Its all about the little things (Post #222) 11/25/2010

When you are restoring any older automobile the issue of replacing the “trim” parts comes up. When I watch the show Wheeler Dealers it is simple for them to just stop by a “breakers yard” for a few parts. But, when you live, 4,566 miles or 7348 kilometers from Solihull, United Kingdom getting those little things to make your Land Rover complete is at a minimum difficult.

You can sometimes find prime trim parts on eBay. You maybe even lucky enough to find a Range Rover in your local Pull-A-Part yard. I usually find them right about the time my bank account is empty. For now, Range Rover Classic trim parts for the most part are still available.

Which brings me to a recent trip to Rover Cannibal. I stopped in for a license plate lamp lens. It is a simple piece but totally irreplaceable without a breakers yard. I say that, and yet you can make your own. I watched a guy on one of the classic car shows mold his own 1936 Packard tail light lens. But I don’t have the patience or materials to do that. So it was off to my local breakers yard.

I walked in to Rover Cannibal and saw Ryan, I made the customary greetings and he asked if I was still blogging? How was the Rover? All the catch up stuff. His comment, “I don’t do enough social networking.” made me think, “dear Lord, I do too much social networking.”

I told him I was in to see if he had a few parts, knowing he had them. Rover Cannibal is a huge warehouse. The first floor is vehicles in various states of disassemble. The upstairs is racks and racks of parts. Knowing the Range Rovers are getting fewer and fewer it is good to see so many spares. He even had a 1994 white LWB being disassembled. Oh how I wish I had a shop to store a parts car.

I told him I could use the lens and a left front door seal. I told him I was sure I needed more but didn’t have my list with me. He told me to, “run up and get them”. Ryan and I have that kind of relationship. Nothing feels better than to be accepted and trusted like that.

When I didn’t find what I needed upstairs he told me to see Billy because, “he knows where everything is”. Billy is a Navy man and you can see that the sea salt is still caked on in places. So naturally we hit it off great. He showed me the 94 white LWB and I immediately found only a dozen things I needed. I didn’t have the money right in my budget this close to Christmas to take them off his hands.

As a matter of fact I had already attempted to glue and refurbish several of the pieces I found laying right there in that breakers yard LWB. This is where the rubber really meets the road. Right there in the bits I found what might be considered the holy grail of trim pieces. A fully intact fuse cover! Yes, I know, you can call me a lucky bastard all you like, I’ll take that for sure.

This is one of those parts you just can’t find. This is the story with any older car and restoration project, every car has its Holy Grail. My friend Mr. Fisher told me about a friend of his, Brian deFonteny, that has a 1966 Chevy El Camino. It is a total restoration and in mint condition. This fellow is going through the painstaking process of getting EVERY AVAILABLE FACTORY OPTION for this 1966 car. He finds the OEM parts still in the box in remote warehouses all over the United States. He mentions on the site that he recently replaced the manual windows with the factory electric ones. He has about $25,000 in parts on his car…not including labor.

Some of you younger readers might not know what this really means. Back in the golden days of automotive dealerships the 1950s and 60s you went to the dealership to see the latest models. There were not parking lots full of cars for you to drive home. You went to the dealership to test drive the models. Unless you wanted a USED car, you had to order your car from the factory. Seriously. An order would go to the factory and they would build your car and it would be delivered to the dealer.

So you would get the list of options and pick what you wanted your car to have. Paint color, radio, air conditioning, engine, think of something and you probably had the option of ordering it. It was an amazing time in the auto industry.

This gets me back to the trim options and Mr. deFonteny’s 1966 El Camino. Like I said, his quest is to have every available factory option for his car. He even has an ORIGINAL tissue holder. This part is apparently exceedingly rare. A true Holy Grail.

This is picture of a reproduction available for 90$(US). An original, once he was able to find it, cost him 1000$(US). Yes, one thousand dollars. He also has the headrests for the bench seats. These were only delivered on 689 of the half a million El Camino’s that were built in 1966.

But if you are going to play with the big boys you’ve got to be able to talk the talk and walk the walk. That is where I get off. I don’t think it is possible to build a Range Rover and have all the trim pieces be that nice. I am not building a show car. Hell, if necessary I’d drive my Range Rover through a barbed wire fence, I’m not afraid.

