Preparing Landcruiser tow vehicle for offroad adventures

Submitted: Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 00:04
ThreadID: 127279 Views:3673 Replies:9 FollowUps:3
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Hi folks,

Another newbie type question or questions...

Currently we have a 100 series Landcruiser as our tow vehicle and it is pretty standard. It has done some dirt tracks with corrugations but is not really set up for too much offroad. We are hoping to do a little more dirt road/off road type camping on our way up through WA and am looking to set the car up to be able to handle what we are after. I am currently thinking of the following, but am not sure how necessary it all is. This gear is obviously expensive. I want to be well equipped but don't want to be throwing money away for unnecessary items. Any recommendations on what we need/don't need appreciated.

* Upgrading the suspension to Old Man Emu shocks and springs with poly air bags. We need to fix the suspension anyway as one of the existing shocks is slightly dodgy.
* Fitting a Bushranger DS-9.5TH winch (already have Toyota alloy winch bar fitted), hopefully never to be used but seems a good thing to have just in case.
* The spare wheel is still located in the standard location underneath the vehicle so thinking of a wheel carrier. This is clearly an expensive option and have to make the decision do we need two spare wheels or will one do? If one, do we really need to move the spare from underneath or will the clearance generally be ok with it staying where it is? Or is a roofrack with the spare up there a better option? We are not looking to do any rock hopping or anything extreme with the vehicle, but would like to be able to take on roads like Gibb River etc. with whatever is required. I'm sure if we are sitting on the side of the road with two flats that I'll be wishing for the second spare.
* Need to look at some new tyres also for both the LC and the BT. Currently have All Terrain tyres on both car and van (Dunlop Grandtrek on the car, Bridgestone Dueler on the BT). Are ATs the way to go for combination of highway driving and dirt/corrugated roads or is something else better for the job? Any recommendations appreciated.

Is there anything else that I need to think of for the car to prepare it for the journey?

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Reply By: Motherhen & Rooster - Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 10:21

Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 10:21
Hi Mr Sweedy

While being unmechanically minded, I agree with beefing up the suspension and good quality shockies. We have added rear air bags to the F250 as a more flexible option than and extra leaf in the springs (as it is used more when not caravanning).

Our Warn winch has been good insurance for us - never needed to use it.

We have met people who have done in three tyres in rapid succession, so we carry four (two on van and two for tow vehicle, interchangeable if possible). Always take one of the tyre plug repair kits - they are wonderful. They are supposed to be used as an interim measure until tyre is repaired, but in reality, properly fitted, they outlast the life of the tyre. Our son got a gash in a tyre on the GRR, and needed four tyre plugs in a row. Twelve months later it was still holding.

Tyre problems have been the least of our worries as we have had very good runs on our travels, and mostly we choose BF Goodrich All Terrains. I am dubious about loads on roof racks; too hard to get down and a raised centre of gravity. We have a dual spare holder on the rear of the Patrol (a nuisance when needing to open the rear doors). With the F250 we had little choice but to leave the under tray spare and keep another in the tray. To keep weight down, the one in the tray is tyre only without rim. We carry a set of tyre pliers - never needed either. We changed to caravan over to Ford rims to match but the tyre size is slightly different, but we could mix and match to get us out of trouble.


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AnswerID: 582215

Follow Up By: Mr Sweedy - Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 13:18

Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 13:18
Thanks so much Motherhen. That advice is really useful, as your advice tends to be always. I think I'm going to bite the bullet and just lay out the cash for the shocks, the winch and the wheel carrier. Expensive business this 4WD caravanning caper. I already have a tyre repair kit, sitting alongside my windscreen repair kit, hopefully to never be used. Thanks for the battery advice also.

Mr Sweedy
FollowupID: 853414

Reply By: Kiwi1 - Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 23:59

Monday, Mar 21, 2011 at 23:59
Mr S,

Your pic shows you've already got a snorkel. Make sure you also have extended breathers for the diffs and box.

As you may also know, the 100 Series is notorious for fan blades striking the radiator in water crossings. You'll find information on the 100scool website, but basically, carry a radiator blind, cool down and consider tying-off the fan before a crossing.

