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.