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The Best 4x4 in the WORLD

Updated on December 28, 2015

International Harvester AB120 series 4x4

The best 4x4 by today's standards, maybe not.

Back in 1969 it sure was.

We needed something that would take us from Melbourne, Australia all the way to Germany.

This included crossing desserts, mountains, rivers and anything else in between.

These pages will be only about the truck, and its pro's and con's.

The Book is on Amazon as a download, and for a hard copy, you need to contact me

Please enjoy, and take the time to see "My Book" page "From Australia to Germany"

What we found after buying at auction

Before and After changes

After buying our International Harvester from Australia Post auction, we took it to our workshop. Expecting the worst, we were happy to find that motor had only ceased on one cylinder, and no damage to the cylinder wall.

It was a huge straight 6 cylinder petrol engine.

After taking the motor apart and replacing piston rings, the motor was as good as new.

We took the truck up bush around Melbourne for a few test drives, to see if it was up to the long journey ahead. It passed with flying colors. But little did we know at the time, it had a major, major design defect. And our short test drives would not reveal this defect.

Installing the Kitchen sink

Because we would encounter all sorts of weather conditions, we had no intentions of cooking in the rain or snow. The trucks rear barn doors were fitted out in such a way that we could cook and clean up from the inside as well as the outside.

With the doors open, we had a gas top burner which folded out. The gas was supplies from our gas bottle just behind the front seats in the cupboard. The cupboard was well ventilated to the outside in case of any gas leaks. In the other door we installed the kitchen sink. It had cold running water, supplied by a hand pump from a fibre glass tank. We used this for washing up after our meals.

You can just see one of the doors open in the photo. I will replace it with a better one as soon as I find it. You will also notice the lovely curtains we installed on the side and rear windows. These helped keep out the hot summers sun in the Australian Outback. Thanks Mum.

Alice Springs 1969
Alice Springs 1969

What we changed

For a six month trip, things needed to be changed

After getting the motor going, we concentrated on the interior of our truck.

Since it was going to be our mobile home for to the next 6 months, we needed to

add some features that don't come standard.

The first thing we did was to rip out the front bench seat, and replaced it with two RECARDO

driving seats. These would be more suitable for long drives and kept ones bum in place on tight cornering. Both the driver's and passenger seats were made so they could be swiveled around so they faced the back of vehicle. This way we had comfortable seating in our lounge room. Behind the seats we installed a cupboard with build in fridge. This cupboard also contained our on board entertainment equipment. A radio and cassette player.

Further into the interior of our van, we built two single beds. One on either-side. They were basically two timber box's with a lid, where we could store things. Between the two fixed beds, we also had a third bed which assembled quickly over the two others.

Because we would encounter great extremes in temperature, from the dessert heat in Central Australia, and the ice cold regions of Europe. In saying that, even in the dessert, the temperature can drop below zero. We filled all the hollow parts of our trucks cabin with fiberglass insulation.

Extra Safety Features

For the Australian Outback, it is standard to have bull bars fitted to the front of trucks and sedans alike. So we made our own. From 50 mm galvanized pipe and 120mm steel U channel.

This was going to be strong enough to take on any Kangaroo or stray camels we might encounter. Unfortunately, we had no idea at that time, that the extreme weight of our bull-bar would highlight a significant fault in the trucks steering design. When finished, we made provisions for a large vice and huge metal hooks for towing.

The same was done at rear of truck. At the front, the steel structure was painted white, and black from the inside, or the drivers view, to stop the glare from our headlights.

Talking about headlights. We installed two extra Halogen Driving lights fitted on two air cylinders. These were placed at the front, under the mud guards. This protected them when not in use from stones thrown up by on coming cars, and would be thieves, as they could not be seen when they were retracted.

We installed an air compressor and air tank. This would help us to blow up any deflated tyres, of we we had many. But the air compressor was also used for our 10 foot fiberglass antenna. This lay flat down on the roof when not in use, but could erected vertically whilst driving by a air operated cylinder on the roof rake. Please have a look at photo.

Road Trip " From Australia to Germany " - Book with DVD. Film was made with 16mm Film Camera

My Road Trip is about an epic journey that began in Melbourne.

Traveling 4000 km's on dirt roads and tracks to the the

RED CENTER ( Ayers Rock ) and on to Perth in Western Australia.

