Project80 Part 3 - The drawers go in

The Mission:

To repair, restore and upgrade our 25 year old 80 Series Landcruiser into the ultimate low budget family touring 4WD with a total budget of around $20,000 . . . including the value of the car.

I've called this project . . . Project80

Click here for all Project80 blog posts

What happened this week:

Suspension Update

I was hoping to be telling you that Terry (Mr Mods) and I had installed all of the new suspension bushes and shockers by now but unfortunately that isn’t the case.

The suspension bush kit I ordered from 'Car-Egg’ on eBay initially turned up pretty quickly but they sent the wrong front sway bar linkages and the wrong front radius arm bushes. I ordered the 2 degree offset version to compensate for the 3” suspension lift but they sent the standard ones.

I’ve sent the wrong ones back and I’m still waiting for the correct ones to arrive - maybe this week, fingers crossed.

BUT . . . my new steering dampener did arrive and I managed to get that installed . . . which is a good start.


I thought it would be a quick and easy job but it turned out that the guys at ARB who installed the old one back in 1998 had used Loctite in the pins and nuts and they were stuck fast. It took some serious pounding with a hammer and general levering to finally get the old pins out. But it's all good now.

It hasn’t fixed the wobble in the front end over 60 km/h which still comes and goes but I think there is a slight improvement so that’s progress and $73.80 well spent.

Rear Drawers Go In

The big step forward this week though was that I managed to get the rear drawers installed.


It was around a 4 hour job and relatively straight forward although they didn’t fit in easily without a bit of modification.

There are two adjustable mounting bars on the bottom of the frame that run from left to right that need to be bolted to existing mounting points on the car floor.

These mounting bars can be moved from front to back of the drawers to align with whatever mounting holes your particular vehicle has already.

The adjustment holes are approximately 1 cm apart and I found that one bar would line up perfectly and the other would be about 2mm off centre. Just enough to make it impossible to get the bolts through the rails straight.

A bit of filing with a round file to make the holes in one of the mounting bars larger and I managed to get them in nice and tight.

The photo below should illustrate the problem . . .


Despite the alignment issue I have to say that for a cheap set of 'one size fits many' drawers ($465 including delivery) I’m surprised by how good the quality is.

The drawers run smooth and close tight and there are no rattles at all while driving.

I’m sure that if I paid 3 x the price the quality would be better, but given the budget nature of this project I think these are a winner.

The true test of course will be when we get them on some corrugated road.

Another win is that my compressor fits completely inside the right side wheel arch storage area.


I was thinking that it would go in one of the drawers but this is a much better solution.

It’s just sitting in there for now but I’m working on a plan to mount it to the floor and run air lines to a connector at the front of the car under the bonnet and to the back facia of the drawer wing behind the tailgate.

I’ll hard wire it into the second battery and be able to plug the air hose into the connectors at the front and back of the car and easily pump up the tyres on the side of the track without needing to drag out the compressor.

I'll keep you posted.

So what’s next?

Suspension, wheels & tyres

As soon as the correct suspension parts arrive I’ll book some time with Terry at Mr Mods and we’ll get them and the shockers fitted.

This will then clear the way to get the wheels and tyres fitted and the wheel alignment done.

While we’re there we’ll see if we can diagnose the source of the steering box leak and whether it’s fixable or a changeover box is needed (about $400).


Painting the small stuff

I’ve bought some black satin enamel paint cans to start painting things like windscreen wipers, side mirrors, spot lights etc. which are easy small jobs I can do when I get an hour or two.

Cargo barrier

On the weekend I’ll dig out my cargo barrier and see how I’m going to need to modify it to fit with the drawers in place. I’m hoping it will actually still reach the floor in the gap between the drawers and the seats but if not I’ll do some cutting, welding and painting to make it work.

Water storage

I haven't solved the water storage problem yet.

The problem is that running a tank along the back of the cargo barrier will make it impossible to fit our Waeco CF80 on the fridge slide as there won't be enough room between the tailgate and the water tank.

A better option would be to mount a tank on the right side above the right rear wheel arch and over the top of the space where the compressor will be mounted. Once the compressor is in there I won’t need to get into that space regularly so having the tank over the top will be no problem.

I'll probably need to build in some reinforcement under it to carry the load of a full tank.


Having a water tank on the right side of the car will also help to offset the weight of the spare wheel hanging on the left side of the rear bar.

