4WD MODIFICATIONS - DIY WORKSHOP
The availability of low-priced, lightweight awnings means that nearly everyone has one these days. However, you don’t always want one fixed to your roof rack, like a ‘jousting stick’.
Any fan of the classic Aussie movie, The Castle, is familiar with jousting sticks and many side awning installations on utes and wagons resemble a jousting stick when rolled up. That forward protrusion is handy when you want to maximise shade area underneath it, but can be a hazard in some driving situations.
The classic vulnerability of a folded side awning is when you’re driving in bush country and there are overhanging branches or mulga bushes on both sides of the track. In these conditions it’s very easy to get a study branch caught between the projecting part of the awning – the jousting stick bit – and the bodywork of the 4WD.
In the worst situation that branch can rip the forward section of the awning off the roof rack, damaging it beyond repair and maybe causing damage to the rack and even the rack attachments to the vehicle roof.
Clearly, in such driving situations it’s desirable to have an awning that can be dismounted and stored safely in the middle of the roof rack, without any forward projection.
Fortunately, there are quick-release brackets available and we’ve been testing some Ironman4x4 ones for the past year. They fit between the standard roof-rack brackets and the back of the awning frame.
Each bracket set comes with two receiver brackets that fit onto the back of the awning frame and two pin brackets that bolt to the ‘L’ bracket that adapts to the roof rack.
Once the two parts of the brackets have been bolted in place – without the need for drilling in the case of most awnings – the awning simply lifts over the rack-mounted pins and drops into place.
The mounting pins are drilled, to allow locking pins or padlocks to be used for securing them in place.
But there’s more…
Our OTA testers, Sheree and Simon Martin, bought an additional set of brackets and a short awning. They also bought brackets that are designed to adapt the Ironman 4×4 kit to suit Rhino Rack fairings that mount on the front and rear of Rhino Rack roof baskets.
The short awning lives inside their ute canopy and is simply clipped into place when they want an awning over the tailgate area.
But there’s still more…
The sockets on the back of the awning mounting plate can also accept vertical poles, allowing the awning and tent to be free-standing, away from the vehicle.