Project80 Part 5 - What's in my drawers?

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:

It's been a little over a week since my last update and in that time I've driven over to Adelaide from Melbourne which was a great chance to give the car a run with the new suspension updates and wheels and tyres.

So how did it go?

Well I'm glad you asked.

In a word . .  BRILLIANT!

The ride is much smoother and the steering sharp and positive without the wandering around like it used to do.

I drive between Melbourne and Adelaide a lot and by the end of this trip I felt much fresher and without the usual fatigue from sitting behind the wheel all day.

I put this down to not having to be constantly fine tuning the steering wheel to compensate for the slack in the steering system.

Money well spent!

While in Adelaide I've fitted the back shockers and new bushes on the rear sway bar which has improved the ride even more.


The front sway bar bushes are waiting for me in Melbourne after a long and drawn out saga trying to get the right parts from eBay seller 'Car-Egg" - frustrating!!

I'll fit them next weekend.

What's in my drawers?


Over the weekend I made a start with setting up the rear drawers with the gear that will live in there permanently.

The idea is to have a basic mobile kitchen and somewhere to keep tools, some spares and recovery gear so even if the back of the Cruiser is fully loaded, this gear is easily accessed.

I've setup the drawers with the least used gear a the back, like tools & recovery gear and the most used at the front.

I don't want to be pulling everything out just to boil the billy on the side of the road!

If we are into some hard core four wheeling and needing the recovery gear then I can swap the recovery gear bag to the front or pull it out of the drawer altogether.

Besides what's in the drawers I'll have a couple of plastic boxes sitting on top with two butane stoves and additional food that doesn't fit in the drawers.

Side wings storage areas

There's a surprising amount of storage space in the wings either side of the drawers where the wheel arches are.


In the left wing area and inside the cars existing storage area I've stored:

  • First aid kit
  • Tyre repair kit
  • Plastic box of spares (wheel bearings etc.)
  • 5 x butane gas cartridges
  • Ocky straps
  • Plastic tarp
  • Heater and fuel hoses
  • Fan belts
  • Jack and tool roll

There's also some room available for spare tie rods and radiator hoses which I'll stash in there soon.

The right wing area will be dedicated to the electrics and the compressor.


In the photo above is my 240 volt inverter which will be mounted on the side of the drawers in the right wing area along with a fuse box which will distribute power from the deep cycle battery under the bonnet (battery 2) to everything in the back that needs power - lights, compressor, 240 volt inverter, USB chargers, fridge etc.

Also in the photo above is a Narva battery switch and some battery cable - I'll be installing this in the engine bay so that I can switch between battery 1, battery 2 or battery 1 + 2 for starting the car.

This is effectively a built in, 'hard wired' jumper cable.

By default it will be set to battery 1 and the car will start using battery 1.

Battery 2 is just used to run accessories and is isolated from battery 1 with an isolator switch on the firewall so even if battery 2 goes flat running the fridge or recharging iPads overnight, battery 1 is protected and still available to start the car.

BUT . . what if I leave the headlights on and battery 1 goes flat?

If this happens I can use the battery switch above to use both batteries for starting the car. So even if battery 2 is not 100%, between the two of them they should still be able to kick it over.

This saves me carrying a jumper cable to jump from battery 2 to 1 and will also be more efficient as the cables will be hard wired to the battery through the switch and not relying on weak jumper cable clamps on battery terminals.


The photo above is a Photoshop mock up of where a switch panel will go on the front of the right wing area. I've ordered the panel and it will be here in the next week or so.

The fuse box, 240 volt inverter and compressor will all be mounted in the storage area behind the switch panel.

This switch panel will control power for the lights, fridge, 240 volt inverter, compressor and other accessories I mount later.

It has a built in cigarette lighter socket, twin USB chargers and a voltmeter so I can see the condition of battery 2 at a glance.

In the space below the panel I'll fit a 240 volt socket that runs through to the inverter behind it and a male air hose connector that runs through to the compressor.

The idea being that I can access everything from the front panel and will have no need to open the lid on that storage area day to day so it won't matter if there is gear stored on top of it.

I've ordered most of the parts I need and just waiting for them all to come in and I'll get everything wired up.

Once it's all done and dusted all do a video walk through of all of the work so far.

The weight debate

A few people have pointed out that with all this gear going in and on the car, I have little to no chance of keeping it under the GVM.

This is a very valid point and something I'm working on solving.

In general, I'm looking at trimming weight wherever I can to compensate for what I'm adding and some of the ways I'm looking to do that are:

  • Removing the rear seats to install the drawers offset about half of the weight of the drawers
  • Removing the high lift jack and steel mounts
  • Cutting the cargo barrier down to just cover the space above the seats rather than all the way to the floor
  • Swapping the steel cable in the winch for Dyneema rope
  • Replacing the spotties with a light bar instead of adding a light bar & keeping the spotties
  • Removing the rear jerry can holder and storing all water in a poly tank inside
  • Ditching the Waeco CF80 and using a 55 ltr ice box instead (20 kg lighter)

Wherever possible I'm using the exact gear that we need and not taking stuff 'just in case'.

It's a lot of small weight savings that will add up.

Of course I could easily solve the problem by hooking up the camper trailer and putting most of the gear in there!

But the point of this project is to travel light and be able to live out of the car, so I'll keep persevering.

I've been researching GVM upgrades but haven't found any solutions yet.

What's Next?

