Well it’s fair to say that 2020 has been a hell of a year. I find myself stuck in lock down here in Victoria, and have been for the best part of nine months.
We were reduced to only essential and critical work, which basically saw us shut down for two months.
It didn’t take too long for the government to get us back to work once they started to allow people to move about again, we are lucky that mechanical work is considered essential.
Trackside Mechanic looks a little different this time around, as we are not allowed out on the tracks… so coming up with stories and topics to cover is a little more difficult.
Previously I’d write about things that happened out on the tracks, or even about simple ideas that I had while sitting at camp.
Through the workshop we are not seeing as many vehicles currently, so again that slows us down a bit. Technically, as I write this, we are still not meant to be doing 4WD upgrades, as we are only allowed to service and maintain vehicles.
My 200 Series hasn’t been out properly yet; I have so much to check and plenty of new upgrades to monitor. I’m keen to give the traction control a really good work out to see how it goes.
Currently we’ve been doing some work for a tradie customer who’s just purchased a new 4WD, and we’re doing injectors and an inlet manifold clean on a 150 Series Prado.
I will concentrate on the tradie for now. He’s just purchased a 2020 D-MAX to replace his Patrol. The customer is a chippy and works as a sub contractor.
The D-MAX was a perfect fit for him, as he wanted something that was going to get him to and from work, but also that would still take him out into the High Country or up to the Murray River for some fishing and water skiing.
It was purchased new and had a front ARB bar and Warn winch fitted. The rear got a Boss Aluminium canopy and is to be decked out with a lithium battery system. It was also set up with a drawer system and plenty of space for his tools.
After this gear was all fitted, he brought it in with it literally bouncing off the bump stops over bumps.
The rear leaf springs were actually inverted, as the standard suspension could not hold the weight. After speaking with the customer, he advised that there would still be at least another 100kgs added to the canopy and when he drove up to the Murray, he would tow a small boat.
Firstly, my advice to him was to check all of his weights add it all up and see where he is at compared to the GVM of the vehicle.
Some people forget that the GVM includes the tow ball weight, so I made sure he knew to include that in his calculations.
He did exactly that, and decided that with all the sums added up he would not go over the GVM of the vehicle and he’d only be towing a smaller tinny, so the ball weight was a minor consideration.
We chatted further and decided that heavy-duty springs would be ideal for the front end of his vehicle, due to the added weight of the bullbar and winch.
The weight of the canopy setup at the vehicle’s rear would probably exceed the heavy-duty spring option, so we chose to fit GVM rear leaf springs to fully support the vehicle’s rear.
I’ve done a fair bit of work with Lovells Automotive Systems, and knew that they had the perfect kit for the job.
The current working restrictions allow us to ‘service, repair and maintain, to ensure the safety of Victorians’, which basically means we are still restricted to essential and critical work in some capacity.
The fact that the client is a permitted worker and that the standard suspension could not hold the weight of the vehicle’s current setup meant that we could legally work on the vehicle.
We got the Isuzu in and fitted up the Lovell suspension kit. Some of you may be thinking that it may have rode somewhat harshly in the back with the GVM rear leaf springs, but to be honest it was set perfect for the weight it was carrying and rode really nicely.
Of course, there are always compromises with any suspension kit. In this case, if the weight were removed from the rear, then the rear suspension would sit too high and make for a harsher ride.
This ute was never going to have no weight in the back as it is a work vehicle and is constantly loaded – but this setup would not be the right choice for someone who doesn’t carry a heavy constant load.
I have also spoken with the owner about strengthening or bracing the chassis, as this can be a weak point with some utes, and he’s looking into having this work done. But right now, the customer is very happy with the way the vehicle is sitting, slightly higher in the rear and with the improved ride.
Let’s hope we can come out of lock down soon.