I’d just like to have all the visible bits be in functioning order. And having the fuses covered up on the dash is a good thing. Mrs. OkieRover is not a flight engineer. In fact, when we were on a date in my 1973 Dodge Ram pickup truck I had the headlights go out. I said, “well crap” and slid over to the middle of the bench seat and opened the glove box all this while I was still DRIVING. I dug out the appropriate fuse from the spares and popped it in restoring the lights. All the time she was mostly freaking out.

So I don’t need to have an exposed fuse box on the dash. And since my trusty wife will not be swapping fuses for me it needs to be covered. If not for the practical, it must be covered for the cosmetic factor. Mrs. OkieRover does not do “wires and stuff”. Mind you she is not without skills. Mrs. OkieRover can start an IV on a vampire with Raynaud’s Disease in the dark while she recites the famous Womack brownie recipe, but when it comes to cars or anything mechanical, forget about it.

So I’m pretty stoked that I have a nearly new fuse cover, my broken license plate lens replaced and a new driver’s side door trim with rubber seal intact. I pulled the headliner out and the dome light lens are nearly gone. In fact one sacrificed itself for this picture.

The good news here is this part is still available new from Atlantic British. I also need a tailgate trim piece that covers the carpet edge around the tailgate release. This piece is also available new. I only have 4 of the catches left and only one of eight contact pins left on the trim piece.

Plastic? Go figure. A nice aluminum piece secured by screws would have totally worked back there. Of course if they had done that, the screws would have rusted through the tailgate by now and I’d be writing about how I manufactured a new piece out of 16 gauge steel.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and as always thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

Running out of crap to fix (Post #221) 11/23/2010


So let me clarify. My to-do list is dwindling.
On Sunday I was able to pull the headliner. This job is no challenge. It is a 1 on the Difficulty Scale I will buy a couple of yards of fabric and some spray glue at Gibson’s and get it all put back together maybe this weekend.

I also found out why the sunroof would not retract. Some of the structure was bumping the glass panel as it retracted. I pulled and tugged on the metal that was causing the friction. I’m not sure how RovErica managed to bend this, probably rough housing or climbing from the front seat to the back seat. I also had a scenario in my head with her sitting on the roof with her feet dangling through the sunroof. Either way it is more or less fixed with a little coaxing of the metal back where it belongs.

The Park Neutral Switch problem was a bit more complicated. After researching and reading about the switch I crawled under the middle of the Range Rover. I found out the switch is virtually unreachable from the bottom and impossible to reach from the top. So I made what I will call a simplification of systems repair.

Yes, I simplified the system by cutting the wires and disabling the switch. It has always been one of my complaints that the Range Rover of the 1990s was WAY TOO COMPLICATED with electrical this-and-that’s. This system is basically a way to idiot proof the changing of the transaxle from low to high. The system works as such, if the transaxle is in neutral a tone sounds warning you that is the case.

I don’t need that level of safety system. I’m a pretty sharp guy. Well, I like to think I am, most of the time anyway. So a system so ripe with failure as this one was is probably not necessary for a guy “like me”. If low range is necessary, by God, I can promise you, I’ll make sure it is in LOW before I go. There are no safety circuits like this on a Defender or Series model, and now, there isn’t on my Range Rover.

So I cut the microswitch’s wires and applied a little bit of heat shrink to their ends so they would not short out anywhere. I also labeled them with my handy-dandy label maker. That way if I ever open this area up again I won’t look at those wires and wonder, “why the hell are those cut?”

And lastly I ground the surface rust off the floor pan on the passenger side, AGAIN. I have a picture of me using the angle grinder to remove rust from this floor pan in an earlier post. For some reason it must not have been enough grinding to remove the rust. It needed another round. This time I used the grinding disk and tore it back to metal. At this point you have to imagine that the floor pan is badly rusted. Pitting of the metal had set in and it looks pretty bad. I was careful not to grind it so much that I made the metal too thin.

I’m not 100% confident this will stay fixed over the life of this Range Rover. By the time we weld the replacement panels down this section will be pretty badly Frankensteened.

And rust, as much as I’d like to think I got rid of it, will appear again. I have decided to get a heat shield sound deadening material. There are too many options to choose from.

