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The OE Blog

1999 Overland Empire Land Rover Discovery

This rig has been our primary adventure vehicle since buying it in 2014. The Landy currently has only 94,000 miles and runs like a champ. Here are the build specs:

Overland Empire Land Rover Discovery Series 1

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The OE Scrambler rises

It seems that life can move by pretty fast. Super fast, actually. And when you throw in managing a business, attending shows, doing pop-ups, building a 4Runner overland rig, and then of course the good stuff—adventures, trips, family time, etc.—well the months can go by before you even know what happened. And that's where our little OE Scrambler project comes in. It had been bearing the brunt of a busy life. Sitting patiently in the corner like a dog waiting to be noticed by his owner. Well no more. She has been noticed.

Overland Empire Scrambler

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Desk to Glory

Desk to Glory

One thing we love is supporting overlanders—especially those undertaking life-changing trips. We came across Richard and Ash from Desk to Glory a while back and were instantly smitten. Being able to help these guys on their journey with some OE tees, sweaters, and enamel mugs—and being along for the ride—brings us more joy than we can describe. We recently had the privilege to interview these guys to get a little more insight into their travels.

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The OE Scrambler build update

We've been hard at work building our next #adventuremobile for some time now. What started life as a 1975 Kawasaki KZ400s is now becoming the OE Scrambler—a trusty little sled that be put to good use tearing up back roads, dirt roads, and trails. You can get the details on the full build here on Expedition Portal, but for now here's a quick little update:

Originally we cut the frame down, removed anything unnecessary, powder coated the rims and respoked them with new stainless steel spokes, then shod them with Pirelli MT43 trials tires. We installed a smaller battery, upgraded the wiring to a new harness from Sparck Moto, made a custom seat, and fabbed new high exhaust. Most recently we rebuilt the engine, replaced all gaskets and cleaned the pistons like new, tuned the carbs, and now she's purring like a mad kitten. The exhaust is welded, we just need to fab a couple brackets to stabilize them out back. We made a new electrics tray this past weekend and now everything is clean and protected from the dirt we'll be slinging. We'll be welding on a tab for the ignition this week, and after that she should be ready to be stripped all apart again and ready for powder coat and paint. 

We took her out yesterday for a proper test run, and she performed like a champ. Just a little more work and she'll join the fleet for whatever adventures come our way.

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

Overland Empire KZ400 Scrambler Motorcycle

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Overland Expo West 2015

Hailing from the Southeast means it’s not too easy to drive out to the American West. Being an Overland company we could obviously make the drive, and would love to make the drive, but we just haven’t had the time to make a two week trip out West. So although Overland Expo had been on our radar for years, we hadn’t been able to make the trip. This year we decided to take a different approach. Since we knew a drive was out of the question because of other travel and work commitments, we decided to fly in. Heresay, yes. Flying to an overland event? Well what are you going to do, just not go? Nope. Sometimes you just have to make things happen. But this wasn’t going to be any old fly-in/fly-out trip. We’re Overland Empire! We had to make it an adventure. Make it fun. Here’s the story.

First, instead of getting stuck with a Ford Escape or some other wimpy truck from a rental-car company, we needed something good. Something worthy. So we got in touch with our friend Sean (@defconbrix) and asked if he knew anyone we could team up with to get a vehicle to the Expo. He put us in touch with the Pelfreys of PelfreyBilt Offroad, who had a beautiful, built 2014 4Runner we could drive to the show. Problem solved.

And do you know what’s incredible about this whole thing? Overlanding, the community, Instagram, whatever? All of it? Meeting people. From our trips to St John and Canada and meeting and hanging out with some incredible people, to meeting people in our local area, to meeting people on the complete opposite side of this country, somehow we’re brought together. It’s just been such a rad, unexpected part of this little venture. So, left the house at 2:30am to catch a 5:20am flight from Tampa to San Diego. Ugh. Not too fun. But this is what we do to make things happen. Then, arriving in San Diego, Mrs. Satin Pelfrey rolls up in the gorgeous white 4Runner above. 

Super gracious, super kind, and having gone out of her way to drive to the San Diego airport. Just connected, right off the bat. We drove out to Poway/Ramona to their shop and met her husband, Tyler. Another incredible person. This was going to be a great trip, from the beginning. Went and had lunch with Satin, talked shop and customer service, then dropped her off and began the road trip to Phoenix. 

