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4X4 Accessories – Getting The Right 4WD Roof Racks

4X4 accessories 4WD roof racksIf you’re going to spend any amount of time 4WD’ing, chances are you’re a fan of 4X4 accessories. For most people, one thing you’re going to want to invest in is some decent roof racks. Quite simply, most trailers won’t go to the places you’ll want to take them and if you’re planning to be camping for any length of time, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to carry everything you need without roof racks.

There’s a lot of different roof racks available and a lot of information out there about which ones are ‘the best’ but there’s a couple of things very few people stop to think about and they are actually pretty important.

Roof Capacity

Manufacturers give every vehicle a maximum roof load rating. This means that somewhere in the owner’s manual for your car is the amount that the roof of your vehicle is designed to carry. Many 4WD’s can carry a load of up to 100kgs, some can carry 150kgs and a very few are rated to carry up to 200kgs. It’s vital that you are informed as to what load your vehicles roof can carry before you start loading it up.

Consequences of Overloading

The biggest issue for most people will be that your insurance can be null & void. Every policy states that the vehicle must be roadworthy and if you’ve got more weight on the roof than your car is designed to carry, your vehicle is not roadworthy and your insurance company can refuse to pay a claim.

This is a good thing to keep in mind when purchasing any 4X4 accessories – always check with your insurance if something is covered or if it will void your policy, some insurers are quite strict.

In addition, if your vehicle isn’t roadworthy due to overloading and you have an accident and kill someone, your Compulsory Third Party – which covers other people’s medical expenses if you are liable for injuring or killing someone in an accident – won’t cover you either. This is the most commonly overlooked side effect of overloading, but it shouldn’t be, because it has the potential to change the rest of your life.

For many people, the higher centre of gravity will be the issue the focus on most. Centre of gravity is incredibly important when 4WD’ing. When you’re on rough tracks, side angles can be incredibly dangerous even for experienced drivers. A bump that you would normally sail over with no problems can be a whole other story if your centre of gravity is off due to excessive weight on the roof of your vehicle. If you’re 10kgs over the limit, that’s 10kgs that are working against you staying upright. Even on a normal city street, with the roof racks loaded you’ll notice the difference in handling so multiply that exponentially on a dirt track and the results aren’t pretty.

Over loading your roof racks can also cause excessive strain on your 4WD and roof rack. Next time you’re bouncing up and down in your seat on a track, stop and think about how much worse your roof rack has it. 100kgs loaded up on your roof translates to massive force coming down on the roof every time you bounce up and down. The roof is designed to take this all day, every day – but only if you’re within the rated limits. Go over the limit and expect to see considerable damage to both your roof and your roof racks. And when your racks break in the middle of nowhere, how are you going to get everything home?

Choosing The Right Racks4X4 accessories 4WD roof racks with bar

Roof racks come with specifications for the maximum carrying capacity and conditions they’re designed for. You’re looking for racks specifically designed for off-roading that are as light as possible. After all, if your roof is rated to carry 100kgs and your roof racks weigh 50kgs, you’ve just halved the amount of stuff you can carry up top.

Ideally, look for quality built aluminium racks that are designed specifically for off road. They may cost a bit more, but they’ll repay you in good service for years to come – if you treat them right. Also pay attention to how they clamp down.

If possible, buy racks that have a length of flat bar that runs the entire length of the gutters of the vehicle. This distributes the weight evenly over the length of the gutter, rather than at 4 or six mounting points. If you can’t afford racks that have this arrangement, then racks with several mounting points are still good, just pay extra attention to your clamps – the last thing you want is for the whole lot to slide forward if you come down hard in a ditch and damage your roof.

4X4 accessories 4WD roof racks no barTie Down Points

Make sure your racks have a tonne of places to attach ratchet straps, rope or occy straps. You need to be sure that your gear is going to stay there once it’s up and a cage version is a great way to give yourself lots of tie down points to help keep things safe.

Keeping A Low Profile

Remember that the whole idea is to keep weight low, so if your roof racks have 150 – 200 mm of clearance between the racks & roof, that’s not going to help. With roof racks, you really want minimum clearance, this will make it easier to load & unload as well as giving you better fuel economy (less wind resistance), a lower centre of gravity and you’ll find it a lot easier to get in and out of car parks when you’re not off road!

