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All Four x 4 Spares Blog

Our All Four x 4 Spares Blog provides great information on the 4wd Industry in general. Please check back on a regular basis as we explore a range of issues that are important to our industry.


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Dual Battery Systems Setup Kits Explained

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credits to Alan Johnson from Piranha Off-Road


An important thing to look at when you're choosing a battery system for your vehicle is that it is going to be physically capable of handling the demands of a 4wd vehicle.



This post will cover a few critical aspects of Dual Battery Systems, what they are, how they work, and what to look for when installing them in your 4wd. 



Now typically, in a 4WD vehicle, we're going to get:


  • dust
  • water (duh) through river crossings 
  • huge amounts of vibration (shaking the hell out of the car) due to road corrugation


A system has to be tough enough to withstand those very harsh conditions. 



One of the beautiful things about living in Australia and being an Australian is that we have one of the best testing areas in all the world: the deserts in the outback.



Piranha Offroad R&D specialists came back from 7000 km's across the Simpson Desert doing further development work and testing on some of their products, and they had no dramas with their excellent dual battery systems proving their reliability whether that is going to be used in the Australian outback or the Australian bush. 



There are some things that we need to look for:



We need to ensure that that product will be tough enough to work reliably and long term in our vehicle. 



As briefly touched earlier, in a 4WD vehicle, we're going to get: extreme heat, vibration and lots and lots of shaking around you to corrugations



Therefore we need a product that is strong enough to withstand that. 






An excellent dual battery system will have features such as nickel-plated bolts and a sealed casing so when the wires go through, it won't allow any rubbish to get into it.



It'll be capable of standing years and years of corrugations reliably doing everything you want it to do 



Dual Battery Systems FAQ



Now we're going to answer some questions that get asked all the time about dual battery systems. 



A typical question is:



Why does a modern vehicle and what we mean by modern cars, something made probably in the last five years, require a different type of battery controller to what we possibly would have used in the 20 years prior to that?



The answer is straightforward:



Modern-day vehicles have full electronics on them that control everything from the gearbox, the engine management system, in most cases ABS brakes and in some cases, stability control.



There's probably more computing power in many of these modern vehicles than the original Apollo mission to the moon lol.



That's just the evolution.



Unfortunately, the old solutions like marine switches and solenoids are no longer relevant for modern-day cars, and why is that?




marine switches







The computing power that we have in these modern vehicles means that these vehicles are susceptible to damage from things like voltage spikes.



A voltage spike or a surge occurs when you parallel batteries together in a charging scenario. It's just like jump-starting.






Now obviously, you don't want to damage the computer in your car, and you don't want to damage any of the electronics either. 



Even things like GPS's can be affected by surges and spikes, so the answer to that is to try and not create that surge or spike in the first place.



Piranha Offroad originally introduced modern-day systems with technology that allowed us to run smart computer systems in our cars with a battery isolation system that was compatible and safe.






Since then, technology has developed even further.



Now what's happened is; originally, we used to have minimal choices of batteries. 



We had basically wet cells in cranking and wet cells in deep cycle. 



Nowadays, we have:


  • AGM batteries which is Absorbed Glass Mat.
  • Calcium batteries 
  • We have a whole range of wonderful technologies that allow us to charge our batteries more quickly, and they give us more capacity, which is all really, really good. 



However, you then need to use smarter technology products. Something like products driven typically by a microprocessor: 


  • enabling us to have a full smart charging algorithm built into our battery charging system. 
  • and allowing us to charge those different batteries with the different chemistries and still function effectively. 






Importantly, the smarter systems cannot damage the electronics on your car, so you will not be stranded, and you'll not be in limp home mode.



You can use these products with absolute confidence knowing that everything is going to be fine. Learn more about the Piranha 140 Amp Dual Battery Management System HERE.



The last thing, of course, is very important is that on an older style vehicle, you don't necessarily need this level of technology.



But if you do sell that vehicle in a couple of years and then upgrade to something a bit newer, this can go with you



The life expectancy of these products is typically 15 years or more, so a smart answer with smart technology is a great way to go.



Dual Battery Control Features



What are the features that we should be looking for in a modern dual battery controller



One of the very most important features that most simple systems do not have is one-way flow



In other words, very simply, let's explain this in terms of tanks of water.



If one tank is full and the other one is empty, and we join the two tanks together, they'll equalize so that the full one will go down to half and the flat one will come up to half.



That's not what you want in a modern system. 



You must have a one-way flow so effective that the alternator charges the main battery, and after that's charged, it charges the auxiliary battery, so one-way flow is one of the most important features.



The second thing is we must have in a smart, intelligent modern system electronic current limiting



We can't be using fuses or circuit breakers. They just are not fast enough to protect those computers that we need to look after.



The next feature is related to a frequently asked question, not IF it goes wrong, but WHEN it goes wrong. 



Because everything gets old and wears out eventually, it's critical that you will not be left stranded when a system fails. 



If this system ever goes wrong, it does not impinge or in any way affect the computer, the starting, or the running of the car.



The worst thing that might happens is getting warm beers as the fridge will stop working.



Back to the points again.



The joints in every electrical system have the potential of having problems


  • a wire can come loose 
  • you can get high resistance 
  • you can get corrosion 
  • something can short out 





So typically, we don't want lots of joints in our system in the wires in these smarter systems. 



We typically only have two connections, one onto each of the batteries.



If you've got external fuses and circuit breakers, you end up with six or more connections. 



So keeping the joins to an absolute minimum is really, really important.



The next thing, of course, is an infinite choice of batteries.



Now you don't have much choice over what battery the car comes with when you buy it initially, but once that battery is worn out, the choice is up to you. 



With smart systems, we can run any type of chemistry or technology. Now, remember that different chemistry batteries require different amounts of voltage to make them charge correctly. 



They have different charging regimes. That's the technical term for it. 



With these systems, we can use dissimilar batteries with very specific charging regimes and still get them to charge properly. 



Very importantly, these systems are Australian made and Australian tested with five years or more warranty.






Piranha Offroad are experts when it comes to dual battery setup for off-road vehicles. 



A dual battery setup gives you extra power for your vehicle electrics and accessories. 



Piranha also produces a range of high-quality battery trays designed primarily for dual battery systems. 





Piranha has the battery tray you need, no matter what make or model of your 4WD.



All Piranha battery trays are designed for strength and made out of plated steel. Built with high sides and pressed bases, Piranha battery trays are made to withstand the stress of offroading in any condition. 



Piranha battery trays all come with fixing hardware included. 



Piranha Offroad is the answer if you are looking to upgrade to a dual battery system without all the fuss.



Check here for our selection of Piranha Offroad products, including battery trays, electrical accessories, and camping gear.



If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team, and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.



Do you have any questions about Dual Battery Systems? Please post them in the comments!   


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The essential spares and tool kits for remote 4x4 travel




In this post, we will run through what type of spare parts and tools we recommend you bring, especially if you're travelling independently in pretty remote areas. This list does not intend to be fully comprehensive, however, you can use it as a reference.


Nuts and Bolts




A sturdy box that's good for nuts and bolts is your first port of call for spare parts. 


If you have a metric vehicle, bring metric nuts and bolts.


Bring ones that are relative to your vehicle by figuring out which ones are important.


You can buy them pretty cheaply, and also, let's say you've recently upgraded the exhaust or something, just bring the spare bolts so if you lose one, then you have it and you are covered.


Now a piece of extra advice is if you lose a bolt or nut on your vehicle. If you don't have the spare size, you might find something else on your vehicle that has one that's not important that you can take it off and put it on to where it is required.







A fuel filter is one of the most critical spares that you should even carry in the city if possible.


Getting bad quality fuel is an unfortunate possibility, and it's a big problem, especially with very sensitive diesel engines from the new vehicles. Carrying a spare fuel filter is a safe bet if you ever have to change the fuel filter somewhere out in a bush. 


It can also be handy to carry a spare air filter in case yours gets wet or dusty.



Wheel Bearing Kits




Do you really need wheel bearings? We suggest you do if you go remote travel.


But even if you are not going that remote, you should have full bearings because if a wheel bearing fails in your vehicle, your wheel won't turn, and needless to say, you'll be stuck!


If you bring wheel bearings, make sure you also bring grease so you can actually grease them up and put them in. And of course, you'll also need tools for the job.




Wheel Nuts & Studs




You should really have spare wheel studs and nuts. It's a good idea to carry a set of six for each (and be covered if you lose a whole wheel).


If not, then you have to take every single wheel off and then pull one stud out of each wheel to put that spare wheel up.


