So accidentally leaving the laptop in Gary during the Spirit of Tasmania crossing meant I didn’t get to type this up until now – sitting on the banks of the Mersey River in the Mole Creek Karst National Park. A much nicer environment, and it means you get pictures to match the words.
Gary is a 2003 Land Rover Discovery Series 2a with a 2.5L Td5 Turbo Diesel Engine, ZF Automatic Transmission. He has the updated transfer case with a lockable centre differential (not installed on some earlier Series 2 Discoveries). He also has the very nice Self Levelling Suspension (SLS) (Rear air suspension). He had the seven seater pack, although we have removed the two seats in the rear for more storage (But the rear step, which is one of the most useful things ever has remained), He does not have the optional ACE (Active Cornering Enhancement) system. No sunroof(s). No leather interior. No satellite navigation. No CD stacker. No headrest DVD system. No rear climate control.
The Early Years:
Gary was delivered in 2003 to his first owner in Karratha, Western Australia. Around this time he probably got equipped with his ARB Bullbar, upgraded steel rear bar, IPF spotlights and Dual Battery Setup. And the Perspex driver and passenger window wind deflectors which are also great! His first owner seems to have taken very good care of him with services every 5 000 km, the addition at some stage of a very nice Tracklander aluminium roof rack, a Hayman Reese towing kit and an engine saver low coolant alarm (essential for Td5’s). After his stint in the Pilbara he roamed around a little before settling in Perth as a towing vehicle for a boat owner. Then he came to us.
Why 'Gary?' Every Land Rover that joins a loving family needs a name (yes, us Land Rover owners are a bit strange at times). There was an internet meme/screenshot going around last year of a woman ranting on facebook about how vegans (like us) shouldn't be allowed to call vegan 'cheese' (made from coconut, cashews, almonds, soy, whatever, no dairy) 'cheese.' They should call it something else, give it another name like Gary or something. Well the name kind of stuck and the vegan community adopted it en masse. So our naming of Gary is a little head nod to the deliciousness of cheese that doesn't require the exploitation of animals.
Open Heart Surgery:
I will admit that I didn’t know as much about Land Rovers when we adopted Gary in March 2017 as I do now. While the body, panels, drivetrain and interior of Gary are all in excellent condition he had a leaky head gasket that I missed when giving him the pre purchase once over. Having neither time, nor experience to fix it myself (although now I would be comfortable doing the job) it was of the the Land Rover Cardiac Specialist for a complete top end overhaul including:
Steel head dowels (Td5’s left the factory with plastic locating dowels. Not cool)
Fuel Pressure Regulator replaced
Exhaust manifold studs upsized
Oil pump bolt check
New hoses for cooling system
Injector harness replaced
New front brake discs and pads
Not all of the above was required, but it was all worth doing at once. Even after the doctor’s bill, Gary has still been cheaper to get set up for our adventure than an equivalent Land Cruiser would have been.
The brakes were done because as a rule I generally won’t touch the brakes (unless I am stuck somewhere in the wilderness and have to) because if something does go wrong with them and we are in an accident and the question comes up of when the brakes were last serviced and who by… an experienced and accredited technician is the best response.
Other Mechanical Stuff:
Since the big overhaul, I have done more things under the hood/mechanically including:
Reaffixed air conditioning compressor clutch.
Installing ProVent oil catch can on crank case breather.
Removing and cleaning intercooler and intake hoses.
Battery upgrade to Caterpillar 1000 CCA.
Runva winch install and wiring.
Anderson Plugs for both batteries.
Repaired spotlight wiring harness.
Installed Safari Snorkel.
Replaced electrical plug for temperature sensor.
Replaced fuel pump.
Practiced removing, inspecting and reinstalling fan, belts, hoses, electrical plugs etc.
Read the Workshop Manual.
Spent plenty of time in, under and around the vehicle learning how everything works, how to pull it apart and how to put it back together.
Probably more incidental things that aren’t on this list.
The winch question is a question I answered a few times. No you/we/I don’t need one. If we were travelling with a second vehicle, I definitely wouldn’t have bothered. HOWEVER as we are travelling with one vehicle and there are three possible scenarios:
We don’t have the winch and never need it
We have it, and we need it
We have it and never use it
For peace of mind, and a set up that will encourage us to explore the remote and difficult to reach places, even if the track there sucks, I installed a Runva 11XP fully sealed (waterproof) winch.
Wheels and Tyres:
The factory alloys have been shod with Falken Wildpeak AT2 265/70R16 tyres. Slightly larger diameter than the factory tyres they give a little extra ground clearance without scrubbing on the guards or violating design rules in any Australian State.
Our setup has been kept as simple as possible on the outside. The goal was to have as little hanging off the vehicle as possible. Our roof rack (after a little modification) accepted a Howling Moon Tourer roof tent, a 270 degree Foxwing awning, two 4.5 kg (3.7 kg) gas bottles, a 20 L Diesel Jerry Can and a pair of Maxtrax.
The roof tent folds away with all our bedding inside and is super comfortable to sleep in. The extra overhang above the ladder keeps us dry when it rains.
The awning has detachable sides (4) that we use if it is hot for extra shade or for extra protection from wind or rain. Can also make a large enclosed area for a bit of privacy if we are staying somewhere a few days.
