Lightnites – Quality LED Lighting Solutions

If you’re looking for quality LED Lighting solutions for your offroad situation, then let the guys at LightNites (http://www.lightnites.com) help you out. Having said that, the LED lighting solutions provided by LightNites can be used pretty much anywhere from your home, your shed, your boat, your camper/caravan, your car… Anywhere that has a need for light, and access to 12v power. As a small company they are dedicated to providing not only a great quality product, but great customer service, which counts for an awful lot these days.

LightNites was founded on 2008 by Mark Murray from Broome 4WD and was the first sell remote control LED lighting for 4WD’s, caravans cars and boats.  When LEDs were still a new technology and just becoming affordable for the consumer, LightNites were right there selling LED lighting solutions from their online store.

Mark Murray’s background in electronics and a passion and affinity for the outdoors, particularly four wheel driving really guided him in designing his products. And his search for quality products and strong belief in customer service provided the basis for the business today. That philosophy has always been, and continues to be what stands LightNites out from the crowd.

Danny Dellaca purchased the business from Mark in 2013 and continues the philosophy of quality products coupled with excellent customer service. His passion for the outdoors, and in particular the boating world, gives him insight into what his clients want from his products.

Danny and the team came to my 4wd club to do a presentation on some of their LED Lighting solutions. They impressed me quite a lot on the night and so I approached Danny to see if he’d like me to review one of his products.

LightNites Remote LED Light StripHe was keen and so I was lucky enough to get a hold of their LED Remote Light Strip. The product specs for the LED Remote Light Strip are:

  • Colour: Cool White
  • LEDs per metre: 120
  • Power draw: 1 amp per metre of light at full power
  • IP65 rated and coated in a silicon waterproof gel 
  • Working voltage is 12 volts (4-5 amps)
  • 50,000 hour+ lifespan
  • Working temperature -20 degrees C to 50 degrees C
  • Backed with 3M Super sticky stuff (I’m pretty sure that’s the technical term)

So firstly, the LED Light Strip from LightNites is bright. The one I got was a single strip of LED lights backed with 3M sticky stuff that is really, really sticky! I stuck it to a strip of aluminium so that I could move it around and decide where to put it. On our camping trip I hung it up outside above the kitchen area. It was well and truly bright enough to give us enough light to not only to cook by, but we all sat around under it and shot the breeze well into the night. In the end I decided to put it inside the camper, pop-riveted to the cross bar that holds up the tent. Although we haven’t used it there in a camping situation, I’m sure that’s the place for it.LightNites LED Remote Strip Light

Now I mentioned that it’s bright right? That was just up there in the previous paragraph… But the cool thing is that there are a number of pre-set settings that allow you to adjust the brightness! You can quickly jump between 100% brightness to 50% and even down to 25%. Or you can set it anywhere in between! Turn the LED Light strip off and it remembers where you set it to last! Ingenious.

And if you want your camper to be the party place, you can select from a whole bunch of funky flashy modes that range from a cool pulse to an epileptic fit inducing strobe. Not sure how useful that will really be… in a real life camping situation… Maybe you could use it at night to signal overhead planes for help… A disco in the middle of the Aussie outback is likely to attract some kind of attention right?

“Ok”, you might say, “All these modes and brightnesses and stuff are all well and good, but once I’m in my camping chair, nothing gets me out!”

Well that’s perfectly OK. Most of the LightNites products come with a remote that allows you to control the light from quite some distance away. Yeah that’s right… A remote… Yeah baby.LightNites LED Remote Strip Light

So you could be hanging out in your camper in your stubbies and thongs, cooking up the catch of whiting you’d managed to get yourself and sucking on a VB or a XXXX, when suddenly the woman of your dreams walks up. BAM in an instant you’ve dulled the LED light strip down to ‘Mood lighting’… If only you had Barry White on remote as well!!

Or, and much more likely, you could be flumpped in your camping chair, beer in hand, an uncomfortable silence between you and your mates, when one of them says “Gee that light is bright!”. BAM, in an instant you’ve dulled it to 50 or 25% and everyone is not only happy, but now talking about this awesome LED strip light that’s controlled by a remote… What a conversation starter!LightNites LED Remote Strip Light

There are only a couple of minor negatives that come to mind for me with this product. Firstly the remote is coded to the light. So if you lose the remote then that’s it… All over for that LED light. You can’t get a new remote and re-code it. I’m sure you’d be able to pull it apart and re-wire it with a physical switch but then… no instant mood lighting!

LightNites LED Remote Strip Light

The second is that if you have a number of remote lights, say one in the camper, one over the kitchen area, one facing out beyond the awning, a few in the boat and maybe one on the car awning and even inside the car, then that’s a lot of remotes… How do you know which one is which?

Are these major issues? Not really… Just things to be aware of really. (UPDATE! Danny contacted me the other day to let me know that they now have a setup that allows a single remote to control up to 3 LED lights, and the remote is re-programmable. So if you lose one, you can get another one and re-code it to work with the lights you already have! Way to go Danny!)

