Driven: Six Wheeler Conversions 6X4 Amarok

We go for a spin in the Six Wheeler Conversions 6X4 Amarok and try and get it stuck

Whether your vehicle has four, six, or eight wheels, drive to all the wheels on the ground is a requirement. Surely having wheels on the ground without drive will only serve to reduce downward force, which translates to reduced traction, or give your vehicle something to make you pop a wheel. It turns out, not.

We have discovered that a 6X4 is actually a rather capable bit of kit; so long as it’s done right.

Although we couldn’t just be told that… we had to go and watch a 6X4 vehicle drive some ruts and wombat holes to actually believe it, and this was with the engineers behind Six Wheeler Conversions, in Toowoomba.

NEWS  Vehicles

WORDS AND IMAGES WES WHITWORTH

“In terms of safety, vision and looks, it’s hard to go past Clearview Powerfold Mirrors.”
Pat Callinan

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SCROLL TO CONTINUE

How a six-wheel conversion works
Mike Briggs and Julian Lancaster-Smith at Six Wheeler Conversions invited us to swing by and have a bit of a look at what they get up to.

Six Wheeler Conversions will do a conversion on just about anything from 4X4 to 6X4. Think 79 Series Cruisers, Amaroks, D-MAXs, and Rangers to name a few. They start off usually with a new vehicle, although that’s not a deal breaker, and work their magic.

Working their magic involves a chassis extension, rehoming the spring hangers, and a rather ingenious spring set-up. It involves a cantilever arrangement: as one wheel goes down the other is pushed up, with the idea being that the suspension is always prioritising traction.

The chassis extension can be tailored to suit your needs, however, the Amarok we saw had the chassis extended far enough to have a full two-metre tray on the back; most conversions receive a 2.4-metre tray.

Interestingly, drive is kept to the first of the two rear axles, with the rearmost staying as a lazy-axle only (fully braked, though). The amount of flex they were able to garner from the conversion is incredible: up to 300mm of articulation between the rear axles. Keep in mind that the Ranger and the Amarok tested here were empty; there’s no load on them to make the springs work.

GVM and GCM upgrades are part of the conversion thanks to the extra axle, creating options of 1.5-2-tonnes of payload, and a towing capacity of up to 4.5 tonnes depending on the vehicle being converted. The load-sharing allocation on these 6X4s is to have 60% of the load over the driven axle and leave 40% over the lazy axle to ensure maximum pressure on the driven axle.

But how do they drive?
In a word, incredible. Mike and Julian took us to their little local test track and said they would drive the Ranger and Amarok anywhere we thought they wouldn’t go.

We pointed at the biggest cross-axle ruts, told them they wouldn’t make it, and stood back waiting to be proved correct. Long wait.

Not only did they make it (no rear diff lockers used), but they didn’t even get a wheel off the ground; the Amarok did it in two-wheel drive.

These conversions are not for everyone, but if you need to carry a decent load, and without spending squillions on a full 6X6 version, a 6X4 is sufficient for most of the work you’d need to do.

Remember, if the team at Six Wheeler ends up converting your rig to 6X4, they cover the same warranty as the factory, which might be on your mind if you've had a ‘new’ Second Stage Manufacture job. 

While this drive was not hooked up, we aim to hitch a van to a 6X4 converted vehicle at some point soon and take a spin.  

And on the GVM wagon … News out of Queensland

Finally, a bit of good news for Queenslanders, where a new modification code has been added, in which a "level-two Approved Person" (trade qualified mechanic with five years' experience) with accreditation from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland, can now certify a GVM upgrade to a vehicle already registered, under the new LS15 code, as of March 1, 2020. This news has been welcomed by aftermarket retailers, industry bodies, and mechanics as it will now save time and money and allows for GVM upgrades on already registered vehicles rather than the upgrade being carried out prior to registration.

The LS15 code states: "Re-rating of a light vehicle’s GVM by modifying it according to the instructions in an LS11 design certification issued for the same/make/model/variant/chassis series". That means, as long as the 'suspension kit' being utilised has been certified by an engineer under LS11, then that kit may be installed and certified via LS15.

Previously, having a GVM upgrade installed on your vehicle, in Queensland, was an involved process that required the entire suspension kit and installation be certified by an independent engineer. That's regardless of whether the suspension kit being installed had already been approved by an engineer under LS11. There was considerable cost and time involved in this process.

In a statement supporting the new LS15 code, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association, which has pushed for this code and is pushing for similar changes in New South Wales as well as developing a GCM upgrade protocol, said: "Following lengthy consultation, the updated guidelines from Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) for re-rating GVM for QLD’s in-service vehicles are now finalised. AAAA members have provided valuable input throughout the process and we expect that the updated LS 11 code and newly created LS 15 code will provide clear, sensible guidelines for industry that are workable and non-disruptive, whilst satisfying the need for safe modifications.

"AAAA Members will also be aware that that we are currently in discussion with the NSW government regarding GVM upgrade approvals and evidence packs.  This is certainly causing disruption to our industry and we have met formally with NSW regulators and requested a prompt resolution to the current situation.  More discussions are planned over the next two weeks and we shall keep you informed of any outcomes, agreements and resolutions."

