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My Truck   -   2002/04/29Viewed 588 times this month, last update: 2012/12/27

My favorite toy, my 2002 Land Rover Discovery, Series II. All the standard Land Rover stuff, full-time 4 wheel drive, high/low gear, great traction and the ability to idle running the air conditioner in 114 degree weather. Very important.

To the standard list of features, I have added:
  • A custom antenna mounting panel on the rear door for good grounding and ease of installation.
  • Rockware rear pinion guard, made for Disco1, adapted by me to the Disco2, by welding a chunk of steel to the rear to fill the space made by the vibration dampener mounting brace.
  • Dual Exide Deep-Cycle Orbital batteries see My Truck Batteries
  • Rearranged rear signal lights, with turn signals in place of the reverse lights, and high power reverse lights mounted under the bumper. the brake lights.
  • Custom Discovery Roof Rack
  • My Custom Rear Bumper
  • Front Bumper Version 2
  • Mobile 1 10-30 crank case oil, Mobile 1 75-90w gear oil, and Mobile 1 drive-line grease.
  • Auxiliary device three-way control switch cluster on the A pillar.
  • Upgraded U-joints in the front prop shaft to allow greasing for longer lifespan.
  • Greg Davis' center differential lock actuator
  • Old Man Emu Heavy Duty springs and shocks
  • Vector VEC053D 1200 watt power inverter
  • A cargo-space shelf system, including a bed deck.
Here you can see my antenna mounting panel. I bolted a sheet of steel to the roof-rack cross-bars, painted it, and drilled four holes for antennas. I use super-small diameter cables from the antennas, in through the driver, and passenger side front doors, and to the radio. The leakage of road noise and water is very minimal.
From the left: The CB antenna, the dual-band 2m/440 antenna, and the 6m antenna. You can also see the APRS tracker antenna on the top, rear corner window.
Here's the Garmin eMap. A very nice GPS, it comes with an 8MB flash card, which I have been too lazy to upgrade, but that holds all of san diego county, and some of riverside.
The rear pinion guard. Made specifically to allow me to drag my rear diff over a rock.
My front radio, used for voice communcations on 6m, 2m, 440mhz, CB, FRS and GMRS. I really like this radio, it works very well.
Here you can see the mast and beam antenna. This is from the top of Mt. Santiago. From here, and with this antenna, and with only 5watts of power, we could talk to barstow.
The cockpit, gotta love toys!
In the left rear cubby I setup my auxiliary power systems, and APRS tracker. The tracker, composed of the Radio Shack HTX-252 and Kantronics KPC 3+ is in the large top box. It's got a co-ax cable to an antenna on the rear door, and a cable going up to the garmin eMap on the dash.
I just made a copy of Steve (KB1DIG) Merrill's 2 meter "halo" loop antenna. This type of antenna is horizontally polarized, and so works very well for single-side-band work, like PSK31. It took me two tries to get it right, but now I have a very well performing mobile horizontal antenna!
Here you can see the 55 watt reverse lights mounted in an out-of-the-way spot under the bumper. For some reason, Land Rover decided to put the turn signals on the rear bumper, way out of the normal line of sight. I've moved those turn signals into the lamp cluster on the rear column, and moved the reverse lights down here.
For a long time, I was running my antenna cables out the front doors, between the door and weather stripping, and cables designed to be very thin, specifically for this purpose. The problem with this was that even these thin cables caused a lot of noise, and even water, to come in through the break in the door seal, and, the thinner cables didn't have nearly the performance of standard RG8 coax. Now, I run three Mini-RG8 cables out through a grommeted hole in the firewall, up through the engine compartment, and up to my antenna panel on the roof through the conduit you can see here. The conduit is made up of UV resistant plastic, secured to the A-pillar by four electrical conduit clamps. I was able to fit all three cables into the conduit, but not without some effort. I may be able to get another in there, or a power wire, but not without a substantial amount of grease.
Update: 2005/03/04
Last night I installed my new roof-mounted lights, both Hella 500 series 55 watt lights, one pair of driving (narrow beam) and one pair of fog (wide beam) lights. The Hella 500's come in kit form with mounting brackets and a wiring harness, which makes installation easier. They are also quite inexpensive for nice lights. The idea is that now I don't need to be so worried about finding camp sites before the sun goes down. The driving lights will illuminate almost half a mile of roadway, and the fog lights will easily illuminate an entire camp site, not to mention a good length of trail. Each pair of lights has a circuit run in my conduit from the engine compartment up to the roof. It took a good amount of WD-40 to get them in there, and it's completely full now, but it worked! I'm not happy with the position the relays are in, so I'll probably be looking at installing a forward power center, much like the power center I installed in the rear, but there's no rush. The two circuits are both triggered by the dash-board switch that used to power on the factory bumper fog lights. This, combined with the high-powered reverse lights which are also triggered by the rear fog light switch make for an all-around lighting solution, and an excellent way to quickly drain even my large battery bank!
Update: 2005/05/21
Most times I go camping, I need to remove some or all of the rear seats of my truck just to fit all my crap. I would love to stack all that gear, but since much if it is very heavy, I really couldn't. So, I ended up taking out the 2/3 part of the rear seat, and replacing it with my toolbox for almost a year. Last time I went camping, I removed the last little 1/3 seat, just to be able to fit in the cooler. Not satisfied with that situation, I built a shelf for the rear cargo space, allowing me to put two layers of heavy stuff back there, which would let me put the seats back in! The legs of the shelf are 10 inches from the sides of the truck, letting me slide three five-gallon water jugs and two five-gallon gasoline cans in there, and strap them down securely to the cargo tie-downs on the floor. The center space is large enough to accomidate a large tool box where I keep a set of tools, the jack, two air pumps, spare oil, brake fluid, radiator stop-leak, some spare hose clamps, all of my recover gear (50' recover strap, bow-shackles, a big chain, etc.) and other odds and ends. On top of the shelf, I can tie down my camping "kitchen" box, and a fully loaded cooler. In the cargo net I can put tents, sleeping bags, cots, and anything else. As long as I don't take along firewood or my big fire pot, I wouldn't have to put a single thing in the rear seats.
Update: 2005/09/02


