Over­land­ing to Aus­tralia: Part 12

Af­ter 30,000 hard miles, some es­sen­tial main­te­nance needs to be car­ried out be­fore go­ing on to Cam­bo­dia

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents - Story: Hay­don Bend | Pic­tures: Me-an Bend

The 30,000 miles that we have clocked up on this trip have been hard to say the least, es­pe­cially as we have had to put the De­fender on most off-road sur­faces imag­in­able from wash­board roads and sand tracks in Mon­go­lia to muddy jun­gle tracks in Laos. And while the car is run­ning well, the strain is start­ing to show; main­tain­ing the De­fender so that it is in tip top con­di­tion is now, more than ever, at the fore­front of our minds.

In or­der to keep the De­fender go­ing as smoothly as pos­si­ble for the rest of our around-the-world trip, we feel that it is im­por­tant to use the best-qual­ity prod­ucts avail­able to main­tain the car or fix any is­sues that have arisen. As the say­ing goes, pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure.

We carry some es­sen­tial spares with us but there have been times when we have had to source some parts on the road. We sus­pected that the parts for a De­fender would be harder to come by in some coun­tries com­pared to more pop­u­lar brands like Toy­ota. Sure enough, the re­al­ity of what we have en­coun­tered on the road is less than straight for­ward.

There are Land Rover deal­ers and garages in most coun­tries we trav­elled through so they are the ob­vi­ous go-to place for the most dif­fi­cult to source parts. How­ever, there will also be a nice big price tag as well as a long wait to go with this as some­times the part will have to be or­dered from over­seas. The aux­il­iary belt pul­ley was show­ing signs of need­ing to be re­placed and we vis­ited both Land Rover and Ford (the Puma en­gine sup­plier) in Laos and they were un­able to get the right part to us for three weeks. How­ever, you al­ways have the in­ter­net and thanks to Fedex you can re­ceive most parts world­wide within 48 hours.

In a coun­try like Mon­go­lia where a 4x4 is an es­sen­tial life­line for the in­hab­i­tants, there are al­ways parts deal­ers who will be able to source the equiv­a­lent com­po­nent for your car. When the sus­pen­sion bushes dis­in­te­grated 600 miles from the cap­i­tal, for ex­am­ple, we were able to go to a makeshift garage in a lo­cal vil­lage to get bush-fix bushes. Back in Ulaan­bataar, we man­aged to per­suade a lo­cal Bil­stein dealer to sell us some bushes out of his full sus­pen­sion kits so that we could carry on with the rest of our jour­ney.

We were pleas­antly sur­prised in Cam­bo­dia by how easy it was to get a set of brake pads. This was due to the num­ber of De­fend­ers in the coun­try which have been do­nated from the UN and other or­gan­i­sa­tions around the world for hu­man­i­tar­ian work.

To our sur­prise, some of the more com­mon parts were a lit­tle harder to source in for­eign coun­tries. It took us a few trips to the shops in China and Thai­land be­fore we were able to get the cor­rect en­gine oil and other flu­ids, for in­stance. We don't carry much spare oil due to weight and space and to be com­pletely hon­est we didn’t think that it would be a prob­lem to find a com­pat­i­ble oil. Suf­fice to say we will be re­search­ing the equiv­a­lent spec­i­fi­ca­tion of oil you can get in each coun­try be­fore we set off again.

Thus far on the jour­ney we have had no

“I ap­proach the main­te­nance of the De­fender in a very mil­i­tary way”

ma­jor is­sues with the De­fender. This is down to sev­eral fac­tors – the first be­ing that it is a rel­a­tively new car and when we set off it had just 30,000 miles on the clock. We made sure to source a good car and pushed our bud­get on this as we felt it was im­por­tant. Re­search was key as with ev­ery­thing and the Land Rover com­mu­nity has been a great help.

One of the most im­por­tant things to a has­sle-free jour­ney in my opinion is keep­ing the weight to a min­i­mum. This al­le­vi­ates added strains on the en­gine, which we have kept stan­dard, and of course helps with all the run­ning gear and sus­pen­sion. We up­rated as many of the bushes as we thought we needed to. In hind­sight, we should have swapped out every bush on the ve­hi­cle to Poly­bush due to the prob­lems we had in Mon­go­lia – we now own every Poly­bush avail­able for the 110.

