Dreaming of a Perentie Turning an ex ADF 6x6 into an expedition vehicle


First off I enjoyed the other 6x6 and 4x4 build stories. My enjoyment dictated that I share my own so for better or worse here goes!

It’s funny how things start, the love of travel, why because you become bored easily and when you travel that doesn’t really seem to happen. The enjoyment of being self contained be it humping a pack or driving a landy disco. Achieving that glow of satisfaction when you have built something that is different and in your mind better than every one else’s. The conversation with a friend who simply asked what you think the best 4x4 is for driving around Australia. That was easy to answer it really is a 6x6 Australian ex-army land rover.

The damn internet and boring days lead to exploration of overlanding sites, probably started in truth by watching the doco’s Peking to Paris where Australians drove old cars to re-enact the race. Or the Longway Round and Down as well. Put that with the camel trophy and you have a person ready to start a project.

Equally I could blame friends who sold us on the idea of supporting them if they decided to compete in the Mongol Rally. SBS has a part to play in this tale as well. By televising the Dakar Rally they developed a fascination in the long distance rally that has meant that one of the bucket list items is to follow the Dakar on the ground and watch the rally up close and personal. Ok the truth, I did dream of competing but let’s moderate dreams to achievable ones I was told by my adult supervisor (the wife).

A trip to Peru for 5 weeks that reminds you that not all travel is about standing in lines with hundreds of other tourists to gawk at some wonder or other. One of the best experiences during the trip was a walk down into the Colca Canyon to a simple rest house. The place we stayed in was made of rock and bamboo with the bed being a rock base and an innerspring mattress on top. The place was set up as the river flowed into some volcanic seams and produced hot springs you could soak in. I loved it simple and a million miles away from the standard tourist trap. That’s not to say that I haven’t really enjoyed all of the Disneylands I have visited.

You then pay off most of your mortgage are bored with work and find yourself driving out to see family in the country and in a paddock is a licensed ex army land rover troupe carrier it has a phone number on it, you call and 1 week later you have a project.


The project now aptly named Lizzy is a 1996 Land Rover 6x6 designed for the Australian Defence Force, it is based on 110 Defender that is extended and has an extra axle. They are designed to transport an infantry section and driver for 3 days in an operational environment (www.remlr.com). Lizzy is one of around 148 made so she is quite unique in her own way. She was made by JRA, weighs in, in her army clothes at GVM 5.6 tonne. She is 6.3 m long by 2.5 m wide and 2.85m high, her heart is an Isuzu 4BD1 T 3.9 litre 4 cylinder turbo Diesel. She had done 44000 km when we purchased her. The way she makes her wheels move is through 4 speed LT95A gearbox she has a PTO winch and is a permanent 4x4. When the centre diff is locked she is then a 6x6. She was part of the Bushranger build (or at least we think so from the data we can find).

So how did Lizzy get her name, well the ADF had these vehicles made after project Perentie which was the army’s project to replace the land rovers they were using in 1982. (You can find a lot of information about project Perentie and all of the ADF vehicles at www.remlr.com). Now the Perentie is Australia’s largest Goanna lizard and is fast, agile and is one of the few reptiles that can breathe whilst running. In keeping with her pedigree and being found in the paddock she must be Lizzy the Perentie.

Why a Perentie?

Part of me wants to answer if you have to ask you will not understand the answer. My first love was the new Nissan patrol G60 that my folks purchased brand new when we lived in Carnarvon in the 70’s. The utilitarian basic set up just screamed at me as being built for the outback and boy did we use that thing. Some of my best memories as a kid was getting places in that thing. Then it all changed 4x4 became civilised when I worked for the Forestry (well CALM for those that know) the only vehicle that had the rugged feel I craved was an old HJ45 (well it wasn’t that old then) but we as young blokes using government owned cars put them in some really odd places almost as good as an APC. Fast forward and when I bought an old Suzuki to get around the farm it was yep you guessed it a LJ 10 and that thing was absolutely unstoppable even with a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine. I used that as my mobile workshop with all of my tools in it and got around every were.

