[Off Road Driving] Wading
SO YOU WANT TO TAKE ROVER FOR A SWIM!
The simple answer to WADING is avoiding it as much as possible, unless you have lots of disposable cash, or it's an emergency. There may come a time where wading across a creek or river may arise, perhaps during a flash flood.
Diesels are better at it than petrol engines, because they don’t have to rely on electricity to keep running. Before setting off to play in water, as with any off-road adventure, always follow the 7 P’s……Prior Planning & Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.
SEE ALSO: - OFF ROAD DRIVING – WATER CROSSINGS
PLANNING & PREPARATION BASICS from MILD to EXTREME
WADING PLUGS, AXLE BREATHERS & SNORKELS.
Fit a wading kit. This includes wading plugs for the timing cover (if it is belt driven rather than chain), and the bell housing. These are screw-in plugs fitted to some (but not all) Land Rovers.
As well as fitting the wading plug, the axle breathers need to be extended. These need to be at least engine height, higher if deep water crossing.
Install a make shift snorkel (deep water crossing) for your air intake, if you don’t already have a commercial one fitted. You will need to raise/extent your air intake as high as possible. Slipping part of a panty hose (doubled over a number of times) over the air intake (low to medium water crossings), will protect it adequately. If you intend to do a deep crossing and you don’t have a snorkel, a long length of pipe (flexible at the exhaust end), needs to be fitted over your exhaust. The exhaust is not so much of a problem because the exhaust pressure of the engine will blow out any water if the exhaust is not located to deep. Though it’s a good idea to raise the exhaust to roof level using some flexible heat-resistant pipe. If the engine stops however, with water level higher than engine top, water may enter engine by the exhaust because one or other exhaust valve will be open at any time.
make sure that all your door seals are in good condition. If any of them are torn or ripped, you need to replace them as water will ingress into the vehicle. If a deep water crossing is anticipated, tape up all your doors (except the rear) this should be left open for escape purposes if you suddenly get carried away with the current and water pressure on your drivers side door prevents you from opening it. If this begins to happen, you need to move quickly as panic will have set in. If you don’t have, or are not concerned with onboard electrical equipment such as floor mounted CB head units, AMPS, CD stackers, ECU etc, and you don’t mind your carpet getting wet ( this will probably horrify some of you), leaving your doors open when entering deep flowing water 1 metre (3 feet) and deeper, is the better alternative. By allowing the vehicle to fill with water it will at least have traction; otherwise it will tend to float.
spray everything that’s electrical
Smear dielectric silicon inside all your spark plug boots, as well as coil, distributor (if you have one). If you have a distributor, cover it well with a plastic bag and either zip tie or tape it. You could also use a glove (with a couple of your spark plug leads passed through each finger). If a deep water crossing is contemplated, cover the distributor all over in a thick layer of grease. Fill a plastic bag or glove with grease, the thickest/heaviest you have and cover/seal the distributor.
A plastic bag or condom must be fitted over the coil.
Pack all connectors on starter motor in as thick a layer of grease as possible, however, you cannot do this with your alternator as it needs to breath.
Cover and seal the ECU with lots of plastic wrap. Spray with lots of WD40 or similar water displacement spray, or cover it with a plastic lunch box that fits the approx size and seal appropriately.
carry a large enough sheet of canvas or thick plastic sheet that will extend over you hood/bonnet as far a practicable.
The engine driven fan will hurl huge quantities of water around the engine bay, therefore, tie up the viscous unit so the fan doesn't rotate; Switch it off if it’s electric or loosen your fan belt. This is especially important if the fan is forced to turn while it’s submerged. It might pull itself into the radiator. For the short time your belt is disconnected your radiator won’t get too hot.
make sure that your brakes are reasonably cool before entering the water. Cold water on hot rotors will destroy them.
if you have to enter water at night, switch off your driving lights for a few minutes before continuing. Cold water on hot glass…..you get the picture!
