A Year with the 79 Dual Cab – and a few further mods.
Well, I’m now thirty thousand kilometers down the track with the build on the 79 and I thought I’d share an update. Some things have been great right from the start and other things have needed some modifications or change. We’ve taken the 79 from Cairns through 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 and all up I’m pretty pleased with it.
Along the way, I have come to some conclusions and made some major, and some minor changes. Starting with the minor first… I quickly found that on long drives at night, the choice of spotlights I had made was not a good one. I had fitted up a set of high-quality round X-ray vision quad-optic pencil beam LED lights to the bull bar. 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.
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 gave me eye strain as I found I was 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 and invested in a set of Fyrlyt Nemesis 9000’s, which I hope to report back on soon. 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 vapourising bugs before they hit the windscreen!
Moving onto the engine bay where I had already fitted up an oil-air separator, or catch can. Despite the fact that it is a big name brand one and wasn’t cheap, 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, not sure yet.
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 keeping 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 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 Auto’s in Nambour while poking around the Frazer Coast area that same month, and had the clutch replaced with an NPC 1300 and the engine dyno-tuned. Everything is still standard Toyota with 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 and 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 and rear ladder will be installed before the next big trip, and likely also a new center console with cup holders. Other than that I intend to put a heap of kilometers on it further exploring this awesome country of ours.