THE RANGER hasnít seen much action this month since we got back from the advertisersí trip in Coffs Harbour (page 72). However, weíve managed to get some more pieces of the puzzle in place before we head out again. With the AMVE canopy now in place we could head back to Hayman Reese/Rola to get the X-Bar rear bumper fitted. Up until now these have only been available to suit cab-chassis utes - and not those with a tub on them - which is why we had to wait, but there is a new ute tub version of the X-Bar now hitting the market.

Even so, the fitment to the back of our car wasnít straightforward. We set up our canopy to sit low on the chassis and it hangs back a fair way behind the end of the chassis rails, which posed a problem. However, the guys at Hayman Reese sorted that out with some custom-made brackets that move the bar back and down a little. The great thing about the brackets is that they still leave the X-Bar high enough that it wonít infringe on the departure angle when we are driving without the towing hitch in place.

Our Ranger now has three solid, rated recovery points on the back for helping to drag other vehicles out of trouble. The centre recovery point on the X-Bar is rated to 8000kg, while the points at either end are 4000kg a piece.

While it was in the shop we had the guys take the 1500mm-long Rola Titan tray off the Rangerís cab and move it atop the canopy. This too required some custom mounts, as we wanted to keep the tray as low as possible, but the guys just modified the standard mounts to suit. They also fitted a shorter 1200mm tray above the cab, so now the Ranger has plenty of storage space, inside and out.

The next trip for the Ranger will be as a support vehicle on the 4x4 of the Year road test and, with almost 15,000km on the clock, it was time for a service. We again entrusted Chris and Phil at Ontrack Automotive in Ferntree Gully for this work and asked them to give the car a thorough spanner check. Chris noted the air cleaner was pretty blocked up and replaced both its element and the fuel filter as part of the service. This is why we prefer to have our car serviced by a specialised 4x4 workshop and not a dealer who doesnít understand what we do with our vehicles.

Chris also fitted a ProVent oil catch can, to protect the intake from clagging up. This is essential equipment for any modern diesel four-wheel drive that uses an EGR emissions system, as they are prone to gunking up. We got our catch can in a complete kit from the team at Direction Plus.