Those were very wise words that were spoken to me many, many years ago in my first class of a woodwork course. They are very true, but now I would like to add my own wisdom to these words as I discovered it is even more important to know what size you need to measure before you can start measuring… Thinking you know how big a piece of wood needs to be and measuring that size and checking before you cut it doesn’t help if it needs to be a different size!
Luckily we had enough spare wood to make up for these beginner errors (you’d think we were experts by now after already successfully making other boxes for Lara!) and we are now finalising the last 3 storage boxes. We’ll see how far I get today, but they need to be finished (painted and all) by tomorrow evening latest. A huge challenge, but we have decided to pack the car this weekend as we have no other weekends left before Lara is loaded into the container that will take her to Kuala Lumpur. Well, not exactly true. We would have another weekend, but we decided to use that weekend to ride in the Tour Down Under Community Challenge and catch up with friends in Adelaide instead. So packing this weekend it is. We’ll let you know how that went, but just in case I have added a big panic button here. You never know if we need it after the weekend.
At the moment we think we are in good shape (unfortunately not physical fitness shape which means we’ll struggle on the Tour Down Under ride), but we had a pretty successful week in terms of preparing Lara for her imminent departure.
Yesterday Jon picked up the aluminium roof box we had made and it is perfect. As you can see Jon fits in it very comfortably so all we need to do is add a bit a foam as a mattress and his bed is ready too.
We now also have:
- most of our spares, including some sump washers sent to us for free by a fellow Defender owner (thanks Hamish!)
- a GPS – to ensure we don’t kill each other
- tie down straps – for in the container
- a shovel – so Jon can dig us out of trouble
- shoe racks – an awesome job done by Davies Sheet Metal in Milton (they did all our aluminium work and have done a fantastic job)
- pink hiking boots for Jude – the most ugly, but very comfortable boots I could find
- storage – cheap, but we need to get everything in there using a forklift as it is above another storage unit with no fixed access! If you can help let us know!
- our first vaccination for Japanese encephalitis and typhoid – only 3 more injections to go (the second one for Japanese E and 2 more for tick borne E)
- flights booked to Singapore
- new tyres on the car, including spare wheel and second spare
We’re still waiting for a few things we ordered online. Soon we will be the new proud owners of:
- a new camera – small but with great zoom
- new driver’s licences – we had to renew them as they would have run out in the middle of the year which would be slightly impractical
- a safe – to be added to a secret location in the car 🙂
- a sat phone – second hand but still with warranty (thanks Andre for picking it up for us!)
- a mini safe to put our spare key in – yes, we expect to loose our key at some point, wouldn’t you?
I’ve decided to start collecting e-books and audio books for on the way as I might get bored of Jon’s taste of music. If you have any you can email or dropbox me that would be really appreciated! I have a few already, so more than happy to do some swaps.
Yesterday evening we got together with Rob & Robyn, Guy & Cheryl and Miles. We are going to ship our vehicles together with the first 2 couples so we wanted to make sure Lara and Rob & Robyn’s truck would fit in the container together. They do, with 36cm to spare (on a total of 12.01m internal length of the container). Plenty of space.
And, we also have decided on a name for our trip (everybody has a name of their trip so we didn’t wanna be left behind): LOST + FOUND ADVENTURES. We will lose things (and hopefully find them again) and we’re hoping we will get lost along the way too, maybe we should have a chat with Clayton to get some advice on how to find those shortcuts! But most importantly we hope to only lose time and find lots of great memories and friends along the way!
We’ve made a logo for it as well:
Do you like it? Did you notice our route in the background on the suitcase? (we think it is brilliant!) I’ll add it to our blog soon, but now I’d better get on with the making of the mozzie box, the wine box and the box with no name yet.
Jon was home early on Friday 7 Dec and we worked on Lara again. We had to paint the kitchen box, glue the velcro to the inside for the clothes pods on Jon’s side and finish the wine rack (some say this is the most important bit!). I’ll have to re-do the glue on my side for the clothes pods as well at some point as it is coming loose on one side.
The painting was just a lot of work, who would have thought that a deep, dark red is sooooo useless in covering anything! It needs 3 (!) layers plus a base coat to actually cover the wood… Base layer and 2 coats are done, so we shoved it in for the weekend anyway. The wine rack was already mostly done, all we needed to do was cut off the section at the front that was too long, re-apply the carpet and add the plastic tubing that will hold the wine. Check out the picture so you get a better idea how we made it.
We didn’t have all night though as we also still had to pack for our weekend with Marjolein, John & Sal and Jo to Bundaberg to see the turtles lay eggs on the beach and taste some rum in the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery.
But now we have finished this, all we have to do is make 3 more wooden boxes. One for in front of the wine rack and 2 in the space next to it. As the kitchen box is so heavy we decided to make 2 smaller ones for the area above it.
We went to see Luke this morning to discuss the remaining work he will do for us:
- 2 shelves in the clothes area for shoes (we think)
- a bracket to hold the water filter under the bonnet
He doesn’t have time this week, so we agreed we would call him the Monday when we are back from Europe, but he is happy it can all be done.
Lara is a white Land Rover Defender 110 from 2006, but she is no standard vehicle. Over the years she has been kitted out with many awesome features. If you think cars are boring this bit is not for you!