If you have a winch, ensure that you have pulled out sufficient cable and secured it in such a manner, that should you stall in deep water, you can get access to it without have to dive underwater looking for it. If you don’t have a winch, secure your snatch strap or tow rope accordingly. This is assuming you are not on your own.
WATER LEVEL – BELOW THE AXLES.
Always drive through water at this level slowly. Great plumes of water on either side of your vehicle might look great for spectators but will result in electrical problems, not always straight away. It will also force water into cavities where it would not get otherwise and later cause rust problems. The other danger here is that enough water might get into the air intake (unprotected) and destroy your engine. (More on this later).
Wading plugs most likely don’t need to be fitted.
WATER LEVEL – ABOVE THE AXLES
* Fit wading plugs and extended breathers.
• Fit a tarpaulin blind and attach with bungee straps or string etc.
* Check the angle of the bank on the opposite side.
• Check the angle into the water; if too steep, the engine could flood.
• Do not change gears once in the water.
• Maintain a steady forward pace, enough to create a nice bow wave. If it appears that a bow wave cannot be maintained due to lost forward motion, immediately switch off the engine if possible before the engine stops.
• If the motor stops while you are in the water, do not attempt to re-start the motor until it has been positively confirmed without doubt that water has not entered the cylinders. If the air filter is damp, or the water level has been higher than the exhaust and inlet valves, it must be assumed that there is water in the combustion chamber. Remove all the spark plugs. Winch or get towed out, or if your on your own, use your starter motor to get you across. Also look for any sand, silt or other debris, which can cause more damage than the water.
• If the riverbed is deep and rocky, select low range 1st, diff lock on, and lockers (if fitted) engaged.
• A ‘BLIND’ is of no use as you cannot get a bow wave up, as your forward travel will be too slow.
• Do not change gears once in the water (Manual transmissions). Water will get into the clutch and although still in gear, the vehicle will not move. If the selected gear is too high and stalling is inevitable, then a gear change must be attempted.
• Be aware that in deep water the vehicle will partially or even totally float. This greatly decreases traction, and may make it difficult, or impossible to climb up a muddy or rocky bank on the far side. You may need to open the door and let water into the vehicle to decrease the buoyancy and allow traction, however, all your onboard electrical equipment, such as floor mounted CB head units, radio/sound system amplifiers, CD stackers and ECU, if internally fitted, will be ‘Cactus’, not to mention soggy, smelly carpets.
• If you have to get across deep water in an emergency, you may increase your chances if you drive across backwards (fit an extension hose over the exhaust pipe, as already mentioned). The wake created tends to keep water out of the engine compartment. Drive as fast as possible and do not lift your foot off the gas, or water could flood the exhaust pipe and stall the engine
In deep water, your alternator, if it fills with water will stop charging the battery and the dash red charge light will come on. This will go away when you are back on dry ground. The alternator will work again once it dries, but you may find after a period of time that the bearings will need replacing.
WHEN YOU GET ACROSS
If you stalled during the wading, (DO NOT RESTART YOUR ENGINE). Recover to dry land by winching or being towed. Water in the engines combustion chamber does not compress, bent rods are usually a certainty. Play it safe. It will cost you thousands $$$ if you get it wrong.
Remove all the spark plugs, even if you think water ingress into the engine didn’t occur. Crank the starter to push any water out of the cylinders. Check carefully the air intake for any more signs of water before you try to start your engine.
Wading plugs must be removed soon after any wading has occurred. Check the axles, swivel joints and gearbox oils for signs of water ingress.
Drain all the oil from your gearbox. If you have had water ingress, fill with new oil and run your motor for a short while. Change the oil again. This may need to be done more than two, three or more times. (You did want to go wading, so don’t complain about the cost)
Check all seals as water will find its way in. Don't forget to put the fan belt back on and to tighten it once you’re out of the water.
No hand signals, driver playing with his transfer Knob.