Water-Crossing 101

Rusty Shackelford

Well-known member
Mar 23, 2008
184
0
somewhere upstate
Basic Theory And Application

Disclamer: Like all phases of off-roading, water crossing is more art than science, there is no hard and fast rules to follow, only guide-lines from experienced wheelers. Thusly, this thread is not intended to be the "be-all-end-all" of fording, it is merely intended to offer "newbies" to the sport some considerations when taking their trucks for a swim. Whether or not these considerations are "necessary" will always be up for debate. If what you are looking for is "peace-of-mind" while 200 miles away from the nearest service station or parts-counter, then please read on.

First of all, please learn, understand and always follow the rules of Treading Lightly . For instance, if your vehicle is leaking fluids like a garden hose, perhaps you shouldn't dunk it into a fragile ecosystem. OK, 'nuff said.

Preparation:

Basic waterproofing techniques have been evolving since autos were invented. This was never so important as in WWII when invasion vehicles had to make it from landing craft to terra-firma. An example was the Willys MB and Ford GPW "Jeep" Training Manual: TM 9-803, dated February 22, 1944 which advised, among other things, that the generator brace should be "pulled up to release tension on the fan belt and stop the fan from throwing water over the engine". Obviously on modern vehicles, the serpentine belt negates this advice, so consider installing an electric fan with a switch to disengage operation prior to fording. The electric fan has it's plusses and minuses, so do a search on this site for some good feed-back and opinions on this matter. I have installed one on my last (non-Rover) vehicle, and found it to be priceless in the "peace of mind" category.

Electronics:

Again, looking to past experience is a good starting point. U.S. Military training manual TM-9-2853, dated January 5, 1944 explaines how to prepare tactical vehicles for deep water fording during combat operations using the WV-6 vehicle waterproofing kit, stock# G9-5700769. This universal kit for 1/4 to 2-1/2 ton vehicles consisted of asbestos grease, varnish, non-hydroscopic adhesive tape, high-temp cement, cloth and assorted hoses, gaskets and other items to seal-off vulnerable components of the engine.

This is how I adapted past techniques to suit modern vehicles;

Start with under-hood, under-vehicle electronic connectors. These are vulnerable, not only to water ingress, but also atmospheric moisture and dust which can cause corrosion and possible failure over time.

To start, I aquired this list of items:
Dielectric Grease (a compound that does NOT carry electrical current, and therefore will not "bridge" the circuits within the connectors)
Liquid Electrical Tape (it comes in a can with a brush-on applicator attached to the lid)
Regular electrical tape
Bailing wire (bare, no insulation)
QD Electronics Cleaner (comes in a spray can and is safe for this application)
400 Grit Sand Paper (not a necessity, but usefull on stubborn, already corroded connectors)
And lastly, the Proper "keys" or tools to undo the connectors without snapping off the locking clips.

Make sure you are comfortable with this level of maintainence prior to starting!

The procedure is as follows:

1) Disconnect the negative terminal on your battery. Then simply undo a connector and spray inside both halves of the connection to clean them. You can wait for them to dry, or a short blast of compressed air will do the trick. For connections that are already corroded ie: green and powdery, twist up the 400 grit paper around a toothpick, and scrape up and down on the male end, or in and out on the female end to make them shiny and nice again, then spray the cleaner, etc.

2) Fill each end of the connector with the dielectric grease.

3) Re-connect the ends and wipe off excess grease. Wrap a piece of reqular electrical tape around the connector to cover the clips (this will prevent the liquid electrical tape in the next step from "gluing" the clips shut). Tie the bailing wire around the tape on the clips and twist the ends like a kitchen twist-tie (this will enable you to break the seal later when you need to replace the components which correspond the connection).

4) Brush on the liquid electrical tape on and around the entire connection and wire. Make sure to fill in the backs of each end, where the wires enter the connectors. I used three or even four coats for a complete seal. Each coat should dry to the touch in about 20 minutes.

5) Repeat on every exposed (external) connection on your vehicle.

6) Re-connect negative terminal of battery

IMPORTANT! - NEVER use RTV compouds in, on or near electrical connections or components. RTV uses acetic acid as part of the curing agent and out-gassing fumes will destroy electronics.

If you want to go the extreme, you can do what the U.S. Military does on modern vehicles, which is:

1) Cut off all connectors

2) Strip wire ends, connect laterally, and solder each one together

3) Use self-sealing heat-shrink tubing on each wire to finish the job.

Distributor cap type ignitions are easy to waterproof:

1) Fill each end of wire (cap & spark-plug ends) with dielectric grease.

2) Seal cap to base with liquid electrical tape.