LightNites LED Remote Strip Light

So what’s the future for LightNites? I’m sure they have their ideas for the future, but I’d like to see a remote with a strong magnet built in so that you could stick it to the camper or your car or something.

Also maybe a small portable LED light that has a magnet on the bottom of it. Something that you could stick somewhere temporarily and then plug into the nearest 12v socket… And with an adjustable head to target the llight towards where you want it…

As a small business, if you’re after a specific LED lighting solution then get in touch with Danny and the crew. They’re a very approachable bunch and are more than happy to help you design a solution for your particular situation.
Want more info? Or to purchase something from them online? Check out their range of LED Lighting Solutions at http://lightnites.com/

Smiths Maxx Chips – The ultimate recovery tool

Smiths Maxx Chips

Smiths Maxx Chips

Now we all know how well Max Trax work, right? Take the easy way out and all that?

So this evening I was paying for fuel at my local petrol station when I spotted these… Smiths Maxx Chips… Maxx Taste. Maxx Crunch…

They came in a bunch of different colours (flavours), but how can you go past the original orange? I know the spelling’s not quite right but close enough!

On opening the packet, they’re a very solid looking chip. You’d probably only need a couple and they’re solid enough to use to get you out of trouble. Might get a bit soggy in the mud though…

The ultimate recovery tool? They’d certainly go well with a cold beer after a day on the tracks that’s for sure!

Mitsubishi PB Challenger Turbo Replacement

PB Challenger Turbo Seepage

The other day I took a look in my engine bay and noticed that there was some oil seepage around the turbo. It’s worth taking a look and it probably applies to the current model Triton as well. I’d read online about some Mitsubishi PB Challenger turbo replacement but didn’t expect that it’d come to that.

Anyway I had my car booked in for a service and thought that it’d be a good idea to mention it to them. I also had noticed that the car was less fuel efficient and was blowing more black smoke than in the past. I also mentioned this to them.

At the end of the day I went back to pick up the car and was told that the turbo did indeed need to be replaced! I was expecting that they’d replace seals or something but not a full turbo replacement! Luckily covered under full warranty!

They mentioned that it’s a ‘high ticket’ item which either means that it happens a lot so they don’t have many just sitting around, or that their expensive so they don’t have them sitting around, or that lots of people try to get new turbos by falsely reporting them or something… The short of it is that they took some photos and sent it off to Mitsubishi Motors Australia. They then have to approve the work before proceeding. Once approval is granted then the part can be ordered and installed. The service technician indicated that this was just a formality in my case and I should have my car back in the service centre within 2 weeks. In the mean time they have said that the car is OK to drive and I probably won’t notice any performance issues. If it hadn’t been found then it could cause issues much later down the track.
But for now, I’m waiting for the call back to get my turbo replaced.

Here are some photos of what it looked like with the oil seepage.

Read more here!

PB Challenger Turbo Seepage

 

PB Challenger Turbo Seepage

PB Challenger Turbo Seepage

PB Challenger Turbo Seepage

 

Mud Maps M7 Review

Mud Maps M7

NOTE: As of early 2014, Mud Maps have decided to stop manufacturing the M7 to concentrate on the development of their mobile applications for iPad and other mobile platforms. I guess that makes this article obsolete. Thanks for visiting though!

In today’s modern age, navigation using a GPS and electronic maps is par for the course. The days of relying 100% on paper maps are long behind us. Although having paper maps available as a backup is good safety, I’m betting that the majority of 4wd adventures are undertaken without ever pulling out the parchment. So when the opportunity to write a review for Mud Maps M7 device came up I jumped at it!

Mud Maps have placed their M7 as a direct competitor to devices like the HEMA Navigator HN6, and the VMS 700HDS II. The Mud Maps M7 gets you where you want to go both on the highway, and off the beaten track. iGo Primo with the latest street data from NAVTEQ, shows you the way when you’re on the hard stuff, and OziExplorer helps you out when the fun begins.

Whats in the Mud maps m7 box

Your impression of a new toy starts with the box. After all, it’s the first thing you see.

The Mud Maps M7 comes in a very tidy and good quality box that makes you instantly think that significant effort has gone into it. People care about this thing. People have put some thought into it and want you to like it even before you’ve opened it.

Mud Map M7 - Born to get muddy!Inside the box you get:

  • The Mud Maps M7 (of course)
  • A soft pocket to carry it in
  • A 240v power plug
  • A 12v power plug
  • A USB connector to plug it into your computer
  • An AV plug to attach a reverse camera
  • A bracket to stick it to your windscreen
  • A stylus
  • An instruction manual

 The Mud Maps M7

Let’s take a closer look at the M7 itself.

It’s a light-weight device, weighing in at only 201 grams. However despite its lightness, it doesn’t have that cheap plastic feel to it. It feels like a well put together piece of kit. Which is just as well given the punishment that I’m sure we’ll all be putting them though.