SecondSkin, Dynamat, FatMat, Lizardskin

I did some research and will probably get SecondSkin Damplifier Pro. The only thing that could have swayed me more to this product would have been bikini clad installers. But I’m glad they didn’t sink to that level to sell the product. At least I don’t think they haven’t sunk, there are only a hundred videos I haven’t quite looked at when you search second skin and bikini on YouTube.

That LuxuryLiner Pro product looks great too. Closed foam so you can count on water not sitting there promoting rust. I looked at the OEM foam liner and it is NOT closed foam. I could probably get away with just putting it back in. Consider that the metal floor will have the Damplifier Pro as a barrier so if the foam gets wet it will not be touching the floor pan. This will probably be a game time decision based on how much the players cost.

I’ve already talked to SecondSkin and will probably buy the materials next week and get them down as soon as I can get the welding, and painting and sealing done.

The layers will be as follows…
Either OEM foam pad or LuxuryLiner Pro
Damplifier Pro
Spray on bedliner product
Rustoleum Paint
(Now we are outside the Rover)
Rustoleum Paint
Lots of spray on bedliner product

All of this preparation will probably fail so the more crap I pile on there the happier I’ll feel when I put the carpet down and attempt to forget about it. Its going to rust, I just need to slow it down until I’m too old to fix it or rich enough to buy something else to play with. Either way as long as Mrs. OkieRover’s legs don’t go poking out the floor it’s all good. My best friend used an aluminum speed limit sign he liberated from its duties managing the speed limit on some back county road as a floor pan in his 1962 Ford Falcon. I wish I had a picture of that. Maybe I’ll dig one up.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

I drove the Range Rover!! (Post #216) 11/8/2010

Saturday was a great day. Well on the Range Rover front anyway, on the football front it sucked. Saturday I decided that I would drive the Range Rover and test out all the stuff I have repaired and been working on for so long.

First things first, I needed to bleed the brakes. I had bled the brakes before when my neighbor Mr. Fisher came over and helped me. But for some reason I did not do the high side on the front calipers. And the air moved around as it is want to do and we had no brakes.

I was in a spot, as all my children were gone and Mr. Fisher was on his way to Stillwater to see the Pokes play football. So the only person left was Mrs. OkieRover. Mrs. OkieRover is a wonderful woman. She is awesome at being a mom. She is probably the best nurse in the Norman Regional Hospital system. She is really, really patient and puts up with nearly all of my crap. But one thing she is not, is mechanical.

Cars are still magical metal boxes that take you from one place to another place. Getting her to help me was asking for me to have patience with her. That is not really a card OkieRover has in his deck.

So with challenges facing both of us, I asked her to help and she agreed. We started off rocky with her not coming out to the garage in a timely manner. Then I was reading the instructions for the umpteenth time when she popped off from the driver’s seat, “I thought you were ready to go?”

I handed her the instructions and asked her read them and tell me what we were doing first.
She read them and said, “I have no idea.”
So I gently said, “How about you let me make sure I do this right.”

My first instruction, “I’m going to tell you to turn on the ignition and then press the brake.”
“Okay, ” she said.
“Okay, turn on the ignition.” I said.
She turned on the ignition and then went to cranking the the engine for start-up.
“NO!” I shouted.
“You said turn on the ignition.”
“Yes, yes I did. I said turn on the ignition. I didn’t say anything about starting the car.”

So that’s how it went. I was more careful about my instructions and we worked through each procedure and finally I found the massive air pocket in the upper circuit of the front calipers. A few more turns of the bleeder valves and we were done. I told her thank you and told her I was taking the Rangie on a drive.

So I removed all the interior parts I had stacked all over and confirmed all the connections on the electrics and did my “pre-flight checks”.
I tweeted my intentions and asked for luck. I fired her up, backed her out, and began with a test of the viscous coupling. I turned her hard into a left hand turn and circled the cul-de-sac. No chirping. VC seemed to be working.

I then started off down the street. I was very happy. Sadly I had NO ONE TO SHARE IT WITH! My neighbors were all gone. No one but me and my wife knew I was driving.

I drove a few blocks and then stopped. I put the transfer case in to low and moved through 3 of the 4 forward gears. I stopped and slid her back into high and headed for the 7-Eleven. Brakes worked, transfer case worked, so far so good.

