OVER the last few weeks weíve been busy adding a few accessories to the Project 79 Cruiser because weíve got some trips lined-up for the next couple of months. Just after the new tray and canopy from Boss Aluminium were built and fitted, I installed an ARB dualbattery setup, having a timely reminder when I was up in the mountains of how important a well-mounted and supported battery tray is.

I had a friend whose bargain-priced battery-mounting system was tearing away from its mount on the inner guard and we had to bogey up a repair to make it last until we got back home. Itís not the first time I have seen cheap battery mounts break away and/or destroy the mount, what it is mounted to, as well as the battery and cabling.

I backed-up the auxiliary battery with a Redarc BCDC1240D DC-to-DC battery charger. This unit acts as an isolator for the main battery and will also ensure your second battery is fully charged at all times, whether it takes power from the alternator or from any solar panels connected.

To improve fuel filtration Ė a weakness in most modern 4WDs, especially when you are travelling in our remote country Ė Iíve fitted an extra Flashlube fuel filter, which will help save the injectors and fuel pump if (when) I get a gutful of contaminated fuel.

Because of ever-stricter environmental standards, modern engines feed some of the exhaust gases (containing moisture and oil fumes) back to the engine via the EGR valve and the engineís air inlet. Those contaminants can cause issues with intercoolers, turbos, inlet manifolds and EGR valves, resulting in poor engine performance and leading to possible expensive engine repairs. Fitting an oil catch can will help stop those issues and keep your engine running like new, so weíve also fitted a Flashlube oil catch can. Both Flashlube kits come complete from Terrain Tamer, with appropriate brackets, cabling and hoses.

With the smaller jobs out of the way, the crew at Outback 4WD got down to the task of fitting a new suspension system. Itís important to know what youíre carrying, the weight involved and where it is distributed, so I waited until I had most of the heavy gear fitted before I looked at what suspension system and how heavy a spring set I needed. Itís essential to discuss those facts and figures with your suspension specialist, and donít blame them when the springs sag because you forgot to tell them about the winch or the 200-litre fuel tank you were about to fit for the next outback trip.

The 79 had an aftermarket suspension system already installed, but as this was originally a mine-exploration vehicle the spring set was a heavy mongrel and bloody uncomfortable, even with a fair amount of weight in the back. I wanted something that would ride better over the rough stuff, give good articulation in 4WD situations and yet handle on-road travel well while carrying the weight I wanted.

I settled on an OME suspension kit all íround. OME has a choice of four different rear spring sets (the heavier two also available with an extra spring leaf for even more weight carrying) and with the weight I was carrying, I opted for the standard 700kg-rated springs. These are designed and manufactured as a two-stage leaf pack, which allows the spring to ride largely on the primary stage when unladen, while the second stage comes into play when loads are carried. These leaf spring packs were fitted with greasable shackles and came with all the bushes and hardware required. The attention to detail is one of the reasons I like the OME kits so much, and itís superb even with small brackets and spacers.

OME offers two different rated coil springs for the front and, again, because of the bullbar, extra battery and winch, I fitted the heavier of the two. With a wide range of shock absorbers available from OME I opted for the Sports range, deeming the top-of-the-range high-performance BP-51 shocks a bit of overkill for a vehicle that drives, performs and handles more like a truck than a touring car. And, I also like the simplicity of twin-tube shocks which have proven time and again to be durable and reliable in the scrub.

A purposely valved OME shock absorber is available with each of the leaf spring sets, while the two different coils at the front can run the same valved sports shock.

I noticed the improvement in ride comfort on the very first speed bump I hit after leaving Outback 4WD, and the vehicle is more comfortable and the dampening well-controlled on corrugations. The vehicle now sits level even when loaded with gear, 60L of water and 180L of fuel, and I couldnít be happier.

I started 2018 by stripping the seats and the basic, thin floor matting out of the cabin. Then we fitted sheets of Dynamat to the floor and front doors to help deaden some of the road, wind and engine noise prone to infiltrate 79s. This is a time-consuming process but not difficult; youíll need a few basic tools including a roller, scissors, box cutter and a brush for cleaning the metal surfaces. Some turps might come in handy, as will a good torch and tape measure.You may find it useful to use the matís backing paper as a template for the more intricate pieces of matting youíll be laying.

I ordered the Dynamat kit online and spent a couple of days cutting and fitting it. Now at least I can hear the stereo Ö and Viv.