Another plus in bringing a fresh set of wheel nuts and studs is when you try to replace a wheel and the stud snaps because they have been tightened with a 400 Newton force rattle gun by some tire shops. Needless to say, making your life hard.







What we do recommend you carry are your belts. If you are fortunate that your vehicle is a single belt, bring a serpentine belt. If your vehicle has three belts, bring all the spare belts you can to be safe.

Suppose you lose a belt on those multi belt systems. In that case, you may find that a different vehicle, even from a different make and model, may have a belt from their air conditioning that they don't need. That may fit your water pump or whatever is wrecked, so you may have a get-out-of-jail-free there.


But for the sake of ease, just bring some spare belts. Ensure you have tools to change or adjust your belt, sometimes special tools are required.



Hoses & Pipes




We recommend if you have a vehicle that's older than 200,000Kms to just get plenty of spare top and bottom hoses. But even if you drive more modern vehicles, just carry some radiator hoses (just in case).







Speaking of radiators again, if you bust a radiator hose, you are going to obviously lose some liquid that will need to be put back in.


So, don't leave without some radiator coolant and if it is concentrate, the better. 


You can also bring oil, diff oil, power steering fluids, automatic transmission fluids, and essential fluids.


Depending on if you travel solo or with other people, you may share all the fluids with each other. If not and you travel solo, bring them all.  


If you bring motor oil, making sure it's the right one for your vehicle. If you are unsure of the exact type, speak to your mechanic.


And don't forget brake fluid! Make sure to carry a sealed brake fluid bottle as a spare. If the seal is off, it would have absorbed moisture from the atmosphere, and performance would be reduced.



Differential oil




There is a difference between oil for an LSD (limited-slip differential) and a regular differential.


LSD gear oil fluid has a friction modifier additive as part of the formulation. This is required for correct differential operation. In general, you can use a "Limited Slip" differential lubricant in a standard differential, making it the best option for a group.


What you can't use in an LSD differential is non LSD oil. You will need LSD oil in your differential.


Most vehicles with diff lockers will need LSD oil, and some vehicles need it front and rear. So if you're going to bring any oil, bring LSD oil because it will work on most vehicles. Just make sure that the viscosity and oil compatibility details match what your vehicle should be using.


However, if you're in the middle of nowhere and you need some gear oil, and someone has LSD oil, you're pretty much 99% sure that you'll be ok to use it to get out of there and then reassess what you need afterwards.








WD water displacement spray can be handy for when you're working on things like taking your spare parts off. You need this kind of stuff to help you.


Brake cleaners: although they can be a bit expensive, you'll need them.


Contact cleaners are suitable for your electrical stuff. Rather than using water displacement to clean your electrical contacts, use a contact cleaner. 


And don't forget a simple window washer! Driving with a clean window is more enjoyable against blinding sunsets or tons of bugs.




Genuine or OEM parts 




Please don't carry cheap CVs or cheap fuel filters, thinking they are just for spare use. 


We would highly suggest you get the correct genuine or OEM parts because they are made for your particular vehicle.







Bring your spare fuses, your blade fuses, making sure to get your vehicle-specific ones.


You may need to get underneath your footwell or inside your engine bay and work out the important ones and what size they are and just buy them; they are pretty cheap.







Here is a comprehensive bullet list of tools to bring:

Tyre & Jacking Tools

  • A good 8 Ton Bottle Jack or Hi-Lift Jack are a good starting point for most recovery situations.
  • Tyre repair kits


General Mechanical Tools

  • pliers
  • cutters
  • nippers
  • Stanley knives
  • screwdrivers sets
  • allen keys
  • spanners
  • vice grips
  • socket sets
  • bearing socket (54mm)
  • pin punches 
  • chisels
  • grey silicone
  • hammers or axes


Other important tools

  • superglue 
  • rescue tape
  • steel tie wire
  • gas soldering iron
  • heavy duty construction adhesive like Dynagrip and metal repair like Dynasteel
  • duct tape
  • electrical tape
  • gloves and hand cleaner
  • hose clamps
  • zip ties
  • rags
  • Inox and WD40 lubricants
  • rachet straps


Electrical tools

  • wire cutter - stripper 
  • multimeter
  • fuses and lugs


More tools

  • emery cloth
  • D shaped half round file
  • wire brush





We believe proper vehicle service maintenance is the best thing you can do before overlanding to remote areas and will reduce the chances that things go bad on your trip. However, this list of spares and tools is a good starting point to cover most situations. 


All Four x 4 Spares stocks a massive range of genuine/quality aftermarket OEM spare parts and tool-related products from the best brands.


If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team. They will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.

Do you have any questions about spares or tools? Post them in the comments!


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4WD UHF Radios & Communications - all you need to know!

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credits: Ronny Dahl


Driving with family or friends is probably more enjoyable (well, that would depend on who your family members or mates are) and much safer if you can communicate easily with each other.


However, it'll also be handy if you can easily communicate with people outside your group.


In this post, we will cover a few critical aspects of 4wd communication when travelling and provide an overview of the most common devices.


Be sure to save this post; you never know when you may need 4wd communication tips before or during your trip.



Types of 4x4 communication


There are several communication methods available to overland or offroad drivers, and that's a positive thing since there are various communication needs.


A typical mix of types of communication would be:


  • Others in a group - UHF Radio
  • Other groups - UHF radio, HF radio
  • Anyone in the world - satellite phones, HF radio
  • Emergency services - satellite phones, HF radio, distress beacons


Let's analyse each of these methods more in details:


Just a tiny consideration about mobile phones 


They do the job for general purposes when within range, but they won't help intra-convoy chats.



UHF CB Radios




An Ultra-High-Frequency radio, more commonly known as UHF, has a set of citizen's band, or CB, frequencies available for unrestricted, public use.


It's a two-way radio system that is free to use, and you won't need a licence. Radio units are either mounted on the vehicle, with available ranges between 1km and 40km depending on terrain, or handheld, in which case you may get a range from 1 to 5 kilometres, depending on terrain. The unit and antenna's specs are contributing factors in range/quality.


CBs don't work like mobile phones for a series of reasons:


  • CBs broadcast to everyone on the channel. Mobile phones are one-tone. Forget about privacy with CBs, (conversations can get very embarrassing if you are not careful) ) 
  • Mobile phones are duplex, meaning that if you and your mate are talking simultaneously, you'll hear each other voices. CBs are simplex, meaning that only one person can speak at a given time (not just your wife) 
  • CB transmission is free, and you only need two CB radios to communicate.



Types of UHF CB

UHF CBs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but can broadly be categorised into in-car and handheld units.


In-car and handheld units are the most common UHF CBs:



  • In-car units, remote head UHF radios means the main body of the unit can be housed elsewhere, leaving only a small head unit for channel operation, volume and connection to the microphone. The mike has up/down channel keys on it too.





  • Handheld UHF radios are excellent for coordinating recoveries and all types of communication. They are affordable and useful; however, they should be seen as complementary to, not a replacement for, in-car units, primarily as their small antennae mean range is quite limited.



How to use a CB radio

  • Listen before you transmit: if you transmit simultaneously as someone else, odds are the transmissions will block each other.
  • Privacy: nothing you say is private, not even with CTSS (continuous Tone-code Squelch System), which filters out listening to others but doesn't stop them listening to you.
  • Speaking to strangers: It's common to run into conversations on long trips with strangers in convoys. Just be kind, and mostly you can have an interesting chat.
  • Chat or safety? On a trip, chat away but leave room for urgent transmissions.


CB is very relaxed and clear; short communication is essential. Here are a few words to memorise:


  • Breaker, relevant: need to interrupt the conversation, something urgent to say
  • Copy: understood and received. Also, "Copy Rob?" to see if someone is on the channel. "Roger" is also utilised as affirmative. Also, please acknowledge important instructions briefly, so the other party knows you have received and understood, repeating the instruction back if needed.
  • Clear: you have left the channel and are no longer going to use it. Might add "and monitoring" if you intend to do so. They are used often on repeaters.
  • Stand-by: wait, I'll get back to you. The correct response is to remain silent; the person asking you to stand by is probably occupied.



Interference by a third party

It can happen quite frequently during trips to find other parties on the same channel.


The trip leader may choose to switch channels or not. A channel change may depend if you travel in urban or more remote areas.


A moving 4WD convoy quickly passes out of the range in urban areas, so moving channels is often not worth the effort. But when in remote areas, perhaps offroading, the convoy passes much slower, so a channel change may be made.


Don't forget: anything you say on a CB can be heard by everyone else in the group or anybody who may be listening. 


