Today Astrid completed her first Triathlon at school - 540 meters swimming, 2 kilometers of cycling and 2 kilometers of running. It is great to see her set goals and achieve them; I am a very proud father. Hat's off to her school as well - this was a great program.
Astrid has really taken to cycling, and Michelle and I hope the bike will add a new direction and dimension to our travels. The problem is, we only have two bikes in the garage.
As a kid, no material possession encapsulated my notion of freedom like my bike. It held the potential to travel and expand the world I knew with speed and efficiency. I was in control, and I rode that razors edge between safety and road rash with only my developing understanding of action and consequence to guide me.
June is the month that Astrid has embraced her bicycle. The scooter has ceased to be a form of transportation and joined the pogo stick as a driveway amusement. We’re all looking forward to many cycle miles to come…
Fuel filtration is often overlooked in the preparation of our travel vehicles. One tank of bad fuel can plague your vehicle with misfires, no-starts and power loss for tankfulls to come. Don't be the person sputtering to the side of the road or rocking your vehicle in a parking lot with no-start issues. Take a trip to the Baja legendary "Coco's Corner" for some thoughts on fuel system preparation...
I have tried plumbed water tanks through heat exchangers, hanging solar showers, and wet-wipe trouble area rubs. In my opinion - the best road trip, overland, expedition shower system is a 3 gallon pesticide spray bottle.I make my case here...
I have added another mishap story from the road. Youthful exuberance, the military, parasites in my orifices, and diaper rash; all the makings of a classic tale. Read about it here...
I am wearing shorts today despite the cold, damp spring weather. To further my efforts at keeping vibes positive for sunny skies, I am posting a short video of our Newfoundland 2016 trip with a focus on blue sky horizons.
The clip ends with a cartwheel and jazz-hands aboard the MV Highlander ferry bound for Newfoundland - a favorite from Astrid's "Cartwheel - Anytime, Anywhere" series...
I have added a short story from the road. I made an assumption about a roadsign on a dark, rainy night in Baja, Mexico which resulted in a white knuckle moment. Read about it here...
Fall weather is here in Ontario, Canada; the floor, the toilet seat, my towel - everything is dark, damp and cold when I get up. Eore, our old Land Rover, is also reluctant for the morning routine. The starter spins slow stirring cold 20w 50 while the engine sputters under full carburetor choke. Dressed in an awkward mix of summer and winter layers, I scrape the windshield frost during the high-idle warmup. On the road, headlights chase fleeing exhaust condensation down the street’s painted lines, and I punch the brakes too hard and struggle through gear changes with boots back on my feet.
Driving barefoot in an old Land Rover is a happy place for me. At age 10 a farm fence nail punched through the sole of my All-Stars, and the resulting blood and tetanus shot had a lasting impression. Twenty years later I am pictured in a honeymoon photo on a Belize beach wearing boots rated at 1200 newtons of sole puncture protection. But, the Land Rover’s superheated rubber floor-mats, sprinkled with rust chips and miscellaneous fasteners, I’ve determined is a safe-space for my bare-feet.
I started driving barefoot in 1997 following a sweat and VW bus pot-fume wake induced revelation. Those first few miles of 2 lane Arizona with my boots and socks in the passenger footwell was liberating. I can only compare it to sunrise hours naked and in love on a deserted Baja, Mexico beach - free, natural, and a little bit naughty. But, it’s cold today, and I am wearing boots.
Despite today's cold weather, I am going to share some practical benefits to Land Rover bare-footing it:
There is a two-track road south of Bahia de los Angeles, Baja, Mexico I drove with a girl. It was late in the day, and I was relaxed and contented by the dull thud of full jerry cans, a half-empty Negra Modelo, and the ease of - ocean on the left and desert on the right - navigation. We found our way through an erect, suggestive vegetation of barrel cactus and boojums, and we plunged through summer scraggly Mesquite and Cresote lined Arroyos. Our goal - a campsite on a deserted beach.
She was smiling with her head on my shoulder. Her tank top was brightly coloured and ended at a pair of red bikini bottoms. It was a struggle to keep my eyes off the two long legs that stretched into the passenger footwell, and on the two-tracks that were our path through the desert. The rhythm of the ocean, the stars, and a soft sand beach waited for us. I eased back on the Land Rover’s throttle - there was no rush - I believe that bench seats were conceived of for this unique form of foreplay.
Earlier this week I had been thinking about this trip and stumbled on an internet article about the declining birth rates in Western countries. Following the bench seat and birth rate train of thought, I discovered the US number of children per family peaked at 3.5 through the 1940’s, ’50’s and ’60;s; the heyday of the automotive bench seat. I believe in this case, correlation is clearly causation. Remember you read it at shearpin.org first…
I should also mention the girl is now my wife - I have to keep present day bench seat drives happy.
Series Land Rover half-shafts (axles) are drivetrain failure points of legend. As a new owner, this legend will be imparted to you by the first Land Rover enthusiast you encounter. It is your duty to do the same; sharing the weak axle legend is a Series Land Rover Owners Club secret handshake.
Following my recent half-shaft spline inspection I decided I was long overdue jotting down some of my half-shaft history; my virtual club handshake. The Great Basin Rover axles that I had inspected have been abused in my Land Rover since 2001. With knowledge of the cure for early Land Rover’s #1 failure part literally in my hands - I felt further compelled to write.
I have compiled my thoughts on the subject here - Series Land Rover Axles & Great Basin Rover's Replacement Solution
I can’t put my finger on when my condition began. For those quick to point at my Land Rover’s, and their reputation for spotty reliability, I can say that my vehihypochondria predated that relationship. As long as I can remember I have been the sort that cringed when my father missed shifts in the family MG or winced as the Kubota diesel in our tractor turned over, and over, and over on a Canadian winter morning. What I have is not simple mechanical sympathy - it is a real problem.
