Mods to our BT50...

Submitted: Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:03
ThreadID: 95088 Views:10136 Replies:5 FollowUps:5
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After reading some of the horror storys here about failures in (chassis especially) light duty utes, I thought I might post details of our vehicle that may help others.
I will concede that the BT50 is not as capable as our previous Troopy 75, but I have no hesitation in tackling most of the 'outback' tracks. In fact we have just returned from 2 weeks in the NSW Corner Country, where all the roads that were accessible due to flooding, were in very poor condition with ruts, corrugations and wash-outs.
Vehicle: Mazda BT50 Freestyle (extracab) 3.0l turbo/intercooled diesel trayback. 2009 model.
Load: Slide-on poptop camper unit- with bed section over vehicle cab. Weighs in at about 600kg (dry).
External accessories: Steel bullbar, snorkel, towbar & 60l stainless steel auxilliary fuel tank.
Chassis mod. (in summary): Adding a 400mm braced wheelbase extension. The chassis, in the area of the cut had the extension inserted and welded to overlap the two original sections on each side. The chassis was then boxed and strengthened with a full overhead reinforced stenghthening bridge from 50x50x3mm square section. A chassis web brace of 130x6mm flat bar was welded to the structure on each side. The exhaust system, rear electric wiring was extended and a new cardan shaft, centre bearing, brake lines and handbrake lines fitted. The original alloy wheels retained, but the tyres upgraded to 1150kg rating.
New wheelbase now 3350mm
New GVM now 3483kg (up by about 400kg)
Other mods: Heavy duty front torsion bar. Replacement upgraded front dampers. Reset rear leaf package with extra leaf. 9-way adjustable rear dampers (we use positions 4 to 6). Air bags fitted to rear.
All modifications have a full engineers certificate for compliance.
When loaded, we run (on the blacktop) 45/60 in the tyres, and adjust according to road conditions. Airbags- loaded between 30 and 35, just enough to level the load without any compomise on the suspension performance.

The unit is a very comfortable & reliable and after sorting out the various suspension/tyre setups feels very safe/ predictable in all conditions. We've even used it to survey for a car rally in the mountain forests on the South Coast!!

Looking forward to our annual 8 week trip in July/August in cluding Great Central Road, Connie Sue & Anne Beadell roads to Laverton and exploring the areas of Central WA.

Cheers & Happy Trails
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Reply By: wombat100 - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:35

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:35
Just an add on here- the camper is attached to the tray/chassis by spring loaded 'piston' type adjustable thingos. This takes a bit of the rigitity out of the mounting, especially when the chassis is trying to flex (which all chassis do).
I have had no issues with clutches, transmission, 4WD operation or engine.
I do drive the thing within it's limitations (yea- sometimes a bit over) and would have no hesitation heading off this arvo to where ever.

I have used no brand names in my summary, however if you would like further details or information please just ask.
AnswerID: 483910

Follow Up By: member - mazcan - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 13:06

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 13:06
hi wombat100
after reading this thread i believe i am convinced that the way you have gone about modifying your bt50 which is very simular to mick-o's toyota mods
that is the reason you havent had any problems and although there is an enitial expenditure outlay you have eliminated the chances of suspension/chassis and drivetrain failures
if these procedures were odopted and carried out more often by owner s when they want drive and use there vehicles for application that they are not really made tough enough for in the first place ome
there would be less heartbreak and disapointment
but in saying that not everyone has enough money to be able to afford it but failures cost you twice as much in the long run when failures occurr and usually one isnt' home but in some remote location to make matters worseit would be intersting to all to now tell us what components and suppliers you sourced them from and who did the mods its not forbidden on this site afaik
thanks for the interesting threads
cheers barry
FollowupID: 759189

Reply By: Member - Tezza Qld - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:36

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:36

GVM now 3483 kg's That is greater than a leaf sprung rear GU Patrol trayback.

I look at the chassis size and wheelbase of the vehicles and it's quite a contrast.

AnswerID: 483912

Follow Up By: wombat100 - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:45

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 12:45
Yes, that is correct- but I won't be utilising anywhere near the GVM.
The standard GVM is 3053kg. I guess, when fully loaded with 90kg water, extra batterys and gear it may be about 2900kg.
FollowupID: 759184

Reply By: Member - Adrian M (SA) - Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 14:28

Monday, Apr 23, 2012 at 14:28
Hi wombat100,

I am interested in the brands of the bits and pieces you have used to modify your vehicle with.
I own a 2010 Ford Ranger dual cab trayback which I am looking to modify the suspension on and from the sound of things you are happy with the way your suspension has turned out.

Any reccommendations would be more than welcome.

AnswerID: 483918

Follow Up By: Member - Jo Q (NSW) - Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 12:20

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 12:20
I'll jump in & 2nd that request Adrian. I also have a 2010 dual cab Ford Ranger & are currently looking at suspension options.


FollowupID: 759264

Follow Up By: wombat100 - Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 13:22

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 13:22
Hi Adrian & Jo
What items specifically can I advise you on???
FollowupID: 759268

Follow Up By: Member - Adrian M (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 09:49

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 09:49
Any suggestions regarding which brand of front torsion bars, rear leaf springs and shocks would be good.
I have been told to stay away from ARB and go to TJM, but this is from a Patrol owner, and I think advice from an owner of the same vehicle would be better.
And then there is Ironman/Tough Dog and all the rest to consider as well so any real world advice would be much appreciated.

FollowupID: 759365

Reply By: Member - Geoff M (VIC) - Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 10:30

Tuesday, Apr 24, 2012 at 10:30
Hi J&D,

You certainly have upgraded your BT50 and done your homework. I just hope you have better luck than I have had.

The chassis extension I did last year on my 2007 BT50 sounds very similar to what you have done. I also upgraded the suspension, fitted heavier duty tyres, and had all mods certified by an engineer and submitted to VicRoads. However the latest failure to the rear differential/housing finally tipped me over the edge - in my opinion the BT50 is not a long term vehicle for outback travel. Its actually not just my opinion - the long established company that inspected and repaired my diff housing also believed that the new range of medium duty 4WD ute's (BT50 included) are not up to the task.

I hope that you have many years of safe and enjoyable travel with your vehicle, and I'm envious of your coming travels to the fantastic outback - unfortunately we won't get there this year as I'm building up a new vehicle. Hopefully next year we'll be back out there. Keep an eye on your vehicle rear end - first indication of a problem is usually the premature failure of the wheel bearings.

Cheers, Geoff
AnswerID: 483999

Reply By: Tonyfish#58 - Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 10:18

Wednesday, Apr 25, 2012 at 10:18
wombat100 - Have you gone over a weighbridge fully loaded?

I think you will find that you would be over 3ton fully loaded!

I did with my Rodeo out of interest. I was 3ton without the wife and the 100ltr water capacity.

I also have had no issues to date, have now done 120k.

Regards TONY
AnswerID: 484137

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