Learning from Experience
Tim made a variety of changes to his 100 Series Landcruiser. His many years of experience, including operating 4Wd’s, in one of Australia’s toughest environments. Like many of his friends in Weipa, which seem to be a centre for a lot of clever, if unconventional, 4Wd experimentation, he has often learned the hard way but these lessons have sunk into the extent, that much of his knowledge is now instinctive. So that others might learn from his experience, we asked him to explain to us, what other modifications he made to his Cruiser, and what his reasoning was in each decision.
“Suspension up here is a personal thing but I reckon you need soft springs and a lot of wheel travel. I talked to the guys at King springs (on the Gold Coast) and ended up with their coils front and rear, which gives me 50mm of lift. The front of the car is a bit nose high but that is because the front coils are designed to accommodate the additional weight and I haven’t got one on there at the moment. I use Coil-Rite Airbags on the back because they allow me to keep the car level when the load in the back is varied.”
“I wanted low-down, low RPM 4wd grunt, the sort of power you get from a V8. The way Denco sets up its turbos, I’m getting boost at idle, that means I’m not searching for lower gears nearly as much and, because boost is only about 7 pounds, there is no stress on an engine that wasn’t built for a turbo.
“According to sled tests in Adelaide, the plastic Smart Bar reduces the chance of serious head injuries for front seat occupants in the event of a collision. The bar also flexes a lot. To give you an idea of how much, there is a gap of about 50-75mm between the winches fairlead bolts and the recess in the Smart bar on the GU Ute. When we went down Gunshot ( on the Old Telegraph track between the Dulhunty and Cockatoo creek on Cape York) and the bar hit the ground, it flexed so much that it left an impression of the fairlead bolts in the plastic.’
“Nissan factory steel wheels are about the best wide steel wheels you can buy, but on the GU I cracked the spokes on corrugations. The wheels I bought for the Landcruiser are industrial style mags, call Performance TX 15. At $135.00 each, they are powder coated so I don’t have to keep cleaning them and they have a load rating of 1.4 tonnes. They’re made in Australia and because they are light it is no problem carrying 2 spares.” Performance TX1’s, from Performance wheels in Brisbane, are available in various sizes up to 16×10.
“Everyone uses BF Goodrich up here because they have the tough side walls but I switched to 285/75 Bridgestone Dueller M/t’s mainly because they have a good reputation and I know that they don’t puncher easily. The best thing about the dueller mud terrains, is how they are on grave roads, how well they break, and hang on, and steer.”
“I changed the shape and position of both the gear and transfer levers. I found them uncomfortable to operate but modifying them was easy. All I did was add a small section to the gear stick and angle it back towards me. With the transfer levers, I reversed it in the cotter-pin assembly, cut a section out and then welded it back at a different angle, so the selector knob was closer to me and more comfortable to use.”