Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Making of Ruby - Part 1

Part 1
After we finally got Ruby home the real fun began! We had pre-ordered a lot of the accessories that we wanted to install, with a lot of the initial fit-out coming from the team at ARB in Rockhampton. We have used these guys on numerous occasions in the past, and have always been happy with the price, workmanship and attention to detail. This post concentrates on the external accessories we added first up. There will be another post shortly detailing the internal and electrical modifications!
In the lead-up to Rubys arrival Jess and I had many conversations about the colour of the vehicle, and then the bar work and other accessories . In the end we decided that we would colour-match the bullbar and side rails to Ruby’s factory paint job. We opted for the Deluxe ARB winch bar, as it was always the intention to fit Ruby with a winch, as when we are travelling solo we have to be able to be self-sufficient when we get stuck. We did opt to delay fitting a winch for a few months however to spread the cost of the fit out over a longer period.
Ruby's colour matched bullbar
 With the bar work settled on the next decision was what extra lighting to suit; LED light bars and HID lights have become very popular over recent years, and provide excellent lighting. However, for our circumstances, where the vast majority of our travel will be done in the day, and with no intention of using the vehicle for night time off road work we decided that a high quality set of halogen lights would meet our needs. We chose a set of IPF Extreme Sports Lights. I have used these extensively on work vehicles and have been impressed with both the quality of the lights and the durability of the units. The lights have been exactly as we expected and have more than met out needs.

Spot lights and winch
Given the long distances we are planning on covering and remote locations that we wanted to see we decided to add a long range fuel tank. Longranger fuel tanks have had an excellent reputation in Australia for many years for proving additional fuel storage capacity without compromising underbody clearance or reliability. The unit available for 76 series Landcruisers holds 176L of fuel, replacing the factory 90L unit; doubling our touring range! One advantage of these systems is that the factory fuel sender pump is retained, with only a small modification to the pick-up being required to complete the installation. This means that the reliability of the original unit is maintained and no further downstream modifications are required in the fuel system.

 Long Ranger fuel tank
All 70 series landcruisers come with a factory fitted “raised air intake” basically a snorkel that is designed to let the engine breath air from higher up but is not sealed to prevent water coming into the air box. Safari make a fully sealed replacement for the Toyota unit, which we decided was a sound investment in protecting the engine when undertaking water crossings. There is also the added bonus of getting rid of the ugly Toyota unit! When this modification was completed a small drainage flap in the bottom of the vehicles Air box is also sealed to prevent water entering though this hole. We also extended our diff breathers up into the top of the engine bay to prevent water contaminating our diff oils as the Toyota units end inside the chassis rails.

Safari Snorkel
 With the majority of the permanent additional weight now added to the vehicle the team at ARB fitted a set of their Old Man Emu 50mm raised suspension, using their Nitrocharger Sport shock absorbers. We had used this suspension in our Hilux previously (where it replaced another “yellow” brand of suspension that had failed repeatedly, sometimes in very remote locations) and had been very impressed with its performance. We found that while the OME suspension was a little more expensive than some competitors that we knew what we were getting would meet our needs. At the time of fitting a heavy duty (400KG rear 200kg front) spring rate was chosen to ensure that we could carry all of our equipment safely and comfortably. We have subsequently added an extra leaf into the rear spring packs to stop the vehicle sagging when it is fully loaded with the trailer hitched up. When we made the decision to add the extra leaf a lot of research and planning went into choosing this alternative. We considered both air bags and foam helper springs as alternatives, but with both of these alternatives costing around $1000 each (as opposed to $300 to re-pack our existing springs) and with the realisation that our planned load would compensate for the firmer ride from a stiffer spring rate in any case this was a relatively easy decision.

Shock absorber and extra leaf spring
 Following this work we decided to spend a couple of months getting to know the vehicle better before we did anymore. This let us get a good feel for what did and didn’t work and decide if further additions were justified.

Posted by Mat


  1. It'd be a nicer ride if it was silver and had a pigging rack on it lol

  2. Ha ha but then it wouldn't be much good for camping.