Saturday, March 31, 2012

An evening in the bush

Setting up as the mist rolls in..

With the weather cool and dry for a day, I thought it time to get out and have a bush bbq. Dave chose to ride the Honda and meet me at trails end where we made a fire and cooked our sausages and onion rings. Later we had some billy tea. The fire was good! One match only ( I've still got it).

The track itself is the usual one however the rain makes it tricky in a couple of sections, ( I nearly slid into a gum tree), and the rain has made the undergrowth close in on the track, scraping the sides of the FJ.

A fire lit with one match.

After 3 hours it was time to return. It was Daves first experience at night riding on the honda. The headlight is awful. On descents with a closed throttle the headlight becomes dull, and its difficult to pick a line.

Still, a lot of fun was had and, after a short time, we had returned home all in one piece.

Oh- the research continues and the traps have been collected for hair analysis- I am hoping they can confirm Tiger Quoll. Described as a "native cat" they are a carnivorous marsupial and feed on smaller mammals, reptiles and birds.About the size of a large domestic cat. Its cousin, the Eastern Quoll, is considered extinct on the mainland of Australia however is still found in Tasmania. Quolls have a short life span of about 2 years. So, its a long shot, but you just never know!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The build up

The FJ sitting a little taller now

This is a post that is for those who are interested in modifications done to FJ Cruisers. Some members of the club asked me to post some pics. Now rather than try to get the hang of it using the club site, I will just add a link there.

As you know I like to travel, and for years I have had the luxury of a 4x4 sitting in the driveway as a 2nd car. They were all set up ready to roll. My circumstances changed this year and, as much as I loved my trayback, I needed an auto that could double as a daily drive.

In comes the FJ. Toyota have created a "platform" on which you can build up the FJ to suit your style of travel. Some people enjoy Gymkhanas, some enjoy beach fishing, some enjoy rallies. Me? I have to eat big kilometres over 2nd rate roads. So my mods are suited for that.

The FJ in standard trim is very comfortable and brilliant off road. Its rubber interior is easy clean, waterproof seats. The V6 petrol is a surprise- good on fuel and has really good acceleration for a heavier vehicle. So, I dont miss the turbo diesels one bit. However, There are a few things that needed improving.

The FJs front bar is plastic and very soft.

Firstly the front bumper- Its plastic and would not cope with a nudge from a cow. In comes the ARB bull bar. Now I must admit in retrospect I am not too happy with it. Its heavy and really made a negative impact on the way the vehicle handles. I cannot be without it as the risk of hitting a roo or livestock- even nudging them off the road at night, a bar is a must.

Secondly, I fitted IPF driving lights- again to get a good look at night. The standard headlights are fine for city work but not up to it outback.

The blue springs!

Thirdly, To improve the way the vehicle handles I had Ultimate suspension fitted. This raises the FJ by 50mm, stiffens the ride, improves the handling. So, the weight of the bar has been resolved.

The simple, neat UHF set up

Fourthly, I had a UHF radio fitted. Its a small price to pay for the comfort should anything happen as well as convenient when travelling in a group. I am amazed at how technology has improved things. The radios in my previous vehicles were huge. This new unit the microphone has all the controls and the main unit tuck away behind the dash. The hand piece can be unclipped and stored when not in use. Its neat, clean and tidy. Of course I got a white aerial to match nthe white roof.

ARB neat fit air compressor.

Fifth on the list is an air compressor. For my overseas friends. I cannot tell you how many times I have used one in the past. When traveling on sand you have to lower the pressures in the tyres, or repairing punctures, or blowing up airbeds or bike tyres or footballs... I have even used one to blow dust out of components when repairing them. Its fitted on the flat panel just behind the washer bottle. This may be looked at again should a dual battery set up be installed.

Neat fit of UHF radio aerial. Fitted to Drivers side to minimize damage from trees and scrub. Note- its white! to match the roof..