Definitely add a wheel carrier and get a good quality tyre compressor. The wheel underneath should stay out of trouble if you're lifting the suspension, otherwise it is easily hurt.

AnswerID: 582216

Reply By: Wherrol - Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 00:29

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 00:29
Hello Greg,

We have travelled for two and a half years with 100 series Landcruiser towing a 19ft Bt.

We have gone on Gibb River Road, Kanagaroo Island (those roads were shockers), Old Andado Station and the road to Dalhousie Springs (another shocker). Those were the worst. We have not been on the Tanami or Gary Junction Roads.

This is how our 4by is set up and it has worked for us. Each person is very individual it depends on what you are carrying and what you are doing.

Old Man Emu Shockers
Old Man Emu Heavy Duty Springs
Air Bags (which wern't really necessary)
Extra Long Range Fuel Tank giving us a range of about 1100km towing
Tyre carrier on the back, because of the long range fuel tank
Spare tyre casing in the boot of the 4by with a bead breaker (just in case)
Also we can put on the BT tyres in an emergency but they stick out
We don't have a winch but we have a snatch strap that we have used (ooops)
Light Truck Cooper Tyres A/TR
Bull Bar
Next G anntenna
Berrima Diesel Chip
3 inch exhaust

Apart from that we are standard LOL.

Hope this helps

Allan and Sharon

AnswerID: 582217

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 19:29

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 19:29
My priorities would be..... good aftermarket suspension, long range tank and rear wheel carrier, good bullbar (winch is great back up when you need it - but those occassions are rare unless you drive like a clown I have only once use my Warn as a result of driving with mind in neutral) Good tyres, my prefference Bridgestone D693 AT's or the ditto 694. Good tools, good spares and good recovery gear, rear drawers and finally good spotties. I carry a tube to stick in a tubeless tyre carcass as a last resort but with three spares between 8 wheels you will be OK.

AnswerID: 582218

Reply By: Desert Dreamers - Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 21:40

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2011 at 21:40
I would make a front mounted winch the lowest priority. They are heavy and expensive. Unless you travel in forests with lots of trees to provide suitable anchor points you will be frustrated by the limited angle of safe operation. From years of driving with 4wd clubs I’ve noticed these winches are rarely used and then mostly to recover other people.
If you are reasonably fit I would suggest a hand operated winch and associated gear as these are much more versatile, lighter, and cheaper.
I certainly support upgraded suspension from reputable and knowledgeable after market suppliers. Since rear springs are relatively cheap I prefer to have these tailored to my use and load rather than use poly air bags. To me well designed progressive rate springs are less harsh than the stiffening gained from the air bags. (I take a spare front and rear shock).
If you have suitable jacking points then a high lift jack is very useful in the wild – together with a long handled shovel!
I would suggest you take a couple of snatch straps if you know how to use them safely with other vehicles (emphasis being on SAFE).
I suggest the justification for a rear wheel carrier be on fitting a long range fuel tank rather than extra wheels – you have plenty! However it is important to recognise that tyres have a use-by date of 5-6yrs. To reduce punctures tyre pressures should be lowered (together with speed) on gravel roads. I would endorse the suggestion of a spare tyre carcase on the roof rack. Also tyre monitors (eg Tire Dog, Jetta etc) can greatly help prevent you from destroying tyres when you do get a puncture.
I did a ‘tyre changing and repair course’ with one of the local tyre shops, practiced, and so removed a lot of stress re punctures etc.
I select tyres on my perception of risk and use. To me the risk in remote areas relates to wet slippery dirt roads, so I prefer mud patterned tyres (eg BFG Mud Terrains). The downside is they are a little noisier on the tar. ATs are a good compromise.
A HF radio and subscription to the VKS 737 radio network is a worthwhile investment for anyone travelling in remote areas (together with a sat phone). So too is an up to date first aid certificate for everyone in the party (at least you all have common knowledge if you need it! – easier to convince a recalcitrant to put away the crystals and razorblade!!)
Lastly I always take a repair manual – at least I can give that to a more experienced ‘mechanic’ who offers help but is unfamiliar with my vehicle/model.
Cheers and have fun
AnswerID: 582219

Reply By: Mr Sweedy - Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011 at 20:22

Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011 at 20:22
Thanks to all for such great information. I've bitten the bullet and gone with the following:

Old man emu shocks and torsion bars
Kaymar double rear wheel holder
Long range fuel tank
Bushman winch (just for extra hopefully unneeded insurance)
High lift jack
Recovery kit with winch extension, snatch straps, snatch block etc.

