Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tenting tonight

Yup, got the tent up! It was the first thing to be removed when I started this whole renovation process many months ago. It hasn't been opened since - but now it's re-mounted. Repositioned, with new support bars, completely sorted.

And the kid got first go at spending a night in it (with some strong-arming persuasion and bribery). My turn's coming....

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The list

Sitting looking at Olivia recently, Favourite Man and I started to list the things we've sorted/fixed/added/taken away on Olivia. And it's absolutely incredible what we've achieved in 4 or so months!

I'm going to try list the things completed thus far here, though trawling my Picasa albums (here and here) might give a better indication of jobs we've done. Starting at the front:
  • Bumper modifications: cut down, sandblasted & galvanized, fog lights and fog light guards, tow hitch receiver and pin, vise securing point, new spotlight bar & spotlights (used the square ones originally on the roofrack), Moz triangle & reflective tape, re-inforcing inside
  • Lights: headlight grilles galvanized, new running light covers & bulbs, wiring sorted, light protectors secured with rivnuts, emergency flasher wiring connected to indicators
  • Grille area: grille repainted, ciggie lighter socket on exterior, new air horns, DIN plug just inside bonnet & cutoff switch for Anderson (Brad Harrison) plug in engine bay
  • Wings: holes closed with grommets, interior of wings painted black / protected, air intake for fan/heater painted and rivnutted in
  • Wheels/Tyres: all tyres & tubes checked & rotated, rims sandblasted and epoxy coated - including spares and one extra rim
  • Bonnet: spare carrier sandblasted and galvanized (and repaired), new support rubbers for spare, new sealing rubbers around bonnet, latch fixed, new rubbers for hinges
  • Windscreen: new windscreen acquired, sandblasted, epoxy-coated and inserted (with one new pane), new left windscreen wiper, new wiper blades, wiper washers work, air vents below windscreen got new rubber seals all round
  • Engine bay: Anderson (Brad Harrison) plug installed, new vacuum advance rubber, new oil hose/seal, carb sorted/cleaned, thicker wiring from alternator - upgraded alternator!, new wiring looms, assorted relays and a fuse box, new solenoid, heater/fan unit fixed & replaced, new washer pump, washer jets and tubes sorted out, wiring run in protective tubing, more wiring wrapped with insulation tape, clutch cylinder looked at (still to be sorted out), entire engine cleaned (by hand), oil changed (twice), radiator flushed, thermostat fixed/modified, new choke switch, choke secured
  • Axle/Hub level: everything cleaned, front leafsprings reconditioned, spring hanger bushes replaced (*shudder*), new steering damper, brakes adjusted, axle & diff oils replaced, axles & diffs painted/protected, back hub oil seal replaced, back axles checked, new back hub gaskets inserted
  • Underside: cleaned, painted/protected, petrol tanks sorted (main and spare removed and cleaned), sender units for tanks checked and/or replaced, tank gaskets on, spare tank modified and fabricated to be refit, wiring run all over the place in protective tubing
  • Back crossmember: modified to take new fog light, emergency flashers, re-aligned tow plug, brand new tow hitch (custom-made), extra strengthening inside, wiring redone and secured
  • Back door area: new door seals, back door interior floor strip galvanized, window guard removed, lock fixed, door height and lock adjusted to close properly, back side windows removed and replaced with chequerplate, new spare cover, numberplate light, reverse light, new light guard (custom-made), all light guards galvanized, high-level emergency flasher lights, old reflective tape removed, hi-lift jack back in its place, new stickers for "80", "ZA" and new call VHF sign "Z117", numberplate properly secured, exterior ciggie lighter socket on back side
  • Roofrack: removed, cut down, sandblasted, galvanized, ladder & attachments all round galvanized, wiring run inside back to front for lights etc., tripod mounts added, new support struts welded in, aerial supports welded in, back work light support plate and light attached, exterior ciggie lighter plug and switch on work light, supports for axe & spade crafted, axe & spade modified and pimped & securely attached, awning back on & checked, awning locked to roofrack, front spots (x4), front LEDs (custom-made! x4), aerials (VHF, 29MHz, 2x cellphone, GPS), numberplate moved to roofrack on galvanized plate & properly secured
  • Roof: new bolts for safari roof, old reflective tape removed, perished gutter mastic removed and replaced with silicone
  • Windows: all chequerplate removed, back right window glass removed & replaced with chequerplate, rivet holes sealed, stickers on side back window (, tracks4africa, LROC membership, ORRA membership), window locking mechanism on driver's side fixed
  • Doors: new rubber seals all round, new door bolts where necessary, new shims, all doors aligned as best possible, inside of doors painted black to match interior, handles etc painted silver with cold galv, mirrors tightened up and checked
  • Interior: roof lining removed & cleaned, interior roof painted with protectacoat & checked for leaks, all old storage removed along with aluminium runners and gutter-level shelving, stainless steel water tank removed & hole plugged, all old wiring removed (especially that to the second battery...). Second battery relocated into back wheel-arch along with fuse box (x2), inverter, Anderson (Brad Harrison) plug, interior ciggie lighter socket, switch for exterior ciggie lighter, relays and wiring points from the front. New back interior light and fixed above-seats light, new wiring to two points behind the C-pillar (one for inverter-fed 3-point plug, switch and indicator light, other for 3-point ciggie light socket). Everything including and forward of the back footwells protectacoated black. Seats reupholstered, under-seat panels sandblasted and painted black, panel above transfer box removed, new inertia-reel seatbelts and seatbelt stalks. Secure box made to fit over transfer box sunk into seat box (safe & cubby still being made), extra wiring run for future use inside box, temporary top made. All levers & pedal stalks repainted, new tops for red/yellow, reverse light switch wired in to gear lever, spring for clutch pedal. New centre dashboard made, wired up (with LOTS of stuff! see pic), new switches on main dash for washer units, fan/heater, all switches checked, a couple of bits replaced (sender unit), speedo cable removed & greased & works!, brights indicator light replaced, new oil pressure & temp guages, new dashboard plumbing for heating/cooling, dash top re-upholstered, GPS mount secured, new indicator stalk, steering wheel reconditioned & painted, connection point for laptop/GPS, LifeHammer attached to bulkhead, VIN plates re-attached, new cut-off switch on bulkhead for second-battery starting, torch mounts re-attached to bulkhead. Shelf above windscreen painted, strengthened, wiring run to front, 29Mhz radio with new speaker, map light on shelf bottom, rear-view mirror re-attached, wiring for cellphones and GPS run, WorldSpace radio wiring run & bracket secured.
  • Various: all locks checked and "smoothed" to operate properly, every bolt & nut that can be is galvanized, spares sorted - old stuff chucked and new stuff categorized, new toolbox (yay! :-) ), essential items in ammo boxes in Olivia for daily travel.
A lot of these seem like minor items - but typing out something like "wiring run for hazards" doesn't begin to cover the time and money spent, the hassles behind the job, the do and re-do that crops up or the "yet another problem" uncovered along the way. To have done all this in a mere few months is a Very Big Thing, and the fact that Favourite Man has done it basically single-handedly while I trudge off to the office each day is absolutely enormous!