Unfortunately, some less courteous CB users act like trolls, insulting and provoking people. Just ignore them. Do not change channels as they will easily follow you.


Can someone ask you to clear a channel? They surely can and will at some point. Do you have to? It's up to you. The police and others have channels outside of the CB range.



Where to transmit

The best place is at the top of a hill. Climb higher if you can't raise someone. UHF CB radios require a line of sight to work adequately



Blind transmissions

You can likely receive transmissions, but your radio cannot send them, or vice-versa. That can happen, for example, when you have a car radio talking to a handheld radio: the two are separated by some distance, and the handheld has insufficient power to transmit clearly that distance. However, it can receive.


In that case, the blind transmission may be helpful. State, "transmitting blind" before you transmit, so the other person knows that you do not necessarily expect a response.



Phonetic alphabet

use it if required, but speaking more clearly is often better



Morse code

SOS is dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot, that all repeated after a short break. A dot is one short sound, and a dash is the same but longer.



UHF channels


Since 2011, the number of UHF CB channels changed from 40 to 80. These are used as follows:



1-8 Repeater Output Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater
5 Repeater Emergency only Defined by Law
9 Conversations General Use
10 4WD Clubs General Use (often used by 4wd drivers)
11 Calling Channel Must switch to a conversation channel when making contact
12-17 Conversations General Use
18 Holiday Channel (convoy caravanner) General Use
19-21 Conversations General Use
22-23 Data Channels No voice transmission permitted (defined by law)
24-28 Conversations General Use
29 Highway (Road Channel) General Use
30 Conversations General Use (broadcast)
31-38 Repeater Output Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater
35 Repeater Emergency only Defined by Law
39 Conversations General Use
40 Highway (Road Channel) Defined by law, for talking to other road users
41-48 Repeater Output Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater
49-60 Conversations General Use
61-63 Reserved Future expansion
64-70 Conversations General Use
71-78 Repeater Output Avoid unless you intend to use a repeater
79-80 Conversations General Use




The power of a radio is measured in watts, which is basically how strongly the signal is radiated.


That strength depletes with an inverse square law, which means, all else being equal, to double the range of a 0.5-watt unit, you'll need a 2.54-watt radio.


The maximum permitted CB UHF power in Australia is 5 watts. The same law means that you'll get a quarter of the signal strength if you double your distance from a transmitter.


Receiving has nothing to do with the transmitter's power and everything to do with the quality and location of the antenna.


It's worth getting that right, as once you have tried UHF radio, you'll never want to travel without it.







Radio performance is mainly dependant on the antenna, which is why a 5-watt handheld radio with a low antenna won't perform like an in-car five-watt unit with its higher antenna.


The location of the antenna is fundamental to its performance. Ideally, it would go on the roof rack or gutter, but the bull bar works too. 


A taller antenna is not necessarily better. Tall antennae are high gain which means they can transmit a long way, but only in a narrow band.


Shorter antennas are low gain, which means their transmissions are wider but don't travel as far.


Think of a doughnut, either squashed flat or normally shaped. An eight dBd (decibel relative to unity) is high gain, one dBd is low gain, and three to four is middle of the range. You can learn more by exploring the antennas's range from Oricom





Repeaters are base stations that look for signals on channel 1-8 and automatically re-transmit them a long way on channels 31-38.


Useful but avoid channels one to eight unless you actually mean to use a repeater.



AM CB radios

AM CB radios are the same as UHF, except they operate on a different frequency.


They are not used much nowadays as UHF is far clearer. However, AM often has a range advantage, and with so few people on it, less clutter.



Satellite phones




When offroading, you may run into situations where you must talk to an expert or the authorities.


You might have a life-threatening injury on your hands, a dead vehicle that you are unable to fix or be cornered by impassable roads with supplies running out.


For others, communication is more ordinary: many people conduct business remotely and being contactable can mean the difference between a holiday going ahead or not. Or perhaps you are waiting on really important news but don't want to delay a trip.


So there is a case for remote area communications, and one of the most common solutions is a satellite phone, or satphone, as it's highly portable and easy to use.



So what is a satphone?

Everyone knows what conventional mobile is - one that works on the GSM network - but perhaps not how it works.


The GSM network is a series of radio base stations all over the country with a typical range of around 30km. Your mobile is a radio transmitter/receiver and has adequate power to transmit your call to the nearest base station. From there, it hooks into the national telephone network and thus the world.


The limitation is that you need to be close to a base station, which won't help for outback travel, and the signal doesn't pass through or over hills, in part because it is broadcast from terrestrial stations.


Products like these Mobile Phone Signal Repeater Boosters help reduce call drop outs, improve cellular coverage in remote areas, and improve download speed so they come in very handy!


Anyway; satphones operate much the same way, but their base stations are satellites. While the satellites can see a large part of the earth, not all satphones systems have truly worldwide coverage.


Just because you have a satphone doesn't mean to say you'll be able to get assistance. If you need to make an emergency call, chances are you'll want to do so quickly, and the situation will be stressful.


You may also be struggling with battery life, noisy weather, service dropouts and limited time. The call needs to be quick and to the point, so get prepared. If you need to leave a message, don't assume you will be understood:


  1. Please send a text, too (and don't assume that will get through).
  2. Repeat yourself on any message.
  3. On any message, repeat yourself.
  4. When leaving a message, repeat it.


Adding a 12V adaptor and external antenna means no worries about battery life - then you can sit inside a comfortable, quiet car to make the call rather than battle the elements (a satphone doesn't work well inside a vehicle without an external antenna as it cannot easily see its satellites)


Make a list of emergency numbers, and more than one friend who you know can be trusted in an emergency. Then work out what you'll be likely to be saying. Here is an example list of information to leave and to take with you on a laminated card.


  • Full names of everyone at the party
  • Pertinent medical details (blood type, special conditions, medicare)
  • Next of kin and emergency contact
  • Vehicle make, model, colour and description
  • Intended routes and times


This list is what authorities will want to know


  • Who are the people (number, injuries)
  • What the problem is
  • Where you are (coordinates, track name/how far along)
  • Food, water, shelter situation
  • Your intended plans, what you have done and what you need


Some examples of numbers to take:


  • Local police
  • RFDs
  • Trusted friends (who have your travel details already)
  • Your friendly 4wd mechanic (ask before you leave)
  • Rangers


Finally, please do not consider a satphone as a get out of jail free card that substitutes for careful planning, training and quality equipment. Note that satphones should be able to call 112, the international emergency number, with or without a plan or SIM.



Can anyone make the call?

While satphones resemble mobile phones, they don't work like mobile phones.


As satphones are often carried for emergency purposes, the people making the calls may be scared, in adverse weather conditions and unfamiliar with satphones.


Could they still make an emergency call? We recommend not only familiarising everyone in your party with the phone but also including two copies of clear written instructions describing how to make an emergency call and turning all PIN codes and the like off.


Storing everything in a small camera bag is a good idea, too, but make sure it's easily accessible should you need to exit the vehicle in a hurry



HF Radio 


High-frequency (HF) radio is similar to UHF but with a much longer range.


That means you can talk to anyone from anywhere, but you do need a licence. The units are relatively expensive at around $2000+ and not very portable.


Vehicle-mounted radio kits could be damaged by fire or rollovers, whereas handset satphones are less vulnerable and more portable.


The good thing about HF is you become part of a travelling community, not just talking one-to-one as you would with a satphone, and there is no usage fee.


You can talk to people further up the track, for example. HF is free to use, and you can broadcast and listen in to the "skeds" or scheduled information services.




Distress beacons



What they are

When things turn desperate (like in life danger situations) and you are far away from normal communication channels, you will need help. What to do? A distress beacon could be the answer.


There are small, tough devices that, when set off, broadcast a radio signal to the rescue authorities, who will respond and assist.


Be clear about their use; beacons are to be used only "when there is a threat of grave or imminent danger", and other communications methods have been exhausted.


When you set one off, search, and rescue (SAR) teams are going to leap into action. This costs a lot of money, but more importantly, there are only so many SAR teams, and you don't want them turning up to a non-serious situation when they should be attending a real emergency.


Beacon communications are very simple, just a distress signal and maybe coordinates. There is no way to say what the problem is, on any two-way communication, unlike a satphone or HF radio.


That said, the simplicity of a beacon is its strength. They are much cheaper than a satphone, easier to use, there are no ongoing costs, they are small, tougher, more reliable and will work out your position (if fitted with GPS, although they cannot be used for navigation) and they continually transmit it. You could put one in your car and almost forget it exists, just as insurance.


