- Bought as a stock Coaster and converted into an off-road machine
- Running a Ford F250 driveline
- Cummins 6B turbo-diesel engine that only uses 16L/100km
Picture this – a motorhome that could keep up with a Patrol or LandCruiser out on the tracks. Crazy right? Not for Glen Monahan. He has built the ultimate touring and weekend getaway machine – a 1987 Toyota Coaster converted into a 4WD. You’ve gotta be a pretty committed bloke to undertake a build of this nature. It took Glen just over a year to do the 4WD conversion alone, then a further five years of constant work and improvements to get it to the stage where he thinks it’s complete. He was first inspired by Fred Black from Out of Town 4×4’s 4WD Coaster. “From the moment I saw it, I had to have one!” So, Glen picked up his Coaster with 420,000km on the clock, which was used as transport for the regional footy team. It needed some TLC, and then Glen proceeded to build the ultimate touring 4WD into what it is today. Take a look at this thing!
Q: How do you go with spares for the engine?
A: “Cummins engines are built for constant duty and long life. As long as it is properly serviced and maintained there is no reason why you could not expect to clock up a million kays or more. These engines are in more vehicles than you think, including earthmoving, farm equipment, gensets, and of course trucks. Cummins have an international parts distribution and are well represented in Australia.”
ENGINE AND DRIVELINE
- Straight Six Cummins 6B turbo-
- Diesel engine
- 90mm stainless custom snorkel
- Isuzu NPS air filter & housing
- Ford F250 driveline
- Custom radiator
- Front and rear ARB air lockers
In order to convert this bus into a 4WD, Glen needed to swap out the whole driveline for a Ford F250 setup. It’s a massive job, and it took him just over a year to complete the 4WD conversion alone. The engine was swapped with a straight six Cummins 6B turbo-diesel engine. “You need a reliable engine with a good reputation in your 4WD when you go out bush, that’s why I went with a turbo diesel Cummins. Also, I can cruise on 110km/h all day and get around 16L/110km!” Destroked in the USA provided the complete kit to bolt the Cummins 6B to the 5-speed ford F250/F350 auto and transfer case and included custom billet adaptor plate, custom flex plate, custom torque converter, starter motor and PCS control module for the transmission electronics.”
Glen headed over to the boys at Aussie Desert Cooler, and got them to custom make the largest radiator he was able to squeeze into the bus. He then had some trouble finding the right air filter and housing, “I made several attempts to get the air filter and housing right, the latest and best setup for the Coaster is the Isuzu NPS filter and housing. This setup is the least restrictive and gives me the best fuel economy.” Glen has also made a custom 90mm stainless steel snorkel.
- Custom winch bar with ARB light inserts
- Custom rear bar with twin wheel carrier
- Tigerz11 12,000lb winch with Dyneema rope
- Custom LPG storage door for gas cookers
- ARB driving lights
- Original 90L fuel tank plus an 187L auxiliary tank custom made by Brown Davis
With the exterior of the Coaster, Glen has had to basically custom make everything himself, and has done a damned good job of it. “Designing the front bar was a lot of fun! I used anything at my disposal to make mock-ups including 6mm ply, 3mm MDF, PVC pipe, sheet metal, and even cardboard. Once I was happy with the design it was hours of full scale drawings on 3mm MDF sheet which I then took to Lange’s Engineering to be laser cut. Doing the full size drawings helps you to think through every detail and dimension. I fitted the ARB inserts to make it look like it came from a catalogue!”
The rear bar is again custom made by Glen using all steel, which includes recovery hooks, a twin wheel carrier and a Hayman type hitch. He uses the Tigerz11 12,000lb winch with Dyneema rope, to keep the weight down. Glen has made that many body modifications that there are too many to remember. He says the obvious ones though are the custom LPG storage door made from the outer panel skin, the rear quarters cut away and a full body re-spray. The Coaster retains its original 90L fuel tank, but Glen has also added a 187L auxiliary tank custom made by Brown Davis. How’s that for fuel range!
SUSPENSION, WHEELS AND TYRES
- 2in coils with custom valved Koni shocks
- Original Coaster leaf springs and airbags with twin Rancho 9000 shocks in rear
- BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres – 285/75/17
- OEM Ford 17×7.5 alloy rims with large offset to suit
“I was able to get a pair of 2in lift coils right off the shelf from ARB for the front of the bus. I have custom made radius arms and chassis mounts with Ford F250 coil towers. I have custom valved Koni shocks on the front and a WC Motorsports Panhard rod from the USA. On the back I have twin Rancho 9000 on both sides. The original leaf springs provided a very good ride but couldn’t handle the weight when we were loaded for trips, so the air bags provided the best solution as they could be adjusted to suit the weight.” Glen chose the ‘E’ load rated BF Goodrich all terrains as they are a great, reliable all-round tyre that controls the front axle from wobbling, along with help from the replacement panhard rod. This makes the bus handle like a dream when driving long distances.
Q: How did the bus go on the Old Tele Track?
A: “The bus had no trouble at all on the Old Tele Track and surprised many people along the way. It did collect some battle scars along the way but that’s something I was expecting. It was only upon leaving the ‘Tip’ that big trouble struck; about 50km south of the Jardine the auto went completely! Sad way to end the trip but at least we completed the Old Tele Track!”
INTERIOR & 12V
- Twin Fullriver 120Ah AGM batteries
- Autometer gauges for water temp, trans temp, oil pressure, boost and
- GME 40 channel UHF & gutter mount aerial
- Polaris double din unit
- Evakool IB 92L dual compartment fridge/freezer
“Camping in the bus is a breeze – I can pull up to camp and within seconds be all set up. That’s one of the pros of having an off-road bus. I installed bucket seats from a 2000 Holden Astra, they are compact and comfortable and I added armrests for the front passenger seat. I fitted autometer gauges for water temp, transmission temp, oil pressure, boost and EGT fitted in custom pod made by me. All interior cupboards, drawers, etc. are made by me; it certainly helps when you are a carpenter. Drawer and doors are 13mm form ply with 12×12 aluminium angle rebated flush into the face and mitred corners. The massive 92L Evakool fridge/freezer is worth its weight in gold. I installed twin Fullriver 120Ah AGM batteries to help run this massive fridge, it works a treat.”
Q: How’s the reliability?
A: “Like any vehicle you have to know its limitations and when you are working it too hard. I have put over 60,000km of touring into the bus and it has only overheated a few times, it’s just something you have to manage.”
VEHICLE: 1987 Toyota Coaster Custom 4WD
ENGINE: 6.0L Cummins 6B straight six turbo-diesel
GEARBOX: 5-speed auto
4WD ACTIVATION: Originally electronic but converted to cable shift due to complexity of wiring
SUSPENSION: 2in lift coils from ARB with custom valved Koni shocks in front, original Coaster leaf springs with airbags and twin Rancho 9000 shocks in rear
WHEELS AND TYRES: 285/75/17 BF Goodrich All Terrain tyres on OEM Ford 17×7.5 alloys. Glen wanted to take a second from all the specs to thank a couple of blokes that helped him throughout his build. “The biggest part of the conversion has definitely been all the custom steel work and I really need to thank Robert Lange from Lange’s Engineering in Geelong, they did all the laser cutting as well as various machining jobs and so many one-off things. Also, all driveline parts were supplied by Brian Cassar from ‘F Series Diesel Parts & Modifications’ Mt Cottrell, Victoria. Many thanks as if it weren’t for him, the project might not be where it is today. I also want to thank the boys at Aussie Desert Cooler for making up my custom radiator to suit the Coaster, thanks a bunch guys!”
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