I turned on to Porter and hit her hard to get her moving. I let off the accelerator and didn’t dive to the right, she stayed true. I punched the accelerator and she didn’t pull to the left. I tried it several more times. And oh man how great that was. The bushings worked and corrected the very exciting wandering all over the road the Range Rover had recently been known for.

I pulled up to the 7-Eleven and decided I would put some fresh petrol in her. I filled her up, jumped in and fired her up and drove her home. I listened to every little sound as she rolled down the road.

I have decided that the exhaust will need to be changed. I don’t know where the sounds are coming from but the exhaust sounds like crap. I need to get a better solution for that. After riding around at lunch in a colleague’s Dodge Magnum, I’m getting to like the tuned exhaust sound. I’ll be looking into that as I get closer to having the money to do it.

With the passenger side floor cut and absolutely no floor insulation there are a lot of sounds you normally don’t hear. The ticking of the exhaust, the bald tires rolling on the pavement, and lots of others. The most annoying was the warning tone from the transaxle.

As you know I “fixed” the solenoid so it no longer hampered me from shifting into low range. But in doing so I’m guessing there is something causing the warning tone to tell me I was not in neutral. Everything is connected. So I’m not sure what causes the warning tone to sound. I fiddled with the connections and the electrics there in the transaxle and transmission shifter. I guess I’ll be hitting up the message boards tomorrow for some technical assistance.

I got her home and sorted out the garage and rearranged some things in anticipation of the next project. Whatever that will be. I was not ready to start the warning tone solution, but I fiddled with it again to no avail.

I decided that I would put the carpet and sound deadening pads back in the rear of the Rover. I sorted all those parts and cleaned them with the shop vacuum and cleaner where necessary. To keep the spongy pad from holding water next to the metal panels in the wettest areas I cut the pad away. This resulted in 3 inches being cut off the rear most of the pad. This will leave the water trench, that rusted so badly, without any spongy pad to sit there with water in it.

I put the carpet back in and buttoned it all down. I cleaned the rear seat with leather cleaner and then gave the seat a good soaking with conditioner. The leather is quite dry in several places and with out a LOT of attention it will be gone soon.

You can see in this picture that I have the passenger seat unbolted, that is to have it out of the way for the floor board welding. I am not sure what the white area is on the middle of the rear seat. This picture was taken before I cleaned everything and conditioned it.

I have the center console out due to the sorting of the shifter electrics and the pending floor pan welding project. It was broken in the same places as before. The breaks are in the joints between the back area and the front are that covers the shifting mechanisms. I got the Dremel out and cut a channel for a 16 penny nail. The joint has no support and I figured if I used something to link the two sides and to strengthen the joint it might last a little longer. At one time I kicked around making a new console out of fiberglass. But that is a really, really ambitious project.

With some Gorilla Glue I proceeded to cover the seam and the nail. You can see that here and the carpet back in the rear.

Here is a close up picture…

Gorilla glue has an expansive property to it. It foams up like that so you have to be careful how you use it. I have used it and it expanded out and all over the counter, the floor, pretty much lots of places you wouldn’t want yellow glue. So if you use it be careful.

Everything is getting a fresh going over with a rag and cleaner as I reinstall it. My daughter RovErica spilled a lot of drinks in her before I took the Range Rover off line and grounded her. Grounded the Rover not RovErica that is.

So the next item for attention is the shifter electrics and then on to welding the floor pan. I will then get some Dynamat or a similar product and get the front wheel wells finished and the carpets back in her. After that I will have to get the money together to have the windshield pulled and the seam and replaced and sealed to prevent the water from getting inside and starting the rust all over again.

We ended the night Saturday at the Marine Corps Ball for Fox Battery 2nd Battalion 14th Marines and over all had a great weekend.

I have another 4 day weekend coming up with Veteran’s Day and with another Marine Corps Luncheon on Friday. I plan on getting some more done on the Range Rover and if I sort the shifter electrics I’ll hopefully be welding on Saturday. Otherwise I’ll be getting the power steering hoses off and to the shop for a custom replacement.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

A Good Long Trip (Post #197) 8/31/2010

The week began with an offer to sell my spare Discovery II rims to a chap named Shaun in Colorado. We worked out the details in the emails we exchanged and it was agreed we would meet in Clayton, New Mexico to swap currency for magnesium.
The shipping cost for the rims was almost as expensive as the rims were themselves. With this in mind I told the perspective buyers I’d meet them in any state surrounding Oklahoma. This worked out great for Shaun as we both had about a 6 hour drive to meet halfway. I love the northeast part New Mexico and this gave me an excellent excuse to drag my wife kicking and screaming take my wife on a nice day long car ride. We both love to drive and it was a good excuse to be together for a whole day of alone time.

