Just received a cracker story from our Northern Territory correspondent Tighe McIntyre. I’ve known Tighe for a long time and apart from his affliction with Land Rovers he’s an awesome bloke (yeah I know I’ve gone in to bat for Rovers too in the past)!
Thought that I would share a great story with you.
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Two good mates were driving along a road just outside Kalumburu (WA) having a good old yarn, when the passenger dropped his cigarette on the floor on the passenger side of the Toyota Prado. The driver was most upset with him and tried to help him find the cigarette while doing about 70km/h.
As you would expect, the car drifted off the road and the driver has done the big over-correct and ended up rolling the vehicle 3 times.
The passenger was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown out of the Toyota and landed on the ground, with little more than gravel rash to both arms (simply amazing, he should be dead).
The Toyota landed back on its feet. The driver jumped out of the car, most concerned that he had killed his mate. He ran up to his mate who was was still lying on the ground, wondering what the hell had just happened.
The passenger jumped to his feet and started a bit of a fight with fists swinging and all, as his buddy could of killed the two of them. After a few minutes they came to their senses and shook hands and made up. After brushing the dust off each and talking about how lucky they were to be alive, they went back and jumped in the Toyota.
To the owner’s amazement, it started straight up and drove off (after they kicked the remains of the windscreen out)! The photos attached are the Toyota after 5 weeks of driving around town post-accident. Apparently the bugs are a bit of a problem, but it still goes and drives like the day before the accident. They were the funniest, toughest blokes!!!
Pic Above: On the way to Seaham in NSW you can expect this every now and again
In recent weeks I’ve been doing a lot of training in watery environments and noting the bigger storm events that have charged across SE Australia with dangerous results. It got me thinking how safe are fording depths suggested by vehicle manufacturers???
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Every year a dozen Australians die trying to cross a flooded stream with their 4WDs, an action that might seem possible but is extremely foolhardy. I too have been fueled with my own importance and solid belief in my invincible 4WD and remember a time in the Victorian Alps making a crossing in half-metre deep water, that was travelling reasonably quickly. What surprised me was how sketchy the balance of the vehicle and the steering became as soon as we were fully immersed, because it was obvious there were moments when we were near floating.
Now it seems if the stream had been marginally deeper I would have been in seriously deep s..t (or water???)
A study commissioned recently by the NSW Department of Environment and undertaken by the University of NSW, has shown just how little water it takes to unsettle a vehicle.
Using a pretty typical 4WD (in the form of a GU Nissan Patrol and weighing in at around 2,500kgs) and dunking it in a bath in a laboratory, they’ve drawn some interesting facts. Filled to barely 450mm depth the Patrol started to lose its grip on the world and could be moved via the force of water applied to its side without too much trouble. At 950mm it was afloat! Have a look at this time-lapse sequence showing the Patrol in the bath https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=br1jeKjfOVI
That’s pretty scary data as plenty of 4WD owners I know wouldn’t even blink at the prospects of taking on bonnet-high water with or without some preparation.
In the classroom we believe that axle-high depths are usually do-able on a known crossing with a firm base and a gentle-to-no flow across the causeway. We’ve even traversed streams that are wheel height (around 750mm) with some prior planning and a blind installed across the front of the vehicle to restrict water ingress into the engine bay. But deeper… I don’t know, there’s too many variables?
We currently run an Isuzu DMAX and upon reading the owners manual you’ll discover that there’s no mention of a safe fording depth, just a reference to engine damage if you’re not careful. But what does a safe fording depth really mean?
Well there’s a bunch of breathers that come off the differentials, the gearbox and the transfer case and vent to the outside world at a higher point in the chassis (get under your fourbie and look on the top of the differential housings and you’ll see a valve and a tube that’s clamped to it). These gear housings get hot as they do their work and the resultant pressure that builds up inside has to expand somewhere, so the valve provides that pressure relief.The hot air rises up the hose and escapes at a level where water intrusion isn’t likely.
Pic Above: ARB make diff breather kits for all makes and models of 4WD if you’re looking to get the tallest point into your vehicle
A breather with no extension means a dunking in water will be rewarded with a contaminated gear assembly and early corrosion if not attended to immediately. Some makers send their vehicles out this way and that’s why their safe fording depths are quoted on the low side, perhaps as little as 300mm or so. With an elevated entry point, a breather with hose attached offers deeper fording capability, but not at the expense of those precious gear clusters. However an overly ambitious quoted fording depth might enhance the perceived capability, dare I say manliness of the vehicle, to a point where it’s patently unsafe.
