We are lucky to have Don Bird working with us at Umhauers, Don has been an active member of the Geelong 4WD Club for 5 years, and has planned and enjoyed many club 4WDing trips. Read about Don’s upcoming trip and some useful tips on 4WD trip preparation.
Every year I love to get ready and go away on the Melbourne Cup weekend. I have found the more time spent at home checking and preparing the less time repairs on the Weekend. I try to at least look or check most systems on my trusty old Rodeo. Having taken the Rodeo into the High Country on numerous occasions I have learned that it has some drawbacks but with plenty of help offered by my fellow Geelong Four Wheel Drive Club members we can get it through all the Tracks, just a bit slower.
I’m taking my two children this year and my youngest Daughter Oakli has just recently got her Learners Permit. Oakli will be driving a Four Wheel Drive Manual for the first time on this trip and with some guidance from her Older brother Rylan (who I’m sure will be great help) and myself, hopefully she can get some very valuable driving hours to enter into her Learners permit Log.
We have lots of work to do before we leave and some new additions to my Rodeo. I have just purchased a new Rhino Tradie Platform with side rails, Shovel Holder and Awning Brackets. I will install my ARB Awning and I am going to use my new ARB Three wall Awning Tent whenever we setup camp. The Awning Tent will be a great for cover at night for sleeping and ideal for changing clothes also. All our Swags will be going on Roof Rack and I use the ARB Double Swag Bags, these are great to make sure your Bedding remains dry even in the worst weather the High Country can throw at it.
I always check over my Fridge as it may require a bit of cleaning or freshen up prior to use. I like to clean the inside area of the Fridge when I get back home after a trip using a Vanilla scented spray which cleans and disinfects at the same time. As all your Food and Drinks will be stored in your Fridge it is best to have it nice and clean when in use. I have my Fridge going at least 3-4 days on 240 volt Power, and have most of the items that I am taking in Fridge to be chilled prior to putting into vehicle and heading off. Make sure to have tie down points as Fridges bouncing around are not the best for their inner components and compressor.
4WD trip preparation
- Vehicle Servicing is most important starting point to any Trip preparation planning. The checks undertaken during a Service would give you a better understanding of your vehicle systems condition. Important checks to Brakes, Cooling System, Oil levels, Driveline checks, Suspension Inspection, Air Cleaner and Snorkel and checks to Underbody components.
- Suspension upgrades which can give your vehicle greater load carrying capabilities required for off-road and also increased height for ground clearance in rough Terrain conditions.
- A Snorkel is very important in the High Country as there are many water crossings. The Snorkel allows the Vehicle to pass through rivers and creeks while getting Air required for the Engine high up on the side at Roof level. This also helps with reduced Dust being sucked into the Air Filter System.
- Diff Breather Kits offer great protection against water getting into Gearbox, Transfer case and Differentials. Prior to entering a River crossing High temperatures inside the Diffs, Gearboxs and Transfer Cases will cause water to be “ Sucked in “ when cooled quickly by the water crossing. The kits remove Manufacturers Breather points which are mounted under the vehicle. The kits allow Airlines to be ran to a Manifold mounted higher up usually under the bonnet and have filters fitted which eliminate water ingress.
- Dual Battery systems allow the use of 12 volt appliances ( Fridges and Lighting ) to be used overnight without draining the Main Start Battery. One of the best systems currently on the market is the Red-Arc BCDC vehicle Charger. These units come in many Models depending on your requirements and vehicle make. The BCDC Charger will monitor, isolate and charge your Auxillary Battery while driving. Some models will also allow charging via Solar panels when vehicle is not running. This operation is great for many Campers who are now doing more and more “ Free Camping” as the BCDC Charger is perfect for Caravan charging Battery solutions.
- Bullbars offer great Protection against for damage against Animal strike and for protection of front of vehicle in bush travelling. Also great protection for radiator, under body at front and a solid platform for mounting of Winches, UHF Antennas and Driving lights of most shapes and sizes.
- Side Rails and Steps also are great for protection of Guards, Underbody and Sills. These can push aside small trees and branches when travelling along some of the more rough Tracks.
