The Land Rover Owners Wife

Annie in disgrace

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Butter wouldn't melt ...... sadly the same couldn't be said of the electrics.

Butter wouldn’t melt …… sadly the same couldn’t be said of the electrics.

Well okay maybe that’s a tad unfair, as she is over 30 years old and, let’s be honest, most modern cars would have long since made that final trip to the scrap yard and my beloved Series 3 Land Rover isn’t ready for that particular journey by any means. However, which ever way you look at it, try as I might, and believe me I have tried, I can’t think of a worse time for a cars lights to fail than in the middle of nowhere, on a very dark, miserable autumn night with me driving …… alone!

Actually, alone, middle of nowhere on a snowy and foggy winters night would probably be worse but that’s not the point.

This catastrophic failure occurred on the way back from dropping Eldest Mudlet off at the bus which was to take her home. We had traveled the 6 miles or so to the bus stop without incident, had enjoyed a comfortable gossip as we waited for the bus to arrive and after waving her off, I started the journey back home.

As I drove out of the brightly lit village into the darkness of the street light free countryside, I was startled to realise that it was indeed dark ….. pitch black to be precise ….. with not even a glimmer of moonlight to brighten the road …… in fact there were no lights at all ….. not even Annies!

Dipped lights: not the best illumination in the world.

Dipped lights: not the best illumination in the world.

Now I admit that being an old Series land Rover, Annies lights weren’t the best to start with but this was ridiculous and, yes, I did flick the switch to make sure that I hadn’t had a senior moment and merely forgot to switch them on to start with but with sinking heart I realised that they had failed and there was nothing for it …… I would have to make the call! The call that most wives dread making because you just know that it will be assumed that whatever is wrong/has happened is your fault and mutterings about this will be made …. loud mutterings and plenty of them. The “Hi hunny, there’s something wrong with the car …..” call.

Eventually we managed to get the lights working again and got Annie home but then the ‘What did you do?” questions started:

  • Had I gone over a pothole/bumped/grate (delete as applicable) at speed – pardon! At Speed? In a 30 year old Land Rover with knackered gearbox and ancient engine!!! A contradiction in terms if ever I heard one.
  • Was I sure that I hadn’t done something and broken the lights? Like what for example? I mean, please explain to me what I may have done to break the lighting circuits.

Suffice to say I wasn’t impressed with the complete lack of sympathy and understanding for what had actually been a pretty scary situation.

Confident that whatever had occurred could no doubt be fixed relatively quickly due to the almost non-existent amount of electrics in a car of Annies age and era, Mud trundled out to do an inspection the next morning. However, what he hadn’t counted on was the veritable rats’ nest of old electric wiring that he found behind Annies dashboard, a large part of which appeared to be redundant with no clear purpose.

Main beam: not much of an improvement really

Main beam: not much of an improvement really

There then followed two weeks of cursing and expletives, as Mud grew increasingly more frustrated with the problem.

“I’ve found the culprit he announced,” on more than one occasion, only to return from his next trip out, deflated because “The indicators aren’t working and neither are the windscreen wipers” or words to that affect.

He then decided to ordered in a range of connectors, fuses and wiring to sort the problem out but, in true Mud fashion kept forgetting to order the one essential item he needed for the job and so got even more frustrated, as he was unable to complete the job until some three orders later the special crimping tool he should have remembered to order first time round had arrived.

Another session of repairs and he set off for town happy that everything was working again but returned even more deflated with “the brake lights aren’t working now and neither is the dashboard lighting!”

Oh dear, by now Annie was definitely out of favour and the ‘well she is 30 years old and it’s not surprising her electrics have failed‘ excuses had long since stopped and had been replaced by less understanding comments and phrases ….. none of which I can repeat here. Unfortunately for poor Annie, her timing couldn’t have been worse, as our daily driver, the Jap’ pick-up truck, was also quite seriously poorly and needed to be in the garage for repair work but with Annie effectively off the road until Mud could finally sort out the electrics, we could only get the essential work on Thomas done.

Oh my! Where do you start?

Oh my! Where do you start?

Those of you with experience of Land Rover enthusiasts will agree that they are prone to massive highs when things are going well and plummeting lows when they are not. The build quality of these old cars doesn’t tend to help the situation with nuts and bolts located in places no average sized adult hand can reach, resulting in many instances of scraped knuckles, sledge hammered thumbs and bumped heads/knees/shoulders/elbows. Oh, and let’s not forget the Land Rover Factory Engineers joy of using a mix of imperial and metric nuts and bolts during the original build, leading to near divorce as partners/spouses erroneously pass an imperial spanner to their stressed enthusiast when in fact a metric one is needed.

As a result we have seen more of Victor Meldrew* and less of Mud this past few weeks but at last, after much head scratching and fiddling with wires, fuses and connectors, the electrical systems appear to be working but a full rewiring will need to be carried out sooner rather than later and Annie will soon be fitted with a set of new halogen headlights which should help with clarity on night driving.

For those of you with more technical minds, full write ups on the problems with Annies electrics can be found here on Muds blog and he has also done posts on the recent issues with Thomas, the Jap’ pick-up and these can be found here.

* Victor Meldrew: British sit-com character famous for being grumpy about everything, whose favourite saying was “I don’t BELIEVE it!”

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4 thoughts on “Annie in disgrace

  1. Oh what a bad situation to be in, truly scary – I don’t know how you kept so cool with the lights turning off on the land-rover ๐Ÿ™‚

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