If you own a land rover made after 1999 you should buy a Nanocom. Super useful little tool that lets me read and clear fault codes in the ECU, BCU and Automatic Transmission Computers and monitor additional computer outputs in real time while driving (Turbo boost, coolant temperature, alternator voltage).
I installed a ratio correction unit which makes the odometer and speedometer correct with the larger size tyres.
Installed a CB radio.
Added a couple of additional 12V sockets in the rear cargo space. Gary already had an Engel socket and one 12V socket when we got him.
Installed power inverter for our stuff.
We carry a 140 W folding solar panel to keep the batteries charged when we are camped and there is sunlight.
I made up a fridge slide and pair of drawers that are secured in the back of Gary. They are sized so that if/when I put the rear seats back in, they don’t have to come out. The fridge slide holds Engelbert, our 40L fridge. While the drawers hold dry food and cooking equipment.
I replaced the rear door card with an aluminium panel and made a small fold down table.
In front of the drawers is a frame that holds a 70 L water tank and four cargo boxes. The bottom two boxes hold tools and spare parts. The top two hold miscellaneous stuff that we don’t use that often.
Adjacent to the fridge and drawer setup is various fluids for Gary (Engine oil, ATF, coolant etc.) and axle stands on the other side.
The oven locks into the frame behind the passenger seat.
As we try to free camp as much as possible, we have a simple hot water set up – gas water heater, 12V pump, a 20 L bucket (filled from the River last night) and a shower tent.
We cook a lot. And we like our food. Also, in some (many) places, there is nothing vegan on the menu. With that in mind our setup is probably a little more elaborate than most. We have a small gas oven with two burners on top, a set of very excellent stacking SmartSpace cooking pan and pots, and our blender. Yep. Blender. It makes smoothies, almond milk, vegan cheese, vegan cashew sour cream, all the good stuff.
We might do a more detailed kitchen setup post if people are interested.
Helinox Sunset Chairs. So. Very. Comfortable. And super compact when folded away.
Here are the spares I carry for Gary.
Starter motor rebuild kit (didn’t get around to it before we left)
CPS (Crank Position Sensor). Gary doesn’t move if this fails.
1 Wheel bearing hub assembly.
2 HD Universal Joints.
Rubber Donut Coupling for rear driveshaft.
Radiator bottom hose (top hose is new or I would carry one).
Fuel filter, oil filter (both of them), air filter.
2 x Air bags for rear suspension.
4 mm Air Hose
Various electrical plugs and cable
Various Fluids (Engine oil, diff oil, ATF, coolant, 5L distilled water, brake fluid etc.)
Probably too much, but here is a rough idea of what I carry. Takes less room than you would think.
Tyre repair kit (plugs, patches, 2 x tyre levers, spare valve caps, spare valves)
Tyre Pressure Gauge
Heavy Duty Latex Disposable Gloves
Rag and paper towel
Socket and Spanner Set (1/2 and ¼ inch in 1 mm increments, without skipping sizes)
Socket size adaptor set
Ratchet spanner set
Big and little torque wrenches
Basic Tool Box (Hammer, Wire Brush, Pliers, Circlip Pliers, Multigrips, Stubby Screwdrivers, Allen keys, Stanley knife, trim remover tools, centre punch, cold chisel, sharpie, tape measure, hacksaw, one F clamp, rasp, metal ruler, tape measure, rivet gun)
Self amalging silicone tape
Spray cans (WD40, Electrical Contact cleaner, Brake Clean, Butane, Acetone bottle)
Electrical Box (Fuses, Terminals, Heatshrink, Butane Soldering Iron, wire, crimper/stripper, side cutters, cable ties, electrical tape etc.)
Fixings Box (Misc. bolts, nuts, washers, screws, rivets, hose clamps, air line unions, air line schraeder valves, fuel line union)
Glue Box (Sikaflex tube, superglue, 2 part epoxy resin, steel and plastic knead it)
Gasket maker, copper grease, silicone grease, lithium grease (tub), grease gun with connector for uni joint nipples
Drill with bits, step drill.
Rotary tool (dremel style) with bits for grinding, sanding, cutting, drilling, polishing etc.
Sand paper (wet and dry)
2 x axle stands (I will never ever ever ever ever get under a vehicle on a jack alone)
Safety glasses, dust mask.
Probably some other stuff.
Collapsible Bushranger Diggar Shovel
High lift Jack
Plywood board for jacking on soft material
Bottle Jack x 2
3 x wood blocks (to give jack height, or chock wheels, or brace things, or….)
2 x Snatch Strap
4 x Bow Shackle
2 x Tree trunk protectors
1 x winch extension strap
1 x tow strap
2 x Snatch block
3 x Cable/strap dampers
1 x D shackle
Folding Bow Saw
Other stuff we carry:
First Aid Kit
Extension cord and power board
Chargers for things
Beach sun shelter
2 x sleeping bags
Extra blanket for picnics or cold nights
2 x collapsible tables
Folding Thunderbox Bush Dunny
Activities box with board games, paints, sketchbooks and pencils
And all of that fits nice and neatly into Gary!
Here is a gallery of images for you to peruse:
There is probably some other stuff I have forgotten, or you might have questions – feel free to ask in the comments below and I will do my best to respond.