shelves and exposed boulders are starting to make their
presence felt. As we pass down through the last of the descent Sebastien decided he would check to
see how high he could lift the Patrol's rear wheel as he took an interesting approach to the obstacle.
Whilst it probably wasn't high enough for Kurt or Stephan to walk under it, it probably would have
been high enough for Sebastien to gain access for a quick look underneath. With a slight adjustment
in direction from the front wheels however the rear was returned to the ground without further
drama and we had reached the valley floor.
Mud, Mud and More Mud
Once hitting the valley floor of Daniels Point Road you only travel a couple of hundred meters before getting to the first
major obstacle. Mud, mud and more mud. As I mentioned previously there are significant erosion
channels coming down the hill, well this water needs to go somewhere and the entire bottom of this
valley holds bucket loads of it. From here until you start to climb out of valley again there are
numerous swampy areas and bog holes to negotiate. If you do not like getting your truck and
yourself dirty then this is not the track for you. If you are lucky and it hasn't been terribly wet in the
area prior to your visit then you will be able to get though without water and mud ingress into your
vehicle. If however it has been wet then I strongly suggest you prepare yourself for wet floors etc as
the water and mud through this area gets quite deep. As with most of these types of areas there are
multiple tracks through and around most of the deeper holes however, even the best route will stop
most vehicles. The worst routes will stop even the most extreme of vehicles with mud deep enough
to swallow 37inch tyred, twin locked, big horsepower rigs.
As we approached the first bog hole it was clear that we were lucky enough to be there when the
water wasn't too deep. This doesn't mean that it's easy to get through, it just means that there'll be
slightly less mess to clean up later. Kurt was first into the bog, tackling what we believed to be the
easiest way out of the three or four routes available. With a steady speed and gentle throttle the big
Patrol dropped downward into the hole and started pushing a bow wave of muddy water up and
through the ruts ahead. As Kurt approached the gentle climb up to the half way point of the entire
obstacle his forward progress started to slow as his diffs dragged through the ridge between the ruts
robbing the tyres of any chance of maintaining traction until his forward momentum was stopped.
Trying to reverse out met with the same resistance at what was his entry point and again the vehicle
was stopped. With diff locks engaged and greater momentum utilised it was quickly apparent that
the Patrol was not going to escape the bog and it was decided to recover the vehicle backward and
re-assess the situation.
After some discussion and much debate Sebastien decided to give the middle track a go. After
dropping the nose of his Patrol into hole and trying to point the vehicle around to the right it was
pretty quickly realised that the track was better suited to a short wheelbase Suzuki rather than a
long wheelbase Patrol. Not to be deterred, Sebastien managed to reverse the Patrol out of the
predicament and re-align to cut across from the proposed route back into the left hand route we
originally picked. Seeing some potential winching coming up from that decision I decide it would be
good to have another vehicle already across the bog to assist encase of some creative winching
angles having to be deployed. To this end we left Sebastien to do some track building in preparation
for his crossing and I proceeded into the mud following the same line as Kurt. Entering the mud in
second low with a steady pace and gentle throttle the 33s soon started to run out of bite as the diffs
dug in hard and I was stopped at the same point as Kurt's Patrol. After a couple of back and forwards
with both lockers engaged it was clear I would need to winch. With plenty of trees it was a simple
job to deploy the winch cable and within a few minutes the warn 9000lbs winch was moving the
vehicle easily with a single line pull. Only needing to winch two to three meters the disco was then
able to drive on through the remaining 15 to 20 meters of the obstacle and out the other side
without trouble. One down three to go. Sebastien, track building completed dropped the nose of
the Patrol back into the bog hole and pointed it straight ahead to cut across into the left hand track I
had just passed through. With a lack of traction in the deep mud as the front wheels tried to climb
the big hump in front of them and the rear bar hung up on the entry it was time to winch again. This
time we would need to first winch the vehicle forward a couple of meters and then reposition as a
sharp right hand turn would need to be made past a stump before he could continue on. After
winching forward Sebastien tried to drive and manoeuvre the patrol around the stump but was
unable to get the required traction for job. The winch cable was repositioned and vehicle was
coaxed around the stump with a combination of winching and controlled wheel spin to slide the
vehicle as required. It took a little longer but the Patrol was now free of the mud and out the other
side. Two down two to go.