So off we went. The first two thirds of the drive are (yawn) pretty boring. We’ve been down this stretch of I-40 so many times I can almost tell you which restrooms are the cleanest in any given season. The fact this stretch is along the “Mother Road” aka Route 66 is the only redeeming quality of the drive. The first segment terminates in Amarillo, which we have deemed, “a stinky little town”. Amarillo is about a third of the size of Oklahoma City. I thought it was bigger than its actual size, but I was wrong.

The second leg begins with a drive through the Canadian River valley north of Amarillo. This stretch then becomes a pool table of corn fields and long stretches of corn and silos and the occasional windmill.

When you finally reach New Mexico you can see an immediate difference. First of which you are out of the hell known as Texas, the second is the dormant volcanoes. In deference to Texas, I personally like the Texas panhandle. It is affectionately know as the llano estacado (Wikipedia). There are lots of stories to translate this name most of them are not true. What you can and should know about it was written by Spanish conquistador Francisco Coronado in 1541, from the Wikipedia site…

“I reached some plains so vast, that I did not find their limit anywhere I went, although I traveled over them for more than 300 leagues … with no more land marks than if we had been swallowed up by the sea … there was not a stone, nor bit of rising ground, nor a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything to go by.”

That’s just about as accurate as you could ask for. Today some of the most interesting things to see are totally abandoned houses and a basketball gymnasium in Perico, Texas.

A good part of the book Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry takes place on these plains. That is part of the appeal to me along with the regions vastness and quite honestly the wind. I love the wind blowing and here it blows constantly. The land is inhabited by an honest and hard working people who are fiercely proud of the land and its lifestyle.

On into New Mexico you begin to see the plateaus and mesas and dormant volcanoes mentioned earlier. The first thing worth stopping at along this route is Clayton, New Mexico. Our intenary had us meeting Shaun and Deb in front of the Ekland Hotel in downtown Clayton. Our plans were to eat a big lunch in the Ekland Hotel restaurant, relax a bit and then head home. We kicked around staying overnight, but gave that up to maximize the funds from the trip to apply to the repairs of the Range Rover LWB. You can see the Honda CRV parked in front of the hotel.

As it turned out, our plans would not have panned out anyway. The Ekland was closed. Mrs. OkieRover visited a shop next door and learned they have been closed for a year. There is a rumor of an investor taking over the place and opening it back up. Money has exchanged hands…nothing has come of it as of this writing. It was a disappointment but then again not too disappointed as we had already adjusted the plans once.

While we waited for Shaun and Deb, I walked around Main Street and took some pictures of the buildings. The Luna Theater, a coffee shop, a grain elevator, City Drug, a barber shop, all the quaint shops you would be disappointed NOT to see in such a town. I even took some pics of the empty restaurant.
Check out all the shots I am posting at my Posterous site. This is a new addition to the web presence. Alyssa Milano uses Posterous, so I know it’s good.

The town was mostly abandoned due to Old West Days, which was being held a block over. I took a few more pictures and as expected Shaun and Deb showed up in their Range Rover. Their Range Rover was a very nice Callaway edition. It was numbered 007 of which the coolness of that alone need not be explained on this site.

We loaded up the rims. Shaun, like myself, hates to hear noises from the cabin so he was careful to set the rims in such a manner as they did not ding. Deb pointed out that while offroading in their Defender Shaun asked her to, “go back there and find out what is rattling.” I thought that was a very funny story. As I am exactly the same way, I can’t stand load noises. I can safely tell you I would complain about the noise of a truck full of my own gold bars.

I brought along my Discovery II head lamps and a CD magazine hoping that his Range Rover would be able to use them. Sadly neither met the mark and I’ll have to find another person to pass them along to.

