Bushcraft mods to your BLV

Mickldo

Ray Mears
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I thought I would start a thread on mods to vehicles to make them more suitable for our wonderful hobby/ lifestyle/ pastime Bushcrafting.

Modifying off road vehicles of all sorts is my job as well as my passion. I am a mechanic by trade and I have specialized in 4wds for the most part. I have also worked as a motorbike mechanic and still ride a trailbike to work every day. I am also currently working at a fabrication workshop that among other things builds plate alloy boats. This variety has given me a wide range of skills in modifying off road vehicles.

I was thinking that this thread could be a bit of me listing out various common mods and the pros and cons of each, as well as how they fit into a bushcraft/ survival/ emergency situation, and also if anybody wanted to post up the mods they have done to their own vehicles we could all share the ideas and discuss.

The way I was thinking was if we could try to keep it to bushcraft principles of fire, water, food, shelter, navigation and communication rather than just big lifts and tyres, stereos, seat covers, etc.

The types of mods would include but not be limited to.....

Fire- stoves, fire wood racks, axe and saw holders

Water- water tanks, jerry cans, water filters, hot water systems, water pumps

Food- fridges, eskies, dry food storage, cupboards

Shelter- awnings, campers (including camper trailers and caravans), beds, safari roof mods, insulation

Navigation- GPS, compasses, map holders

Communication- UHF, HF, 27MHz, Sat phones, EPIRBs and PLBs, Spot messengers

So what do you reckon?
 

gelandangan

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One of these days I would like to fit some water container inside my bumper bars.
 

Greatbloke

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I like this idea for a thread, mickido. I just bought a checker plate alloy slide on that I need to set up with a double bed, and work out lightweight storage that stops everything flying all over the place....I also need to insect proof it and hang some awnings off the gull-wing doors..... I will post some photos eventually.
 

AussiePreppers

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Keen on this thread. I just acquired my dream vehicle, a 2004 naturally aspirated landcruiser. I'm keen to see what others are doing...
 

Mickldo

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One of these days I would like to fit some water container inside my bumper bars.
Bumper bars are sometimes a good solution but there are a couple of things to watch out for. If your vehicle is a later model vehicle with air bags it is especially so but even normal vehicles are restricted by regulations in regards to frontal impact. A rear bumper should be OK though. Another thing to watch out for is the size of the water tank. It is a cantilever issue, the more weight you put behind the rear axle the more it takes off the front too. This a problem with any heavy weight on the extreme ends of the vehicle, winches, spare tyres, jerry cans, etc. Ideally all extra weight should be placed centrally on the vehicle. Think of it like this, if you spin a plank of, say, 10kg around and then spin a bucket of 10kg the bucket will be easier to control compared to the plank.

Saying that though, I have seen some really well done bumper tanks. The best ones had compressed air plumbed to them too so they could pressurize the tank and pump the water out.

What sort of vehicle is this for?
 

Mickldo

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I like this idea for a thread, mickido. I just bought a checker plate alloy slide on that I need to set up with a double bed, and work out lightweight storage that stops everything flying all over the place....I also need to insect proof it and hang some awnings off the gull-wing doors..... I will post some photos eventually.
Photos would be great. One of the many things we build at work is alloy gullwing canopies. I want to chop my Cruiser into a dual cab ute and make a slide on camper back for it. I have a notebook full of drawings of different layouts I have come up with. I'd be happy to share ideas.

Insect proof doors are one my main priorities too.
 

Mickldo

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Keen on this thread. I just acquired my dream vehicle, a 2004 naturally aspirated landcruiser. I'm keen to see what others are doing...
What model Cruiser? I have a 99 HZJ105 GXL Cruiser. The 1HZ motor in my opinion is a great outback motor. Simple, reliable, torquey, reasonably fuel efficient for their size. My last Cruiser was a HZJ80 GXL that I put a turbo on as well as just about every other mod you could think of. The turbo totally transformed the vehicle. I will be doing the same to the 105 very soon.
 

Dusty Miller

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That's a great idea Mick, I have thought about a sleeper for the back of my hilux for a while, could do with some inspiration to get started.
 

Mickldo

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I am of the old school of thought when it comes to 4wds. I prefer them diesel, manual, transfer case with decent low range and with solid axles both ends. I am a Land Cruiser man but I am not one eyed. I build about 3 Nissan Patrols for Ergon each week at work and most of my mates drive Nissans. I used to work for a Hire 4wd mob on Fraser Island that had a fleet of 40 odd Land Rovers. I have built a couple of Jeeps too. I have respect for each of them. I think they all have good points and they all have bad points, even the Cruisers.

Even though I personally don't prefer medium duty 4wds (like Pajeros, Jackeroos, Pathfinders, etc) and soft duty 4wds (Rav 4s, X-trails, CRVs, etc) that doesn't mean they don't belong. It just means you may have to do a few more mods to make them last in the bush or, at the least, drive them to the conditions.

One of the reasons I prefer the bigger 4wds is the physical strength of them. When you drive them over potholes and rough roads for hundreds of thousands of kilometres you want to know they will come out at the end in one piece, and that is just on the main highways, wait until you drive them off road. ;) I have seen heaps of damage caused by rough roads and then I see lighter duty rigs with components half the size that wouldn't stand a chance in the same conditions.
 

T.C.