Another consideration is where the vehicle’s engine breathes from? An internal combustion engine (diesel or petrol) needs fuel and air to work. If you open the bonnet on your vehicle and locate the air filter box you’ll see a connection to the inner wheel-arch. That tells us that the engine draws its air from the void found in the space between the plastic inner-liner of the wheel-arch and the metal mudguard assembly. Fed by air forced in around the radiator grille, this supply remains relatively dust-free, drawn past the air filter and ultimately into the engine.If the depth however is up around the top of the guard you might be asking for trouble!
Some owners opt to put an aftermarket snorkel on their vehicles, a plastic duct with an opening around the top of the windscreen that follows down the front window pillar and along the mudguard, then plumbed directly into the airbox. You could be lulled into thinking with one of these you’ve got all bases covered, and a plunge into a stream might then reward you with aquarium views if you dared go in deep enough! Nope, I didn’t think so!
So if you were a Ford Ranger owner and buoyed by Ford’s claim of an 800mm fording depth what might that do for you? Well if the 4WD Gods were looking after you and you made the perfect entry and exit from a pond of still water, you might be thinking you’re pretty clever. But if the stream was flowing and you weren’t paying enough attention to the depth you might find your Ranger becomes a canoe and floats downstream with an unknown fate.
Emergency services regularly warn of the perils of crossing such streams. Perhaps it’s about time we took heed of their advice?
Pic Above: Sadly a chap lost his life in this one in the ACT and I doubt his snorkel helped at all. If it’s fast-flowing don’t attempt it, it might be the last thing you do!
Pic Above: Added little challenge here is the prospect of bitey things in the water!
Pic Above: Another peril of water crossings is the fragility of number plates! Look closely and you’ll see what I mean.
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There’s a lot of regulation in this country and at times too much lawmaking for lawmaking’s sake, but a recently observed change in the National Training Standard RIIVEH305D (now replaced by RIIVEH305E) where the use of snatch-straps as a viable recovery tool has been dropped, surprised me a little.
Retrieving a vehicle from a bogged situation from the front or rear has always been possible, provided you knew what you were doing and had the right gear. swiggy couponsA snatch-strap is an effective method, if you have a hero vehicle around to assist. Sadly history is littered with failures with these things, where users have paid scant regard to their own and others safety and death and injury has occurred.
You’ve likely seen it yourself, someone hooks a strap up to a tow-ball and pulls, only to see the ball break at its neck and cannon into the other vehicle, parting metal and glass like a bullet. Don’t want to be standing in the way of that one! Another scenario is a vehicle bogged deeper than the chassis line in thick mud and a strap is attached. This time the fixture is the tow point on the front of the vehicle. With a generous tug on the strap the immovable vehicle stays put and the tow point parts company from the vehicle, either shearing at a weld or breaking a bolt. Now I’ve used these points a million times in my working career and never once had a failure, but I’d never use it in a situation where the suction effect of the mud restrains the vehicle’s escape by adding an enormous load to the exercise as I’m suggesting here.
Demonstrations of the snatch-strap have been difficult in recent months as some of my clients don’t want it taught when the vehicles involved don’t have appropriate points. Fair call. In this risk averse world where plenty of folk are ready to point the finger and commonsense goes out the window, taking another smarter approach rubs out the potential for failure. So it is that that great Australian 4WD accessory house ARB recently released its range of bright red recovery points for bespoke fitment to new vehicles.
On our training DMAX we’ve opted for fitting a pair of them on the right and left hand chassis rails. As they’re designed for each individual vehicle make and model, they are not interchangeable, but they are compatible with ARB’s range of bullbars that you might have already fitted to your truck. That made fitment easy for us as the bar was dropped, the recovery points bolted on and the bar replaced, in the space of around 3 hours.
The finished result looks professional and sturdy and obvious!
In my humble opinion whilst the original Isuzu towing “eye” was satisfactory as a fixture for all but the very worst of situations, this ARB unit will cope with all. The point is tied to the chassis rail and triangulated at a number of points, so the chances of it coming off are just about non-existent. You can be confident this will last. Another feature that surprised me was that ARB state that the point can be used in an “off-centre” retrieval, something that in the past I would have tipped a bucket of water on very quickly.
Traditionally I’ve taught that a snatch-strap, or for that matter a winch cable, should only be used in an offset recovery by a maximum angle of around 20 degrees. That’s not much, as I always used to hammer home that the straightest pull is the best pull. On the ARB point it can take a side force up to the maximum steering angle of the front wheels, which could be as much as 45 degrees or more away from centre.
I can remember in the SE of South Australia having to retrieve a vehicle that had taken the plunge into a sand bowl in a coastal dunefield. Couldn’t go forwards or back, so sideways it had to go and with some gentle tugging with a strap on its towpoint, we got the nose around enough for the vehicle to drive out of its predicament. All the while we were effecting this remedy we were mindful that the towpoint wasn’t designed to do that, so having the ARB point certified to do so adds extra security in the field for similar predicaments.
