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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Decided I should start making a build thread on the defender I recently purchased to catalog all the updates and edits over the coming years. I also wanted to use this as a way to recognize all the members of this forum that have helped or will be helping me along the way!

A bit about me: I have been a car guy since I was young. I've worked on a lot of different cars, and currently have a 1971 Pontiac LeMans that I have owned since I was 16. I bought a Toyota Tacoma about 4 years ago, and got a 2wd specifically so I wouldn't go crazy modding it. I started doing it anyway with a RTT and roof rack, etc., so decided I might as well sell my truck and get a dream build that I can turn into an overlanding monster. I looked at newer Tacomas, but thought maybe it would be good to go back to my old car roots. I started looking at old Land Cruisers and FJ40s, but the Defenders caught my eye. I ended up looking for almost 2 full years and flew to multiple states to look at Defenders, and finally found my dream rig in Boise in early 2022. I'll be spending the next years (if not decades) building this up into my dream camper rig!

Those that have contributed to the build:


Day I bought it: February 26, 2022





How it looks as of May 16, 2022:

 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
2/26/22 Update

Bought it from @Leviahewitt over in Boise. Checked a bag full of zip ties, duct tape and wrenches for the ~500 mile drive back to the Seattle Washington area. It ran perfectly and cruised at 75 mph no problem the whole way there. Even had some snow over the pass in Washington State.

 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
3/16/22 Update

First thing I wanted to change was tires - was a noticeably rough ride in terms of the tires being pretty hard. After a lot of debate on what to get, ended up going with the trusty BFG KO2s (LT265/75/R16) - I used to have a Toyota Tacoma, and almost everyone ran them for both onroad and offroad applications. I don't plan on doing anything too crazy offroad, so I was fine not going with a M/T tire. I have a big smile every time I take this rig around town because just about everyone stops to look at it (especially since it is RHD). I also bought some wheel spacers from Rovers North, but haven't put them on yet.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
4/2/22 Update

As the tire shop was putting on the new tires, they noticed that one of the steel wheels was pretty bent. Decided I should replace those as well. I wanted to have more of an offroad look (while going aluminum wheel to save weight), and was gravitating towards the five spoke with beadlock rim, but most of them were fake. I didn't really like the idea of having a fake beadlock, so I narrowed it down to the below:






I ended up purchasing the sawtooths from @ukarauto :

 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
4/15/22 Update

Took the Defender up to Lamorna Garage in Seattle for a shakedown and to have all fluids replaced (oil, transmission, brake fluid, diff, etc.). I also had a slight diesel leak, and Gord'n was able to fix it by replacing the fuel sender and lock ring. Really great shop with a guy that knows his stuff about Land Rovers if you are in the area and need a fix.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
5/16/22 Update

Now that all the basic maintenance is out of the way, the real fun begins. I started drawing up my plans for the full interior build:





I ended up buying a glass and aluminum gullwing from Explore Glazing over in Europe - it was a lot cheaper than the gullwings from Front Runner and they had wonderful service answering all my questions. Took about 6 weeks to get to my front door in Washington after ordering (and two weeks was due to customs taking a look at it).




Then I started looking for sliding windows. I looked at Masai 4x4, but the ones I wanted to get were sold out for now. Then I discovered a thread by @KDUX and @rdavisinva about a company local to me in Vancouver, WA that makes custom sliding windows (Motion Windows: website --> Home). To boot, you can have bug mesh screen integrated, which I liked for camping. They are currently being made and have a lead time of 14 weeks, but I'm in no hurry and excited to have them done - I had them made to order in the exact size as the gullwing windows (14 1/8" H x 35 3/8" W). I got their "Series 1600" single-pane half slider, 3" radius, with black powder coated frame and Dark Grey tint. Wall size I used 1/8" (shout out to @KDUX for the assist there).

In tandem to the above, I started working with Marcus (@MW469) to schedule putting in a custom sliding tunnel in my defender. He's built some amazing rigs (highly recommend checking out his latest youtube video, and his insta), and a lot of my inspiration comes from one of his latest builds:



The one problem is that Marcus recommended that the slideout goes on the left hand (passenger) side. This changed up my build as I have this vision of having a Dometic fridge on the inside that I can reach through the gullwing and grab stuff out of while cooking on the slideout. What I'll probably end up doing is having a bench run the full length of the left side, have a U-shape couch at the end, and then down the road adding the fridge to the back corner (once I add an Icarus pop up camper). I may also then add a table in the middle that will be adjustable and can be a good base to sleep on. Something like this:



That will also change up the windows a little; instead of having both gullwings on one side and sliding windows on the other, I'll have sliding windows near the front on both sides and gullwings on both sides on the back. I'll have the clear window gullwing on the left hand side so I can still see out and not have a blind spot (given the rig is RHD).

