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Slightly OT but still 4x4

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While touring the mountain regions of North Vietnam a few weeks ago I decided to hire a 4wd and driver for a couple of days to explore the more remote regions. I had the choice of the usual Toyotas, Nissans, Mitsubishis etc but decided to opt for a relatively more spartan ex Viet military UAZ 469 4x4 because they are virtually unknown in Australia and I liked the look of them and thought it would be interesting to gauge their on/off road performance compared to a series 2/3 leaf sprung LandRover that I am very familiar with. To say the least I was very impressed. These rigs are around 30 years old and run on a shoe string budget with very little maintenance yet manage to keep running reliably in harsh conditions year in year out. Due to the high cost of petrol relative to income, the main jets in the carburators have been soldered up and smaller orafices drilled in an effort to save fuel. In a misguided effort to save more fuel the drivers are reluctant to use the indirect ratios in the gearbox, and I was amazed at the little 2.5 litre engines ability to lug the truck with 5 passengers plus luggage over steep mountain passes in the high gears. The rough road ride and handling also felt superior and more surefooted than a leaf sprung Landy. The overslung leaf suspension gave much better average under axle ground clearance and a higher roll centre with less rocking and rolling of the body over the twisty off road sections. I was also impressed with the rattle free compact 4 door bodywork with built in steps in the sills and removable door tops that don't flap in the breeze like Landy ones do.

Upon returning to our home base in Hanoi I searched around and managed to pick up a fine example in need of a little TLC for the princely sum of AUS$550.about 200 quid, which I intend to keep at our house in Hanoi to use for touring on our annual trips to Vietnam.

There are literally thousands of these vehicles in Nam and I noticed that some examples were fitted with a type of portal axle featuring a very compact differential and reduction hubs with a small spur gear driving inside a larger internally toothed ring gear. The portal drop is only around 2.5 to 3 inches max but the overall increase in ground clearance is more like 5 or 6 inches. I noticed some vehicles had been retrofitted with these axles at one end only, sometimes front sometimes rear, so I assume the overall final drive ratios match those of the conventional non portal axles.

Due to my inability to speak Vietnamese and the fact that certain English technical terms don't translate all that well, I found it very difficult to find out anything about vehicle specifications or data

so I am asking if any of the international forum members have any knowledge of where I may be able to track down said information?

Another truck that caught my attention over there, mainly due to its interesting axle design was the East German built IFA 4x2 and 4x4 3-4 tonners of which there are once again many thousands running around. These feature a type of dummy banjo housing with the actual very compact differential bolted behind it. The halfshafts, enclosed in relatively small diameter axle tubes go out to a pair of horizontally displaced portal drop boxes containing a pair of spur gears that take the drive forward to the hubs of the dummy banjo housing. I was almost tempted to buy a pair of drop boxes

(about 50 quid each from the breakers)to bring back to OZ, but they only just fit within the confines of a 20 inch wheel, and the lack of suitable lightweight 20 inch offroad tyres over here discouraged me from doing so.


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Yep. Them's the ones. Front and rear doors are identical, ie ,left front is same as right rear and vice versa. practical intelligent thinking. I spotted a couple similar to the later one pictured with coil springs and radius arms.


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