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GRANTED, the Tonner has been given the fi­nal tick from the en­gi­neer – a mas­sive achieve­ment in it­self – I ex­pected it to be reg­is­tered and a few thou­sand kays down by now. Sadly, that is not the case. Noth­ing ma­jor has gone wrong; just a long list of mi­nor me­chan­i­cal parts I want sorted. Plus, we are wait­ing on that al­limpor­tant en­gi­neer’s re­port which has to ac­com­pany the Tonner when get­ting the NSW Blue Slip check. The Tonner starts and drives, but only the en­gi­neer has tested it on the road (with trade plates at­tached). I’ve only driven it around the carpark, and it’s frus­trat­ing not be­ing able to ring that LS3 out just a lit­tle.

While the Tough Dog foam cell shocks are wait­ing to be bolted into place, we’ve been work­ing on the coil spring rates and the weight of each four cor­ners of the Tonner. They have a heap of dif­fer­ent rates on of­fer and, while we know the cor­rect set to slot in, I want to re­serve judge­ment un­til af­ter a few road tests; and that in­volves get­ting the ve­hi­cle reg­is­tered first and driv­ing it with both near-empty and full (195L) fuel tanks.

The en­gi­neer ve­toed my want for dual snorkels, so that left me with the predica­ment of what type of airin­duc­tion sys­tem to utilise. I’d orig­i­nally wanted dual flat-panel fil­ters be­hind each head­light, but I’ve slimmed back to a sin­gle cus­tom-made bar­rel be­hind the driver’s side head­light. That leaves a va­cant spot be­hind the pas­sen­ger’s side head­light, given I’d re­lo­cated the bat­ter­ies to be­hind the cabin. Per­haps I can fit an on­board air com­pres­sor, a huge train horn or a chicken roaster?

In an at­tempt to min­imise fu­ture prob­lems – just in case I have a flat starter bat­tery (mounted be­hind the cabin) – we’ve put a heavy-duty An­der­son plug be­neath the bon­net that can be hooked into for a jump­start if needed. To help ac­cess the deep-cy­cle bat­ter­ies we’ve al­lo­cated power posts in the cabin and near the front of the tray, ready to run leads to my fridge and other 12-volt ac­ces­sories.

I pur­chased a set of Su­pe­rior En­gi­neer­ing Su­per­flex sway bars; we’d in­stalled the rear ages ago and left the front un­til re­cently, only to find it didn’t fit di­rectly to the GQ front ra­dius arms. Rather than swap sway bars, we ditched the GQ units for a set of GU ra­dius arms – prob­lem solved and a note to self: never leave fit­ting cus­tom parts un­til the last minute.

More for aes­thet­ics than any prac­ti­cal rea­son, we ditched the dodgy af­ter­mar­ket en­gine cover that came with my Maloo R8 in favour of a stock unit; al­though, we had to do a lit­tle chop­ping to al­low for the high-mount al­ter­na­tor con­ver­sion to clear it.

We’ve clev­erly slot­ted a Runva 11,000lb winch be­hind the Holden grille and into a cus­tom-made cra­dle, but ac­cess­ing the clutch lever proved a lit­tle hard given the winch body doesn’t sit within the main bull­bar cross-mem­ber like most fit­ments. In­stead, it’s mounted rear­wards of that cross-mem­ber, ef­fec­tively di­rectly un­der part of what was once the ra­di­a­tor-shroud sup­port panel. By fluke de­sign, cut­ting a sim­ple hole just large enough to fit my hand through al­lowed easy ac­cess to the clutch lever. The only dis­ad­van­tage is that you have to pop the bon­net to ac­cess it.

I hate see­ing winch ropes and hooks dan­gling or at­tached to front re­cov­ery points while not be­ing used, as it leaves them in a beaut spot to be dam­aged, es­pe­cially syn­thetic rope like I’m us­ing. So, while mak­ing a steer­ing pro­tec­tion plate, we’ll in­cor­po­rate a hid­den hook un­der­neath to hold the winch rope while not in use. The worst I’ll have to do is thread it through the fair­lead prior to us­ing the winch.

I still have no idea what I’ll even­tu­ally do in the tray. Short term: a cou­ple of large tool­boxes to of­fer a lit­tle se­cu­rity. Long term: ei­ther an al­loy canopy or even a slide-on camper unit. There are a cou­ple of black paint patches from pre­vi­ous re­pairs (driver’s door and plenum panel) so I’ll look into colour­match­ing a cou­ple of spray cans to clean them up, or maybe I’ll vinyl wrap the whole she­bang in bright or­ange.

Drop back next month for what will (hope­fully) be the fi­nal huge cus­tom shoot that shows off how damn ca­pa­ble my One Tonner has be­come.

the lat­est in­duc­tion: Air of an ev­er­chang­ing in­car­na­tion idea. up has come Rear tray few needs a beaut, but canopy. or a tool­boxes High-mounted should clear al­ter­na­tor mud holes. most Maloo buck­ets will make for some comfy long days of driv­ing.

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