Codpiece 101 – #1 Tub Malfeasance

Why is it that impractical contrivances seem to win over the smarter, sensible solutions? When it comes to ute tubs there’s been a trend toward the hopelessly impractical in the last five years. For decades, the smartest and still most attractive solution IMHO for carting junk around was to buy a canopy.

Above: Now there is a practical thing of beauty, with all-weather benefits, lockable too!

A canopy afforded an all-weather and lockable cover for your holiday or work gadgets that could be accessed on all sides via flip-up windows on gas struts. There have been some canopy travesties like Mitsubishi’s genuine accessory version from not that long ago with tiny and practically useless access on the side windows, especially if they were sliders and done all in the name of fashion.

Everyone else has also offered sliding glass as an alternative to the flip-ups, but they are about as useful as tits-on-a-bull once the tracks get full of dust. And they will. And you’ll rue the decision. And you’ll change them out.

Above: What’s not to love about flip-up windows on gas struts and old-fashioned handles?

My good friends at ARB have been building sensible canopies since the eighties I reckon, but even they have strayed with the Ascent range they peddle, adding unnecessary complication to a design that didn’t need fixing. I’m OK with key-locked handles that need a twist to open coz I’m old-school Dave and Mr. Practical. And here’s the nub of the problem.

Increasingly we’re witnessing more and more people drifting into 4WD-land, coming from a passenger car existence and an urban world that demands more and more stuff and complexity that unbeknown to them will eventually fail. Having a canopy that notionally locks in tune with the central locking on the cabin’s doors sounds great in practice, but I look at the box of tricks on the tailgate glass and wonder to myself, will it last?

Coming from ARB it likely will, whereas that offered by a vehicle maker as part of their genuine accessory range likely won’t.

Above: A Shelby Raptor just screams full-horn and ready for the big race!

The great alternative is to flaunt your junk. Enter the ute-tub codpiece (err rack).

Thanks to that great off-road escapade, the Baja 500, we’ve been sold a pup.

Above: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it I say!

Rack frames sitting atop the tub body and sporting a roof-top tent (oh and that’s going to receive some codpiece scrutiny shortly) or a spare wheel and adorned on each side with your recovery apparatus (MaxTrax on one side and axe and shovel on the other) allow you to boast loudly about your woodspersons-skills and say plenty about a manhood grope to prove your worth.

Above: Made of railway lines and bridge girders this Cod is off-road ready!

With your rack stacked, your fridge and other camping detritus better be of the all-weather and lockable variety because it’ll be out there for the seasons to start the decay and the thieves and opportunists of the world to reach in and take their pick! Talk about having your wobbly bits fondled!

If you’re into alternatives and thinking practical-Dave will be pleased with my choice of a roller shutter and sailplane arrangement on the back of my ute, with its lockable, all-weather-protection, you’ll be disappointed, especially if it’s motorised.

Above: Shiny roller shutter closure on the back of a Ranger with sailplane… very trendy!

As a codpiece it fits the category comfortably, an impractical appendage that leaks like a sieve, are often unlockable, has an impossibly low tub height which will rub out most fridges, the 12V motor that powers it will fail, and the box up the front gobbles up so much space it begs the question what’s the point???

The low-rent version of the roller shutter is a hard lid, a clamshell of ABS plastic that is hinged at the front and supported on gas struts to prop it up. It’s another evil, compromised from the get-go with a constricted tub height (thanks to the reinforcing webbing on the underside of the lid), a propensity to get out of alignment on a corrugated road and thus start the dust pouring in from the top as well as through the tailgate and a handle with lock that seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to being secure.

Above: Obviously designed NEVER to be taken down a dirt road because these things leak like a sieve… water or dust!

Both tub lid styles are just full of compromise, a bit like the suit of armour that old Henry V111 had in waiting for him when the French were getting a bit testy. A bit creaky, definitely ill-fitting and a nod to ornamentation on a bit that didn’t need it.

Above: King Henry’s roller shutter preceded the modern ute cover by around 600 years and look at that masculinity on display!

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