Next up was Stephan. Having now seen the two routes completed he decide to go through the left
hand side as I had done. I suggested that having cleared a channel through with my 33's he would
have a good chance of driving all the way through with much more aggressive and taller 34 inch
Jungle Trekkers. This turned out to be the case and with a steady pace the D2 powered through with
only a small amount of wheel spin and was out the other side without the need to winch. Whilst the
diffs still picked up some debris it was not enough to stop forward progress.
With only Kurt's Patrol to get through he hit the left hand channel with a determined focus.
Unfortunately, even with 35's the larger diffs of the Patrol dug in to the mud again and forward
progress was halted. A quick straight forward winch of a few meters was all it took and the Patrol
was able to make it's way through the rest of the bog hole unassisted. All four vehicles were
The next few bog holes were relatively uneventful. They are still deep in places and they would
certainly pose a challenge to stock vehicles, but all of us were able to make our way through the
remainder of the valley floor without further winching. Be aware though, if you choose the wrong
line through some of these holes you will be up for some winching at Daniels Point Road.
The Ascent out of Daniels Point Road
Once you climb out of the last bog at Daniels Point Road you immediately hit a nice smooth and solid piece of track with a switch back to the left and then you start your ascent. It's starts calmly enough but that doesn't last
long. After traversing a deep wash out through the middle of the track you climb a steep section of
track up through a series of boulders culminating in a rock shelf running right across the track
ranging from ½ to 1meter vertically. We were fortunate in that someone had done a bit of track
building before we arrived and by picking the correct line the Disco was up and over with a
minimum of fuss. Stefan's disco also climbed it but being a little further to the left it made hard work
of it as did Sebastien in his Patrol who needed a second go. Once on the correct line however he also
had no issue climbing up. Kurt, at the back of the line, climbed out first go with a small amount of
scrabbling for traction but all of us made it without any real dramas.
Continuing up the side of the valley we reached a section of track which is littered with loose rocks
and intersected with boulders and rock steps. With careful wheel placement this is not a major issue
although care does need to be taken. This section then leads into a deep erosion gully running
through the middle of the track. You have no choice but to drop into this, either at the beginning or
half way up, but you will end up in it one way or another. You then traverse the ditch until it comes
to a head. At this point you can either turn left out of it (probably the better way to go) or go straight
on up and over the rock shelf that marks the starting point of the ditch which when combined with
the angle of the hill is about a meter and a half of near vertical rock face. I chose to give the rock face
a go in the disco just for the fun of it (even though I had advised the other to go to the left) and
whilst I made it up I know I have never caught as much air under the passengers front wheel as I did
on that occasion. As the disco stood up on three wheels there was a point when I backed off the
throttle completely as I felt that it might not be coming back down. As it turned out it did and I was
able to gently apply throttle again and keep walking up and out to the ditch. Stephan dropped into
the ditch at the bottom as I had done and wisely took the left hand exist without any dramas. The
two Patrols with Kurt and Sebastien actually dropped into the ditch at the half way point and also
exited to the left with no problem. Onward and upward to the last of the obstacles.
The last big obstacles on this track are a series of big rock shelves all off camber to the right whilst climbing what is quite a steep slope in it's own right. Once you combine the steepness with side angle and throw in meter high rock shelves, you have quite a nerve racking and challenging obstacle.
There is a bypass track at this point which takes you up a still steep and challenging section of track but without the danger of rolling over. Stefan and Kurt had previously taken this option due to time constraints on a previous outing but we were all determined to take the main track on this occasion.