Extra Fast forward to the 2000’s and after driving and owning a lot of SUV’s and 4x4 which have all been excellent but that rugged utilitarian feel not so much (well when you live in the big smoke it is nice to be lazy). Now the Land Rover defender has the utilitarian feel in spades one of the few that still hold the adventure, pity the Camel trophy was stoped. Yes we own a Discovery and it is brilliant and I have fixed just about every part on it but the defender now that’s real adventure! I will acknowledge that all of the km that I have travelled in the Toyota 4x4 with work and I mean tens of thousands on some of the remotest roads in Western Australia when I worked for a mining company they all performed really well and never once was I let down by them, but they always just felt like that a soulless car that you just drive.

Why a Perentie? well if its good enough for the ADF! 6 wheel drive! And for utilitarian ruggedness well “spades”. The back is all Aluminium and easy well; kind of easy, to convert. PTO winch what more can I say. But the answer really is because I wanted one for about as long as I have been an adult and that’s why! I am not going to convince you I am not trying to sell one to you every decision in life comes down to a personal objective and all of the rest is rationalisation of that objective.

to be continued!


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Fantastic carts! I'll be watching this closely :)

Love the "Maximum poof load" sticker :D. Always good to know your load limits.



How to start and Why are you doing this?

First thanks to those who replied
  • Reply 1 yes it was fated the 6x6 4 sale on the way to the folks that is a great start
  • Reply 2 thanks I will try and make it interesting
  • Reply 3 I posted this today because you asked so nicely but I am averaging 1 and 1/2 days per fortnight on the project, but have a bit of a back log of work I can post

Second apology ADT is meant to be ADF and no disrespect is meant to the members or ex of the ADF!!! I have fat fingers and then couldn't work out how to edit the title once it was posted
Carts from WA

How to start

How do you start such a project, well for us it was to pull out every thing that was bolted in and see what you have. Salvage as many parts as you can but strip the vehicle back as far as practical so that ideas can crystallise. You acknowledge that the cab is army so devoid of creature comforts, this you put on the deal with last category.

We then spent hours on the interweb looking at floor plans reading what other overlanders had built or had others build for them. Followed by a trip to the caravan and camping show to walk through just about every van that was at the show.

From all of this and to be honest the simplest floor plan started to crystallise.

There are many web sites telling you how you should build a camper van, some self proclaimed experts that need to be treated with caution. Others when you read there travel blogs undersell the value of their insights. One of my favorites is Goanna tracks they walk the walk not just the talk. The silk road is also useful for finding blogs of those who have the right pedigree,and it goes with out saying Expedition Portal which you are all ready reading , far be it for me to tell you what to read, if you are reading this you are either doing your own research or are a friend/family.

The dictates from the adult supervision (AS AKA the wife) was that there needed to be a private shower and toilet. The reasoning behind such a statement is that not all travel will be conducted in campervan friendly areas like Australia, when parked up in a city that doesn’t have a caravan park it is essential for personal hygiene that a simple shower be available and well the toilet is self explanatory.

Why are you doing this?

So why do we want to do the work ourselves you ask? Great question and it is one we get asked all the time in the form of, can’t you just buy something or can’t you get that made by some one? The answer is yes with money anything is possible. The real question I think people are asking is why do you want to go to all that trouble? The implication is it will be hard work that will take a lot of your time and in all likelihood you will have something that doesn’t look very good and or not work well.

These are not easy questions to answer. The why? a glib reply may be that is a project and we all need projects but that’s too simple. Other equally glib replies might be that if I do it myself I know what’s been done and what the quality of the work is. These things may be true but care and attention with high end factory acceptance testing (yes I know I am an engineer and it comes out some times) will deliver a product that can succeed.

I have thought about the why and the longer answer I came up with is multi faceted (aren’t all in life) but its central kernel is simply ownership. By building our (well my) dream vehicle I take control of the dream to drive around the world. The dream materialises or it doesn’t by my hard work and inner drive. The trip is successful or it isn’t due to my work ethic and the attention that I pay to everything I do. The I is important to me in the above statements and should/could be replaced with “We” as my wife is an instrumental part of this plan and is involved in all of the work down to holding nuts that I am doing up. But I can not write for her, these statements are true for me and so I have used I.

Others can and rightfully so argue that having other people do the work does not divorce you from the pursuit of a dream. So it comes down to personal choice we (I) wanted to build our overlanding vehicle, we wanted to do as much of this ourselves as we can. Ok family and friends and our dogs it’s a project every one is getting into.

to be continued as time and Adult supervision allows.