Quality Counts

As in so many things, you get what you pay for, so always make sure you’re getting the best quality you can afford. That doesn’t mean to look just at the price – check the paint job, because poorly painted steel will rust and the resulting drips will stain your paint, check the welding (especially on joints) to make sure it looks smooth and doesn’t look like a lump of blu-tac stuck on the metal; welding should have good penetration and look smooth with no holes. 4X4 accessories like roof racks can be bought online, which does tend to be cheaper, but it’s always a good idea to view the product first so you know what quality product you’re getting.

4X4 accessories 4WD roof racks packed

Ultimately the goal is to reduce the weight your vehicle is carrying up top. You don’t have to buy the most expensive roof racks out there, but you do need to make sure that the racks you buy are
the right racks for the job and that when loaded, you don’t exceed the rated weight limit for your vehicle. Use roof racks for carrying bulky but light weight items to reduce the risk of rollover and to put less strain on your roof. The roof is perfect for carrying camp chairs, tables, swags, tents and the like, so take advantage of the extra space in the safest way possible and above all, have fun!

 

 

4WD’ing in Summer – Tips & Tricks

While many people choose not to go 4WD’ing in summer (no air-con, when you’re not in the car!), there are always some intrepid souls who are prepared to take the challenge. With the Dry Lakes Races at Lake Gairdner due in the next week, we thought this would be a good time to provide some tips & tricks for camping & 4WD’ing in these hot summer months.

 

4WD’ing in summer heat brings its own unique challenges – bitumen roads tend to melt, leaving bitumen stuck in tyre treads, which can affect grip once you get off-road, engines are more likely to over-heat, meaning you need to both keep a closer eye than usual on your temperature gauge and do your best to avoid running into things that will damage your radiator… Although to be fair, that’s a good rule of thumb that applies all year round…

 

First Things First4WDing in summer water

But if I could only give you one piece of advice concerning 4WD’ing in summer, it would be this – however much water you think you’re going to need, bring more. Bad things happen to good people who run out of water in the outback and when you’re baking in 45+ degree heat, you’ll be glad you brought that extra water. You’re going to go through more water for yourself and your vehicle than you think you will. So, trust me – bring the water.

 

4WD’ing In Summer Is Better Than Walking

Fortunately, I can give you more than one piece of advice, but the second piece of advice is similar to the first – bring more fuel. One wrong turn may not sound like a deal breaker, but if you don’t realise you made a wrong turn for 100kms (when you finally give up looking for the next turn), you’re now potentially down 200+ kms worth of petrol.

If you’re running on dual tanks, when you stop for petrol, always check both tanks are full before leaving. It’s not unusual for someone (particularly kids), to accidentally flick the switch and switch tanks without the driver realising. If you’re calculating how many km’s worth of fuel you have left in the tank but you’re running off the second tank when you think you’re running off the first, it’s easy to overestimate how much fuel you have left.

 

ziploc-bag-drink 4wd'ing in summerZip Lock Bags Are The Gift That Keeps Giving

What you bring in, you take out, but there’s no need to put up with the smell. Zip lock bags of all sizes are your greatest friend when travelling.

As always when you’re in remote spots, there’s not likely to be many trash cans, but in the heat, things can get a bit… smelly… And food smells attract predators. To avoid both the predators and the stench, seal your rubbish scraps inside large zip lock bags before putting them in a bin liner. This doesn’t just keep smells in; the best part is that it keeps flies – and the resulting maggots – out. If you keep the bag away from predators, you’ll have a relatively fly and stench free trip.

You can also pack fruit and veggies in zip lock bags with a piece of paper towel to keep them crisp and fresh. Pack snacks and put them in the car so that when the kids complain they’re hungry, you won’t need to dig through everything to get to the Engel to find something for them to eat. Before leaving home, freeze juice or water in smaller zip lock bags – they take up less space than water bottles and can serve as ice-packs, then, when they’ve partially defrosted, stick a straw through the top and drink or snip a corner off and suck on the ice for a cool treat. This is a great way to keep hydrated when 4WD’ing in summer months.

 

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes.4WD'ing in summer boots

Bring sturdy shoes. When the temperature rises, everyone wants shoes that won’t be too hot. And when you jump out of the car, and it’s easy to slide on a pair of thongs, but if you’re in sandy conditions, it won’t take long to regret it.

Burns from hot sand can be quite serious and require medical intervention, so protect your feet with hiking boots or even sneakers, especially if you’re in sandy conditions. If you really don’t like sand in your shoes, you can invest $10 in a pair of work boot covers to make sure no sand gets inside your boots.

Good boots won’t just protect against hot sand, they’ll also help protect against insects and possibly even snake bites, so make sure your feet are protected.