They are a complement to satphones and HF radio, not a replacement, and the reason they exist is to firstly alert the authorities to those in real trouble and then "take the search out of search and rescue."



Types of beacon

There is not just one type of distress beacon, but several, all of which operates on the same basic principle; once activated, they send a distress radio signal until the battery dies.


The first type is an EPIRB, or Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. These are designed to be mounted for vessels for maritime use, float with the antenna upright and operate for at least 48 hours. Some activate on contact with water. Distress beacons are sometimes incorrectly referred to as EPIRBs, and an EPRIB is just one type of distress beacon.


There are ELTs, or Emergency Locator Transmitters used in aircraft and designed to operate on impact, then continue transmitting for at least 24 hours. Most aircraft are required to carry an ELT.


PLBs are Personal Locator Beacons, which, as the name suggests, are small, light, designed to be carried by a person anywhere they may be and are manually activated. They float but are not required to do so with their antenna upright and need only transmit for 24 hours.




Off-roaders should choose between PLBs or EPIRBs. Both will do the job, but cost and size will probably see most opt for PLBs. An EPIRB may be 260x120x83mm and weigh half a kg, whereas a PLB may weigh 250g with dimensions of 135x71x38mm.


That means it is easily slipped into a side pocket of a vehicle or taken on walks or other activities. A PLB will cost a lot less than $1000, or you can hire them.



Australian beacons

You must ensure the beacon you buy is designed for the Australian system; the government organisation in charge of beacons, the Australian maritime safety authority (AMSA), warns against some North American types.


That said, all 406MHzbeacons work everywhere in the world and all work on the same principle.


There are two types of beacon, those on the 121.5MHz frequency and those on 406MHz, but the 121.5MHz types were phased out in February 2009 and should be destroyed by authorised personnel so they cannot be used or send a false alarm.


All 406 MHz units must be registered with AMSA, which cost nothing. Australian units must be coded with the Australian identifier 503, and the contacts given to AMSA must be Australian.


The registration process asks for the unique beacon HEXID or UIN number (printed on the beacon), what make and model it is, your contact details and three emergency contact details.


If applicable, you can fill out vessel or aircraft details or use the Land section to describe your vehicle. If the beacon is set off, the authorities know whose it is, who they are looking for, who to contact and what vehicle you may be. After registration, a confirmation letter with proof of registration sticker will be sent to you. The sticker should be attached to your EPIRB or PLB next to the HEXID already marked on the beacon.


The stickers are valid for two years and provide an easy visual check for authorities to check your beacon is registered. 



How beacons works


When activated, the beacon transmits a radio signal, on 406MHz, which contains its ID, to a set of satellites, pulsing the signal at a power of five watts.


These satellites are run by Cospas-Sarsat, an international organisation started by the USA, France, Canada and Russia in 1979.




There are two types, LEOSAR which are in low earth orbit and more relative to the earth, and GEO SAR, which are geostationary, so they don't move relative to the earth.


The two are complementary; for example, as LEOSAR moves, it may be able to get in positions to receive a signal where GEO SAR cannot, but GEO SAR offers immediate pickup.


If you get a GEO SAR satellite, the authorities know about it within 5 minutes, but otherwise, you may need to wait up to an hour for one of the five LEOSAR satellites to come by as they orbit the world once every 100 minutes.


Now there is a quicker and more accurate way to get help; the beacon's exact location can be encoded in the signal. That's pretty simple; just add a GPS receiver to the beacon and once the GPSR acquires a lock, send the coordinates along.


Suppose the beacon is in a clear area. In that case, it'll take a few minutes to acquire a GPS lock, and then you'll get near-instant and exact notification of location (within around 120 metres) to the rescue team who now also have a good idea or what sort of terrain or water you are in even before they depart.


Consider, too, that once the authorities have your coordinated, they will continue to the location and don't require the beacon to transmit it, but leave it on as the homing signal makes it easier for them to find you. All up GPS capability is definitely worth the extra couple of hundred dollars.



Maintaining a beacon

Owning and maintaining a beacon is easy. Please keep it away from magnetic sources, run the self-test as required, check it hasn't been damaged, keep it away from children, keep the registration details updated with AMSA and explain its use to any adults. Call AMSA ON 1800 641 792 immediately if a beacon is accidentally activated; there is no penalty for doing so.


Secure your beacon to avoid hoaxers playing with people lives. Check the battery life, which will be a few years, and when it needs replacing, get it done only by a dealer. Take care of it because one day you may need it.





All Four x 4 Spares stocks a massive range of communication and navigation-related products such as AntennasMaps, Books & DVDsUHF & CB RadiosWalkie Talkies from the best brands including Hema MapsOricom, CEL-Fi.


If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced sales team and they will guide you towards choosing the right product for your needs.


Do you have any questions about 4wd communications? Post them in the comments!







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Australian Outback by 4wd travel diary - 4500Kms to remote NSW and QLD

Read entire post: Australian Outback by 4wd travel diary - 4500Kms to remote NSW and QLD




We are fortunate here at All Four x 4 Spares. Our staff live and breathe 4wd adventure and when they take their holidays, they don't just sit back and relax...they undertake overlanding trips with their own 4wds to some of the most remote areas this country has to offer. 


When they return to the office, they do not hesitate to show off their magnificent travel photos to stir colleagues and make them just a bit jealous :) 


That is the case of Dave and Deb, who are almost experts in packing up all the necessities on their Land Rover Defender and head out for weeks of exploration.


They recently travelled 4500kms in 3 weeks in April to south-western QLD and north-western NSW


Here is the travel diary they returned with along with some spectacular images...Enjoy!


"After the rain in March, the landscape was a vivid green parkland with surface water still evident, a stark contrast to the dry, dusty and grassless landscapes that we have come to expect. 


After leaving Hebel, we visited Culgoa FloodplainThushton, Mariala, Lake Bindegolly and Currawinya National Parks


Access to Culgoa was opened the day before we arrived. We were presented with long sections of water covered track before arriving at Byra Lagoon to camp for 2 nights. 


We had the park to ourselves and enjoyed the sight of a full lagoon filled with birdlife. 





Then we travelled north on station tracks to Thrushton via Mitchell and Bollon to once again have the park to ourselves.





There is a beautifully restored shearing shed, and evidence of open bore drains that once watered the sheep. 





The next stop was Mariala via Charleville and yet again our own private park where we explored on a drive to waterholes camp area and a hike to a beautiful lookout on an escarpment. 





This was the end of our first week, and temperatures were in the low 30s until a late change on our last night at Mariala


The road then took us to Adavale, a beer at the pub with Cos, the publican, to celebrate our third visit; apparently, we are rare! 


Next stop, Lake Bindegolly, and two hikes to be amazed at the water and the birds. 



Then we headed east to find the northern access to Currawinya NP along Yenlora Rd to Myninya campground. The 85 km drive was magnificent over rocky terrain with some washouts requiring low low as this road had also been recently closed. 





We travelled beside the Walters Range and through Gidgee country before arriving at camp where the lake that last time was dry was now full. Once again, we were the only people in the park. 




From here, we explored the new northern area of Currawinya via Boorara Springs circuit, 110kms, that took us past the woodshed, mound springs and over the Walters Range that provided magnificent vistas.



We also revisited Budjiti lookout, and this time we could see Lakes Numalla and Wyara in the distance, full of water! 







After 2 nights, we moved to Ourimperee Waterhole camp area beside the Paroo.





We were entertained by a lone pelican who trolled up and down for his dinner. 





We visited the lakes to be amazed at the transformation from our last visit when they were both dry. It was wonderful to hear waves crashing and birds calling. 




The next day we explored the newly opened Beefwood Rd from the woodshed to the Eulo-Hungerford Rd and found a beautiful wetland area and were lucky to see a pair of Brolgas. This road also crossed the Walters range with great views again and had amazing history about how cattle were transported. 


We spent 6 nights in Currawinya and travelled 700 kms in the park. 


Then we had a huge loop to visit our friends at Boneda, near Breewarina, via Eulo, Cunumulla, Baringun and Engonia, 300kms, as we needed fuel and some roads were still closed. 


When we arrived, they were still shearing, so we experienced a working shearing shed and dinner with the shearing crew. Dave and I went out with Jen, the owner, on quad bikes to see the amazing water-filled paddocks that were dustbowls on our last visit and check on the sheep and goats. 


After the shearers left, Dave and Steve, owner, drove 100ks to Weilmoringle to collect wild dog baits for Jen to distribute. While Jen was busy, Steve jumped on a quad bike, and Dave and I drove in Steve's Toyota ute to help with goat mustering and boy are they crazy animals.