So I’m on the lookout for a poly tank that will fit in that space and hold around 50 ltrs.

With the 20 ltr jerry on the back bar this would give us 70 ltrs in tanks.

I'll also carry a few 10ltr water boxes ($3.50 from Coles) for topping up drinking water bottles and we should have enough water on board.

Food, tools & spares storage

I found some cheap and light plastic storage boxes at Bunnings which fit neatly in the drawers so I'm starting to work on a plan for getting everything in the drawers I need to.


This will mainly be food, cooking gear, tools, recovery gear and spares.

I currently keep most of my tools in a larger toolbox that won't fit in the drawers.

In the spirit of 'reducing weight' I'm going to go through the tool kit and pull out just the tools I need to take on road trips and leave the rest . . and the toolbox behind.

This should cut down the space needed by about 50% and the weight by about 10kg at least.

I'll use one of the larger plastic boxes in the photo above as a toolbox - it's not fancy but it's cheap and light and they still have a lid and handle so I can pull it out and take them to where I need to work on the car.

If I find that the plastic boxe falls apart after some extended corrugated road driving then I'll get something stronger - but for $8.00 for the plastic box it's worth a try.

The budget

Here's the latest version of the budget spreadsheet.

Not much has changed since last week except for the addition of the storage boxes and black paint.





Steering & suspension Suspension 2 degree offset Bush Kit - Front & Rear  $415  $375
  New shock absorbers - OME  $800  $750
  Steering Damper  $65  $73.80
Cracks around radiator mounts Weld it up  $100  
Fuel filter mount broken Weld mount  $-    
Steering box leaking Find source of leak & fix  $100  
Oil seals Rear tailshaft and speedo cable leaks  $200  
Rocker cover leaking replace gasket  $20  
Rear windscreen leaking Remove and reseal  $15  
Radiator Leaking Repair  $100  
New Tyres & wheels x 5 Nitto Trail Grappler LT285/75R16 x 5 + rims - Ready to fit  $1,875  $1,875
Body work Fix rust around drivers windscreen pillar  $50  
Paint work Prep body for new paint job  $100  
  New paint  $300  
  Spray gun buy/rent  $100  
Flare seals New rubber seals around flares  $150  
Wipers Paint front wipers matt black  $15  $8
Door locks New barrels & keys  $100  
Spotlights Service & replace globes & covers, paint housings  $50  
Dashboard Fix split   $15  
Drivers seatbelt Replace due to fraying  $50  
New front seats Good second hand eg. XR8  $400  
Front seat mounting bracket Huracan Fabrication  $100  
Rear door skin Rear left door inside panel needs replacing  $50  
Tailgate Doesn't stay shut tight  $-    


Rooftop tent Darche Rooftop Tent  $1,100  
Roofrack modification Remove side rail for tent & paint  $20  
High Flow Exhaust    $800  
Dyno Tune    $750  
Rear Drawers Ordered 23/1/2017 - Installed 12/2/2017  $500  $465
Front LED light bar Mount on bullbar or roofrack  $80  
Side & rear LED flood lights & switches    $100  
New radio aerial    $20  
New UHF aerial    $60  
Solar panel    $180  
Brake & indicator light housings Replace with new LED  $200  
Modify rear cage Cut, weld & paint to fit with rear drawers  $-    
Rear roof storage shelf Build from steel mesh & mount on rear cage mounting points  $20  
USB charge points Double USB charge sockets for back seat pasengers  $40  
LED Lights in rear  LED lights on back tailgate to light rear work & kitchen area  $35  
Battery link cable Built in jumper cable from battery 1 to 2  $40  
Dyneema rope in winch Replace wire rope to save weight  $189  
Plastic storage boxes For the rear drawers    $38
SUB TOTAL     $9,304  $3,585
PLUS Original Value of Car    $12,000  $12,000
TOTAL PROJECT BUDGET    $21,304  $15,585

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20 thoughts on “Project80 Part 3 - The drawers go in

  1. Avatar
    Anne Waid says:

    Hi with the draws in does it still give you access to the anchor points for car seats if required?