Lastly, Marcus is also helping put in A/C - we were able to source a new unit from @aussierover that was much cheaper than what was on Rovers North. Probably wouldn't have been the first thing I spend my money on, but trying to keep the wife happy with my build, and that means A/C. Lots of photos to come as parts are received and added!
 

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Always good to see a camper build. Each is a unique solution to similar problems. I always learn something.
Windows are a big factor in any design. Avoiding a blind spot is no small matter. Glass takes space away from storage and/or built-ins, tho. A lot of people go for a simple solution of glass on one side only.
I've never run a 12v compressor fridge, so I'm going on what I found from looking into it. Batt needs have a lot to do with how long you expect to camp in any one place off grid. At a point, recharging the batts becomes necessary. That means solar panels or a gen.
GLWTB
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Always good to see a camper build. Each is a unique solution to similar problems. I always learn something.
Windows are a big factor in any design. Avoiding a blind spot is no small matter. Glass takes space away from storage and/or built-ins, tho. A lot of people go for a simple solution of glass on one side only.
I've never run a 12v compressor fridge, so I'm going on what I found from looking into it. Batt needs have a lot to do with how long you expect to camp in any one place off grid. At a point, recharging the batts becomes necessary. That means solar panels or a gen.
GLWTB
Thank you! I'm definitely learning on the fly with this one. My wife and I like to camp about every other weekend, but our longest trips don't span much longer than a week at most. So thinking of adding something like a Dometic 45 - 55 that can hold enough for 3-5 days, and dry food can be packed elsewhere. Definitely will be adding a dual battery setup with solar charging, but all that requires $$$ and time.

In terms of blind spots, I did think about adding some side cameras (something like this), but I'm trying my best not to have too many screens coming out of the dash. I am putting in a rear view mirror that display's the image coming from the backup camera that I got off Amazon (again stealing some of the ideas from @MW469 on one of his older builds).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Noice truck to begin with. I had to build mine up from a new chassis. I run a dual battery system and a dometic fridge. Pop up ikamper and now I really want an expedition trailer. But the requires a bigger motor then the 200tdi and the wife’s kitchen comes first. View attachment 474680
Love that! Yeah I'm thinking of going the AluCab Icarus route for tent solution down the road. Will need to save for a year or two before I pull the trigger on that. Just love the idea of being able to stand up inside the back of the rig. You've got a super clean build!
 

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Just know that if you go the Icarus route, you'll never get your Defender into a standard garage ;)

Here's our setup:


Custom cabinetry, dometic fridge, etc.

I recently picked up the tent wall kit so we have a little space that's a little more manageable now that we have a little dog in our world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just know that if you go the Icarus route, you'll never get your Defender into a standard garage ;)

Here's our setup:
View attachment 474683

Custom cabinetry, dometic fridge, etc.

I recently picked up the tent wall kit so we have a little space that's a little more manageable now that we have a little dog in our world.
Great setup and beautiful ride! Yep, understand I'll be going over that all-important 7' mark with the AluCab. Although I am currently sitting at ~6'11", so I will go over that just by adding a roof rack. I'm not overly concerned given I have always loved working on cars (currently also have a 1971 Pontiac Lemans to accompany my Defender) - I've got a garage with a larger bay door separate from the garage in this photo:

 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I am contemplating setting up a dual battery system now as a foundation for the rest of the electronics down the road. Was thinking of getting the following:
That solar setup is pretty cool; haven't seen anyone running it on this forum in my limited searching. Think it is a great use of hood space, and would look nice with the black checkerboard I already have on the wings of mine. Also frees up space for when I eventually put a roof rack on my rig.


I was also thinking of adding a Switch Pros 9100 panel to be plug and play for any items I want to add in the future (e.g., fridge, lights, heater). I was potentially thinking of cutting into the center cubby on the top (right behind where your elbow would rest - see green square in the below photo). Reasoning was that I could then hit the switches both while in the drivers seat but also if I was sitting in the back couch area while camping.



I haven't made any purchase on this yet, so if anyone has other recommendations / callouts feel free to let me know!
 

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94 Defender 90 NAS ST, 16 LR4 Landmark, 19 Sprinter 2500 4x4
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I am contemplating setting up a dual battery system now as a foundation for the rest of the electronics down the road. Was thinking of getting the following:
That solar setup is pretty cool; haven't seen anyone running it on this forum in my limited searching. Think it is a great use of hood space, and would look nice with the black checkerboard I already have on the wings of mine. Also frees up space for when I eventually put a roof rack on my rig.
View attachment 475091

I was also thinking of adding a Switch Pros 9100 panel to be plug and play for any items I want to add in the future (e.g., fridge, lights, heater). I was potentially thinking of cutting into the center cubby on the top (right behind where your elbow would rest - see green square in the below photo). Reasoning was that I could then hit the switches both while in the drivers seat but also if I was sitting in the back couch area while camping.

