Dirty Work

Roothy winches a Disco to safety, helps rescue a camel and gets stuck on Fraser when his starter motor fails.

Dirty Work

John Rooth knows the outback better than most.

But that doesn’t mean he can keep out of trouble. His dusty track has led him to 4x4 Australia and he’s here to tell us a story or two – Roothy-style... 

Dancing disco
Things weren’t looking good when Glen Hadden rolled his right-hand tyre off the rim during a steep hill climb on loose shale and the Disco took a slide. We got it double strapped and winched it over the lump to safety, but the real lesson came later when Glen realised he’d tried to outsmart the computer-assist driving modes. He tried again with the Terrain Response dial set correctly and the Disco walked up as if on a sky hook.

Dirty work john rooth 5Having experienced it a few times, I have to tell you this latest generation traction control stuff is mind-bogglingly good. I may have to ask Stronach to explain how it works, though.

Glen later blew out a tyre on the Oodnadatta Track. He didn’t notice immediately because the suspension stabilisation system countered the lean while the Disco’s lounge-like comfort swallowed the noise. The result? The tyre chewed through to the rim. There was a warning light on the dash, though.

A sandy start
When the starter motor in Milo – my old green Toyota – dropped out on Fraser Island, I was lucky there was plenty of willing help. This is the third time it’s happened, always in a salty environment. And yes, I eventually tracked it down to a faulty earth strap… again.

Dirty work john rooth 7The lesson? When it comes to high-amp battery connections, you’re better off with good crimping – crushing the lug onto the cable – than using any form of solder. I got into trouble years ago when the flux eroded by itself; but it seems the modern flux-cored stuff is much the same.

The answer? Use plenty of Lanotec or WD-40 anti-corrosion spray and lots of work with the rag to protect the terminals. That way, if something comes loose there’s a chance you’ll find it before losing all your new friends.

Camel rescue
My mate Brolga, better known as the BBC’s ‘Kangaroo Dundee’, made enough quid out of his TV series to upgrade from the old Hyundai banger to a late-model Toyota. Good thing too, as nobody deserves it more than him; one of the real decent people on this earth.

Dirty work john rooth 6Problem? He’s discovered that little camels can fit in the back of a Troopy almost as easily as bubby ’roos in the back seat. So now he’s out there rescuing camels, too.

Oh boy, does someone else want to mention the old Toyota RAV4 ad?

Kitchen handles
Plenty of things have cracked, fallen off, or just plain died on my old green Toyota, but this was a real first.

The handle started to crack a few trips ago and every time I opened the door it seemed to need more of a pull. Then it fell off in the driveway right before a trip. After a bit of filing and drilling, a key ring took over the opening duties, but it bent every time I pulled the door open.

Dirty work john rooth 4No worries; a good handle wasn’t far away. In fact I found one in the kitchen, complete with screws.

It should last about as long as I will once the wife finds out.

Swag of style
We all have our favourite camping style.

If I’m with the family nothing is as good as the big mattress in the camper trailer. For work trips, however, it’s always been the swag. And ever since trying out these quick-fold bunks in rocky old Arnhem Land a few years ago, I’ve never rolled out my swag without putting a bunk up first.

Dirty work john rooth 3The combination of a cosy swag up off the ground with plenty of give, in a big stretcher (mine are both from Darche), needs only one more thing to make it perfect. But seeing Paris Hilton is busy running her hotels I usually settle for a pillow pinched from home.

In wetter country, the truck’s awning comes out to keep the mist off the swag. This also makes packing up possible at first light.

Fair dinkum, if I’d have known comfort like this as a young bloke I’d still be driving a harvester.


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John Rooth

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