The device itself has a number of different ports and buttons on it. Along the top edge you’ll find the power button and two small slots that the windscreen bracket attaches to. There is nothing down the right hand side, but the left has the USB cable port, the Micro SD card slot, the video port for the reverse camera and a couple of other blank ports that are plugged up and not used for anything. Along the bottom are the other slots that the windscreen bracket connects to. And finally on the back is the reset button and the speaker.

The Mud Maps M7 contains 4GB of internal storage, and the Micro SD card slot allows you to expand that. The maximum capacity for the Micro SD card is 32 GB, but please make sure you get a good quality Micro SD card. I tried two. One was an el-cheapo and the M7 didn’t recognise it no matter what I did. The other was a 16GB SanDisk HC Micro SD and it worked perfectly. So you get what you pay for.

Mud Maps M7 peripherals

Mud Maps M7 and accessoriesThe other stuff you get in the box comes in handy at various times here and there. And of course most of them are pretty standard and probably don’t warrant much of a mention beyond the fact that they’re there. Of course some you’ll only use if you have the appropriate devices… For example I don’t have a reverse camera so I won’t be using the video cable.

But the one that I’d like to specifically mention is the windscreen bracket. This is probably something that could be improved on. The bracket only has one pivot point. Which is fine if your windscreen is very upright. But many modern vehicles have windscreens that are on a very steep angle. This forces you to place the device quite high on the windscreen so that it fits above the dash and that can restrict vision a little. I did find a place to put it without too much trouble, but I think that in some situations, and in some vehicles, it may cause a problem. But then again, maybe not.

The windscreen bracket also holds the stylus. Which is fine when you’re in the car, but if you work on the M7 in the camper trailer at the end of the day, you have to remember to bring the stylus with you. And hope you don’t lose it somewhere. In my opinion, it would be much, much better to somehow attach the stylus to the actual M7 itself.

The other item worth mentioning is the instruction manual. Where HEMA have gone with the ‘Document Everything’ philosophy by providing 126 pages of riveting reading, Mud Maps have taken the opposite approach. Their instruction manual is a paltry 21 pages. “Surely they’ve used a very small font to fit it all in!” you may say. But no. It’s a quick easy read that gives you all the basics on how to run the thing. From there you’re largely on your own. However the software is very intuitive so it doesn’t take much to find your way around. And if you get stuck there are some web links at the end of the instruction manual to help you out. I think it’s a very good approach.

The M7 software

The M7 comes bundled with two very popular and well known pieces of software:

  • OziExplorer CE
  • iGo Primo

 Mud Maps M7 iGo PrimoiGo Primo

iGo Primo gives turn by turn directions when you’re on the black top. It’s a great piece of software that you can update from the NAVTEQ website. Ongoing updates are subscription based and are well worth it if you ask me. Roads around me seem to change daily so it’s nice to know that updates are readily available.

The software is very user friendly and intuitive so working out how to use it is easy. I won’t go into any detail on how to use it. There are plenty of online resources if you’re stuck. Mud Maps even provide this demo video:

OziExplorer

OziExplorer is very common among 4wd enthusiasts so having it on your mobile GPS unit is invaluable. The CE version means it’s designed to run on Windows CE (which is the Microsoft operating system that runs the Mud Maps M7 device). You can use your PC software (available separately) to plan your tracks from the comfort of your home, and then transfer your plans to the Mud Maps M7 for when you’re out and about. You can use your M7 to plan trips of course, but the smaller screen may make it harder than a nice big computer screen, that’s all.

Need a video tutorial for OziExplorer as well? Mud Maps have kindly provided one and here it is:

Price

In terms of price, the M7 is streets in front. When you compare the features and prices of its nearest competitors, it’s very difficult to beat. According to the Mud Maps website:

VMS 700 HDs II HEMA HN6 Mud Maps M7
Screen Size 7 Inch 6 Inch 7 Inch
Onroad
Software
iGo Primo with
Aussi maps
iGo Primo with
Aussie and NZ Maps
iGo Primo with
Aussie and NZ Maps
Offroad
Software
VMS OziExplorer CE OziExplorer CE
Price RRP $699 $799 $499

 The Wrap

So what do I think of the Mud Maps M7 GPS navigator. Well in short, it’s awesome.

Mud Maps M7 OziExplorer CEThe only things I’d like to see changed are

  1. Put the stylus into the device itself. That way you can leave the bracket behind and not have to remember to carry a tiny little stylus around with you.
  2. Put a 2nd pivot into the arm of the windscreen bracket. It would just give it a little more versatility in terms of where the device could be placed.
  3. Windows 8. I’d love to see the Mud Maps M7 running Windows 8 in the background. I realise that Mud Maps probably doesn’t have much say in the matter. OziExplorer and iGo Primo may not be available on Windows 8 but one day, I’d hope that changes.

But apart from that, the software that the Mud Maps M7 runs is exactly the same as the HEMA HN6. And I mean exactly the same! Not some cut down version… It’s Exactly The Same! So really why would you pay $300 more?

