so as part of future proofing one of the priority’s was to upgrade the doors.
One of the major flaws of the defender was the doors. In all models right up to the Puma Defender (2006 onward) the doors were welded from steel and aluminium. When water got between the 2 metals a chemical reaction took place and began to speed up corrosion. After some time doors would begin to fall apart or even off the hinges completely. So rather then deal with this problem in the future i decided to deal with it before it became an issue. I sourced a new set of doors last year at the Peterborough Landrover Show and parted with a kings ransom due to the sought afterness of the newer doors. The main difference is that the Puma doors are made completely from pressed aluminium and are practically rust proof.
First i had to send the doors to be painted. Both doors were stripped of windows, seals, handles and paint.
Next the doors were sprayed (by a paint shop) and all the door furniture reinstalled with new keys and barrels fitted to all doors and ignition.
Next was to spray the new hinges. I began with etch primer and finished with a black gloss to contrast the Blue with black as the rest of the accessories are also black.
Final step is to install the central locking solenoid and fit new decals and the doors to the defender. Update to come in a following post
We woke in Corofin camp site. The weather had taken a turn for the better. Blue skies and no wind. It seemed we had finally shook the storm that seemed to be following us. Breakfast was sausages with fried egg on bagels with salad and a bug mug of tea. We sat in the sun with the dogs and made a plan for the day. We had come across a campsite in Cliften that was supposed to be very nice so decided to set off on our way. Before departure we did our usual packing up of the gear. I set drone batteries to charge but we also did a check on or gear and reorganised out foot locker for the days ahead.
It was a 140km trek that took us through Galway City. As we passed through the City we took the opportunity to pick up some sunglasses that we had both forgotten when we were leaving home. Having spent the last few days in wide open spaces and green land the concrete and the noise was a bit of a shock to the senses. We got our sunglasses and back to the defender and continue to Ciften. Our route took us through Salthill which reminded me of Bray in Co Wicklow in the old days. A seaside town with a Amusements and Casinos. We figured we didn’t need to stop to explore and continued. We did stop on a Pier in Spiddel where we had the last of the Pork Chops. This time marinated in Curry Powder, dry Garlic and seasoning. Pan seared on Ciabatta, hummus and leaves. It was really tasty and something i will add to the road cook book for future. We spoke with a cyclist in his late 50’s who had traveled 44k from inland to see the view and was continuing along the coast. After doing some drone shots we got back on the road having made it almost 1/2 way and 70ish km to go.
The journey took us through Screeb then up to Roundstone. A fairly challenging terrain of rocky and mountainous roads full of dips and bumps. I rarely got out of 4th gear the entire time. As we were cutting in and out of land and sea we got to talking about what we wanted for dinner. I suddenly got an Idea for Lobster and Crab and Dee wasn’t complaining!! We were trying to figure out where we were going to get some after 5pm as we were arriving in Cliften? We parked up and asked in a gift shop and were told the local Supervalu had a tank. We swung by and acquired largest crab and lobster in the tank from the Butcher who was incidentally zero craic and couldn’t get a smile out of during the entire process of picking and packing 2 fish! We got some other things like butter, dill, white wine and some bread from a local bakery. Now full of excitement and 2 large styrofoam boxes we made our way back to the defender for the final 11km trip to camp for the night.
We arrived at camp for the night and as usual quickly set up the pitch. We also set up a fire for the evening as we had plans to dine in style! I started to get the Shellfish ready and began to realise that my big ambitions for lobster did not stretch to my functionally small pots. It was a possible disaster. How was i going to cook the lobster and crab? Ok so lets think about it logically. I simply need a vessel i can stick on the fire to boil water. So i went to “forage” something. The campsite were using beer kegs cut in half as fire pits but they all had legs. I did manage to find one without legs hiding in a corner. I then filled it with sea water (by choice) and stoked the fire and put the “pot” on for the boil while Dee went for a shower. I decided the only way to prepaid the shellfish was simple. Nothing but butter and a bit of dill. I quickly dispatched the crab and lobster and placed them in the boiling Sea water. Dee arrived back from her shower and prepare the best dill butter dipping sauce, boiled baby potatoes and carved crusty bread while i cracked shell, picked meat and plated. We quickly sat at our campfire for the evening and watched the last of the sunset while dining on delicious fresh Shellfish washed down with a very crisp Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and wondered how the hell did we end up here!!
Tomorrow day 4 the final day to complete The Wild Atlantic Way. Having started from the Giants Causway in Antrum to Achill Island and from Dungarvin Co Waterford to Clifton and everything in between, Westport is our finishing point and brings with it both happy and sad emotions to know our trip is almost complete.
We awake to find the storm has passed and happy to find all the gear stood up well to the driving wind and rain. We started the day by getting the dogs out for a walk and a breakfast of Pate, toasted rolls, yoghurt and a banana. First stop of the day was Doonbeg to stop in to a friend of Dee’s. The rain had stopped but the wind was still wild. After tea and some savage lemon cake we pointed the defender towards Ennistymon on the edge of the Burren to meet another friend of Dee’s. We also passed “Trump Doonbeg” on the way. The entrance had to 3 flags flying, the Irish, American and the Trump flag. Ironic that this guy would have his own flag and is potentially in line for the presidency (debate for a different day).
