Dirty Work: the Milo 2 build

Experienced hands pitch in to help Roothy with the Milo 2 build

Experienced hands pitch in to help Roothy with the Milo 2 build

A couple of issues ago (December, 2016), before I got sidetracked telling African yarns, I showed you how Nick and I plucked the body off the old 1983 Troopcarrier I’ve been storing as a ‘spare Milo’, with a view to building a new truck. Enter Milo 2, and it is a bit of an entrance, too. With the body off and bits lying all around we’re really taking up some space in Opposite Lock’s workshop.

But they’re as keen as me to get stuck into this build, and plenty of businesses in Caloundra have been offering their support. As much as anything, this is about showing the rest of the world the sort of off-roading depth that exists up on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maybe that’s no surprise, as we’re only an hour or so from Fraser Island, and the steep volcanic mountain hinterland country around here has always required the toughest trucks to get anything done. Queensland has the highest number of 4WDs per capita of any state, and the Sunshine Coast is absolutely chockers with them.

I tell you what, though, it is wonderful getting all this help. When I first built Milo it was mostly out in the street in front of our house down on the mudflats. Neighbours would drop in and help lift things or hold something, although often it was just a beer from the Engel. Eventually we built a shed in the backyard and I finished the bodywork on a concrete pad under a real roof, but apart from a bit of help here and there it was mostly solo work all the way.

Alan and I plucked the diff centre so Nick could get into that while we ripped into the axles, brakes and bearings. Plan is to replace everything with Terrain Tamer bits and install Harrop Elockers right from the start.

Then, as the little green truck got better known, mostly from being bashed around the country, some of the professionals in the trade got involved. I think they felt sorry for Milo to be honest, as she was pulling some very tough trips. The biggest hand I ever got was from Terrain Tamer, who rebuilt, blue-printed and balanced the 13BT motor and supplied one of their re-engineered gearbox and transfer cases to go behind the new donk. By that stage, like most old Toyota owners, I’d been using Terrain Tamer parts for years because, quite frankly, they’re either as good as stock or improved.

So you could say I’ve had plenty of time to work out what works and what doesn’t when it comes to old Toyotas. You probably wouldn’t say that if I was standing next to Alan Gray. At one stage Alan owned a business called ‘Mr Land Cruiser’, where he specialised in Toyota repairs and built a name for solid engineering. Terrain Tamer soon recruited him to work in researching and developing its parts line-up. It makes sense, as he started his career working on the first Land Cruisers brought into the country by the Thiess Brothers.

Since meeting we’ve become great mates because we share a love of country, motorcycles and old 4WDs. In fact, Al just got off the phone a few minutes ago. Geez, he’s about 150 in the shade and he’s wondering what sort of trail bike he should buy to keep up with the ‘young fellas’.

Alan and I have been good mates for decades, but that doesn’t stop him telling me what to do! Fact is, it’s a bit intimidating working with Al. Even though he doesn’t push it, he’s probably the most knowledgeable bloke in the country on Toyotas.

Talking experience, Nick Flannigan told me about Laurie from Caloundra Auto Protector Care who’s the Sunshine Coast’s expert on rustproofing. Given all the vehicles that drive on beaches up that way I was keen to get him involved. So, while the axles were still bolted under the chassis, we rolled her up to his shed. Laurie gave it a big clean and then examined the chassis closely. Later on he applied the first of a few coats of rustproofing just to seal things up while we built the axles.

Meanwhile Nick and I had made up a list of parts required to rebuild both axles and sourced them from Terrain Tamer’s Queensland outlet, Sunshine State Spares in Archerfield. While talking to my mate Mark down there he mentioned Alan Gray was heading north to run some courses for the local mechanics. I got on to Al and asked him to stay a day extra so he could spend some time with Nick and me working on the axles. Okay, maybe I forgot to mention the extra details regarding the work part.

It didn’t matter because, as usual, Alan showed up in his overalls, raring to go. He bought a surprise with him, too: the Terrain Tamer kits required to fit the new Elockers into the old diffs. It was a bit intimidating for this old bush mechanic to work alongside Nick and Al who are both trained professionals and very different to the way old Milo went together back in her day.

Nick’s working over the diffs to take the Elockers. Terrain Tamer makes a kit with all the seals, bearings and gaskets required, which makes his job a little bit easier.

I certainly didn’t start with diff locks. In fact, Milo got around with nothing more than Coopers on the split rims and a couple of inches of flexible suspension for the first few years. Then, over a couple of decades, we used ARB’s air lockers and then TJM’s Prolockers – both of which are excellent products, but different to the new generation Harrop Elockers.

Yep, this time around I’m going for what I know works best right out of the box. That includes the Elockers, a Mark’s Adapters low range kit in the Terrain-Tamer-engineered transfer and gearbox and, err, a fully rebuilt 12HT motor.

Why a 12HT? Well, it’s the last of the fully mechanical injection Toyotas. It’s also a six cylinder, so it’s a tad smoother and more powerful than Milo’s old 13BT. And among us Toyota nuts it’s got a name for being totally robust with it, too. The only problem turned out to be finding one.

Stay tuned – same time, same channel. See you next month!


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John Rooth

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