Over the last week I have been ordering small bits and pieces for the car and requesting quotes for various products from various suppliers around the UK. The reason I have been doing this is because, firstly, I’m keen to save as much money as possible (we don’t pay VAT in the Channel Islands, and so any UK companies we mail order from should deduct it) and, secondly, so I can suss out which companies are friendly, helpful and reliable. Ultimately we are going to have to fork out a couple of grand on parts, extras, mods, etc and I want to make sure whoever we buy from deserves our custom.
I won’t publicly badmouth any particular company but on the whole I have been amazed at the lack of response in regard to emails. Some companies haven’t bothered to respond at all whilst others have replied to the original emails but have failed to follow up further queries.
Many companies have refused to deduct the VAT and I have been quoted prices that are far more expensive then their actual website states. I am aware that shipping to the Channel Islands can be slightly more expensive than to mainland UK, but some of the prices I have been quoted for shipping have been extreme. I operate my own personal webstore and work part-time at one of the many VAT free mail order companies that are based in the Channel Islands, so I’m well aware of the price of shipping to and from the Channel Islands.
Having said this, a few companies have been exceptionally helpful, and these are the ones we are likely to spend our money at.
In my research I have discovered that some products that are for sale on the UK over-landing market are available elsewhere for much cheaper.
For example with a bit of shopping around I picked up a Safari Snorkel with Postage from halfway around the world for £137. The cheapest I found in the UK was £239 (without shipping) but I’d have to wait 3 months for it to be shipped from South Africa. This was a similar story at two other stockists, one of which was very polite whilst the other couldn’t really be bothered to talk to me. The next cheapest I found was £265 but the store never answered their phone or returned my emails…
I have also been scoping out Split chargers, it seems the National Luna split-charge system + Dual Battery Controller is the system of choice for most “over-landers”. The average price I’ve been quoted has been in the £220 - £240 range.
After a bit more sniffing around the interwebs it seems you can purchase pretty much the same setups used by the boating and caravanning fraternity for a fraction of the price of the ‘over-landing’ counterpart. After some forum checking it also seems that many of these system are actually more reliable and robust than the National Luna set-up.
One in particular, the BEP Marine VSR relay splitter is used in fire engines and ambulances as well as in powerboats and so should be well and truly up to the job. Sourced locally from one of the many local boat suppliers I can pick one up for £53. Even if I allow another £100 for all the cabling and mate’s rates installation, that is still a huge saving.
We have also purchased a Kenlowe bonnet extractor fan kit; this was purchased directly from Kenlowe for the lowest price. The Hilux Surf range are renowned for overheating, the 2.4 more so than our 3L model. To be on the safe side we have decided to fit an extractor fan kit to the bonnet to increase the airflow through the radiator. As the car is black it also absorbs sunlight like crazy, so when we are in sunny countries the car is going to get ridiculously hot. The fan kit should drop the engine bay temperature by about 10°C which will help no end.
The installation of the fan and snorkel will be the first jobs to be done on the car. Once the snorkel is in place we can start thinking about the roof rack. Once the roof rack is done (it will be bolted through the roof) we can start thinking about the interior storage system. Once we have a bit of a plan for this we will install the secondary battery and split charge system and extra outlets.
Anyway enough writing for one day, back to the research.