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.
Once all that was done i took on the job of reapplying the oil skin cover. I used a staple gun to fix the cover to the sub frame. Then re-fixed all the bright work to secure the oil
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.