The LC79 has turned into a lesson in weight management.
When I fitted the alloy tray and canopy from Boss Aluminium in Bayswater, Victoria, I was wanting a good-looking, robust canopy and tray at the lightest weight possible... but I soon realised how quickly weight adds up.
The canopy (my fourth on 4x4 vehicles I’ve owned) fits all the criteria and is a work of bloody art; it’s so well designed, manufactured and finished off. However, I digress. Let’s talk weight.
The canopy, with its internal shelving, framework and drawers, weighs in at 200kg; the two spare wheel holders, without the wheels, weigh 15kg each; the drop-down fridge slide, without a fridge, weighs 37kg. So there’s another 267kg on the back of the Cruiser without even blinking, and I’ve yet to put anything into it.
The canopy has been custom-built – like most from Boss – and comes complete with a robust frame, while the canopy is bolted to the tray. This, in turn, is mounted on heavy-duty steel mounts that connect the canopy firmly to the vehicle chassis.
4x4 buyers' guide: Custom canopies
Inside the unit is some internal shelving, which we’ve fitted with a range of Oates Smart Storage Drawers from Bunnings. We’ve used these lightweight units in the Patrol for more than 10 years and found them to work well and be durable (we’ve never replaced them). There’s a fairly large pull-out drawer and a slide-out table below that, while there’s also room for a fridge at the front of the canopy, all on the passenger side of the vehicle.
The driver’s side is a vast open playing field at present and I’m not even sure what I’ll be putting into it. My swag and tool roll will be the start. There’s some great LED lights, one on each lift-up door and two along the centre-line of the roof, and they do a great job illuminating the interior.
Up the front, close to where the fridge will go, is a power distribution box with light switches, 12-volt power outlets and fuses, and an auxiliary battery voltage read-out display.
On the outside rear wall, connected into the framework of the canopy, are the two spare wheel carriers. These are adjustable so they can carry any size rim and tyre up to 38-inch in diameter, but we won’t be going that big. I could have fitted a roof rack or a set of roof bars to the canopy as well, but I’d have an access issue to my garage, so that is on the back-burner at present. We’ll see if we need one.
Back on the inside and the drop-down fridge slide is an Easy Slide from Clearview Accessories, which was also fitted by the crew at Boss. I’ve had the forerunner to this unit in my Patrol for years and it has been a beauty, so I knew what I wanted right from the start.
The Easy Slide lowers the fridge unit 290mm, making it a lot easier to get a coldie or some salad from the fridge. Designed in Australia, the unit has been improved since my Patrol’s early model, making it easier and safer to use and capable of handling up to a 180kg load. With its safety locking mechanism and additional travel lock the unit has been crash-tested and is ADR compliant, with a 36-month warranty on moving parts.
Available in three different sizes to suit myriad portable fridge/freezers, I opted for the ES-100Plus Easy Slide, which handles an ARB 47-litre fridge easily. It also fits the Engel 40-litre or the National Luna 55 Weekender.
As soon as the canopy was fitted I was back at Outback 4WD to fit a dual-battery system. We used an Auxiliary Battery Kit from ARB, the battery box being made from 2mm powdercoated steel, with well-designed supporting and holding brackets. This ensures the heavy battery doesn’t break away from the vehicle’s body work when on continuous rough roads or tracks. I have seen and used lesser quality battery kits which cause nothing but trouble once off the bitumen for extended trips.
To control the charge of the second (auxiliary) battery I’ve fitted a Redarc BCDC1240D DC-DC battery charger. This isn’t the cheapest option (I have a Redarc Smart Start SBI unit in my Patrol, which has worked just fine), but the DC-DC charger was considered the best option. Not only does this unit act as an isolator for the main battery, it ensures your second battery is fully charged at all times, whether it takes power from the alternator or from any solar panels you may have connected.
Now with an extra battery in the system I’ve added, yet again, more weight on top of the bar work and winch, along with the capacity of the bigger ARB fuel tank that has already been fitted. I’ll be running the rig across a weighbridge soon and then looking at better aftermarket suspension along with an increase in GVM.
4x4 vehicle loading & GVM explained
4x4 Shed Log: Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Series
Current mileage: 111165km
Date Acquired: Apr 2016
Mileage this month: 1265km
Average fuel consumption: 13.6L/100km
Dual Battery Kit: www.arb.com.au
Battery Isolator and Manager: www.redarc.com.au
Boss Alloy Canopy: www.bossaluminium.com.au
Fridge Slide: www.clearviewmirrors.com.au
Outback 4WD: www.outback4wd.com.au