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20.04.2011 - Mali – Home

Our time in Africa was short now; in a few months we would be back in Europe, back in the UK, back home. Read more..

The boys enlist some Expert help

November 6th, 2009

When we last wrote we were pretty chuffed to have broken the back of most of the major mechanical work that the Land Rover needs. Last weekend thoughts turned more towards preparing the car into a home for 11months so George McClelland from Antares kindly helped us wire up our dual battery system so that we can start fitting fridge, front facing spotlights, rear worklight amongst other things. Both lights are now wired in and thanks to some shrewd bulb selection are suitably dazzling. Without George’s help we wouldn’t have stood a chance wiring everything up so a massive thank you to him for all his time and effort. We would also like to thank Charlie for allowing us the use of the Antares workshop to save us from working away on Carl’s drive in the pouring rain. Whilst this was fantastic, the downside was that the Landy currently had no doors fitted as both hinges were being painted. Thus a coin was tossed and Carl lost out having to drive the Landy down the road in heavy rain with now doors. He arrived soaked to the bone – slippers and all.


There was some good news last Friday as the car passed its MOT. No suprises thankfully save for an advisory for a blown sidelight.


As we left our friend Dave’s workshop last week we really felt we were progressing with the roofrack, rooftent and land anchor all mounted. The car was starting to look the business and driving better after a lot of work. This sense of progression was increased as the guys at Sign-A-Rama in High Wycombe printed and fitted all the sign writing to the car. Thanks in particular to Jon and Sanjay for their patience and expertise – we think the stickers look fantastic! Hopefully you’ll agree – here’s the finished article:





Monday was an exciting day for us as we drove to Southampton to meet one of our most generous sponsors, Draper Tools. It was lovely to finally meet the people we had spent much time on the phone to, and express our gratitude for all their help. The tools supplied by Draper have helped us no end as we tackle job after job to prepare and kit out the Landy. As many mechanics and tradesmen often say, quality tools make any job that bit easier and we have been genuinly impressed with the Draper Expert range. After meeting Clive, the Marketing Director we were ushered in front of the camera and a whole load of publicity photos were taken. Between rain showers the Grandsons of the companies founder then came down with the MD Terry McGowen, for more photographs. It was great to see such enthusiasm for our trip and fascinating to hear Terry recall his trip from Tanzania to London in an old Land Rover in….well no-one quite had the guts to ask when…. We were then taken for a guided tour of the factory, passing through a (huge) room displaying the entire Draper range (thousands), the quality control department where hammers are sliced apart to check for consistancy, the hub of activity which was the outgoing delivery room and the in-house graphics department to name but a few areas. It was imrpessive to be inside such a busy place and nice to see a British company with all the latest technology in their factory, pressing on and really doing well in the current economic climate.

After leaving Draper, we headed to Hampshire and the largest Land Rover parts centre in the South East of England, Keith Gott Land Rovers. Here we met the owner’s son Ben Gott and collected the Hi-lift jack kindly donated by the company. The premises were a sight to behold with nigh on one hundred Land Rovers all around us, some clearly dead and others with the latest bits of kit draped over them. Rumour had it there was even a Defender 110 just like ours, fully expedition prepared with no expense spared and a total bill of £200,000 sitting in one of the corners. Ouch. A veteran of the Paris-Dakar rally, Ben was incredibly knowledgeable of the challenges we face and like so many people provided us with some really sound advice. Thanks very much for the time you gave us Ben, it was much appreciated and very useful!

Last up on our busy Monday was a visit to TJ Nicholson of Better Prepared Vehicles who is going to help us complete some of the remaining work on the Landy. Once again, an incredibly knowledgeable guy, with expedition experience from Morocco all the way to Iceland. TJ pointed out umpteen areas where small features could make life that bit more comfortable on the road and with not very much work required to implement them. The plan is to spend more time with TJ next week to try to finish off work on the car and get in some more practice with the hi-lift jack and land anchor.

After a long day we arrived home at 1am and then had to be at Allparts in High Wycombe for another photoshoot with Allparts manager Steve Patten and the Bucks Free Press. From here it was straight home to further investiagate the car’s desire to turn right sharply whilst under heavy braking. A faulty front left caliper seems the most likely culprit, hopefully some replacement seals will be a simple enough fix, but time consuming as the car will be beached this weekend whilst the caliper is sent away.

In the meantime we have also being experimenting with storage of items, it looks like the sand ladders and all winching equipment will live on the roof, as Carl is struggling with below!



Today we visited Foleys Specialist Vehicles in Essex to have some side lockers fitted to the car which will store Jerry cans down low, helping keep the centre of gravity low and reduce the risk of rolling the car which would be much worse if the cans were on the roof. As i have already touched on, we have met some amazingly knowleagable and capable people over the last few months but Paul and Stuart Foley may well be the best. Within 10minutes of looking around our car we had a list as long as our arm of small items they had identified which would become issues on the harsher terrain in Africa. A gearbox leak that we hadn’t seen was pointed out and the source found, alternator problem identified and explained and countless areas of adjustement on the steering, accelorator and gearstick pointed out which can help make the car fel more like a car, and less like a Landy! Tom was so impressed he was even heard muttering that if he was a woman, Paul Foley would be his man of choice.


It really has been a pretty mind boggling few days meeting many knowledgeable people and trying to take on board the most information that we can. We are so thankful to everyone who has taken the time to explain things to us over the last few weeks, without your help we would be so much further away from leaving. Whilst there is still a heck of a lot more work to do, the end is now firmly in sight.

For those of you who haven’t looked recently the Media section has been updated with our two Land Rover Monthly articles, which have some more photos are detail a little more of the technical aspect of the prep.

Thanks for reading.

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