 

The Outback Is Not A Cashless Society

Bring cash. Don’t count on being able to access ATM’s or use EFTPOS at some of the smaller sites, including homesteads, you may visit. It never hurts to carry cash with you to cover any unexpected situations that may come up. Whether it’s for buying petrol from a fellow traveller, a souvenir, a bag of ice or a replacement part for your vehicle, there’s a good chance you’re going to need some cash at some point.

 

4WD’ing in summer can be a great experience but as always, preparation is the key and small things can make a big difference to your comfort and safety on your trip. If you’re not quite ready to go it alone, why not consider one of our tag along tours? They’re a great way to experience the outback with the security of an expert guide. What do you do to make your summer 4WD’ing holiday more comfortable? Do you have any tips or tricks of your own? Let us know!

Off Road Driving – Types, Tips & Techniques

It’s a sad fact that most 4WD’s never make it off the road these days. Getting a little mud on the tires and experiencing off road driving is Off Road Driving Sand Drivingwhat makes a 4WD worth having! But if you’ve never been off road driving before, there’s a few things you need to know.

 

Different Terrain Calls For Different Off Road Driving Techniques

There are different styles of off road driving and it’s sometimes surprising how many people approach off road driving in exactly the same way that they approach driving on a highway. However the skills you need to drive on a highway are different to those needed for sand or mud and they each require different techniques when you’re driving and when you’re stuck.

If you’re new to off road driving, then it is worthwhile getting some professional 4wd training before you hit the tracks so that you can learn how to safely navigate and extricate yourself from potentially dangerous situations. Here are some of the more common styles here in Australia.

Dune Bashing

While many coastal areas are protected in order to maintain the fragile eco system, there are still a few places where you can go dune bashing. Before heading off though, it’s a good idea to make sure you know how to drive in sand. For starters, it’s essential to reduce the air pressure in your tyres. If your tyres are usually around 35psi, then for dune bashing, you’d look at reducing them to around 12 – 14psi.

off road driving muddingMudding

Mudding is off road driving through an area (s) of wet mud or clay. Its difficulty lies in getting through without getting stuck and you can buy tyres specifically designed for mudding in order to decrease this chance. Beware though – once you’re stuck, getting out can be a messy business!

Rock Crawling

Sounds fairly straightforward but it’s an art best learned from someone experienced in rock crawling, rather than trying to learn on the fly, as it were.

Cross Country

A very popular form of off road driving in Australia and can combine elements of all of the above styles of driving. Usually undertaken in remote areas with little mobile phone coverage, it’s best to undertake cross country off road driving in a convoy or with at least 1 other vehicle if you’re heading into unknown territory.

 

Always remember that off road driving is about having fun, but there’s nothing fun about writing off your vehicle 500 kms from help. The most important elements of any off road driving adventure is safety & preparation, so here’s a few things to keep in mind before your next

 

Bare EssentialsOff Road Driving Steep Climbs

It’s essential to ensure that you have a full tank of fuel and (if possible) extra fuel and water. As well as that, you should always include a tow rope that is rated heavy enough for your vehicle, a portable air compressor, a spare tyre and any equipment you will need to change the tyre in the field, a good first aid kit (make sure nothing is out of date or empty), mobile phone & navigational aids.

If possible, you should also take a high lift jack, shovel, vehicle mounted winch, 2 way radio & a fire extinguisher.

Drop The Pressure

Lower tyre pressure will give you improved traction in nearly every off road driving experience. When you decrease the pressure of your tyres, you allow the sidewall and tread of your tyres to flex more and mould itself to rocks and uneven terrain. In doing so, you get more grip and incidentally, a better ride. If you’re driving on sand, the lower pressure allows you to ride on top of the sand rather than digging in and getting stuck.

Get A Grip

This applies in 2 ways.

  1. Never put your fingers inside the steering wheel, always keep your thumbs on the outside, so that if the steering wheel kicks, you won’t end up with sprained or broken thumbs (or worse). It’s the best and safest grip when driving;
  2. When you feel your tyres spinning, it’s instinctive to hit the throttle but it’s usually not helpful. A better solution is to ease off the accelerator and start turning your steering wheel back & forth. Doing this gives your tyres a chance to dig in to fresh patches of dirt or grip the clean side of any rock in order to pull you out.