The project's not done yet. There's rocksliders being manufactured as I type this, there's the cubby box to organize, there's storage and layout to sort still. There are issues with the engine (will have to replace it sooner rather than later) and tyres (new ones urgently required), there is a horrific fuel consumption to fix, and the main petrol tank remains in the back yard awaiting its turn at re-insertion. There are a few other goodies that will be added - a high-level brake light is required, the roofrack needs chequerplate flooring - and there's always something that needs fixing.

But that's the list off the top of my head. And what a list it is.

Photoblog: Lights

This amazing pic courtesy Favourite Man, who definitely has an eye for the perfect shot

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The Land Rover Monthly magazine, January 2008 edition is out. Olivia has a 2-page spread around p 160...!

Wow. She's famous!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Ride Baby!

This is the vehicle I'm driving today. A UK-registered 300TDi that's seen some hard adventure action.

Nope, I haven't traded in the O-beast. She's sitting at home, carb-less thanks to an experiment in reconditioning by the owner of the above vehicle last night, which left her unable to go anywhere until certain things are fixed.... So today I'm driving his truck while he's overnighting in Cape Town.

The truck was shipped out by a 70-ish-old couple from the UK for their third 6-month trip in it, arriving and leaving from Namibia. It's dusty, it's dirty, it's got things that are threatening to part company with each other and the truck, it's fully overland kitted, it's been-there-done-that. It's a serious Landy, a REAL Landy.

It's my first shot at Defender driving, and my first experience with the 300TDi engine. I'm impressed with the power it has - even loaded down that much it tackled hills that both Olivia and Favourite Man's Discovery 2 TD5 can't handle well. The 5-speed gearbox and close gear changes took some getting used to, but it moves excellently. And needless to say it's the coolest thing on in traffic today :-)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Never-ending Story

Nope not the movie(s). The ongoing saga of fixing up Olivia. We signed off the big jobs last week and have had to redefine what to do with our spare time ever since! Well, sorta...

You see - this is a Land Rover. An old Land Rover - and something is always falling apart, failing, unexpectedly giving up or springing a leak. Leaks were the Big Thing this week - namely the discovery that the Safari roof is leaking at the join with the body in the gutter. All the old waterproofing putty stuff is either missing, cracked or peeling off. So it's been hauled out with a few impliments of torture and silicone inserted all-round.

Or it would be if the rain hadn't decided to unseasonally cause local flooding, close highways, and generally dump half the ocean on us. So now we wait for the seam to dry out, hoping it doesn't rain any more. The good news is that the little bit we did works well - but we'd really like to get this thing behind us!

Meantime there's electrics to sort out. There's random unexplained issues that keep cropping up. And there's still a rear fuel tank in the back yard.

One never runs out of things to do when one owns a Landy...

Tip Jar

There's a new button to the right of this blog - a MoneyBookers "tip jar". Planning Olivia's adventures is turning into an expensive business and I've realized I can't do it alone. If you'd like to contribute to keeping the adventures coming, leave her a tip! The more tips, the more adventures - and the more you'll have to read right here... :-) You can send your tip in any currency, from anywhere in the world.

Olivia thanks you - see you off the beaten track!

So.. what's in it for you? Well, for a donation of 10GBP/USD or more, I'll send you something by Real Snail Mail from the adventure you helped to fund. It could be a postcard, it could be an item found along the way, it could be anything! Go on - when last did you get snail mail? :-)

Friday, November 16, 2007

On the road again

Yes, it's true - Olivia is back on the road! We completed the final big jobs last night, took her for a celebratory test drive to a rather wind-swept beach, checked the spotlight focus, and this morning I drove her to work.

She's heavier, she's WAY cooler, she's pimped out properly, and she starts immediately. She's a very different truck. There are still a few small jobs awaiting attention, but she's no longer standing forlonely around in pieces. She's smartly footing it down the roads, daring any BMW driver to cut in front of her (beware the lights, the "fog horn" hooter, the really strong bumper...).