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My 2004 duelcab n/a diesel hilux is fitted with kumo 31" mud terrains, 2" lift, light force spotties on an arb steel bar, 40ch uhf in the cab.
in the stock tub I have a frame that holds my roof top tent level with the cabs roof when folded, on the drivers side of the tub I have a hi lift jack mounted on the frame, with a long handled spade mounted beside that, there is a rear facing led floodlight mounted on that side too, on the passenger side there is another led floodlight mounted facing out to the side, and above the wheel arch on the same side I have a deep cycle battery in a box mounted, which is fed by a 120w panel mounted on roof racks.
Also I have a 2m x 2.5m roll up awning mounted on a pivoting bracket on the passenger side, it swivels into the centre line of the vehicle when the tent is closed. Also in the tray is a 40l engle on a home made slide fed from the deep cycle, got enough power to run it for three days without sun, the panel tops it up in a few hours.
Still in the works is a 65lt water tank made from PVC pipe, just got to mount it. Future plans are for some rock sliders and a rear bar.

Oh I got a Dr air pro compressor in a bag in the cab, its awesome.... well worth the money
 
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Mickldo

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Good looking rig TC. It looks as it would be a pretty practical set up for you.

How do you find the roof top tent in high winds? Last one I used coincided with a week of really high winds and the tent acted like a sail and rocked the car on its suspension all night. I reckon the hi lift under the bumper on its lowest side jacked up a little to level it and preload the suspension a bit would help, just like corner steadies on a caravan.

Just watch the PVC for the water tank. It will be fine for a year or two but they go a bit brittle and the corrugations will crack it. Try to engineer the mounts to cushion the pipe a bit.

The only reason I want to do a slide on camper rather than the way you have done it is so that I can still tow a boat and launch and retrieve it each day with out having to break camp each day. I could just drive the car out from under the camper and go and launch the boat, collect firewood, explore, etc and then come back to the basecamp. If it wasn't for that reason I would probably do it like you have done.
 

Mickldo

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BTW everybody these opinions of mine are just that, my opinions. I understand that many people have differing views and I am fine with that. I have been biased for a while so if I say something that may offend your choice of vehicle or mods then I apologise in advance. Even if you drive a Land Rover:linguino:
 

Mickldo

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OK, after all that I might get down to start on what I wanted to go on with in the second post.

Most of bushcrafting is based on being on foot or maybe in a canoe rather than in a vehicle but I think in these times a vehicle is an integral part of bushcrafting. Even if it is just to get you into an area where you can start hiking from or to transport your canoe to the water a vehicle is important.

The modifications we do to our vehicles make them more suitable to the tasks we want them to do. Whether it is just a roof rack to carry the canoe or a storage system to organise your gear and make it safe while travelling. A lot of these modifications are subject to a whole heap of regulations which although a pain in the butt are ultimately there to keep us safe. The other thing is there is usually a bit of engineering to take care of. The engineering could be making it strong enough to do the job, it could be making it lightweight, it could be making it less bulky. There are a lot of things to think of when it comes to modifying our vehicles. There are some simple mods that are just a simple bolt on and go but other mods require quite a lot of thought.

Mods like a full camper body are the most complex and require the most thought but don't be discouraged if they are engineered right the rewards will outweigh the inconvenience of the design process.

Time for bed now but I'll continue this tomorrow.
 

T.C.

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My last stint in the tent we had two massive storms two nights in a row and I was really pleased, I think having it mounted a little lower helps, plus I have heavy leafs in the lux so she's a little stiff. Cheers for the tip on the PVC Mick, I'm using six pipe clamps to locate it length ways in the tray, the clamps have a rubber sleeve so hope it helps.

PS for anyone thinking about buying/making a tank, my PVC one ended up costing as much as a bcf black water tank.... I just have more options with it.

Gelandangan I was thinking the same thing with my rear bar, but with air... I want it to be a tank for my compressor.
 

T.C.

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Mick I had the same worries with the tent set up, been thinking of transferring it to a trailer , originally had plans to make drop down legs but I like to keep it simple
 

Aussie123

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....
....I was thinking the same thing with my rear bar, but with air... I want it to be a tank for my compressor.
I'd like to hear a bit more about an air tank in a bar. Has anyone had one ?
 

gelandangan

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Bumper bars are sometimes a good solution but there are a couple of things to watch out for. If your vehicle is a later model vehicle with air bags it is especially so but even normal vehicles are restricted by regulations in regards to frontal impact. A rear bumper should be OK though. Another thing to watch out for is the size of the water tank. It is a cantilever issue, the more weight you put behind the rear axle the more it takes off the front too. This a problem with any heavy weight on the extreme ends of the vehicle, winches, spare tyres, jerry cans, etc. Ideally all extra weight should be placed centrally on the vehicle. Think of it like this, if you spin a plank of, say, 10kg around and then spin a bucket of 10kg the bucket will be easier to control compared to the plank.

Saying that though, I have seen some really well done bumper tanks. The best ones had compressed air plumbed to them too so they could pressurize the tank and pump the water out.

What sort of vehicle is this for?
I have a heavy duty 3 ton back bumper on my series 80 Landcruiser, thats where I think I would place the water tank.
It wont be too large in capacity, maybe only about 50 or so liters, just good enough to use a few days.

There is another thing I would add to the car, a hammock hanging points between the front bumper to the back bumper.
 

Aussie123

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.... There is another thing I would add to the car, a hammock hanging points between the front bumper to the back bumper.
Sounds like you have a good lift kit too, or it will be a bit of squeeze hang – I’m thinking Monster Truck ? :_risata:
 
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