Clear Vision

The last thing you want is to be surprised by a potentially dangerous stretch of the trail. If you’re not sure about what you’re facing, stop the vehicle in a safe place and get out of the vehicle to inspect the terrain on foot. It’s always better to get a feel for what you’re facing than to run in blind. If you’re following someone else, watch how they navigate the same stretch, chances are, you’ll learn 1 of 2 things from them – what to do, or what not to do.

Off Road Driving Deep Water CrossingYou Know What They Say About Still Waters..

If you are going to attempt to cross water, there are several things to keep in mind –

  1. How well do you know your vehicle? Where is the air intake? Where is the on board computer located? Generally speaking, you don’t want to submerge either of these things if you can help it. If you don’t know where they’re located, you don’t how how deep you can take the vehicle without risking a breakdown.
  2. Once you’re committed, the only way is (usually) forward. Most people run into trouble when they decide they shouldn’t have entered the water in the first place. The problem is that this moment of clarity comes too late – usually at about the time the water is level with the windows or higher. Once the water is that high, you don’t have a lot of choice. Stop – even to change gear and put the vehicle in reverse – and you’re going to flood your engine, which means you won’t be going anywhere but where the current takes you. There’s a very good way to prevent this…
  3. Check the depth of the water. Hop out of the vehicle, get a branch or stick and check the depth. You might get your legs wet, but if you’re 1 meter from shore and ankle deep when you discover the ledge disappears and drops off to be several meters deep, you’re going to think getting your feet wet was worth it. It also gives you a chance to gauge the current and decide if it’s safe or not. The worst place to decide the current is too strong to cross is midway, better to realise this beforehand.
  4. Don’t be afraid to avoid the crossing. If you’re not sure, back away. You can always drive up or down stream to find a safer crossing point. You can always find a safe spot on higher ground to camp for an extra night while you wait for water to subside. What you can’t do is turn back the clock. Know your vehicle. Know your capabilities. Respect the water. Do this and you’ll be far safer than if you assume ‘she’ll be right mate’.

 

If you’d like some professional training to prepare you for your next off road driving adventure, contact us for more information.

Outback 4WD In The Ikara-Flinders Ranges

Outback 4WD Tag Along Tour

The Ikara-Flinders Ranges present a unique and compelling landscape that has fascinated artists of all mediums for generations. Rugged ranges, jagged peaks and dizzying escarpments guard this spectacular terrain. All of which combines to provide the perfect opportunity to experience the outback 4WD tour you’ve always dreamed of and some fantastic photography.

Drink in the beauty of Bunyeroo Valley and the panoramic views from Razorback Lookout before we head to the historical treasure-trove of Brachina Gorge. Once there, you’ll discover that this tour is more than an opportunity to experience outback 4wd adventures, it’s a trip through the history of our planet.

Outback 4WD Razorback LookoutThe Real History Chanel

Around 600 million years ago and roughly 300 kilometers to the west, an asteroid hit the earth. The force of the impact meant that debris – including parts of the meteorite itself – would travel that 300 kilometers, splashing down in a vast primeval inland sea. That debris became a part of the ocean floor. The ocean floor would become the foundation of the Ikara-Flinders ranges.

Millions of years (and layers of sediment) later, this unique treasure would be forced out of hiding by movement of the earths tectonic plates.  This movement would result not only in the banishment of the inland sea, but the rise of a spectacular mountain range – still containing the fossilised life forms and fragments of meteorite. However nature wasn’t finished – millions of years of erosion later, we’re left with the unique formations we see today.

The Outback 4WD Natural History MuseumOutback 4WD Norms Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby

Who said museums had to be inside? The Brachina Gorge provides us with more than spectacular views, it is a doorway to 650 million years of Australian and natural history. Throughout Brachina Gorge the earth’s crust has broken wide open, exposing the treasures beneath. Here you can find fragments of that meteorite as well as remarkable examples of Ediacaran fossils. These are rare fossils of some of the earliest forms of life to appear on our planet. We’ll take some time to explore some of the fossils exposed in the different layers of strata, allowing you the opportunity to see this part of the earths history.

Pound Rounds

Amongst all the breathtaking scenery of the Ikara-Flinders Ranges, the views of Wilpena Pound stand out as some of the most overwhelmingly beautiful. Our tour doesn’t venture into the Pound itself. Instead, we’ve focused on the outback 4WD experience and helping you get the best panoramic shots over the Pound and surrounding areas.We want to offer a different perspective of the sheer grandeur of the Pound.  Having said that, if you’d like the chance to see the Pound from a different angle, why not look at spending a night or two? The resort offers a range of accommodation & dining options.

