Bush road mechanics- when to whack the starter motor.

Will future cars require a specialized mechanic? Will we be leasing and not owning our vehicles? If something goes wrong, will we simply exchange our vehicle for another? Changes are ahead but today, if you go off road and into remote places without phone coverage, it is safer to have some mechanical knowledge of your own.

Recreational vehicles appeal to all ages and levels of experience. Read on to discover why Pip chose her twenty eight year old Troop Carrier and how she found the solution to a pesky starter motor.

troopy-1What is your favourite car you drive?

 A Toyota Troopcarrier HJ75, 1988


We wanted a 4wd which was big enough to go away with a group and sturdy, without too many trimmings. After researching different 4wds, the Troopy kept coming out on top. It has bench seats in the back which means it’s very versatile. We can stack a heap of our camping gear in the back or squeeze a total of eleven people in. The irony is, we bought the 4wd to appreciate nature. Recently we’ve added a rooftop tent which has made trips away very comfortable.

Where and when do you drive it?

Since buying it in November 2015, we have taken it on different camping trips around NSW and QLD, including the North Coast of NSW, the Blue Mountains, the Gold Coast, NSW Central Coast, and most recently, on a two week trip out to Broken Hill. We try and take it away any spare weekend, and are planning a longer trip down to South Australia over summer.

camping in the bush

camping in the bush

Reactions, comments from the public?

I can’t say we’ve received anything except positive feedback so far. Everyone loves to stop and chat about the car. Most common comments are around the Troopy being very reliable. Mechanics are also very complimentary, probably because they see dollar signs when we arrive. The Troopy was in its original 1988 condition, so we’ve had to spend a bit on reconditioning.

Long distance drives?

Our most recent trip was two weeks out to Broken Hill. We originally planned to travel to Lake Mungo in far Western NSW. This is a sacred Aboriginal site where the skeleton of Mungo Man was discovered. The scientific consensus is that Mungo Man was at least 40,000 years old, giving us great insight into the long history of Indigenous Australians. We travelled to Hill End, up to Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungles, before heading onto Bourke. We then followed the Darling River Run, stopping off at different spots along the way.

When to whack the starter motor?

Sadly, our Troopy was not reliably starting, which was worrying given we were camping in remote places without any phone reception. Our original plan was to travel from Wilcania to Lake Mungo. However, after meeting a one-toothed mechanic in Wilcania, we decided to change plans and get a proper inspection in Broken Hill. We met a lovely mechanic with David Bowie eyes in Broken Hill, who cleaned the wires running between the battery and starter motor (apparently rust can prevent the currents of electricity), before working out that the battery was very low, and might have stopped powering the starter motor. Rather than giving us a new starter motor, he advised us to start small and replace the battery to begin with. In case there were further issues, he taught us a trick to open the bonnet and whack the starter motor with a stick if the Troopy didn’t start. Interestingly, we had one false start on the way home, and a whack did the trick. We eventually had to replace the starter motor when we got back to Sydney. Our final destinations on that trip were Menindee Lakes (now a dry lake bed as a result of the drought) and Wagga Wagga.

Any extra information you’d like to add?

The trip out west really opened my eyes to the beauty of our country. That, and the Troopy having a few issues, taught us to slow things down and be more flexible with our plans. We also learnt first-hand the rule of not driving at night, hitting a huge kangaroo on our first night driving out to Hill End.


For more information on driving at dusk , click onto http://www.longdistancedriving.com/2016/01/01/beware-animals-at-dusk-on-the-road/ ‎

Watch out for future posts on handy mechanical tricks and temporary repairs on the road. Bush mechanical knowledge is essential on a long distance drive or motor challenge especially in a scarcely populated area of the world. It will keep you safe and enable you to drive onto somewhere with assistance, especially if there is no mobile phone coverage.





About Jeanne Eve

Jeanne Eve lives in Australia and enjoys long distance driving to new places combined with her love of travel, writing, eating and fun company. In former times, she was a speech pathologist so appreciates the desire for good health and effective communication. She is married and has two daughters and two step-sons.

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