Shaun told me he was to use the rims for a set of studded snow tires. The Colorado winters bring with them some ice and snow and a second set of rims and tires for just such weather, I imagine, is a necessity. He said he would run them for the two icy months and then back into the garage they would go. I told him about Nitto tires and their reputation as good ice and snow tires. I’ve read about them on boards and have heard they were good. As I realized later, this was like telling an Eskimo about snow being cold. Shaun was very polite and didn’t tell the “flatlander” how clueless he was sounding.

Our wives shared stories while we packed the Range Rover. We shared some more about the plight of his Defender and its transfer case problems, my Range Rover’s current state of disassembly and the awesomeness of this area. My wife shared that she never tells her dad about our travels until we are home due to his worry that we will be left in a ditch somewhere with our throats cut. We all had a laugh about that.

They noticed I was taking pictures and directed us to a dragon sticking out of a wall on a building’s façade just a few blocks away. We then jumped in our cars and headed up there for more pictures. Deb shared with us that the artist was just across the street.

We bid each other goodbye. They like ourselves, they had other plans for the day. As we pulled out of town my wife and I talked about how awesome a couple they were. Shaun had told us about the Land Rover National Rally being held in Moab and that the Solihull Society was the host club. I’m not sure I will have the Range Rover ready for that this year. It was comforting to know at least two people we really liked would be at this event should we choose to go in the coming years. I hope this meeting with Shaun and Deb would not be our last.

With our lunch/relaxation plans ruined I decided we should go north to Black Mesa. It is the highest point in the state of Oklahoma and a place all OKIES should see and or experience. So we headed north on New Mexico Highway 406. Remote is usually a word we use in Norman to describe a device we use to change the channels on the television. Remote in this part of New Mexico is an understatement of long stretches of highway with no noticeable inhabitants.

At one point we drove for what seemed like an hour and never saw a car in any direction. The weeds grew right up to the pavement causing a tunnel affect in some places. This section is part of, or crosses the Santa Fe Trail. This is one of the trade routes to Santa Fe from the east. The route was used by trappers and traders throughout the fur trade from around 1822 through the 1880s when the rail road came to Santa Fe.

As we moseyed up the trail, I spied an abandoned house. It was close to the road and I decided to explore. It was most likely an early 1900s home. Fairly large considering its location. It was obviously a wealthy person’s home considering the size and appointments inside. The lath dated it for me. Lath walls were used between 1910 and the 1950s when the use declined.

I took a few shots of the inside while the cows stared at me. Realizing I hadn’t brought a feed truck they went back to doing what cows do best, that being making themselves in to tasty things to eat. I finished filling my socks and laces with burrs and got back to the car and we proceeded on up the highway.

We passed miles of cows and pasture only interrupted by a couple of fences and a cattle guard or two. Short of a cowboy working his cows in pen we didn’t see another soul until we reached the “valle escondito”. The road dropped sharply to traverse a nearly dry river. The canyon was picturesque. We passed a couple of pickup trucks along this section. The best part of this section was if you saw something you wanted to take a picture of, you could just stop, RIGHT THERE ON THE HIGHWAY, and take a picture, or twenty. We were truly alone.

We crossed back into Oklahoma. At this point our camera batteries died. I was pretty sure they wouldn’t last the entire trip but I didn’t expect them to die in the middle of the most remote and picturesque parts of the trip. Live and learn I guess.

We sped along until we reached Kenton, Oklahoma. We stopped at this “store” and inquired about batteries. They had nine volts and “C” and “D” cells but no “AA” size. There was very little in the store and we layered on to our disappointment that we couldn’t photograph the town. It was decided that we would have to come back.

View Larger Map

We drove up the road to Black Mesa. More nothing in the middle of nowhere. We did manage to run over a four foot rattlesnake. I tried to miss him/her but it was unavoidable. I’m pretty sure there was no shortage of rattlesnakes in this part of the world so only a few alligator tears where shed.

After Mrs. OkieRover noticed we ran over a snake she began to panic about the snake getting in the car with us. It was hard to contain my laughter as I tried to ease her mind that the snake, no matter how dexterous, could not get IN THE CAR after we had just run him over at 40 mph. My mind immediately started thinking about titles for a movie of such an event. Snakes in a CRV was the first to pop in to my head.

We weren’t quite sure what this building was all about.

