4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

THE BIG­GEST ad­van­tage of pur­chas­ing com­plete ve­hi­cles to use in any spe­cial or odd­ball project build is that you have ac­cess to all the mi­nor, of­ten for­got­ten, bits and pieces. More so elec­tri­cal com­po­nents as found in the high-tech Maloo R8 ute; the wiring loom is a ma­jor must-have item to en­sure the elec­tron­i­cally man­aged and driven en­gine will work in the me­chan­i­cally op­er­ated old Tonner.

Those smaller parts have to be sourced the hard way (via scour­ing the wreck­ers or on­line out­lets) and of­ten cost a lot more than hav­ing them in­cluded in the ini­tial pur­chase pack­age. So, for me, the eas­i­est and most con­ve­nient way was to buy three com­plete ve­hi­cles and pick the parts I needed. The next big­gest ad­van­tage is the po­ten­tial re­turn on the un­used and un­wanted parts. I’m happy to put my hand up and say that I’m try­ing to build this Tonner project as cheap as pos­si­ble. I don’t mind, and ex­pect to pay good money for good parts and labour, but sav­ing a few bucks here and there is kinda nice, too.

At the time of writ­ing, I’ve man­aged to re­coup al­most three-quar­ters of the cost of the Maloo R8. That means, roughly, the 6.2-litre LS3, auto six-speed cog swap­per, wiring loom, seats and seat belts, plus a host of smaller parts, have cost me a mere $3000. Not bad com­pared to rock­ing up to a wrecker and lay­ing twice or triple that amount down for just the en­gine.

As for the GQ, I’ve man­aged to get al­most all my money back by sell­ing the parts off. The 4.2-litre petrol en­gine and LPG sys­tem now re­side in a fork­lift, the doors and front guards have kept other GQS lookin’ pretty, the 33-inch rub­ber and rims kept an­other GQ le­gal on the cheap, some seats were sold off and some are per­fect in my kid’s cubby house – price­less! The main GQ cab was pretty rusty at the top rear cor­ners and might be per­fect for any­one wanting to do a dual-cab chop on the cheap, so I’ll hold on to that tem­po­rar­ily.

The GQ chas­sis is to form the main un­der­body sup­port for my project, which will ride on GQ diffs and coil sus­pen­sion. I’ll re­use the tilt-ad­justable

Pa­trol steer­ing col­umn, which needs to be grafted into the Holden dash, plus I’ve de­cided on ini­tially us­ing the GQ disc brakes in­stead of the Maloo HSV stop­pers. While they are not as large in di­am­e­ter as the Maloo’s, they are ad­e­quate and have been given the nod by my en­gi­neer, plus can be eas­ily swapped later for up­graded Nis­san units if the ‘want’ should ap­pear.

I’ll ad­mit to not ini­tially know­ing the GQ trans­fer case couldn’t be used in my project, so that caused a small prob­lem. More on that fix in next month’s is­sue. So to the GQ sway bars; they had been re­moved from the 1989 model I pur­chased, which is of­ten the case for driv­ers seek­ing more sus­pen­sion flex while off-road, and had some head scratch­ing on the best way to fix that prob­lem. While the easy fix would be to pick up a pair from the wreck­ers, I wanted more flex than OE units can ever of­fer. Keep­ing in mind this whole project must be legally en­gi­neered and reg­is­tered in NSW, I must have sway bars in­cluded in the fin­ished pack­age, but don’t re­ally want to be play­ing around with sway bar dis­con­nects ev­ery time I drive off-road.