The building part 1

External Walls

For the walls of the back living quarters we had a few choices, one was to use the custom fabricated GRP (glass reinforced plastic) over foam inner. There are companies that will laser cut to suit and ship so you can install. The alternative is to build the frame work and skin the frame work out of metal like some of the parcel type trucks that are running around. The rear of the Perentie has front and rear Roll Over Protection (ROPs for all of those who have worked in the mining industry). The ROPs and the rear area are made out of aluminium some of it 25mm plate it is seriously built to take any thing thrown at it. In my view the engineered mil spec ROPs needed to stay, why would you not have that serious protection when it came for free.

Our choice was to build the frame out of aluminium, it would be held to the existing structure by a combination of rivets, industrial adhesive, bolts and screws. The bolts used were stainless steel cup head bolts and nyloc nuts, the adhesive was applied to all frame work that came into contact with existing structure. The aim was twofold, one, to add structural integrity which was second to ensuring that it was sealed. The framework is mostly 25mm x 25mm aluminium box, 1.6mm wall thickness. In places were we wanted additional strength or just increased tube size to join sheets we have used larger 30mm x 25 mm aluminium RHS. All of the frame work is welded together using the mig welder with aluminium roll welding hand piece.

Like a lot of family endeavours its interesting what roles you take on. Whilst I wanted to use the project as a reskilling for myself with welding it hasn’t worked out as planned. I was (a long time ago) a spanner swinger, after completing an apprenticeship I went back to University and well ended up with a PhD and haven’t apart from repairing my disco really revisited my metal working skills. Yes I know a lot of the technical people my family included are going to say once you went to uni you relinquished all rights to trade certification. However with good intent I laid down my first weld with my step father watching on. A number of other welds ensued, none were attractive and all looked somewhat as was the case beginnerish.

I am doing most of the work out in the country, as my step father who is an (IAME) Master Craftsman and has spent his whole life building race cars and well that’s where he lives and that’s were all of his tools are!

The next time I returned to the country to continue the construction I did note that all of the welds looked like they were laid down by a coded welder. You see, whilst I had returned to the big smoke to pursue working for a living, all of my welds had been cut out and professional welds inserted. Ok time for honesty I am a beginner at Aluminium welding face it! Maybe the structural components of a rig you hope to drive around the world in is not the place to learn! Construction continued with a master craftsman in charge of the MIG and or TIG and I was relegated to holding parts cleaning aly and of course seeing as its family, being burnt!

A lot of the tooling to work with aluminium simply meant that new saw blades were purchased for the wood working gear or other that we already owned. The other equipment such as grinders, welders (you name it, its available) we also owned (when I say we I use the “royal we” as mostly I used those owned by other members of my family! yes you guessed it my step father). I did purchased different discs specifically for aluminium or make sure that any consumables were replaced so as to cover the costs of construction. I do try to be a considerate leach! All in all the aluminium was particularly user friendly. The ease with which you can move the finished frame work around was rather a surprise for me as I am more use to using steel.

Our design has the walls external to the outer section of the tray area at the bottom. It is bolted, and glued onto the 8 mm plate that makes up the lower section. The upper section tucks in under the curved anodised member and is bolted and again glued to it. All of the bolts used for this are cuphead stainless steel with stainless nylock nuts. (oh should say for those who may ask the cup head is external). The square holes for the bolt to seat were filed by hand after drilling the hole.

Where possible we used the frame construction to fill in or use existing holes. The aim here was to make the task of filling holes later somewhat easier.

to be continued as time and adult supervision allows
Carts from wa



The Build wall cladding and windows

The external wall cladding is 1.6 mm Al sheet being held in place by pop reverts and construction adhesive. The roof was supplied as part of the vehicle and is also Al sheet. It is in the order of 2 mm, I haven’t got the Vernier’s out and measured but is slightly thicker than the 1.6. The curved members that join the roof to the sides were also supplied by the very thoughtful ADF it is also Al but is anodised. The anodising make a difference to the rate of penetration when you are drilling holes or filing, I academically knew it would, but was surprised when practically experiencing it.

We placed 4 windows in total plus a round skylight. The placement of 2 of the windows was an easy decision. One is mated to the window that is in the cabs back wall it is a sliding window that allows for both windows to be opened. We used foam sealer to join the cab to the back wall so that the 2 windows could be opened and have some dust proofing between the two. The second easily placed window was in the door, the reasoning here was that its all ways good to know what or who you are opening the door too.

