Archive for ‘Man vs Land Rover’

One man’s struggle against the pinnacle of British engineering – tools, blood, swearing – what’s not to like?

Mechanical thoughts 5 weeks in…


Venice, Italy.

It has been a VERY busy 5 weeks.  We have covered 10,773km, and driven through England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, (boat trip to Russia), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and are now in Italy. Home in around 10 days time.

Given how heavy the Taniwha is (it is REALLY heavy, especially with full water and longrange fuel tanks) I have been pretty happy really with how things have gone mechanically, all things considered.  When the extreme distances we have covered are added to the compressed timescale (and with some pretty wild weather thrown in) the old fella has done well.

However..  things are not perfect.  I have come to the conclusion that the aftermarket hubs that are fitted aren’t going to work out for us – I am sure that on a “normal” Land Rover (if such a thing exists?) they would perform flawlessly, but given the weight and constant stresses ours are under they are showing the strain.  We have a bit of bearing grumble front and rear, and none of the hubs are more than 12 months old.  So..  something to sort out back in the UK before we hit Morroco and more serious terrain.

We have a slight oil leak from the turbo drain pipe (I think I may have cracked a weld when I was wrestling with the manifold pre-trip), so I will need to replace this – not a biggie at all and the leak is very minor by Land Rover standards.

Storagewise, still some changes needed in the rear.  Too much stuff loosely packed.

Tires – I have been really impressed with the Cooper Discoverer STT Pro tires we fitted before this trip.  Roadhandling is exceptional, snow/ice they stick like glue (Thanks, North Cape..).  Ride quality is superb.  Given these are proper mud terrain tires, this is a huge surprise.  Yes, they are pretty noisy – but it’s a Land Rover so is very noisy anyway. Orchestras need many instruments.

Water tank/Pump/Filters – working very well indeed.

Bonnet chequerplate – a really good investment.  Margaret climbs up the bonnet to get to the roof boxes, no hint of buckling yet.  I will be adding some grab handles in the UK to assist in the wet.

External mains power hookup, USB and 12v sockets – superb.  I am using all three right now.

Fridges and Freezer – we have a perfect setup for us now. I need to run heavier wire from the distribution board in the boot to the middle seats, as we are getting an unacceptable voltage drop.  But it’s all working nicely.

Navigation Systems – Garmin, sort your $h1t out!!! I foolishly updated the software, maps and camera database before we left.  Naturally, the build is as buggy as hell, and is happily screwing up routing and mis-reporting speed limits (90 in 50 zones, etc…).  I sense some fines coming in the post. There has been much swearing directed at it, and not the usual good-natured Antipodean sort.

Remapped ECU – MUCH more power.  Possibly too much in built up areas.  I think I will use the factory ECU for on-road, and the remapped one for when we need the power… it simply doesn’t like rolling along at the speed limit.  And it is thirstier, despite the engine running a few hundred RPM lower than the factory ECU… not sure how this works – maybe it is injecting more fuel?

Anyway, more musings as and when I have them.

Final pre-Europe spannering…

*Written from the legoland campsite in Denmark* So we had a few issues to resolve in the last days before leaving the UK for the continent.  To cut a long story short, the viscous fan bearing went in quite spectacular fashion (close to home, and fortunately didn’t send the fan through the radiator).  The exhaust also decided to start making contact with the gearbox crossmember (sorted out by Nick Kerner 4WD near Windsor, thanks guys).  And… I somehow managed to warp the exhaust manifold (probably related to the tasteful level of tune applied to the engine, combined with a heavy foot on the way back from Wales).  This was not much fun at all to fix – in the end I sourced a replacement manifold, as we had no time to get the original skimmed flat again.  More than 1000km in (and driven hard) there is no sign of a repeat issue, so hopefully there is a line drawn under this now!  It was a bugger of a job, especially as we were due to drive to Dover the following day to catch the ferry.  As the image with the spirit level shows, there was a significant warp (around 2.5mm).  Amazing how much noise this can generate, once the gasket begins singing…

On a more positive note, I am pleased to recommend the Canvas and Nylon Company to anyone needing rooftent repairs, sails, whatever… ( – sorted out our rooftent cover within a few hours (this is the appalling stitching quality from factory that I was complaining about a few months back – Nakatanenga of Germany, hang your heads in shame…) – top service from Nick, cheers mate!  It is now reinforced as it should have been from day one…

Heavy breathing…

The TD5 engine is a famously heavy breather – and not in a good way unfortunately.  Given we now have a shiny clean intercooler, it makes sense to try and keep it that way going forwards, rather than let the well intentioned (if a little half-arsed) attempt by Land Rover to “Greenwash” their engineering solutions by diverting the oil vapour (that would otherwise waft free) from the crankcase back to the combustion chamber (via the turbo, associated pipework, and intercooler).  The intercooler fills up with oil and crap, and efficiency goes downhill thereby negating any “Greenness”.  It’s a rubbish solution, especially when combined with the (obviously removed already) EGR system.


