JUST a few years ago a couple of mates were sitting around a campfire pondering the idea of starting an online 4x4 group specifically catering for LandCruiser Troop Carriers.
Troopcarriers of Australia was born via Michael Shaw (yep, it’s his missing finger that the Shawry Salute is derived).
The first two Winter Rambles were organised by three fellas: Cal Tomlinson, Ryan Kestle and Dan Smith, and held in 2013 at a reserve just out of Gloucester, NSW. Only three Troopies attended the inaugural event, but in 2014 that number rose to 17.
Looking for a larger venue to cram a couple of extra Troopies into, the guys moved it to Coorongooba Campground (near Glen Davis) in 2015 and attracted 76 vehicles. Fast-forward 12 months to this 2016 TOA Winter Ramble, and an incredible 150 Troopies turned up. That is nothing short of astonishing given TOA is a closed group. I reckon that number could easily break the 1000 mark next year, given there is a smidgeon over 3300 online members to date.
The administrators I spoke to at the Ramble all expressed their amazement and thanks to all who helped organise and turn up for this event, and they wanted to note they are not a club, just a group of like-minded people that are always ready to help each other out with info, advice and parts.
This means there is no El President, no fees and no insurance. The only rule is to ‘play nicely’ with one another. All are welcome, and this year there were a handful of families complete with caravans and kids joining in on the fun.
My experience with this mob has been nothing short of fantastic. About one month after purchasing my second-hand Troopy I was sent on a mission to Queensland, where I had a couple of dash lights come on.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the manual or paperwork to know exactly what one of the lights meant, so I punched a question into the group while parked on the side of the road and had a reassuring answer within 10 minutes.
That’s all I needed to know, so I headed on my merry way knowing I could fix the problem at my leisure. Thanks again to those who answered. I’ve seen countless similar experiences with plenty of like-minded, helpful Troopy owners.
The 2016 Winter Ramble also raised $4850 for the Southern Cross Kids Camps charity, which is a not-for-profit mob who take less fortunate kids out camping in the bush – what a brilliant form of healing to be sitting around a campfire with people that care for you.
That amount was raised via a few members making, selling and donating profits from beanies, hoodies and various stickers. Plus there was a raffle over the weekend with all prizes donated from a heap of TOA members who run their own businesses.
A huge pat on the back to all who helped raise that money and organised the profits to be handed to the selected charity; I reckon those involved deserve an extra frothy around the next camp fire.
Toyota Troop Carriers are the epitome of touring 4x4s. They can be camped in, on top of, or next to, plus they can tow almost any camper trailer or caravan on the market. They fit the bill perfectly for short- and long-term remote travel, and they have cavernous internal proportions, are reliable, simple and have rugged mechanicals. Plus they can be easily modified, and there’s a huge choice of aftermarket gear.
While we don’t buy them for their on-road cornering prowess, super-flexi suspension, or standard stereo systems, the Troopy is the perfect platform for the adventurous. Plus they easily and comfortably double as daily drivers. Sure, they have their problems, as all makes do, but straight out of the box they can be taken almost anywhere on the planet.
There are other Rambles throughout the year during spring and summer, so, if your keen and own a Troopy, check out Troopcarriers of Australia on Facebook and join in the fun. Until next time, legends!
THE BIG LAP
IT’S everyone’s dream to hit the tracks for a full lap of our great country, and Adam and Caity are making those dreams a reality. On the road for seven months, they have no set time to return home to Queensland. They picked up their iron-faced 1993 Troopy, complete with all that bar work, from the NT.
Adam has fitted a triple bank of 130-watt deep-cycle batteries, which saw service on the Ghan Railway as boom gate back-ups.
He tells us these batteries have a service life of nine to 12 years, but for safety’s sake they are made redundant after just 12 months. They aren’t the size you’d normally fit under a bonnet, and are deep in the guts of the Troopy. To feed them, there’s a 130-watt solar panel on the Troopy’s roof, which is also home to a 45-litre PVC pipe water tank, a tool box, and an awning.
The best mod on this Troopy is the Punk Rock Fork, an ingeniously bent table fork to secure the rear-door-fitted drop-down table.
As luck would have it, Adam and Caity are currently the holders of the TOA T-Roopy mascot, which gets passed around TOA members during their travels and comes complete with a well-documented diary, with many photos of travels from around our wide brown land with previous carers.
THERE are some talented folks operating in all sorts of jobs within this group. One such bloke is Drew Sharpe, a toolmaker (among other trades) who loves nothing more than nutting out solutions for everyday problems, especially Cruiser-related problems.
Drew has recently started selling his inventions online at sharpetooling.com, all of which he has designed and manufactured in Australia.
