Just back from an­other week­end away four-wheel­ing on the Of­flim­its Ice Buster week­end at Waiouru with a great bunch of peo­ple. A full re­port will fol­low in a fu­ture is­sue, but one of the things about go­ing on trips like this is that you get to see what other peo­ple have done to their ve­hi­cles in the way of im­prove­ments. Such im­prove­ments may not al­ways be cheap or along the lines of what you might do, oth­ers can be in­no­va­tive due to bud­get re­straints. It’s all part of the ex­pe­ri­ence and learn­ing from oth­ers. Some­thing that did catch my eye was the stain­less steel “vol­cano kettle” Richard Hay­cock had com­ing out of the scut­tle panel on front of the wind­screen of his Jeep Grand Chero­kee. It cer­tainly at­tracted a lot of in­ter­est and ques­tions from peo­ple as to what it was. Bruce even posed with his cup be­side it for a photo adding fur­ther in­trigue. But rather than some­thing to boil wa­ter, it was ac­tu­ally his in­ge­nious way of a raised air in­take ( or snorkel for the unini­ti­ated) for the Jeep. While not what most peo­ple would do, it was stylish in its own way but more im­por­tantly very prac­ti­cal and ef­fec­tive. Cer­tainly way bet­ter than the use of plas­tic drain pipe that most try to cob­ble to­gether just to save a few dol­lars. You can al­ways pick those who have done four wheel­ing in the past and there­fore the ben­e­fits of good re­cov­ery points. The mod­ern ute is dif­fi­cult to bolt good re­cov­ery points on to which usu­ally end up be­ing back un­der the front bumper and hard to get to if in deep mud or wa­ter. To over­come the need to go search­ing for the re­cov­ery point, Yael Pook in his Mazda BT50 and his friend Sam Mer­rin in the Ford Ranger, set up bri­dles on the front and had them se­cured to their bull bars in case they were needed dur­ing the week­end. While they weren’t re­quired, these guys cer­tainly did fan­tas­ti­cally well winch­ing and re­cov­er­ing oth­ers who needed as­sis­tance. Some­thing else that I no­ticed dur­ing the course of the week­end was the num­ber of peo­ple who, when buy­ing rims and tyres for their 4WD, only buy four and use the stan­dard spare wheel. Sort of Ok if you are us­ing the same size tyre, but most of us opt for larger di­am­e­ter tyres and dif­fer­ent sized rims which means if you get a punc­ture or pop a bead you don’t have an ef­fec­tive spare wheel. Over the course of the week­end there were quite a few that punc­tured or popped beads on tyres due to lower tyre pres­sures and the lack of fit­ting good tubes. The beads would pop if they hit the side of a rut too hard or too fast, es­pe­cially with those run­ning wide rims and tyres. Hav­ing a spare that is a road tyre, smaller than their off road mud tyres can re­duce avail­able grip and trac­tion by up to 50 per­cent if they don’t have diff locks or some other form of trac­tion de­vice on that axle. The lo­ca­tion of the spare wheel in some mod­ern ve­hi­cles may re­strict how big the spare can be, es­pe­cially if un­der the rear of the ve­hi­cle, but most only buy four tyres due to cost. And at $ 500-$ 550 av­er­age for a good ba­sic mud ter­rain tyre buy­ing five at a time does im­pact on the back pocket. In­stead be­cause we sel­dom get punc­tures in the mod­ern tyre on the road there is the ten­dency to not carry a full sized spare. Af­ter all many new ve­hi­cles ac­tu­ally come out with space sav­ing smaller spare tyres or in the case of the orig­i­nal Humvee, no spare at all, so why would we re­quire a full size tyre? That is where a rear spare wheel car­rier would do nicely, just like the one seen on a Nis­san on the Motu Sa­fari two or three years back. Con­structed onto a cus­tom rear bumper it dropped down rear­wards to un­bolt the wheel. On the out­side there was the spade and hi-lif t jack, which also dou­bled as the han­dle to lif t it up again to latch on the rear door. A huge spring like those found on garage doors helped in the lif ting of the wheel and car­rier back into po­si­tion. There are so many ideas that oth­ers have used that you can de­velop fur­ther to suit your own cir­cum­stances. Get out there and en­joy the four-wheel­ing.

And the drop-down spare wheel car­rier.

Richard Hay­cock’s raised air in­take.

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