Then by freighter too Ceylon ( Sri Lanka ) and India via Indonesia and Singapore, and on to India.

Then we traveled again by road through Taliban Tribal area's in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran. Then into Europe via Turkey Bulgaria and Austria all the way to Germany and Holland.

Both the English and German language are now listed for sale below and come with DVD

Helmut drilling with 12v on Bullbar
Helmut drilling with 12v on Bullbar

Dual Steering and Controls

Because we would be driving on both sides of the road. Left in Australia and on the right from Turkey ( Istanbul ) We made the steering fit on both sides of the truck.

But that meant we needed to have dual brakes and clutch as well.

This worked out very well. But we had a problem with the Gauges still in on the right side of

vehicle. So that all the gauges and lights could be seen no matter where you sat, we took the dash apart, and installed all the important instruments in the center. This included all the new switches for our air cylinders, as well as the extra switches for the extra fuel tanks we installed.

Some opitinal extra's

Because we would be sleeping in the truck in some colder parts of the world, we needed

to install a heater that ran independently from the motor. After much searching, we found a VW heater the best option. They were easy to come by, and were reliable.

Now that the cold problem was rectified, we turned our attention on the cooling of the truck.

In Central Australia, the temperatures could easily rise above 45 degree's C during the day.

An air conditioner would have been nice, but it also had its drawbacks. Space, weight and reliability needed to be factored in. We came to the conclusion that a sunroof would have to do. And since none were available off the shelf for our truck, we started making our own.

Unfortunately, it never was completed in time. Our departure date was getting closer quicker and faster than expected, and we concentrated on more important things instead.

I am still in the proccess of making two short films from the original movie. - As soon as I have them ready, they will be up loaded

Apart from Nikon and Cannon camera's, we also had a 16 mm film camera.

I will finish this section later. Off to bed

Don't drive past, stop and say hello

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    • profile image

      johnwill65 7 years ago

      Great lens Gus your best so far keep up the great work gave you 5 stars

    • profile image

      mine123 7 years ago

      Thanks for all the information you delivered this has kept me occupied I hope you have more information in the future thanks cool! gas air compressors

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      I give you 5 stars. You tell a captivating story. You made it sound so much fun that I wish I could make the journey. You and my brother would have a great time re-building trucks. Great lens!

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      @ColettaTeske: Thank you BearTale. My first reply since 2010, so many squidhugs to you. I must revisit your RSS lens later, so I can learn more. Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • PeterMike2013 profile image

      Uzochukwu Mike 3 years ago from Oba, Anambra State, Nigeria

      Great write-up, keep it up...

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      @PeterMike2013: Thank you Peter. Same to you, and look forward to reading some more of yours.Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 3 years ago from USA

      So you were 15 when you made this trip? Amazing all the things you thought of to fit in this vehicle. My road trip surely wasn't like this. Hope you find the photos soon.

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hello Fay,Thank you for Liking Lens. Yes only 15. Turned 16 in India. Great Road Trip, and something that could not be done today. Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Real interesting vehicle makeover! My Dad (R.I.P) would have loved to hear about this. He was a top class mechanic!

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 3 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hi FreshStart7,we only did a make over because the motor was Kaput. Everything else was done because we needed creature comforts from the long journey From Australia to Germany. Crossing Australia from one side to the other via desserts and un-made roads we needed heaps of extra's. My Lens about that Epic Road Trip won the Purple star yesterday, so I'm happy as can be.Thank You for liking my lensGod Bless and Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      My father had a 1968 IH Travelall, and at the time it was indeed the best 4-wheel drive in the world for pure ruggedness. It is still in the family!

      What a fascinating story. Well done!

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hi WillStar,

      thanks for leaving a comment about my Truck page.

      Interested to know if your Travelall has the same body shape. My one was made in Australia, to the best of my knowledge.

      Love to see a photo of yours someday

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      It was similar. I'll figure out how to send you a pic.

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      If you are on TWITTER, that the simplest way, maybe

      Cheers

      Gus

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 2 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Thanks Will,

      I have tweeted back also, and included another photo

      that you might not have seen.

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

    • Aladdins Cave profile image
      Author

      Aladdins Cave 2 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Hi Will.

      Watching a TV show on now

      Every Which Way But Loose

      Clint Eastwood

      Your 4x4 was on it !

      Hows that for timing :)

      Cheers from DOWNUNDER

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