Yo – Dave here.
After our radiator dramas and a weeklong visit to Country Diesel Maintenance in Alice Springs, the Troopy was running great. But what fun would it be if nothing ever went wrong?
By the time we rolled into Cairns, we’d done some great four-wheel driving up at Cape York, but it didn’t go without any hitches. One of the front spring mounts snapped and the brake booster shat itself just before we got to Iron Range National Park. Also, at some point we started leaking fuel and the Troopy kept stalling and was hard to start.
On the other hand, our new tyres copped a beating on the dirt roads of the outback and are going great. The new mozzie screens on all the windows have been perfect on the hot nights – with more windows open we get better airflow through the Troopy. The roof-top wind deflector that I installed in Alice Springs is working a treat and looks fantastic.
Snazzy new boots
Before leaving Alice Springs, we got the Troopy a brand new set of boots. The all-terrain tyres we bought 50,000km ago turned out to be rubbish and I was keen to upgrade to a mud-terrain tyre, so after a great chat with the staff at the tyre store, I ended up going with a set of Maxxis Bighorns 764. We paid $350 per tyre and that included fitting, balancing and a wheel-alignment.
We’ve done over 2,000km on them so far – about 50% on bitumen, 50% on dirt/sand/rock. Compared to our old set of tyres, they’re definitely more aggressive, a little louder and make the Troopy about 5cm taller, which is noticeable when we climb into the back at night. Driving along corrugated dirt road is definitely more comfortable and the steering even feels a bit lighter. The extra traction on sand is really obvious and I’ve found I don’t have to let the tyre pressure down as much as I would have with the old tyres. Considering the amount of driving on rocky roads we’ve done, the tyres have held up well – no punctures or major damage – and the amount of wear is acceptable.
Over all, I’m really happy with the Maxxis. The price fit our budget and the performance has been great. Also, by the look of them after 2,000km, I reckon they’ll get us all the way back to Melbourne no worries.
Custom-built checker-plate roof-top wind deflector
While we were in Alice, we did a HelpX job for two guys who run a steel yard called DnA Steel Direct, so I had access to steel as well as all the necessary equipment to fabricate a customised wind deflector for the top of the Troopy.
With a rough sketch on a notepad, I found a piece of checkerplate that was big enough and thick enough for what I needed. I used the industrial steel bending machine to bend the sheet, then I cut the taper with a grinder. I made templates for the two side pieces, cut them and bent them. Then one of the guys quickly welded the sides on, as well as the hinges and latches before I bolted the whole thing on and gave it a lick of black paint. The final touch was some small chains to limit how far the deflector opens. I reckon it came up a treat. A huge thanks goes out to DnA Steel Direct for letting me use their machinery.
You break it, you fix it!
If you’re a four-wheel driving fan, go to Cape York and do the Old Telegraph Track. Juz and I loved it and even though I broke the Troopy a bit – check out that story here.
The next day, after doing the Five Beaches Track along the eastern coast of the Tip, I noticed that one of the Troopy’s front spring mounts was broken in half. We carefully limped the next 20km to Bamaga and went straight to the wreckers. Lucky for us, they had what I needed and I had it changed over in less than half an hour.
Stuck between a rock and broken brakes
As we were making our way along Frenchmans Track towards Iron Range National Park, we got hung up on a rock on the descent into a creek crossing. While Juz stuck her foot on the brake pedal, I got out to have a look. All of a sudden, there was a psssshh sound as the brake pedal pushed up. I initially thought a hose had come off, but I couldn’t see any leaks or abnormalities. We managed to get the Troopy off the rock and through the creek, but the brake pedal was really stiff and stopping in any hurry wasn’t an option.
When we got to Cooktown, I did some research and diagnosed a busted brake booster, but the nearest replacement was in Cairns. So, our plan to take the CREB track from Wujal Wujal was changed to a gingerly drive down the Bloomfield track instead. There were a few steep downhill sections that were a little hairy because of our reduced braking ability, but otherwise it was quite a nice drive.
The Troopy takes a leak
Somewhere up in Cape York the Troopy decided to start leaking fuel. While we were in Cooktown, I traced the leak back to a tiny hole in the primary fuel filter casing. Unfortunately, I’d have to wait until Cairns to get a new one.
In the meantime, our timing belt light had been on for about 3,000km so I finally got around to changing it. If you’ve ever changed a timing belt then you’ll know that the fiddliest bit is getting the tensioning spring back on. After wrestling with that for a while, I got it back on and shouldn’t have to worry about the timing belt for another 100,000km.
Cairns – Let’s get wrecked!
Once we got to Cairns, I spent the first available Saturday doing the rounds at the wreckers. I needed a few things, but my main priorities were finding a brake booster and a fuel filter. After visiting two wreckers, I picked up a fuel filter for $50, a battery tray and bump stop for $50 and a brake booster for just $80 – SCORE!
Changing the brake booster was a piece of cake and took all of about half an hour. The battery tray was also easy but the battery bracket was a bit more fiddly because of a broken bolt head. In the end I just drilled a new hole for it and everything was sorted.
After buying a complete primary fuel filter from the wreckers, I picked up a new cartridge for the secondary fuel filter. I took the old parts out and they were filthy and full of sludge. I blew out the fuel lines (mmm… delicious diesel!) and cleaned up the bits that were going back in. After installing the new filters, the Troopy instantly began running smoother and starting more easily.