Will look into the other suggestions such as breathers etc.

My credit card is still bleeding from the transactions, but as I bought it all at the Perth Caravan & Camping Show, if you can call spending that much money a bargain, then I think I got one.

Taking a deep breath before plunging into the tyre purchase.

Thanks again.
AnswerID: 582220

Reply By: Geoff n Kay - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 05:50

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 05:50
sorry to rain on your party sweedy but talking from experience your 100 s will never ever handle that size van you have
dont waste money like i did trying to make it work as it wont get a bigger truck to start with mate
come and get me guys
AnswerID: 582221

Follow Up By: Mr Sweedy - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 10:16

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 10:16
No problem Geoff, I brought my umbrella.
I have so far towed my 21' BT from Melbourne to Geraldton with my 100 series. That'd be more than 4,000km. It pretty much sits straight behind, purring along at 100kmph on the highways and has been so far so good on the dirt tracks we've traversed. In fact, I couldn't be happier with my 2006 turbo diesel Landcruiser. The mods I'm looking at for the LC are for it to be able to go safely offroad, whether it has a van behind it or not.
Anyway, enjoy your truck. Each to their own.
FollowupID: 853415

Reply By: Firefly - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 06:35

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 06:35
Hi Mr S,

you have been given excellent advice by many members. Hopefully another list may also help.

Forget the winch. Heavy and seldom used. Keep weight in mind as you add the essentials.
A tyre carrier is an improvment on the under floor mount for the spare tyre particularly if you get a rear fl;at tyre when in mud or sand, in fact most surfaces. Also saves the spare becoming a grader when you drive on sandy tracks.
AT tyres are the way to go. Seriously consider Light Truck tyres in the AT mode.
To minimise weight carry a couple of spare tyres (not wheels) and tyre levers and bead breaker and learn how to use them before you travel.
One, preferably two, snatch straps are a must. The Cruiser shoul;d have recovery points at both front and back but check and install if not there. Two recovery points at the front enable you to use a sling (as used by crane operators) between the two points with the snatych strap looped thropugh, thus distributing the force exerted on the Cruiser when being towed/snatched.
An exhaust jack or hi-lift jack are useful tools to carry.
Fit a roof rack but be sure it is a well known brand designed for serious 4WD vehicles.

Enjoy the bush and drive safely.

AnswerID: 582222

Follow Up By: Mr Sweedy - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 10:25

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 10:25
Thanks Vince. I've been umming and aahing about the winch, so think I probably will let it go for now. I have a high lift jack, a pair of max trax and a good ole shovel for if/when we get stuck, along with a recovery kit including snatch straps and block. Ordered some AT tyres today. Got a decent deal on some Bridgestone Dueller AT 694LTs so they'll be going on this week.

Will check into the other stuff such as number of recovery points etc. Good info, thanks.

FollowupID: 853416

Reply By: Mike & Carol - Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 23:59

Friday, Apr 29, 2011 at 23:59
Travel 30,000km every year in our 20' BT. Go to Broome every winter from Sydney.
Travelled new tracks every year. Our tow vehicle is a 4.7l Lexus (same body as a 100 series).

Towing has never been a problem.

Recommend that you invest in a pair of maxtrax incase you get bogged anywhere.

Wouldn't buy a motorised winch even though we have one on our bullbar, if anything I would invest in a hand winch but it has to be big enough to pull you away from your problem - don't buy a small toy.

We did a Toyota Land Cruiser Club Training course and would not recommend a High Lift Jack, too dangerous, better to get a good bottle jack and a couple of pieces of 6 x 2 hardwood about 12 inches long. We carry two bottle jacks, one to get us up in normal situations and a second in case we have to go higher.

As for tyres we use Cooper Discoverer ST/C, 10 ply tyre specially designed for the mining industry. We have tried the rest and have found these the best.
Mike & Carol
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AnswerID: 582223

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