My missus had a nasty health-scare back in 2008. One of those life-changers that makes you realise that ‘every day counts’. So, she relinquished her Holden Astra and we pooled our resources to purchase a Toyota Hilux dual cab ute so we could get out more and explore the country. After all, there was clearly a lot more to life than dying.
Since that time, the Lux has completed over 220,000km and it’s travelled through every State and Territory except Western Australia, which is firmly on our radar. As is the case with many other 4x4s, it’s had its fair share of after-market accessories. And while I try not to look at the books too closely, I reckon $25K’s worth is not far off. But, regardless of all the function and fandangle of these post-production additions, my co-pilot in life still rates the SPEEDLINER ute-liner has been the best aftermarket accessory we’ve bought. The next best purchase is the 2013 Echo 4x4 Kavango that we’ve attached to our tow-tug for memorable trips over a range of at least 50,000km.
So how are these two issues related - SPEEDLINER and camper trailer? Well, I’m glad you asked.
You see, our Kavango was beginning to show its age - and I’m not talking about its mechanics. On that front, she’s A1 on account of regular 10,000km servicing and sensible treatment. But this sunburnt country has nonetheless begun to leave its mark. And that’s largely because we prefer byways to highways, because trips are so much more interesting that way.
So, for some time, we’ve been getting a bit concerned about the wear and tear on our Kavango’s fibreglass outer shell. Even though the camper spends its down-time in a carport on the southern side of the house in the shade, there’s still obvious patches of oxidation on the front and roof panels. These are due to inevitable sun and heat exposure while we’re on the road. And these patches don’t buff out with the fibreglass cleaners or with the protectants that we use routinely. Even the gel-coat repair we conducted after our last big trip was unable to conspicuously turn back time.
We’ve also become concerned by the amount of stone damage that’s become evident. While our Rocktamer mudflaps do a great job, we ask a lot of them. We’ve needed to fit a replacement ‘Battle-Bra’ stone protector to the front of the camper to deal with the inevitable escapee rocks, sticks and gravel thrown up by the tracks around Sturt’s Stony Desert, Milparinka, the Gulf country, and the like. It all takes its toll.
So, we asked ourselves how we could take our investment in the Kavango and protect it against a downward spiral in presentation and performance. It’s true to say that, after a house, for many of us our tow-tug and trailer are our most valuable purchased assets. And this principle applies to us. Besides, we took too long researching this little unit - and it fits us too well to let it simply deteriorate. So, what to do about it…?
Enter SPEEDLINER. Yes, we’ve just had the Kavango made bullet-proof (well, stoneproof anyway) by having it treated, head to tail, with this trusty product.
So what is SPEEDLINER? It’s a spray-on polymer designed to permanently adhere to the surface of a ute’s tray, boat deck or horse float – in fact anywhere you want a durable coating. It provides a rust proof, waterproof, tear resistant, air-tight, non-slip/skid surface that’s unaffected by fuel spills and is resistant to chemicals. It’s also UV stabilised meaning that it doesn’t fade. The manufacturers also claim it’s got 500% more impact strength resistance than any of its competitors and can stretch to 570% of its own size! While we can’t say we’ve tested those last two statistics ourselves, on the basis of SPEEDLINER’s performance in our ute tray over the last nine years, we reckon the advertised descriptions sound about right.
The proof of the pudding is that our Lux’s ute liner has now had 220,000km of usage - including moving houses, housing dogs, humping firewood, holding goats, and hauling our camping kit through countless backroad escapes. Operating as a tailgate camp kitchen and fish filleting station, the whole rig’s been used as a mobile closet, larder and safe base for our crew as we’ve explored this great nation. But despite all this, we can’t find a single scratch, dent, tear, peel or discolouration across the SPEEDLINER in the back of our ute. Better still, the finish has a sound dampening effect which reduces rattles and road noise. So, SPEEDLINER was an easy, cost effective, choice for ‘hardening’ the camper.
And since having the camper treated with SPEEDLINER, we’ve been mighty pleased with the result. As we expected, the divots and dints in the fibreglass have now vanished under SPEEDLINER’s hammer-finish coating. Also, the oxidised fibreglass is now protected under the polymer coating. And the inside of the rig is now actually cooler than it was previously - with the SPEEDLINER acting like a new layer of insulation. This worked really well on a 36 degree day on the banks of the Murray - and we look forward to trying it out during the 2018 winter season when we plan to enjoy our rig up among some of the further reaches of the NSW Alps.
We were looked after by Wizard Paint Repairs (who are the regional licensees for the product for Canberra and the NSW South Coast). While we opted for charcoal for the Hilux, for the Kavango we were able to almost exactly match the camper’s factory colour scheme from the SPEEDLINER 18 standard factory colours. If we hadn’t, Wizard is a specialist paint workshop so they’d have been able to generate a custom colour if we’d needed it. Perhaps your local distributor can do the same. Hot pink or zombie green anyone? If nothing else, you’d be able to ensure that your rig is easy to see - and that could be a safety bonus given that most standard vehicles come in eye-fatiguing white. No joke. Imagine highlighting the corners, or front and rear panels of your rig, with an alternate colour? You’d be more obvious to oncoming traffic, particularly if you’ve got a decent sized rig.
For us, we reluctantly forewent the opportunity to highlight our vehicle with eye-catching flouro tones. In keeping with the Kavango’s original styling, we had the Camo Green colour applied to the corners of the unit and to the trim on the lower sections. Now all we have to do is start enjoying the camper’s extended life - stone free, fade free, easier to clean, with better insulation and free of the risk of cracked and crazing fibreglass. Now that’s a new lease of life.
How is SPEEDLINER™ applied?
You’ll have to surrender your rig to your SPEEDLINER™ distributor for at least a day. While the application only takes around four hours, there’s a curing time and so it’s best to pick up your unit the next day.
The process itself is pretty streamlined. First up, the ancillary equipment is removed such as spare tyres, toolboxes, gas cylinders, stone protectors etc. Then the painted surface that you want covered with SPEEDLINER™ will be brushed-up with an abrasive nylon wheel brush to de-gloss it and to create more surface area for the primer to be applied.
SPEEDLINER™ claims that this surface preparation is one of the features that distinguishes it’s product from competitors and ensures the liner won’t peel off like other spray-on applications. After this, the team adds tape and skirts to protect your rig from splash-back during spraying.
When it’s time to paint, your preferred dye will be added to an activator solution that’s then mixed with second polymer solution. Literally there is a Part A and a Part B solution. Once the two start to react, the spray process begins.
There is a prep coat and a top coat. We even had a clear coat over the top once finished. This filled in some of the undulating surface and made it super shiny.
Prices will vary as to your application