I was the first in line and after some careful consideration and walking the next 50 or so meters of track chose the appropriate path to take, I picked up 1st gear low and proceeded with caution. I knew at the start that this section would be pretty hairy in disco with the relatively short 100 inch wheel base. This section of track is steep and when climbing up through the rock shelves you end up with some pretty serious side angles to the driver's side. With the torque of the engine throwing the vehicle back towards that side also things can get a bit nerve racking. With only the rear locker engaged as I still needed to manoeuvre, I walked the Disco up and over the first shelf and steered
into position for the next big rock shelf. I carefully edged the front wheels up the shelf lifting the
passenger's front as it crested before coming down to rest on solid ground again. Unfortunately I
was just a fraction too far to the left and my driver's side rear had missed the rocks packed against
the shelf to lessen the vertical climb. With the angle I was on I felt it better to winch up this pinch
rather than risk a mishap. In hind sight, probably a little over cautious but there's always next time.
Once winching up the rock shelf at Daniels Point Road I was back underway and with some more carful wheel placement
and another passenger front wheel lift I was up and clear of the obstacles. Next up was Stephan.
After seeing myself go up and with some accurate guidance onto the shelf Stephan was able to
gently coax the D2 up the rock shelves making it look easy. Stephan was up which left the two
With the longer wheelbase the two Patrols with Kurt and Sebastien behind the wheel made short
work of this climb. They were certainly more settled than the shorter wheel base disco's and at no
stage did they look to be pushing their limits. Sebastien gently guided his patrol up the first rock
shelf and steered up onto the second and larger rock shelf. He, as I, was just a little too far to the left
and ended up bellying out on the step, lost traction and was unable to climb up. With some guidance
and some minor track building Sebastien had a second attempt and the big Patrol walked effortlessly
up the step. Without hesitating Sebastien continued up the final series of steps and parked at the
top without issue.
Last in line was Kurt. Having seen the line that the three of us had taken Kurt did his usual thing and
chose his own. Ok, so it wasn't as dramatic as all that. He approached the first and second shelves
the same as us and made it easily. From there he did drive a slightly different line but had no issues
and made it to the top without drama.
The four of us had completed Daniels Point Road in about half a day without too many dramas. The
only damage incurred on the track was a dented rim on Kurt's Patrol which also broke the tyre bead
and there were some muddy radiators which needed cleaning upon returning home. The winches
were only utilised in the first bog hole with the three vehicles and by myself on the last big rock shelf
with Stefan's D2 making all the way through unassisted.
All in all this was a great day driving once more Daniels Point Road and aside from some serious cleaning required afterwards to remove mud from everywhere, very enjoyable. I would recommend this track to anyone with some
vehicle mods who would like to put themselves and their vehicles to the test.
- by Stefan Fischer
I hope you're all doing well. Today, I've got some tough news to share about a product I've been testing for quite some time now. This one really stings because it's a product I had high hopes for, and I'm genuinely disappointed to say goodbye to my dual 100 amp hour DCS lithium batteries under the bonnet of my rig.
I have to admit, there were several aspects of these lithium batteries that I absolutely loved. First off, the super-fast charging and the high charge and discharge current were a game-changer for me. Not to mention the weight and space savings I enjoyed with these batteries under the bonnet. It allowed me to make the most out of the limited space in the back of my cruiser.
I also managed to prove some skeptics wrong when it came to starting off a lithium battery and even winching off it. However, there was always one looming question mark, and that was the longevity of these batteries. You see, lithium batteries, especially LiFePO4, aren't particularly well-suited for high-heat applications, and that's a concern in the harsh Australian outback.
Before I dive into the nitty-gritty details, I'd like to ask you for a favor. It's important to me that this update reaches as many fellow travelers as possible, so please help me out by sharing, liking, subscribing, and leaving a comment below. Your engagement will boost this video's visibility, allowing more people to learn from my experience.
Alright, let's get back to the batteries. A capacity test was long overdue, and I teamed up with Joe from JS Autoelectrics to get it done. To be honest, the results were nothing short of shocking. One of the batteries suffered a whopping 30% capacity loss, while the other wasn't far behind with a 22% reduction. These figures far exceeded the promised annual loss of just 5%, as claimed by DCS.
To give you a bit of background, Joe installed the initial set of DCS 100Ah marine batteries back in November 2019. They performed well initially, but their Bluetooth functionality had consistent bugs that went unresolved. After about a year, that initial capacity test revealed significant issues, and that's when we discovered the outdated passive balance technology was the culprit.
