One of the funniest things I see from time to time are 4WD videos and the like where the owners proudly show off how they have ‘built, not bought’ their particular 4WD. This is often a statement meant to disparage those who go to a 4WD accessories retailer such as ARB, TJM or similar and have them supply and fit accessories such as suspensions, bull bars, winches, battery kits etc; basically everything that you need to kit your 4WD for the great outdoors. Sadly, doing so is viewed by some as being inferior, if not a disgrace, to those who fit stuff themselves. Personally I see nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to such a place, especially if you’re not mechanically inclined or simply don’t want to go through the hassle and time of installing things yourself. Sometimes it’s also a matter of warranty, where if something fails or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you’ll be in a better position to make a claim. It’s not much different to taking your vehicle to a dealership or mechanic for regular servicing, for some that’s far better value than doing things yourself at home, especially if you don’t have the equipment and location to do so.
As a bit of background, many diesels, especially trucks, use a diesel fuel lift-pump in or near the fuel tank to provide better fuel flow to the engine’s fuel filter, which is usually located near the engine. When the fuel has to travel quite some distance and the height between the fuel tank and fuel filter is significant, then a lift-pump takes a lot of strain off the main fuel pump used to pressurise injectors, or a fuel rail in common rail diesels. You can find lift-pumps in even smaller vehicles of one form or another especially 4WDs but many, like my Patrol, don’t have a lift-pump and so it’s quite common for owners to install one to assist with fuel flow and fuel pump longevity. So I did the same in 2014 with my Patrol but, unfortunately, on one of our High Country Cruises in 2016, the lift-pump unceremoniously failed, stopping fuel flow to the engine. Thankfully that wasn’t a particularly difficult job to remove, as I’d specifically installed the lift-pump so that it was easy to access.
Over the last 10 or so years I’ve acquired various notebooks and tablets to use as navigation aids for our Cruises after digital mapping became available and affordable, but I’ve always had an issue with mounting these devices on the dash of my Patrols. The problem is that with ever more curved and aesthetically pleasing interiors provided in modern 4WDs, there are fewer and fewer places and means by which to attach accessories to a 4WD dash, or elsewhere for that matter. Given that the use of electronic navigation devices by 4WD owners is almost ubiquitous, it’s odd that no manufacturer has really given much thought as to how 4WD owners could mount such devices and provide suitable mounting options. So it’s always been Heath Robinson to the rescue.
I’m sure that Captain Kirk ‘could’ have said that at one point or another, as much as he never said ‘Beam me up Scotty’. Anyhow, this story isn’t about Star Trek but about winches and the replacement of my cheap Aldi winch that I’ve had in my Nissan GU Patrol for the last eight years. I haven’t had to put the Aldi winch to really serious use in that time but, in the last couple of years it has been called into duty and it’s failed me on four occasions. The first involved a failed solenoid and the following two involved broken wires, which can happen even with the most expensive winch. However, on our last excursion, the motor seized and I was left to be recovered by others. Later in the day, the use of a hefty mallet fixed that seizure and I was able to rewind the cable that had been wrapped around my bullbar. Now before going on one of our Cruises, I test the winch to make sure that it’s working, given that it’s spent many of those eight years going through rivers, and each time things have been fine. But considering where we go, I was no longer confident that I could rely on this winch when called into action and decided to retire it and replace it with something more substantial and modern.