Favourite Man has done awesome things on that truck. He's put blood, sweat and tears into her. She's a ride worthy of admiration from all! And I'm grinning again.

I'm also starting to plan some adventures, dream again. There's some very good stuff in store.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coming together

Olivia's coming together very quickly! Last night the renewed roofrack went on. Every day we're another step closer to being back on the road... and making one helluva impression in the process.

Friday, October 19, 2007


August 29. That's the last time I drove Olivia (doorless / to work). Nearly 2 months.

I've nearly forgotten what it's like to drive her - how she feels, how she responds, the instinctive turning circle calculations required on entering or exiting a parking space. I've nearly forgotten the noise, the heat radiating through the firewall, the feel of every bump in the road, the sensation of being overtaken by all except the slowest trucks. I've nearly forgotten the rush, the pleasure, the absolute joy of driving my very cool Landy.

I miss her.... but it's not long now. At least I hope so.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Letting Go

I'm feeling a little bit nostalgic today.

Last week Olivia's old windscreen went to the scrap metal recylcers. It was so shot full of rust that there was no chance of rescuing it or reselling it. The new windscreen doesn't have a unusually thick middle bit, nor does it flap down. It's not army green inside and blue outside, it doesn't leak. There are no handles at odd places to move things, nor screws and bolts to control the flap. Just an expanse of glass that's pretty panoramic by comparison!

I'm all nostalgic over that windscreen, although I do like the new one muchly.

Today the hooter went to a new owner - it's been replaced with the loudest air horns you'll ever hear, which we keep setting off by accident when leaning across to do things on the dash. That's Olivia's old voice gone - to a very good home, and another Olivia, but still. I won't forget the first time I found out it worked. Also by mistake :-)

I'm all nostalgic over that hooter, although I do like the thought of emptying the bowels via soundwaves of any BMW driver that cuts me off in future.

Olvia's looking the business - she's going to be absolutely awesome when she's done. I know letting go of some of her old bits is part of the process, but it's still sometimes hard to do.

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Next Land Rover...

...will be bog-basic, old and battered, a short-wheel-base beast that I've rescued from neglect and taken home to love. It will look like it's about to fall apart, but the engine will be completely sorted and ticking over beautifully. It will probably have a dashboard filled with water bottles, bits of string, an odd bolt or two and tree-rings of dust from the places I've been lately. I might deign to take a hosepipe to it once a year to find out what colour the paint is. It may have enough seats for passengers, or you may just need to hold on tight wherever you find a place for your butt. I'll think nothing of throwing a surfboard, a load of compost, a few dogs or some rescued wood in the back - the paintwork won't matter, nor will sand, dirt or dog-slobber. It may not have a roof. It may only just conform to roadworthy standards. It will definitely be a working vehicle that won't be afraid to go play in the mud. I'll love driving it, in spite of the need to keep a dry change of clothes and a towel handy in winter, simply because it's a Landy.


...will be a Defender 90, smart as a button, perhaps in black or gunmetal grey. No leaks, no major rattles, and the luxury of hearing a radio over engine noise. It will probably have carpets and properly upholstered seats. It may be pimped (just a little - OK, enough to make a statement). It will be capable of going offroad whenever it wants to - but will generally serve as a comfortable daily ride. My son and his friends will fit in on proper seats with working seatbelts, and not get their clothes dirty during the ride or be unable to hold a conversation. It will handle hills in style and make a statement in traffic. It will not break down regularly, and I will not get into it with an adrenalin-induced fear of the unkown before every trip. I will be able to go out in it wearing evening dress or working clothes. It may have a dog-guard (and carpet protectors). It might even have aircon and central locking. It may or may not have flames down the side :-) I'll love driving it, simply because it's a Landy.

And Olivia? Olivia's part of the family. She stays, regardless.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Hey, at least she has a windscreen now! :-)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Since I posted the thing below, I've been mulling the whole "I'm A Girl" attitude. It runs a lot deeper than merely not being able to turn a wheel nut.

But here's the thing. I didn't start this project to give up simply because I'm a girl. I've battled through challenges in the past, and I aim to do so again. I'm not your average chick.

Yes, it will take longer as I have to figure things out and learn them for myself. Yes, I may make mistakes that will perhaps cost time or money. Yes, it will take more effort - but hey, my muscles were created to work. Yes, I may get frustrated or be frustrating to others as things don't happen quickly enough or in the prescribed manner. There's more than one right way to do things sometimes and I have to find what works for me.

But this chick ain't done yet. And she's not going to lie down and play dead either. Once this project's done, there will be another one waiting in the wings, which I look forward to with relish (in fact it's already in the quietly-planning stage).

So be it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I've been a single mom for nearly 15 years. During that time I've learnt that there is generally no-one else around to:

a) open jars
b) lift heavy things
c) change light bulbs

So I've ended up learning how to do it all myself or it doesn't get done at all - and taking pride in the fact that I can. I like feeling the muscles working, surprising the general public with what I can accomplish, and giving a good few guys a run for their money in their own domain.

Same thing when it comes to sorting out Olivia. I've wrestled some pretty heavy stuff off of her (one of which recently got someone very p'd off 'cos they reckoned I shouldn't attempt it without help). I've fixed things, I've adjusted things, I've boldly gone where some refuse to. And even if it takes me a bit longer to both figure out and achieve, I've done it.

But now and then I get very frustrated at being a Girl. At NOT being able to do things.