  2. Avatar
    Warren Brell says:

    G'day Steve,
    Love the project, wish I had the tenacity you display.
    Last year I 'did the Simpson' and water was a very big concern. In the shed I tried all sorts of ideas but none satisfied. All of the websites didn't fit into the Wildtrak.
    So off to Bunnings and four plastic jerrys, 5 x 1/2 inch irrigation taps, 4 x 90' 1/2 in BSP to 1/2in pipe fittings and a long piece of clear plastic hose.
    Joined the lot up so that each tank was independently filled or emptied.
    It worked a treat without a mishap the whole Alice/Birdsville/Alice trip.
    I took a couple photos that I'd love to share but cant send them on this blog.
    They had to fit under the rolltop of my Wildtrak.

  3. Avatar
    Shane says:

    I'd like to know what suspension upgrade was done to be able to carry all this weight in the back of a wagon as u would be defenately over you GVM for that vehicle allowing for fuel bullbar passengers and food etc etc etc

  4. Avatar
    Stuart says:

    Looking good, pity they dont design rear drawers with water storage in mind. I made mine with 55 litre plastic tank in between the drawers. Keeps the weight in the centre of the vehicle and you can have 1 high/deep drawer and one low one for the fridge slide. If ididnt go that way would have looked into a bladder as well. Cheers

  5. Avatar
    Sheila says:

    Ref the edited tool selection you are planning..... I'd suggest a tool roll.. or 2. One for the most common tools, the other for the rarely used. They won't rattle, they are more portable, they stow in odd spots send most importantly they won't break up your plastic boxes.

  6. Avatar
    Andrew says:

    We are heading to the Kimberley end of April and also have a Mighty 1991 VX 80 Series. I have just completed all the upgrades you have on your list, funny as apart from the paint job, your list and mine are almost a exact copy. Two things I would like to mention are...
    1: I have been running BF Goodrich A/Ts for years now and after Heaps of outback/mountain/bush travel I have never had a flat or any trouble with them. Yes they cost a bit more but if I had a blowout on a cheaper tyre the replacement cost would equal the saving I made!.
    2: After putting the larger tyres on (285R16/75 A/T) the not so Mighty 80`s brakes needed a bit of attention. New caliper seals and full fluid clean and change and of cause new pads all-round.

  7. Avatar
    Biss says:

    Coming along nicely Steve. What is going to be the fully loaded weight of your vehicle, with water and fuel tanks full and fridge loaded with beer etc....?

    • Steve Baile
      Steve Baile says:

      Good question! Probably too much but I'm doing what I can to save weight while still having everything we need. Will put it on a weigh bridge when it's done.

  8. Avatar
    Brett says:

    G'day Steve,
    Just a couple of thoughts. I've mounted my ARB compressor in the exact same position in my 100 series, and bolted it directly to the side of the drawers. The supplied hose is long enough to reach all 4 tyres and tyres on my camper. It seems excessive to run permanent air lines front and back. About your water storage, have you looked at the flexible bladders? I believe you can buy one that fixes to the cargo barrier between the seats and the cargo barrier, so wouldn't have any impact on the storage space behind. Cheers, Brett

    • Steve Baile
      Steve Baile says:

      That's actually a pretty sensible idea with the compressor. I just checked and the air hose will reach all 4 wheels from the compressor so it's probably redundant running an air line to the front. A flexible bladder is an option. I have a 60 ltr one here which would work well across the floor in the back seat area or across the back of the drawers behind the back seats but not an option for this configuration with kids on board and the Waeco CF80 in the back. I need to check and see exactly how much space I'll have between the back seats and the cargo barrier and fridge when it's all installed to see if there is room to fit a flexible tank there - could be a good option.

  9. Avatar
    Lars says:

    Put your water tank behind the rear seat using the void space from the angle of the seat. Check out the pics on Offroad systems, some good ideas.

  10. Avatar
    Wayne says:

    I can happily recommend these guys. We have the 110L bladder in our 105 series. It sits behind the back seats and the top is attached to the cargo barrier. It's not actually "hanging" from the barrier. It's more "guided into place" as the bladder is supported 100% by the floor.

    60L -
    85L -
    110L -

    I have no connection to the company other than having found a good solution for our water storage issues and them having a solid product.

    (we used to store the dogs portable crate behind the back seats... not we put it in the trailer)

    • Steve Baile
      Steve Baile says:

      Thanks Wayne, that could work if I angle the cargo barrier a bit more towards the tailgate opening up a bigger gap behind the seats.

      • Avatar
        John says:

        Steve, if the bladder is on the seat side of the cargo barrier how is it restrained to prevent the 60 kg mass exerting pressure on the seats in the event of an accident?

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