We had purchased a National Luna 52 litre “Weekender” fridge the first time we visited South Africa, which has now been gracing the storage room in our house for over a year. We had bought a Sony radio/CD/Ipod player from a duty-free importer a few months ago, and on our recent trip to South Africa obtained a couple more electrical toys, like an external light for remote campsite use at night. To run these things we decided to install an dual batter system and had bought deep cell battery in South Africa, all of these things arrived with our recent shipment. Time to get to work.
Through Francis I was able to make contact with a competent auto electrician at the local Tata/Land Rover dealership who was familiar with dual battery systems. No co-incidence that the foreman in the shop is Francis’ brother King. King and Emmanuel came by one Saturday to look at what I wanted done. There are lots of electrical projects, including the solar panel and the AC plug in, but the priority is getting the second battery running so I got them to focus on that. They established that the second battery was not going to fit into the main battery box located under the driver’s seat, and it was too high to fit into the box under the passenger seat. They left me with fundamental non-electrical challenge: Where was I going to put the second battery? They suggested that either box could be enlarged, but they were not in that business.
I did some web research and found a couple of Landy forums with discussions of second battery locations. These included getting both batteries into the main box under the driver’s seat, but batteries come in different sizes and it was clear the deep cell we bought in South Africa for our second battery was larger than most. There was also a good site with pictures of a battery box expansion and so I took my problem and these pictures to Paani my welder that has done just about every imaginable project for Defenders. In one afternoon he had expanded the box under the passenger seat to take the deep cell battery using galvanized aluminum and and made a hole in the side to run the cables.
First problem solved. Emmanuel came back last weekend with a list of the pieces he would need and a quote on the labour. After some negotiation with King, who was making him available, we agreed on a price. We also had to negotiate a day, and there was one false start because they were not ready to do it when they said they could, which meant I had to do some quick re-shuffling of projects with the welder (for the final awning work) and with Agoma the carpet person (to do the carpet for the new plywood floor in the cargo bay above the drawer system). They finally got around to it and the fridge is now plugged in and operational. There was problem with the “accessory plugs”, the two dash mounted cigarette lighter mounts that we need to power computers, phones, cameras etc. They only worked when the car was turned off, but they agreed to come by and fixed the problem quickly.