Home again, and Dave is still recovering from driving the Toyota.


What a good end to a trip that gave a different view to land previously visited, we made our way home from Boneda via Gilgandra and the golden highway. I wonder what the next trip has in store"





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Cliffhanger 4WD Offroad Event - 1,000 klm of racing!

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Check out this VLOG with some of the action, the highs and the lows of this 1000km (621miles) of extreme Off-Road Racing. 


This VIDEO BELOW is DAYS 1-3. Enjoy!




What is a Cliffhanger 4wd event?


Cliffhanger is a week-long off-road event every second year involving 1,000 klm of racing, winching up rocks, speedy creek runs, navigational tasks, rally stages on farm trails and across virgin terrain and is famous for its vertical winch walls. The stages are all long-lasting and typically combine several facets of winching, navigation and speed. All Four x 4 Spares proudly joined the MadMatt 4wd Team and WE WON the Super Tourer Class 1st price.


Here is some racing diary from our "Blind Navi" John:



Well after 6 gruelling days of racing and over 1000kms we finished. Here is just a brief wrap up of what we went through.

  • Driver: Mad Matt
  • Navigator: John Campbell
  • Car number 211
  • Class: Super Tourer


Just the journey out to the event was long enough with nearly 800km to cover just go get there.


We arrived at camp and set up our tents /swags.


Matt had arrived a day or so before, so the race car was already out there and a basic camp had been formed.


The first job was to get the race car passed for scrutineering, in this event like all others there are strict vehicle and safety items that must be adhered to, with a big tick to all of these we were free to go off and do some testing and tuning.


We still had a few days till the start of the 6-day event that would cover 1000kms of the harshest terrain that could be thrown at us.


I will not go into detail about every stage but will try to give all a brief understanding as to what it was like.


In this 6 day race, we covered just over 1000kms and had a variety of terrain to travel across from sandy creek bed runs, rocky dry creek runs, gibber plains and some of the nastiest rocky outcrops you can find and then to top it all off-vertical wall winching!


Throughout the week we tried to be consistent by starting and finishing every stage. All the teams' hard work paid off and we found ourselves playing with the big boys which found us in the top 16 cars overall.


Stage 5 was the only stage that we started and did not finish as a broken front diff and a snapped winch rope put ends to this. A quick trip back to our pit and the centre was changed out for another in approx. 45 mins and we were back onto the next stage.


The only real issues we had all week was the broken front diff centre, a busted engine air intake hose and an electrical gremlin that kept showing its head up randomly which would cause the whole engine to just simply turn off. This issue after 2 late nights spent chasing wires and connectors was found to be the ignitor for the distributor cap but we had a spare one!!!


All in all, it was a great week of racing and team building that not only got us over the finish line but also helped us to 1st place in our class of super tourer as well as 22nd overall.


Stay tuned to our blog page for a bit more detailed insight into CLIFFHANGER 2021












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The Importance of an Oil Catch Can

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There are many systems at play in the modern diesel engine, and a few of these are focused on reducing emissions.


Most modern diesel engines utilise Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) or a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) to reduce emissions such as nitrous oxide and soot in the exhaust.


This, together with new diesel engine technologies like common rail, can choke your engine intake. Accessories like an oil mist filter or catch can are designed to help combat some of the issues.



What is an Oil Catch Can?


On modern 4wds, primarily turbo-diesels models, small quantities of gas from the combustion process in the engine trickles past the piston rings and into the sump.


Crankcase ventilation stops this pressure from growing by releasing it on older 4wds straight into the atmosphere, whilst on newer 4x4 vehicles it is recirculated into the air intake to be burned in the cylinders.


This air is heavily laden with oil mist, precisely the kind of thing that we don't need hovering in the air we inhale, nor in the air our engines want to breathe.


A catch can's main job is to separate the oil from the air so the oil can be stored and either disposed of periodically or fed back into the sump where it can continue to lubricate your engine.


They are a passive device that won't alter your engine's fuel economy or performance directly and isn't an illegal modification.


Instead, a catch can will reduce maintenance costs and minimise any potential issues.


This video explains the oil catch can process


credits:engineering explained


Why would you need one for your 4wd?




Late model turbo-diesel engines are filled with an array of sensors, valves, filters and pipes required to keep them running safely and efficiently.


These engines typically vent the crankcase gases into the air intake, just after the air filter.


This feeds through the turbo and intercooler via the intake piping before entering the engine.


The turbo won't be much affected by a small amount of extra oil; the temperature a turbo runs at will keep the oil vaporised.


The intercooler is attempting to get the heat out of the intake air, and as temperature decreases, the oil mist creates droplets and sticks to the intercooler's internal surfaces.


It won't take long for a heavy breathing diesel engine to partially block the intercooler and inlet manifold sufficiently to provoke a loss in performance.


Another obstacle that will occur is with the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor, which regulates the fuel injection via the ECU.


A coating of dirty old oil doesn't allow the MAF sensor to read the airflow precisely, leading to incorrect fuelling and economy reduction.


If the MAF sensor is entirely out of its expected range, the ECU will implement limp-home mode, significantly reducing vehicle driveability.



Finding a suitable catch can to match the engine size is essential


When choosing a catch can, the most crucial task is ensuring the inlet and outlet hoses are the equivalent or larger diameter than the factory crankcase vent hoses it is replacing.


Some cans are one-size-fits-all solution, while others have a diversity of sizes, with sizing aligned to engine power.


A larger than necessary catch can has no disadvantages apart from the space required to fit it.


Flashlube, for example, reassure the consumer that even a well-worn LandCruiser 200 series won't overload the Catch Can Pro.



What makes a great catch can




As we mentioned, a catch can separates microscopic oil droplets from the crankcase air before the air is sent back to the engine via intake and the turbo.


And of course, if a can is  0% effective, it means that it won't remove any oil from the air, while 100% effective removes all oil from the intake air.


Another consideration is the pressure drop. Air must be vented efficiently.


We can measure the change in pressure from the inlet to the outlet of the catch can.


Ideally, pressure on both sides of the catch can is even, meaning the air is crossing through without restriction, rather than building backpressure attempting to leak out upstream of the catch can and thus not flowing correctly.


The ideal catch can will have a 100% oil capture efficiency and zero pressure drop.



The Inlet Manifold Problem of Modern Diesel Engines


In this video, Brent from Terrain Tamer talks about Flashlube Catch Cans Pro



Most of today's diesel engines are turbocharged for better performance thus possibly creating more blow-by gases in the crankcase that escape via the PCV system.


This oily mist is redirected back into the inlet and can stick to the inside of the hoses, manifold and turbo turbine blades as well as the intercoolers.


When soot-laden exhaust gas is introduced into the manifold as part of the EGR system, it can create a sticky mess that can dramatically restrict your manifold flow.


This build-up of soot and oil, together with the engine's heat, can bake on to the inlet manifold and eventually reduce the internal diameter of the inlet manifold.



Reducing Oil in the Inlet System


We recommend an oil mist separator's fitment or what is more commonly called a catch can to combat the build-up of oil from the crankcase ventilation system.


The catch can is a filter that sits between the outlet of the crankcase ventilation system, where it comes out from the valve cover, and the PCV valve where the mist is injected back into the air intake piping.


The catch can separates the oil from the air, and returns the oil-free air to the engine. The oil is then collected in a hose, a reservoir or plumbed back into the engine sump.


This reduces the oil in the intake system and leads to a cleaner engine burn and intake system.



Fitting a Catch Can to your Diesel Engine


At All Four X 4 in Kotara, we sell Flashlube Catch Can kits that come with everything you need to fit a catch can to your diesel engine.


Manufactured in Germany under licence, the Flashlube Catch Can kits are designed with unique safety valves to ensure their installation will not overpressurise the engine.


The kits are vehicle specific and include mounting bracket and the required hoses to connect the filter to your PCV valve and valve cover.


A general kit is also available to fit vehicles that do not have a specific kit available.




The kit comes with mounting bolts that fit existing threaded holes, so no drilling or threading is required.


The bracket in this kit mounts the catch can, close to the intake pipe and the PCV outlet on the motor's valve cover.


The moulded rubber hoses that come with the Flashlube kit are vehicle specific and therefore fit as required with minimal modifications to existing setups.


In this case, there is a hose from the valve cover outlet to the catch can inlet, and a second hose from the catch can outlet to the PCV valve on the intake hose of the engine, just before the turbo.


These hoses are secured by new hose clamps that are included as part of.


Another hose is fitted to the bottom of the catch can unit that will collect the oil that has been separated from the vapour.


