LR3 Buildout

gbarba

New member
After lurking on here for a long time, I bought an '08 LR3 SE back in April. I've been a closet Land Rover fan since I was a kid – my grandpa had an RRC and then a '94 Discovery I – so roving runs in the family. I just never realized how much fun I'd have with my very own Rover!

I bought it with 60k miles on the clock and have put another 8k in adventuring on it since then. The maintenance records were in order when I bought it, but after so much time on these forums I changed all the fluids, upgraded to the AB transmission oil pan, and did minor things like replacing the front diff breather just to be safe. Maintaining road manners was important to me, so I didn't want to size the tires up too big. After trying to find the perfect load rated tire, I ultimately went with the Cooper Discoverer AT3s in 265/60/18 and have been really pleased with them so far. At the time, there were no K02s in that size for sale in the country, and I wasn't sure about going up much bigger (decided I wasn't interested/didn't need to lift this thing and risk compromising my EAS).

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Once I was happy with its condition, I started getting out in the forest and was blown away by the ride quality and how it handled just about anything. I drove it out to the beach a few times, where my wife loved driving it in the sand in spite of me slowly driving her crazy with my newfound Land Rover obsession. A friend who drives a Subaru Outback felt like we were flying down forest roads and said he'd never been in a vehicle that handled gravel roads so well. I relished these minor victories and driving this rig has completely confirmed everything I'd read about this generation of Land Rovers. If I drive it gently I can almost eek out 20 mpg (19.54 is the best tank average so far) and the thing puts a big grin on my face every time it gets off pavement.

When I bought the Land Rover, I decided I would need something to work toward with it – a big goal to justify purchasing the truck – so I decided to prepare for a drive to the Arctic Ocean and am planning to do so next summer. To prepare for that, I've been weighing my options for upgrades and trying to decide what's necessary/feasible/economical. The first priority was arranging a secure, comfortable sleeping area. I started by removing the third row seats to free up some storage space and then took out all the second row as well.

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Spending time on these forums and elsewhere, I looked at various sleeping platform and storage options, ranging from simple wood platforms with drawers to elaborate aluminum designs. Ultimately, I decided to borrow elements from Victory's design and showed them to a very capable friend up in Portland. We worked through the design together and he was interested in building it out for me. We made a few changes, largely because I’m 6’7” and we wanted to squeeze every inch of sleeping space out of this thing. The platform bolts directly into the existing frame boltholes and hinges to fold up and down to accommodate the extra length: the finished product is 75” long, plus a few extra inches with the seats all the way forward. A few weeks later, the platform was ready for the finishing touches so we installed it together. The platform is made of aluminum tubing with .5" birch plywood on top and there is a gap for cooler access not depicted above. Somewhere down the line, we're going to put outdoor carpeting on top of the platform to give it a more finished look and reduce some sharp edges. Jeff did outstanding work and watching it come together from a few drawings into a finished product was incredible. Immediately after that I hit the road for Montana for the next piece of the puzzle.

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I wanted extra fuel capacity, but was initially trying to avoid getting a roof rack (I’ll probably wind up with one ultimately, but hey…) After hunting around for rear bumpers, I decided to go with one by Casey’s Custom in Montana. I’d placed the order about six weeks prior and the bumper was ready to go. After a beautiful drive on smaller state highways, we arrived in Stevensville, MT to get the bumper installed. Casey did a great job on the bumper and it was a lot of fun to check out all the other cool cars – including at least six other Land Rovers (Series, RRC, DI-III) – he had around the property. He and his wife were very hospitable, and gave us some tips for local camping spots in the area. I put my jerry cans into their new home and we headed for the hills.

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The Land Rover has upped our car camping game tenfold! The sleeping platform was finished in early August and I’ve spent at least 14 nights in it since then, so this thing has already been an incredible adventure companion. What’s next? Modifications seem to be an endless rabbit hole, but I’m looking at the usual suspects: rock sliders, front winch bumper, roof rack, etc. I’m interested in creative uses of the spare tire area and considering ways to make that into a storage area. Trying to find the perfect set up and not bankrupt myself in the process is a delicate balance. My first choice was the Prospeed rack setup for its sleek design and good aerodynamics, but I’d like to get an awning and the mounting seems challenging. The other contender is likely the Eeziawn K9 rack, which would easily mount to their awnings, but doesn’t look nearly as streamlined and I’m concerned about the noise and MPG hit.

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I live in Eugene, OR and just joined the PCRC, the Pacific NW’s Land Rover club. The club seems very active in Portland and Seattle, but I want to get the word out locally, so if anyone's in the Willamette Valley area and would like to do some roving, please hit me up! Thanks for reading – there's more to come!
 

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paachi

Member
That's is very cool!! I have always admired the LR3/4 for it's capability but also double duty as a daily driver.

I am thinking of the same idea for an internal sleeping platform in my G.

Pinging you via PM with some additional questions.

Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
 

benjaminjaninja

New member
Nice setup, and thanks for sharing! I love my LR3 and have been slowly building it up and doing preventative maintenance from recommendations on this forum as well.

I went the 80/20 route for my sleeping platform and although it's really nice to have it modular it was more of a pain than I thought to put it together. It's worked out really well so far, and I plan to build some drawers for easier access to the storage underneath.
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I also have the Prospeed rack (got their sliders, compressor guard, sump guard, and a bunch of accessories for mounting to the rack at the same time) It looks absolutely amazing and although I don't have anything to compare it to, the wind noise is minimal although not zero. Their accessories work really well but everything else like rotopax and antennas require a custom solution. I do often wish I had just gone with the Front Runner since they make so many damn accessories for it and just seems more versatile overall to mount things to. In the end it might just be a personal preference on style. Front Runner, don't know about Eeziawn, has a wind fairing now that is suppose to cut the wind noise significantly so they're probably a wash in that regard. Here's what I did to mount a 2m Rhino Awning and my solar panel:
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I found some tube type clamps that were meant for mounting spotlights to bar work. I used two and they've been solid ever since I installed them. Or of course you can get the Prospeed awning mounts that fold up, but I didn't want the awning to block the solar panel when folded.