A drive that should take maybe five and a half hours takes seven when you pull off to explore every dirt road or photo op. The scenery is a world away from the lush east coast oak hammocks. Brown, dry, mountainous. So fun to drive through. The opportunity to make this drive in—especially in a great ride like the PelfreyBilt 4Runner—was such a great part of this trip. We drove from Poway west through Ocotillo Wells, past the Salton Sea, then up through the Glamis sand dunes on the way to Phoenix. And those dunes are seriously amazing. Never been to Egypt, but it sure felt like that's what it would be like. Soft sand piled into sharp dunes. Breathtaking.
To be continued...

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Citrus WMA

It's sort of a confession to admit that not every adventure can be a full-blown weekend getaway replete with amazing food or nights spent under the stars. At times it can be an accomplishment just to be able to sneak away for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and get some dirt under the tires. When a new friend reached out to join us on an upcoming adventure, we decided to make an afternoon run up to what ended up being an off-road paradise of sorts—Citrus WMA, in the hills just north of Brooksville, Florida. For only being a couple hours drive, it felt like we were in another state. Just the kind of backyard expedition we needed.

Citrus WMA is one of Florida's many Wildlife Management areas—an area managed for hunting and conservation. You may remember our dual sport trip through another one of Florida's WMA's, Green Swamp. We're fortunate to have these dedicated lands at our disposal, otherwise we may find the urban sprawl of Florida taking over most, if not all, of our public land.

So we headed north on a cloudy Saturday, meeting up with our friend and his Defender 110 at around two o'clock at one of the campgrounds in the area. We immediately set off to explore the woods, with no map, no plan, no thought other than to just drive around. One of the best ways to spend an afternoon. We drove through soft sand, standing water, some mud, and red clay—the clay being a nice change from the white dirt roads we find close to home. The elevation of the area also helped make us feel farther away than normal—Florida is usually so insanely flat, any change in elevation is welcomed.

For a good while we didn't come across one other vehicle or person. After setting down a certain trail with a good swath of mud, we met up with some Colombians in a couple FJ80s, an FJ Cruiser, and a converted Chevy Tahoe. These guys were well equipped and having a great time in the mud, apparently trying to get stuck or come as close as possible. They were excited to see the Defender 110, and all posed with it for a couple pictures.

They followed us through the trails until we reached a fork in the road. Straight ahead was about 30 or 40 yards of standing water, at least a couple feet deep. To the left was a nice clay incline and no water. We decided to go left with the Land Rovers—neither one of us wanted to get flooded with water—but we knew the other guys would go through the water, so we decided to park and stick around for the show. The lesser built of the FJ80s attempted the water crossing first, getting about two-thirds of the way through before getting stuck. So the built FJ80 backed in and pulled him out. Three times. After the last time the stuck truck opened his doors to allow an inch or two of water to find their escape. Exactly why we didn't want to go through.

We continued through the trails, taking turns at the wheel and behind the lens. There's nothing like sharing moments like these with friends—being with guys (or girls) that enjoy the simple joys of being outdoors. Summer in Florida is so hot that these overland expeditions are a perfect way for us to get outside, have adventures, but not have to deal with the miserable heat or unbearable mosquitos. So we drive, and we enjoy every minute. 

Before long we come upon a fun little area with some climbs that will challenge our driving. The Defender goes first, climbing a tight incline with not much of a problem. 

Next we take the Discovery up the same incline, and it takes it with ease. We take turns driving, and we have a great time. We almost get the Disco stuck going up one of the climbs, but after a little advice and thinking, we bounce right through it. These Land Rovers are incredibly capable machines.

After some fun in that area we keep driving. There are caves somewhere around here, and we'd like to find a couple. So we drive and search, and never find any. That's ok, it gives us an excuse to come back. As if we needed one. We'll be back for sure. This place will be perfect for a night or two of camping, some amazing food and drink, and plenty of time to explore the trails. An Overland Empire adventure if there ever was one.

So as we look forward to bigger adventures—multiple days and nights, food and friends, and epic stories—we remember how important it is to get out for any adventure we can, even if it's a long afternoon not too far from home.

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