Case in point - Monday night. It was leaf-spring removal time, as the front springs were due to be reconditioned the next day. We started late, and it was a very difficult, dangerous job. I spent much of the time just holding a worklight, fetching tools, making mistakes when I misheard instructions, and hoping the truck wouldn't crush the boyfriend. It took a lot of willpower not to get under there and help (I'm used to doing it myself, remember, and not used to being an assistant) - but it would have been more of a hinderance than anything else.

I did, however, get given one job to do. Take off the wheels. And that's where it got really frustrating. I simply didn't have the ability to undo those wheel nuts - especially when the tyre kept turning around up in the air, balanced on the axle stands. I had neither the power and height to keep it still nor the muscle to loosen those nuts at the same time. And it made me really really angry.

Yes, that sounds silly. Yes, it was even sillier for me to want to burst into tears when the nuts wouldn't turn and the wheel did. And the ultimate in silliness that I got p'd off when the boyfriend accomplished that task so easily it made me look like a complete and utter idiot.

But these things happen. The truth is that I am a girl. And not a tall one either. Sometimes there are things I can't do, no matter how much I try. I'm not superwoman, I'm not the do-anything chick. I just have to learn to deal with that fact and not try to get everything right all of the time.

Then move on to focus on the stuff I am good at. Stuff that only girls do well.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Photographic Evidence

There's been a lot of work going on with Olivia lately! But I haven't had a chance to blog it - instead I've taken all the photos I've posted to one forum, detailing her re-do, and stuck them here. Descriptions to be added eventually.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Even more stripped...

Just when I thought she couldn't get any more stripped, here's what Olivia currently looks like.

The new windscreen goes in soon, but until then she's not going anywhere. We were considering just taking out the remaining door at the back, then hitting the highway to see what speed is required to make her fly! :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Natural Aircon

If I thought Olivia was stripped before, I was wrong. Here's how I drove to work today, VERY securely strapped in...!

My 5-door model is currently a 1-door :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Olivia is bare.

There isn't a rivet, bolt, nut, piece of rubber, silicone or cable tie left unless it's holding something essential.

The roof lining is out. The chequer plate is off (except for 3 pieces now modified and permanently back on - see below). Windows that were covered for years saw daylight - some of them came out completely. There's no grill, no bumper, no roofrack, no spare carrier (or spare!), no tow hitch, no trailer plug, no back step, no side skirts, no water tanks, no fire extinguishers, no storage, no curtains, no window grilles.... Inside there aren't even floors in some parts! With two of the three fuel tanks out, it's easy to see the road flashing by, the gears working, the propshafts turning. Quite scary stuff until you get used to it.

The only thing left intact, not to be removed during this process, is the dreamcatcher on the rear-view mirror.

Now the hard work starts. All those Landy bits all over the house, and the ones that aren't yet made / acquired - they all have to go back in. There are a few bits that are already renewed. Safari roof bolts, front vent seals, bonnet spare rubbers (and rubber seal around the inside of the bonnet), newly-galvanized light guards, new running lights at front, numberplate light at back - and a reverse light! Both back side windows are now smartly chequer-plated. The left-back window has had glass removed and is now chequer-plated - but the right-hand one remains, as there are plans afoot on that side. Body panels have been aligned / secured - and in the process we discovered she used to be a bakkie (open truck)! Behind the grill is anti-rustworm paint, which is going on the length of the chassis along with 2 other protective substances.

Everything that can be galvanized / electroplated has been. There are boxes of goodies to tackle and place, to modify and fit. There's a new windscreen that we keep falling over. The roofrack, bumper, light bars, storage and rockslider metal bits are tripping us up in the yard. This is still one very big job - and less than a month before we leave for Sani...

Meantime Olivia's light as a feather, bouncing all over the road, zooming instead of toddling. If we don't start weighing her down soon, she may fly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Photoblog: Olivia goes Off-Roading

We took Olivia up the Two Oceans 4x4 Trail on Thursday as a learning curve and test run for Sani Pass. So far so good! :-)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bat out of hell

Livi's back from the hospital, had her new exhaust fitted and is going like a BOMB! Absolutely brilliant with a roar to die for and much more power. Of course that has me pushing her up hills at speeds she hasn't done before - but checking her speedo against a GPS it seems she hasn't been doing what I thought she was doing anyway....!

This weekend a lot of work was done on her and on her bits. She's looking quite different, and there's more bits of metal lying around the yard. We also managed to set the rubbish bin alight in the process, and had quite the fire going before we noticed what was going on. But there's progress. A lot of progress.

And I've just heard there's a new windscreen on its way home.

This week I was due to be working on her with Favourite Man, but we're still awaiting various bits and pieces, so I've transferred leave to next week instead. I'll use this one to rest up... :-) I suspect I'm going to need it. Favourite Man is a very hard taskmaster, and I'll be running to keep up.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Picky Olivia

There were big things afoot for Olivia today. I took another Landy to work so she could go in to have her new exhaust fitted etc etc etc. Olivia - as Olivia does - had other plans. She first refused to start until I rushed back and gave her some personal attention (with the help of her new Landy friend). And then she conked. She disagreed with having Favourite Man in the driver's seat (or some such silliness) and gave up going forward half-way to her destination.

She's now in hospital (thanks to yet another Toy-Tow), having a couple things attended to. That'll teach her to be picky about who drives her!

She'd better get used to Favourite Man - he's not going to just give up and go away. Or at least I hope not.. :-) There's still a lot of fiddling with her bits to be done. All good, so she need not fear.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Here we go...

Olivia is about to get sorted in ways she didn't even know were possible! A lot of work will be happening very soon in a mad flurry of activity. Watch this space... :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Technology for Series Landies

I've just found the most awesome Series upgrade! Now my Landy can use computerised diagnostics too!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Up and Down we go

Olivia loves wet weather. She hates cold. This morning was perfect - it rained most of the night so everything was still damp when I left for work. But it was warm! She went absolutely beautifully.

