Air cooled: Old trucks, new parts and Caramello koalas

Things have been as crazy as ever here at the old home base as the time between trips seems to get shorter and shorter. It's not of course; it's just that as the kids grow older life seems to get busier.

I was only saying that to Chooka down at the Mudflats Hotel after we'd decided to take time out for a counter lunch while shopping for some new blades for the mower. One of these days I'll show you my mower. Like every other machine around Roothville, it's kind of old and modified to do the job. I'd show it to you now if I could but that's a bit hard and that's why we're shopping for some new blades. The grass has grown so long over summer I can't find the bloody mower...

We did find an old Troopy while looking for it though, so all's good.

A few years ago I met a beaut couple up in Gladstone while doing one of the shows and they mentioned this old Tojo that was sitting in their driveway. Once I found out it was an '83 model and reasonably complete I had to go have a look and sure enough, it was a beauty.

Derek wanted some stuff for his 100 Series before a Cape trip so we did a bit of swapping and next thing I know Derek's driven this old girl down and parked it in my yard. It had one day's worth of rego left.

That's about where it stayed too because life got so busy I just didn't have a chance to play with it. My sons painted it with oil to slow down any rust and then when the Handbrake started talking about the front yard getting crowded they towed it out the back and hid it behind a fence. We didn't really forget about it but not much happened since. You might have seen some of the results on my Facebook page

Finally with some time to spare and Tommo coming up for his licence we figured we'd pull the old girl out as soon as we'd mowed the lawn, if we could find the mower first anyway. That's about when I remembered why the mower hadn't moved since last time it got used - Joe had hit a concrete drain at about 100mph and done a big number on the blades.

Which is how Chooka and I found ourselves in the pub, because as any man knows, lawn mowing is the biggest excuse to go out for a drink on the weekend. No wonder I'm so busy, all my time gets used up making excuses to the Handbrake...

Anyway the lawn's still not mowed because one thing led to another which led to Fat Kevvy slipping down the boat ramp while trying to pinch Dingo's crab pots again and the whole pub having to go outside for a laugh.

He was a bit upset too, having lost the family thongs and all. Yep, they got stuck in the mud and blew both plugs, a true natural disaster as every Queenslander knows.

Problem was Pelican Pete's got a strict rule on dribbling mud since he put that new carpet in the public bar and he made Kev stand outside until he dried off. The big fella looked like an ad for a monster Caramello Koala, if koalas wore stubbies and singlets.

He was a bit upset too, having lost the family thongs and all. Yep, they got stuck in the mud and blew both plugs, a true natural disaster as every Queenslander knows.

Righto, I'd better go put the mower back together so the lads can mow the lawn and we can start finding all the other things we've lost out there. I've put together another snap shot of life down here on the Mudflats on these pages to try and give you some idea of what we've been up to.

Yeah, I know, there's no shots of the pub and Fat Kevvy and stuff. Why? You've got to be kidding - we banned cameras down there shortly after Ozzie McLean's stag night about thirty years ago when the, err, thingy sat on the other thingy and that thing broke and, yes, well you had to be there.

Cop you later guys!

John Rooth

Hotlips out on Moreton Island again! Wow, this time around I forgot to engage the front hubs and didn't even notice for the first day or so. In these days of complexity it's easy to forget that sometimes the basics for 'go anywhere' four wheel driving haven't changed much - keep it simple, keep it light! And Hotlips is total fun to drive too, definitely my favourite beach cruiser of all time.

John Rooth

Been playing with Opposite Lock's new bar work lately and couldn't resist showing you this photo of the primary step/side bar mount on the 76 Series. Great welding yes, but what impressed me the most was the fit - perfect. Usually the time you spend modifying stuff to make it fit is the real time killer with products and what puts people off having a go themselves. No dramas here!

It doesn't get much simpler than the little side valve four banger that pushes the Jeep. There's 130Nm of torque here pushing 1,100kg, less than half the weight yet similar torque to most of the Cruisers and Patrols of a decade or so ago. OK, so there's no air conditioning, but who needs that when you haven't got doors and the windscreen folds down?

Points ignition is simple too, which is a good thing because I was able to swap these burnt out jobbies pretty quickly! Marathon Neil packed me a box of spares based on his years of experience with the breed and sure enough, there were some new points and a condenser close to the top along with a distributor cap and some leads. Beauty!


I love side bars or bush whackers or whatever you want to call them. These fat tube ones really make the truck look as tough as it is too. Fitting them required drilling a couple of holes in the bullbar itself as usual because every fit is different. Big trick here is to grease up or paint the fresh holes so they don't start rusting further down the track. I used Lanotec grease again, always works.

John Rooth

OK, eLocked both ends, barred up, Mickey T'd, sitting a couple of flexible  inches higher on OL's new suspension and with that awesome Frontrunner rack system in place the 76 is starting to look like a weapon. I reckon a rear dual wheel bar might be the final touch before the yellow stripes can finally come off! The few times I've used it in anger it's been so capable it's almost scary.

John Rooth

Meanwhile at the other end of the horsepower spectrum, my son Tom's coming up for his licence and it's time to learn a bit more about machines.

While I was playing with the fourbies Tommo got stuck into the old Matchless and did a quick top end job to freshen up the gaskets and clean the valves.

It's easy enough on a big single and something the old Poms need from time to time anyway.

John Rooth

The beaut thing about the Matchless is it came speed restricted right out of the box in 1950 and got a tad slower every year since.

It's pretty rewarding for a kid to be playing with the pistons one day and then feeling what they do the next and I reckon this sort of respect for machinery is one of those things that'll make them better drivers in the long run.

He sure won't ever be going outside the yard without a decent helmet and some protective clobber though!

John Rooth

My younger lad Joe came along to the Brisbane Show to give me a hand. More of a leg really, I'd just had a long overdue knee operation and was limping a bit.

He thought it was pretty funny standing next to a cardboard cut-out of his old man on the Coopers stand.

There were some wise cracks about it not being a 3D model like the real thing.

Yeah righto, so how about you go grab us a couple of pies and we'll talk about it then...

John Rooth

Hasbeen came around to show off some of the new power he's found lurking in that LandRover of his.

Wow, this thing goes hard straight off the pedal now and given the popularity of the new Discos I'd suggest you don't bother racing them at the lights anymore.

Mind you, Glen's getting bored so I reckon the new dual cab will be on our LowRange trips as soon as he's given it plenty of berries!


John Rooth

Here at Rooth central we're into all sorts of machinery but when Dave and Ali came around to show off their old Cadillac I almost flipped out from sheer need!

Built after WW2 when America had all the world's money the Caddy's got so much of everything it's insane.

The ride is magnificent and you could play tennis inside it, and a run down to the bottle shop showed it takes up dual lane drive-thrus all on its own too.

Very cool, but maybe a tad low for the Strezlecki...

Roothy’s LowRange

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