Well, I’m now 30,000 kilometres down the track with my 79 Series dual cab build, so I thought I’d share an update. Some things have been great right from the start and other things have needed some modifications. We’ve taken the 79 from Cairns deep into the Northern Territory, visited the Lost Cities, Lawn Hill, Central Queensland, the Gympie to Brisbane hinterland areas, the Fraser Coast and back to Cairns. All things considered, I’m pretty pleased with it.
Along the way, I have come to some conclusions and made some major and minor changes. Let’s start with the minor changes.
I quickly found that on long drives at night, the choice of spotlights I had made was not a good one and I have removed them. I had fitted up a set of high-quality round X-ray vision quad-optic pencil beam LED lights to the bullbar. First up, they were easy to mount but would slowly vibrate loose until I used Loctite 242 on them, which I probably should have done in the first place and really was an oversight on my end.
Secondly, and the main reason I changed them out, was that they lit up the road directly in front of the vehicle way too much. What I mean is that the glare coming back off the road surface strained my eyes, as I was constantly battling to focus my night vision from way out down the road with the brightness right in front of me. In the end, I decided I was sick of it, removed them and invested in a set of FYRLYT Nemesis 9000s. You can read more about my experience with the Nemesis 9000 4WD driving lights here.
This is a bit of an about-face, as I am reverting back to halogen technology, albeit a version with 250W globes and a 24V step-up module, so I suspect I might be vaporising bugs before they hit the windscreen!
Moving onto the engine bay, where I had already fitted up an oil-air separator, or catch can. The Taipan catch can wasn’t cheap and I am currently monitoring the effectiveness of it as I am still getting oily residue in the intercooler and pipes. Perhaps this is normal, but I was expecting better results and this may yet end up getting changed out in the future for a different brand. I’ll report on this after a longer period of use.
May 2017 also saw the 79 on the hoist at Australian Expedition Vehicles in Townsville, where Michael McMillan fitted up a JMACX coil conversion and remote reservoir King Shocks. This was a major investment in the vehicle (one I only did because I intend to keep it for the long term), but it has made a huge difference to the way it tracks, sits on the road and handles.
With the additional sway bar in the rear, the vehicle now feels like it flies through those winding roads and it just devours those long stretches of corrugations. The kit also included an upgraded brake booster and new stainless-steel brake lines all round. Having used the new brake booster for a while, I can honestly say that this is something that everyone should seriously consider doing. The factory brakes really are woeful with a full load. In fact, even when the vehicle is empty.
I also dropped in on Matt Smith at Just Autos in Nambour while poking around the Fraser Coast area that same month. I had Matt replace the clutch with an NPC 1300 and the engine dyno-tuned. Everything is still standard Toyota with the exception of the Safari snorkel, but it now puts out a respectable 190 HP and 625NM of torque, which I must say is just so much better to drive, yet leaves plenty of options for future upgrades if I ever get the urge. The combination of the coil conversion and tune has resulted in a massive improvement in handling and drivability for an otherwise agricultural workhorse.
So what else is on the list for the future? Well, the vehicle is currently back at Decked Out Fabrications getting some new mudguards installed as a result of the wheel track increase from the coil conversion. After that, I suspect a roof rack over the cab and rear ladder will be installed at some stage.
I am also still considering my options to improve the situation with the centre console and overhead console. Other than that, I intend to put a heap of kilometres on it further exploring this awesome country of ours. Stay tuned for the next instalment of my Toyota 79 Series dual cab build.
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