I still have some work to do sorting and organising the gear in the drawers and as soon as the switch panel arrives I'll get busy doing all the wiring through the fuse box and installing the compressor and inverter.

At the same time I'll get the battery switch and cables installed under the bonnet.

I'll also get some LED lights for the rear area which I'll be able to wire up once the switch panel and fuse box are in..

Next weekend I'm back in Adelaide where I have my garage, workshop and welder so I'll have a look at modifying the cargo barrier.

So a lot of bits and pieces to do over the coming weeks but I want to get all of this stuff done before I get started on the body work so that the paint job is one of the last things that I do before putting the roof rack back on with the new rooftop tent.

Stay tuned!





Steering & suspension Suspension 2 degree offset Bush Kit - Front & Rear  $415  $375
  New shock absorbers - OME  $800  $750
  Steering Damper  $65  $73.80
  Tie rods x 4  $-    $210.00
Cracks around radiator mounts Weld it up  $-    
Fuel filter mount broken Weld mount  $-    
Steering box leaking Fixed with stop leak fluid  $-    $-  
Oil seals Rear tailshaft and speedo cable leaks  $200  
Rocker cover leaking replace gasket - actual leak is from inlet manifold > catch can  $-    $-  
Rear windscreen leaking Remove and reseal  $15  
Radiator Leaking Repair  $100  
New Tyres & wheels x 5 Nitto Trail Grappler LT285/75R16 x 5 + rims - Fitted  $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 - Borrowed Terry's (Mr Mods)  $-    $-  
Flare seals New rubber seals around flares  $150  
Wipers Paint front wipers matt black  $15  $8
Door locks New barrels & keys  $100  
Spotlights Replace with light bar to save weight  $-    
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  $-    
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 - replace spotties  $150  
Side & rear LED flood lights & switches    $100  
New radio aerial    $20  
New UHF aerial    $60  
Solar panel Leave out to save weight  $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 Use webbing sling/mesh to reduce weight  $20  
USB charge points Double USB charge sockets for back seat pasengers  $40  $37
LED Lights in rear  LED lights on back tailgate to light rear work & kitchen area  $35  
Battery link cable & switch Built in jumper cable from battery 1 to 2 through switch  $40  $38.5
Dyneema rope in winch Replace wire rope to save weight  $189  
Plastic storage boxes For the rear drawers    $38
Catch can    $385  
Rear switch panel and fuse box      $125
SUB TOTAL     $9,369  $3,995
PLUS Original Value of Car    $12,000  $12,000
TOTAL PROJECT BUDGET    $21,369  $15,995

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12 thoughts on “Project80 Part 5 - What's in my drawers?

  1. Avatar
    Frank Aitken says:

    Hi Steve, I'm thinking of investing in a set of draws - how have yours faired after the trip and do you have any suggestions/recommendations?

    • Steve Baile
      Steve Baile says:

      G'day Frank, they've been great so far. Only issue is the latch that holds the fridge slide shut doesn't work properly but I can fix it easy enough. Given the low price of the drawers I can live with that. Our Outback SA trip was a good test but no hardcore extended corrugation yet which will be the real test. I'm pretty sure they'll hold up ok though.

  2. Avatar
    Stephen William Glanz says:

    I have had some concerns of the GMV of my 80 and after talking with ORS about their draws they seem to be half the weight of the ones you have. I have a issue in paying 1800 for what i can get for 500 but the 1800 are aluminum and half the weight - something to consider. Also I have always thought the 80 was 3.5 tone GMV but got told its 2.5 tone - what do you know?

    • Steve Baile
      Steve Baile says:

      Hmmmmm paying and extra $1300 to save about 30kg is a luxury I don't have with this project unfortunately. My 80 series which is a 1991 model and one of the first 80's off the production line has a GVM of 2960kg. I've heard that the newer ones have a higher rating but on't know the details. Not long after the 1991 model they went from 15 inch to 16 inches wheels and larger brakes so this might be when the GVM went up.

  3. Avatar
    Greg says:

    great work steve, the biggest problem with single vehicle travel is space especially when you have more than 4 people. We have a family of 6 and for years have used our troopy as our getaway bus and we were always short on space good luck mate

  4. Avatar
    Shane says:

    Sorry Steve Gaz is incorrect if you get someone to give you an upgrade on your vehicle it won't be worth the paper it is written on it is impossible to get a GVM upgrade on your model s of the age speaking from experience I tried for over a year finial talked to the transport he'd man and that was a not going to happen also with your idea of just throwing on a camper this could be an option as you would only have 2500 towing capacity but you would still only have a 5 percent ball weight for that old vehicle which would be 120 kg good luck on today's campers with their heavy ball weight which also has to be added to the vehicle GVM could you slip down to the bridge and give the readers your GVM at this time of the project I'm sure they would like to know I would cheers

  5. Avatar
    Gaz says:

    You can do a gvm upgrade. Quite a few shops will do it. However you will pay for it! Over $5000!!! Due to it being an old car and already registered it will have to be done then engineered and taking over the pits to class it's safety on the road. A and it's alot of money to gain only 300kg. In a brand new car from the dealer. The dealer can get a gvm kit installed for around 1500. Funny how the same thing on a new car is a fraction of the price!

  6. Avatar
    Phil Beasley says:

    Thanks Steve for the update. Looking forward to hearing progress on the electrics. Do you run a dc dc charger? If so where have you located it?

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