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Report Defender conversion: Scotland's hottest Landy

Report on Defender conversion
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K Can you tell the difference between a turtle and a Defender? About a hand's breadth. That's how much air is typically between a Land Rover's differential and the bottom line. Not much if, like Hugh 'Hughie' Balfour Paul, you are used to avoiding roads and still reach your destination reliably under all circumstances. You have to change that with a hand's breadth, he thought. The reason for this is this history: The terrain professional used to run a special kind of haulage company whose name said it all: 'Take To The Hills'. Hugh Paul was the problem solver when it came to transporting equipment, people and material to the most remote areas.

Reaching your destination under all circumstances

For example when building radio masts in the Scottish region Highlands. With projects like this, only one thing counts: definitely arrive, no time for experiments. The experience at that time - Hughie worked with special, twin-tire Unimog - must have rubbed off on his business today. Because now he is converting Land Rover's icon Defender so that noticeably more space is available under the keel. The secret recipe is not really new, because Hughie uses Unimog portal axles for his projects.

The implementation makes the difference: “I can't get cheap. If your customers are companies or public institutions, it has to work. ”The renovation is correspondingly complex. Instead of dilapidated old axles from the recycler, Hughie uses new spare parts from NATO stocks. That costs, but is also correspondingly fine goods. The same applies to the renovation. The axles have to be shortened and re-welded. This in turn requires new thru axles, which Hughie has made by a specialist company. “You can also get the parts from China and sell them for little money. Nobody should be surprised if it breaks them apart. My interests are rather different ”- let's leave that where it is.

Also with disc brakes if necessary

The finished conversion does not only include two rotten axles, of course. A double-joint cardan shaft compensates for the height offset, new dampers keep the additional weight in check - the suspension, on the other hand, is retained. The original payload of the Defender too. If you still have money left over, the Unimog drum brakes can be converted to the Land Rover disc brake system - although we tend to believe that the Unimog drums are sometimes betterbrake ... The tire size is negotiable: You can drive the Mog tires or even 40-inch tires on 20-inch wheels like the 110 pick-up shown. The tall Landy drives a little extravagantly. This is not only due to the view like on an ocean cruiser. The gently swaying gait is also more suitable for a watercraft. After all: The heavy axles keep the center of gravity tolerably low, with the courage to lean you can turn the corner.

However, this Defender is intended for off-road routes. Hughie drives it accordingly: Into the river that he has never seen before, down the bank, up the bank, through the middle. The standard TDI engine under the hood acknowledges it with a bored grunt, the ground seems to be a minor matter. Where in a standard Defender with a lot of riot and powerful speed you could rattle through the very last groove, the tall 110 stalks over it with peace of mind. And when things really get a little more serious, two additional levers help. Clack, clack, and the two axle locks are locked.

However, Scotland is not just made of rubble, rocks and rivers. The landscape includes sensitive high moors, hilly landscapes with sparse vegetation, enchanted forest paths. You can of course get there with the Unimog Defender, but not invisibly: the lanes sometimes remain carved into the ground for years.

Hughie has plan B for such cases: caterpillar drives. All that is needed is an additional line on the servo pump, with which the front of the front caterpillars is raised when the steering is turned. Otherwise, assembly is limited to little more effort than changing tires - jack up, screw around, done. The Defender is just as quickly back on normal wheels. 'Jumping out of the car does more floor damage than the whole car!' Assures Hughie and pounds away with the remarkable roar of the drives. 80 things are easily in there, they are also built for this constant load. And the road driving behavior? Well, a little spongy. But braking, steering and driving are as easy on the rubber tracks as with normal tires. Only the propulsion in the field - it is really breathtaking due to the low ground pressure and the huge contact area.


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