What do you do when a fully decked-out 4X4 LandCruiser isn’t capable enough? You do a 6WD conversion, naturally
A lot of good stories start with “When Adam was a boy…” In this case, Brisbane was little more than a country town and growing up in Capalaba among the farmland meant playing in the local creeks and dams and building cubbies in the bush. Motocross was a way of life, school a mindless distraction and waste of time, until reality set in and an electrical apprenticeship was on the cards. Once through with learning, Adam was sent to remote areas to wire up transportable buildings for accommodation camps, and later maintain them too. Naturally, being out bush so frequently meant having a 4X4, and Adam bought himself a 75 Series ute which made days off far more adventurous, especially once he got to know a few of the local station owners, ringers and publicans.
The 75 Series wasn’t Adam’s first 4X4 though; that award goes to an old shorty ‘Cruiser with no roof or doors. Beach and bush trips in all weather conditions prepared Adam for a lifetime of remote travel and camping.
After the shorty, Adam went through a few other Toyota 4X4s, including a Troopy, a 100 Series and the 75 cab chassis. Adam’s business kept calling for a bigger vehicle to carry more materials, so a Ford F250 Super Duty, imported and converted to RHD locally, joined the fold. Great vehicle with all the bells and whistles – would have been great to travel to remote areas in, except for sourcing spare parts in times of need. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and along came the 79. Toyota’s reliability is comforting to Adam, and should something unthinkable happen, every major town has a Toyota dealer or parts source. Heck, if the local servo doesn’t have the part you need, the local station owner probably does!
Adam travels with his wife Lisa and twin boys Travis and Lance. This dictated a dual-cab or wagon, and with building materials needing transport, a tray-top ute was obvious. The shiny 79 Series was purchased new in early 2015 and sent straight away for conversion, but we’ll get to that later…
Requirements for Adam included lugging pallets of concrete blocks around, two at a time. A big, robust tray was step one. Then came the camper canopy. Built at home, a boat loader on the canopy roof carries a four-metre tinny while inside the box sits a 30hp four-stroke outboard as well as a collapsible boat trailer. This is the set-up when towing the camper trailer.
Adam went on and built a pop-top roof to give two sleeping compartments –adults in the main box, kids ‘upstairs’, everyone out of reach of the wildlife. This arrangement is great when towing the motorbike trailer or a bigger boat on a trailer.
As if that wasn’t enough, Adam’s next version is a tradie back that features toolboxes and a ladder rack. Final iteration is a couple of cages for Adam’s happy Boxer dogs, Duke and Kara. They love travelling with the family and being on the back of the ute.
All of these load space fit-outs can be changed with just four bolts and a couple of DC plugs with assistance from the winch hanging from Adam’s shed roof. With an electrician owning it, of course there was going to be some fancy electrical equipment. In this case, Adam has 600 watts of solar panels feeding into a triple battery system via a DC/DC charger, which gives plenty of power for the 95-litre fridge and accessories. Speaking of which, a Uniden UHF radio, LED light bars and spotlights, work lights, a water pump and tank, and ARB air compressor are all wired in using a multitude of Anderson plugs and switches. There’s also an abundance of USB outlets; we wish manufacturers would take that idea on-board too…
There’s a lot of issues surrounding GVM and GCM, especially with late model 4X4s. But if your business required carrying a couple of pallets at a time, loaded with concrete building blocks, you’d want more than just a fancy upgrade plate and an engineer’s report. As a young bloke, Adam’s old man acquired an arc welder and helped Adam start building go-karts. This was followed by an 8WD skid-steer buggy, then a VW beach bug and a heap of trailers to haul them around. Let’s just say that Adam is no stranger to exotic off-road solutions, although he usually built them himself.
Adam was initially unsure if a 6X6 would be the solution he was looking for, so he looked closely at several different companies that do 6X6 conversions, before taking the drive down to meet Bob at 6X6 Australia near Lismore, far north NSW. Over a long lunch, Bob walked Adam through the process and let him drive some already converted vehicles to get a feel for it. Adam was sold after driving a conversion around a race track like a sports car and seeing how stable it felt. It didn’t take long before he was shipping his brand new 79 Series down to Bob to let work begin.
The 6X6 Australia conversion uses a clever load-sharing coil-sprung drive bogie that allows the axles to articulate further while still supporting the load. This suspension set-up also allows roll-steering, somewhat similar to the Australian-designed Permatrak bogie suspension used on some off-road trucks. This reduces tyre scrub as the vehicle turns, greatly enhancing tyre life.
The transmission uses the original gearbox as well as the factory front and rear diffs. The intermediate axle is the special one; it is through driven so has a driveshaft coming out each end of it to cone the transfer case to the rear diff. This intermediate diff is built in a Ford nine-inch housing and features a power divider to prevent wind-up from the constant 6X6 drive as well as being able to lock up when needed. This intermediate diff is also fitted with an ARB Air Locker while the front and rear diffs have the factory lockers still installed. That means Adam can lock all three diffs for the ultimate in traction.
The conversion was more than just the extra axle though. The chassis was braced and lengthened by a metre and the heavy-duty tray was also fitted by 6X6 Australia. New brake components were needed, towbar custom fabricated and approved, exhaust pipe extended … a lot of small jobs that add to the solution. Adam tells us there haven’t been any mechanical failures, with the exception of cork screwing the tail shaft when showing off to friends. He’s replaced it with a new tail shaft rated for 1000hp, so it should hold together for a long time yet!