Ennistymon on arrival was pretty and full of character and had echos of Dingle with old style buildings and buildings painted in lound colours punting for tourism business. We stopped in to “Byrnes” where the decor was natural and pretty and embraced the natural waterfall it overlooks to the rear. Interestingly most of the river had been diverted as work was being carried out installing a new hydro electric system for the town. I was also the first chance to get the drone in the air and get some videos of the work being carried out. (Video to follow.)
Out next point was to stop was in the Burren. We pulled in and by now the weather had cleared to blue skies but the wind was still heavy. I decided to put the drone up and get some shots and to be fair the Phantom was well capable and counteracted the wind like a donkey eager to please. The Burren is a strange place almost alien like in its formation of stone. However it is also very beautiful and interesting to look at the phenomenon.
In the middle of the Burren we find Fr Teds Parochial house. We were as respectful as possible as we heard the owner is inundated with “guests” making life awkward. We quickly headed on to our camp in Corofin.
Corofin Campsite was clean and well laid out. Nicely full and not too full. We arrived late and reception was closed. So in true camping trustworthy style we set up camp and would pay on departure the following morning. This is a very typical thing that happens. We weren’t long setting up and Dee got a spag ball on the go while i had a “cup” of wine!! It was a welcomed rest and always great to have a really nice meal prepared for you. Dee makes a killer spagball and never disappoints.
We left home about 12 noon set to pick up the clare leg of the Wild Atlantic Way. The drive through the midlands is always slow and unadventurous. Never the less we ground our way through carlow in to Portlaoise where we got on the N7 and paid the sum of €3.40 to use the motorway network.
Not long after we found ourselves in Limerick and decided to take the Tarbert ferry as it would mean a more scenic route down the Shannon rather than the more boring duel carriage way from limerick to clare. We took the ferry to clare through the choppy and windy waters of the Shannon. After a short 20 some minutes we landed and set off for Loop Head Lighthouse. 1/2 hour off the ferry passing through Killrush there was a very strong smell of diesel. We pulled in to check only to find the Diesel regulator purging more than a 15 year old on junior cert results night. We limped back to Killrush leaking and looking for a dry sheltered spot to perform emergency surgery on the Td5 regulator. Shortly after with the regulator out now realising it was 5:50pm and everywhere was closed options became non existent. I began to remove the diaphragm by taking out the clip. To find one of the seals had failed. Now,if i was standing in Dublin at 11am on any weekday this regulator would be extremely difficult to find. ( i had to buy a previous replacement from Portugal.) in Killrush Co Clare after 5pm chances were non existent. Suddenly i remembered that i bought a kit of seals in Lidl and had stashed them in an emergency kit bag. I had a rummage and matched up as closely as possible and the diaphragm popped back in to the housing with a satisfying pop. I was hoping that this meant it was going to work.
After a few minutes of refitting the regular to the engine it was time to find out if it worked. If it didnt it would mean we would be stranded on the road and have to get recovered to who knows where looking for a part from possibly the UK. It wasn’t worth thinking about the fall out from that scenario. After switching on the ignition the diesel pump surged in action and the diesel lines groaned as the air was being purged from the system. And astonishingly no leaking diesel do far. A further turn of the key and the engine fired up in its usual quick manor and again it ran normally with no leak! SUCCESS!! The leak was fixed on the roadside with minimum tools and without help. A quick wash of the hands and back in the defender bound for loop head Lighthouse.
Another hour or so of driving on roads that look like they had been bombed back in WWII found us arriving at a misty and overcast Loop head Lighthouse. We were running so late it had closed. No big deal still amazing views of crashing waves against sheer face cliffs. Shame the wind was so hard i didnt want to chance putting the drone up to get some ariel shots in weather that bad. A quick walk with the dogs and it was time to make lunch. Pan seared pork chops in Turmeric and Garlic on a crusty baguette with mixed leaves, cheese and Mayo washed down with a savage cup of tea. All packed up and off to our campsite for the night purecamping.ie
Arriving at the campsite it was wet, windy and gloomy. Traveling down the lane we could see 2 tanker ships bracing the storm in the nook of the Peninsula. I found this place on the internet the night before departure and new little about it other than they had a Geo-dome and a Sauna!! Couldnt resist booking it. After setting up the roof tent and settling the dogs we went to the “Sauna” i was still stressed and patience were short after the diesel regulator debacle earlier so the Sauna was a welcomed rest. I have to say when i got to it i was a little shocked and didnt know what to make of it. I had assumed a nice Swedish type sauna with lap sheeted walls and hot rocks. What i found was quite different but not bad, just…. Well different! It was a handmade hut made from branches and what could only be described as a hobbit entrance. We had to get down on our hands and knees and crawl to get in. Inside we found an old gas bottle converted to a wood burning stove which was the heat source for the sauna. On the ceiling were little unobtrusive fairly lights. We sat back, took in the experience and enjoyed nearly an hour of relaxing and unwinding in the sweltering heat. Afterwards a quick cold shower and back to the tent for dinner.
