As I wrestled the pressure washer beneath the Land Cruiser for the third go at cleaning the mud off from the last trip. This time up on axle stands so I could swap the ‘road wheels’ back on, I noticed the rear brake pads were very low. The rear brakes actually seem to wear faster than the fronts, this is the first vehicle I have known to do this. With a longer trip coming up at the end of August, probably around 2 weeks and the most remote exploring we have done, I decided it was time to get serious about prepping the 105.
I’m not talking about changing it’s capabilities, lockers and a snorkel I would love, but with this trip and longer ones planned in the future, reliability and preventative maintenance must take priority, even if it isn’t as sexy.
I actually had another weekender planned between now and then, I knocked that idea on the head when I really started to think about what I needed to do. All of a sudden three months didn’t seem particularly long.
So this is a rambling list of things that are rattling around inside my head in the lead up to this trip. Mostly for my benefit, if it is of interest or usefulness to others, then that’s a bonus.
The Route: This is pretty straightforward. I have been wanting to do this trip for around eighteen months, I was originally going to do it last winter, but in the end I felt it was better to wait another year, hence all the short trips last year!
We will start the top of Eyre Peninsula, at Gawler Ranges NP. A couple of days exploring that park will then see us head north and east to Mount Ive Station, for some showers. Then north west to Lake Gairdner the third largest salt lake in Oz. Then onto the town of Kingoonya, fuel up here. Turn due west, running alongside the Trans Australian Rail Line, before turning due south to pick up the 200 odd km that is ‘Googs Track’ running through the dunes of Yellabinna and Yumbarra conservation parks. This will bring us to South Australia’s most westerly town, Ceduna. A night or two at Davenport Creek slightly west of here will be in order.
I know these names will mean nothing to most reading, they would mean nothing to most Australians. This is all based in the sparsely populated north-west corner of our state.
That is the core part of the trip, although of course flexible depending on what we find, local advice, etc. From Ceduna if we have had enough we can head home, or we can make our way down the western side of Eyre Peninsula and check out one or both of the national parks at the bottom that we visited last year.
Vehicle Prep: AKA the Mother and Father of all services... Last weekend after finally cleaning all the mud off the truck, I made a list of everything I could think of that needed doing, should be done as part of routine maintenance, and things in mine and others experience that should be changed or a spare carried.
As I have said before, this was a well looked after vehicle but I can’t take that for granted, so an extensive maintenance schedule is in order.
Here is my list:
Rear brake pads.
Check rear brake disc thickness. Edit - we just checked these with a vernier, 17.6mm. 1.6mm off minimum and only 0.4mm off new. Cross them off the list.
Rear hand brake shoe retaining pin (I monstered this driving the Cruiser in low range with the hand brake on while slipping and sliding around in the mud in the dark, safe to say it is hard to pick the hand brake is on when you are trying to modulate the throttle in an already difficult situation, that’s my excuse anyway! Plus the fact the wheel torque in low range is, significant...
Brake hoses. Ignition leads. PAS fluid change. Check valve clearances (just like that!). Service - this encapsulates many small jobs, such as hitting all the grease point with the grease gun, as well as the obvious stuff like engine oil and filter change.
Spare set of spark plugs (I had the Cruiser refuse to start one morning, seems I took the plugs maybe a bit too far. To be honest to my eye they didn’t look that bad, but they are this funky twin earth design, so I think maybe keep a brand new set on hand in case of any future starting difficulties.
Exhaust crack check. My exhaust had a crack in 2 to 1 join, after the PO (or actually probably some sloppy Toyota techs) let the exhaust hangers get too worn and that big heavy system swings around like a mad man. I welded it up, but in position so it wasn’t my greatest welding effort. it might need taking off and doing properly, but that means all new studs and gaskets.
Transfer and Diff fluids. The auto box has been done recently, the oils in everything else look pukka, but better safe than sorry.
Wire in Thumper properly. This has now been done. So the Thumper (aux power) is charged as you drive. As long as you are moving regularly you have continuous aux power.