After 110,000 miles, the factory shock bushings finally gave out, giving me the escuse I've been waiting for to upgrade the suspension. I bought the Old Man Emu "Heavy Duty" setup from British Pacific. Variable rate springs and matching shocks, that gives me about a 2 inch lift. It took me about four hours to install the new parts, but the process was fairly simple. It feels taller of course, but not too much, and the ride is very smooth. At least as smooth as the four year old factory setup. All in all, I'm very happy.
Update: 2008/06/24
The last several years, I've been using a no-name 300 watt power inverter to supply 120vac in the truck, for running laptops and the like. I've been wanting to upgrade that, so I can run tools and such. Last weekend I installed a Vector 1200 watt inverter. This inverter is a modified-sine-wave, slow-start inverter, which means it's OK (mostly) on wall-wart style and small switching power supplies like those used on laptops, and with the slow-start technology, can run larger motors, like those in tools. Just as a test, I plugged in my big, noisy angle-grinder: No problem, got to about 1/3 on the load readout! This inverter even has a connector for a remote-control panel, which I've ordered. That way I don't have to put a 100 amp switch in line with it to power it on and off, and the remote even has power and overload indicators on it.
Update: 2009/12/08
As of December 5th, 2009, my beloved truck is more than 200,000 miles old! 200,000 hard-earned miles.
Update: 2010/02/11
I just finished the latest version of my "bed" add-on to my cargo space shelf. With the rear seats folded down, I have four 1-foot wood planks that sit on rails extended from the shelf system. These planks bolt down to the rails, and rest on top of the folded seats. Once installed, it is very solid, comfortable and quiet. Headroom is a little low, but I'd trade that for the quiet and warmth compared to a tent any day. I've already slept on it twice, once with Vanessa, and was very comfortable!
Update: 2012/12/27
I finally got around to building a roof-rack. I love it!

Click Here to view the first 14 comments to this article!

Erik (2005-01-04): Great Kahn! I just got back from Mammoth mountain and some fun snow driving. Rough idle could be a lot of things, from dirty spark plugs, clogged air or fuel filter, or the stepper motor that controls air flow at idle is known to get jammed on D-1's.

Froilan (2005-04-12): Congrats Erik! You got a cool looking toy. Thanks for sharing your experience.

KC7FBQ (2005-07-30): Erik, saw that you are a proud owner of an Inova T4, I am getting ready to purchase one and was wondering if you are still happy with it? Also, what color(s) is the charge indicator LED on the charger?

73 Jason C. Markham KC7FBQ

Erik (2005-07-30): Hi Jason, yes, I am still happy with my T4. It's sturdy, and very bright. The LED on the charger is bright blue, and is on when charging, then turns off.

Alan (2005-08-03): This is all really cool, I like to read about all of the neat stuff you have put in your truck! I have a question for you: I am considering putting the EXACT same Hella light combination on my car, a 1999 Honda Accord. Do you think the power system could handle it? (the lights will only be used while the engine is running) Thanks for any thoughts you might have on the subject.