 

So if you’re looking for the perfect outback 4WD adventure including some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges, contact us today and take the chance to immerse yourself in the stark majesty of this unique environment.

Outback 4WD Brachina Gorge

UHF Radios – Are You Receiving?

During some recent 4WD Training Courses, it became apparent that there are some myths and ideas out there that aren’t quite right regarding UHF radios, antenna’s and installations, and it became clear that perhaps an article about them might be well timed.

UHF Radios are a great accessory in our 4WD vehicles enabling us to contact others in our group or convoy, other road & track users, truck drivers and possibly someone who can come to our aid, especially in remote regions and if we can contact them with a well set-up UHF radio.

So if your UHF CB radio reception is patchy and unreliable, that’s often due to its poor set-up.

A UHF radio transmits best in a line of sight – in other words, if your antenna can ‘see’ a point, your radio can potentially transmit to it. Therefore, antenna location and type have a huge influence on a radio’s performance.

What Radio type to get?

 

Whilst a small hand-held CB radio might be convenient don’t be fooled into thinking it’s all you need. From our experience we’ve found that they generally only cover a radius of about 1 to 5 kilometers at best and that depends on conditions including dust. Having said that, in recent years’ hand-held models have improved and you can now get 0.5 watt to 5 watt units, 5 watts being the maximum legal power output, which do get slightly better coverage but they are limited by a very short aerial. Some of the better hand-held models can be switched from 1 watt, 3 watt to 5 watts allowing the user to conserve battery life when in close range, by setting the unit to 1 watt, but being able to switch the unit up to 5 watts to help increase its transmission range when you’re further away from others. Of course being on 5 watts reduces the battery time available before it needs to be recharged. Some units can also be connected to an external antenna via a coax cable (RG 50 or RG 58). Hand-held units are ideal for close quarters communication such as from a spotter directing a driver through a tricky situation or for general camp communications.

Standard in car units are generally 5 watts and there are several reliable brands to choose from. GME (Australian owned), Uniden and Oricom are all well regarded brands and there are other new players on the market now too. You also have a choice of a traditional larger unit with all the controls on the face of the unit or a smaller one with the controls on the hand-piece with an extended lead and a slimline unit that can be installed out of the way.

It’s also important to consider where you’ll install your UHF radio. Traditionally (years ago) the radios were commonly installed on the side of the gearbox tunnel or at the bottom of the dashboard with the microphone clipped within easy reach. Some also installed them under one of the front seats with the microphone clipped to the center console. Whilst the lower locations seem good, some people have discovered that their door seals leak in water crossings and as a result the units have been drowned and are beyond repair or salvage.

UHF Radios Off Road Tours 4WD Training 1As UHF units have become smaller and more streamlined in more recent years, it’s become fashionable and practical to install them with the Radio/CD Player higher up in the dash itself. Overhead consoles provide the ultimate solution because your radio/s can be installed above your head with no impact on the dashboard at all and the microphones are still within easy reach.

Antenna Type and Coax Cabling

 

Your choice of antenna is also very important. For close convoy-style touring, where you only wish to talk to and hear from vehicles within a few kilometers in front of or behind you, a short rubberised antenna, between 150mm and 300mm, is fine. These low gain antennae are less likely to strike overhead foliage but for long distance work, a higher gain antenna is much better.

Gain refers to an antennae’s ability to improve reception and transmission and is measured in decibels (dB).

It refers to its radiation pattern with low dB in the shape of an apple and better for hilly terrain and as dB increases so does distance and the transmit pattern becomes more the shape of a flat dish.

One important thing to consider and often not understood is that coiling excess antenna coax cable in the engine bay or under the dash is also a problem. It causes the cabling to become an inductor which can produce a voltage spike down the cable and back into the transmitter and blow up the output stage transistors.

The Solution:  Shorten the antenna’s coax cable at one end to the desired length, (either aerial base or radio end), fit the plug to the coax and then plug the coax into the UHF radio. This will not damage the antenna or its signal regardless of what ‘dB’ the aerial is. If you aren’t able or don’t want to shorten the coax, the next best option is to run it in long loops under the dash, to help avoid it possibly creating that inductor issue.