Using the device is simple and intuitive and the GPS, as you’d expect it to be, is very accurate.

The device is very light weight, but is solid and comes with a 12 month warranty.

The Mud Maps M7 is available online and a 14 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee gives you the confidence to buy it and see what you think.

Although the last page of the Mud Maps M7 manual says “Now go and get Muddy” I’m pretty sure that refers to you, and your 4wd. Not the Mud Maps M7 itself…

My recommendation: Get yourself one, then go and get muddy.

4wd Rims and Tyres Explained – Tyres

Tyre Measurements

Welcome to the second part of my explanation about 4wd rims and tyres. In my previous post explaining 4wd Rims, I mentioned that I run 285/75/R16s on a 16 x 7.5 steel rim with a +10 offset. I don’t by the way, but it’s a perfectly valid example for us to use…

If you’ve read the previous post then you’ll understand the last part… 16 x 7.5 steel rim with a +10 offset. In this post, I’ll explain the rest of it and also some other common terms that you’ll hear regarding tyres.

What does the rest mean?

Tyres are measured in a couple of different ways; imperial (inches) and metric (millimetres). The example above is the metric system… Kind of… Except that some of it is in inches… Crazy I know!!!

So what does it mean? Ok. Lets get into it. Its actually not that difficult to understand.

Tyres are measured in width of the tread, side wall size and rim size. In our example:BFG All Terrain Tyre

  • 285 is the width of the tyre in millimetres.
  • 75 is the height of the sidewall as a percentage of the width of the tyre. Otherwise known as the Aspect Ratio.
  • R16 is the size of the rim it’ll fit in in inches.

So there you go. Simple. Thanks for coming. Wait… what? You want more? Ok then…

Calculating tyre diameter

So lets say you want to know the rolling diameter of our tyre. There are two ways you can do this. Lets have a look at the first method.

In our example, our tyre is 285mm wide. The sidewall is simply 75% of 285 (285 x 0.75) which is 213.75mm high. But that still doesn’t give us the full diameter, it only gives us the height of the tyre. The distance from the rim to the road, so to speak.

To get the full tyre diameter, we need to also add the rim size. In our case it’s 16 inches. There are any number of places on the internet to convert inches to millimetres. But I’ll do it for you this time. Just this once, ok.

16 inches = 406.4mm

So our total tyre diameter is 213.75mm + 406.4mm + 213.75mm = 833.9mm

When talking about tyre diameter, most people talk in inches for some weird reason. So then we convert 833.9mm back into inches… Which comes to 32.83 inches.

The second method would be to visit a website that does it all for you. Like this one at RimsNTires.com, or this one at ExploreOz.

But hang on… You’ve seen tyres measurements that don’t seem to look like this at all! You’re right! Sometimes tyres are measured only in inches!

So for example your tyre might be a 33×11.5R16. In this case, 33 inches is the total diameter of the tyre in inches. 11.5 is the width of the tyre, and R16 is the rim size. If you did the calculations, you’d find that it’s very close to our original example of 285/75R16

Other tyre talk

Some other terms you’ll hear when people are talking about tyres are:

Carcass – According to etyres.co.uk, the tyre carcass is basically the black bit, including the tread, the sidewall, the steel belts if there are any and everything else.

Tread – This is the bit that keeps you stuck to the road. There are all different kinds of tread for all different types of terrain.

Sidewall – This is the side of the tyre. The bit you kick when you’re telling people about your tyres. it keeps the tread away from the rim.

Bead – This is the part of the tyre that comes into contact with the rim. You’ll hear people talking about popping the bead off the rim. This basically means that their tyre has come off the rim and all the air has escaped. It can be difficult to get it back on again if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Footprint – This is the area of the tyre that comes into contact with the ground. One of the best 4wd tricks to get you further is to reduce your tyre pressure. This increases the foot print of your tyre and gives you more traction.

Profile – The tyre profile is the aspect ratio. The height of the sidewall.

That’s basically it really. There are many more terms that you might come across but these are probably the most common.

 

*Feature Image from ExploreOz

4wd Rims and Tyres explained – Rims

Cooper Tyres Prado - Fraser Island

4wd Rims and Tyres

How often have you talked to a 4wd enthusiast about their 4wd rims and tyres? Have you managed to make head or tail of what they say?

Have you ever seen a post on a forum asking for advice about what 4wd rims and tyres to run? The strings of numbers that people come out with are sometimes harder to follow than the ideas of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory!

If I said to you that “My 4wd rims and tyres are a set of 285/75/R16s on a 16 x 7.5 steel rim with a +10 offset” (which I don’t by the way) would that send you stark screaming crazy?

If that sounds like you then read on and maybe I can clear some of it up for you. Firstly, lets start with 4wd Rims.

4wd Rims Explained

So firstly lets start with the basics. There are essentially two types of 4wd rims; Alloy and Steel.