View Larger Map
It was totally unused and did not even have a drive or parking lot. I’d love to know who thought this would make a great destination for such a facility. It has lots of potential obviously, but someone pulled the plug on the project before it even got going.

We drove on up to the trailhead for Black Mesa. I read that the hike to the top is 4.2 miles and takes anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on how manly you are. Mrs. OkieRover confided that she was “not the hiking type”. She would not be hiking up. I think the thought of snakes have her a bit shook up.

I got back to the CRV after reading what I could of the information sign which is in need or repair or replacement. I programmed our route home on the Tom Tom. It told us we were 9 hours and some change from home. NINE HOURS???! Mrs. OkieRover was none to happy about that. But it was what it was.

There is a discrepancy between what the Tom Tom says the travel time and how I drive. I am guessing if you drove the EXACT speed limit all the time you would go insane arrive when the Tom Tom says you will. But me, being the Marine that I am, will not be told when I am arriving. I arrive when I want to.
I turned the CRV into the wind (metaphorically speaking that is, as the wind was technically out of the south at 25mph) and headed home. We clipped Boise City and headed south back into hell Texas to pick up the Mother Road/I-40. I set the cruise control to somewhere around 9 miles an hour over the posted speed limit.

This works pretty well for us. A highway patrol friend of mine said he wouldn’t even turn the car around for 9 over. 10 over, that’s speeding. But 9 is debatable. At times I pushed the CRV up to nearly 100mph. The uninhabited panhandle doesn’t exactly have a lot of cars on the road. So being careful to pick stretches I could see for a long way I would cut some time off the trip.

I was cutting several minutes off for every mile I was driving. Before too long the Tom Tom was telling us we would get home around 11pm. When we pulled into the drive way I had gotten us home in a little over 7 hours. That’s not too bad.

We averaged around 25mpg in the CRV. The brand new Yokohama Parada Spec-X tires were quiet and handled well. I’m pretty sure the name “Parada” was chosen because it matched the head designer’s Brazilian girlfriend. They were at the time of this writing number one in their category (round rubber things mounted on rims). The actual category is Street/Sport Truck All-Season Tires. Hopefully the tires won’t break down like the Geolanders I bought in 2001. The sidewall broke down too early and the Range Rover looked like it was driving on clown car wheels. Those Geolanders only went 40,000 miles as well. That was pretty disappointing. I’m hoping for better this time around.

We (I) drove somewhere in the neighborhood of 850 miles. We left at 8am Central Standard time and got home around 11:00pm. It was a long trip but a good one. We both felt like hammered jello the next day. Mrs. OkieRover recovered by taking an afternoon nap. I recovered by putting the differential back in the Range Rover and hooking up the drive shaft.

Don’t forget to check out the pictures posted on my Posterous site.

I highly recommend visiting this region of New Mexico, I loved the remoteness and could in the back of my mind image the hardy men and women who once traversed this trail. They made 10 miles a day with wagons and that was on a good day. If we had the Range Rover on this trip, making 10 miles a day off road would have made this trip even better.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Post #193) 8/12/2010

[Queue the theme song]
The Good, I started on the rear brakes last night.
The Bad, I can’t finish the project.
The Ugly, I found a broken axle half shaft.

As you can see in this picture the rear brakes on the Range Rover are looking pretty knackered. I love that word “knackered”. In this context I’m using the British and Irish slang form. But it works as well for me on the British/Australasian level too. For when I saw the broken half shaft I translated it into American English and that was one of the words I used do describe my disappointment. RovErica, while driving her UN-air conditioned Taurus, is famous for her saying, “Dad it is hot as balls in my car.” It was definitely “hot as balls” in the garage while I was working on this project. The temperature was still above 95F when the sun started going down. Considering all this, knackered works on many levels.

On the final few drives in the Rover, the brakes seemed to be seized at least on the left rear side. And the rust is simply annoying. I normally don’t swap the brake discs when I do a brake job, and as you can see they have probably NEVER been replaced in this Rover’s life. The groove or lip on the edge of the disc was getting pretty deep so it was time for some new discs.

I bought a full set of discs and decided, like all the new items I put on the Rover, to limit the rust the best I can. I decided that a coat of acid etching primer would be just the thing. You might ask, “Will it work?” Who knows, but I feel better about them being painted.

