Written by Aaron Koo – TJM Perth Digital Marketing Manager
Our frontline and workshop staff here at TJM Perth (Steve, Patrick, Mitchell, Luke, Russell, Dave and Hayden) are all very experienced professionals in the 4×4 industry with almost 100 years of experience together. However, my experience is with marketing and the internet and have only gone 4wding a couple of times before this. So it is safe to say that personally (while I have the basic understanding of the benefits of various 4wd Accessories) I am nowhere close to being an expert in this area.
I have been very fortunate to have been invited to attend the Adventure Offroad Training bush course run by Richard Nicholls. The course was conducted in Nganguring situated near the Mundaring Powerlines over 60km east of Perth. Most of the tracks in this area require an N.P.A.W license and not available for use by the public.
Richard explaining how most 4x4s work
Prior to starting the course, we met at the roadhouse nearby the tracks to fill up paperwork and get acquainted. Before we left the roadhouse, Richard went through in a lot of detail on maintenance checks that you should check prior to going on a road trip. He went through the various oil and water level checks and methods to prevent the radiator from overheating and safe ways to jumpstart your vehicle without risking setting your battery on fire. What was very informative was that he mentioned the differences in the parts of all the participants’ vehicles.
After going through the formalities we all left the roadhouse we were all assembled in a convoy and were explained the procedures of travelling in a group. We were instructed to keep out headlights on when travelling and everyone had to be equipped with UHF radios. Those who did not own a UHF radio were able to rent one from Richard for the day. Richard did a radio check with everyone and off we went.
For those who are interested, we were equipped with the new GME UHF radio in our new TJM Perth Ranger
After arriving at the track, Richard spent quite a bit of time explaining to us the basics of 4wding. The major topics he covered were the basics of the different types of differentials, the benefits and importance of diff locks, high range vs. low range, the difference between 4×4 full-time, part-time and all wheel drive. What impressed me the most is Richard’s extensive knowledge of how all the different 4wds operate. He explained in detail what features related to each of our individual vehicles and the benefits of how we can use them. In the 4wds present at the course were 1 Ford Ranger PXII, 3 x Toyota FJ Cruisers, 1 Toyota Landcruiser 200 Series and Richard’s Toyota Prado 150 Series.
Normally during this part of the course, we would get to experience doing water crossings. Unfortunately, the water levels weren’t high enough on the day so we did not get to do this on the day. Richard did spend time explaining many things about water crossings. He also covered the benefits of a 4×4 snorkel and mentions it’s role during water crossing.
No water crossing for us as the tide was too low 🙁
Some of the key things that I learned were
- Always keep your shoes on (you could potentially get infected by gangrene and lose your foot)
- If there are crocodiles, just don’t do it
- When to bail – If you make a bad judgement call and know you’re not going to make it, just get out and save yourself rather than try to save your 4wd and potentially harm yourself in the process.
Richard normally conducts some recovery training in the beach course where there is a lot of sand. There was no recovery done in the bush course as it is not a very sustainable activity to constantly dig holes on the ground. He did give us a very good talk on using recovery gear and how to go about using it. Richard also mentions the effectiveness of the crawl control feature that is in many of the Toyota 4x4s and how it is a great tool to get you out of a bog.
Quality of equipment
Richard talked about the importance of choosing quality recovery equipment and not to settle for the cheap stuff. He mentions a few brands in the market that produce quality equipment (TJM recovery gear being one of them of course *shameless plug*). This is very important as sub-par quality equipment can not only potentially harm your vehicle but yourself as well. He talks about the quality of snatch straps being very different between the good brands and the cheap brands. Another thing that was covered was also the towing limits being inaccurate on many of the cheap brands out there which can lead to a lot of problems.
Using the recovery blanket
One of the big mistakes with people using a recovery blanket is that they place it in the middle. This isn’t the worse idea in the world, but it could backfire if things do go wrong. In the event something breaks, having the recovery blanket in the middle could lead to metal objects flying through your front/back windscreen possibly leading to someone getting injured and also damaging your 4wd. Having the blanket placed approximately 1 metre away from the connection point can prevent injury and damage from happening.
Unfortunately for whatever reason, I can’t seem to find the photos I have taken from this session. But here’s a video from the boys from Two Mates Adventures showing you how to do a recovery.
The key points taken from this session are:
- The most important piece of recovery gear is YOUR BRAIN (using common sense)
- Prepare for the worse case scenario when doing your setup
- Quality of product is very important when it comes to equipment that can save your life/vehicle
This is the fun part where we get to test our vehicles by going through some challenging tracks. Prior to the driving, Richard gave us a quick crash course on going through rocky terrain.
The key points taken are:
- Keep your vehicle level when going through uneven terrain
- Turn to the opposite direct as you dip
- Picking a better line when going through rocky terrain will make things easier for you
- Get creative – fill up holes with sand or rocks if you need to make things easier for your 4×4
Watch the video below to see a clip of how we did in the 4wd tracks.
*Note the speed in the video has been increased because if you watched it in normal speed, you’d probably fall asleep!
Overall it was an awesome day spent with Adventure Offroad Training and the rest of the other participants. As a beginner, I definitely learned a lot about 4wding and how to use my 4wd effectively. It was also awesome to do these difficult tracks supervised as it can be quite intimidating for someone new to this activity.
If you want to find out more about Richard’s courses head to Adventure Offroad Training.