The difference between Alloy and Steel Rims

Alloy and Steel rims are pretty easy to tell apart. Most modern 4wd rims now days are alloy. With the movement towards soccer mums and urban four wheel drives that never leave the bitumen, alloy rims have more visual appeal. They’re usually silver and shiny and look nice. According to Drive.com.au and Jax Quickfit Tyres, the main differences between alloy’s and steelies are:

  • Alloy rims are made of lightweight metal alloys (hence the name)
  • Because they’re lighter, they have less rotational resistance and therefore allow the vehicle to accelerate faster
  • Alloy wheels shed heat better than steel wheels
  • Alloy rims tend to be stronger
  • Alloy rims have a lower melting temperature.
  • Alloys are usually much more expensive

Another thing to keep in mind when 4 wheeling, is that if you damage an alloy rim, then it may be more difficult to repair out in the bush. Or in fact at all. On the other hand, if your steel rim is dented or deformed, then you can generally tap (bash) it back into shape.

So what’s best for us 4wd enthusiasts? Well that’s up to you really. 4wd Action have compared alloy vs steel rims. The article  goes into a bit more detail to help you make up your mind.

What does Stud Pattern mean

Very basically, the stud pattern of a rim is how many nuts you have to undo to change your tyre. Most 4wd rims have either 5 or 6 studs, or nuts, that hold them on. Understand? Pretty simple really, right?

Well there is actually more to it than just that. A stud patter is expressed as two numbers.

So for example, on a rim that has an even number of bolt holes, a stud pattern of something like 6 x 125 would mean that there are 6 bolt holes and the distance between the centres of opposite bolts is 125mm.

On a rim with an odd number of bolt holes, for example 5 x 125, there are obviously 5 bold holes. But the measurement of 125 is taken from the back side of one bolt hole, to the centre of the most opposite bolt hole. Confused? Take a look at the pictures. They’re worth a thousand words. Thanks to Wheel-Size.com.

6 bolt stud pattern – Measure from centre to centre

5 bold stud pattern – Measure from the back of one to the centre of the most opposite one

 

Wheel Bold Patters

4wd Rim size

The size of your Rim is measured usually in inches and is made up of two parts. The diameter and the width. So in the example at the very top of this page, I mentioned a Rim size of 16 x 7.5. This means that the diameter is 16 inches, and the width is 7.5 inches. That’s not to difficult either right?

Rim Offset

Rim offset is a measure, in millimetres, of the distance between the hub of your rim (where it actually mounts to your car) and the centre line of your rim. Why are diameter and width measured in inches, where offset is measured in millimetres? No idea. If you find out then please comment below!

So imagine you’re looking straight at your tyre as it’s rolling towards you. You’re looking at the tyre tread. Imagine a line drawn from top to bottom, splitting the tyre in two, length-ways. The offset is how far away your hub is from that centre line.

Rim Offset Diagram
Rim offset – http://kgm.tiwing.com/calcs/offsetcalc.htm

There are three kinds of offset.

  • Positive offset – A positive offset means that your hub sits outside the centre line if your rim. Effectively this pulls your tyres back in towards your vehicle. It also makes the rim appear ‘flatter’ from the outside.
  • Zero offset – A zero offset means that your hub sits exactly on that centre line of your rim.
  • Negative offset – A negative offset means that your hub sits inside the centre line of your rim. So closer to your car. This effectively pushes your tyre out away from your vehicle giving your car a wider stance. Your rim will appear more ‘bucket-like’. Or hollow.

The image to the right shows this perfectly. Note that the right hand side of each rim in the picture is the outer side. The one that you’d be able to see if it were on a car.

4wd Rims

That basically explains 4wd Rims for you. Hopefully you’re a little less confused about the whole thing now. If I say to you that “I run a set of 285/75/R16s on a 16 x 7.5 steel rim with a +10 offset”, at least you’ll be able to decipher half of it now.

Take a look at my article about Tyres. Then you’ll be a full bottle!

 

*Featured image – Cooper Tyres Prado – Fraser Island

MaxTrax Paper 4wd Models

MaxTrax Paper 4wd

While cruising around the internet the other day, I stumbled across the coolest thing. The awesome people at MaxTrax have provided us with a way to pass an hour or so of time when we’re not out in our exploring.

And I’m talking about their paper 4wd models! What a great idea!

MaxTrax have created two downloadable PDFs that you can print on your home printer. You then get out your scissors and glue and a bit of patience and start creating.

There is an FJ Cruiser with optional bulbar and spare tyre on the back, and a twin set of MaxTrax. There is also a 100 series Land Cruiser with a bunch of accessories such as dual spare tyres, a snorkel, and awning, a bull bar, a rear bar, spotties and shovels.

Both models used to be available from the MaxTrax website below. But they don’t seem to be around anymore which is very sad.
http://www.maxtrax.com.au/maxtrax-fj-cruiser-paper-model

I decided initially to put the FJ Cruiser together because it looked simpler. I’ll do the 100 series cruiser next. If you’re going to have a go at it then here are a couple of tips.