But there are times when you're scared to drive, and when after an hour of trying to breathe deeply once you get home you're still a little shakey.

Today is one of those days.

There was that "sigh" from the engine just before I hit town, the merest hiccup in power - and immediately I went from relaxed & driving to tense & listening. There's very little place to pull off until a certain point, and I hadn't checked fuel levels (fuel guage is kinda stuck on half-tank). First garage I came to was where I pulled over and did just that. Still have fuel. Check spark - nothing loose, still have spark. But had had a few more very little judders between the first sigh and the garage. The only culprit I could imagine is the vacuum advance, which is awaiting a new rubber seal on the end and is currently functioning with duct tape. So after sitting for a bit and gathering my courage, I gingerly headed home. Of course I would get stuck behind a tannie with a gigantic fern in the back of her car who seems to have learnt to drive when the speed limit was still 10. And then some chick in a Renault who slammed on brakes for everything - notwithstanding the Landy creeping up her arse. But we made it. Engine sounding "sloshy" again, but we made it.

Last time it did that I needed to stick in oil, and did so again today. I hope that's what the issue was (for now). It's not that it's run out, it's just that it's low - and using up oil a lot. I really need to get that compression test, the banjo bolt washers, the vacuum advance rubber... If only I didn't have to contend with office hours. :-)

So we're home. I sat on her wing in the last of the sun for an hour as the engine slowly cooled. Taking deep breaths, trying to stop shaking with terror at what might/could have happen/ed. And trying not to remember that tomorrow is Friday the 13th.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New Landy

I've just acquired a white Defender! Always wanted one... :-)

Go O Go

Olivia has been going fantastically lately! Replacing the distributor cap and HT leads made a world of difference to her power, and greasing the UJs helped with forward motion too. There's an oil change planned for tomorrow, but she's just been driving so well lately.

Yesterday I hit some hills in 4th where she would have struggled up in 3rd. Coming home from supper out, it was like driving the Ford (which is still standing broken, a month later) - easy to move, easy to steer, just feeling all-round great. I got home with a grin on my face.

She'll never be speedy. I like the sedate and dignified pace that allows me to enjoy the scenery. She'll never be light. But she's doing better on fuel consumption this week. She'll never be small - but zippy is overrated.

Go, Olivia, Go!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

True to form

The good news is I didn't fall out of Olivia.

The bad news is I managed to crush a knuckle with one of the larger leaf-springs... but I'll live. 'Nother day, 'nother injury. Usual stuff.

I did get a lot done on her today - from door straightening to some wire-removal to a look at the banjo bolt. So progress has been made and clothing will be washed.

I'm going to feel this one tomorrow!

Saturday, June 30, 2007


* Olivia loves the wet. She goes better when it's raining than when it's not. Well, except for the waterfall behind the accelorater and out of the top of the windscreen, but that's minor.

* My squealing brakes are normal! I've just been watching some Series III clips on YouTube, and their brakes sound exactly the same as mine when I have to hit them suddenly.

* You're never done fixing a Landy. I have a long to-do list for tomorrow...

* Sometimes it's better you don't know how serious problems are. I have given one poor bloke a near heart-attack describing the colour of my clutch fluid. And others are horrified by the duct tape / wiring issues / spark-plugs etc. Most of which I correct as soon as I know what the heck is wrong.

* I'm loving the Landy-driving vibe. Get a kick out of every Landy driver who gives me "the wave". Also getting a kick out of those who grin at me when they see me getting into/out of the beast. Today it was a wistful look from an older gent surrounded by his family - who was getting into a thoroughly modern and practical 4x4. There's something to be said for driving an impractical but very cool truck - a touch of the romantic that dares to dream (that you'll make it home).

* I really hope I don't fall out of Olivia again this weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Long and Winding road

I drove Olivia to work today after having her standing since Monday. Those electrical issues completely drained the battery, which took nearly 2 days to recharge. But once that was done, she turned over pretty quickly.

After a big incident like this, I'm always hesitant to take on lengthy travel. Any sign of a problem and I'm ready to turn around, just in case. This morning she jerked twice on the way through town. I turned off down a side street, had a look in the engine, and then gave it "around the block" to do it again. It didn't - so onwards it was.


Listening every metre of the way for anything that might be wrong... Got here tense and tired, sommer first thing in the morning. But happy to have her back on the road.

The engine's running rough-feeling, vibrating more than it should (or perhaps it's the axles, wheels, whatever) - will be checking a few things this weekend. I'm topping up oils and water at lunchtime to make sure they're good to go (replaced a water pipe recently). I'll tighten and/or replace the fanbelt this weekend too. I may approach the axles with fear and trepidation and a grease-gun - another learning curve awaits there.

But I'm here at work on my own steam for the first time this week. My big block of blue (also called the "bokwa" or "sardine tin", depending on how badly she's playing up) is standing in her usual place, gently leaking oil. Hey, it's a Landy - it does that. One trip home - ALL the way home - and we'll be sorted for the weekend.

Holding thumbs that it won't be a mission.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

..or not

And then I remembered why I love Olivia:

Life is never dull when you've got a Landy. :-)

Buy a Horse - take 2

There are days when I love my Landy. When I'm tootling along in traffic and all is going well. Then there are days like this.

Due to my own stupidity, as I turned the "battery on" key on Monday morning something blew up in the engine in a puff of electric smoke. Wires melting, the works. Hitched a lift with my ever-tolerant boss, and again on Tuesday 'cos it was too dark to investigate when I got home on Monday.