DCS assured me that their new active balance batteries would solve these problems, but installing the dual 130Ah battery system proved impractical due to size constraints. Eventually, in February 2021, Joe installed the latest version of the 100Ah marine batteries, but a BMS firmware recall marred their performance. DCS sent replacements with updated firmware in November 2021.
Fast forward to the present, and after a few trips, I noticed a drop in battery capacity. Joe conducted a capacity test, and the results left us shocked. One battery was at a mere 50% capacity, and the other was less than 80%. Considering my remote touring habits, a battery failure in the middle of nowhere is far from ideal.
To make matters worse, Joe's experience with a 75 amp hour DCS marine battery in his Prado was similarly disappointing, with a 30% capacity loss in less than two years, even though it had low current draw and wasn't charged by the alternator.
I must mention that JS Autoelectrics has completely stopped using DCS batteries in their installations, but that's another story. Back to my situation, I reached out to DCS with my findings, and the response was far from satisfactory. They suggested moisture ingress as the cause, but we found no evidence of that when we opened the battery with 50% capacity loss.
Then, DCS surprised me by saying that my 30,000 kilometers of driving over 16 months had subjected the batteries to six times the expected punishment. Apparently, DCS measures battery lifespan in kilometers, which doesn't bode well for those of us who drive and tour extensively.
Both batteries were sent back to DCS, and I'm yet to hear from them. This left me in a bit of a bind because I have a big trip coming up in just four weeks, and I suddenly find myself without any batteries. DCS didn't have any replacement batteries to offer, which left me scrambling. Thanks to Joe's help, I'm now switching back to lead-acid under the bonnet and adding a different lithium battery in the rear of the Land Cruiser.
I'll be documenting this new setup in an upcoming video, so stay tuned for that. Overall, I'm not thrilled with how DCS handled this situation, but sometimes, it is what it is. I don't have any issues continuing to use my 150 amp hour DCS battery in the camper trailer. I'll probably run a capacity test on that too at some point. The two 130 amp hour batteries in the back of my Hilux will continue to serve, but they won't be subjected to the engine heat, which might make a difference.
In conclusion, my three-year experiment with lithium under the bonnet has shown that it can work for certain applications, but the high cost in terms of diminished capacity isn't worth it for me. If you're willing to replace your batteries every three years and have the budget for it, then go for it. However, based on my experience and Joe's, it's not a worthwhile investment for the long haul.
It's disappointing because I loved so much about lithium under the bonnet, but you never know until you try. As always, I report back to you honestly, and at this stage, lithium doesn't seem suited for high-heat under bonnet applications.
If you're currently using DCS batteries under the bonnet, I strongly urge you to conduct a proper capacity test. Don't rely solely on the state of charge displayed on the app; that won't give you the full picture. Get those batteries tested by a professional or consider purchasing capacity tests from reliable sources like eBay.
Keep in mind that this is my experience and Joe's, so if you've had different results, please share them in the comments. However, I can't stress enough the importance of conducting a proper capacity test because simply saying the batteries are working fine won't cut it.
In the end, I'm going back to lead-acid under the bonnet and a reliable lithium battery in the rear of the cruiser. It's a setup I trust and should last me for a long time. But remember, this is just my personal opinion. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.
If you found this video helpful or it saved you from making a costly mistake, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could share, like, and subscribe. This channel is entirely self-funded, and I don't do paid reviews. So, if you'd like to support me in creating honest and unbiased content, consider heading over to Patreon or buying me a coffee. A small contribution can go a long way in helping me stay independent and continue producing content for you.
Thanks a bunch, and I hope to see you out on the tracks soon!
4wd Sand Driving Tutorial 4: Expert Tips from a 4WD Trainer | Ultimate Tutorial
- by Stefan Fischer
Welcome to my channel!
I'm Stephan Fischer, a seasoned 4WD driver trainer and assessor, and I'm thrilled to present to you the ultimate 4wd sand-driving tutorial. With years of experience exploring Australia's deserts, outback regions, and stunning coastal destinations, I've gathered a wealth of knowledge that I'm eager to share with you.