We have also short­ened the ser­vice in­ter­vals in the hope to change the parts be­fore they break or go wrong. A com­plete fluid change is rel­a­tively sim­ple to do and doesn’t cost that much.

We did pay for full ser­vice at a Land Rover garage in Kaza­khstan and they did a great job but I also think that it is im­por­tant to do as much work my­self on the De­fender as pos­si­ble. The rea­son for this is that I then know how ev­ery­thing all goes to­gether. I can check the con­di­tion of old parts and just take the ex­tra time to learn more about the car and po­ten­tial fu­ture prob­lem. It should help with di­ag­nos­ing the dreaded rat­tles when driv­ing over­land as well. It will also save you quite a bit of cash.

So, when we go back to con­tinue our trip in Cam­bo­dia, I will be work­ing on the Land Rover in a pro­fes­sional garage where I can bor­row ramps and tools for a small charge. I will be fit­ting the Poly­bush bushes and at the same time all the ball joints and track rod ends will also be re­placed. I feel I might as well do the lot in one go when we find a de­cent area to do the work and hope­fully with them all done, I won’t have to do any ma­jor work for another 30,000 miles.

I ap­proach the main­te­nance of the De­fender in very mil­i­tary way. This was taught to me and used when serv­ing in the Paras. When on Mo­bil­ity Op­er­a­tions in Afghanistan, there was a rolling main­te­nance sched­ule of daily and weekly checks and a ser­vice in­ter­val that the ve­hi­cle me­chan­ics car­ried out. Your ve­hi­cle is your life­line. It is your gun plat­form, am­mu­ni­tion, water, food stor­age, shel­ter and means of trans­port. If it breaks down due to poor driv­ing or poor main­te­nance it’s just a has­sle that isn't needed.

So, to that end there is sys­tem of checks that the driver must carry out, re­gard­less of how tired he is. The rolling check is done as of­ten as pos­si­ble and con­sists of a gen­eral walk around and spot check of known po­ten­tial prob­lem com­po­nents and should take two to three min­utes. It must be done af­ter a water cross­ing and or se­ri­ous off-road ob­sta­cles.

Daily checks are com­pleted when in a safe har­bour lo­ca­tion for the night or day and is where a more thor­ough se­ries of checks are car­ried out that would take about an hour. A weekly check is done by the ve­hi­cle me­chanic on the ground and the ve­hi­cle is taken out of ac­tive duty when it re­quires a full ser­vice

Most peo­ple will al­ready do this with­out re­al­is­ing. Be­fore we set off, I wrote a list of things that needed to be done at each point and it has now be­came sec­ond na­ture. I would strongly ad­vise any­one who is con­sid­er­ing a long over­land trip to do the same.

One of the most dif­fi­cult things about on-the-road me­chan­ics is know­ing what the prob­lem is that needs fix­ing. As I get to know the car bet­ter, some of the more com­mon prob­lems are eas­ier to di­ag­nose. Oth­er­wise, the Land Rover com­mu­nity is a great source of in­for­ma­tion. All the en­thu­si­asts out there are great at shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and in­for­ma­tion which are very easy to ac­cess on the in­ter­net. Luck­ily there has not been many prob­lems I have not been able to fix. Fin­gers crossed it car­ries on for the rest of the trip.

HAY­DON BEND Hay­don Bend and his wife Me-an are en­joy­ing a hon­ey­moon with a dif­fer­ence – driv­ing over­land to Aus­tralia in a De­fender 110. Each month LRM is re­port­ing on their progress. For their lat­est news see op­long­drive.com

This Page: When the cou­ple go back to con­tinue their trip in Cam­bo­dia, Hay­don will be work­ing on the Land Rover in a pro­fes­sional garage – de­spite on­go­ing main­te­nance, 30,000 miles across ex­treme ter­rains takes its toll even when it is a De­fender

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