Tuesday evening I had enough daylight left to spot the problem within 3 seconds and correct it. No more melting wires!

And then came today...

Olivia's been standing for 2 days. She struggles to get going in the mornings at the best of times, even more so when it's in the single digits weather-wise. I had let the boss know I'd be in late (off to collect some new cables for the melted ones on the way in, and had to wait for shops to open) - but after 3 hours of trying to start her, I gave up. The battery was completely dead, as were the two others I put in to boost the charge. She nearly caught - but not. Meantime I missed 2 important meetings and get to work at home again. OK - I'm getting a lot done, but still.

I admit it. Today I'm peeved and frustrated. I don't have the second car for emergencies like this (nor the cash to fix it - food takes priority). That car isn't the most reliable anyway. Some days I wonder what I'm thinking attempting to commute in a 30-year old Land Rover. Most days I'm sure my colleagues wonder the same.

Yes, things will be better tomorrow. The battery (well, all 3 of the damn things) will be charged and good to go. I'll be at my desk before the sun makes its appearance again. I'll put in my full day and get to attend the other important meeting.

But today I think I want a horse.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I'm tempted to say "this one's for John" - but I'd kinda like to keep my job ... ;-)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Driving Ms Livi - take 2

So there I was, tootling along in rush-hour traffic (collecting assorted vehicles behind me) today and it struck me. I'm really really enjoying driving Ms Livi! I've finally gotten over the listening-for-something-about-to-break, feeling-every-bump tension that had me tired out after a half-hour drive of gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles.

I've gotten the hang of the gears - both up and down. I know my braking distance (oh, how they squeal if I have to dive on them!). I've figured out how many 3-point turns it takes to get into and out of spots. I'm quite content to hurtle up the landscape side of the yellow line on a hill at 40km an hour in 3rd while traffic zooms past me (singing "Sexbomb" at the top of my lungs and waving at passing farm workers on open trucks). The timing is ticking over properly. The idle speed is perfect. Starting is coming along (though she doesn't like mornings). And my limited field of view no longer bugs me.

Fellow Landy-drivers are still skimping on the Landy-wave, but I've had a couple from guys in older models. I've had people check my cool ride out at traffic lights and in parking lots. I've had petrol pump attendants ogling her flag stickers, her tanks under the seats, and peering into her interior (a regular occurance - I've just filled up for the second time this week!). I've had old blokes tell me they dig my vehicle, and the "manne" in Autozone squiz at her out the door. She's unique, stands out in a crowd, nothing else like her around here.

But beyond that I'm now comfortable in the saddle. Although I do seem to tend to slide off toward the middle every now and then, I'm happy in the driver's seat. So what if it takes me a little longer to go places. I'm finally - really - a Landy driver.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I hear that I was quite the tourist attraction last week! :-) Our offices overlook the parking area where I was over/under/in Olivia attempting to fix her in the rain, and apparently I attracted a lurking, commenting crowd in the safe warmth of the building! (No, I wouldn't ask them for help - they know computers, and Olivia doesn't have one)

A colleague told me she saw the Landy swallowing me when I set the idle speed on my way home one day and was highly amused.

Yup, I regularly make a spectacle of myself working on Olivia. I've gotten to know more neighbours (and their dogs) working on her outside than I ever would have simply living in our new place.

So nope, I don't mind being hunkered down in the rain and leftover petrol under her. I don't mind the occasional grease smear I only notice hours later on clothing or face. I don't mind being watched from windows, nor looked at with a sense of amazement when I turn up between the men at Autozone with a part in my grimy hand (spanner in the other) - newly hauled out my engine in front of the place - and seeking "one of these please".

The thing is this - I enjoy working on my truck. I love figuring out her innards, whether I get it right myself or have to call on an expert. I like knowing what goes on in the beast, even if it leaves me a little dirty around the edges.

Fact is, she's one Very Cool Vehicle - and I'm proud of her.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

It's the little things

This fine gentleman drove a long way on Saturday morning to take a look inside Olivia's engine bay, and by the time he left, she was on the go again!

So what was the issue? Well - something small. A loose and frayed wire in the distributor. And once that was put together again, it was discovered that I hadn't put 3 of the spark plugs in quite tight enough, so they weren't doing too great. That was sorted out chop-chop.

I haven't driven further than around the block to park her in her usual spot. Tomorrow I'm working from home and have also been given time to sort out the cars. I'll be going down the road to find a new distributor wire, pick up cage nuts and get the timing sorted out. The Ford will most likely be towed in to the mechanic too (suspected head gasket blown...).

I'm very glad to know it wasn't something huge that was the problem. And I know just the tiniest bit more about the electrics now too.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Towing a Toyota

I have the most incredible Land Rover. Not only can it tow a Toyota using a rope, from behind - but it does it with the engine off too! Really fast - just look at the scenery whizzing by.

This is all part of the Land Rover quest to be environmentally friendly of course. To save on emissions and offset the damage caused by SUVs, Monday, Wednesday and Friday are "Tow a Toyota" day, while Tuesday and Thursday are "Be Towed by a Toyota" day. This cuts down on the damage to the planet immensely*.

Yes, Olivia's been in breakdown mode again this week. Completely died when nearly at work on Tuesday. I've been hauling parts, catching a lift in with my oh-so-patient boss and home again - but I just can't get her going. I'm going to have to ask an expert to sort her out in the new week. This one is beyond me. Meantime the boss and I braved traffic to bring her home on a rainy Friday afternoon. You know, for a Toyota driver he's not a bad chap! :-)

* with thanks to a fellow Land Rover owner for this particular explanation.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's what Mother's Day looks like when you're possessed by a Landy... :-)

Monday, May 07, 2007


Olivia's looking very small without her top bits!

