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.