January 18, 2014

Over The Top cont 4


A Four-Door Ute is a top alternative

“According to Tim, wagons are not the solution to family four-wheel driving problems that car-makers seem to think. For a family of four, wagons have very limited storage space so you’re forced either to haul a trailer, which slows you considerably on rough tracks, or inadvertently raise the car’s centre of gravity by piling half a tonne of gear on the roof. There was a better solution, a four-door ute, which you see in various forms round Weipa these days, and it didn’t take long for Tim to start hacking away at his own version of it. The Toyota went straight from the car yard to Truck Bake in Townsville where the back was cut off to expose the chassis rails and make room for the aluminium canopy that Tim would design and build. From there the vehicle was taken to Cairns Opposite Lock where a Denco turbo kit was installed. Tim scavenged a discarded, 1700mm-long aluminium ute tray “from OL’s rubbish pile” to use as the platform for his canopy,and after bolting the tray in place, chucked his aftermarket bits into it and drove home. Tim designed and built the canopy for his GU Patrol ute so he had well-formed ideas of how the original Cruiser design could be modified to yield an all-weather, lightweight and lockable canopy – with a kitchen. The bottom of the canopy is based on the aluminium ute tray Tim scavenged from Opposite Lock. The rest of the structure is also aluminium, because it won’t rust. Aluminium is also light, a major consideration since Tim was trying. to reduce the amount of weight he would place over the weakest point of the Toyota’s chassis: the wheel arches. The tray incorporates a welded headboard made from 6Zmm square box. The top of the headboard is meshed-in, both to prevent the canopy’s contents from spearing through the rear window in the event of an accident, and to enable certain items – a light alloy camping table, for example – to be secured to the mesh With light rope or ockie straps. The side gates and the top half of the tailgate are also meshed in, and since they’re all supported on air struts, Tim has easy access from both sides as well as the back The tray side sections and tailgate are fitted with flush-mounted, over- centre locks purchased from Campomatic. The tie-downs (three a side) are Daytona Durables, finished smooth so they’re less likely to be damaged by trackside obstacles such as small branches. The kitchencanopy material is Precontraint M2, a tough synthetic with a silver skin to better reflect heat. The portion of the body that Truck Bake removed, from the centre of the aisle window to the numberplate, was replaced with the rear body panel and window from a Patrol ute. Tim used the Nissan panel because it was easy to cut holes in without hitting any structural reinforcement. He wanted holes in it because he would go on to install 50mm ducting from the body to the canopy, that enabling him to pressurise the canopy via the LandCruiser’s airconditioning unit – keeping the family dog Pepper more comfortable, and the fridge cooler, too. What’s more, during our three-week trip through Cape York, not once did the canopy let in dust. Then there’s the kitchen. This posh bit of gear – a four-burner stove and grille, a basin, and storage space for utensils – was purchased from a camper-trailer company and then installed on rails on the canopy bed so it slides out easily. The assembly sits a bit high but Tim’s working on a strut system that will lower it to a more practical height. All in all, the Forsyth’s kitted-out Cruiser – after all the planning and hard work, not to mention the ongoing expenditure – is more than able to cope with the Cape.