Antenna Location

Location is really a compromise of best transmit location compared to where you can mount it on the vehicle.  The best position is in the middle of the roof, but who wants to drill a hole in their roof. For ease of fitting, traditionally many people attach their CB aerial to their roo bar, but in doing so their vehicle creates an uneven radiation pattern spreading out behind the car and to one side if fitted to one side of the bull bar. Your signal forwards can also be shadowed by any vehicles in front of you. Ironically poor antenna location means that only a low percentage of user’s realise their radio’s full potential. Even an expensive high gain antenna projecting above the roof level from a roo bar suffers because antenna tips radiate very little energy. The general rule of thumb is to place the bottom half of the aerial at a point where it can ‘see’ the greatest distance, even to the horizon if possible. In other words, the ideal place to achieve this is up on the vehicle’s roof line or roof racks.

UHF Radio Off Road Tours 4WD Training UHF Radios 2If you’re at ground level, on flat terrain, the horizon is about 5 km’s away. If there is nothing between your antenna and the visible horizon, that would be the limit of your transmission range, but if you raise your antenna by just 1 m (i.e. from your bull bar up on to your vehicles roof) you may increase the range over that visible horizon.

If having an aerial high up on your vehicle is a concern, you can get hinged mounting systems so the aerial can be folded down going into a shed or carport and when it comes in contact with overhanging foliage. Even a short antenna higher up that can take the knocks of overhanging branches works much better than a long antenna mounted low down. Aerial mounts with an artificial ground plane can help improve transmissions by evening out signal radiation patterns.

The antenna pictured is a 4dB mounted on a hinged

mounting system. It also has an artificial ground

plane which evens out its radiation pattern.

 

It’s also best to fix your antenna vertically, this sounds obvious but the closer the antenna is to vertical, the more effective it will be. A UHF antenna that bends as you drive may lose performance when travelling, but should be fine when you’re stopped. A sloping unit may look good, but its efficiency will suffer because an antenna’s broadcast is largely flat, like a dinner plate, radiating out from a central point at the base. If you tilt the antenna, one edge of that ‘imaginary plate’ rises up into the air, while the opposite slopes down towards the ground, impeding its efficiency.

With a higher altitude and a clear line of sight, your UHF CB radio can have a range of more than 100km, greatly enhancing your chance of finding someone to come to your aid.

From our in vehicle unit, I once spoke to a bloke with a 5W hand-held unit and we managed to stay in contact with him more than 130km away from a high point in the Flinders Ranges, but our altitude (over 600m) was an important factor.

So in an Emergency Situation, one option to optimise your transmit capability is to drive up onto higher ground if it’s available. Of course all of this is ignoring the benefits of the repeater station network, which will often give you further coverage also. There are a lot of repeater stations in the Australian Outback operated by station properties. Only use these repeater channels in case of emergency as they are used for property operations. This is a gentlemen’s agreement not to operate on the repeater channels.

Where to in the future?

 

A few years ago the UHF service was expanded from 40 channels (wide band) to 80 channels (narrow band) utilizing the same 477MHz spectrum by slotting 40 more (new) channels in between the existing 40 channels. This has created a small problem many are not aware of but is noticeable when you are communicating with others using the old 40 channel units when using your 80 channel unit. Because the band width has been halved it equates to an audio lower in volume, which is why reception sounds softer or louder depending on who’s transmitting on what units. It becomes a pain in the proverbial when you have to constantly adjust the volume to compensate when two different aged radios are being used in a conversation, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. The ACMA have mandated a phase out of 40 channel UHF radios, so by around 2022 all UHF radios will have to be 80 channel units and the current ‘volume issue’ will then be resolved. If offered a second hand 40 channel unit for sale or free, it might be a wise idea to politely refuse the offer.

UHF Radio Off Road Tours UHF Radios 4WD Training 3…. and to finish …. A couple of Handy Hints.

If you have thin steel aerials on your vehicle, corrugated roads have a tendency to shake the aerials to the point that they snap off at the base (particularly aerials mounted on bull bars).

The Solution:  Try using self-vulcanising tape wrapped around the aerial base and part way up the aerial. It seems to limit the whip affect at the aerials base that creates the right harmonics to shake the steel until it breaks and falls off.

The antenna pictured is a 6dB with the self-vulcanising tape

                                         covering the locking grub screw and only a short distance up.

The tape could be wound further up the antenna.

 

UHF Radios & Operational Etiquette

Always listen before transmitting as the channel may be in use by other persons. This helps avoid people talking over each other which leads to a squawking noise and can be quite annoying.

Always wait for 1-2 seconds after you’ve pushed the microphone button in, before talking. This helps avoid those listening, missing the first part of your conversation or reply.

Always leave a three second break between “overs”. This allows others in the group, or other parties, to put in a “breaker”. The “breaker” may only be to add comment to the discussion or it may be because of an emergency situation.