If you have LRUK membership and want to amuse yourself at my learning-curve expense, you can follow my progress here.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Battered & Bruised, but Started!

Well I've done it - started work in earnest on Olivia! And boy, am I feeling it this morning....

I've decided to get her into daily-drive mode as soon as I can, but also sort her out front to back. Although the entire tale is related elsewhere, I'll update this blog with the basics now and then.

Yesterday I took off the rooftop tent. Single-handedly. Bit of a mission! But it's now stowed safely. And found some interesting things inside when I opened it up...

I also started removing the roofrack, which will either be replaced or will be sandblasted, hot-dipped/galvanized and perhaps reworked slightly - at the moment it's straining the bodywork thanks to how it's attached at front and the driver's door has closing issues as a result.

The kid will have the job of sanding and refinishing all the teak boards - but he doesn't know yet :-)

I also removed a square of rusty metal mesh behind the grill - mere cosmetic surgery.

Unfortunately the roofrack is still in place, as I first have to remove the spots and their wiring before I can take it off, but (weather permitting - or perhaps in spite of the weather) that gets done after work today.

Crawling around on knobbly teak boards, reaching far up to undo bolts, hauling a tent off the roof - these take their toll. I'm now bruised randomly from knee to ankle. And in various other parts. Stiff to the point of needing an extended massage (could do with one, stiff or not). Sleeping last night was a mission - every time I turned over I hit another scrape or dent I'd forgotten about!

But it's started. Olivia's getting organized. My favourite expert will be redoing the wiring and pimping other things I know little about. Who knows - she may even get a coat of paint!

(meet my little helpers)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Timing is Everything

This is a bit of a double-barrelled post.

Firstly, yes - I do need to sort out the timing on Olivia. I've been looking long and hard for a local Series specialist who can give me a push in the right direction by doing a thorough test of a number of things, and a change of a few other things. I may have found one - if I can just get him to talk to me. And timing will be sorted.

But there's another timing issue here too. I'm still settling into the new job/home routine and my weekends, which used to be mostly free to do whatever whenever, have become filled up with other things. Clogged up, more like it - leaving me a lot less time than I'd like to work on Olivia, to get her to where I want her to be in terms of becoming my daily drive.

I sit here and can see her right outside my window, patiently waiting for attention. I get going on small jobs now and then, but I'm still struggling to fit in the big ones, to cut off one large block of a day and tackle the to-do list.

Tonight I'm feeling especially guilty. I'm not going to have everything done in time to join the Landy expidition on Friday that I was hoping to. I can give you the long list of excuses as to why, but it boils down to Timing. Both Olivia's and mine.

I'll get it right eventually....I have to. Before I get any more frustrated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bright & Shiny

Olivia got a new tow-plug yesterday!

Here's before:

And here's after!

Took some doing, but it looks great.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bad Owner

I've been doing penance... I've been very very bad.

The issue is, I let Olivia stand for two months without even starting her. After the tyre-changing episode I heaved a big sigh and let grass grow around her. Until last night.

Last night I was in desperate need of a bit of peace & quiet, a place to think - so I headed off to sit in Olivia a bit and talk to the old girl, tell her all my problems - from "I'm an idiot" to "what am I going to do?". She's a very good listener, and gave me the most fantastic sunset view through her split screen to inspire and comfort me.

While there I thought I'd better see if she'd start. Anticipating problems after such a long stand, perhaps battery, or turn-over-and-die.


She started! Almost immediately! She must have loved getting attention again and decided to give me some back!

So while I was sitting there, I looked up at the Ford - he of the "what the heck is wrong now?" daily drive. And wondered... I'm pretty sure I can get the last few goodies on Olivia sorted out and make her my daily drive instead! Sell the Ford (it does need to go), and still have something to mosey around in. Mosey it will be - ain't going nowhere fast in this particular Landy.

So I think she's forgiven me for being a bad owner. For neglecting and deserting her for an entire 2 months. For not giving her enough love and attention.

Now if only I can convince my fellow Landy-owners that I've reformed.. :-)

Sunday, March 04, 2007


I had the opportunity to take a load of photos of Olivia today, so thought I'd post a few here.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mini Filter

The "Things on the Back Wheels"

A lot of folk have asked "What the heck are those things on your back wheels?" when they see Olivia for the first time.

They're wheel hub winches. The simplest form of getting out of a sticky situation. Straps attach with pins to the barrel shape on the back wheels, then to a third point - and "roll up" as you go, moving you out of whatever you've got into. Well, that's the theory anyway. I really only found out about it myself after spotting an explaination in a LRO magazine.

Brilliantly simple!

Yesterday I took some pics for a friend who's interested in trying to make some, so thought I'd share.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stand in the place where you were...

I've been very bad. I haven't touched Olivia in the past few weeks. That to-do list is no closer to completion at all! My time has been taken up with other things, and then there's the recent scorching heat that makes lying under a chunk of metal hardly the most pleasant of options.

Thing is, I can't delay much longer. There are places to go to, people to see, and they require that I turn up in a Landy, not a Ford. So will have to get to it sooner rather than later.

I've found out a few truths about owning 2 cars though:

* One of them is always likely to have petrol
* One of them is always going to need something fixed

The trick is to make sure you have one that both has petrol AND is fixed at the same time! Still working on that.. :-)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


OK, I'm over that whole "I can't do this" thing (for now... :-) ). Would be a bit silly to have a Landy sitting outside and be too scared to touch it, so I really have no choice but to just move forward.