Erik (2005-08-03): You want to put that much light onto an Accord? Weird, but cool! Yes, I'm sure your electrical system will be able to handle it, but you'll need to take power directly from the battery, as I doubt there is a spare circuit with the required ~20 amps. Each light will draw about 5 amps, so use one or two relays wired in parallel, direct to the battery, and trigger them with a switch in the cab. I use the factory fog light switch that was doing nothing since I took of the factory bumper.

anti-fred (2005-08-04): dude you are one goofy basterd alan... instead of ricing out your honda your red-necking it out

Erik (2005-08-04): No need to be negative anti-fred. For all you know Alan might have the most awesome back-woods racetrack you've ever seen!

Christopher (2006-08-23): Erik, you still taking questions?

Erik (2006-08-24): Christopher, yep, ask away.

GREG (2007-03-07): HI ERIK.


Erik (2007-03-09): Hi Greg,
I don't think the '03 discos have the CDL nipple, making them not convertable, since they just don't have the capability. You can always swap in a transfer case with a CDL, but that's a major pain.

John (2007-05-15): I'm having a CDL fitted to my 2002 Disco as we speak! The whole transfer box does not need to be changed, just the front section. A local gearbox workshop is doing this for R3000 South African Rand (about $430). Does anyone know whether there is going to be a problem with the ETC after this? I understand that the system has to be remapped to let it know that a CDL has been installed. Can anyone shed more light on this?


John Parker Johannesburg

Erik (2007-05-15): John, that's great! While they've got the tcase dropped, have them remove the interlock soleniod (if you have one), it took me all weekend to remove mine through the transmission tunnel when it failed, and locked me in high range.

If your computer knows it has a CDL, it gives you one extra option: If the CDL is locked when the computer comes on, it'll turn off ABS/ETC/HDC. Sometimes this can be useful, but I find it an annoyance, so I'd almost rather the computer not know, but then it'd be easy to forget it's engaged.

John (2007-05-15): Thanks Erik. I'll wire the diff lock switch to a warning light on the binnacle. I'm hoping to drive a trail this weekend so I'll let you know the outcome next week. The interlock solenoid was only fitted to USA and Japanese units.

Hoscat270 (2008-01-15): Eric, where did you find your radio? I looked for it but to no avail I didn't find it. It looks like newer models have come out. What do you recommend? I take my technician exam in April and have being doing loads of research on radios. I'm kind of in the same boat as you as far as being out in the middle of BFE and needing something for emergency and communications with some of my buddies. Thanks for your time and help.

Erik (2008-01-17): Hoscat270, I got my FT-817 at "Ham Radio Outlet", a store somewhat local to me. I got my HTX-252 from Radio Shack. The FT-817 is great, but it's a hand-held. A better fit for a truck would be the FT-100, FT-897D or FT-857D. I love my 817, but if I did it again, I'd get one of the above, and a smaller hand-held.

Raoul Duke (2008-03-10): Erik--nice Disco II! Question--how did the 265/75s work out before you installed the lift? I have a stock '03 Disco and would like to know how much rubbing I am going to get if I install those same BF Goodrich A/Ts. Thanks! RD

Erik (2008-03-10): Raoul, the 265/75-r16 tires work great. You'll need to manipulate the fender bracket, but lucky for you, I have another article that shows how to do just that: 265/75-R16 Tires on a DII

Raoul Duke (2008-03-11): Thanks! The article on the fender bracket is a huge help. I'm ordering my 265/75s this week!

See also: Aprs intelegence, My Custom Rear Bumper, Desert Trips, Mountains? Desert? Jan 30th, 2004, Mountains? Desert? Jan 30th, 2004, Late Thoughts: Dr. Pepper Cooler, Late Thoughts: Dr. Pepper Cooler, A Bumperless Discovery!, Land Rover Valve Jobs, Land Rover Valve Jobs, My Custom Front Bumper, May 4th, 2004, Canon A80 Camera, November 21st, 2009 - Mojave Road, Cracked Radiator!, 265/75-R16 Tires on a DII, APRS, Driving, Front Bumper Version 2, Blacksmithing, Discreet Winch, PSK31, PSK31, Jan 28th, 2004, Jul 25, 2004 - Death Valley, My House, My Truck Batteries, Stump Pullin' Yeeee Haw!, Stump Pullin' Yeeee Haw!, April 30th, 2006 - Anza Borrego, Carrizo Gorge, Inova T4, Greg Davis CDL Linkage, My House, My Satellite Phone, May 26th, 2007 - Kelso Dunes, Some People's Comments, My Grandfather's Alfa Romeo Spider, June 6th, 2010 - El Cajon Trails, AIS, Land Rover Mileage, Land Rover Mileage, Custom Discovery Roof Rack, Hacktastic e-bike


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