Friday, April 19, 2013

Land Rover Door Swap

The only thing wrong with my Land Rover when I bought it was the back door.  It was bent, so it didn't seat properly in its frame, and the bottom was rusted out (the only part of the car that was, thankfully) so badly that it couldn't support the weight of the spare wheel.

Senhor L, while trolling OLX for spare parts, came across a guy with a Defender 90 (a shorter version of what you see above) who was selling his back door, and he put us in touch.

The gentleman agreed to sell me his door, and said he'd give me a better price if I included my old door in the bargain.  That was fine with me, as long as I got to keep the lock mechanism that was on my door, because the last thing I need is another key to keep up with.

We commenced a door swap in his driveway, and I noticed that his door, being a few years older than mine, didn't have the extra brake light, so I asked if I could keep mine.  "No problem," he said.  All we had to do was remove it from my old door.

It's a testament to Land Rover design and appreciation for simplicity that two guys in a driveway with nothing more sophisticated than a couple wrenches and screw drivers can exchange doors, in a little less than two hours.

When I got home, I had the new door installed, but not completely assembled.  It looked like this,

Only a lot dirtier.  This is how it looked today, after about half an hour of cleanup.

After cleaning a decade or so of dirt out of the door, I needed to install the extra brake light.  In jobs like this, the single most important thing is keeping track of all the parts you take off, so that you have them (and know what they are) when it comes time to put them back on.  I thought I had done a pretty good job of this,
which was no mean feat, because the guy I was working with was dropping parts all over the place. He either dropped them on the ground and ignored them, or collected them into groups that seemed to be completely unrelated, which he left scattered between our vehicles.  I hopped from pile to pile trying to sort them and collect them into groups that would help me remember their purposes, and, as I said, I thought I'd done a pretty good job of it, but today while I was putting things back together, I could find only one of the brake light mounts, and I had to fabricate the other.
The genuine article is to the rear; my counterfeit is in the foreground.

After I'd put everything together I ended up finding the part I thought I'd lost.  That's one of those truisms associated with this kind of project; the surest way to find a lost part is to get a replacement.

Because this is an older door, it's not configured to run wiring for the extra brake light, so I ran the wire through this hole in the bottom of the door,
and out this hole at the top, which is where the wire comes from that supplies power to the window defroster.
With the wiring in place, it was time to glue the brake light mounts onto the window.  I bought special glue for this purpose, but the instructions were, of course, in Portuguese.  I understood 90% of them, but it takes only one small misunderstanding to screw up a job, so to be safe I google-translated.  (Caution: nobody should ever consider Google translations as a way of playing it safe.)

In this case, at least, the translation seemed pretty good.  I managed to get the mounts affixed to the glass, and after the glue had cured for a while, I hung the light from them.

I just looked out the window and it's still stuck to the glass, so I think I'm in good shape.  Once that was done, I did a little more cleaning and lubing inside the door, and then attached the door liner.
Now that I have a door that's structurally sound, I can hang my spare wheel on it again.

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