Debate over the placement of the other two windows was quite lengthy, finally we opted for two long windows placed above were we are planning to have the bed. This will allow for more space to be used for storage on the remaining walls, additionally having them high on the truck will we hope make them harder to break into. This is why we have kept them quite narrow, so as to limit who can use them as a point of entry.

All four windows were commercially bought from 3 different suppliers. All are held in with paintable sealant and pop rivets/screws. All came with bug/fly screens which if you are from Western Australia is an important consideration. All except the one that matches the cab window are smoked to provide some sun protection.

Lizzy came with a gun turret and we debated endlessly if we should keep it. In the end the wife won and we did keep it but compromise is the name of any good project and the turret is sealed with two lots of 5mm polycarbonate that is ballistics rated, so to those who are not materials engineers that means bullet proof (well to some extent and that’s all I will say here). What it does mean is that it is not a week point that people can get through particularly easily. 10 mm of polycarbonate is hard to get through! Oh its glued screwed and silicon sealed, did I say it’s also smoked so that the sun should be somewhat dulled. We are going to put a blind across to keep the sun out when we don’t want the light. This is of course is now called the round skylight.

To be continued as time and adult supervision allows
enjoy Carts from WA wall cladding.jpg window inside.jpg fully clad.jpg pop riv window.jpg round skylight.jpg
G'day Carts, What an awesome beast and it definitely brings back memories for me also as my godfather used to take me fishing with my brother in a Landrover to flat rocks north of Yanchep (I think everytime we got lost I think).

I agree the missus Pajero to me just does not cut it.......Will have to test it down Preston Beach if you are keen.

Cheers Kosta


The building part 2 Inner sanctum

Hi all thanks for your interest.

The inner sanctum

The inner frame work that holds the fridge, sink and the bed is similarly made out of the aluminium box tube. The fridge is mounted on slides that are positioned so that you can stand in the walk way well (the section that is deeper than the rest of the vehicle so you can stand and walk without stooping, well I can and the adult supervision is shorter than me) pull it out and the lids of the fridge/freezer can open to above 90 degrees so that they hold them selves open.

Our decision was to use PTFE tubs instead of cupboards, we had used these tubs in our camper trailer and they have withstood the harsh treatment well. They are a simple tub with a lid and can be slid into the racks. If you ever need to empty the vehicle then it’s a simple matter of taking the tubs out, but that was not our reason for using them. The justification was that they have been quite useful in the past allowing us to pack equipment simply and move things around. They are like having draws that can be removed and have their own lid. They also stack one on top of the other, which when placed in a rack is not a particularly large plus but was worth mentioning. Here our experience told us that this was a good way to go.

The basic lay out has the walk way well cleared with the higher sides containing the cupboards and or bed. The bed will have the water tanks mounted under it. A section of the bed will be able to convert into a table and chairs and is at the front (front being the engine end) of the rear cabin.

The rear of the cabin is where we are planning on having the shower and toilet. The plan is to build a wall up to the walk way well about 700 mm from the rear wall and use the step section as the toilet. In the walk way well will be the shower. Privacy will be provided by a semicircular tambor door (we have purchased this and it is made out of aluminium). The tambor door will effectively close off the toilet when not in use and be out of the way for ingress and egress from vehicle. When in use it will rotate around and make the shower or toilet. The idea for this came from seeing how some of the camper vans in the UK use the tambor doors. This is yet to be installed and will in all likely hood be almost last.

When constructing the frame work we decided to build it all prior to putting the insulation and inner skin on the walls. Basic premise was that we can see easily the frame work of the walls, we would not damage the walls when sizing and messing around. Upon completion remove them, then insulate and skin the walls.

to be continued as time and adult supervision allows
Carts from WA



Stress testing

No I don’t mean the type of stress testing that comes when you are made redundant due to the down turn half way through buying the parts for a project such as this. Evan though that has been a test that’s not what I am talking about here.

The video shows Lizzy going over some small bumps at a quarry just down the road from the folks place. We went out and ran her up and down a few things to see how the back section would hold up. The idea was that we didn’t really know which bit flexed and which bits may be not quite right so before we went any further we tried her out.

