Saturday, May 30, 2009

Custom roof racks Toyota Estima

This was an interesting job. The customer hires out vans for travellers kitted out with a roof top tent. The Estima is a grey import so there are no roof racks readily available in Australia that will go into the roofrack mounting points that are on the vehicle. Even if they were this would not give sufficient strength to support the weight of two people sleeping in the roof top tent. Additionally the vehicle has a big 'moon roof' in the centre of the roof.

The solution we came up with was to use 30mm sections of heavy duty Rhino track attached with rivets to spread the load at the strongest points of the roof. This was then fitted with Rhino heavy duty track mount legs and cross bars.

Tow Bar Fitting in Sydney - Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester tow bar fitting, 1997 to 2008

(For details of the new 2008 Forester please see below)

Forester hitch reciever tow barForester towbar mounting near sideSubaru Forester towbar mounting off side

This is one of our most popular fittings. A tow bar for Subaru Forester. The one fitted today is a quick release hitch style although a cheaper slightly lighter duty is also available with a bolt on goose neck. I will give a step by step guide as this is a bar well within the capabilities of the DIY fitter. Just one note of warning, if you have access to a rattle gun for undoing bolts don't use it on the bolts going into the chassis rails. These are often over torqued at the factory and you will find them difficult to refit if you rattle them off. If you remove them gently and slowly by hand with a socket you'll be fine.
  1. Remove and discard the bumper support in the centre of the bumper (pic).
  2. Drop the muffler from the 3 rear most rubber mounts.
  3. Remove the shipping hook and muffler mount from passenger side (pic). Remove the rubber mount from its bracket.
  4. Remove 3 nuts securing the charcoal box where fitted and let it hang (pic).
  5. Remove shipping hook (discard) and charcoal support from drivers side.
  6. Lift tow bar into position and fit with 3 bolts on passenger side and the 2 rear most bolts on drivers side.
  7. On the forward most hole on drivers side use the long bolt and spacer tube supplied to refit the charcoal box bracket. Then refit the charcoal box.
  8. Bolt the the rubber muffler mount from step 3 to the tow bar arm in the hole provided for it and refit the muffler (pic).
  9. Fit the tongue on standard tow bar or hitch on quick release and your bar is pretty much done.

Subaru Forester tow barSubaru Forester tow bar

The wiring is a doddle as Subaru have kindly included a socket which can be found tucked in the rear corner of the boot (pic). You can get a loom that plugs into here for about $50 but you will find most fitters will just use a universal loom and make their connections here where everything is provided in one place.

See our towbar finder for the current fitted prices

Please call the store on (02) 9817 1475 to confirm prices and schedule an install

Subaru Forester towbar 2008 onwards

The towbar for the new Subaru Forester is a little bit more involved because it requires the removal of the bumper and a notch cutting in it to accomodate the hitch box. You are left with nice neat unit with towbar frame hidden up behind the bumper.

The bar shown is a Hayman Reese unit which has a rating of 1400kg. . The fitting time is about 2.5hrs.

See our tow bar finder for current fitted prices

Please call the store on (02) 9817 1475 to confirm current pricing and schedule a install.

Friday, May 15, 2009

09 Hilux Custom roof rack

Special rack for a new Toyota Hilux. The vehicle came fitted with a front sports bar only slightly higher than the roof line and a rear sports bar much higher. So the solution for this one was a Rhino Sportz bar fixed to the roof and the second bar attached with spacer blocks to the front sports bar. The rear sports bar was cut down to make the height across all 3 level. Alternatively we could have attached a another bar to the rear sports bar which would not have done much in terms of function but would add symmetry to the set up. Cost for this set up including install was about $400.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cars are getting bigger to save the environment

At the lights tonight I pulled up alongside a Toyota Yaris sedan. I haven't really paid any attention to these cars before but it struck me how big it was. Now the Yaris was a replacement for the ity bitty Echo and I was looking at this car that was easily the size of what I would associate a Corolla. But hang on Corollas have now grown to the size of Camrys and Camrys are now competing pretty much head on with Commodores and Falcons. Then you get the softroader/off roader categories. The Rav4 traditionally for girlies and hairdressers is now the size of a Kluger, Kluger: Prado, Prado well that hasn't been changed for a while so it hasn't grown yet and 100series would have to borrow some of the adjacent lane if it were to grow any more. So what is happening? This isn't just a Toyota thing, look at the latest Rover Freelander, again traditionally also a contender for the hairdressers' dollars is now huge. The ubiquitous Forester has also been hit with the big stick and there are many more as well.

Here's my theory.... now the car manufactures have looked at the market over the last few years and the over-riding criteria has been how to be environmentally friendly (ie drive a smaller car) without compromising on the driving experience. This may have changed post financial collapse, but would have been true 3-4 years ago when the cars we would be buying now, if we could get finance, were being developed. So Fred the Camry driver walks into the dealership and can 'down size' to a Corolla thereby doing his bit for the environment and doesn't have to compromise because 'hey, this car feels just as big as my old Camry'. And while a big 4X4 Prado is now getting to be socially unacceptable even in Mosman a softroad Kluger is just fine. Afterall it is a massive 25mm shorter than the Prado even if it is 6cm wider.

Wire mesh baskets

wire mesh basket Rola, Thule ,RhinoTodays feature product is wire mesh baskets. These come in a range of sizes including half sizes that can be used alongside another load like a bike or kayak for example. Specs. Today we fitted a small Thule basket to a Corolla wagon. Thule and Rhino baskets are pretty comparable in terms of quality and price. Rhino have the greatest range of sizes although Thule have the 3 most popular sizes of small, medium and large but not half baskets. Rola are now sourcing their baskets from China. The quality has dropped but the prices haven't so we are now favouring Thule and Rhino for this product. We usually use a Rhino u-bolt kit for simplicity on all baskets. The mesh basket is a very popular unit for pure functionality. it does not have the style of an alloy basket but it is a cost effect way of getting a strong platform on your roof . Also Rhino now have a platform basket which has no sides to it.
The roof racks shown in the picture that we used for mounting the basket to the Corolla are Rhino 2500 series multi fit racks $289 (May09). This a 2 part kit with legs and cross bars that fit a wide range of vehicles and an additional bracket kit that is vehicle specific to fit a range of vehicles. You can aslo get the budget option which is just as strong but comes with square cross bars for $239 (May09).
Rhino roof rack 2500 multifit aero cross barRhino roof rack 2500 multifit square cross bar

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quick release tow hitch VW Jetta

VW Jetta with Hayman Reese tow hitch installed in SydneyBiggish job today. Hayman Reese quick release mini-hitch. This has a 40mm square reciever on the vehicle with a removable tow ball mount and a rating 1400kg max trailer. The tow bar is made in sections with separate side arms being inserted into the chassis rails. The cross member spanning the rear panel of the vehicle bolts on to the side arms. The Jetta has a multiplex wiring system which means the tail lights and brake lights share the same wires. VW sell a special loom for this vehicle which like the Golf is sold for big dollars and requires re-coding of the ECU. We use an electronic control model made by Lumen in Australia which allows you to operate the trailer lights while protecting the vehicle electronics from any faults caused by dodgy trailer wiring.
Total fitting time is 3 to 4 hours because of the wiring and you have to make a window thro the bumper skin for the hitch to pass thro. This involves measuring, remeasuring, procrastinating for a bit, remeasuring then cutting.
See our tow bar selector for current fitted price

Tow bar installation to VW Jetta in Sydney

lumen wiring loom for VW Jetta towbar