Tonight i fancied something hearty as the weather was harsh and stormy. I decided to go for chicken thighs made in to a broth or soup with sautéd summer veg, (fennel, clearly, spring onion, onion and baby potatoes) a quick searing of the chicken and all in the pot for a fuss free dinner. Have to say it hit the spot.
Now off to bed to get ready for tomorrow and another day of adventure. The Cliffs of Moher, Fr Teds house and some nice food along the way.
May 2016 and we have found ourselves in a mini heatwave, but Being Ireland that can chage in a matter of minuites. We decided to set out towards the town of Bushmills in Norther Ireland to drink the Whiskey, Step on the Giants Causeway and Walk the Rope Bridge to an Island.
We set off with our 2 dogs for the first time. They would sleep in the lower half of the tent while we slept up top in the roof tent.
The rear of the defender has been been custom built with running water, Gas, 12v WAECO 35L Fridge, Dry Goods Pantry & all cooking equipment. This would be the first time we would get to use it for more than 2 days at once.
We set off on Sunday morning from Wexford and arrived home Wednesday night having covered 910 miles. The trip went very well from a planning point of view. It did give me a few ideas on how improving some of the system to make things quicker. The Satnav software on the iPad might need to be checked further. We were testing a new offline App while also using google maps. we did find one or 2 bugs that might need to be ironed out before the big trip.
Equipment – I finally got to use my ex British Army Arctic Sleeping Bag. Its designed to be used in Norway for temperatures below -20. Night time was about +3 degrees and the bag was perfect, not too hot and maintained a good body temperature through the night. So that’s another item ticked off the list and tested.
I thought it might be a good time to carry out a full service as we were heading on a circa 800 mile trip.
I changed the Oil all the filters. Part number below and all available from Paddock Spares
Oil Filter – LPX100590
Rotor Filter – ERR6299
Air Filter – ESR4238
Diesel Filter – ESR4686M
I also tightened the handbrake as it was getting a little slack, topped up the washer fluid, changed the wiper blades, topped up coolant and checked the rest of the fluids.
The wiper spindle on the drivers side was becoming loose so i had to change that too. This job is a compete nightmare and requires taking the entire top of the dash out including most of the binnacle and console. Be prepared to get your hands scratched to bits from the sharp edges.
One of the biggest problems people will complain about why they don’t like or wont drive a defender is Road noise or its cold. Ok, its a fair point. Seeing as this is my 3rd defender and im now in my 30’s i was beginning to want a more user friendly vehicle so i decided to insulate the interior and future proof it where possible.
One problem I also wanted to get rid of was the fact that i didn’t seem to have a specific floor / barrier and there was water ingress due to seats being removed and holes not being filled. I began by sourcing insulation and removing all the interior from the the front seats back. I lines all the walls and the floor with insulation and used duct tape to mask the joins. after this was complete i sourced 10mm rubber and began to fit it to the floor, footwells and sides of footwells.
I sourced this from a local rubber company and used one piece and cut it to suit. After this was done i then trimmed and edged the corners with edging for steps. This was quite expensive but i think it made the job look more professional in the end.
The result was i had an interior that was dry, clean and easily washable. I had future plans to install a complete kitchen / cooking system and this was the perfect base to work from. I believe this is one of the top things i have done to make the defender a more day to day friendly vehicle. I has also reduced the road noise no end and had made the cabin a quieter place to be while driving.
After using my roof tent last summer i never took it down for the winter. When i went camping in the winter i opened it to find it was quite wet and smelled a little of damp. After surveying it I found i had a little rip i the cover that had been letting water in. I decided to completely renew the entire tent in anticipation for the big trip. Having a background as a Carpenter i had the tools and equipment to referb the wood and change the cover.
I also took the opportunity to improve on the original design and add the things to suit my needs. Top priority being lights. I always found getting in and out of the tent was a bit of a chore as i always had a torch or my phone in my hand while getting up and down in the ladder. I also thought since i would be heading for temperatures in the -20’s a little insulation might be a good idea. So i went with a foiled backed insulation that also offered noise canceling properties too.
A few months previous i installed new LED interior lights and had a few spare in the tool box. i wired 2 of them inside the sent on separate switches and 4 of them under the roof tent meaning that when i am under the tent cooking food or resting in the common area of the tent i have full light and can see what im doing.
Back to the tent – I stripped off the waterproof cover and washed the canvas with a special shampoo to remove any dirt or mildew. After that i placed a space heater inside the tent and allowed it to dry fully. I then applied a water proofing solution (Fabseal) to refresh the waterproof capabilities of the canvas. Once that was applied and cured fully i applied Bee’s Wax directly to all the seems to offer extra protection.
skin. after a little tidying of all the new wiring the roof tent was now better than new with its new lighting and 7 usb chargers on each side of the bed allowing us to charge both mobile hones and both iPads while we were sleeping.
Here are some more pics that i took of the task. Over all it was fairly easy. More elbow grease than skill.