In this comprehensive video, we'll cover a wide range of subjects to help you master the art of sand driving. Starting with recommended basic vehicle modifications, we'll explore the enhancements that can significantly improve your off-road performance. Discover the essential recovery gear you should have on hand to tackle any situation that may arise.
One of the most critical aspects of sand driving is understanding tire pressure. I'll guide you through determining the optimal tire pressure and share techniques on how to drive on low pressure. Learn the reasons why low pressure is advantageous and its impact on different types of terrain, including gravel, on-road conditions, corrugations, and even desert sand.
As we venture deeper into the tutorial, I'll delve into various topics such as throttle control, the role of ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and traction control systems, and the importance of selecting the appropriate high or low range for different sand-driving situations.
We'll also address common queries, including whether diff locks are necessary for sand driving and the differences between automatic and manual transmissions in off-road environments. Understanding the nuances of tire construction, including all-terrain (AT), mud-terrain (MT), and road tires, will help you make informed choices based on your specific needs.
Exploring the impact of tire sizes, rim sizes, tire compounds, and the suitability of smaller tires for beach or desert driving, we'll equip you with the knowledge needed to optimise your sand-driving experience. Subscribe to my channel and hit the notification bell to stay updated with the latest tutorials, gear reviews, and thrilling off-road adventures. Join me on this exciting sand-driving journey as we unlock your full potential as a skilled sand driver. Get ready to conquer the sands with confidence and embark on unforgettable off-road experiences!
Victorian High Country by 4wd - Losing my drone due to eagles! Crazy footage [4k] Part 5
- by Stefan Fischer
A little camping hack for controlling small things in the kitchen drawer is shared in Episode 5 of our Victorian High Country 4-wheel drive adventure. We swim in the crystal clear and freezing cold mountain creeks early in the morning in Episode 5 of our Victorian High Country 4wd drive adventure. Out of Butcher country, the legendary Dingo Hill climbs steeply with sharp switchbacks, sometimes rocky steps and loose graves. McMichaels and Kelly’s hut is visited, followed by a beautiful camp by the Dolodrook River. Here my drone makes contact with two Eagles, and I lose her somewhere in the trackless wilderness. This story does have a very unexpected happy ending, so watch till the end.
Victorian High Country by 4wd - Butcher Country - How many swims can we have a day? Part 4 [4k]
- by Stefan Fischer
In Part 4 of our Victorian High Country 4WD Adventure, we explore the stunning Butcher Country and find one of the best Camp Spots yet. Six swims in five different swimming holes would be my new record. In the Tips and Trips section, I explain why using Sistema Plastic containers for camping is not a good idea, and I review the Flextail Tiny Pump x2, which I have used for a few months. There's a Trickey bar open with some delicious Heathcote Chocolat Gin Tonic Lime enjoyed by the river banks. I need to fix my dual-fuel Coleman stove that's died.
My Gear List
- by Stefan Fischer
GEAR AFFILIATE LINKS (only the gear I use and recommend):
Coffee & Cooking Jet Boil Carbon https://amzn.to/3VGZsiN
Delter Coffee Press https://amzn.to/3UnqQ4r Aero Press https://amzn.to/3FfmBmV
Mapping GPS Navigation
Memory Map Hema 4wd Map Pack ($10 off) https://w2.memory-map.com/cgi-bin/licuser.cgi?buy_e_package=1&package=3000074&adref=3001
Electrical, UHF & Safety
GME MT610G PLB: https://amzn.to/41UdXDN
GME TX610 YTP: https://amzn.to/3P2fJws
GME TX61060 5W: https://amzn.to/3uHr1gF
Survival First Aid Home Work Kit: https://amzn.to/3x9ZUvV
Snake Bit Kit: https://amzn.to/3XlAJRq
Helinox Savanna Chair https://a247.com.au/product/helinox-savanna-chair-blk-w-blue-frame/
Helinox Sunset Chair https://a247.com.au/product/helinox-sunset-chair-black/
Oztent Bunker Pro: https://amzn.to/3hCiM1V
Flextail Tiny Pump 2x https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=2279498&u=2867739&m=127720&urllink=&afftrack
My LiFePo4 Batteries