Unlike most stories, ours doesn’t start with the old Toyota v Land Rover ponderings. When Sarah first saw my gently ageing normally-asphyxiated ex-military 90 her initial input to the planning procedure was “That has to go!”. However, after a few off-road excursions and lots of leisurely trips to the dump to deal with the results of her feverish gardening, she fell in love with The Struggle Buggy. In that moment the decision was made. A Toyota it was then. No, of course not – it had to be a 110 Defender. The only real quandary we had now was how many doors? After much reading of all the stories on africa-overland.net and the HUBB and with the numerous promises of visits from friends we decided on the 110 defender County Station Wagon (i.e the 5 door variant).
The next task was to find a nice example of either a 200Tdi or 300 Tdi for the well documented reasons of needing nothing more than a bag of spares and a bush mechanic with the right sized Birmingham Screwdriver to fix any ailment.
The vehicle we bought and called Alfie is a 1992 200Tdi 110 CSW. It turns out that Alfie’s first keeper was The British High Commission in Harare. Having seen the documentation it seemed rude not to buy him and take him back to Africa. At some point after that he spent time in Mumbai before returning to the UK in about 2006.
We went for a trial run to North Wales, where it might have rained a little bit. Every day. No surprises there. The only unexpected moment was that the only hose I hadn’t replaced decided to split and dump coolant all over everything. Probably shouldn’t have been a surprise really, but there you go.
Strangely (or not considering his origins) already fitted were:
- steering guard
- roll cage
Since then we’ve made a pile of modifications as expected listed below – but I do wonder how necessary it all is in reality. Only time will tell.
- new clutch
- clutch master cylinder
- clutch slave cylinder
- water pump
- cam belt
- start solenoid
- starter motor
- drop-arm ball joint
- panhard rod
- front brakes and pads
- stripped and rebuilt swivel hubs
- heavy duty front springs and dampers
- heavy duty rear springs and double dampers
- chequer plating bonnet & wing tops
- diff guards
- lockable cubby box
- stereo with USB/SDHC inputs
- rear wheel mount
- brownchurch roof rack
- bull bar
- 6 black modular 7×16 wheels
- 6 General Grabber AT2 tyres
- dog guard
- engel fridge -MT45
- eezi-awn tent – 1.4 T-Top
- extra 45l fuel tank – giving 120l
- rebuilt diesel pump
- spot lights
- split charge system
- air tank & compressor
- 50l water tank
- Sureflo water pump
- Doulton HBA II water filter with ultracarb candle
- chequer plated rear door and cooker shelf
- Coleman multi-fuel stove
- new radiator
- all hoses at various stages
- 4 Jerry cans
You may be able to work out from the list which ones I planned on changing as “A Good Thing To Do” before undertaking a trip of this sort, and which ones fall into the category of “Oh c*ck! What’s that going to cost?”.
As it is, I’ve been using Alfie as my daily runner for the past few thousand kms and hopefully the latter category will now please stop growing.
In July we went to London to meet up with Ric, Charlie and Monty after they returned from their trip to grab a few additional hints and tips and extra places to add to our itinerary. It was good to get piece of mind that the work we’d done was heading in the right direction.
Ric kindly donated a 200 Tdi workshop manual that hopefully will get little further use.
Stickers: We finally got round to putting the obligatory stickers on Alfie. One on the back and a couple down the wings.
Today was spent mostly down at Keith Gott‘s where Rob had a brush up on vehicle maintenance and things to look out for and Alfie got a good going over by Paul and kit of spares and consumables was created. This being the last planned service before departure very little needed to be done (Huzzar!) fingers crossed nothing else happens. In addition to the kit of spares, Rob was given a few ideas about tools missing from his tool box and how they can save time and hassle. Only time will tell how much of what Rob was told today will be remembered.