  1. Print the PDFs in colour. I really can’t see the point in making black and white ones, right?
  2. Print onto good quality paper. Or even something a little thicker. Not quite cardboard, but whatever goes through your printer.
  3. Cut accurately. I accidentally cut part of the rear bumper off my FJ Cruiser. Not really a big deal but if you’re going to go to all that effort, then you want it to come out OK.
  4. Take your time and do it right. Once again, if you’re going to do it, you may as well get a good result.
  5. Have fun!

Here are some photos of my end result. I’m pretty happy with it!

MaxTrax Paper 4wd

MaxTrax Paper 4wd

MaxTrax Paper 4wd

Mitsubishi Super Select 4wd and Super Select II

Mitsubishi PB Challenger water crossing

Super Select 4wd and Super Select II

Mitsubishi’s answer to off-road driving comes in 3 flavours; the Pajero, the Triton and the Challenger. They are all very capable vehicles with some obvious differences. However somewhere between the engine and the wheels, there is a key element that Mitsubishi has included on all of the 4wd options of these 3 vehicle models. And they call it the  Mitsubishi Super Select 4wd system. The super select 4wd System is differnt from the Mitsubishi All Terrain Technolgy (MATT). MATT incorporates systems such as Active Stability Control, Traction Control and ABS, whereas the Super Select 4wd system allows you to select your driving mode based on the terrain you’re driving on.

The Super Select 4wd system provides you with 4 driving options to suit terrain and road conditions. Note that some of the models listed above are also available in a 2wd configuration. Super Select 4wd is obviouly not available on 2wd models. However MATT is.

Super Select 4wd driving options

Mitsubishi Super Select 4wd offeres 4 driving options. SuperSelect II is basically the same. These are:

  • Super Select 4wd 2H2H – Two wheel drive, high range. In this mode, the front wheels are completely disengaged from the drive train. All engine power is directed towards the rear wheels. This mode is said to be the most fuel efficiant and causes the least wear and tear on the vehicle’s drive-train. It is recommended for use on dry, good quality, sealed roads
  • Super Select 4wd 4H4H – 4 wheel drive, high range. 4H connects the front wheels to the drive train through a viscous coupling unit. This means that there is no physical connection between the engine and the front wheels, but power is delivered to the front wheels to assist with traction on wet or slippery roads. This mode is recommended for use in slippery conditions on sealed roads, or on good quality tracks. It can be used on dry, sealed roads with no adverse impact to the drive train. It is possible to change from 2H to 4H and back again while the vehicle is in motion. When changing from 2H to 4H, the engine must not be powering the wheels. I.e. the vehicle must be coasting.
  • Super Select 4wd 4HLc4HLc – 4 wheel drive, high range, locked centre. Locking the centre differential forces even power to be delivered to both the front and rear wheels. The advantage of this is that it provides significantly greater traction in more serious off-road situations. However it’s very important not to dirve on sealed roads in this mode. Locking the centre also will prevent the front and rear wheel from spinning at different speeds. When a vehicle is turning, the rear wheels will travel less distance than the front and will therefore need to spin more slowly. If the centre is locked and forcing the front and back to turn at the same speed, then the drive train can ‘wind up’. Rotational tension is placed on components and over time will rapidly cause damage. So it is critical to never use 4HLc on terrain where the tyres are unable to slip (such as roads). It is possible to change from 4H to 4HLc while the vehicle is in motion.
  • Super Select 4wd 4LLc4LLc – 4 wheel drive, low range, locked centre. This mode is the same as 4HLc except will provide greater torque for situations that require it. This mode can be used for steep climbing and decending or for slow driving where precision and power are required. As with 4HLc, it is important not to use this mode on good quality road surfaces. The vehicle must be stopped to move between 4HLc and 4LLc.

In addition to these 4 modes, some models are fitted with a rear differential lock, that is available in 4HLc and 4LLc modes only. 4wd Impassable When WetIt is recommended that the vehicle be stopped when engaging the rear differential lock. Having said this, the vehicle can be in motion when activating the rear diff lock, however locking will not actually occur until the vehicle is travelling slower than 6km/h.

The rear differential lock forces both rear wheels to spin at the same speed regardless of traction. With an unlocked differential, if one wheel loses traction then power will be directed to that wheel. This results in a loss of forward momentum. Locking the differential will ensure that the wheel that maintains traction will continue to recieve engine power and will drive the vehicle forward.

However it is critical not to drive the vehicle on quality sealed roads. When turning, the inside wheels will spin slower than the outside wheels. Locking the differential will prefent this and will cause windup and eventual damage to the vehicle.

When changing between 4wd modes, indicator lights on the dash board will flash to indicate that the mode has been selected, and will stop flashing when the mode has been activated. On occasion it can take some time to move between the different modes.

