Issue 62 Readers’ Rigs
Ken’s Land Rover wildlife response Defender 110
It’s a story we don’t think about often – what happens to the wildlife after a bushfire? Ken asked the question and has since become a life-line for the survivors of some of Tasmania’s recent bushfires. Every second day, Ken loads up his trusty 2010 Defender with 30 bags of feed and two bales of lucerne hay and drives over a hundred kilometres each way to the Central Highlands, where he distributes the food around for the wombats, wallabies and other poor fire survivors. You can support Central Highlands Tasmania Wildlife Response group and visit their Facebook page to see the great work they are doing!
Ken has modified his Defender with a reflashed ECU, larger intercooler and radiator, ARB diff locks front and rear as well as two auxiliary fuel tanks, giving a range just shy of 2000km. For comfort and convenience Ken has fitted Recaro seats and gullwing windows with Rough Parts Maxtrax carriers from Switzerland. The kitchen and power gear is kept on the passenger side, with recovery gear on the driver’s side.
After roughing in the military for 27 years, Ken desires a bit more comfort than the humble swag, choosing an electrically-operated Bundutec rooftop tent for a good night’s sleep. Ken initially built his Defender for inland trips but has also taken it up the Cape and extensively across northern Queensland. When not supporting the wildlife in Tasmania, Ken loves to explore the multitude of destinations in the island state. Thanks for sharing your ride and story Ken, we know you’ll love this prize put together by our friends at Drivetech 4×4!
Smitty’s 2010 Pathfinder
We love a bit of variety in Readers’ Rigs, and Graham has sure given us some! This 2010 Nissan Pathfinder was purchased new, one of the first of the fourth-generation Pathfinders in Australia, with the 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine. Unlike the majority of Pathies, this one was destined for touring adventure. Graham kept it stock for a while, taking it to the Flinders Ranges and some of the South Australian beaches to get a feel for what was needed rather than simply wanted; he didn’t waltz into an aftermarket retailer with credit card in hand for a catalogue build.
With plenty of longer trips, including much of Tasmania’s West Coast, the Victorian High Country and Grampians, and NSW’s Blue Mountains and the Snowies, there’s been a lot of seat time to plan and improve the build! Opposite Lock supplied the bar work, upon which Graham fitted Lightforce HIDs and UHF antenna for his Icom radio. A couple of Uniden handhelds keep the kids in contact around camp or when spotting along the tracks.
Any Pathfinder owner can tell you about the vulnerable underbelly and how close it is to the ground. Graham used Roadsafe products to armour the radiator, engine and transmission with 3mm bashplates, as well as SCF side steps. Keeping the bash plates off the ground, Graham has fitted a two-inch lift and used Fox 2.0 shocks in the front; unfortunately Fox shocks don’t fit the lifted rear so Graham compromised with Tough Dog’s 41mm shocks. Nitto Trail Grapplers are currently the tyre of choice, fitted to standard Nissan 16-inch rims bought cheaply second-hand. Graham is looking to change to BFGoodrich KM2 tyres shortly.
Brown Davis made the 110-litre auxiliary fuel tank, bringing the total diesel capacity to 190 litres – that’s almost 2000km of touring range! The only modifications to the engine are for peace of mind, including a snorkel, fuel watch filter and catch can, while an OBDII reader also keeps an eye on the critical values. Graham has also extended the breathers from the diffs, transmission and fuel tanks. Graham tours with his wife and kids so must pack carefully to fit everything in.
The rear fit-out is Graham’s handiwork, using marine plywood and plastic crates to hold gear and an ORS slide for the bargain 60-litre BCF fridge. Using three jerry cans, Graham has 60 litres of water plumbed through an electric water pump – great for kitchen duties and washing children alike!
An Android tablet provides navigation and entertainment, mounted to an RAM mount on the dash. The Frontrunner alloy roof rack replaces the useless factory fashion rails and holds the awning, up to two spare wheels, gas cylinder and sometimes a waterproof bag containing chairs, swag and other bulky items to give the backseat kids more room!
With a project that grows and changes, wiring can become a spaghetti-like hazard, so a recent project has been to tidy the custom loom into a single fuse panel servicing the auxiliary lithium battery and running the fridge, LED lights and numerous USB charge points. A 150W solar blanket keeps the battery topped up on rest days. Next on the list is a GVM upgrade but by the time you read this, Graham and family will have the Simpson Desert crossed off their list as part of a 5500km Central Australia trip!
Nathan’s 80 Series LandCruiser
Nathan bought this 80 Series LandCruiser for mud puddles and bog holes, before seeing the light and turning it into a capable touring 4X4. Cape York is the goal, with 2020 the year it’ll happen!
The old ‘Cruiser is a 1996 model, with the original 1FZ-FE petrol engine recently upgraded with an aftermarket turbo and intercooler kit, which has had airflow increased by Nathan cutting a 79 Series bonnet scoop out and welding it into his own bonnet. The big petrol engine breathes through a Safari snorkel and hides behind a bull bar with custom-made side rails and steps, and a custom rear bar holds the spare wheels on swing-away arms.
Nathan has thought long and hard about getting the most from the storage in his ‘Cruiser, with every inch considered and maximised to suit his needs. Hurricane Fabrications supplied the tailgate storage compartment, while rear drawers and a custom-made cargo barrier keep the gear in the back safe and secure. Next on the list is some gullwing-style windows to make access to the fridge and gear easier without battling with the rear bar. Discarding the original back seat, Nathan has fitted carpeted boards to hide a 42-litre water tank which is plumbed in and mounted against the cargo barrier.
The front seats are Ford, from an XR6, a conversion made easy by using Hurricane Fabrication adapters. A custom-made roof console to hold the UHF and sacrificing the centre console for an 11-litre drinks cooler has made a long day’s drive more comfortable. Being a sparky by trade, Nathan was always going to have some tricky electrical gear. He has fitted no less than three batteries and a heap of work lights to cover every angle and need possible.
To keep the batteries topped up, a 120W panel has been mounted to a slide that hides underneath the roof rack, which can be accessed by a custom-made ladder on the driver’s side of the car. Thanks for sharing your thoroughly personalised 80 Series with us Nathan, you have a fantastic ‘Cruiser just ripe for the Cape!