Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Fitting a cubby box... my way

Today was another long day working on the Defender.

Perhaps fitting a cubby box should not take all day but I like to do things neatly. I also like to allow for maintenance in the future.

The fitting instructions that came with the cubby box were very simplistic and did not make any allowance for wanting to removing the box from time to time for maintenance of the electrics that are under it or access to the end of the gearbox from above.

My solution was to make two brackets to bridge across the hatch and attach those using the bolt holes that were left after removing the centre seat.

With the centre hatch removed I could put bolts through the floor and put the nuts on the underside while still inside the car.

The brackets are 40mm high. This is just enough to slide the hatch plate in and out.

The EGR control unit was originally attached to the underside of the centre seat. I chose to attach it to the metal plate with a simple metal strap that in turn held in place by the screws that hold the hatch down. I left the rest of the electrics loose. The loom is stiff enough that the light weight components on the ends are not going to drift anywhere and they could be fished out if needed.

I did have some abortive attempts at using the feet provided with the cubby box and with bolting the box to the brackets I'd made but in the end the only way to attach the box in a way that could easily be removed was to use captive screw spire clips and some 5x30mm screws. Luckily some spire clips I had in my shed exactly lines up with the holes I'd drilled.

It was a bit fiddly measuring and drilling the holes in the right place in the bottom of the cubby box but with some enlarged holes in the metal brackets for a bit of leeway it went together.

To finish it off I cut some carpet to go under the box and extend out of all four sides with a long tongue to go up the back of the cab. The carpet is intended for car boots and cost next to nothing for a large roll.

It was easy to cut and fitted perfectly tucked under the seat rails either side and looped back on itself to finish the front.

The box screwed over the carpet and another job done.

Defender earth connections

While I was removing the centre seat I found a convenient point for a negative, earth, feed for accessories.

The Defender has very few points to connect to earth. Just three on a standard Defender.

1. Under the bonnet on the bulkhead slightly to the right of centre.
2. On the gearbox.
3. At the rear by the lights.

Apparently there is a header behind the dash but my understanding is that it is hard to get to and already fully populated.

For my dash cam I fitted an auxiliary fuse box behind the instruments. I used the earth from under the bonnet for that.

For the heated seats I need something in the middle of the car. The heaters are likely to need a bit more power than I would trust to spurring off of the earth for the EGR management unit so I've been on the lookout for a better earth location.

With the centre cover removed from between the seats, to gain access to two of the bolts used to secure the centre seat, I could see the main earth from the battery connected to the gearbox but more convenient than that I could see a connection, mid cable, that earthed to the chassis.

The bolt size on that was much more suitable for my needs than the big stud on the back of the gearbox.

I used a large brass ring connector and two lengths of 2mm2 cable (rated about 25A each) with some spiral wrap for protection under the car. I pushed it through the same grommet as the cables for the EGR control unit.

The connection on the chassis is a bolt right through so you need to lie under the car with a 13mm spanner and a socket but it's in a very easy to reach location.

The ring connector is bolted on to the chassis, with a loop of cable up to a nearby point on the existing loom. From there I taped and cable tied it to the loom so it looks neat and stays in place.

This should give me more than enough current carrying capacity for anything I am likely to connect in the middle of the car.

Re-trim Defender seats

We bought a kit from Exmoor trim along with some heating pads to fit at the same time.

It was a fairly fiddly job. Not small bits fiddly but the sort of job where a bit of experience to know where to apply glue and where to tease the foam, would have made it easier.

First thing was to unbolt the seats from the car. 4 bolts per seat. It is necessary to move the seat forward to access the rear bolts. Unusually for Land Rover bolts they were not corroded in place and came out fairly easily.

I took the opportunity to tart up the framework while they were off. Nothing clever, just sand to key the frame and a couple of layers of gloss black paint from a rattle can sprayed over the top of the metalwork. I concentrated on the areas that show. I wasn't aiming for perfect just better than they started.

Once the paint had dried enough to handle it was time to get on with replacing the covers. The instructions for the seat base were clear however they do not give you all of the information.


The one bit that I would change is that when fitting the corners the video suggests spraying glue to help fit it. We found that the glue made it hard to fit the edges of the covers and the foam or the fabric distorted. We had a better result on the second one where we didn't use gle on the edges sections.

The instructions provided for the heating pad were very inadequate.  There were no written instructions, just written warnings of what not to do then some pictures that started at illustration 8. All the pages were present, so I'm not sure what was going on

The only way you know the pads are stuck down is because the web site mentions that the pads come with sticky tape. The web site also says clear instructions. I would dispute that! It also says there is an online video but I could not find it on their site or by searching! I watched a few universal videos to get an idea.

It needs a cutout in the foam for the thermostat. The instructions have a picture but do not explain why it is there. According to other web sites the hole is not for our comfort but to ensure the thermostat works!

We decided not to put any glue on the top surface of the heating pads. We just put some at either end.

When it came to removing the old covers from the back section, the instructions that came from Exmoor trim simply said 'Remove the headrests.' They failed to give any indication as to how that is achieved.

Reading the forums, lots of people use brute force and just hammer up until they pop out. A few mention part removing the cover to get to a retaining clip within the tube supporting the headrest.

The video showed another method to remove the headrest also when the cover was part removed. That also shows using a hammer.

I preferred to use pointed nose pliers to push the spring clip up the tube so it no longer protruded. With the clip out the way the headrest just lifts out with minimal effort.

The old cover unzips from the bottom and then lifts off and at about a third from the top there are some clips to remove. At least there should be.  On one of our seats the retaining rod in the back was missing. That is one of the components that needs to be reused so I found a bit of thin bar in the shed and cut it to length.

With the old cover removed the foam can be pulled away easily. It's only glued in a few places. The new foam glued up in the same places and stuck on the frame.

At this point we had to attach the heating pad. It should have been to size but I would have said it was too long and curved under at the bottom. Having said that the foam and the cover also curves under at the bottom so perhaps that was how it was intended.

It needs a hole cut in the foam for the thermostat. Just a knife for the shape and pull out the foam to about a 1cm depth. Peel off the protective layer from the double sided sticky tape and push on to the foam. Making sure there are no kinks and it is square to the foam.

With the heating pad in place we started on the cover. The fabric slipped over the top for about a third. At that point it is necessary to attach the retaining bar that pulls the fabric from the front to the hold it tight with the back. The new one came with cable ties instead of metal clips to hold it in place.

When we pulled the cover down there are some flaps that need to be tucked under. It was not obvious and we had to do that bit again.

On the seat base I was able to have the cable for the heating pad come out of the middle at the back. On the backs the lower joint is like a zip lock bag so the cable could not come out the middle. I had it come out towards the centre of the car on each seat.

That's it. Bolt back in the way it came out.

It was a good days work but now very much nicer looking seats.