Got a couple of things I want to do in the next few weeks, time and cash permitting.

* Still haven't done a complete oil change - I merely topped up what was there. So I've got to get around to doing that, and change the oil filter in the engine bay too.

* I've changed 3 out of 6 spark plugs. Doing the rest requires removing the bonnet, a task for which I haven't had the wherewithall up to now. Will pick a good day and get the darn things finished.

* The last trip back from our Mall Experience had me worried about a slight jerkiness - don't know if the oil change and spark plug completion will help, but I suspect the timing needs sorting asap. My regular mechanic may or may not still be around - if he isn't I'm going to need to find someone else to help me with that one. Then again, would be good to have a knowledgeable Series bloke handy anyway!

* If I had complete and utter confidence in my abilities (as well as a tall covered space to work in), I'd probably get around to taking the entire engine apart and putting it back together again - but not just yet.. :-) However, there are a few things I still want to check up on. And for that I need to use the engine cleaner I bought, and scrub everything clean. That will probably show up all sorts of lovely oil leaks and give me endless fun on the weekends attempting to minimize them. (The thing about owning a Landy is that you're never bored - there's always something new to do)

* I still have to find a place that will replace the tube in that tyre that deflated. I don't have an option to go over to tubeless (cost!), nor do I want to. Tubes seem the better option generally speaking - unless someone can tell me otherwise.

* I have yet to open the rooftop tent. That should be a day's adventure all it's own!

So my list of to-do's is still lengthy, and bit by bit I'm getting around to it. Although I'd love to be bowling along in the Landy each week, I'd rather know I've sorted out the niggles first. After all, my previous rescuer is no longer available, and it's a long walk home! :-)

Monday, January 08, 2007


There are days when owning an old Landy is very intimidating. I put on a good show, but sometimes I wonder just what the heck I'm doing! (I'm pretty sure Olivia's previous owner does too... :-) )

It's great when I get things right - basics like the oil changes, greasing up bits, sorting out fuel filters and tanks and such. But sometimes hanging around Landy guys scares me - they start chatting about stuff I haven't even heard of, and which is apparently really important to keep an eye on. When I have time I tend to head over to the Land Rover UK forums, and all too often an entire paragraph will just be way over my head - though everyone else seems to know what's going on.

The lastest episode with tyre-changing was an up/down one. I realized I could do it at a pinch - but at the same time noted how little I know. There's still a lot of knowledge that needs hammering into the head, but it doesn't want to absorb fast enough.

Landy-intimidation + post-lunch dip = not a good thing at all! :-) Only solution is to grit the teeth and soldier on, trying not to break anything.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Learning Curve - Wheels and Tyres

1. Always take the high-lift jack (and know how the heck it works, including getting it down).

2. Before you leave home make sure that you:
a) know what size your wheel-nuts are
b) have a wheel spanner that fits
c) know where to locate bricks for front tyres (and can send your kid to find them)

3. Ensure that your circle of friends includes Landy people (local) who may be able to drop by and help change the tyre that the idiot(s) (cursed be their offspring for generations to come) damaged by deflating this week, and who may also possess high-lift jacks and/or appropriate wheel spanner sizes.

4. If all else fails, make sure you let your home-based rescuer know they have to get the jack AND the wheel spanner - so that multiple trips from mall to home are not needed. Also ensure that the wheel spanner you went to get on trip 2 actually fits any/all of the wheel nuts.

5. Always carry gifts for strangers willing to spend 3 hours attempting to help you, but failing that make sure you get their names, phone numbers and addresses (done!). Thank profusely any 4x4 fitment centre that attempts to phone anyone who may be able to help (unsuccessfully).

6. Never assume the wheel-nut size will be the same both outside and inside that big metal thing on the back wheel.

7. If all else fails, sockets & wrenches work. Except that you will need VERY large sockets fittings... (note to self - go buy very large ones) and a good deal of muscle power for the wrench. Count your blessings that you always carry the tool box.

8. Finally, find a tyre supply shop that actually works with tube tyres, isn't push-off-unfriendly when asked for help, and is willing to go the extra mile. Oh - and find out why the usual 30-odd Landies around the mall simply weren't there this week! :-)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


When I bought Olivia, I joined up with the Land Rover Owners Club of Southern Africa. I never got around to joining the local Cape Landy Club though - mainly because for some reason I can't access their website at all, so never really did much about attempting to get info another way. (I have since received info by email, but still can't access their site)

Well, being quite far from the epicentre of activities has had me looking a bit green with envy as they plan outings and go places and do interesting offroad stuff. I guess the local guys are also doing interesting stuff here, but with no access to their site and no membership, I simply don't hear about it.

Anyway, a mailing tube of goodies just arrived from the LROC - their magazine, renewal notice (eish... can I afford it now?), newsletter, and a HUGE 2007 calendar. I've stuck the latter up near my desk. Yup, that should do it - no missing out on what date it may be now! :-)

As much as I love goodies and enjoy the monthly newsletter etc, I'm still debating whether I should renew membership or not. There are benefits to having a LROC sticker on the vehicle, carrying a membership card etc - mostly in the form of discounts (where, I have yet to ascertain) and special treatement (which I've experienced already, sticker or not!). It's a good chunk of cash to renew the membership, which I could instead spend on a local club.

Still thinking.

In the meantime, I ain't complaining about a tubefull of goodies. I've always liked getting stuff in the post! :-)