This is the build up of my Land Rover Defender 110. I will be leaving from New Hampshire and will travel down to Ushuaia. I will be traveling with one other person. We will be roughly following the Pan American highway. The goal departure date is the beginning of August. Once in Ushuaia, my co-pilot will fly home and my wife will fly in to meet me. We will then spend somewhere around 6 months in Chile and Argentina, possibly Columbia as well. There are so many places that we want to spend time, but 6 months just isn't enough to see them all.
(9 April 2011)
I left yesterday morning at 2:30am and flew into Jacksonville, North Carolina (Boy are my arms tired, har har har) to pick up my new, used, 1985 Defender 110 3 door. I was then supposed to go pick up a sweet 1980 VW Rabbit for a friend, but after a series of unfortunate events and some mis-representation by the seller of said Rabbit, I left beautiful, 80 degree, NC at around 9pm and headed home, without Mr. bunny.
With a top speed of 62MPH (GPS verified), I crept towards home for the next 19 hours, getting passed by many 18 wheelers, and I think I even saw a dude on a Rascal pass me, stop for a recharge, then pass me again. This trip normally takes me <14 hours, but my plans were trashed by the dude with the Rabbit and mother Nature. The Rabbit situation put me leaving at 9pm at night, which made it possible to hit all the nice rush hour traffic in New York and New Jersey on my way home the next day. I like to plan rush hour to be in places like West Virginia, where rush hour doesn't really exist, and then scoot through NY and especially Jersey, as fast as humanly possible, for obvious reasons to anyone that has been to these places. It rained, it snowed, I laughed, I cried (when the tape deck, complete with a 1980s mix tape stuck in it, stopped working at mile #101). Seriously though, it rained HARD, all night. Speed was slow, and I had to stop and pick up new wipers almost immediately. The ones on the truck had failed a long time ago. Today, it snowed, not all that hard, but enough to make people drive more like idiots than they normally do.
I was very happy with the 500 mile fuel tank range (only stopped for gas twice), and I think I averaged around 28mpg for the trip (2.5L turbo diesel). The trip meter would get stuck occasionally (odometer still worked fine) and I didn't notice this until about 700 miles into the trip, making my previously calculated 25mpg figure seem a bit questionable. Total fuel consumption figures and initial odometer mileage compared to ending mileage seem to indicate around 28mpg.
It was a fun, long ride, and I just walked through the door after a 900 mile trip in a new-to-me truck. Not a single issue with the truck the entire way home. The truck was in better condition than I thought it would be, and I think the seller neglected to mention about 50% of the work he had done to the truck. All the important stuff is in great shape, and obviously, it runs very well. The body work leaves a little to be desired, but the price reflected that, and I don't mind the few dents and dings.
Plans for it: This is a replacement for the Discovery I was building. If I lift it at all, it will be a 2" OME, but I might keep it stock height. Eventually, I might do a full restoration on it, but not for a few years.
Took it out in stock form to see what kind of flex it had. (14 April 2011)
Took apart everything to add some sound dampening. Unfortunately, no pictures of the finished product behind the dash.
Just a quick pic of the vapor barrier installed on top of everything else. I just undercoated the wheelwells and I needed to get out of the garage before I passed out.
That one strip of roofing waterseal or whatever it is in the middle of the picture was not put there by me. I was not about to spend an hour trying to tear it off.
The skin of the door is dynamatted, then the dampening mat was applied in selective areas, pretty much where it would fit. The door has a much more solid sound and feel to it now.
When I picked it up the passenger window would only go down about 3/4 of the way. Through a series of door openings, closings, and punches to the door card, it would go down the rest of the way. When I took everything apart I found out why. I don't think the regulators have been cleaned or greased since new. I could barely get them apart. I cleaned them up real well, re-greased, and now they are buttery smooth.
I wanted to replace the leaky windshield seal, but in doing so, I cracked the glass. Oh well, new glass was but and installed.
Offroading (28 April 2011):
My plans at this point consisted of custom fabricating a pop-top roof, Westy style. Unfortunately, the truck sat for 5 weeks at a welding shop and they didnt touch it. I would have done it myself, but I dont have the tools or expertise to weld aluminum. I pulled the truck out of the shop and bought a roof top tent. No time to wait.
These were the sketches of the interior designed for use with a pop-top. I built these cabinets and the functionality is somewhat limited by my low, stock, roof height. In the future, I may pursue the pop-top idea again, but for now, we need to hit the road, so it will have to wait.
Welded on some light tabs:
I added a floor right before it went into the welding shop. Oak laminate with foam board insulation underneath. So far it has held up well, although it is pretty scratched up at this point. Lugging around a transmission and various other parts dont help either.
I tossed on the tires. (25 May 2011) TreadWright Guard Dog in 285/75/16. So far,t hey are working great. I have about 500 miles on them with about 50 of those miles offroad. They are a little loud going down the road, but I can barely hear them over the Defender and 200tdi.
(June 20 2011) This is where the good work starts. I was too busy working to take pictures, but I managed to get a few. I met with a friend at his woodshop and we got everything completed over a few nights after work.
Big table saw.
The cut pieces then get sent through the edge bander to get a strip of wood added to the front. This makes the front of the cabinets look a lot nicer. End grain isn't very pretty.
Then things get nailed together just to hold the shape.
After it is nailed, holes are pre-drilled and then screwed. We used lots of screws so that it will hold up to the vibration and bumps of the road.
These are the top cabinets for the right hand side of the truck. There is another small cabinet that goes underneath these that is level with the tops of the wheel wells in the back.
So much sanding. Arms are tired.
Bring out the clamps. Here we are clamping the front of my slide out table.