THE OLD Patrol let me down recently, both literally and figuratively. We were coming home from an enjoyable weekend up in the Vic High Country had just got onto the Crooked River Road, when with hardly any warning the rear wheel on the Patrol parted company with the rest of the vehicle. Talk about being dumped.

I could have repaired it myself as I had spare wheel studs onboard, but being inherently lazy and so close to civilisation I opted for a recovery and a repair job, and the boys at ARB Bairnsdale helped us out at a momentís notice.

Then it was back to Outback 4WD in Bayswater, where they replaced all the studs on all the wheels. By all accounts studs can stretch after years of hard work and changing rims and, sooner or later, they break; and if you donít do the wheel nuts up correctly, wheels can part company. Patrols, it seems, are more liable to do that than some other vehicles; I guess I was lucky I was on a major dirt road and not halfway up Billy Goat Bluff.

Itís been a while since the old girl has been in the mag, and weíve done a bit of preventative maintenance over the past few months, not the least of which was a new rear diff housing. I had cracked the original back at about the 200K mark, and I had it welded more than once between then and the 400K the Patrol has now done. With another welding job required, I decided it was best to replace it.

1. Ron sought a GQ fan for his GU, the former noisier but able to shift more air.

2. It took a couple of hundred kays, but the cracked rear diff housing (welded more than once) has now been replaced.

3. Braided brake lines were also fi tted.

Around the same time I had Outback 4WD replace all the rubbers and bushes on trailing arms and the like, as well as fit braided brake lines to all the brakes. To help with the cooling of the radiator we fitted a GQ fan and drive hub; the fans shift more air than a standard GU fan but make more noise in the process.

I replaced the light bar that had been sitting on top of my ARB bullbar with a more discreet Lightforce single-row light bar fitted with combo spot and flood LEDs. It might be smaller and draw less power, but the light output is amazing. Wanting to improve the standard headlights, I opted for a replacement Narva Ultima LED globes which are a direct replacement for halogen globes. As many of you would know you can easily opt for a high-performance halogen globe and, while they throw a better light, you sacrifice longevity. With the new LED light you get a bright white light coupled to a stated life of 30,000 hours. Iíd be more than happy with a third of that.

Now with better lights, new studs so the wheels donít come off, and with a full service and oil change, the Patrol is ready to hit the road and the bush tracks once more.