A far more sensible solution is to install a proper oil separator such as those used on trucks (not a catch-can, they are rubbish).  Mann and Hummel make a particularly good one (Provent 200) that can be muscled into the TD5 Disco2 enginebay in a few places.  By far the easiest option (and the one everyone else seems to have chosen) is to mount it on the firewall, behind the ABS valve block.  Unfortunately this is also the only place that you can shoehorn a second battery, which I have done already — so it’s a non-starter.

Provent 2

My solution to the tetris challenge is to mount the Provent to the ACE/PAS reservoir (it’s very light – only a few grams) with a few chunky zipties.  Rotating it so it’s on a nice jaunty angle means that using a silicone reducing elbow I  can connect the outlet directly to the factory turbo intake pipe… nice and simple.  The inlet is connected (again via a reducer) to an insulated braided hose run from the outlet on the rocker cover (the top of the engine).

Provent 1

The nasty oily vapour exits the rocker cover and flows down the braided hose to the inlet on the Provent.  It enters the inlet chamber, where it condenses on a filter element, allowing nice clean air to exit the bottom hose and make its way to the engine air intake to burn up in the fiery hell of Solihull 5 cylinder combustion.  The condensed oil flows down to the base of the Provent, and then out down a collector tube (a foot of clear silicone hose – clear, so I can see if there is oil collected) and remains there until I get around to crawling under the car, opening the tap, draining it into a cup, and putting it back into the engine…  Now why didn’t they design it this way at the factory…?  Could it be that cleaning out an intercooler is a nice profitable dealership service item?  Surely not…



Build Update from Galway


So… due to circumstances out of our control (i.e. Phil had a rather bad reaction to some jabs that we need for Africa) we ran out of time to complete the landrover build before heading to Ireland. We have only got one of the steel bumpers mounted, the winch is bolted but not wired in, the replacement sunroof visors aren’t fitted, the “light cannon” spotlights are languishing in the garage, and the water tank and filter set isn’t fitted either. Still lots to do once we get back from this trip!

However, the Taniwha is running pretty well, with just the expected moans, groans and niggles that settling into a new chassis and bushes entail (a bit of tightening up to do I think, plus one wheel hub needs replacement).

We have been spending a lot of time talking over packing strategy and modifications we need to make to the way we are doing things (nothing worse than a handful of felt tip pens shooting forwards off the day fridge and ending up under the pedals…)

Speaking of the day fridge, we have had a disappointing experience with our “old” Ironman 30l fridge.  A few days befiore heading off on this trip, it started madly freezing everything while insiting the temp was 11+ degrees…  clearly the thermostat has failed. It’s under warranty still, so we will get it fixed, but will not trust it for Africa.  We have sourced a replacement (36l SnoMaster) which is South African, and is the same brand as the big fella in the boot.  The Ironman will be sent home in disgrace in Margaret’s car.  We are also rather disappointed with the PVC “truck awning” cover for our rooftent – the seams in the corners are splitting, they are only single stitched.  Lazy design. Easy to reinforce – we will sort it before Scandinavia – but it’s highly irritating –  products designed for offroad should be better thought out.  Time for a shitty email to customer service methinks.  (Nakatanenga, Germany, if anyone is curious).

We have been really lucky with the weather so far – a few spots of rain today, but the sun is back out again.  Off on a daytip to the Aran Islands tomorrow…

Ship of the Desert?

It was stupidly hot in London today.  An appropriate time to turn my mind to the onboard water tank that has been languishing in the garage for the last month or so – this guy needs to be fitted imminently, as we get the Taniwha back from SpannerMonkeys tomorrow or Tuesday, and are off on our shakedown trip to Ireland and the Isle of Man on Friday…

The tank is a 60l stainless rear footwell tank (with baffles to stop sloshing and the corresponding rapid weight transfer).  It will bolt in under the kids feet, and is shaped to fit exactly (I hope!).  I have noticed that it gets REALLY hot (untouchable) in the sun – not good with small paws in close proximity, so time for a wee craft project.  I have leftover automotive carpet from another job, plenty for the task at hand.  Carpet + Scissors + Contact Adhesive, job done!

Once we have the Taniwha back, I will fit the tank and plumb it in (electric pump, 3 stage filter to sieve out the nasties).  Running water, super fancy…  We will have a filter bag and a 20l jerrycan which will be used to fill the main tank, however no need for that until we get to Africa really, so still mulling over our options.