dirty work

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - JOHN ROOTH

IHAVE been get­ting stuck into the an­nual Milo re­build and, as you’ve seen in re­cent is­sues, the job isn’t get­ting eas­ier as the years go by. But, if noth­ing else, the last 750,000km in the old mud-jumper have given me a few ideas on what works and what doesn’t.

This month it’s not just the truck it­self, but it’s ev­ery­thing in it or bolted to it. Take that lot and shake it up a few cor­ru­gated tracks and pretty soon there’ll be shrap­nel scat­tered ev­ery­where.

The dif­fer­ence, when there was one, was al­ways the sus­pen­sion. The more bumps you can smooth out, the more re­bounds you can con­trol and the less dam­age gets done. The dif­fer­ence be­tween good and bad sus­pen­sion – read: ex­pen­sive or cheap – is in­cred­i­ble.

Un­for­tu­nately, there are trade-offs ev­ery­where here. My old truck’s leaf sus­pen­sion might be un­com­fort­able and harsh com­pared to a mod­ern coil­sprung ve­hi­cle, but it’ll han­dle big­ger variations in loads with­out break­ing or bend­ing. Plus, it’s a whole lot eas­ier to bodge up if it does break.

In the four-wheel drive world, just about ev­ery­thing else this side of a few com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles has coil sus­pen­sion be­cause the stuff is so good. I know hav­ing coils up the front of the 76 Se­ries Work­mate makes a big dif­fer­ence in the ride, but the stock coils and shocks were al­most dead af­ter 70,000km, while the rear leaf springs showed no droop at all. I still re­placed them, though. Stock sus­pen­sion is de­signed for test drives, not tough tracks!

Mean­while, life goes on with Milo and Mus­tard. I couldn’t help pluck­ing the old En­gel out if its bag to show off the dam­age from a decade’s worth of belt­ing around. Some of that red dirt is so in­grained it won’t come out this side of a wire brush on a grinder, but the thing still works well. It’s worth point­ing out that Milo’s de­stroyed three other fridges sup­plied for pro­mo­tions, usu­ally in about 12 months. Milo’s as rough on gear as I am, and there’s not much a year’s worth of hard­core trav­el­ling won’t de­stroy. I threw out a trailer-load of busted cook­ing gear dur­ing the last Christ­mas cleanout.

How­ever, not much is rougher than turn­ing a truck on its side, and that’s ex­actly what I did with old Mus­tard down in Tas­ma­nia. As well as a hefty panel-beat­ing bill, vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing in the back was trashed – apart from the fridge, re­cov­ery gear and my swag. Three years later I’ve started to no­tice the old girl sit­ting down a bit on the side she tipped on, and I fig­ured the leaf packs might have copped some dam­age, too.

Sure enough, the cheapo springs we’d put in be­fore the Tassie trip had started to bend. My old mate Al­lan Gray from Ter­rain Tamer was vis­it­ing, so I got him out in the shed for a look. Al­lan’s the most ex­pe­ri­enced Toy­ota me­chanic in the coun­try and you should never miss a chance to learn from him, even when it’s sim­ple stuff like sus­pen­sion. In fact, some­times the sim­plest stuff is the hard­est to get right.

Al­lan’s ex­pe­ri­ence goes right back to the birth of Toy­ota in Aus­tralia in 1958, when the Thiess Broth­ers im­ported the first Land Cruis­ers to work at the Snowy Moun­tain Scheme. To think that just the pre­vi­ous week­end, I’d been sur­rounded by a bunch of 40 Se­ries nuts who weren’t even born when the Snowy Scheme was switched on. Those old Land Cruis­ers, once the pre­serve of hard nuts who needed to get to work, are mak­ing a come­back. Let’s face it, though, the old 40s are about as trendy as a box of rusty span­ners. Taught me a lot of lessons in the bush, though!

One of those lessons is how much of our coun­try we’re be­ing locked out of. You’d think with the mas­sive growth of out­door sports, camp­ing and grey no­mads look­ing for a nice spot to park the van, this would be a big is­sue, but the ex­treme greens have done an in­cred­i­ble job of bluff­ing and bul­ly­ing gov­ern­ments into lock­ing up our lands.

One party has got un­lock­ing the bush on its agenda, so it’s get­ting my sup­port. That’s why I’m run­ning on the Lib­eral Demo­crat ticket for the fed­eral se­nate in the up­com­ing elec­tion in July. Yes, it’s strange to think of an old bush me­chanic go­ing to Can­berra – I doubt you could fix that lot with wire and tape!

I wouldn’t worry too much about Milo leak­ing oil on the steps of Par­lia­ment House yet, be­cause Gabe Buck­ley’s run­ning num­ber one on our LDP ticket and he’s a lot more po­lite than me.

How­ever, Aus­tralia is a democ­racy and we’re all en­ti­tled to have a say. What­ever your pol­i­tics, I urge you to ask your lo­cal can­di­dates what their stance is on open­ing up pub­lic lands. We need to get this is­sue on the ta­ble, be­fore we all get swept into the cracks in the floor.

Cracks in the floor? Oh, I fig­ured we were talk­ing about Milo again.

Milo clam­ber­ing up a track in the Flin­ders Ranges. Too many tracks have taken their toll on the old girl.



1. Mus­tard is the fam­ily wagon but has done some tough off-road­ing, too. It started to de­velop a bit of a lean, so I got Ter­rain Tamer’s Al­lan Gray to have a look. 2. To get ac­cu­rate ‘droop’ mea­sure­ments at the rear, the front had to be lev­elled first. Mus­tard had bent both pas­sen­ger-side springs, prob­a­bly due to a rollover in Tassie a few years ago. 3. The Lib­eral Democrats is the only po­lit­i­cal party that has un­lock­ing the bush on its agenda. So I’m run­ning on the LDP ticket for the fed­eral se­nate, sup­port­ing Gabe Buck­ley. 1

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.