Hoses. Replace all the coolant hoses.
Radiator. After this episode, and the fact the my radiator is almost certainly original, it has to be on the list for replacement. If this puppy goes when you are substantial distance from help, the shit, you are in it...
Spare Alternator. I had an alt go down on the Rangie. It is a life or death item on any modern vehicle, diesel or petrol, with no real sign of functionality, it either works or it doesn’t. It is a big cost, but many others have had issues with it as well. I feel the need to carry a spare.
Thanks to Tim for his hot tip on cheap Toyota parts. Unfortunately the fact that the US didn’t get the 105 series and it would seem nearly all the parts are different to an 80 or 100 series, the only part number that matched was the hand brake shoe retaining pin! Its a shame as those prices are on another planet compared to what we pay here.
Skills: I thought it was time I got a bit more familiar with the dutch oven, I’ve used it once years ago, but would like to get in the habit of using it more. Knowing that as with most of these things experience is key, I thought I would try baking a beef pie in it. Results? Well, you’ll see...
At this point I’m joking with N that she better have the number for the Chinese take-out handy...
Safe to say we laughed pretty hard at this point. I had just enough pastry left over to rescue the filling, not to say you couldn’t taste a touch of burnt, but we struggled it down, ha ha.
Other Kit: I have been running around pretty kit heavy for a while now with this trip in mind. This has been good as it has meant I have simplified some areas and some other deficiencies have been highlighted.
We will be solo vehicle on this trip. With that brings a weight of responsibility on me. We have done trips of similar time length before, the trip in the Rangie up through Queensland with my brother, was a similar amount of time.
However, this one is certainly more remote than that trip was. Which I guess is a natural progression, the vehicle has evolved, we have evolved in terms of skills and experience and other parts of out set up have evolved over that time with a few new additions, specifically around this trip and where we hope to go in the future.
PLB. Personal Locator Beacon. To be honest I should have had one of these years ago, many of the places I’ve been would only see people weeks apart. Anyway, it would be totally irresponsible not to have one on this trip. After looking at the many options available, I went with this one.
Super long battery life. One handed operation (doesn’t bear thinking about). Waterproof to 3m. Australian made. Small enough to take everywhere.
Obviously I hope in 10 years time to just go out and buy another one. Gladly retiring this one having never used it. Regular readers will know I carry various equipment and run a large safety margin on essential supplies to be able to hopefully get us through difficult situations as they occur. Of course though, you cannot prepare for every eventuality, but this is for those extreme situations only. Which is the main reason why I went for this option rather than one of the other devices that allow more communication. Not to say we won’t go down that route at some point in the future. As I have said (many times) before, every situation (and everyone) is different. Hence no ‘10 things you cannot do without’ lists here. This is just what I think will work best for me, at this time.
Throne. Perhaps more essential, I said to N I would come up with a more hospitable bathroom option for this trip. Remembering Blind Willy’s post on this particular subject last year, I looked back to that and found what I am pretty sure is the answer in the comments.
Thanks to VCeXpeditions for his input.
Sleepytight, night night. Again, thanks to those that gave their input here. A Exped Megamat Duo will be our choice to sleep on for this trip. A couple of old Therm-rests, plus various odd sleeping bags is not an ideal system for longer term comfort. This is the first step in overhauling that area of our kit.
This isn’t purchased yet, it will be soon.. I am trying to spread the more expensive items out in the run up to this trip, to avoid having a big bill in the month beforehand.
I like Hammerheads idea, of a fairly conventional bed set up, rather than sleeping bags. I’ve seen some camping quilts, etc. More research to be done.
Thankfully not everything is in the hundreds $$$wise, some little upgrades are only a few dollars. I’ve tried swapping the tailgate lights (number plate) for LEDs. They certainly look better, they might give some useful light in the bush.
I’ll probably do another one or two of these posts before we go. If anyone has any input small or large, advice (yes, I know I had the dutch oven too hot, thanks...), suggestions or anything I might be missing, I’m all ears.