Super Select II 4wd System

Providing the same functionality, the Super Select II system is controlled via a twist dial on the dashboard rather than a gear lever. Additional features are the downhill assist button, the 4wd mode button and the electronic park brake.

Super Select II 4wd System

Dual Battery Setup Part 3

Dual Battery Setup - Battery installed

Dual Battery Setup

Originally, my idea was to have a dual battery setup that was semi-portable. I’d be able to remove the battery from the boot so that I wouldn’t have to lug it around in the car when I didn’t need to. I’d also be able to arrive at a destination and carry the fridge and the battery away from the car if need be. As it turns out:

  1. I have never wanted to take the fridge out of the car on any of our trips
  2. The battery in the boot takes up too much room.

So I decided that mounting it permanently in the car somewhere was the way to go. But the question was ‘where?’

Battery behind the trim

When I was originally installing my dual battery setup, my cousin and I removed the trim in the boot and I mentioned to him how much space there was back there. I remember telling him that one day, I might put the battery in there somehow. And so that’s where I decided to put it.

But my problem was that there are no flat surfaces behind there. So you can’t just buy a battery tray, bolt it to the floor and put the battery in. You need to build yourself some kind of bracket. So I asked on a forum if anyone had any idea about how this might be possible and got exactly the response I needed almost immediately. The forum member had not only successfully built a battery bracket, but had installed it and also designed it in Trimble Sketchup, an application that I have recently started playing with.

His design didn’t quite fit my requirements but only some very minor modifications were required to get me on track. So using Trimble Sketchup, I made the changes I needed and ended up with something that I thought would be perfect for what I needed.

Battery Tray - Sketchup Drawing

Battery Tray - Sketchup Drawing

You can download the Battery Tray Sketchup File if you like. NOTE: Measurements should be double checked before you build it!

Basically, the difference between mine and his was that he purchased a battery tray whereas I designed in a rectangular frame that the battery would fit into. The frame is then supported by a cross beam and two legs that bolt into the vehicle.

Building the battery frame

Dual Battery Setup - Cutting the frameMy next problem was actually welding it together. I’ve had some very, very limited experience with welding, and also didn’t have access to a welder anyway. I was discussing this dilema with a friend of mine at the 4wd club and he told me that he was a plumber and welding was part of his job. He also owns a MIG welder and metal cutting circular saw. So we arranged to get together and build it up.

So on the day, I provided the design and he provided the know-how and we put together a frame that will be the last thing left of my car when they drop a bomb on it.

Putting it all together

Dual Battery Setup - Frame installed. Fits nicely.Once the frame was all done up, it was time to install it into the car. This involved drilling some holes at appropriate places and attaching it with 8mm bolts and nylock nuts. I then put the battery in place and noticed that the upper rear corner of the battery touched the outer shell of the car. So leaving it like that would eventually bulge the body work outwards. To fix this, I needed to lean the battery inwards a little so I cut come pieces off and old towel and put them into the back of the batteyr bracket. The battery now leans inwards slightly and is about 8mm off the body work so hopefully that will be OK. If I were to make the bracket agian, I’d move the battery tray about a centimetre inwards, away from the bodywork. Then there would be plenty of room for it all to fit.

After I’d ensured that the battery wouldn’t hit the body work anymore, I strapped it down firmly with some tie-downs that I got from Bunnings. That battery won’t move anywhere now!

I then wired it up as per the RedArc wiring guide pictured here, except at this point I don’t have the 3rd battery because I don’t have a camper trailer. But when I get one, it’s ready to plug striaight in:

1 RedArc SBI with 2 Aux Batteries

Dual Battery Setup - Battery installedIn addition to wiring up an anderson plug on the tow bar, I also wired in a small fuse box. From the fuse box I have then connected 3 12v power sockets in the boot. The existing one, and I’ve added two others. Into these I’ll plug in my car fridge, some LED light strips when I need them, and anything else that comes along. Drilling through the trim and cutting large holes in it to put the 12v sockets into was exciting. Not difficult, but there was a lot of checking and rechecking to make sure that the back of the sockets would fit once the trim went back on. It took a bit of courage to commit to it. But I’m very happy with the results!

Eventually I’ll also run a cable from the second battery to my UHF radio in the dash. At the moment the UHF is wired to my cranking battery and turns on and off with the ignition. That’s not ideal for me.

I’ll also attach a couple more 12v sockets to it that will sit on my rear draw system when it’s built. My son will then be able to plug in his iPad Mini and keep it charged when we’re out and about.

Dual Battery Setup - Trim back onWow, it seems like an awful lot of trouble for just 3 sockets in my boot… But once the camper comes along and I get around to finishing off my other plans, then there will be more.

 

 

 

Dual Battery Setup Part 1

Dual Battery Setup Part 2

Diff Locker – What is it?

Diff Locker - ARB AirLocker

What is a Diff Locker?

A locking differential (or diff locker) can make a significant difference in the performance of your 4wd in certain situations.