Good luck on your trip to the Arctic Ocean and keep us updated on the build out.
 

gbarba

New member
Hey Ben, your setup looks awesome! The Prospeed rack looks great, and cool that you got all their other accessories! How much of drop in fuel economy did you notice after installing the rack and awning? I was hung up on the idea of getting the Prospeed mounts for the awning, but your solution looks elegant and functional. I really like your roof storage unit too, where'd you find that and how'd you mount it up there? My dog ends up living on top of the platform during trips so he might have a field day with stuff up there, but extra storage would be nice and that looks good as well.
 
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benjaminjaninja

New member
Thanks! Yeah my mileage isn't great, and I basically put the rack on right after I bought the vehicle. I think it might have been around 17/18 stock and now with 275/65R18s and the rack its about 15/16 so not a terrible drop and that's probably mostly due to the tires.

For the roof storage check out this thread:
There are two options now with slightly different designs, I have the Mantec. Might come down to which one is easiest to purchase.

 

Ray_G

Explorer
Good looking truck, and I really like the focus of saying 'my goal is going to the Arctic' with the the truck-b/c that means the rear swing away makes good sense. Personally I'd think hard about a 2nd tire in the stock position-b/c the loss of MPG for benjaminjaninja may well be that tire...as I saw no real loss in MPG due to my prospeed. Hell even with the autohome it isn't significant. But my partner in crime who threw his tire on his LR expedition rack saw similar numbers.

So I've got the soft attic in the thread noted; pics are in my build thread too somewhere. It works well, and was far less expensive than the mantec which is a nice piece of kit.

For your purposes you may want to go front runner rack with the new fairing to facilitate the other things you want.

On the whole, knowing someone awhile back that took a D1 in the arctic circle, I'd spend $2 on maintenance for every $1 on mods. Refresh everything, especially rubber parts and such.
Truthfully I'd probably just throw an ARB on it, a winch and not bother with sliders (weight) or other things that will be ancillary to the goal. I would try not to touch the stock electrical system. Consider a fridge amidst your sleep setup. If so, dual battery. If not, get a microstart.

Did I mention preventative maintenance...

Welcome to the board!
r-
Ray
 

gbarba

New member
Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

@Ray_G - Preventative maintenance has been on my agenda and I'm wondering where to go. I'm in a somewhat strange position as the rig has low miles (currently 69k), but is still 11+ years old. At this age all the rubbery plastic bits are becoming more vulnerable, but I'm not sure what to prioritize. Mods may look cool, but you're absolutely right that less is more sometimes and I can't bog it down too much.

@nwoods - So far the bumper has been great, but I walloped the tow hitch pretty hard on a steep incline, so I'll keep an eye out ;)

I'm also getting ready to order lower front control arms and am strongly leaning toward the polybushings after wading through various opinions pro and con. I'm considering refreshing various other front suspension bits, but am wondering how far to go – does anyone have recommendations for what the highest wear/priority for replacement front suspension components would be? AB has tie rod kits and the sway bar end links may be worthwhile as well. I'm also wondering if putting on the stiffer polypushings would warrant replacing the upper arms with poly as well, but that is likely not necessary.
 

gbarba

New member
Part of the motivation of getting the LR3 was to get us out and on the road more. It's worked. Here's some shots of our recent trip from Oregon to Southern California. I've done the I5 corridor drive enough that I never have to do it again, so we took a scenic inland route, passing through Susanville, CA, through Reno and down to Beatty, NV. While stopping to take the dog out in Beatty, we ran into a herd of donkeys in town. From there we entered Death Valley via Titus Canyon Rd a few miles out of town. I'd read a trip report recommending that route on here a while back, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. The road itself is mellow and well-graded (a stock Subaru would have no problem), but the scenery is astonishing. The road winds up into the hills and then drops you down into the midst of a deep canyon. On the way, you pass through an abandoned mining town and can check out the rusting shells of peoples' ambitions. After about 30 miles, the expanse of Death Valley opens up before you. It's an incredible way to enter the park and explore the otherworldly beauty of the desert.

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From there we drove through the Mojave and spent the night outside of Joshua Tree NP. Camping in the park is tightly controlled and all the sites were full, so we explored dirt roads on the outskirts and found a nice spot to set up for the night. The next day, we headed back into the park and explored a bit, before making our way out on Berdoo Canyon Rd. The route begins as a "Geology Tour" in the park, which I decided was a brilliant naming scheme by an off-roading dad to get his wife on board with the trip, and then turns into a full value offroad trail that spits you out near Indio. The LR3 behaved admirably, and spent some time carefully navigating rock piles and tight spots in low range. To top it all off, right before hitting the pavement I passed another LR3 in the wild with a big smile and wave. Always good to see other people using these things for what they're built for!

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Ray_G

Explorer
With LCA and UCA I don't know that I'd dwell too much on the polybushing opinions-quite frankly where applicable just get the RRS OEM arms and be done with it...

With your mileage, I'd probably just do LCA's and let it ride.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
Take a goood look at your front and rear sway bar bushings when looking at the suspension. Mine were totally fried. Easy fix. I just went with OEM at the time
 

OregonGX

New member
Really nice looking truck. I'm a fellow Oregonian - I actually grew up in Eugene - that is about to add a Zermatt silver LR3 to my stable. The truck I am buying is an 2008 with 55K on it, crazy how little some of these have been driven 11 years later.
 
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