Life is moving too fast to do it justice so I will type a couple of hurried posts – bear with me.
We crossed the Equator recently that means that The Cobar is no longer a Slimy Pollywog but has become a Trusty Shellback – or at least it would be if it had joined the Navy (Unlikely as it is a Land Rover) and crossed the Equator at Sea (Ditto). To celebrate the achievement I decided to replace the steering Drop Arm balljoint! After 16 years faithful service it had finally had enough. We had been dealing with vague steering from halfway through Ethiopia and had managed to source a new balljoint from a dealer in Addis Ababa but I needed somewhere secure to immobilise the vehicle and get all the tools out. We stayed at Jungle Junction in Nairobi (JJ’S) as Chris has a workshop there and it is a long established Overlanders haunt. The first challenge was to find JJ’s as the whole site moved in about 2013 and people are still publishing the wrong GPS Co-Ordinates! I will publish the correct ones one a suitable page yet to be created on this site. We arrived late, in the dark after several hours of following a ‘helpful map’provided by some Kenyan Land Rover enthusiasts who didnt know it had moved. The following day I set to work but it soon transpired that I did not have all the correct tooling on board and I am only prepared to improvise so far. Chris at JJ’s was prepared to lend me some tools but their workshop didnt have the necesary either. The drop arm would not separate from the steering box despite way-too-much force being applied so I backed off and reassembled The Cobar before I broke something vital. That was a 9 -hour day in the sun to no advantage. The next day we went on a hunt to seek professional help. We found a garage called ‘BushRovers’ who specialise in Land Rover servicing (I love Kenya!) and they agreed to do the job straight away as the car is our home & we needed somewhere to sleep. They had the whole thing ready 4 hours later. Although they admitted even with the correct puller the Drop Arm removal had been a B*%£$ ! In fact they had fitted a whole new drop arm and balljoint – I didnt ask! So The Cobars steering now responds to input from the driver again (although there is still some negotiation required – it is a Defender after all 🙂 )
The next task was to fit sufficient seating to allow our family to join us for their holidays. When we left the UK The Cobar had been reduced to a 2 seater. The remainder is full of our stuff (I know, I know)! The seat position behind the driver is a shelf but it can convert to a seat if we have to take a Scout/Guide/Policeman etc. This arrangement allows us to refuse such passengers when they are not compulsory as no-one else can see it is a dual purpose seat until we convert it however that still only gave us 3 and we needed a fourth. We contemplated removing the slide-out Fridge/Freezer from behind the front passenger seat but that involves a lot if work as it was beautifully fitted by APB Trading in the UK and they did a proper job. Sally came up with a great idea. The older 110s had a central seat making the front row 3 seats. OK so the lucky centre passenger has to straddle the gear levers but it is possible. The Cobar doesnt have the original Land Rover seats (which are narrower) it has aftermarket Exmoor comfy seats with additional padding. We spent a day driving around cardealers and garages asking if anyone had one of the old centre seats – no chance. We finally ended up at a Kenyan business called ‘BlackMan Rovers’ in Karen, Nairobi. The owner said she could get a welder/upholsterer to fashion something to order. At JJ’s we had been given the cushions/squabs from one of the seats in the rear load area of a Defender but they had no suppport frame. We returned to Blackman Rovers with these cushions and met ‘Stevo’ who was to be our welder for the day. Using just a Carbon Arc (Stick) welder run from a cable with no actual plug – just bare wires poked into the socket he worked like a trojan through the rain to knockup a suitable seat frame from square steel tubing. Within a couple of hours the seat was in and it matched our current upholstery – how cool is that?
Thanks Stevo and all at Blackman Rovers I will be publishing their details on the forthcoming ‘Helpful Businesses’ page.