Building the Hema Map Patrol
Stage 2 - 4x4 Accessories
The Map Patrol needs to handle Australia’s harshest conditions to do its job, so the second stage of our LandCruiser build equipped it to do just that.
ARB 4x4 Accessories have kitted out every Hema Map Patrol since the first in 1998, and the LandCruiser is no exception. ARB have proven their ability to produce premium 4x4 accessories for over 40 years, while always allowing for improvement and innovation in each of their products. This evolution matches Hema’s own vision for the LandCruiser 79 Dual Cab, which will go further and gather more map data than any previous Map Patrol.
To be ready for that outcome, the LandCruiser’s trip to ARB was crucial. Making the best mapping vehicle possible means every stage of the build must come back to functionality, and the ARB fit-out mirrors that goal. Parallel to that, just as each stage of the build makes the LandCruiser more capable in some distinct way, each piece of gear from ARB makes it more prepared for life off-road.
The Map Patrol team are experts in outback travel, so much so that the original Great Desert Tracks mapping expedition remains the largest on record by a private company in Australia. This means proper vehicle protection is essential, considering the high risk of vehicle damage in outback areas - often from animal collisions, and usually while travelling around dawn and dusk. To combat this threat, ARB fitted a deluxe winch bullbar. Behind the bullbar is an insect screen, which is important for keeping bugs, seeds and other debris out of the radiator, which can cause overheating if left unchecked.
With the bullbar protecting the LC79’s front exterior, a Safari Snorkel will protect what’s under the bonnet too. A snorkel delivers clean air to the engine in all conditions, protecting the engine from dust intake in dry outback areas, and allowing it to breathe effortlessly while travelling through deep water crossings. For the latter situation, the LandCruiser was also fitted with diff breathers, which allow air to vent from drivetrain components. Diff breathers are crucial for when the drivetrain cools suddenly during water crossings, as it creates a vacuum that can draw in water and cause damage to the drivetrain assembly.
In conjunction with the bullbar, ARB fitted steel side rails and side steps to protect the LandCruiser from potential panel damage. Side steps have a practical purpose for vehicle access, but they will also protect the LC79’s lower panels from flying debris while driving in the outback. Side rails, meanwhile, offer impact protection for the LandCruiser’s front panels in all off-road environments, while also pushing aside brush along tight or overgrown tracks. Both forms of side protection are vital in the event of a partial or full rollover, and are also useful tools in adverse recovery situations.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Old Man Emu's BP-51 shock absorber, freshly fitted; A roof rack creates extra storage space; ARB's AR32 Intensity spot lights.
Vehicle recoveries are inevitable in many off-road areas of Australia, and the Map Patrol often traverses the most remote and challenging of these areas solo. This makes the LandCruiser’s ability to recover itself key to the safety of Hema’s field teams, not to mention that less time stuck means more time mapping. To best equip the LandCruiser Dual Cab for a recovery, ARB has fitted it with a WARN ZEON 12 winch. A winch is invaluable insurance by enabling a 4WD to extract itself or another vehicle from a stranding or bogging, and the ZEON 12 has the requisite power and reliability the LandCruiser needs. It’s also a handy track-clearing tool for moving fallen trees and large rocks.
For snatch recoveries, we had the LandCruiser fitted with a recovery point rated for use with a 4.75t rated bow shackle. A rated recovery point is the best foundation for a successful and safe recovery; though it needs to be matched by properly rated recovery gear. That’s why the LandCruiser will carry a full recovery kit out in the field, which includes a snatch and winch extension strap, a snatch block and other necessary gear like rated bow shackles, gloves, tree trunk protector and a recovery damper.
In conditions that require a snatch recovery, like mud or soft sand, low tyre pressures reduce the likelihood of getting bogged by offering more traction. To quickly and uniformly drop tyre pressures, the LandCruiser has a tyre deflator on hand, as well as a complete air compressor kit for airing up afterwards.
CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: Ready to hit the tracks; Fitting side steps; Getting kitted-out in the workshop.
Suspension, Lights and More
The Map Patrol traverses all kinds of terrain while mapping Australia, meaning it needs suspension that is strong and durable. ARB’s BP-51 shock absorber combines this necessary toughness with supreme comfort, delivering a comfortable ride on-road and excellent control off it. These factors are important for the Map Patrol, which will travel on everything from an easy bitumen road to a punishingly corrugated track within a single mapping expedition.
To light the way while driving at night, the LandCruiser is sporting a pair of ARB Intensity spotlights. Featuring long-lasting LED lights that emit pinpoint directional white light, they’re the ideal driving lights for seeing clearly in the dark.
Finally, while the canopy will carry and protect the majority of any field team’s gear, ARB also installed a roof rack to the top of the 79 Series. A roof rack is the ideal place to store gear that’s bulky yet light, and to later mount antennas and the Map Patrol’s custom GPS receiver. The roof rack is also fitted with two jerry can holders for secure storage of additional fuel.
With everything fitted, the LandCruiser is prepared for all of Australia’s diverse off-road conditions, and its first real transformation is complete. Now, the LandCruiser Dual Cab is on to the next stage of its build: to design and craft a custom ute canopy, which will be the field teams’ work space and travelling home as they explore the unknown.