But if you want to know how we made sure we had enough space for everything and wouldn’t have to take 5 boxes out every time we wanted to make a cuppa or get our chairs out for dinner, you’re in for a treat!
From the standard Defender 110, we added:
- long range fuel tank – giving us a total of 120L of diesel.
- 2 x 50L water tanks – connected to a hand pump and shower on the bull bar
- dual batteries
- snorkel with mushroom – the mushroom is for better dust filtering. Hmmm we are now thinking we might not add the mushroom as it also restricts air intake which Lara will need desperately once she gets to the high altitudes on our trip…
- bull bar with winch and 2 spotties (spot lights)
- air bags on the rear springs – keeps Lara more level when she is fully loaded
- air compressor – with the outlet on the rear bumper for easy access
- bash plate
- diff guards
- fuel pump access plate
- heavy duty spare wheel carrier with spare wheel (doh!) – with rear camping light
- UHF radio
- fire extinguisher
On top of the car:
- full length roof rack (2.9m)
- roof rack tent (Hannibal) – opens over the rear door
- aluminium box for on the roof rack at the front – this contains our spare tyre, our inflatable kayak and all our hiking gear, see for more details the actual box
- awning with optional mozzie tent (mosquito tent for those of you not fluent in the language of Oz)
Inside the car / storage:
- cargo barrier
- drawers – behind the passenger and driver’s seat. The fridge sits on top of these.
- 45L fridge – behind the passenger seat
- fridge table – folds down (home made)
- cupboard behind the driver’s seat – see our home made wooden cupboard description (below) for more details on the actual cupboard
- map holder – attached to the back of the central console
- 2 cup holders – attached to the central console
- storage shelf above the fridge and cupboard – accessible from the seats at the front
- gull wing doors – replacing the standard windows at the back
- one drawer running the full length of the back – divided into 3 compartments with a table on top
- two storage pods – extended for this trip to the top of the car. This means access to these pods is then only possible from the gull wing doors. They will be used for storing our clothes
- rear-window mesh – to hang things on and also for added security
- storage shelf along the top across the whole width of the car – for 3 food storage boxes
- shelves in between the 2 storage pods – for easy access to our table and chairs
- wooden box for all our kitchen equipment – stored under the shelves for the table and chairs
Below are some photos of little modifications we have done whilst on the road to make things a little easier, or simply to stop things flying around:
Our home made wooden cupboard
We wanted more easily accessible storage space behind the driver’s seat and decided we could save ourselves some dollars by making it ourselves. Not sure in the long run if it did save us money, but it was definitely an interesting learning process.
It started with the idea of building a shell around existing IKEA drawers we already have. They’re the wooden boxes which have 3 drawers in them, and we have two of them. Those drawers fit A4 sized paper and as we’re expecting to have quite a bit of paperwork and maps etc to carry, we thought it would be a good idea to use those drawers for that.
To make use of the entire 65cm (ish) we had between the door and the fridge we placed them behind each other. With a wooden shell around that, we could then measure the space we had left underneath it. We came to the conclusion we had enough space to fit a toolbox with some spares for Lara (like engine oil) in the bottom area and then we still had space to make a drawer in between the top and bottom section.
We made a door on the bottom section (we used 2 (!) magnets – might be a bit too much for such a small door) and added another ‘gutter’ section to the back of the whole cupboard. This is where the inverter will live and the area in front of it is to put the actual batteries and other things we’ll be charging using the inverter. How clever is that?!
We also bought some carpet and lined the insides of the drawers, the space around the drawers and the tool box so things wouldn’t rattle too much on shitty roads…
This is what it looks like in progress and finished from the front and looking back from the passenger’s seat.
She is already pretty well kitted out for the trip, but we still have a wish list of things we would like to add. Some things are to make life easier on the road, others are just ‘nice-to-have’.
We are going to add some gull wing doors to her ($545). Have a look here. They will make it much easier to access those boxes we have on the side on the back and we will each have the exclusive use of one of them for our clothes. Pack as much or as little as you like 🙂
They also come in a glass or aluminium version (slightly cheaper at $445), but I think we will stick to the steel version from above so we can hang things on the inside as well. And it is probably more secure too.
Downside of the gull wing doors is that we will have to lock them separately to the rest of the car. Minor inconvenience compared to the ease of access we will get.
The jack will also get its own specific spot, on the outside at the back. This makes it easily accessible, but also out of the way and it will save up some space inside.
I hope this will fit with our jack, the compressor outlet and the non-standard door hinge we have fitted.
We are also going to fit a safe in the car, but I am not telling you where it goes – big secret 🙂
Other things we still need to do:
- fix the tweeter
- fix the cup holder
- sort out the filling and draining of the water tanks
- sort out a water filter for the water tanks
- add fridge lid-holder
- try to add sort of slide out table in front of fridge
- make a table that fits the solar panel slot in the back
- add cloth bag system to store our clothes
- add drying line inside the car
I have also spotted something I haven’t seen before here, as well as the rear window mesh guard. It’s called tree fenders and they sit just under the windows at the back. If they would be strong enough to stand on and to lash things onto that would be interesting…
Also think we still need to consider a full length roof rack and maybe a bonnet top strengthener (same mesh as we have next to it).
This post might also be added to as time goes on, hopefully we will also be able to tick things off as we get closer to the D-date!