This hose can be plumbed back into the engine's oil system using additional parts not supplied in the kit or used with the supplied tap valve allowing oil to be stored in the length of the hose.


If not being plumbed back into the engine's oil system, it is recommended that you empty the collected oil in the outlet hose monthly and/or at every service.


By reducing the oily mist entering your air intake, you reduce the build-up of sticky mess inside your turbocharger, inlet pipes, intercooler and inlet manifold.


This can help keep your diesel performing better.



How Flashlube Oil Catch Can Pro scored on Lab Tests




Recent studies conducted by Curtin University provided an efficiency and effectiveness score of some of the most commonly used catch cans brands in the market.


The testing method required drawing with a vacuum pump a measured airflow of 50-250 litres per minute through each catch can and then measuring their pressure before and after.


A good catch-can would have a high filtration efficiency and low-pressure drop, and Flashlube's Catch Can Pro scored the best across any competitors with the most effective filter efficiency at 150L/min







credits: unsealed4x4 and curtin university




Fitting and Recommendations


We would recommend having your inlet manifold professionally cleaned regularly to ensure it is free of oily build-up and soot from the EGR system.


This is a widespread issue in diesel engines, and performance can be severely affected if left without cleaning.


The Flashlube Catch Can kits can be ordered through our sales team for your specific vehicle and fitted yourself by following the included instructions.


Check our Flashlube page hereWe also supply Flashlube Catch Can Pro Accessories and Spares such as Replaceable Serviceable Filter Elements suitable for Flashlube Catch Can Pro


Alternatively, our workshop team can fit the Flashlube Catch Can kit.





Do you have any questions? Contact our team today on (02) 4041 4000 or comment below!

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4x4 Shows: ALL 4 ADVENTURE with Jase and Simon

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When we are not out in the great Australian outdoors or working on our toys, we are catching up on the latest episode of our favourite lifestyle shows, and All 4 Adventure with Jason and Simon is a definite favourite. Here at All Four x 4 Spares, we are such big fans of what they do and the gear the use we even carry their CampBoss 4x4 range in stock in our store. 


Today we will explore a few insights of this great 4wd show with some interesting facts, including tremendously entertaining footage from their adventure videos and photos of their monster 4wds.




We love our four-wheel driving, camping and exploring adventures. Exploring this great country is not only rewarding but provides a challenge with the different environments on offer. Australia is a true playground for adventures, from Western Australia and Queensland's white sandy beaches to the iconic red centre.


At the time of writing this blog post, in March 2021, it has been great seeing more people discovering our own backyard since the COVID pandemic began. With many international holidays and cruises cancelled, people are hooking up their vans, grabbing their tents and camping gear, and getting out amongst it all.


Caravan parks are getting booked out, caravans and 4WD vehicles are selling like Maccas nuggets, and there seems to be a new Instagram profile or YouTube channel popping up every day showing Aussie adventures and travel.


After a tough 2020, many regional areas are loving Australian travellers' visits and the boost to their local economies. The Bring Your Esky and Shop Local campaigns have helped many smaller Aussie brands survive. Will this become a new normal in Australia? It most likely will be at least until international travel becomes a viable option.


Popular 4wd shows traditionally broadcasted on TV, or the new younger generation of social media 4wd stars with massive following have contributed to the increasing interest in adventure or exploration of this great country.


All 4 Adventure started approximately over a decade ago out of a Handycam bought off from eBay and turned into a well-recognized brand getting broadcasted on Network Ten.


To top this off, they have also worked on the new paid media tv Unleashed TV where you can access over 120 hours of Australian adventure for about $10 a month. If you are a fan of 4x4ing, camping, fishing, boating, quads, touring, rig builds, bush cooking, and other Australian adventure activities, then Unleashed TV is the place! So much so that for each episode people get hooked on, they hunt and collect bonus keywords online to receive additional entries into the All 4 Adventure Dream competition link.



Getting to know the Hosts







The frontman of All 4 Adventure, Jase Andrews, had driven across Australia six times before his mid-twenties and grew up with a strong appreciation of what this country has to offer, he loves cooking up bush tucker and a very talented 4wder.


He now drives his modified LandCruiser 200 series through some extreme places for the show, towing a trailer that carries a boat and an ATV.


Jase is the creator, director and host of All 4 Adventure (screening on TenPlay).


His story is about a man living the dream of turning his passion for fishing, camping and adventure into a prosperous business. 








Simon Anderson is a farm boy who loves the coast, the ocean and fishing. If you watch the show, you will know he also loves his food and camp cooking.


Simon drives an Isuzu D-Max towing a caravan in the latest series.




The boys go through some remote country with their specially developed expedition vehicles, showing off beautiful coastlines, bush and desert landscapes.


They use only the bst gear for their trips and adventures, showcasing what they have fitted to their cars, toys and boats.


Some of this gear comes from some of the most respected 4wd brands in Australia, that we are proud to be official stockists, to mention some: Clearview, Brown Davis, Ultimate 9, and more.







In their early episodes of Seasons 1-3, Jase and Simon tackled a lot of the Northern Territory.





Season 4 was focused on the Kimberley region.





Season 5 was Across the Top





Season 6 focused on the rugged North.





Season 7 explored Cape York in Secrets of the Cape.





Season 8 was exploring the Wild West.





Season 9 focused again on Tackling the Territory.





Season 10 was about a Decade of Dirt.





Season 11 focused on Coastlines of the Cape.






In their latest season that just wrapped up, season 12 – Escape to the North, the boys explored more of North Queensland and the Northern Territory.





This included areas like the west coast of Cape York, the Savannah Way, Lorella Springs, Normanton, Karumba, etc.


Driving a kitted out 200 series Toyota Landcruiser converted into a ute and an Isuzu D-Max, the season shows off some excellent bush track driving, beach adventures, water crossings and navigating through the bush without tracks.


You can see what has been done and added to Jase's truck HERE



You can see what has been done and added to Simon's truck HERE





CampBoss 4x4


If you have been watching the Season 12 series, you may have spotted a lot of their new CampBoss gear, including soft shackles, recovery kits and cooking kits.


The waffle iron was a favourite for Jase during his cook-ups in series 12, with some great recipes!


We are proud to stock this new range of gear at All Four x 4 in Kotara. We are an authorised CampBoss retailer.





Check our CampBoss 4x4 Range for pricing and availability or drop in and see the team today 





Knowing what to do when crossing different terrains, water crossings, and facing extreme weather conditions can be the difference between a successful trip or one full of problems.


Having the right gear on your 4WD is also important.


You can catch All 4 Adventure on Unleashed TV or when it airs on Channel 10. Check out their website for links to each TV series at TV Series Overview - All 4 Adventure




Call in and see our team at Kotara for all your CampBoss gear. We can also handle all your general vehicle servicing, troubleshooting, upgrades and fitment of your adventure gear.


Our new showroom has a whole heap of gear on display, including rooftop tents, swags, camp chairs, suspension, recovery gear, camping accessories, service accessories and more.


The team can help guide you through your four-wheel drive options, book in your vehicle for servicing, and chase up new and used parts and accessories.


Let us know your favourite TV series or YouTube channel that showcases the 4x4, caravanning and camping lifestyle in the comments below.


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Maps VS Gps in 4WD: Which one is best?

Read entire post: Maps VS Gps in 4WD: Which one is best?





Many of us have been itching to get away and into some proper Aussie isolation; one thing this great country offers in buckets...





Those that do have the opportunity to get out in the scrub regularly, most would already have the basics like some sort of shelter and sleeping gear (whatever your style - swag/tent/roof top tent/pop-top trailer/caravan), basic to advanced kitchen/cooking equipment, transport whether that be by foot, bike or vehicle, the options and configurations now-a-days are endless


Among the list of equipment highly recommended to be included in your kit, but often overlooked, are navigation tools






For many years one of the most common and essential pieces of equipment is the good old map


With the assortment of technology available in recent years, there are many modern options available for us to navigate to our destination, maps are now often considered a thing of the past


But there is a lot of the fun using navigation skills nearly forgotten and plotting your route using a paper map


Passing these techniques onto our children can also make the most out of some of those "are we there yet" moments


How about giving them a map and asking them the question instead


Maps can be a recreational tool also - picture being setup at your campsite and planning a hike to explore the local area


Sitting around a map, sharing ideas about waterways with swimming holes or scenic ridgelines and working out the best way to get there


It’s a terrific way to get some education in to the kids without them realising - a bit like sneaking veges into their dinner - good for them!