So I took the new brake discs and painted them with the primer. It was not my intention to paint the actual braking surface but through my laziness efforts and impatience some healthy overspray, I got paint on the braking surface. I don’t think it matters for when the brake pads start making contact there won’t be much paint there after a few stops.

After I had put the first coat of paint on the discs I noticed an irregularity on one of the front discs.

After checking with several sources (JagGuy and The Evil German Dude) it was determined this was done to balance that disc. I had seen this before, but wanted to make sure.

Swapping the discs is a pretty straight forward job. You remove the caliper, or as EGD says the “ka-LIPer” (I wish I had an audio file of him saying that for you). This requires the brake lines on the rear brakes to be removed. So have a catch pan available or you will have a huge mess. The brake lines are “hard piped” as in not flexible at the caliper. The flexible part of the brake line on the rear axle is in the center above the axle.

After you have the caliper off, it is time to remove the axle half shaft. That can be seen in this picture.

Five bolts and you are done.

Pro Tip: I used a breaker bar to hold the wheel in place as I broke the bolts lose. I also had to use a cheater pipe to extend the leverage of the socket and ratchet. I’m getting wimpier in my advanced age.

I used a large screw driver to slip between the axle half shaft cap and the hub. Once you break the seal it comes out easily. You then flatten out the keeper ring and remove the bearing nuts. These nuts are very large and I used the biggest channel locking pliers to get them started. They were not very tight in the first place but the grease made them very hard to work with.

Here is another “good” for this project. It is a good idea to replace stuff as you go through the vehicle you are working on. In this example the wheel bearings are in these hubs. I remember I had bought a wheel bearing replacement kit some time ago when RovErica reported some odd behavior and noise. From what she described I thought the bearings were going out. It turned out not to be the case and I had the kits still sitting on the shelf. My axles have 185,000 miles on them. So basically if you break something down this far, go ahead and replace the serviceable parts while your there, if your budget can afford it. I will store the old bearings “for good measure” as I believe they were not bad in the first place and will work in a pinch if necessary.

After you have the hub off it is time to remove the disc from the rest of the hub. This is done by removing the crown nuts that hold the anti-lock brake sensor ring.

And those thread shafts pass through the disc holding the hub to the disc. They are dual threaded. Both ends are threaded and this may cause you trouble when you attempt to take the crown nuts off. Be creative. Extra points are awarded to you for removing the ring if you have to deploy additional tools or techniques. Rovers North has a good picture of the ring and assembly and how it all fits together. Click on the picture to open their site for a complete parts list.

With a little persuasion gentle tap of a hammer the hub and the disc will separate. Reassemble in reverse order. If you have a bearing kit to install you will need to do that as well. If no, definitely renew the grease on the old bearings. I will post another entry when I put the new bearings back in.

Right now I’m debating if I’m going to bother sand blasting and painting the hub unit. I really want it all to be pretty and new so maybe perhaps.

Now on to the broken axle half shaft.

This crappy photo shows the sheared off end of my right rear axle shaft. After seeing this and an expletive laden rant a little disappointed cursing, it hit me, I will have to tear the differential apart. KNACKERS!

If we refer to the rule above, now would be a good time to put in a locking differential. But sadly the budget does not support it. What? You’ve never had the axles out of your Rover? Click here to see what a proper shaft should look like. In short, it depends on who you ask and what you are doing with your Rover.

IF we, that is you and I, were sitting in my garage having a Bodington’s the conversation might turn to 10 spline versus 24 spline axles at this point. Basically in mid-1993 Land Rover started using 24 spline axles instead of 10 spline. Are 24’s better than 10’s? There is a thread on in their forum. Check it out for wisdom on the subject.

So another phase of the project will be to assess the damage done and get the axle half shaft piece (or pieces) out of the differential. Gag.

As I posted in an earlier post, everything I touch generates two (2) more projects. At this pace I may never finish the restoration. I am trying to keep a positive outlook on everything, but Mrs. OkieRover is wondering how much this will all cost and when will it be done. As I told her, this is my “mid-life crisis motorcycle”.

I am respecting her wishes that I not buy a motorcycle. I’m hoping she realizes that this is my hobby and in her mind, is a lot safer than a motorcycle. Well, it’s a lot safer than ME BEING ON A MOTORCYCLE.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.