Alistair - Organization - Electricity for Comfort - Driving Seats

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We chose to organize our inside storage with removable, stackable heavy-duty plastic boxes. The models we chose are commonly used by businesses such as catering or postal services.
Center of picture shows the largest one we used -- 80 x 60 cm -- to store on the floor spare parts and fluids. Other boxes were all 60 x 40 cm with various height (12, 24, 34 cm). Their weight was kept under 12 kg to allow easy handling by one person.
Why these boxes rather than wood compartments or partitioning? Some benefits we found in this solution:
- saves weight
- quick and easy to implement
- protects belongings. Imagine dust seeping inside the car or unloading under rain or dusty wind conditions, in the dirt, mud or snow
- quick to unload. Imagine removing weight for self-recovery. Or to prepare for cleaning before a quarantine inspection as here before we shipped to Australia (quarantine inspections can be very stringent as in Saudi Arabia or Australia).
It required less than 15 minutes to unload all our boxes... which we experienced with relative relief when bogged on a beach at incoming tide in Western Australia.
- extra emergency space available inside the car: we would just need to unload the boxes.
Note about the boxes in a Defender:
A combination of a shallow box (12 cm) sitting on a deeper one (24 cm) made a very convenient cubby box, located between front seats -- see the picture in the "seats" section below this page. The bottom one was bolted to the floor while the top one was secured to the one below by a strap with a quick release buckle.

So, how were the rest of our boxes lashed?
- the aluminum walls painted white (a) secured the load from forward thrush
- boxes sat on anti-skid material (b)
Note the rounded recess underneath rear side windows (c) was used to store pick axe, sledge hammer, additional recovery straps
- each and every box was tightly secured with straps. Imagine a rollover down a sand dune or a steep hill. For the boxes stored on the floor, a strap across them was looped to D-rings riveted on the floor. For the boxes stacked on the sides and sitting on the rear mudguards, a strap was latched to a D-ring riveted on the upper vertical part of each mudguard (d).

All straps ended with a hook which latched and unlatched to and from the D-rings within seconds, a simple and efficient quick release solution (e).
Overall, we were very happy with our storage organization thanks to these boxes. Furthermore, small plywood boards fitted inside the top of these box covers allowed us to climb on them, sit on them or even replaced a table. Imagine the gain in space and weight, compared to regular cumbersome camping equipment...

Electricity for Comfort

We realized we had a lot of 12 volt devices: GPS, UHF, chargers for AA batteries, mobile phones, computers, peripherals, mosquito repellent device, hair trimmer, fluo and long beam lights, etc. ...
To make sure we would always have a plug at hand, five triple 12V outlets were installed. Front of car: on the ceiling, one more in the center (GPS) and one on the right, above the passenger seat (UHF), see picture.
Middle section of car: on the right side, located on the door frame between seats and trunk windows. That line was also feeding the heater starter.
Back of the car: on each inner upper corner of door frame.
Energy needs: in addition to the devices listed above, there were two auxiliary diesel tank pumps and gauges, 6 reading lamps, a water pump, and a 500 watt inverter (12 DC to 230 volt AC used in particular for cameras for which we could not find 12 V chargers!). Not to forget extra light fixtures we had installed such as fog lights, long beam lights, additional reverse light, sand lights and extra turning signals.

All the above was connected as follows: accessories --> fuse box --> anti-deep-discharge controller --> main switch --> auxiliary battery.

The auxiliary battery was located under the driver's seat, next to the car main battery.
For this auxiliary battery, we did not opt for a deep cycle type, but rather a normal (car) cranking battery model with roughly the same capacity (110 Ah) as the original one: imagine a battery problem in the middle of nowhere... It actually happened to us after rescuing another 4WD (not a LR) that was experiencing starter problems. We were happy to have a back-up for ourselves!
When the main (original car) battery was well charged -- at least enough to crank the engine --, the charge controller connected the auxiliary battery to the alternator. The auxiliary battery would then charge as we drove.
main battery --> charge controller --> alternator (as long as main not enough charged)
auxiliary battery --> charge controller --> alternator (when main is full).
In Australia, we acquired a solar panel to feed the auxiliary battery for when we would stay put for a few days. When not in use, the solar panel was stored inside the car, in a sliding rack attached to the ceiling.
Pros: less weight on the roof, protection against "flying rocks" a similar problem as with wind screen. Cons: requires handling in and out, easy to steal by just severing from its wire.

All the electric wires we added were running in appropriate plastic channels used for home circuits.
(a) shows the tent frame ,
(c1 and c2) the "U" shaped channels which clip onto the base (b).
The rear window is in (d).
This was meant to facilitate any subsequent installation, inspection, maintenance, change of circuit design or replacement. It did indeed.

Front Seats

We can only speak for ourselves and only regarding Defender models up to 2004, but those seats were a real pain in... not only the lower back, but for upper and middle back as well.
An ad-hoc custom frame we designed, made and installed allowed us to not only fit other more comfortable seats but also to have more space to access compartments under the seats where batteries and electronics were fitted.
Narrow enough for a Defender, an excellent fit was found in Saab 900 seats... with unexpected bonuses: leather and a raising lever which allowed Martine to see the road, not through the wheel any more, but actually above it!