A seasoned map reader is able to locate themselves on a map using various tools and techniques, but it does take experience


For most of us, a better tool to use to find out where you are is a GPS



GPS Receivers




The modern GPS is a great device


It is quite a complicated system, although in a nutshell there are a network of GPS satellites orbiting the planet with each satellite constantly transmitting its location and current time using radio frequencies


A GPS receiver (commonly fitted to a vehicle, or handheld) detects these transmissions, compares the information it receives (and when it receives it) from several satellites, and uses this information to determine where on the surface of the planet it is


Typically, 4 satellites are required to calculate your location reasonably accurately, the more satellites picked up the faster and more accurate the result


One of the outstanding features of a GPS receiver is as it uses radio frequency completely independent from phone / network / internet / Wi-Fi coverage, as long as your unit has battery life and you can see the sky (Note: tall buildings/trees etc can reduce performance) then it’ll work anywhere on the planet - including the middle of the ocean


Conceived in the early 1970's by the US government, the GPS system was initially restricted for military use only


In the 1980's it was opened up for civilian use by the then President Ronald Reagan


Currently, this first GPS system is still owned, maintained and controlled by the US Government


Since the 1980's there have been numerous upgrades and 'next generation' systems implemented but they essentially do the same thing the same way


Several countries have also created their own GPS network of satellites due to the obvious security issue of the original being under US control


While a GPS is an extremally useful navigation device, there have been several cases over the years showing relying on a GPS system alone to plot your route can end in disaster






"Death by GPS" has its own Wikipedia entry - its a brief read but contains some great advice


A sad case in freezing far Eastern Russia where a pair of teens using GPS chose the shorter suggested route rather than the longer second option shows how easily we can be led down the wrong path


What the GPS did not make clear was the shorter path was actually an abandoned highway known as the "Road of Bones", which was no longer regularly maintained


With temperatures around -50degC and a mishap with a stick piercing the radiator their adventure ended disastrously with one dying and the other suffering acute hypothermia due to it taking a week to find them - Read more – click here


Here are a few more cases where budding navigators survived but only just….

Unplanned 3-day tour of Death Valley California

Car competes with train - on train tracks

Is this a road or a boat ramp


Like any tool GPS receivers have their short comings and, as long as the user is aware of them, they can be worked around


To be fair, the GPS receivers in all the above examples worked as intended


What failed was the route mapping software loaded onto the unit


The technology is just not quite there to make them a reliable single tool to navigate in all situations


They can be used but should not be relied upon for route planning or guidance on their own


Had the Russian teens in the tragic story above taken the time to study a traditional map, there is a good chance it would have indicated the road was not maintained


It may have even shown it was not suitable for their 2WD vehicle


Anyway - enough GPS bashing


GPS units are the best tool for telling you WHERE YOU ARE



Local Guides




A third and often overlooked tool used for planning a trip are local guides


Local guides provide highly detailed information about roads, towns, forests, campsites, points of interest etc


They often contain photos, list facilities, pricing information, reviews, the list goes on


The level of detail included in these guides can range from single page pamphlets covering particular sites to books covering regions with detailed information about a wide range of points of interest


This level of info can be a real game changer!


Ever turned up to a camp site or caravan park only to find out pets are not allowed, or the facilities are not quite what was imagined


Local guides can also help plan your trip by high lighting some interesting sites that often easily can be overlooked


Got a favourite camp ground but are struggling to find new activities in the area?


Want to break from routine and find a new site to camp and explore?


A quick look in a local guide may provide enough interesting stops in one area that it could change the course of your trip


Local guides usually contain some very detailed information about local road conditions but they must be treated as they are intended – THEY ARE A GUIDE TO INTRODUCE A LOCAL AREA OR REGION


They are generally not terrifically useful as navigational aids although the Hema Atlas and Guide range does offer topographic map content!



So, what should I use to make the most out of a trip?




An ideal solution is to have access to all three


Maps and local guides to plan your journey and GPS receiver and maps to help get you there


Maps and local guides come in a variety of formats, scales, levels of detail so picking the right combination may require asking your favourite map store ( some questions


Many local guides now, especially the higer quality ones, include very detailed maps which can negate the need for a traditional fold out style map


Personally, I find nothing better than unfolding a map on a table and start pondering what to do or where to go



Some suggestions:


Alpine National Park - Victorian High Country


Local Map

State Map


Parks Victoria


Want a taste of Victorian High Country? Check this great 4wd trip from Brown Davis 40th anniversary!


Cape York & Old Telegraph Track - Far North Queensland


Local Map

State Map


Parks and Forests Queensland


Heading North? Check these handy tips!


The Kimberly - North Western Australia


Local Map

State Map


Parks and Wildlife Service - Western Australia



Browse our entire Hema range of Hema Maps, atlases and guides here



Here is a MadMatt4wd overview of the Hema Maps



And one of the Hema GPS Navigator



Finally, one picture to highlight another advantage of maps over a GPS


Not recommended to use this technique with a GPS to find a random place to visit.....






If you do want to try, this is the map to do it with - you'll need to BYO darts!


Most important of all - have fun out there exploring!


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Bring on the Summer Camping Adventures

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Ever since school, the words Summer Holidays have meant something special. Most Australians are lucky enough to enjoy a 6-week break when they are at school over January and either side of it.


For those working, planning time off for school holiday fun with the kids, or just some well-deserved downtime often means pulling out the camping gear and heading to our favourite spots.


Who can blame us? We live in such an amazing country with some truly spectacular destinations!


What was once just a simple tent and the family, has grown into camper trailers, rooftop tents, 19+ foot caravans and quite amazing setups with everything including the kitchen sink.


To help you enjoy these Summer holidays, we have put together a list of accessories and items to improve your experience in the great outdoors.



Setting up Camp




Depending on where you are camping will determine what your accommodation will be.


For those towing a caravan, you are pretty much set up for accommodation. You just need to book your holiday park or be set up to free camp with solar panels, extra water tanks and sanitary solutions.


If it's just you and your mate, or you are running solo, a simple swag might be the best option. Easy to set up and pack away, as well as being small enough to carry on a roof rack, a ute back or even a motorbike.


We have some great swag options available from Darche and Campboss that will keep you insect free and dry when out in the wilderness.


Taking your 4x4? An awning on the side of your vehicle can provide extra protection from the elements and take away some of the harsh heat of the sun, as well as deflecting the rain and condensation.


Our awnings are available in a range of sizes and configurations depending on what you are looking to achieve. A simple 2 or 2.5-metre side awning is great for a couple of swags to camp under, or a 270-degree awning will protect more area around your car for things like food preparation and changing clothes.


If you are camping somewhere like the Northern Territory or far north Queensland and fear uninvited guests visiting throughout the night, why not opt for a rooftop tent?


Our rooftop tents provide accommodation off the ground on the roof of your 4x4 or trailer, and feature mosquito netting and window awnings to protect you from that morning sun after a big night, or rain on a hot night.


They are quite simple to set up and pack away, and conveniently hold your mattress and blankets whilst stored away.


Of course, you do not need to be limited by space when all set up. We have a range of awnings and annexes that can extend your camping rooms.



Making Breakfast




Just because you are away from home, does not mean you have to eat poorly. There is a range of exciting new camp ovens and kitchen accessories to satisfy even the fussiest camp chef.


Why not build up your recipe repertoire of camp oven meals with the new CampBoss Ultimate Camp cooking Bundle? Now you can roast, bake, fry or boil just like Jase and the team from All 4 Adventure. The possibilities are endless from dinner delights to desserts that will make your fellow campers drool.


Need a BBQ set up for your morning bacon, eggs, sausages and mushrooms?


The stainless steel fold up options from Darche make storage and setup easy and expand your cooking capabilities when out camping. It will come in handy when you catch that fish that always gets away from you.



Relax like a King




After all the hard work of setting up camp and making dinner, you will need a few essentials like a good camp chair and a hard-working fridge.


Reliable camping furniture is often overlooked. We have a range of collapsible camping chairs to keep you cozy and comfortable as you enjoy a meal, a drink, or a story or two with your mates.


Do not forget chairs for the kids or they will want to sit on your lap all day.


We even have camp chairs with side tables and drink holders. They are available online, or you can come into our store and find the best fit for your body and budget.


You will need somewhere to put all your things that are not the ground. Pick up a sturdy fold-out camp table. Easy to store away, light, and perfect as a kitchen table.


When it comes to storing your fruit and veg, meats and drinks, a reliable fridge freezer is needed.


Select from a range of sizes depending on your needs and the length of time you plan to be away.


Having a dual compartment can be handy to freeze items to last longer. Larger fridges can also fit more drinks, larger bottles, and the big fish you are going to catch.