Next on the list is wheels and tyres. Most of the roads I travel are coarse stone and gravel. I need a tyre that is anti chip and will do the distance. My Dunlops only lasted 20,000km on my troopie, yet my Coopers did about 80,000km. Also a change of rims will keep the original ones looking "fresh" when i come to sell the FJ. Those roads tend to sandblast the alloy. I originally thought of black, but someone said try white rims for a complete retro look. We shall see. I like the look of the FJ on the right of my blog however.

FJ is a very capable towing vehicle. Even with this lot plus gear, fuel consumption was 12.5 litres per Hundred k's.

So, these are the mods to date. Is the FJ perfect? no. There are a couple of things I am not used to. 1. the fuel tank is way too small- So I have a 120litre tank ordered. This will fit perfectly behind the rear axles. 2. Not enough storage- so I have ordered a roof rack. 3. The plastic in the cargo area scratches way too easily. So a carpeted draw system is on the agenda.

My days of thrashing a 4x4 over dunes and in gymkhanas is over, so I hope my build will allow me to travel to remote places in comfort and reliability. I am reluctant to do any/many electronic mods as I dont want any reliablity issues. So no extra gauges or wire cutting for me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Research part 2

The FJ along the fire trails. Works brilliantly in this terrain. The trails are a mix of sandstone, clay, sand and bog. For the FJ cruiser club members the only thing that drives me nuts is the key chime..very awkward when trying to listen to wildlife.


The relationship that development has to our environment is critical, and mans impact, with the corresponding results are becoming evident all around us.
The zone where development meets the national park is a critical example. Its important to balance the preservation of life and property with the preservation of those things I call natural assets.

Dr Wotherspoon indicating a spot for the placement of traps.

In the past we have simply developed areas with little thought as to the consequence of our actions. Arguably resulting in developments where there should be none. As a result, when the needs arise we use a "jack boot" to protect ourselves.
The research being undertaken over the two week period is to study what exists within the 50 metre zone behind houses that back onto the Blue Mountains National Park. By understanding this, plans can be implemented to preserve the natural assets, as well as preserve the properties and lives of people.

Terrain ideal for trapping- hollow logs, bottle brush and banksia and a creek line.

In spending time working with the scientists I received a greater understanding of the relationship between the flora and fauna, and what exists. For example evidence of Bandicoot and Pigmy Possum existing only a few metres from back fences. Glossy Black cockatoos have "larder trees". These trees have a higher nutritional value than other trees and become preferred.

Eastern Pygmy Possum ( example not what we had at the time)

I also learned of the negative impact of unleaded fuels on the reproductive organs of the bearded dragon. This tied in with Dr Jim Fowlers research on declining Sparrow populations in London as a direct result of unleaded petrol- A bit "scary" when you think of the potential risks to us living in cities.

Setting traps.

So, you see? What we do impacts on the environment and therefore impacts back on us. Not just in the saving of property but in the long term as well. The health of the environment is the health in us.


This week we will do an evening spotlighting and during the day makes notes on the tree species. We will use recordings of various night birds to attract them. BAts should be about too. I cannot wait!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Owl Research and Old Spice

Powerful Owl.

Its with some excitement that I discover our local council have asked Abel Conservation to do some research into the wildlife that exists in the bush behind our homes. As most of you know we back on to the Blue Mountains National Park. World heritage listed, It contains a major number of world Eucalyptus species and is home to a wide variety of fauna.

Boobook Owl

I contacted Abel Conservation to ask them what they are looking for and they are specifically looking at Owls.
I have seen three species of owl here. Powerful Owl, Boobook Owl and Barn Owl. Owls are very special. They are silent fliers, their wings are set so you cannot hear them as they flap, and they feed mainly on rodents and possums. The powerful owl is large, the barn owl is small. A powerful owl could take your cat, a barn owl could take a mouse, Just to give you an idea.


Akos Lumnitzer

Barn Owl

I am not going to write about them here. The internet has a lot of information about them. We start tomorrow. I am, looking forward to this very much, as I know little about them and I will keep you posted.

Below is an advert I did for old spice. I am not happy how they spray tanned me and my 6 packs a little less defined but....I hope you like it...