I left the strip­ping and parts re­moval of the Maloo and GQ to Ja­son and his crew at To­tal Care 4x4, in­stead of

tack­ling them my­self. While I would have been happy tack­ling the GQ, I was pretty hes­i­tant in touch­ing the Maloo with all its wiring, not be­ing overly sure what could be tossed or kept. I felt much safer leav­ing that to ex­pe­ri­enced hands and dish­ing out the dol­lars to have it done right the first time. Not so with the old Holden One Tonner; I stripped that at home by my­self in the side pad­dock, in the dirt, in the sun, over two long days. I do have air tools, plenty of hand tools and the ma­jor help of a rolling gantry with chain block to help lift both the al­loy tray and cabin off the chas­sis. My plan was to lift the cabin clean of the chas­sis with as much of the in­te­rior in­tact for use later, and leave the en­gine, gear­box and all other run­ning gear be­hind. I’d been driv­ing the Tonner around for a few months and the whole show was work­ing per­fectly when I dereg­is­tered and stripped it. I’ll ei­ther sell it all in parts or whole, or, hmmm, per­haps a nice hot rod shell might mag­i­cally drop onto it some­time in the fu­ture... Here’s where my plan went a lit­tle pear-shaped. I had no prob­lems with re­mov­ing the cabin and I didn’t drop it when it was six-foot in the air. I eas­ily lifted the cab over the en­gine to al­low the rolling chas­sis to be pulled out from un­der­neath with the Troopie’s RUNVA winch. That job was made eas­ier by be­ing able to walk around the car while winch­ing an inch at a time us­ing the wire­less re­mote. I man­aged to re­verse my 10x6-foot trailer un­der the dan­gling cab, only to find the Tonner metal work was a few cen­time­tres wider than the

trailer body. My prob­lem-solv­ing 101 sprang into ac­tion with a half dozen pieces of hard­wood tim­ber from the back of the shed. Not re­ally know­ing how heavy the Tonner cab was and how strong the side pan­els of my trailer are, I slot­ted a few tim­ber braces down to the trailer floor to help take the Holden weight with­out bend­ing my trailer – prob­lem solved in a cou­ple of hours.

I fig­ured a hand­ful of old car tyres would be per­fect for sit­ting the Tonner cab on to, to pre­vent dam­age dur­ing the five-hour tran­sit to Ja­son’s shop in Sydney. With the whole show strapped down to half com­press the tyres, the stripped Holden didn’t move or get dam­aged dur­ing the drive.

In prepa­ra­tion for a few later jobs from Steve – my auto sparky at Pow­ers Road Auto Elec­tri­cal Ser­vices in Seven Hills, Sydney – I re­moved the oil and wa­ter tem­per­a­ture sen­sors from the 308 block to al­low him to mea­sure the re­sis­tance across them, in or­der to repli­cate that power drop in the new sys­tem that would com­bine parts of the old with up­dated wiring for dash-mounted tell­tales (clever, huh?). He also re­quested the fuel sender unit from the old Holden petrol tank in prepa­ra­tion for hav­ing a larger cus­tom fuel tank man­u­fac­tured. Steve was also re­lied on to solve a few other wiring is­sues, along with an easy and ef­fec­tive way of in­stalling air­con­di­tion­ing into my project.

It cer­tainly helps when the peo­ple you are deal­ing with are car en­thu­si­asts, or nuts, and that is how Steve came to eas­ily solve the air-con prob­lem, as he had the ex­act same prod­uct in an old street machine he has been play­ing with.

With the three cars stripped, plenty of re­search and plan­ning, dis­cus­sions with the en­gi­neer, along with me telling Ja­son ex­actly what I wanted to achieve and him telling me what was real­is­ti­cally achiev­able with re­spect to en­gi­neer­ing with­out cost­ing a motza, the next stage of build­ing my dream 4x4 went into ac­tion im­me­di­ately.

’Til next month, if you have ideas on things like bull­bars, trays, canopies or other whacky ideas, I’m all ears. Keep in mind this will be a ca­pa­ble tour­ing 4x4, al­beit with a huge en­gine, that will dou­ble as ev­ery­day trans­port. It won’t be a bal­lis­tic com­pe­ti­tion machine, so for­get the ul­tra-high gan­gly sus­pen­sion and 44-inch Bog­gers sug­ges­tions.

Be sure to visit www.4x4aus­ au to watch all of the videos of the Tonner build.

GQ chas­sis will ride on GQ diffs and coil sus­pen­sion. GQ steer­ing col­umn the will be grafted into Tonner cab.

I needed my old Kub­ota trac­tor to help sup­port the Tonner’s cab.

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