dirty work JOHN ROOTH

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

NOT MUCH knocks a truck around more than a sea­son of film­ing hard-core off-road ad­ven­tures. In fact, the only thing that might be tougher is 4X4 Aus­tralia’s test­ing pro­ce­dures, but at least they’re over in a few days; a DVD sea­son could take a dozen weeks or more per year.

Which is why af­ter 16 sea­sons of DVDS and TV shooting, old Milo was al­most ready to chuck in the towel last year. Not so much ‘chuck’ the towel in, as let it drop through one of the holes in the floor.

Yep, she was clank­ing, rat­tling, sag­ging and moan­ing. We’re talk­ing se­ri­ous wear-and-tear here; the sort that of­ten hides da­m­age un­til a crack just opens up one day. I had a crack three years ago that, af­ter a re­turn trip across the Gibb, ran from un­der the dash, along the floor sill and then fin­ished be­hind the seat. That might have been bad enough but ev­ery time Milo clunked over a cat­tle grid on the track home, the crack yawned like a shark siz­ing up a surf­board.

You’d be aware of that if you’ve read the last few is­sues of 4X4 Aus­tralia, be­cause I’ve shown off plenty of the da­m­age along the way. This time I’m show­ing off the new re­vised front end, hav­ing fi­nally re­placed the vi­tal head­light panel with an an­gle iron frame. You can see in these pho­tos the ‘new’ light panel sit­ting proudly up the front of the truck. That’s be­cause it’s mounted on four thick bolts with rub­ber tube sleeves on each side on the panel it­self, to let it flex. It’s a new idea for a Toy­ota – I’m not sure if it’ll work, but it’s worth a try.

Now for a word on my mate Paul Read: Mr. Landcruiser, the sec­ond­hand 40-Se­ries parts spe­cial­ist. Like most of us 40-Se­ries nuts, Paul’s a 40 fa­natic. He drives a 40-Se­ries ute, has a yard full of spares, and puts in reg­u­lar buy­ing trips when­ever he finds an­other pad­dock full of wrecks. Paul’s a jew­eler by trade, and his com­pany Treadz makes beau­ti­ful

off-road-in­spired jew­elry (mud-tyrestyled ear­rings, for ex­am­ple).

You’d think there’d be a gap the size of Ayers Rock be­tween his two trades – wreck­ing old To­jos by day, carv­ing so­phis­ti­cated pat­terns in sil­ver and gold by night – but old Toy­otas are ad­dic­tive no mat­ter what your walk in life.

We’re lucky here in Aus­tralia, be­cause thanks to Aussie com­pany Ter­rain Tamer you can get any­thing me­chan­i­cal for an older Toy­ota (brand new and usu­ally bet­ter than stock) for rea­son­able money. In fact, Ter­rain Tamer have their own de­vel­op­ment pro­grams to im­prove the parts they sell, some­thing I guess you can do af­ter nearly half a cen­tury of sup­ply­ing ve­hi­cle parts.

Ter­rain Tamer un­der­stands Aus­tralian out­back con­di­tions so well they ac­tu­ally pack ve­hi­cle-spe­cific belt and hose kits, so you know you’ll have spares for ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing the clamps, ready to go if you need them.

All the Lowrange ve­hi­cles were carrying them, but, pre­dictably, be­cause we had them, we didn’t need them. That’s kind of the rule of the bush isn’t it? If you’re think­ing ahead, chances are it won’t go wrong.

In fact, through­out that whole sea­son, de­spite some in­cred­i­ble stresses on the ve­hi­cles, noth­ing se­ri­ous popped on the track – just a few tyres, Milo’s doors, Glen’s egg poacher and a few busted fish­ing rods.

Now that’s pretty good, and a real trib­ute to mod­ern ve­hi­cles. But re­mem­ber that both Glen’s 79 and Kenno’s Hilux have been mod­i­fied to crank out more power. Power is Glen’s busi­ness any­way, so you’d ex­pect that with any ve­hi­cle he owns, and see­ing as Kenno’s truck is in­vari­ably tow­ing a camper or car­a­van, he needs the ex­tra berries to get through, too. In fact, I’d rate tow­ing in hard ter­rain as the best way to in­crease the strain on a ve­hi­cle.

How can you avoid it? A bit of care and a whole lot of com­mon sense is a start, but that means not keep­ing to dead­lines and shooting sched­ules. But that would take the fun out of it, hey lads?

My girl copped a bash­ing dur­ing the Lowrange sea­son. Lead­ing the way means find­ing all the traps and ham­mer­ing them first, but af­ter 16 years of do­ing it hard, I’m still in love with the old trout.

dirty work


Here’s the 79 in ac­tion, roar­ing out of a trench with wheels up be­cause there’s a tonne or two hang­ing off the back. Didn’t come close to stop­ping it, though. Glenno watches Milo slide off the cho­sen track into the big ruts I was try­ing to avoid. With his decked 79 weigh­ing about twice as much, he knows ex­actly where he’ll be go­ing! This is the fin­ished front end, with the off-set light panel hous­ing the in­ter­cooler and a brand-new set of Light­force HTX hy­brid LED/HIDS. Ter­rain Tamer’s ve­hi­cle-spe­cific hose kits in­clude the clamps that in­vari­ably twist or break some­where on the side of a track. These kits are an in­cred­i­ble im­prove­ment for se­ri­ous trav­ellers – I once car­ried a lower hose for three years be­fore need­ing it and find­ing it didn’t fit.

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