3) Run vent tube (drill hole in cap, insert 1/4" inner diameter tube, seal joint with liquid electrical tape) and run to high spot or to vehicle interior, again to spot higher than expected water levels.

Coil-type ignitions are a little trickier, and the best thing I've seen for the job is one of
THESE unsightly, albeit effective set-ups.

Exposed ECU's offer more complex problems, and thanks to our own "Lutzgaterr", here is one way to tackle the issue:
ECU - bravo, ol' chap well done! Or, extend the ECU to the interior, to a level above expected water.

A thought on snorkels - if you can afford one, get one. These have been used since WWII to keep water from infiltrating the motors causing hydro-lock with great effectiveness. Hydro-lock is a condition where water molecules, being to large to enter air-injection points, causes catastrophic failure in the engine. Snorkels also keep air inflow to a level above the most heavy dust particles on trails, especially if you're last in line on a twenty-vehicle convoy. Again, probably not necessary, but priceless peace of mind.

For components that are impossible to seal ie: alternators, some starters, etc, I simply drilled a 1/8" hole at bottom-dead-center of each component to allow for rapid drainage - I have found this tecnique to work very well for me.

Axles, transmissions, transfer cases, fuel tanks and other components have vent tubes which are low and vulnerable to water ingress. I recommend raising each vent tube to an area above expected water levels, or into the interior (Obviously NOT the fuel tank vent!!!) to a higher point. Another way to attack the issue which works increadibly well, is to install a tiny K&N filter (about 1" - 1-1/2" diameter) to the top of each vent tube and seal the joint with sillicone. Water will have a tough time infiltrating a properly oiled K&N filter in a non-preassurized system.

Fluids:

I recommend immidiately swapping out all greases and fluids to synthetics (if not already present). Start with wheel bearings. Remove each one, this would be a good time to replace damaged or suspect bearings, repack with synthetic grease and reinstall. U-Joints, and anything with a zerk-fitting should be repacked with synthetic grease as well. Differentials, Transfer Case and Transmissions all deserve synthetic fluids. This will prevent emulsification of oils and premature damage of components and gears due to improper lubrication and over-heating. Note, This will not waterproof, just make more water resistant.

Other components:

Consider spraying silicone lubricants into door-locks to prevent corrosion.

Plug/seal each entry-hole grommet in fire wall with sillicone.

Grease-up sun-roof tracks and door hinges as well - I'm just sayin, ya never know.

Wanna get crazy? Replace non-critical hardware with stainless steel hardware. I say non-critical because i am not a metallurgist and don't know if stainless has the same metal-stress strength or properties as ferrous steel.

Wanna get crazier? Seal all dipsticks in engine compartment with sillicone.

OK, that was alot to cover, but we're still not ready.

Before entering water, it is advisable to "pre-attach" all recovery straps or winch lines to a point above the hood, where they will be accessable without yourself having to go under water.

The Crossing:

First, try to assertain the depth of the water, this may be difficult in highly turbid (muddy) water, but knowledge is power, if you are uncomfortable with it, don't follow your crazy buddy just to "keep up" in other words, think. Also, don't go crashing blindly into a crossing at top speed, other reasons aside, there may be a giant boulder in the way that will smash your pumpkin into dust.

Switch climate control to "recirculate" and power it off.

TM-9-2853 also details the procedure for fording; First run engine until warm, not hot, deflate tires to 50% of recommended pressure, put into 4-low range, 1st gear and do not shift. As the front wheels enter the water, increase engine speed to 3/4 throttle. And finally, do not remove foot from accelerator pedal until out of the water. The theory here is that newbies in the heat of combat probably didn't worry about the size of the bow-wave, and this is a good "soldier-proof" start to the process. I prefer to stay in high gear, your personal experiences will determine which way is best for you.

Land Rover recommends you remove the CD-changer before crossing - obviously they expect water to enter the cab. Why then, didn't they put in non-absorbent carpets (Discos)? I have no idea. I would not recommend trying like the dickens to keep water out of the cab, regardless. The theory is that if you have a sealed cab, you will affectively create bouyancy, or float, and you will lose steering and traction. I prefer to keep the wheels on the ground at all times, especially under water. Jeeps have used multiple drain-plugs on the floors since their creation. These not only allow water to enter, weighing-down the vehicle thus sinking the wheels to the bottom (where they belong) but they also facilitate drainage and more rapid drying time. Consider installing similar features to your Rover.

If you stall in the water, DO NOT EVER try to restart the engine. Back-pressure, along with temperature differences between exhaust and water, will pull water in through the exhaust, backing up into engine. See "Catastrophic Failure" above. You already have your straps and lines ready to go, so call in your buddies for an extraction. This a great time to photograph the event, trust me, you'll all laugh about it later!

