A Sad Tale of a Frustrated Man. Part 3.

Those of you with long memories or low boredom thresholds may remember ‘Sad tale of a frustrated man’ which revolved around my frustrations trying to replace a defective lock on the back door of the Land Rover.

Well, we have a sequel.

The short version is that WM1 now has no central locking at all. The buttons on the fob now operate the alarm only. There is another key on the keyring which opens the locks on the front doors.

The longer version may take a while to read. Don’t bother unless you’ve got a brew and in Steve’s case a packet of chocolate hob nobs. Or if you can’t be bothered.

Recently the driver’s door lock stopped working on the central locking, and when I stripped the door down, sure enough it was another failed central locking unit. 4 out of 5 have packed up in the last couple of years, leaving only the passenger door opening off the keyfob. And the key operated lock doesn’t work either, it’s seized solid. And, the passenger front door handle has been sticky for a while, leaving us with the possibility of having no way to get into the Land Rover apart from an undignified scramble through the safari door, dismantling bits of Land Rover as you crawl forward. Funny if you’re watching I guess, less so if you’re the poor fool who has to do so at 0300 on a dark and stormy night.

A phone call to Nige and we agreed to replace the key lock on the driver’s side, and fit one on the passenger side, along with a new passenger door handle. Easy. Google the part numbers and get a price.

Hmm, £35 for a new door handle and £75 each for the locks. Nah, got to be a cheaper way. Older Defender locks are £20 for 4 and door handles are about £9 each. Surely a man of my means can persuade them to fit and work……..

Cue a shopping trip to Huddersfield Land Rover Centre this morning, and then my favourite job in the world, working inside the doors of our Land Rover. To add to my joy, as you may have noticed it was snowing today.

You’ll remember the small springy things from last time…. The chances are high that one of the little gits is going to spring off again, and disappear in the snow. So, with an unusual amount of foresight I shoveled, swept, cleaned and polished the drive so anything that fell on the floor would not be lost. Even a monkey learns from his mistakes eventually.

Door cards off, and another memory pops up in the old brain. No Land Rover repair can be completed without a blood sacrifice, and that was another of my mistakes last time. So this time I shoved both hands inside the door and did my best impression of the queen. That’s ‘the’ queen, as in waving to her subjects. A few seconds worth of vigorous waving and I seem to have got carried away. Trickles of crimson spring from the backs of 3 fingers on my left hand and a finger and thumb on my right. Oh well, blood sacrifice 100% carried out. Nothing a few elastoplasts won’t fix.

So, remove the old door handles, defective central locking motors and no less than 3 linkage rods in each door, each of which is secured by, you’ve guessed it a small springy thing. So that’s 6 of the buggers then. This really isn’t going to go well.

They all release their grip easily enough and although I did drop one I found it on my newly manicured drive. Smug? Me? You’d better believe it.

And as good old Mr Haynes says, refitting is a reversal of removal. Yes it is, and bolting the new handles in, with their newly fitted lock barrels was only a teensy bit awkward. Agile dwarf fingers needed, not Cumberland sausage versions, if you recall.

And so to the fun bit, reconnecting all those linkage rods. Well I don’t need to bother with the central locking ones, they can go in the bin. So there’s only the other 4. The ones that connect to the internal door button thingy are surprisingly easy, I can get at them through a well placed gap in the door inner panel. The ones that connect the external push button to the lock though, are hidden at the extreme end of out of reach, I can only just get a screwdriver blade on them. Dismantle a bit more of the door, the bit that holds the window in place, the bit that I really, really didn’t want to disturb. Cos now I’m going to have to refit the windows too. At least I can get at the linkage rods now though. And there’s no way on earth that the buggers are going to fit. They are just not long enough. What the hell?

Phone the Land Rover Centre.

‘ Oh, I think the linkage rods might be a different length on the older ones, but I don’t have any in stock.’

Great. Now I have a Land Rover that I can’t lock.

But I do have some welding rods that are more or less the same thickness as the linkage rods. And the old linkages which are just a few tantalising millimeters too short. They could be a pattern. 5 x 90 degree bends and a sort of wavy bit in the middle. I could make some that will fit.

Yes I can, although the first attempt at bending bits of welding rod in the vice wasn’t quite the right length. Nor was the second. The 3rd attempt was, and a trial fit, without the small springy thing was successful. Now I need to copy it for the other door.

Fiddlesticks, or some similar word. The second one isn’t a copy of the first, it’s a mirror image. Now I have 2 linkage rods that fit the passenger door and none for the driver’s side. Another few attempts later I have one that might fit.

Out of the garage, and back to the Land Rover. God, it’s cold out here. I especially love the melting snow dripping off the roof rack and down the back of my neck.

So. To battle.

Small springy thing you will not defeat me. Grip in the pliers and wiggle a bit. Get a better grip and wiggle a bit more. It bloomin worked, at least in the passenger door. I manage to connect everything up, close and open the door, lock and unlock it using the new key. Refit the window. Lubricate everything and replace the door card.

Drivers door. 1st attempt, small springy thing gripped in the pliers, wiggle, grip, wiggle and…. it’s gone, sprung off into God knows where as only small springy things can do. Not on my manicured drive anyway, although it could be somewhere in the inch of fresh snow that’s fallen while I’ve been pratting about making new linkage rods.

[Bleep]. Then a brainwave. I had some spare rods and small springy things from the central locking. And I dropped them in the bin. Which is full. [BLEEP]. Again.

Then another brainwave. The salesperson at the dealer in 2011 insisted I buy a bag of 20 small springy things, when I only needed 1. Somewhere in the garage is a bag of 19 small springy things. Rummage through my many boxes of bits left over from old projects until I finally emerge gleeful and triumphant. Quite what the neighbours kids thought of this 6’6” snow covered loony leaping around on the drive holding a small plastic bag full of small springy things I have no idea. I don’t really care either, but I did get some funny looks.

This time, I make no mistakes and the linkage rod is soon secured, tested and working. Lubricated and window and door trims refitted, it’s time to get back inside for a very much needed coffee. Actually what I really fancy was a nice warming scotch, but I’m supposed to be on standby for YAS, and turning up for a job reeking of whisky is a bad idea. As is trying to drive the Land Rover after attacking the whisky bottle. So, coffee and fruit cake it is.