A few people have asked about the gadgets and gizmos The Tank has to offer, so I thought I’d put together a quick post detailing all the ins and outs of the place we call home. The Tank is a Toyota LandCruiser HJ75RV Troop Carrier. It has a 4.2L inline six cylinder naturally aspirated diesel engine, five speed manual gearbox and dual range transfer case. Low range is quite amazing, I think I could crawl faster than first gear in low range. The drive-train also has front and rear electronic differential locks.
The interior of the cab to begin with… The cargo barrier behind the two front seats is jam-packed with three book racks filled with everything from outdoor books to 4WD guides and instruction manuals. Next to the top book rack is the speaker for our Codan HF radio, next to that is a two-output pure sine wave inverter that generates 240V for any Australian appliances we need to use. The three white boxes at the top right of the cargo barrier are all involved with the solar panels that sit on the roof of The Tank: there is an electronic solar controller which serves the dual purpose of making sure that nothing discharges our batteries too quickly; the red knob is the master on/off switch for the solar panels (in case we’re driving a long haul and don’t want the batteries getting overcharged); and the large white box with black chords coming out of it is two 12V outlets as well as three gauges showing how much power the panels are generating and how much power we’re using. The Recaro seats to the left that have been put in place of the original seats can be raised or lowered by inbuilt electric motors and have pneumatic lumbar supports, inflated using a little pump on the side of each seat. The seats are a godsend for bumpy roads, they have supports around the lower back that can be tightened or loosened depending on the road. The photo to the right shows the two communication radios in The Tank: the box at the lower left of the photo is the head unit for our Codan HF radio and the black box underneath the car stereo is a regular UHF radio (or a CB radio). The HF radio is our emergency communications device, we haven’t needed to use it yet (and hopefully we don’t have to!). The HF radio has a large transceiver that is bolted to the rear of the cargo barrier out of view, on a good day the HF radio has a range of over 3000 kilometers so can call pretty much anywhere in Australia (I tested it in Adelaide by calling a station in Alice Springs over 1500 kilometers away). Or if we’re bored we can listen to the fishing boats in Taiwan as they pirate the HF emergency bands on the other side of the globe! The UHF radio is mainly for listening to truckers and asking Reg and Marg if it’s safe to pass them because we can’t see around the caravan they’re towing.
Now to the outside. The front of The Tank is endowed with a sizeable ARB bull bar which wraps around the sides of the vehicle and supports steps for getting in and out of the cab. In the driver’s side of the bull bar is a small diaphragm pump that hooks into the vehicle’s heating system and enables us to have hot showers when in the bush (something we used a lot on our trek across the Gibb River Road and up to Kalumburu). There’s a 10000 pound Warn electric winch that is visible all coiled up in-between our two LightForce 170 Striker driving lights, which are so bright they have been known to make koalas fall out of trees at night. Old Man Emu suspension and shocks support the axles and we have Cooper Discoverer S/T-C anti-chip tires on all four wheels. We also have two spares, one on the back of the Tank and one tucked away in the cab just behind the cargo barrier. Our pride and joy is pictured in the photo to the left: the Zifer Maggiolina rooftop tent (AKA The Blue Room). The tent is made by an Italian company and takes only about two minutes to put up and take down. The base and roof are made from fiberglass while the blue sides are constructed from sail cloth, making it impervious to both wind and rain. The sides of the tent can be rolled up to reveal fly netting and there is a small window in each end, enabling us to open it up for a lot of air on hot nights. There’s a queen sized mattress inside, giving us both plenty of room and me just enough length to lie flat! We get a lot of comments on the Maggiolina, we’ve only seen one other on the road, it makes it so easy to be mobile. Also in the photo to the left is our MSA gear sack hanging off the spare tire, we use the sack for material we don’t want inside the cab with us, usually it’s full of firewood. The shot to the right shows our 70L stainless steel water tank tucked in behind the rear leaf spring.
The entire rear section of The Tank behind the cargo barrier is fitted with full-length 1.8 meter roller drawers which house everything from axes and sledge hammers to kitchen utensils and fishing tackle. They can hold an amazing amount of stuff. We have mainly kitchen wares in the left drawer and tools and miscellaneous every day items in the right. Our other pride and joy is the 80L dual-compartment Engel fridge/freezer pictured to the right, it can hold enough food for us for around three weeks and does an amazing job of keeping everything cool (or frozen) in the heat. We have a small marine stove that runs off a gas bottle located in the cab, the stove sits on a removable shelf at the end of one of the roller drawers (pictured above). The gas to run the stove has a long extension hose on it so we don’t have to lug around the gas bottle every time we use the stove. Not visible here are five 50L plastic tubs that we use for storage: one for dry food, one for each of our clothes, one for wetsuits and snorkeling gear and a final one for our shoes. Also not visible are two tool boxes inside the cab filled with every tool I could think of needing in The Outback. There’s a Fiamma F35 awning affixed to the roof racks underneath the bed above the rear doors, it’s extended in the shot to the above left and is very handy for hot days when shady trees are few and far between. On the roof on the bed, shown here to the left, are two solar panels producing around 180W of electricity when they’re in the direct midday sun. That’s enough power to run the fridge and at the same time charge the three batteries we carry with us, making us pretty much self sufficient wherever we go. The final shot here to the above right shows our high lift jack bolted to the roof racks, the top of the air snorkel and our two radio antennas fixed to the top of the bull bar.
That’s about it, our home for the time being!
This entry was posted on Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 at 10:17 AM and is filed under Australia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.