View attachment 475093

I haven't made any purchase on this yet, so if anyone has other recommendations / callouts feel free to let me know!
On my Sprinter van I used the Renogy 12v 200ah battery with the 500 amp battery monitor with shunt and the DC-DC charger but the 30 amp version. Everything works great together. I don't think you need the 60 amp version as I am powering a much larger system than what you have in mind with the smaller DC-DC and it works great. For your aux plug in systems in my Defender what I did was was put a power board I made (relays and fuse block) in the MUD subwoofer cage that mounts under the cubby box. This means my cubby box remains stock but you have a good amount of space to put some aux gear under the cubby box in the subwoofer cage, that cage is vented for heat, and it naturally raises the cubby box to a better height for your arm anyway. I love your idea about the solar panel on the hood not sure why I didn't think of that. I have a ST NAS so a removable solar panel on the hood when doing micro-overlanding would be a great use of space.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
On my Sprinter van I used the Renogy 12v 200ah battery with the 500 amp battery monitor with shunt and the DC-DC charger but the 30 amp version. Everything works great together. I don't think you need the 60 amp version as I am powering a much larger system than what you have in mind with the smaller DC-DC and it works great. For your aux plug in systems in my Defender what I did was was put a power board I made (relays and fuse block) in the MUD subwoofer cage that mounts under the cubby box. This means my cubby box remains stock but you have a good amount of space to put some aux gear under the cubby box in the subwoofer cage, that cage is vented for heat, and it naturally raises the cubby box to a better height for your arm anyway. I love your idea about the solar panel on the hood not sure why I didn't think of that. I have a ST NAS so a removable solar panel on the hood when doing micro-overlanding would be a great use of space.
Appreciate the feedback, I'll definitely look into the 30 amp vs. the 60. I didn't even think about the subwoofer box, that's a great way to get some extra space for the wiring and switches. The only reason I was thinking of having the switches on the top of the cubby was so I could turn things on / off from both the driver's seat as well as sitting in the back, but this could be another potential option if I want to keep the stock cubby. Thank you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
my best friend is the one that owns that Cascadia 4x4 Solar setup, he wont even consider a second battery for his overland build because the panel keeps his main battery almost fully topped up even with the fridge running.
That’s great to hear! Yeah I may run just a single deep cycle battery in the interim (given I won’t add a fridge in the immediate future), then setup the dual battery system down the road - regardless I think I’m going to pull the trigger on the solar panel soon and set that up with whatever I go with. But may get my own solar controller from Renogy instead of what comes from Cascadia4x4 to increase the amp capacity and allow for lithium batteries down the road.
 

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I have a second Battery in my defender, and I use a Renogy 20A dc-dc charger to keep the "House Battery" topped up, it only runs a pair of 12v sockets, and fridge right now, but i love having the ability to not worry about my primary battery, My Main Battery is an Optima Red Top, and then my House Battery is an Optima Yellow Top. ive left my truck for 3 days now with the fridge plugged in (Forgot it was on) and came out and still had 12.8v on the battery. the dc charger is tied to the 12v Cigarette lighter in the Center dash for its ignition power, and has been almost fully submerged with the only collateral being the fan needed replacing. i also only have it set to 10a max charge just so i dont overtax the original alternator
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have a second Battery in my defender, and I use a Renogy 20A dc-dc charger to keep the "House Battery" topped up, it only runs a pair of 12v sockets, and fridge right now, but i love having the ability to not worry about my primary battery, My Main Battery is an Optima Red Top, and then my House Battery is an Optima Yellow Top. ive left my truck for 3 days now with the fridge plugged in (Forgot it was on) and came out and still had 12.8v on the battery. the dc charger is tied to the 12v Cigarette lighter in the Center dash for its ignition power, and has been almost fully submerged with the only collateral being the fan needed replacing. i also only have it set to 10a max charge just so i dont overtax the original alternator
Yeah I won’t have a ton of electronics running constantly besides a fridge and outlet or two in the camper, but will have some things I may use while the engine is off (auxiliary lights, interior lights, heater, etc.), so I’ll eventually go the dual batter route for that peace of mind. Just costs more $$$
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
6/15/2022 Update

Ended up pulling the trigger on the solar panel - only took 3 days to ship from Vancouver B.C. Fitment photos below:




I'm getting a few more odds and ends arriving in the coming weeks, and plan to install most of it the week before the 4th of July before driving down to Tucson that weekend to get the tunnel and A/C installed at Sonoran Rovers.
 
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