A Pillar Of Support. Modifying Your Rig’s Foundations.
To make the most of our incredible country, many of us build the 4WD tourer of our dreams. Some folk choose to deck theirs’ out with full drawer systems in the rear and tents on the roof. Others choose to tow a camper or a caravan, or even fit a camper onto the back of their utes.
David, one of my customers who we’ve previously featured in the magazine, has fitted a large box canopy onto the rear of his Nissan Navara. For him it’s the perfect travel solution because it allows him all the space he needs, and then some.
Now, many of us have seen photos getting around where a rig’s chassis has been damaged after being overloaded. With the addition of large box canopies and the stiffening of the suspension, there have been a few reports of chassis being stressed and cracking.
After a service on Dave’s Navara I pulled him aside and quietly suggested that he might want to seek some advice and possibly have the vehicle looked at to see if strengthening the chassis might be required. After all, he’s already invested so much money into it that it would be a shame to overlook something that could quite easily see the vehicle damaged beyond repair.
David took the Navara down to a chassis specialist for it to be looked over. Interestingly enough, the report said that the chassis had indeed developed a slight bend, wich saw the water tank drop down in position and almost touch the fuel tank. So it was lucky the Navara was taken in be checked out.
The box canopy was lifted a little in height and strengthening plates were welded to the chassis in two places on either side, in order to bolster the stress or pivot points.
The spare wheels have also been removed from the very back on the canopy, as the overhanging weight largely contributed to the problem.
Strengthening and consideration to the stress on the chassis is a given with any large build. It’s also common sense that the placement of accessories must not be overlooked as hanging heavy things right off the back of a build will change the stress points.
Fitting up a heavy-load leaf spring or even fitting an upgraded GVM suspension kit will also be a better option than beginning with air bag assist. The reason for this is that the spring is designed to carry the extra loads through the eye and shackle points on the chassis and in some cases the air bags can change the load on the chassis and its stress points.
Like everything in life, foundations are the key. Make sure your foundations are strong enough to stand up to the torture and stresses that we put our 4WDs through. Consider everything, because out on the tracks, the twisting and the movement applied to the 4WD’s chassis and suspension can be incredible.
Make sure your foundations are strong enough to stand up to the torture and stresses that we put our 4WDs through.