Foot­loose

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - RON MOON

A COU­PLE of friends of mine travel with such a great tool­box in their ve­hi­cle, I hardly need to carry any­thing. They rarely need the stuff them­selves, but they’ve helped out dozens of less-equipped trav­ellers wan­der­ing the back­blocks of this coun­try.

How­ever, do you re­ally need to carry so much re­pair gear and spare parts? I’ve con­sol­i­dated a lit­tle since my early days of out­back travel as ve­hi­cles have be­come more re­li­able and I bet­ter main­tain them. Plus, a ma­jor break­down in the scrub is ba­si­cally un­ten­able even with all the tools, so a re­cov­ery of sorts will be re­quired.

I re­mem­ber a trip in the 1980s with the late Rus­sel Guest (who es­tab­lished the still very suc­cess­ful and highly re­garded Guests 4WD in the Mel­bourne sub­urb of Al­ph­ing­ton) when one of our con­voy blew a har­monic bal­ancer when at full noise try­ing to cross a dune on the CSR. Such was the dev­as­ta­tion un­der the bon­net by the fly­ing pieces of bal­ancer that the wa­ter pump, ra­di­a­tor, hoses, al­ter­na­tor, air-con­di­tioner plus as­so­ci­ated hoses, along with the ve­hi­cle bat­tery, were all dam­aged or de­stroyed. I’ll al­ways re­mem­ber Rus­sel’s words as he slammed the bon­net shut: “Well, that’s stuffed”, he said in a clas­sic un­der­state­ment. That 60 Se­ries ended up on a very long snatch strap as we towed it back to civil­i­sa­tion, but that is an­other story.

What tools do you need to carry on your next bush trip? First up, we al­ways carry a re­pair man­ual for our ve­hi­cle. Even if you haven’t got any ve­hi­cle knowl­edge, some­body with more me­chan­i­cal knowl­edge may be able to help if they know where to start with your par­tic­u­lar ve­hi­cle.

Then start your kit of with:

• Set of open-end/ring spanners.

• Set of sock­ets.

• Small ratchet driver.

• One large ratchet driver and socket ex­ten­sion arm.

• A cou­ple of ad­justable spanners.

• Set of screw­drivers and Phillips head screw­drivers.

• En­gi­neer’s ham­mer.

• Hack­saw and blades.

• Pli­ers and multi-grips.

• Set of files: ‘bas­tard’ grade, round, flat and square.

• Elec­tri­cal and gaffer tape.

• WD-40 or sim­i­lar.

• Tube of oil/fuel-re­sis­tant Si­las­tic.

• Kit for re­pairs to fuel tanks, radiators, etc. En­sure they’re com­pat­i­ble with tank (metal or plas­tic).

• Ba­sic tyre re­pair kit, such as the Speedy Seal from ARB.

• Ca­ble ties (se­lected sizes).

• Se­lec­tion of fuses.

On big­ger, longer trips, or those in­volv­ing re­mote cross-coun­try jaunts, I carry an ex­ten­sive tyre re­pair kit which in­cludes tyre levers, a bead breaker and more. For one of the best on of­fer, see: www.tyrepli­ers.com.au

I also carry ex­tra gear for 12-volt weld­ing, us­ing a set of jumper leads (that are al­ways in the ve­hi­cle) and the two big bat­ter­ies un­der the bon­net. A piece of weld­ing glass for eye pro­tec­tion set in a piece of card­board makes a handy eye and face mask, while my weld­ing hand­piece and lead from the 240-volt welder at home com­pletes the emer­gency kit. Some peo­ple will rec­om­mend three 12-volt bat­ter­ies con­nected in se­ries, but I’ve al­ways found two to be more than enough.

With all of the elec­tri­cal out­lets and ac­ces­sories we tend to carry these days, as well as tow­ing a trailer, one of the most com­mon prob­lems plagu­ing trav­ellers is an elec­tri­cal fault. A mul­ti­me­ter is es­sen­tial for analysing elec­tri­cal is­sues when in the scrub, while a good sol­der­ing iron (we like the bu­tane-fu­elled ones) is para­mount for wiring re­pairs. I keep most of my of­ten-used tools in tool rolls, which makes them easy to pack and easy to get to.

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