LAST month we signed off our article expressing our hope to be able to speak about the final stages of getting our 80 Series LandCruiser on the road.
Well, sadly we haven’t fulfilled our wishes, but from no fault of our own. Long story short, we are still waiting on a response from Queensland police about our surrogate VIN. Regardless, life goes on and we’ve spent yet another Easter weekend at Levuka 4×4 Park. This year we went to Levuka 4×4 Park on Thursday afternoon, anticipating we’d get set up nice and early and hit the tracks straight away, but sadly the afternoon didn’t go to plan. After setting up we locked the hubs, chucked the Patrol in 4-Low and prepared for take off.
Immediately we realised we had a massive problem but had no idea what it was. The front end was clunking just the same as it was back in October 2018 when the same thing happened to us at LandCruiser Mountain Park. Looking at Sammy trying to drive the car, it became clear that either the transfer case or front differential was in ruins. As Sammy would drive, the front wheels would bind up and then release with a mighty clunk and slip of the wheels.
Knowing we could still technically drive it and that we were scheduled to help marshal on the night run on Saturday night, we were faced with a few decisions. We could drive it and hope whatever was broken didn’t let go; we could drive home and fix the issue, and then come back out for the rest of the weekend; or we could simply not drive the rig. The biggest issue with our decisions was the fact the other cars with us were all full of passengers, meaning if we didn’t drive, we would miss out.
After deliberating, we decided to stick with the easy tracks and drive in 2WD as much as possible. Well that plan certainly didn’t last long! Friday morning rolled around, rain set in, and the rest of our group started to arrive. Soon enough we found ourselves on the tracks and boy was it slippery. The rains had started the night before and already turned everything into slop.
As usual, once I was on the track I took lead and headed straight for the challenging tracks – completely against our initial plans. Those who follow us on Facebook may remember a video where we were all crossed up over three ruts and completely unable to exit them, which was during last year’s Easter adventure. This year we managed to get caught in the exact same ruts at about the same time on the same day and what do you know, the outcome was the same. We became crossed up at the top of the ruts and were forced to reverse 400m down the track and through a large bog hole to get out.
On the receiving end of a lovely glare from Sammy and a simple ‘I told you so’ smirk, it was evident the park was too wet and the Milk Carton was too broken to be out on the tracks this year. We parked up at camp, set up the solar blanket and got out the beers. Soon enough the final members of our group arrived and took pity on us, with offers flowing in for us not only to ride shotgun, but also take control of their rigs and get our fix.
We found our weekend jam-packed with adventures and shenanigans. One of our mates Shane is in the business of buying and selling cars. When he showed up in his bone-stock Mitsubishi Pajero, we couldn’t do anything but laugh. However, we were gobsmacked with his ability to point and shoot this rig. Shane was completely comfortable trying any track we came across and boy did he give it his best shot. At one stage during the trip I was guiding the group down to a very large gully that (in my experience) usually remains fairly dry, even after heavy rainfall.
When we got there, he started the descent without any hesitation. We quickly found the ground was soaked and we started slipping and sliding all the way down with seemingly no way back up. Jumping on the UHF radio, we stopped anyone else from heading down and then started assessing our situation. After about 20 minutes of trial and error at the bottom of the gully, Shane decided to take a track that looked sketchy as. The next thing we saw was mud flying and Shane sliding sideways up this hill, drifting his way to the top. Success!
After finally acknowledging how stupidly wet the tracks were, we all made the decision to head over to the Play Ground, a nice small gully where people congregate to watch others test their rigs on short muddy hillclimbs. Due to the amount of rain, we found an abundance of bystanders and participants there, which made for great entertainment. We spent the majority of our weekend hanging out watching others slip and slide, some with success, others with multiple tyres blown off their rims. Returning home from Levuka, we still had almost a week of leave remaining.
We had initially planned to stay out and about for the entire holiday, but with a broken car we simply weren’t comfortable hanging out on the tracks by ourselves. After getting home and playing around with the rig, we determined our issue to be the front differential, but with no metal shards in the oil we remained confused. Turned out we had destroyed our front locker, with locking pins dislodged and jammed sideways in the mechanism.
Check out the photo! Thankfully we had a spare differential sitting in the shed and all the parts to fix the rig, so had it fixed within the day. Don’t forget to follow Flexible 4WD Solutions on Facebook to keep up to date with all the action. There’s sure to be plenty more as soon as we get the LandCruiser on the road!