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Monday 15 September 2014

Off-Road Damage

I am not a stranger to damage from off-roading.  Although I like my car to look tidy most of the time that is not an excuse for us to ease off while off-road.

We bought our first and all subsequent Discoveries with the desire to drive them off road.

Yesterday we went to an off road pay and play site in Canewdon run by the Essex Rochford and District 4x4 club.

Their web pages are quite clear on the fact this is an extreme site and one of the first people who spoke to me when we arrived had kindly come over while I was signing in to point out that we would get the paint work scratched.

When we arrived it was nearly shiny, new looking wheels, new bumper and new steering guard.  Even the rope was new because I had bought one about the right length to neatly drape over the light bar.  I can imagine that people thought 'this guy has never been off road before.'

It was kind of them to caution me but only the car was new to this type of off-roading.

Sadly I have no photos of us while driving the course.  We were both in the car so have to stop to take photos.

We only went on the less extreme side of the site.  Even that is still aggressive.  Not for people who worry about damage.  Some of the trees are very close and the CB aerial spent most of the time horizontal until I gave up with it and took it off.

There was only one track we tried and could not get through.  Shelley managed to progress about 10 foot further than where we originally got stuck but eventually had to admit defeat and reverse out.  We nearly hit a 90 in our blind spot while reversing out and probably only just missed him due to his quick reactions.

He had come round to see if we needed a winch out.  I think he might have been disappointed that he didn't need the winch but we all had a good laugh at our luck for not colliding.

We had done well not to need a tow from anyone so decided not to push our luck.

Back at the start area we assessed the damage.  The front heavy duty bumper and steering guard were undamaged with just some drag marks on the steering guard.

The rear protection I had rushed to fit that morning under the tow bar had done it's job well.  The idea was to allow the back to slide instead of the tow bar digging in the ground.  Based on the scratch marks I am sure it worked.

Above the tow bar was another matter.  The rear bumper had been torn off one side and the offside reversing/fog light was missing.  Two of the reversing sensors had been pulled through the bumper.

I made the rear bumper safe for the journey home.  We jet washed some of the mud off but left all the splatter up the sides as evidence of our fun day.

The journey home felt like we had done some more damage.  My best guess was that we had jet washed off some wheel balance weights.  It vibrated a lot at some speeds and was smooth round most corners.

The good news is that I was able to clear out about a kilo of mud and stones from the front wheels using a screw driver.  A test drive proved that the mud had been the cause of the vibration.

I was able to straighten the bumper, once I'd removed a bent bracket that was in the way and secure it properly using screws instead of the plastic trim clips.

The quarter bumperette bits were also only held on by luck and although you can only see when offering up the plastic corner, the rear panel was slightly pushed in and needed to be pulled back out.

Shelley had told me when I fitted the front bumper that I should fit a matching heavy duty rear bumper but I thought I knew better!  I'm now looking for a new stronger rear bumper.

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