The Bush Mechanics Special
Check out these handy tips to get you home (straight out of the Les Hiddins playbook). Unless you carry around an entire spare parts vehicle, a CNC mill and complex 3D printing equipment, breaking down …
Check out these handy tips to get you home (straight out of the Les Hiddins playbook).
Unless you carry around an entire spare parts vehicle, a CNC mill and complex 3D printing equipment, breaking down is going to be an unfortunate fact of off-road life. Sometimes you get lucky, and a few twists of a spanner will see you back on the tracks. We call this phenomenon ‘winning’. But if past experiences have taught me anything, more often than not you are going to have to think outside the box if you want to keep pushing forward. Bush mechanicking (shut up! It’s a word) is all about using what you have available at the time – and with some logical thinking you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Here are 10 quick pointers to get you going in the right direction; and as always we’d love to hear from you about any bush repairs you have used to get out of a sticky situation. Your knowledge could help a fellow traveller in need on the other side of the country.
BUSH WELDING (JUST ADD BATTERIES)
For the most part, 4X4s are made of metal, which can fatigue and crack over time, so being able to weld wherever you may roam is a genuine asset. And best of all, you don’t need much gear to pull off an effective repair (we didn’t say ‘pretty’).
RADIATOR REPAIRS (EGG AND PEPPER FOR THE WIN)
We have touched on this in the past, and will continue to spread the good word when it comes to using egg whites or black pepper to block small holes in a leaking cooling system. I mean, it works and it is just cheap insurance. And best of all, you can eat your tools if you don’t need them. Score!
PLUG THAT DONUT (IT WON’T FIX ITSELF)
Tyre technology has come a long way in the last decade; hence the number of punctures experienced seems to have dropped significantly. It must be said though, that not knowing how to repair a simple tyre puncture before heading off-road is about as smart as draining your engine oil to save weight. Never fear, the video below explains everything you need to know.
RESEATING BEADS (THIS ISN’T CRAFT TIME)
Do you like driving in mud or sand? Do you often reduce tyre pressures when hitting the soft stuff? If you didn’t answer ‘yes’ to one of those questions, you might have stumbled across the wrong E-mag. Regardless, if you experiment with tyre pressures like a uni student experiments with vodka, rolling a bead off a rim is a very real possibility. The good news? With a little effort, reseating that bead isn’t a big job if you are prepared.
CHANGE SHOCK ABSORBERS (LIKE A PRO)
Every four-wheel drive has shock absorbers, and as they are a consumable item thing can (and will) go wrong. The good news is if you carry a spare, swapping one out on the tracks isn’t that hard a job. Check out the video above to see just how easy it can be.
LEAKING FUEL? (PASS ME THE SOAP)
Another trick we have touched on in the past, but it is too cool to not mention again. If you manage to snag your fuel tank and develop a leak, by rubbing a simple generic bar of soap over the leak it will react with the fuel and bond to form a seal. This is a temporary fix, but if it gets you back to a town for proper repairs, you’d have to call that a win!
12V SOCKET REPAIRS (FOR THOSE WHO LIKE COLD BEER)
We all take away multiple 12V accessories while touring or camping, but did you know the supplied 12V CIG plugs many 12V accessories are fitted with are definite weak points? Brittle is an understatement… but don’t let a $2 plug get you down! There are two wires (positive and negative) and once you know which is which you are pretty-much a qualified auto electrician (minus an additional four years of formal training and on-the-job experience, that is).
TRAILER BEARINGS (THEY NEED LOVE TOO)
If you tow a trailer, there are four small bearings that (if they fail) can leave you stranded on the side of the road. Maintenance is the key to ensuring long wheel bearing life, and the best thing is it’s quite straightforward to either grease or replace trailer wheel bearings. You have to ask yourself… when was the last time you got greasy?
CEREAL BOX GASKETS (NOT JUST FOR BREKKIE)
Now this is one you might not have seen before! This is a trick we have used with a bush repair on the leaking carburettor of an old LandCruiser. By tracing the shape of the gaskets you need on some cardboard (an old cereal box works wonders) you can fashion your very own replacement gaskets. Now in a workshop scenario, this trick doesn’t make much sense – considering how cheap paper gaskets are. But in the bush, this trick is worth its weight in gold.
PRE-TRIP INSPECTION (FOR EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK)
This goes without saying, but at the start of each day on the road it is wiser than a tree full of owls to give your 4WD a once-over. Check all aftermarket items such as roof racks and driving lights; then check over any moving parts such as suspension. Ah, why are we explaining this… check out the video Pat made on his daily pre-trip inspection rituals.