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Persistent Puncture Problem

 

Allan Sharpe might run one of the toughest off-road adventures in Australia.

Finding a civilian match for military hardware isn’t easy.

Allan Sharpe might run one of the toughest off-road adventures in Australia.

His 3.9-tonne Land Rover 110 6x6 with just one previous owner (the SAS, you might have heard of them) carries intrepid tourists over some of Victoria’s toughest, most picturesque alpine terrain from his base in the town of Bright.

Allan Sharpe might run one of the toughest off-road adventures in Australia.

Operating as Tour of Duty Bright, the camouflage-schemed truck is a local icon. It’s the only truck registered in Australia to carry passengers in the back, packing nine seats with race harnesses.

A high point for hundreds of tourists a week, Allan shows off his surrounds no matter the weather or the terrain. The truck tackles 43 degree slopes in the rain, loose dirt and gravel, snow, sharp shale and inclines that make park rangers nervous, also spending plenty of time on sealed roads in between.

Allan Sharpe might run one of the toughest off-road adventures in Australia.

He does all of this for passengers from grandkids to grandparents while maintaining a five-star rating on TripAdvisor. When we spoke to Allan he was packing for the afternoon’s trip, even though it was his day off.

“We have 3000 people living in Bright. Over the Easter long weekend we have 55,000 and at the moment we’re sitting at about 25,000 for school holidays. I tried to take a day off but I’m ready to go to work!”

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When his business kicked off, Allan experienced a major let-down, literally. Suffering weekly, and sometimes twice weekly punctures, Allan and his tyre dealer Smith’s Mountain Valley Tyres were at their wits end finding a tyre to meet the demands of the 5.6-tonne rated truck.

“I was only getting about 4500 kilometres out of my tyres. We are trying to get people up as high as we can and give them a thrill at the same time. The stresses the tyres go under are heavy and I work them hard,” says Allan.

Being a one truck operation stood at odds with the constant trips to the tyre shop.

“People don’t realise the trouble we were having when we were running other tyres, except for our tyre guys. We had punctures constantly. I was at the tyre shop once or twice a week; we tried everything, we took tubes out of them, we were at the tyre place all the time. It was constant and it was driving us insane.”

Allan Sharpe might run one of the toughest off-road adventures in Australia.

Following intensive research, Allan’s tyre shop made a recommendation – Toyo Tires Open Country A/TII. 13,500 puncture-free kilometres later, Allan knows he made the right choice.

“I have k’s left I didn’t expect to have. I have never cut one of these. I have never had a sidewall collapse on me. In fact, if I was to put tyre black on them they would look like new.”

Allan Sharpe might run one of the toughest off-road adventures in Australia.

Transporting mountain bikers for competition, Defence Force dignitaries in parades and even VIPs between five-star accommodation and hatted restaurants, Allan goes with confidence.

“In general, everyday trips it goes from loose rock dislodged by bulldozers, fire breaks, steep terrain, and often with loose, sharp shale on top. I go up the trails people normally only come down. When I climbed on the old tyres I would slip and bounce, but with the OPATII’s I can put it in low range and just let it crawl, and it goes up with nine people on board, no problem,” he says.

“My business is built on the reliability of this truck.

“I’ll be going for the Toyo again. If anyone said they had something better I would have to see it to believe it.”