One thing I did note with the included safety card provided was the set-up of the bow shackle to attach the strap to the point. Ordinarily I would always position the end loop of the strap on the flared or “bow” of the shackle and secure via the pin resting on the recovery point. My rationale is that the end loop of the strap can rotate in the bow to achieve its optimum load position without any end loop chafing. The distance between the threaded and plain eyes of the shackle is barely enough width for the end loop and on some I’ve used there’ll likely be a few threads visible that might cut the face of the strap material. Premature strap wear caused by improper fitment can and should be avoided.
The ARB supplied safety card recommends installing the end loop of the strap on the shackle pin between the shackle’s eyes and the bowed area of the shackle then slides to its load point, on the eye of the ARB recovery point. The exact opposite of what I’ve been teaching. I can see that method might be handy for a side-pull, allowing the strap and shackle to rotate freely in the direction it’s being pulled from, but in the dead-ahead I’m going to stick to my guns and allow the strap the freedom to settle along the radius of the bow without binding, as it would do if installed against the pin.
Despite the deletion from RIIVEH305E I think that if you’ve got yourself equipped with a pair of these you can confidently go ahead and retrieve in total confidence of the outcome, Nanny-State no more!
So what do I think of the ARB Recovery Point??? Well if it’s an ARB product you can always be sure of its engineering pedigree. This one’s no different. It’s a sturdy piece of kit, well braced and secured, so it makes a pretty essential addition to any owners 4WD vehicle if you’re intending to go bush. Price varies per fitment as each point is vehicle specific. Suggest you call your local ARB branch for advice.
PS Many thanks to our good friends at ARB Morphett Vale. Poor Durran had me postpone on him at least four times between January and June. As each date drew closer something got in the way… many thanks for the ever-helpful service and speedy turnaround. Phone Morphett Vale on 8186 6101, Regency Park on 8244 5001, or Elizabeth on 8252 1599
May 11, 2016
Since 1999 we’ve been offering Kimberley Kamper trailers for hire here in Adelaide from our Collinswood address 45 North East Road. We selected Kimberley as our camper of choice because of their incredible construction, a design that’s been copied by many other makers since, but seldom matched.
The strength in the Kimberley design is their robust chassis. Underneath the camper body is a massive galvanised chassis and drawbar that supports the equally big A-arms for the suspension. Coupled up to coil springs and in our case, Old Man Emu shock absorbers, a Kimberley fairly floats over rough terrain.
The camper body is generous, housing a queen-sized bed, so there’s plenty of space inside and being a hard-floor camper when you flip the roof and roof-rack over you’ll create not only the tent space, but a floor that’s off the ground and matches the footprint of the bed. On my holidays in a Kimberley I’ve used that space for my kids sleeping accommodation or for a dining table and chairs if the elements are rough outside.
Many of our hire customers report that the lower level will house two or three little tackers on an inflatable mattress or a couple of extras in swags no problem, so a family of four or five can be accommodated without too much drama. On some of our hire camper trailers we can supply a kid’s bedroom, a canvas room that zippers onto the camper trailer for extra weather-proof space.
The tent area is festooned with windows and flyscreens that can be opened up to gather a welcome breeze for hotter times and interior lights in the form of his and her map lights above the bed and elsewhere make reading that special holiday book or finding something in the dark easy.
If you’re going to hire a camper trailer for a week or a month, you want to know that it has decent cooking facilities. Kimberley make great kitchens. Located under the bed and accessed via a stainless steel drawer that slides out from the trailer body you’ll find the preparation area. The stainless top and sink houses storage compartments for pots and pans and plates and cups, with another drawer for cutlery and another for cooking utensils.
A 12V pump will bring water up to the sink via a tap outlet like you’d see at home (by the way there’s 135L of water in the underfloor tank).
Adjacent to the prep area is the cooking compartment located under the gullwing. With a two burner cooktop and a grill underneath you’ll be able to cook up a storm of good eating there. With supplementary storage nearby you can add your own tools of the trade to our supplied kit of equipment for those specialty dishes you might want to make with local produce you find on the trail.
We can also supply fridges in 39L and 73L configurations for an additional fee so you can keep your frosties nice and chilled or the all-important elements of those dishes ready for use and in perfect condition.
Camping in a tent can never meet this standard of cuisine or ease of preparation!
There’s plenty of storage with an under-bed slide-out drawer and a cavernous amount of space up under the gullwings. We’ll supply a 240V power lead, drainage hose, an easy to erect canvas awning that stretches the full length of the camper and offers protection on the cooking side along with poles and pegs.
If you’re really going to be roughing it we can supply solar panels and/or a generator when there’s no mains power around, again for an additional fee.
Our hire camper trailers are regularly serviced and well-maintained, with brakes and bearings checked in advance of each hire. The braking system is a hydraulic over-ride style which works perfectly well in all conditions and it means you won’t have to mess around with an electric brake controller.