Ok so now the justification is out in case the Adult Supervision reads this, lets just say it was time for a drive and when you have a 6X6 a simple drive on the tarmac is just not enough.


to be continued as time and adult supervision allows
Carts From WA


The building part 3 Inner sanctum part 2

Wow Thanks for having a look I thought I might get 1 0r 2 friends and family but over 700 is a big surprise.
If any one has any questions or suggestions please drop me a line
again thanks for having a look

Water Works

We started with the idea that 150 lts of water was enough water to carry. Why this much well that was based on our experience with our camper trailer. We have disappeared into the Australian desert with 150 lt for 10 days quite happily. We also wanted to have at least two tanks to hold the water, that way if one was damaged then you still had the remainder. What we ended up with is three 58 lt tanks. These are Boab (brand) tanks, they were chosen as they had a reputation for sturdy construction and the spigots are all recessed so they are protected to some extent. The tanks are in the living compartment under the bed frame. They are evenly balanced across the payload area. They are all plumbed in parallel so they are all filled and drawn from equally. Each tank has a stop cock on both the inlet and outlet so it’s possible isolate each tank.

They are placed on 10 mm of closed cell foam that is adhered to the deck of the payload area, the foam is then covered with carpet to add an additional layer of insulation and hard wearing surface. The tanks are held down using 40 mm aluminium strapping that is placed through the pre-moulded strap locaters that are on the tanks. All of the piping uses flexible hose designated for drinking water use.

Filling up is from the outside with a lockable spout. The hole had to be cut with a 9 inch hole saw through 6 mm plate aluminium, this was achieved with some patience and yes that’s right patience I do have some for those that know me.

The water pump is a shurflo 4009-101-A87 this pump is refuted to be low noise, allow for variable water flows and be able to run dry. It all sounded good to us so we installed one. Have yet to try it, but it will be given a full work out before we head off.

We have a water filter at the sink that is the same brand as that used in the international aircraft, (its advertising but sounded good to me). The basic plan is to use a coarse in line filter prior to the tanks (external pump and filter to fill) and then have filtered water available at the sink. If needed will add water purifying tablets to the tanks.

The shower will be unfiltered water well only the coarse inline filter. That should help with the life expectancy of the high quality filter for drinking.

The hot water system is a Duoetto 10 lt 12V DC hot water unit. The unit comes with a 240 Volt AC ability but we are not planning on using AC at all. The 10 lt unit from all accounts on the forums does a good job, is reliable and we got if the right price. Thanks Dad it was the right price!!

Why we put all of this in now is that we wanted to run the pipe work so that it was out of the way. That meant knowing where it was all going whilst building the frame work so that we didn’t need to modify the frame work to fit the tanks and piping in.

I think also that as Western Australians and growing up in Carnarvon (its pretty much desert as soon as you step out the front door) we were always taught that you have water were so we prioritized water even when we built our camper trailer.

oh well that's my thoughts
to be continued as time and adult supervision allows.
Carts from WA



Electrical Part 1

Prior to inserting the insulation we ran the electrical cabling. We have used Pirelli 3mm or 6mm twin cable. The twin cable has 2 layers of insulation that has been increased through the use of convoluted tube. Where we have had to put the cable through panels a combination of methods has been used to ensure that the cabling will not abraded. The first method is the use of rubber grommets which is standard. The second method has been to use multiple layers of heat shrink then to place the cable in the centre of the hole and use copious amounts of silicon rubber to hold it in place.

The lighting is provided by LED lights, these are IP65 rated and were purchased through a marine supplier. In addition to lighting we will have two fans one is an exhaust fan mounted in the rear wall that we believe will aid in ventilation. The second is a small marine fan that is to be mounted above the bed to provide some relief for sleeping in hot climates. All electrical equipment has been selected based on it duty cycle and robust manufacture that is why the majority’s intended use is the maritime industry. We also have made provision for the refrigerator, a charging station that will have an inverter and the hot water system.

All of the cabling is returned to a central location which will have a fuse box and the other power management systems. The Perentie’s electrical system is 12 volt, we toyed with the idea of using 24 volt however the availability of lighting and hot water systems indicated that the easiest way forward is to use 12 volt.

I will discuss the final design of the electrical system including solar when I have got that far.

Thanks and enjoy
To be continued as time and adult supervision allows
carts from WA