Fixing a Flat

How to use an emergency tyre puncture repair kit.

You know it’s bound to happen at some point. We all go driving through the bush and in the back of our minds we know that one day we’ll get a puncture! That’s fine, in most cases we can just fit the spare and continue on our way, but what are the other options? And what if we fit the spare and we get a puncture on that tyre as well?

We have a general rule in the mechanical industry, and that is, ‘don’t talk about problems, because the day you do is the day they will happen.’ To this day I haven’t had a puncture offroad, but now that I am talking about it, it’s bound to happen.
My BFGs have been awesome, so if you’re anything like me, you carry a puncture repair kit in the back of the truck, without really knowing how it works.

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Electrical Forethought

A little bit of planning and preparation goes a long way.

I feel lucky that my wife has started to join us on some of our camping trips. The kids enjoy it, and I believe there is nothing better than the family getting out there together. But it has created some additional problems. You know how it is… 

There is never enough 12V power to go around. Her mobile phone and all the other 12V accessories she feels are essential to bring, of course, need charging. According to her we definitely can’t do without them! So when it came to the need for additional wiring and electrics, I had to give it a little bit of thought. I needed to future-proof things, so that adding circuits or trouble-shooting out in the field would be simplified.

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Adam runs you through the process of fitting a dual battery system.

My wife owns a nice Prado, a perfectly good 4WD, yet it only seems to get used dropping the kids to and from school. I have been working on her for ages now asking her to let me upgrade and modify it and the usual response I get is either, ‘no Adam it’s my 4WD not yours,’ or, ‘as long as I can’t see it then go ahead.’ These parameters, as well as the fact that we recently suffered a flat battery due to the kids leaving the interior light on, led me to the idea of installing a dual battery system with jump starting capabilities.

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The Little Things

The importance of daily vehicle checks when out in the field can’t be overstated.

It’s amazing how the little things always seem to catch us out. The little things that are so easy to overlook, are usually the things that end up stopping us in our tracks. I have said it before and I’m sure this won’t be the last time.
A friend of mine, Ben, has an 80 series Cruiser that is regularly serviced and very well maintained. On his last trip to Fraser Island in February, he encountered one problem, which had all the potential to stop him dead in his tracks.

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UHF Reception

Fitting your UHF antenna.

There is nothing worse than fitting up a new UHF and then heading bush and finding that your reception keeps dropping in and out. This happened to me on one of my camping trips with a big group of mates. My mate Rhett had fitted up a new UHF and was devastated when his system kept dropping in and out.
Around the campfire he let me know of his trouble and we discussed what he had done when installing the system. He then asked if the aerial connection needed to be soldered. I had a look to see what the problem seemed to be and I was able to fix the UHF on the spot. For some reason, I always carry a butane soldering iron with me in my tool kit.

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Head Gasket Basics

What is a head gasket, and how does it blow?

The cylinder head gasket, each passage marries up to the passages within the engine block and cylinder head. In my last article I discussed a recent trip to the high country, where a mate’s Patrol overheated and blew its head gasket. The owner of the Patrol decided to fix it himself the following weekend. While fixing his car, he had a few questions as to what a head gasket actually is and how it blows.
The cylinder head gasket is the seal that joins the cylinder head to the engine block. It plays a very important role in the engine as it seals a number of different passages, as well as the combustion chambers.

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Turning Down The Heat

What to do when your engine is overheating.

Refilling the radiator water level after we found it to be low.The worst thing that you hear when setting out on a 4WD trip are those dreaded words, “my car’s overheating!” Receiving this panicked message from a travel companion is sure to cause a sinking feeling in your stomach.
Well, this is exactly what happened on our last trip into the Victorian High Country. Coming into Mansfield, one of the Nissan Patrols in our group started to overheat. The owner of the vehicle had previously had problems with the engine, and had recently fitted a new radiator, water pump and thermostat, but was still having issues.

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Tyre Pressures

A good set of tyres is one of the most expensive upgrades most of us make to our 4WDs – that’s a good reason to look after them.

It’s common knowledge that adjusting your tyre pressures when you come across a change in offroad track surface is a useful technique to gain more traction. Letting down your tyres causes them to bag out a little at the bottom, which increases the surface area of the tyre that is in contact with the road. What also happens is that the tyre becomes longer, which is not so visibly obvious.
As well as providing increased traction, dropping your tyre pressure when driving on uneven surfaces will also decrease tyre and vehicle wear and tear. Reduced pressures will also provide better drivability and increased control in most situations, as well as providing a more comfortable ride and reducing the load on your suspension.

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A little bit of electrical knowledge goes a long way.

Connecting the multimetre to measure the battery’s charge.

Right in the middle of a recent week-long trip into the Victorian High Country, the inevitable happened. My fridge stopped working. We were only half way through the trip, but miles from anywhere. The kids were on board and all of our supplies were jammed into the Engel. It was certainly not the best of situations.

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Every 4WD will suffer some level of wear and tear on a big offroad trip; a post-trip service will stop little problems from developing into big costly problems.

When water gets in your differentialAs travel to the top end of the country becomes more popular and accessible, discussing the best way to set up your 4WD is always a hot topic, however you don’t always hear the other side of the story.  It’s important to find out how the vehicle fared and which repairs may have been necessary. Here is an account of one vehicle after a pretty full-on trip to the Kimberley that involved over 8,000km of hard driving.


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