We go for a spin in the Six Wheeler Conversions 6X4 Amarok and try and get it stuck

Whether your vehicle has four, six, or eight wheels, drive to all the wheels on the ground is a requirement. Surely having wheels on the ground without drive will only serve to reduce downward force, which translates to reduced traction, or give your vehicle something to make you pop a wheel. It turns out, not.

We have discovered that a 6X4 is actually a rather capable bit of kit; so long as it’s done right.

Although we couldn’t just be told that… we had to go and watch a 6X4 vehicle drive some ruts and wombat holes to actually believe it, and this was with the engineers behind Six Wheeler Conversions, in Toowoomba.

Driven: Six Wheeler Conversions 6X4 Amarok

NEWS  Vehicles

WORDS AND IMAGES WES WHITWORTH

“In terms of safety, vision and looks, it’s hard to go past Clearview Powerfold Mirrors.”
Pat Callinan

ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

How a six-wheel conversion works
Mike Briggs and Julian Lancaster-Smith at Six Wheeler Conversions invited us to swing by and have a bit of a look at what they get up to.

Six Wheeler Conversions will do a conversion on just about anything from 4X4 to 6X4. Think 79 Series Cruisers, Amaroks, D-MAXs, and Rangers to name a few. They start off usually with a new vehicle, although that’s not a deal breaker, and work their magic.

Working their magic involves a chassis extension, rehoming the spring hangers, and a rather ingenious spring set-up. It involves a cantilever arrangement: as one wheel goes down the other is pushed up, with the idea being that the suspension is always prioritising traction.

The chassis extension can be tailored to suit your needs, however, the Amarok we saw had the chassis extended far enough to have a full two-metre tray on the back; most conversions receive a 2.4-metre tray.

Interestingly, drive is kept to the first of the two rear axles, with the rearmost staying as a lazy-axle only (fully braked, though). The amount of flex they were able to garner from the conversion is incredible: up to 300mm of articulation between the rear axles. Keep in mind that the Ranger and the Amarok tested here were empty; there’s no load on them to make the springs work.

GVM and GCM upgrades are part of the conversion thanks to the extra axle, creating options of 1.5-2-tonnes of payload, and a towing capacity of up to 4.5 tonnes depending on the vehicle being converted. The load-sharing allocation on these 6X4s is to have 60% of the load over the driven axle and leave 40% over the lazy axle to ensure maximum pressure on the driven axle.

But how do they drive?
In a word, incredible. Mike and Julian took us to their little local test track and said they would drive the Ranger and Amarok anywhere we thought they wouldn’t go.

We pointed at the biggest cross-axle ruts, told them they wouldn’t make it, and stood back waiting to be proved correct. Long wait.

Not only did they make it (no rear diff lockers used), but they didn’t even get a wheel off the ground; the Amarok did it in two-wheel drive.

These conversions are not for everyone, but if you need to carry a decent load, and without spending squillions on a full 6X6 version, a 6X4 is sufficient for most of the work you’d need to do.

Remember, if the team at Six Wheeler ends up converting your rig to 6X4, they cover the same warranty as the factory, which might be on your mind if you've had a ‘new’ Second Stage Manufacture job. 

While this drive was not hooked up, we aim to hitch a van to a 6X4 converted vehicle at some point soon and take a spin.  

And on the GVM wagon … News out of Queensland

Finally, a bit of good news for Queenslanders, where a new modification code has been added, in which a "level-two Approved Person" (trade qualified mechanic with five years' experience) with accreditation from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland, can now certify a GVM upgrade to a vehicle already registered, under the new LS15 code, as of March 1, 2020. This news has been welcomed by aftermarket retailers, industry bodies, and mechanics as it will now save time and money and allows for GVM upgrades on already registered vehicles rather than the upgrade being carried out prior to registration.

The LS15 code states: "Re-rating of a light vehicle’s GVM by modifying it according to the instructions in an LS11 design certification issued for the same/make/model/variant/chassis series". That means, as long as the 'suspension kit' being utilised has been certified by an engineer under LS11, then that kit may be installed and certified via LS15.

Previously, having a GVM upgrade installed on your vehicle, in Queensland, was an involved process that required the entire suspension kit and installation be certified by an independent engineer. That's regardless of whether the suspension kit being installed had already been approved by an engineer under LS11. There was considerable cost and time involved in this process.

In a statement supporting the new LS15 code, the Australian Automotive Aftermarket Association, which has pushed for this code and is pushing for similar changes in New South Wales as well as developing a GCM upgrade protocol, said: "Following lengthy consultation, the updated guidelines from Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) for re-rating GVM for QLD’s in-service vehicles are now finalised. AAAA members have provided valuable input throughout the process and we expect that the updated LS 11 code and newly created LS 15 code will provide clear, sensible guidelines for industry that are workable and non-disruptive, whilst satisfying the need for safe modifications.

"AAAA Members will also be aware that that we are currently in discussion with the NSW government regarding GVM upgrade approvals and evidence packs.  This is certainly causing disruption to our industry and we have met formally with NSW regulators and requested a prompt resolution to the current situation.  More discussions are planned over the next two weeks and we shall keep you informed of any outcomes, agreements and resolutions."

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