For many of us, next to a home, a vehicle is going to be the liability with the next highest value.I say liability because, as soon as the salesman rubs his hands in anticipation of his commission, the value of your new vehicle begins its plummet.
When maintaining one’s vehicle or attempting modifications for the bush, many service centres seem to view customers as walking cheque books or the fortunate beneficiaries of the Buffet, Gates or Rockefeller families. I am therefore most pleased to recommend a company that seems to place as much value on your hard earned cash as you do.
Tucked away in an inconspicuous part of Kempton Park, Gerbers 4WD quietly but efficiently goes about the business of repairing, maintaining and modifying 4×4 vehicles for harsh African bush conditions.
At this juncture, I’d like to make the distinction between “pimping one’s ride” (to use common vernacular), and making preparations for bush trips. Your well heeled Sandton Set or the nouveau riche in similar habitats will typically “pimp their ride”. That is, if they haven’t purchased their SUV (Shamefully Unnecessary Vehicle) with every conceivable accessory attached/installed already, they will spend tens of thousands on a mobile monument to their frivolity, tat and tastelessness. However, “bling” seems to evoke images of both the owner and the gaudy additions rather well, don’t you think? Also, their idea of off-roading is parking on the pavement and impeding the flow of pedestrians.
Your second group, and the one we’re talking about today, is the one that wants to put as much distance between themselves and the adherents of the first group as possible; and while their vehicles might not have the same speed or ostentatious opulence, the chances are they’ll go places the other group would prefer to avoid – hopefully.
After many hours of research and talking to the MMWK (Main Manne What Know), we decided to acquire a canopy and some other accessories we may discuss in future posts. My procrastination in this regard was terminated by the bak’s vinyl covering coming apart at the seams on our trip into the Drakensberg.
It was with some trepidation that I called on the guys at Gerbers. However, I was enormously encouraged to learn that I was talking to one of the owners, who patiently and expertly guided me through the maze of available products, to select those which best met our needs – not some salesman’s commission target. Another advantage of having the owners on the shop floor, is that quality of workmanship is maintained at all times.
It wasn’t cheap. But if you’ve broken down in the middle of nowhere, chances are you’re not going to exclaim, “Well, I’m just so chuffed I went for the cheap option”. Dolf Gerber, an experienced off road adventurer, recommended a custom built Aluminium canopy to accommodate our requirements.
Because we intend taking camera and computer equipment into the bush for extended periods, a dual battery system was installed. This means that when the vehicle is running, the two deep-cycle batteries are being charged as well as the main starter battery. When the vehicle is parked, the system isolates the two deep cycle batteries so they can provide 12/220V power without compromising the starter battery.
The Gerber brothers’ skills and knowledge helped to compensate for my lack of experience in designing a solution, and their outstanding craftsmanship will hopefully survive the tests of the bush.
Now, when I stand with the MMWK, I can offer my recommendations too. And the next mod to be done, will be done at Gerbers.