Matching The Hatch

Graham Cahill. — June 20, 2014

In the secretive world of the sweet water fly fishermen, there is a term known as “matching the hatch”. As it suggests, the meaning behind the saying is present your fly based on what is hatching or rather, “working” in nature at present. If there is a burst of flying ants; use a similar looking flying. If trout are rising and taking ants off the surface, there is little point in using a sinking wet fly. Matching the hatch is reliable and gets results.

I’m currently writing this from a donga in Weipa, midway through filming in the Cape for the better part of a month. The last few days I’ve been reminded of just how relevant matching the hatch can be in the world of 4WD adventure. Aiming to build your rig to match your intended usage is such a fundamental concept yet it is overlooked so very often.

In an age where “bigger is better” the rush to build an all terrain conquering weapon is easier than ever. The inter-google-web can deliver parts from far flung shores to your door that allow for extensive modifications to just about any device you care to bolt, weld, tie or screw to you truck. Want 300kw at the wheels; no drama. Like an engine swap done; no drama. 6 inch lift and 37s; no drama.

No drama till you find yourself somewhere like Weipa where sense rules over cents.

Now before I continue, let me state that in no way am I against imaginative 4WD modification; on the contrary, I’m a big advocate. Customising a rig is a way of life for me, my 4WD is in a constant state of change. However, having a solid think about just what it is you will use your rig for moving forward could pat dividends in the long run. Building a 4WD that spends its weekends smashing through the hills at the back of Coffs is obviously going to be a very different concept to one that is intended to be used as a remote area touring rig.

Now perhaps on the surface the differences are not too obvious, heck they are both 4WDs after all; low range, tyres, a fridge and hopefully a motor with some semblance of reliability. True enough, except when you start to dig a little deeper.

Often it’s the simplest things that will catch you out. Take a stonking big petrol V8 for example. A pretty common mod; swap out that old oiler for an LS3 and hold on. However, that might be fine for Coffs but how about the Simmo? Even purchasing petrol in remote communities can be hard, not to mention transporting several jerry cans of highly flammable liquid. Not saying it can’t be done, just that it might not be simple.

Also the process of getting spares or replacement parts is so very often problematic. A mate I’m travelling with at the moment needs to replace a simple component on his 5” lifted Hilux. Very capable car and its killing the Cape but think he can get his front end fixed up here? No; simple as that. In fact he has had to fly back to Brisbane just to pick up parts to bring back to get him on his way. Like I said, very capable car, just not designed for remote travel.

Another chap I bumped into at Bramwell was looking for a spare 37” tyre after destroying one of his. Oh and he is running beadlock rims. Yep, its one very capable rig and its going to have to be because he is now doing the whole OTT without a spare ... 37” tyres are not common at Bramwell Junction!

Last example; another of our crew has a stonking big aftermarket V8 diesel in his cruiser. It’s a super reliable beast but certainly not common. He needed to replace his radiator fan while in Weipa and of course, finding one up here was impossible. Instead he had to get a fan air freighted from WA. Luckily we had a few days up our sleeve to wait.

At the other end of the spectrum is my rusty old GQ. I too have had mechanical issues, nobody is immune up the Cape. What we thought was a busted CV turned out to be a badly stretched transfer chain. Obviously, this meant a transfer case swap. Imagine trying to do that on a crate motor out of the States that had been bolted into a GQ back in Sydney – while stuck in Weipa. Sure it could be done, heck you can air freight anything, just best you ring your bank manager first. In my case, it was a simple matter of hunting for a wrecked GQ and grabbing a second hand transfer; the hunt took about 12 minutes and I was on the road that same day.

Matching the hatch is just as reliable in 4WD circles as it is on a mountain trout stream; have a think about your intended end goal, then match the gear to the situation.