I do admit that the frequent failure rate of Land Rover parts and pieces is not good for my condition; any mental health practitioner would be quick to prescribe me a Toyota. Taking my self-analysis one step further - the various pops, clattering, and bangs normal in diesel engine operation also produce the negative outcomes of anxiety, manic analysis, and stress associated with my vehihypochondria.
The source of this months symptoms has been a rhythmic tick at idle in the Defenders 300 tdi; or is it a bang. A quick internet search of “300 tdi ticks” produced a long list of terminal engine problems. It also provided a suggestion - run some diesel fuel treatment through the engine and reevaluate.
I am happy to report that Royal Purple’s Max-Tane silenced the tick. While at my local Canadian Tire I also purchased an Automotive stethoscope - admittedly a blessing and a curse. All is well again in my Land Rover world, and my vehihypochondria is the worry of my next mechanical problem.
I have for sale a remarkably unmolested and preserved M416 trailer. This trailer was released in the late 1990's from a military storage facility and was never used. The perfect blank canvas to build your military tough adventure and/or utility trailer. For details SOLD - but my For Sale page lives on.
On January 29th, 2016 the last Land Rover Defender rolled off the production line at the Solihull plant in England. The last Defender ended 68 years of a design and engineering concept that remained true to its original purpose - getting work done in difficult terrain. This unwavering philosophy is part of what made the Defender unique; this uniqueness inspired owners to keep 75% of total Land Rover Series & Defender production on the road.
For us longtime enthusiasts - the end is particularly difficult. There have been redesigns and engineering advancements in the past that have tested our faith in Land Rover. I am sure the appearance of coil-springs and disc brakes were cause for skepticism and concern in the early 1980’s; I was too young. I do recall the introduction of computer management in the TD5 engine. Computers in Defenders were unanimously rejected in the enthusiast community as working and expedition vehicle folly. Reliability, an anxiety never far from a Land Rover owners heart, was sure to suffer with the introduction of a component irreparable with the contents of an under-seat toolbox. But this news - the end of Land Rover Defender production - where do we go from here.
Myself, I have decided to strengthen my resolve to travel farther, maintain and repair to a higher standard, and adopt the air of superiority befitting an overlander with a silicon chip free Land Rover Defender. I foresee legions of enthusiasts also adopting this muddy path into an unknown future. By building a vehicle that attracts oily, bloody-knuckled romantics, I think Land Rover has done well to ensure their legacy.
Having reached this inner-peace, my wife sent me reeling back to my garage hermitage with her reaction to the news - “Does this mean your going to have trouble getting the parts you constantly seem to need?”
St. Patrick's Day - as good a day as any to think on my people that called Ireland home. "May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home."
With spring fever setting in, my thoughts have also turned to my long neglected blog. It has always been a goal of Michelle and myself to travel and keep the family Land Rovers going (that goal is, admittedly, more mine); this blog plays a role in forcing us to look up from the daily plow, and make time to plan and get out of the city.
For this post, a bit of inspiration from last summer. This video is a quick GoPro edit from a logging road in northern Ontario, Canada. With the family 3 up on Eore's bench seat, I looked over and had one of those contented moments. Astrid was singing to herself and drawing in the window condensation. Michelle had slipped into a nap; with no Viking blood, Thor's hammer and heavy rain had given her no rest the previous night. Myself, I smelled like wood fire and "night in a tent", and enjoyed the slow pace of the forest and lakes going by.
In the late 1990’s I trusted “The Club” to ensure Eore - my transportation, my weekend home, and my travel companion - was always where I left him.
Peace of mind came from “The Club’s” all-metal construction, extending locking mechanism to fit any size steering wheel, and high visibility red finish. Reaching over the seat and that characteristic “The Club” ratcheting noise was always part of parking.
With time and a better understanding of Eore’s mechanics I developed better anti-theft methods. During these late night, solo repairs I also made a discovery that saved my “The Club” from obsolescence and a landfill.
As a solo mechanic there are times when an extra hand or foot is necessary. Or, something with a rubberized non-marring finish, the capability to extend to various lengths and lock, and possessing sufficient strength to not buckle. “The Club”.
"The Club", conveniently hanging on a nail in my garage, has been invaluable for:
For years I have read favorable reviews of the the various brands of mechanic's gloves available in the marketplace. Being the stubborn sort, I have persisted with the latex variety that bloat with my sweat until they eventually tear apart.
During a recent trip to my local auto parts supplier I could not turn my back on a colorfull sale display for the well respected Mechanix branded gloves. With a cross-shaft O-ring repair to address in my 110's LT230 I purchased the gloves, and I walked out happy.
My hopes for the gloves are four-fold. Firstly, I am hoping the snug fit and glove design will result in a minimal loss of dexterity. Secondly, I hope the strategic padding will offer some protection during those desperate moments when I use the fleshy part of my fist as a soft mallet. Third, I hope to avoid those superstitious moments when a blue latex glove tears when I pull it on; that "is this a bad omen" moment. Lastly, I hope to be able to thrust my hands into ground hamburger beef without worrying about the stubborn grease trapped under my fingernails.
Seized nuts, dirty linkages, and cursing are in my future. Check back for a full review of my new Mechanix gloves in the near future.
It has always been my intention to blog on shearpin.org. Today I am going to start. Shearpin.org is one family’s opportunity to share our travel experiences, Land Rover enthusiasm, and the influence both have on our lives; a quick mission statement. For an introduction to our family and our Land Rovers, please visit the About Us and the Garage sections of this website.
It has been my experience that both travelers and Land Rover owners are a vibrant community. We enjoy dialogue with both and would love to include any comments, encouragement, and criticisms - please email email@example.com with your thoughts.
More to come…