BAKKIE PROJECT

With all-ter­rain tyres and a steel rear bumper fit­ted plus a winch mounted up front, it’s time we shift our at­ten­tion to the pro­tec­tion of the BT-50’s un­der­body.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text Schalk Jonker Pho­tos Jo­hann Viljoen

OBul­let­proof vest Set aside an hour

ur brand new Mazda BT-50 3.2 4x4 SLE bakkie (dou­ble cab, au­to­matic) is steadily be­com­ing a for­mi­da­ble over­lan­der ready to take on any off-road ad­ven­ture, thanks to our monthly Bakkie Project. We’ve al­ready equipped this long-term test ve­hi­cle with a set of gnarly BF Goodrich T/A tyres, a steel rear bumper, bull­bar and winch, and now it’s time to pro­tect the un­der­body against the bumps and bruises the ve­hi­cle will in­vari­ably re­ceive off-road. This month we make a fourth off-road mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the gravel to go visit Dave and Sally on their farm, but when you start do­ing se­ri­ous 4x4 driv­ing you need su­pe­rior pro­tec­tion against rocks, tree trunks, and the like to min­imise the risk of dam­age to these im­por­tant parts. We put one of Iron­man 4x4’s pro­tec­tion plates on the Mazda. This model is per­fect for the BT-50 and it fits in well with the de­sign of the chas­sis. The ven­ti­la­tion and wa­ter­dis­tri­bu­tion holes are also care­fully po­si­tioned to en­sure that air flow and the dura­bil­ity of parts are not af­fected. The plate is made of 3 mm steel (six times thicker than the stan­dard plate) and is de­vel­oped with the lat­est tech­nol­ogy to en­sure you don’t have to sac­ri­fice weight for the ex­tra peace of mind. Mazda and ex­plain, as per usual, the im­por­tance of this spe­cific mod­i­fi­ca­tion. We also dis­cuss how and why it was done, and how much it costs. As with last month’s mod­i­fi­ca­tion, Jo­hann “Tyres”Viljoen and his su­per-com­pe­tent team at 1st Align­ment Cen­tre in Stik­land, Cape Town fit­ted the plate. Be­cause the pro­tec­tion plate was made specif­i­cally for the BT-50, the work didn’t take long and we could af­ford to wait on-site with a cup of cof­fee for Jo­hann and his guys to fin­ish the job. It was a sim­ple mat­ter of loos­en­ing bolts, re­mov­ing the ex­ist­ing plate, and fas­ten­ing the new one. Easy as that. The only dif­fer­ence be­tween the stan­dard plate and the Iron­man plate is that the lat­ter has an ad­di­tional plate that ter­mi­nates fur­ther to­wards the back and there­fore of­fers more pro­tec­tion than the stan­dard ver­sion. Your 4x4 has a few things on the un­der­body that you def­i­nitely want to pro­tect – es­pe­cially if you’re far from home. A ra­di­a­tor, dif­fer­en­tials, oil pan, and trans­fer case, for ex­am­ple, are lo­cated here and it goes with­out say­ing that these parts are vul­ner­a­ble when you go off-road­ing. The BT-50 comes with a stan­dard un­der­body bash plate to pro­tect crit­i­cal parts, but it’s only 0,5 mm thick. It’s to­tally ad­e­quate for guard­ing against a peb­ble or three flung up when you’re driv­ing on a stretch of

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