The fridge can be mounted in your car, camper or van to avoid it moving around during your travels. We offer a range of solutions including tie-downs, fridge slides, and dropdowns.


To maximise the efficiency of your fridge, you can use a fridge cover. This is very relevant when you are mounting the fridge externally such as on a ute back or in a canopy.


To protect your cans and bottles during transit, we suggest trying out MSA 4x4’s Stubbie and Tinnie tubes. These are neoprene covers that protect both your fridge and contents.


Drop-in or jump online to check out the range of sizes for fridge freezer models.



Do not be afraid of the Dark




Your iPhone light is just not going to cut it out camping. Get serious with a good quality torch or lantern.


We also have work lamps and spotlights for your 4x4 or van. With a range of LED options, as well as power solutions including solar and dual battery systems, you can set up a lighting solution that works best for your camping environment.


Heading out to your favourite fishing spot after the sun has gone to bed, or before it rises? Try a head-mounted lamp to give you hands-free lighting. You will wonder how you did without it for so long.


If you are travelling at night, a good quality light bar or driving lights can make a big difference. Choose from spot and spread beams, LED, halogen, curved bars and more.



Getting there Safely




Most importantly, make sure you get to your Summer camping adventures safely.


If towing a caravan or camping trailer, be sure your 4WD is set up correctly including suspension and airbags, towing hitch and load levelling, electric brakes and weight calculations.


The workshop team at All Four X 4 can help with your towing setups. Get your four-wheel drive correctly set up and checked over before towing.


If you are travelling with your vehicle alone, the same applies in terms of suspension setup and weight calculations. You will also need to consider your storage options for the gear you are bringing.


Often enough, that ideal fishing spot, beach camp, or remote camping spot will require some off-road driving.


If you are travelling alone especially, be sure to have recovery gear packed in case you get stuck. Getting bogged before you get to your campsite is not a good way to start a summer holiday adventure.


Whether you are towing or not, be sure to look after your tyres by correctly adjusting pressures. Having an on-board air compressor and a good quality tyre deflator can make navigating corrugated roads and sandy tracks a lot simpler.


The team and workshop at All Four X 4 in Kotara are ready to help you make the most of your Summer adventures, as well as ensure your four-wheel drive is up to the task.


Book in today for all your pre-road trip servicing and safety checks, towing setups, and suspension upgrades.


Our online store and shop have your camping needs covered from fridges to frypans, tents to tools, and chairs to…… well almost everything to do with 4WD adventuring and camping.


How can we help you?



article by Adventure Unplanned


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How to Prepare your 4x4 for Water Crossings

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With La Niña in effect in Australia and more rainfall forecast, it is more important than ever to remember the essentials on your 4x4 for dealing with water.


Parts of your four-wheel drive need protection from the elements, and whilst we usually think of protection bars, underbody protection and better tyres, there are specific components that must be protected from water.


There are plenty of components that do not like water, these include fuse boxes, breathers, intakes, engine computers, the alternator, batteries, and lots more electrical items.


Here are a few ways you can protect your four-wheel drive from water and the elements.



Breathe air, not water




Just like us, humans, petrol and diesel engines breathe in air to run. Having water in this airflow can seriously mess things up.


Water entering your four-wheel drive’s air intake can cause damage to components, cause a hydro lock (as the water will not compress like air) and permanent damage that will require a rebuild of your motor. Not what you need when you are out in the middle of nowhere.


Small amounts of moisture in the air intake can also cause your engine to stall. The last thing you want happening when you are guards deep in a river.


To avoid the consumption of water by your engine’s air intake, fit a quality snorkel to your airbox, ensure one-way drain plugs are working correctly, and that your air inlet system is sealed correctly.


Not all snorkels are the same, be sure to find out how sealed your system is and stick with a quality brand.


Being on the outside of your four-wheel drive, snorkels are also exposed to Australia’s hot sun and cheaper plastic snorkels can easily crack and warp.



Fuel burns, water does not




Now that you have ensured water is not getting into your inlet, we need to also protect the fuel system.


Water in our fuel lines and tank can also find its way into our four-wheel drive’s engine, and cause damage, as well as corrosion.


This can lead to engine stalls, poor performance and permanent damage cutting your adventure short.


Fitting a water separator and secondary fuel filter system can help keep the fuel water-free.


Kits can be fitted on the majority of models, or a custom solution created. Our workshop can advise and install the best setup for your four-wheel drive, and also explain how to empty the water collector.



Water and oil should not mix.




Crossing a river or hitting a large puddle means the underside of your four-wheel drive is exposed to a lot of water, and in some cases, is fully submerged.


Four-wheel drive differentials have breathers mounted on them, which when submerged, can cause water to enter the diff, contaminating the oil and grease. A lot of the time this may also be mud with sand or dirt.


This can cause premature wear and even failure of your diff.


To avoid this happening, fit an extended diff breather kit which includes hoses to run from your original diff breather points to a filtered airbox that you can mount higher up in your vehicle to avoid water consumption.


You can also fit extended breather kits to your gearbox and transfer case breather points.



Wear a bra




When attempting to cross a river or creek that is deeper than your wheels, it can be a great idea to fit a wading bra or water crossing cover.


This will help avoid a wave of water filling your engine bay.


They simply fit across the front of your four-wheel drive and help create a bow wave that you can follow through the crossing.


Avoiding the big rush of water into your engine bay can also avoid costly damage to your radiator and engine fan.


Remember to only use the water crossing bra when you are crossing a waterway, as it may hinder your vehicle’s cooling system if left on otherwise.


Another point to remember is that a water crossing bra will only be effective while there is forward motion. As soon as you stop in the water or reverse, water will flood into your engine bay.



Be prepared.




Being ready is better than fixing the problem later.


Your four-wheel drive is not designed to be submerged and there are many entry points for water like your fuel cap and doors.


If you have a petrol engine, consider making sure your distributor cap and coil leads are sealing correctly. Some four-wheel drive enthusiasts with petrol engine vehicles use a small film of silicon around the cap and coils to seal things up and plumb any distributor breathers into the airbox.


Your electric winch on the front of your four-wheel drive will also cop the water, so be sure to also use a water dispersant spray on the terminals and check the breathers on the winch motor.



Ride the wave.




The speed you enter and exit the waterway, as well as drive through it can affect the way water enters your vehicle.


Creating a small bow wave at the front of your vehicle and following it can stop the water rushing over your bonnet or splashing hard into your engine bay.


Entering the water too fast can sometimes cause this wave to come over your bonnet and also endanger your air intake.


If you are in a manual, avoid changing gears whilst in the water as this can allow water and contaminants into your clutch.



Water Dispersant.




Carrying a can of water dispersant can be useful in protecting your 12v electricals.


Regularly clean your electrical components and give them a light spray. Having this spray can also be helpful if your engine stalls or has problems after the crossing.



Tyre pressures.




If you have been tackling some rough country already, your tyre pressures might be down, but if they are not, lower them.


This will help both in reducing buoyancy, and to increase grip on the riverbed or waterway floor


Use a quick tyre deflator with a gauge to ensure your tyres are all correctly aired down.


If you carry an air compressor with you, bring an air nozzle along to blow out water from your engine bay components.


Most importantly, check the riverbed or ground before entering the waterway. If soft sand or mud, you may want lower tyre pressures. If rocky and hard, slightly higher pressures might need to be used for grip.



Cooling down.




Spending time preparing your vehicle and checking the waterway you are about to cross will also give your vehicle time to cool down.


Components like brakes and the cooling fan can get damaged if suddenly entering a cold flood of water.


Four-wheel drives with viscous coupling fans can sometimes self-destruct when spinning fast and hitting a body of water. Consider anchoring this type of fan to something in the engine bay to stop it from spinning up whilst you cross the water. Just remember to release it straight after.



Safety first




Water crossings can be fun but should also be avoided where possible.


The last thing any four-wheel drive owner wants is to see their vehicle stuck in deep water, damaged or floating away.


If you are towing a van or camper trailer, the risks increase again with added weight and unpredictability.


Carrying an emergency seatbelt cutter can also come in handy if you do happen to get stuck in the water.


Whilst many people close their windows before crossing to stop splashes and possibly increase buoyancy, consider the consequences if you get stuck and not being able to open your window to escape the car, especially with power windows.


Make sure your four-wheel drive is set up for water crossings by talking to one of our team at All Four x 4.


We can help you with the supply and installation of all the above accessories, as well as identify problems that might arise on your model of four-wheel drive.


See you on the tracks, or in our workshop soon.



article by Adventure Unplanned

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