Known also as diff-lock or locker, it is a modification to the standard automotive differential. It’s purpose is to restrict each of the two wheels on an axle to the same rotational speed regardless of the traction available to each wheel.

Although an unlocked differential is a fantastic feature in a vehicle traveling on hard surfaces such as roads, it can cause significant problems in some situations that four wheel drivers may find themselves in.

How a Diff Locker works

So to understand how they work, it is firstly important to understand how a differential works and what it’s purpose is. Watch this video on how a differential works.

The differential has three jobs:

  • To aim the engine power at the wheels
  • To act as the final gear reduction in the vehicle, slowing the rotational speed of the transmission one final time before it hits the wheels
  • To transmit the power to the wheels while allowing them to rotate at different speeds (This is the one that earned the differential its name.)

The key point that is relevant in 4wd terms is the last point. That the differential allows the wheels to spin at different speeds. Further to this, the differential will direct power to the wheel that is easiest to rotate. Such is the nature of the differential.

Implications when off road

A four wheel driver will find that there are a number of situations where having a standard open differential will be problematic.

Heavy articulation – This is probably the most common situation that a 4wd will find itself in where a diff locker will come in handy. In this situation, the suspension of the car is extended to it’s extreme. For example, when the left front wheel rides up a ridge while the right back wheel is running over a large rock. As you can imagine, this will result in the right front wheel and the left back wheel trying to lift off the ground. So as they lift, they lose traction. The wheels on the ground will have more resistance, and therefore power will be directed towards the wheels that are lifting up. Resulting in wheel spin and loss of forward momentum. 4×4 stuck. To get past the obstacle, most 4×4 owners will take a run-up. This results in damage to the environment and potential damage to the vehicle.

Incongruous traction – Another common situation where a 4×4 may find a diff locker handy is in a situation where one side of the vehicle has solid traction and the other does not. For example if the vehicle is driving along a track where one of the wheel ruts is dry and the other is under water. The dry side will have greater traction that the wet muddy side. The wheels with greater traction will resist and power will be directed to the wheels in the muddy rut. Result: Wheel spin and stuck 4×4.

Locking the diff

So as mentioned above, a diff locker will force the wheels to spin at the same speed regardless of traction. In situation 1 above, when the wheels try to lift off the ground, the locked differential forces the wheels to spin at the same speed. The wheels on the ground continue to drive the vehicle forward and over the rock/ridge. The vehicle is able to navigate the obstacle easily and smoothly. Similarly in situation 2, rather than the vehicle becoming bogged with two wheels spinning, the wheels with traction continue to spin and drive the vehicle forward.

4×4 differentials

Non 4×4 vehicles only have one differential. 4×4 vehicles, however, can have up to 3.

4wd Gear - Diff Locker
3 differentials

So what do these differentials do? Why are there 3? Well the two that are located between the wheels serve similar purposes, but one at the front and one at the back. They allow the wheels to spin at different speeds. The centre diff allows the front and rear sets of wheels to spin at different rates. Why is this important? Because when cornering, the front wheels will travel further than the rear wheels and therefore need to spin at different speeds as well.

So while locking the front and/or rear differentials will force the wheels on the same axle to spin together, locking the centre diff will direct equal power to both the front and rear axles.

Types of Locking Differentials

There are essentially two types of locking diffs.

Automatic Diff Lockers will detect when traction is being lost and will automatically lock. It will unlock again when it detects that traction has been regained. Interestingly, some automatic lockers work by permanently locking the differenetial and only unlocking it when one wheel is required to spin faster than the axel. These types of lockers will not allow a wheel to spin slower than the axel and drive mechanism. an example of an automatic locking (or unlocking) differential is the well known Detroit Locker.

Manual Diff Lockers enable the driver of the vehicle to select when the differential is locked and when it unlocks. When the diff is unlocked it provides the full driveability of a normal open differential, but gives the driver the capability to choose when the extra traction is required. The differential can be locked by the means of a swtich or lever from the drivers seat. Examples of manual lockers are the ABR AirLocker which works with compressed air, the Eaton ELocker wich used an electomagnet, and the Ox-Locker which uses a mechanical, cable-operated mechanism o lock the differential.

Notes

It is imporant to note a few things at this point.

With the differentials locked and all wheels spinning at the same speed, the tendency of the vehicle will be to go straight, even when you turn the steering wheel. This occurs particularly when the front diff is locked. So be careful there.

With the differentials locked, it’s important not to drive on surfaces that don’t allow the wheels to slip a little. Surfaces such as solid rock or paved roads will grip the tyres. When you turn, the wheels will all want to spin at different speeds. With differentials locked, however, this won’t be possible. As you continue to corner, increadible strain will be placed on the drive line of your vehicle and will eventually cause things to break. This is called wind-up. So make sure you unlock your diffs and get out of 4wd before you hit the black-top.

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If the worst comes to worst and you damage a diff, then there are plenty of people who can help you out. For example. in Queensland, you could head over to the crew at Diff Lapping QLD. They’ll help you get back on the tracks quick smart.