I just had a very productive weekend. I took the Defender up to the Land Rover farm on Saturday for Panni to put the door panels and fittings back in. Some of that I could have done myself but it would have taken me a lot longer. He also put the wheel arches back on. As a final touch, he fitted the one remaining step that I was not able to do myself because I was missing the steel stabilizing bar that runs from the step to the chassis.
He said the cost was included in the original price I paid for the body work, which makes a certain amount of sense, but for his trouble I dashed him 10 cedis ( about $6.50) for his two hours work, which he seemed to appreciate greatly. I was very impressed that he had all the pieces that he had removed when he did the orginal body work last summer,all the door liners, the inside mirror, the window surrounds and the buttons to put them back on. He even came up with a plastic surround for the rear window wiper/washer which I had forgotten I had. Much of this I had purchased months ago and completely forgotten about, but he had kept it safe. Panni and I were also able to discuss two other projects that would benefit from his skills, a fold away table to stow under the roof-tup carrier and an awning to be attached to the carrier, but these are really part of the expedition outfitting that is the next phase of the project. I am going to do a separate post on those under expedition outfitting
I was expecting to see Eric the electrician at the shop on Saturday but he was not there. I had phoned him Friday to confirm he was going to be there. Then when I was about to leave home the Defender would not start. I inspected the battery terminal, which is perennially loose and up till now if the vehicle did not start playing with it solved the problem. This time it did not. However, I noticed that the terminal was sparking when I engaged the ignition, which suggests there was a short somewhere. I thought through the various possibilities and wondered if the problem might be in one of the loose wires that are hanging in various places waiting to be rewired to interior lights, or the stereo, or to one or another accessory that may have been in at one point in the vehicles history. I started with a bundle of wires that is on the dash that I had moved around when I was cleaning the dash a few days earlier and sure enough that was the problem. I re-taped all the loose wires protruding from the dash and the battery stopped sparking and the Defender started right away. I called Eric and harangued him for leaving the wires in such a sloppy state. He said he was on the way to the shop would be there by the time I arrived.
Eric never showed up, but I was approached by his “helper”, who went around and taped up any wires that were obviously at risk. I also had him run the wire for the front and rear ceiling lights so it would be easy to get to those after the roof liner was back in. And I had him replace the battery terminal that did not fit the post properly. No more loose connection. I feel dumb for not having it fixed earlier, but there were so many other higher priorities I just never focused on it. Of course this would have been done right away months ago by a competent electrician with a service mentality. I recall Brian, my colleague who had done a Defender the year I arrived, saying he had had some trouble with electrics at Opere’s shop. And all I have had done so far is very, very basic. In the next stage we need to instal a dual battery system, numerous accessories and switches to support them. I just don’t see these guys being able to handle that.
I am somewhat sorry I left the pieces with Paani because I could have been cleaning them. This is something I prefer to do myself because it does ot require any particular skill and I can see the limits of the process. Everything is really dirty but dirt does not explain all the visual defects.
Some of the pieces are in good shape, others are worn beyond what any cleaning can hope to restore. I can’t install all the interior window surrounds until the roof liner is redone and that is the next priority.