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Maison et Jardin
The Shed

The Shed No 90 May-June 2020

The Shed is Eclectic, informed and always fascinating, there is something to interest everyone in The Shed. Aimed at those with a few tools and perhaps a few clues, this is the magazine for real sheddies. Packed with ideas, projects, advice and peeks into other people’s sheds.

Pays:
New Zealand
Langue:
English
Éditeur:
Parkside Media
Fréquence:
Bimonthly
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2 min.
larrikins

Our feature article in this issue about the grunty Cowper 4x4 off-roaders has reminded me of a misspent youth with my off-roading pursuits with my chums. I was born and grew up in West Auckland next to a creek with a whole expanse of bush on the opposite side to our home. This was a magic place to grow up as it felt like living in the country, with trees to climb, bush huts to build, and corrugated iron canoes to construct and paddle down the creek. Eventually Robin Hood and Zorro games turned more automotive as we all turned 15 years old and obtained our driving licences. Now we wanted fast and noisy cars — the faster and noisier the better. With all this space on my doorstep and something of a…

16 min.
climb every mountain, ford every stream

Rugged, grunty, daring, muddy — 4x4 truck motorsport and the associated fabrication are both Dan Cowper’s livelihood and his leisure. In fact, he is the classic example of someone who turned a hobby he had lived and breathed since he was a nipper into a job. He is self-taught too. Every year, on his 32-hectare farm at Turakina near Whanganui, Dan hosts the Suzuki Extreme 4x4 Challenge, which he created and has filmed for television. Dan prepares the 10 to 12 tough, challenging courses over four hectares — courses that test the mettle of participants, many of who drive the trucks that he and co-worker Cameron Hastings have designed, and made from steel pipes. “If I go to a national trial 20 trucks out of 40 have come out of my workshop. In…

1 min.
the winch truck

Dan is just starting to “poke his nose” into the winch challenge sport and truck fabrication. When he was interviewed, he had a winch truck buggy on the shop floor. The difference is in the independent suspension and the positioning of the motor in the back. It also has a hydraulic winch, which allows the truck to be winched up vertiginous banks. “It’s going to be a whole different ball game,” Dan explains. “The winch challenges haven’t really seen a buggy like this come into their sport before. This winch truck will handle like a trials truck and an off-road racing buggy, but it will have a big, hydraulic winch on it as well. So, it’s going to have the best of both worlds. It will be interesting to see how…

1 min.
health & safety

Many health and safety standards and inspections are involved in making these trucks. “It’s never-ending,” says Dan. “We now have to have a certain clearance between the top of our heads and the roll cage. We have to have 100mm between our helmet and steel plates in the roof so that if we land upside down, we don’t sink into the ground and damage our bodies. We have so many different scenarios on how we could get injured. Seat-belt mounting points and the type of seats we use are now really important.” Taking into account the requirements of New Zealand Occupational Health and Safety, Dan has to be extremely careful in the way that the Suzuki Extreme 4x4 Challenge is run. All vehicles are scrutineered and safety gear checked. Competitors’ helmets and…

1 min.
suzuki extreme 4x4 challenge

The adrenaline rush of taking part in a sport like this and creating an exciting event for a 5000-strong crowd is huge. Dan’s farm fills with cars and people. There are hot-food caravans, a rolling scoreboard, and music. The event is compèred by an Aussie announcer brought in specially for the occasion. Dan describes the scene: “You have 10 to 12 courses and 10 trucks, the TV people are there, and the spectators are pushing at the boundary tape in their efforts to see it all. Each run is different; you have competitors rolling upside down in their trucks, and trucks getting stuck in the mud, breaking down, and getting carried away by tractors.” Once it’s all over, Dan goes on to the next stage of making a show from film footage…

1 min.
like father, like son

Dan, 47, has been involved in 4x4 motorsport since the year dot. His father, John, was New Zealand 4x4 champion driving a Suzuki in 1978, ’79, and ’80, so naturally Dan hung out around the sport while his dad was competing. “Dad was keen,” Dan recalls. “He competed in the Suzukis and then he built some vehicles. Back in the day he built one with independent suspension — out of Subaru parts — like I’m doing now 40 years later. That’s when people were trialling Willys Jeeps, CJ5 Jeeps, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, and Suzuki jeeps. All that kind of stuff was really cool.” As soon as he got his licence at 16, Dan was into it. “The first national trial I ever did I won outright. I was only 16. Since then…