BRUISER CRUISER

The ul­ti­mate LC79 tourer with more to come...

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents - WORDS JUSTIN WALKER PHO­TOS ALAS­TAIR BROOK

DREAMS rarely come true, un­less you’ve got plenty of time, you plan prop­erly and you’re pre­pared to put in the hard yards; which is pre­cisely what Al­lan and Kathy Huxtable did. The end re­sult af­ter nearly six years is this tough-as-teak, fully kit­ted Toy­ota LC79 sin­gle-cab.

Their dream was one we all share, to es­cape the rat race and dis­ap­pear over a dusty hori­zon on the Big Trip, ex­plor­ing ev­ery re­mote camp­site, rut­ted track and water­way in this awe­some coun­try of ours – and not worry about time. Yep, we’re al­ready en­vi­ous.

GOTTA START SOME­WHERE

AL­LAN and Kathy ini­tially built the Cruiser for shorter es­capes: a few weeks across the Simp­son Desert, a month do­ing Cape York, etc. The ve­hi­cle al­ready had the sch­mick canopy (built by MFI Ser­vice Bod­ies in War­ragul, Victoria, but de­signed by Al­lan), rooftop tent, kitchen, fridge and electrics. Cir­cum­stances changed when Al­lan ac­cepted a re­dun­dancy from his job, which led to a re-eval­u­a­tion of what they wanted to do, and the cou­ple sold up ev­ery­thing (yep, in­clud­ing the house) and hit the road on a more per­ma­nent ba­sis, al­ter­nat­ing be­tween work pe­ri­ods (to fund travel) and head­ing out ex­plor­ing more of Aus­tralia.

They just needed to add a few things to their tour­ing kit first, such as a car­a­van and a tinny, which, in turn, meant more mods for the Cruiser – the per­fect ex­cuse for Al­lan, who takes any chance he gets to im­prove on what’s al­ready a pretty awe­some tour­ing rig.

GET­TING THE BASICS RIGHT

“THE Cruiser’s six years old, but it’s an on­go­ing trans­for­ma­tion,” Al­lan said. “I wouldn’t say it’s fin­ished yet, it’s still a work in progress.”

For a work in progress, the Cruiser is im­pres­sive. The canopy and its in­ter­nal setup has been tweaked slightly over the years, but the setup (two side doors and one large rear slide-out tray un­der­neath) re­tains all the es­sen­tials, with the kitchen, fridge, cooker, lights, food and al­limpor­tant beers on one side, ac­cessed via a large lift-up door. The drawer setup on this side is ex­cel­lent, with the larger items po­si­tioned lower down, and the lighter-weight plas­tic draw­ers ca­pa­ble of hold­ing food, condiments and smaller uten­sils. Al­lan has also utilised one of MSA 4X4’s ex­cel­lent drop-down fridge slides for the Waeco fridge, max­imis­ing cargo space on that side and en­sur­ing ev­ery­thing’s close to hand.

The op­po­site side of the canopy is where larger gear is stored, as well as tools, a gas bot­tle, a Cole­man hot-wa­ter camp shower, and draw­ers loaded with re­cov­ery gear and other equip­ment. Also fit­ted in­side the canopy is the power sys­tem, com­pris­ing two 120amp/h deep-cy­cle bat­ter­ies, an ARB air com­pres­sor and a Redarc 1000-Watt in­verter; while Redarc’s ex­cel­lent Man­ager 30 bat­tery man­age­ment sys­tem keeps it all run­ning smoothly. Hid­den un­der­neath is a 110L stain­less steel wa­ter tank, ac­cessed via a 12V pump.

A boon for the cou­ple is that rooftop tent (also built by MFI Ser­vice Bod­ies) on top of the canopy, with Al­lan stoked that the unit can fit a dou­ble mat­tress in­side it.

“The first time up in the Cape we (had) a tent and in­flat­able mat­tress,” he said rue­fully. “Then across the Simp­son we had stretch­ers, which didn’t re­ally work, so we thought, ‘some­thing had to change’.”

The rooftop tent fea­tures a heavy-duty PVC outer with a full-mesh in­ner, al­low­ing use in any con­di­tions, be it chas­ing ad­di­tional cross­flow ven­ti­la­tion on balmy Cape York nights, or when you’re zipped closed for chilly desert evenings.

The rooftop tent’s solid top in­cor­po­rates a boat loader for the cou­ple’s Sea Jay 3.9 No­mad tinny, along with a per­ma­nently af­fixed Redarc 200W so­lar panel. Clev­erly, Al­lan has built a unique boat-load­ing sys­tem that uses the Cruiser’s Runva 11XP winch (a water­proof job­bie), which is housed in an ARB bull­bar.

“I have a bracket that fits onto the bull­bar, so the winch rope goes straight up onto this bracket that’s about a me­tre high,” Al­lan ex­plained. The rope then goes across to the back to hook onto the boat. This way, the rope doesn’t get wrecked on the bull­bar and doesn’t mark the bon­net.

“You only have one winch and they play up when you don’t use them, so putting the boat on and off means you know it works!”

LIFTED AND LOADED

THE rooftop tent gets plenty of use, but Al­lan and Kathy also tow a car­a­van for when they’re stay­ing in one place for

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.