- Winches are a great solution to getting out of that tough spot if you are stuck. With many sizes on offer, best to consider size and make sure to include Camper Trailer or Caravan in your calculations just in case you get stuck while towing either of these. I carry a bag full of recovery gear just in case really get stuck. This bag of goodies include a quality snatch strap that has been cleaned and dried. Tree Trunk protector for a winching point and Snatch Block to reduce the load on the Winch. I carry a Winch extension strap as sometimes a large tree to anchor to could be beyond your winch cable reach. Rated Bow Shackles are important as they are designed to carry and can have loads applied to them safely.
- Communication using your UHF Radio in the Bush or Outback is a great way to keep in touch with other travellers in your Convoy or other Road users. Your UHF Radio can be a source of vital information such as Road Hazards and when travelling in Convoy for turnoff points along the way. The new XRS GME UHF has the new Blue Tooth programming that will allow Scan lists for all available Emergency Frequencies in the Area. Its many features can be discovered at the GME site
- Recovery Points are required to fix winch and snatch straps for Recovering your vehicle. Factory Tie down points used for shipping your Vehicle are not rated for Recovery. The correct Recovery point has been Load rated and is fixed to the Chassis in a position that will ensure no damage will occur when using these points.
- Underbody Protection plates ensure damage to many Underbody components are eliminated . These plates usually start from the Bullbar and continue to the rear of Transfer Case. They are tailor made to suit your vehicle make and model to offer the best protection.
- Air Pressures in tyres are very important to help increase your vehicle’s “footprint”. By lowering Tyre Pressure more of the Tread is touching the ground at any given time. I like to run my Tyres at 22 PSI while in the Bush as this allows for greater Traction and an ability to take sharp objects eg ( Rocks and Sticks) without punctures. The ARB De-Flator is ideal as it is accurate and fast in operation. To pump up again when you reach the Black top on the way home, you can have either a portable Air-Compressor kit or “Air on board” Compressor mounted in rear of vehicle or under the Bonnet.
We have been working out what food and meals we are going to take for the 5 days away. For cooking most of our meals we use the Hillbilly Camp Oven on the open fire.
The main Oven we usually take a Roast and have Roasted Vegetables to enjoy a great Healthy Meal. I have a Pizza tray as well and take the pre-made pizza bases and have all the toppings we like to make our own selected Pizzas. Also I have a Cake tin which I can cook a Self-saucing Pudding or Bread while away and many of my fellow Camping mates have commented about how great some of our treats from the Camp oven smell and look. Even if it is more work to cook these meals I find it great to enjoy good meals while away Camping. The Hillbilly Oven has a Fry-pan for the lid and this is perfect for Egg & Bacon and BBQ cooking.
The Hill-Billy camp oven packs away in a Canvas Transit bag perfect for Four Wheel Drive travelling. When we are Travelling we use our Travel Buddy 12 volt oven. This certainly is another favourite of ours, everything from Pies, pasties, Donuts, pre-cooked meals in Foil Trays and I even know someone who has cooked a roast. One drawback is if you have the oven in the car you can smell the goodies cooking and sometimes items are removed before cooking times.
As we are Travelling each day during our Trip we are using Swags for the kids and a Stretcher for me ( bit easier on my back) and all of us have a quality Sleeping bag. They are rated to -12 degrees and believe me even in November one year we had Snow and frost so bad that water was pushed up out of the ground in cubes 25mm high before falling sideways. My vehicle struggled to start because I didn’t have enough Alpine Diesel in the Fuel Tank and the fuel turned waxy due to the extreme Cold. I will be adding an Additive to my Fuel to ensure this certainly does not happen again.
Some other items that I pack for 4WD Trips
- First Aid kit including Panadol, Nurofen, Cold and Flu and After sun lotion
- A tarp for bad weather to shelter under at night.
- I usually buy a 10 litre container of water from the supermarket, you can also use a Jerry Can on a rear bar to store water.
- Chainsaw and Axe to gather Firewood for those big warm Fires at night.
- A Comfy chair is best after a long day tour and Four Wheel Driving.
- A long handled shovel to use for recovery and getting hot coals from the fire when cooking Camp-oven .
- For all my mapping needs I enjoy spreading the map out on the Bonnet with everyone looking and planning Tracks for the day I use Hema on an Ipad and have it constantly marking our path so I can mark interesting points of interest, make notes of Track conditions and possible Campsites listed.
- It may seem like something that you take for granted but waterproof matches or Lighter to start fire.
And after all this preparation travel safe and get into the High Country and relax in that Comfy Chair around that big Open Fire to enjoy yourself!
Cheers Don Bird