AS MENTIONED a couple of months ago (May, 2017), my recently acquired 1994 Defender 300Tdi needed a fair bit of work.
The obvious problems included a big wobble in the steering at highway speeds, a slipping clutch, and oil leaks from every conceivable seal (situation normal, I hear you snigger).
Rather than take it to my local mechanic, I enlisted the services of Pete Davis from Roving Mechanical. Pete, who’s been working on Landies for years, has set up shop with the equally experienced Glen Wickens in the southern Sydney suburb of Peakhurst.
I left the Landy with Pete for a few days and he had a good look over it before presenting me with a long, long list of items requiring attention.
I expected there would be a fair bit to do, and had factored that into my budget, so I gave Pete the go-ahead to fix the areas of immediate concern, which included a new water pump, new brake fluid reservoir and new silicon intercooler hoses.
On picking up the Defender, Pete ran me through the rest of the problems that would still have to be fixed: leaking inlet manifold, rear disc shields, wheel bearings, radius rod bushes, Panhard rod bushes, swivel seals, transfer case overhaul, clutch replacement, steering damper, leaking auxiliary fuel tank… you get the idea.
I drove the Defender home and parked it in the garage, with an old carpet underneath to soak up the leaking fluids. A few weeks later I took it back to Pete, where all of the listed work was carried out over a couple of weeks while I was gallivanting about the Flinders Ranges in someone else’s 4x4.
Pete fitted an Xtreme Outback heavy duty clutch from Australian Clutch Services in place of the standard item, and the five mismatched tyres were flicked in favour of a set of BFGoodrich All Terrain T/A KO2s.
I have now sampled the KO2s on a couple of different vehicles – up in the Victorian High Country and in the South Australian outback – and I’m a big fan, so I’m looking forward to seeing how they perform in narrow LT235/85R16 spec on the Defender.
When I picked up the Defender once more it felt vastly improved; no more steering wobble, no more slipping clutch and no more oil or fuel leaks (Pete had removed the auxiliary tank so I could get it welded up).
There was still a knock in the rear-end, which was eventually diagnosed as the rear A-frame bushes. These were replaced on a subsequent visit to Pete and the Defender now drives as it should.
Yes, I exceeded my original budget, but not by too much, and now I’m the happy owner of a very capable off-roader, albeit one that doesn’t look all that flash thanks to some bent panels, below average paint and very faded decals. I’ve since removed most of the crappy old window tint, and I’ve ripped out the sagging roof lining.
There’s still a long road ahead for the Defender, but for this project I’m willing to give it all the time it takes.