Drew’s spindle greaser is a perfect example of Australian ingenuity and will save both the DIYer and pro mechanic huge amounts of time having to grease axle spindles of the LandCruiser front hubs. Instead, the spindle greaser simply screws onto the stub axle to aid in repacking the spindle bearing and pumping grease deeper into the steering knuckle. While you’re adjusting wheel bearings, using Drew’s invention will add a couple of minutes to re-grease these often-forgotten bearings.
Drew’s flexible brake line adaptor replaces a section of the rigid brake lines leading to the brake backing plate and calipers, thereby allowing wheel bearing and associated front-end work to be undertaken without breaking into the brake fluid system. Simple, but it took a Sharpe mind to design and manufacture it.
Drew is on a mission to problem-solve a few other well-known Cruiser anomalies, so keep an eye on his website for more inventions.
YOU HAVE to wonder why people paint vehicles odd, or I should say ‘different’ colours? Did they just happen to have the paint in the shed? Was it on special at the local home decorator shop? Did they just want to be different? Kevin Roby and Julie Madden wanted to stand out from a crowded white Troopy market. Green paint, green trim and stickers, plus a green marquee to set-up camp ensure everyone gawks at their Troopy. Green with envy, we are!
TOUGH AS NAILS
EVERYONE loves the older Troopy shape, and everyone loves the burble of a V8. But it takes a special kind of Troopy lover to match the two perfectly. Dan ‘Hamzy’ Hames has achieved just that by dropping a 6.2-litre Chev diesel engine into a 1984 FJ45, which has a mere 380,000km to date.
Hamzy’s Troopy sports a five-speed Toyota manual cog-swapper, a rear ARB Air Locker and front auto locker, dual batteries, and Longfield front axles. It runs on 35-inch BAJA MTZ rubber, with alloy rims and a three-inch lift. A full-length custom-made roof rack sees space for two rooftop tents if the whole family decides to tag along. The rear swing-away spare-wheel carrier is also (partially) attached to the rack system to help take all that weight.
This Troopy has been dipped in gunmetal grey paint, which, together with those super-wide flares, makes this a stand-out machine. And yep, she sounds a treat with those 6.2 litres purring away.
YET another fella who wanted to be different and stand out was Glen Bower. Glen’s Troopy has custom front, side and rear barwork knocked up by Thorburns Fabrications, a Sydney based mob that’ll seemingly have a crack at anything a customer wants. Glenn has coated all mods in a beaut blue drop, except for that shiny work-of-art stainless-steel snorkel, which is also a Thorburns creation.
Glen has added a full-length K9 alloy roof rack onto which he has solar panels feeding his battery pack, which in turn powers the fridge. Glenn has made full use of every square inch of internal cavernous space to fit his Troopy out for long-term travel with his fairer half, Peta.
Glenn consulted with ORS for custom shelves, drawers and drop-down tables. An awning and detachable side room makes for the perfect escape machine, and Glen escapes with a recent fitting of front and rear Elockers.
A smart addition to Glen’s Troopy comes in the form of split CV boots, from Gearing Dynamics, which keep the swivel housing and king pin bearings clean. Another great addition is a full set of Tyre Checkers wheel nut indicators, which visually warn of impending loosening of nuts prior to catastrophic wheel separation.
MANY would argue that Tex’s Troopy isn’t pretty, but I reckon the red-lippy-clad bonnet sets it apart as something worth looking at. As they say: “Beauty is more than skin deep”.
Popping that scoop-adorned bonnet shows the old 1HZ has been swapped for a 1HD-FTE factory turbo six-pot, which is arguably the best 4x4 diesel engine ever created. Sitting atop is a HPD replacement top-mount intercooler, while a custom stainless air box hugs the driver’s side inner guard. Clean air is fed in via a Donaldson centrifugal-style cleaner sitting on a custom stainless snorkel.
Tex is obviously not a fan of being stuck, as he has front- and rear-mounted 12V winches complete with synthetic rope and Factor 55 FlatLink thimbles in place of the standard hooks. Lighting the way is a combination of an LED bar, HID spotties and LED headlight inserts, as well as a splattering of smaller auxiliary lights.
A McHitch auto hitch hooks Tex’s Pod camper trailer on, while inside is a minefield of electronic wizardry and a full set of Drifta drawers.
COILS ALL AROUND
CRAIG ‘Dozza’ Potts is the envied owner of the ‘Silver Mudda’. This Troopy comes complete with a four-inch raise (OME rears and Dobinsons fronts), 80-series coil suspension backed up by Superior control arms, Tough Dog adjustable shocks, front and rear Panhard rods, and Polyair bags to take the variable loads.
Under the bonnet there’s a 1HZ with a 1HDT bottom end, turbo with 17 pounds boost and a Toyota five-speeder. A custom top-mount air-to-air intercooler is fed by a bonnet scoop, while a stainless-steel Thorburns snorkel and air cleaner box with a Toyota diesel V8-style air cleaner element keeps it all clean.