GOING STRONG

I HAVENíT WRITTEN A ĎSHEDí UPDATE ON MY DEFENDER SINCE NOVEMBER LAST YEAR, AND A LOT HAS HAPPENED IN THAT TIME. IíVE TINKERED, IíVE DRIVEN, IíVE FIXED, IíVE DRIVEN, IíVE SPENT, IíVE DRIVEN AND IíVE SPENT SOME MORE.

WORDS AND PHOTOS DEAN MELLOR

4X4 SHED

LAND ROVER DEFENDER

DATE ACQUIRED: FEB 2017

PRICE: $7700

KM SINCE LAST UPDATE: 12,000KM

AV FUEL: 10.2L/100KM

TINKERING

I FITTED a new rear seat manufactured by a company in England called Exmoor Trim. It provides a far more solid base and proper bucket seat comfort for my rear-seat passenger, who deserves something much safer than the rattly, old standard pew.

The Exmoor Trim seat wasnít cheap (just over $1000) but itís superbly engineered and nicely made.

The old roof lining has gone back in, but not until I stripped it of its saggy, stained material covering. I cleaned off all the old foam, spraypainted it grey, and voila; it looks great and itíll never sag again.

Iíve upgraded the sound system by fitting a Sony head unit with Apple CarPlay. I initially enlisted the services of a local car audio mob to do this job, but the result was so shoddy I ripped it all out and started again from scratch. Iíve retained the front speakers, fitted some rear speakers in boxes, built a subwoofer box and wired up an old sub and amplifier I used to have fitted in a previous vehicle. Thereís now enough sound to hear a tune at freeway speeds, which is really saying something in an old Defender.

To match the flash new subwoofer box, I decided to tidy up the rear cargo area. To do this I screwed down some marine ply behind the rear seat and attached another piece using hinges; this gives me an under-floor area to stow gear and a nice, flat floor area. Itís all working quite well so far, but Iíll probably fit a drawer down the track.

The rear sliding windows were missing a few rivets and were rattling like nothing else, so I drilled out the old rivets and started again. Iíd like to eventually flick these sliding windows and replace them with a pair of gullwings for better access to the cargo area. There are a couple of viable options on the market, including from CSW and Front Runner.

Iíve now wired up a pair of Lightforce Genesis LED driving lights bolted to my second-hand ARB bullbar. These Aussie-made lights are simply awesome, providing a huge throw of light as well as a good spread. They also have a Daytime Running Light (DRL) function, which improves vehicle visibility.

I had to flick the original Ďwombat barí when I fitted the ARB bullbar, so Iíve since equipped the Defender with a far more substantial APT alloy steering guard. It looks great and provides much more protection at the front of the Defender. Iíve also fitted a pair of additional rated recovery points.

FIXING

WHEN I bought the Defender I knew it needed a fair bit of work to make it mechanically sound, but I may have underestimated much. So far the crew at Roving Mechanical in Sydneyís south have fitted an Xtreme Outback heavyduty clutch and replaced or fixed the water pump, brake fluid reservoir, intercooler hoses, inlet manifold gasket, rear disc shields, rear wheel bearings, rear axle ball joint, front radius rod bushes, Panhard bushes, steering damper, rear main seal, hub seal, timing belts, wiper switch, air cleaner mounts, wiper stalk, dipstick and more.

The air-conditioner still doesnít work, but the fault was located by my local air-con specialist Ė the bonnet catch has worn a hole through the condenser because, apparently, early model 300Tdi Defenders didnít have the necessary shield in place to prevent this from happening. Itís an easy enough fix, but I just havenít got around to it yet.

Of much higher priority is to fix the injector pump, which is leaking a small amount of diesel. At this stage itís just leaving its mark on my driveway, however, Iíve already booked it in at a diesel specialist for repair.

DRIVING

NOW TO the good bit: I just bloody love driving my Defender. Itís noisy, itís slow, itís hot in summer and itís cold in winter; but when Iím behind the wheel, Iím in my happy place.

Since the last update the Defender has done about 12,000km, including a bit of off-roading around the NSW Southern Highlands, a trip out to Eldee Station in outback NSW, a couple of trips down to the Snowy Mountains, and several runs up to Sydney from Wollongong.

The BFGoodrich All Terrain KO2s have covered 10,000km and theyíve performed faultlessly. At this stage they show little in the way of tread wear and there are no visible nicks or cuts in the tread blocks or on the sidewalls, despite a fair bit of off-road work including some rocky tracks in the Barrier Ranges. For the record, Iíve been running 35psi front and rear on the road, dropping to as low as 26psi on dirt.

Off-road, the Defender is probably the most capable vehicle Iíve owned. It has fantastic low-range gearing, excellent axle articulation and, thanks to front and rear ARB air lockers, constant drive to all four wheels.

The only problem with all this off-road capability is the temptation to go farther, which Iíve so far resisted to avoid mechanical breakages.

WHATí S NEXT?

WINCH, roof rack, drawer system, new suspension and a Cummins crate engine ... like any four-wheeler, my ultimate wish-list is way bigger than my budget, but you never know your luck. See you off the road.