 

If you have any questions about UHF Radios, or you’d like to speak to us about our tag along tours or even a 4WD course, contact us today.

Over.

The Best Off Road 4WD

best offroad 4wd Off Road Adventures Red Dirt 4WDAs professional providers of 4WD training, we get a lot of people asking us what is the best off road 4WD. And it’s easy to understand why – a new vehicle is a significant investment even before you start accessorising, so you want to know that you’re getting the right vehicle for the job, but before you ask what’s the best off road 4WD, there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself.

 

What Are You Planning To Use The Vehicle For?

Is a 4WD simply a weight requirement for the caravan, boat or trailer you need to tow? Or do you want to get totally off the beaten track and do some real off road driving?  How you intend to use the vehicle has a big impact on the answer. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you do intend to go off road driving and throw yourself at some of Australia’s toughest country.

4WD vehicles have special capabilities, but if you lack the knowledge and skill to use them safely, those capabilities are worse than useless to you. There is a real danger in not knowing the safe and correct techniques to recover a vehicle or cross an obstacle when 4WDing, meaning that which 4WD is the best off road 4WD is as much about you as your vehicle.

 

off road driving best off road 4wdAre You An Above Average Driver?

Not surprisingly, when I ask this question to a group of drivers, I’ll generally see about 80 – 90% of those questioned put their hand up. Statistically, this is unlikely. What conditions have you faced? And what conditions are you prepared to face? Preparedness isn’t just about having the gear; it’s about having the knowledge and skill to use it safely.

I’m not saying you’re not a good driver, in fact you may be an exceptional driver in the city, but how skilled are you at off road driving? Statistically speaking, there’s an above average chance that at least a few of the people in the group aren’t as good as they think they are. That’s not their fault; today it’s uncommon for people to drive long distances or experience off road driving and many will never experience challenging conditions at all. The good news is, everyone can learn.

 

best off road 4wd sand driving off road drivingAre You Bringing A Grenade To A Gun Fight?

You may not be able to hit a clay pigeon with a gun, but if you throw a grenade at it, you’re almost certain to blow it out of the sky; however bringing a grenade to a gun fight doesn’t improve your skill at shooting.

For some four wheel drivers, if they can’t make it up, over or through an obstacle, then it must be the vehicles fault – they must not have bought the ‘best’ off road 4WD so they spend tens of thousands of dollars on upgrading the vehicle or accessories and expect that to solve the problem. And to be fair, sometimes it IS the vehicle’s fault and the upgrades DO solve the problem.

However, another driver in the same vehicle but with better skills may make it up, over or through that same obstacle safely and save themselves $50 – $60 grand by not needing to upgrade to a new 4WD each time they find a mountain they can’t conquer. The key words here are ‘better skills’ and ‘safely’.

 

best off road 4wd off road drivingThe Best Off Road 4WD

We’ve been running Tag Along Tours and delivering 4WD Training for over 17 years, so I can tell you categorically that in my experience, the best off road 4WD is the one operated by a safe and skilled driver who understands their own and their vehicles capabilities.

I’m not saying not to upgrade your vehicle or accessories – far from it. Having lots of equipment is great (and fun!) but if you don’t actually know how to use it safely and drive the vehicle properly, then perhaps it’s time to upgrade your skills and not your vehicle.

Consider doing a course to get more out of your 4WD vehicle and/or to learn new skills with it. During our training days, you will be taught how to drive and recover a 4WD safely and confidently without incurring damage to yourself, your vehicle or the environment. A lot of people we have trained have seen demonstrations of what to do (or not to do) so they understand the concepts, but with our training you’re actually going to get your hands dirty!

By combining our safe and responsible approach to training with the magnificent Flinders Ranges as our backdrop, we have created truly unique 4WD courses and learning experiences. The courses are a structured learning program, they are flexible in their application and provide the trainee with the necessary skills required for safer off road driving and 4WD vehicle recovery, allowing you to get the most from your vehicle and yourself without breaking the bank.

best off road 4wd 4wd training off road driving

If you’re interested in joining us to improve your 4WD skills and/or coming along for a great trip to discover a unique part of our ’Aussie back yard’, then contact us for more information.  We now also cater for Trekkers and Trekking groups and can put together a package to suit your particular needs.

Off Road Adventures At Beltana Station

Off Road Adventures Creek Bank

When you’re looking to explore the Flinders Region, why not start with the best? A working station since 1854, Beltana Station isn’t just an historical treasure trove, it’s also an incredibly diverse region boasting a variety of 4WD tracks to suit everyone.