If, upon reaching shore, you suspect that water has entered the engine, simply remove spark-plugs and crank the ignition for a while to clear water form intakes.

If you suspect emulsification (when oil turns white and "milky") of axle, transfer case or tranny fluids, simply wait about 20-30 minutes (more if super-heated). In this time, water will "magically" separate from the oil. Oil molecules, being less dense than water molecules, will float to the top of the water. Simply undo the drain plugs and allow water to drain out. When you first see oil, quickly replace the drain plugs and off you go. PLEASE do not allow contaminated water or oils to reach the ground! Capture all waste fluids and pack them out to be disposed of properly, thank you.

After reaching shore, and nothing goes wrong, inspect engine compartment for debris, loose components and fish. Remove as necessary, follow same procedure for under vehicle. Don't forget that wet disk-brakes don't work as well as dry ones, allow for drying time or to dry while driving, apply light pressure to brake pedal, while moving.

There you go!
you are now ready hook up your sonars and go for it! Obviously This is not the most complete check-list on planet Earth, and I may have forgotten some things. Practice and experience will take you in different directions than what worked for me, and you will expand your knowledge base from here. I hope this helps you think in new ways and from different angles to achieve a finer balance between worry and inner peace.
 
Last edited:
A

Azdiscovery

Guest
..wow..

I've always just wrapped condoms around my electrics to protect them and floored it across the river...

Maybe thats why my engine compartment smells like sex and KY and my rover shits itself all the time....



JK by the way.. good write up. <I didnt read it, too damn lazy tonight>
 

Rusty Shackelford

Well-known member
Mar 23, 2008
184
0
somewhere upstate
Azdiscovery said:
I've always just wrapped condoms around my electrics to protect them and floored it across the river...

Maybe thats why my engine compartment smells like sex and KY and my rover shits itself all the time....

Too funny! Yeah, your way works too, I should've mentioned that the write-up is mainly for us "over-zealous, over-engineering, obsessive-compulsive" types - you'll see our Armor-alled engine compartments and Rain-exed turn signals a mile away...


edited for PG rating
 
Last edited:

Lutzgaterr

Well-known member
Apr 23, 2004
578
0
LUTZ, Florida
I also stripped-off the stock door seals since it was a single piece which connected at the bottom, of all places. I replaced with a standard one-piece but my connection was higher up along the pillars.
 

scottagnew101

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2007
940
0
33
Charlotte, NC
First off... Let me say thank you. I was about to post a thread asking how to best keep out h2o in a DII.:bigok:

Rusty Shackelford said:
I recommend immidiately swapping out all greases and fluids to synthetics (if not already present). Start with wheel bearings. Remove each one, this would be a good time to replace damaged or suspect bearings, repack with synthetic grease and reinstall.

I was reading the thread about Hub's on the DII. How are you going about and doing this step? Are you putting the grease in through the ABS sensor hole? I would really like to grease up my hubs. And is the only way to tell if they are bad is for extra movement? - side note- I had a hub go bad on a VW GTI and it sounded like mud tires on the front hubs (the bad ones).

Thanks,

Scott
 

jhmover

Well-known member
Apr 23, 2004
5,569
3
California
Don't forget to put a cork up your ass in case you get in above the seat cushion, don't want to suck any water in.
 

BaldEagle

Well-known member
Sep 13, 2004
2,824
0
Atlanta, GA
jhmover said:
Don't forget to put a cork up your ass in case you get in above the seat cushion, don't want to suck any water in.

lol. also, what the fuck does wading have to do with swtiching to synthetics? way too much free time for some people. i mean jesus, if i were to go through all the trouble that this thread says to do, id say fuck the water crossing. over-analyzing 101
 

Rusty Shackelford

Well-known member
Mar 23, 2008
184
0
somewhere upstate
BaldEagle said:
lol. also, what the fuck does wading have to do with swtiching to synthetics? way too much free time for some people. i mean jesus, if i were to go through all the trouble that this thread says to do, id say fuck the water crossing. over-analyzing 101

Yes, to each their own, I guess. :)

First of all, this is why an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of Advil.

Secondly, as stated in the disclamer, any, all or none of my advice may work for the end-user. Ultimately it is up to the owner/operator to decide to what level of madness they are willing to go through for some peace-of-mind.

Yes, some of the techniques are based on a complete disassembly of components, synthetics repell water, and almost all things take (too much) time.

Thanks for your feedback, everyone, and happy swimming!
 