Tyres are genuine light-truck 4WD types to provide you with the best puncture protection possible and providing you take heed of the advice on reducing pressures for less than perfect surfaces, you should have a trouble-free journey.
If you’ve been thinking about buying a Kimberley camper trailer think about this. A new KK will cost you between $35-60,000. If you are only ever likely to do one trip a year for a week, a fortnight, a month or even a couple more it makes zero financial sense to buy one. Having it sitting in the driveway collecting dust for eleven months of the year you’ll cop a massive depreciation. Hiring an Adventure 4WD Kimberley camper trailer is the smartest way to have a great holiday but without hurting your back pocket.
Our Kimberley camper trailer hire fees are simple to understand. We have one flat fee that works all year round, no premiums placed on school holidays and our minimum period is for a week.
Hire an Adventure 4WD camper trailer by Kimberley Kampers for $750 for the first week and after that it’s $85/day. We’ll reward longer-term hirers with a discounted rate P.O.A.
Visit the Adventure 4WD website for details on our camper trailer hire facility http://adventure4wd.com.au/hire-equipment/camper-trailer-hire/
For bookings contact Adventure 4WD on (08) 8342 0202 or email [email protected]
Here’s some simple rules that work for 4WD, camper and marriage preservation and based around our experience hiring Kimberley camper trailers for the last 15 years:
1. Tyre Pressure 1 – Your 4WD will have a tyre placard near the driver’s door. That will be the CORRECT pressure for the highway. When on high-speed dirt (up to a maximum ceiling of 80kph) let 20% of the air out. A tyre with some flex will absorb most of the puncture potential and chassis breaking vibrations that plague some people’s travels. With 20% less air, slow down by 20%… now no faster than 80kph!!! PS Whatever you do with the 4WD do with the camper too!Tubemate Download
2. Tyre Pressure 2 – Be prepared to further reduce pressure when the track becomes DEEPLY corrugated, sandy, muddy to enhance grip and further assist to deflect the killer vibrations and further reduce speed in line with pressure reduction… i.e. a 50% reduction in pressure accompanied by a 50% reduction in speed. PS Whatever you do with the 4WD do with the camper too!
3. Have realistic timeframes – You won’t be able to see all of the Kimberleys (in WA) in the time often allotted for a holiday because it is such a long way away from us here in Adelaide and there’s so much of it. Be selective so you can pace your trip accordingly, with plenty of chill-out time instead of driving time
4. Keep regular checks on the camper – In particular shockers, in and around the eyes at the mounts. The urethane bushes will eventually fail and whilst we service our campers regularly bushes are something that can fail in extreme conditions where the rules above aren’t followed. Once the bush fails and falls out, the metal eye will crash against its securing bolt and destroy both. If you drive through deep water, or more to the point mud, you’ll accelerate your chances of failure as wheel bearings will suffer and brake pads be eroded to the point of no return. Be prepared to receive a bill from us post-trip for bearing and pad replacement (if it has suffered we’ll show you the evidence to verify our claim), if it’s normal wear-and-tear there won’t be a charge
5. Don’t drive off with the jockey wheel down –That might seem like a no-brainer but it happens with the inevitable surprise!
6. Don’t drive off with the handbrake on – Again, obvious, but it happens and the result is hot brakes, fried pads, disc rotors and bearings
7. Ensure the brake “flap” is in the right position – On hydraulic over-ride brakes seen on Treg hitches there’s a simple metal flap that sits at the point where the brake piston lives just behind the urethane block. Flipped out of the way allows the brakes to operate and is ideal for made roads, bitumen and dirt for normal brake function. In slow speed off-road work close it, negating the braking action, so as you deal with difficult moments your precious momentum isn’t compromised by unwanted brake inputs
8. Look after the canvas – Don’t park under trees (sap dripping and the risk of limbs dropping), make sure the camper is level and not overstretched putting strain on walls and zippers. Buy a carpenter’s level to check how even the camper is sitting
9. Ensure the electrics stay connected – Plugs fall out of sockets on corrugations so tape them up so they can’t. A roll of electrical tape usually resides on each of our campers handbrakes for this purpose. Or another nifty tip we saw recently is to cut a couple of “calamari” rings out of an old bike tube and install them on the electrical leads to suspend the cables at a higher point and one with some flexibility too!
10. Practice makes perfect – If you’ve got no trailer experience I’d suggest you go to a trailer hire shop and pinch one for a weekend and learn how long the car and trailer now are, what space you need to turn, how to reverse etc., etc. before heading off into the wild blue yonder with one of ours. Bend one up in a jack-knife and you’ll kick yourself!
Pic Above: Happily negotiating Parachilna Gorge is she, ready for the next remote campsite – it’s easy with a bit of preparation and practice!