What’s ThereOff Road Adventures Lake Torrens Track

Offering a range of accommodation from the bush camp ground (included in Pindan Tours Off Road Adventures Tour to Beltana Station) through to the beautiful and historical Overseer’s Cottage, which was built in the late 1800’s, Beltana Stations facilities include hot showers, a camp kitchen, the station pool (perfect for cooling off after a big day of 4WDing) and the Woolshed Restaurant & Café, a unique experience offering delicious and reasonably priced ‘home cooked’ delights.

But while a comfy bed and delicious meals certainly add to the experience, it’s the 4WD tracks that make Beltana Station the perfect base from which to explore the Flinders on your very own off road adventures.

Off Road Adventures

Picture a vast salt bush plain cut by a ridge of steep, jagged mountains, scarred by river beds lined with lush Red Gums. Whether in flood or drought, the spectacular scenery including creeks, natural springs, iconic Australian red sand and picturesque historical ruins, is not for the faint of heart.

Off Road Adventures Yellow Footed Rock WallabyYellow Footed Rock Wallabies, Fresh Water Turtles and the odd brave lizard provide photo opportunities while Norm & Coralie provide expert guidance. At between 580 – 800 million years old, the terrain around the Flinders Ranges is rugged and is best encountered with experienced guides.

Beltana offers 3 vastly different tracks and you’ll get to experience this extraordinary landscape over our 6 day tag along tour (also available as a fully catered tour).

From the beautiful Lake Torrens, which also happens to be the 2nd largest salt lake in the world, to the postcard perfect banks of the Puttapa Springs, all the way to the heights of Mount Deception; with over 200kms of 4WD tracks, Beltana Station will allow you to test yourself and your skills, while enjoying the incredible Australian landscape.

 

If you’re looking for the perfect getaway and an all-round incredible experience, speak to us about our incredible off road adventures to Beltana Station. When you’re surrounded by some of the most powerful and breathtaking scenery Australia has to offer, you’ll be glad you did.

Off Road Adventures Red Dirt 4WD

WHAT MAKES TAG ALONG TOURS A GREAT INTRODUCTION TO EXPLORING THE OUTBACK

 

Tag Along Tours

The infamous outback lures many visitors to Australia each year. However,  4wd Tag Along Tours get you to the places the majority of tourists don’t get to. You have the opportunity to see unique places without the guesswork. Tag along tours take you to amazing destinations and ultimately improve your experience of the Australian outback.

Tag Along Tours – Experience of a Lifetime

Pindan tour guides are highly knowledgeable in touring the outback and can take you to some amazing destinations. They take the guesswork out for you so that all you have to do is follow and experience some of the most memorable places Australia has to offer. There are different Australian adventure tours and you can choose a package that suits you. There are half day treks to whet your appetite and show you what it’s all about. Or you can opt for treks that cover several days. Packages can also be used to increase your 4WD skills and confidence with your vehicles capabilities.

Tag Along ToursGreat Minds Think Alike

Our team at Pindan tag along tours provide an introduction to the infamous outback with like-minded individuals. You don’t have to be a lone Aussie wanderer. Adventure tours in Australia provide a great opportunity to meet others with similar interests. Make lifelong friends in the bush and learn from your shared experience. Making these connections will help you unplug from daily life.

Safety First

Experiencing the outback with skilled guides also provides reassurance with your safety. Touring with a guide gives you the excitement of traveling with a safety net. Pindan tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in 4WD vehicles and what to do in emergency situations. This includes means of emergency communications and the capabilities for basic repairs. Take on different terrains with the confidence of having more experienced 4WD drivers on hand.

Tag Along ToursBoost Your Skills

Pindan Tours also offers specialised 4WD training so once you’ve completed your training, why not join one of our tag along tours and see what your 4WD can really do on tour. These vehicles are made to take you off the beaten track and have a unique Australian experience. Expand your 4WD expertise and test its capabilities with the reassurance of skilled tour operators.

Learn Something New

Exploring the outback is possible by yourself, however, a tour guide provides you with knowledge. Not only are they familiar with the landscape and four wheel driving but they can teach you about the history, attractions, flora and fauna you encounter. This provides you with a greater understanding of the area that you wouldn’t get if you travelled alone.

 

Booking a tag along tour is the first step in committing to a unique Australian adventure. Even if you’ve just got a question, contact us today and let us introduce you to the breathtaking Australian outback as you’ve never seen it before.