RamRod

Well-known member
Jun 20, 2008
103
0
Tampa, Florida
Good write up and ill give ya an adaboy.......However, (u knew this was coming)..... Most average disco I or II haave well over the 100k mark if not damn new close..... Now this is not my guess only what I have seem time tested at Nissan and yes I know it's not LR.... But it is proven and well known to switch to a synthetic fluid of anysort after generally running "Non" synthetic based fluids will cause Numerous problems / leaks.... Full synthectic fluids are required in some vehicle only because it has minimal valve clearences... Any thoughts on this??? Have you noiced any problems since like harder shifting...knocking noise or growling noises.... Rovers marking there Territory more than average (leaking)???

Please Dont mistake me for rebutting you Rusty..... Just curious to see how it turned out for you on that base??? Any time you have fluids that mix with water they all have the ability to seperate after a period of time due to pure density based diffrences....It's like the old Hot water and Cold Water with food coloring back in school....
 
Last edited:

Rusty Shackelford

Well-known member
Mar 23, 2008
184
0
somewhere upstate
RamRod said:
Please Dont mistake me for rebutting you Rusty.....


Not at all!

I believe that it's important to offer-up opinions, they create a more complete, better rounded discussion and might offer the reader angles of approach that they may not have arrived at otherwise.

By the way, (I won't beat a dead horse here) I personally would not switch to synthetic motor oil in a high-milage vehicle. Synthetic lubes in other components will mix with water also, but not as quickly or completely as dino lubes - just a little bit of extra peace-of-mind, which is all one can really ask for, there is no way of water-proofing a vehicle, just ways of making them more water-resistant.
 

Gordo

Well-known member
I see some FL boys in this one so I will chime in. Yeah grease the hell out of everything, a snorkel isnt really an option down here as the water is door handle deep in many places. Best move the ECU and anything else that is mission critical to the top of the dash. RRC owners move that radio up, Cut all the carpet out as well as the sponge material sound deadening shit on the floors. If you got a dizzy an old inner tube has served me well as a "cover" for the dizzy. Electric fans are nice but I find them too unreliable. The plastic fan blades will grenade in water pretty easily so make sure your vicious is good and not locked. My rig has the 3.9 v belt so I use the good old steel fan from autozone.
Basics for hitting the hole, Get a friend to hold your beer and give her hell!!!! When you get stuck, keep the doors shut and have someone else hook you up. If you do get out remember to close the door before you get pulled back as I hyperextended my doors once leaving them open during a deep water recovery. Gordo
 
Last edited:

Jupiter Rover

Well-known member
Dec 18, 2006
1,690
0
South Florida
Gordo said:
I see some FL boys in this one so I will chime in. Yeah grease the hell out of everything, a snorkel isnt really an option down here as the water is door handle deep in many places. Best move the ECU and anything else that is mission critical to the top of the dash. RRC owners move that radio up, Cut all the carpet out as well as the sponge material sound deadening shit on the floors. If you got a dizzy an old inner tube has served me well as a "cover" for the dizzy. Electric fans are nice but I find them too unreliable. The plastic fan blades will grenade in water pretty easily so make sure your vicious is good and not locked. My rig has the 3.9 v belt so I use the good old steel fan from autozone.
Basics for hitting the hole, Get a friend to hold your beer and give her hell!!!! When you get stuck, keep the doors shut and have someone else hook you up. If you do get out remember to close the door before you get pulled back as I hyperextended my doors once leaving them open during a deep water recovery. Gordo


I love Florida wheelers. ;)
 

Lutzgaterr

Well-known member
Apr 23, 2004
578
0
LUTZ, Florida
You can tell Gordo does not drink beer... "get a friend to hold your beer"! That would be a big mistake in the FLRC. Soon as you let someone hold your beer, GULP!
Hitting the hole with one-hand on the steering wheel and the other balancing your beer, that takes TALENT!!!
What takes even more talent is retrieving your hand from that beer can that is smashed into that small space between the dash and the windshield.
It can be done, but it takes practice and I never miss the opportunity to practice.
 

RamRod

Well-known member
Jun 20, 2008
103
0
Tampa, Florida
Wow..... Well I guess being the "New Guy" down here im looking forward to runnin with you guys..... I mean I drink my fair share of beer so i believe ill fit in just fine...atleast I hope so.... Quick question for you Gordo I have a dizzy so just what am I going to use that old inner tube to cover????
 

Vic00Dis

Well-known member
Jul 20, 2014
56
0
Lakeland fl
Being I Get My Water resisting supplies from a Marine Dealer you have no trouble getting wat resistant Tape Rubber based liquid tape and always get the Grease for Marine use on Boat trailers.,. and any thing else that needs protection,, it is harder to wash off... but I still don't want to spend hours later on the trail getting all the harmful water out of everthing, it's nice that the Auto Trans is Sealed with no dipstick.. gotta find the Vent and see where it goes... I know I miss a lot of Fun,, but had lots of problems with.Water over the hood on the jeep..