With lots of shows, events and vehicle launches to attend, 2017 was quite a busy year here at Muddy Tower, but throughout the year there have been 2 items of kit that have been totally reliable, the first is my Pentax K3-II camera, and the other is Deux Smurf.
Apart from foreign adventures and sliding off the bonnet of Deux Smurf, not much has happened in the life of my sturdy camera, but Deux Smurf on the other hand, well, we’ve had a bit of fun off the beaten track.
Earlier on in the year I had a mooch over to Chipping near Goosenargh. Then, whilst down at Millbrook for a Mercedes-Benz Unimog event I went in search of a few lanes, then a few excursions to Wales, as you can read here. Overall she’s been great, and the BF Goodrich Mud Terrains I had fitted in 2016 have remained superb. As I wrote back then, with such an open tread pattern I expected them to howl like a banshee on motorways, but they don’t.
Back in July I bought a pair of Michelin Stealth front windscreen wipers from Costco, and at less than a tenner they are fine, but at motorway speeds they don’t clear the screen on the down sweep. It could be that the shape of Deux Smurf affects them this way, but I reckon that I’ll be on the search for a different set soon. I really like the Bosch Aerotwin, but the last pair I bought cost me £36 from Halfords - I know it’s about the safety ’n’ all, but paying an extra £26 grates on my soul! I reckon I can find a cheaper set on eBay.
On the subject of wipers, ever since I bought her, no matter what wipers I’ve used there’s always been an annoying squeal as the drivers side wiper begins its wipe. If I stop and lift the wiper off the screen and give a wiggle it sometimes stops. I need to sort this!
In my last instalment I mentioned that her exhaust back box rattled when idling, it sounded like a loose baffle or something. Although it was perfectly fine it bugged me, so when I was at Milner Off-Road with the L200 last month I bought a replacement.
As it was November, I had quite a lot of work to do, so I wrote a list of jobs I wanted looking at and dropped Deux Smurf at my mechanics, Steve Wilson Autos.
He changed the oil and everything else you would expect for a winter service, as well as removing the tow bar drop plate, tightening the air con belt and fitted the exhaust
Muddy Madam drove Deux Smurf the other week and moaned that the steering was a bit ‘loose’, so whilst it was up on the ramp I asked Steve to take a look. Everything on the steering was fine, but the near side lower shock absorber bushes were totally shot.
Now I’ve mentioned previously that on the motorway and smooth country lanes Deux Smurf's ride is great, but off-road and through town she’ll rattle your fillings out, her ride is shocking - did you see what I did there? Shocking, shocks..... never mind. Having said that, her suspension may be harsh, but as you can see below, it flexes quite well.
So, I need to find some shock absorber bushes, however, due to her shocking ride (I did it again, sorry) I might as well replace all the shocks, or even her whole suspension as I've no idea how long it’s been fitted.
Which make should I go for?
Well, my first thought was Bilstein. It’s funny how things stick in your mind isn’t it? I remember decades ago chatting to a bloke who had an LSE Range Rover, and at the time he worked for a company who supplied shock absorbers to Land Rover and bemoaned that they were built to a cost - like most things are, being fair. Anyway, when he needed a new set of shocks for his Rangie he went straight to Bilstein and the ride, he said, was transformed.
Posting a 'what suspension do you recommend' question on the Hilux Surf Facebook page, by an overwhelming majority, Pedders was the name that cropped up time and time again with comments like; unbelievable ride quality, best decision ever and, well you get the idea.
Of course there are plenty of other suspension suppliers, and no decisions have been made up to now, so I shall continue my research...
I don’t normally make New Year resolutions, but for 2018 I definitely want to get out more, and explore more lanes. This will include going out with a few groups and may involve taking greater risks. When I say ‘taking greater risks’ I don’t mean going daft, I mean being more adventurous and tackling tougher lanes. With that in mind I’m currently on the search for more sturdy front and rear recovery points. I have a few options in mind and when I make a decision I’ll keep you posted and take you through the fitting process.
There are a few other bits and pieces that I'm planning, but I’m not going to tell you yet, as I have a habit of not doing them, so watch this space!