Project Disco 3

After a trip to Norway in a converted Volkswagen T5 (at that time still from PaulCamper) as well as various sightings of off-road vehicles with a roof tent it was soon clear:

“We need something like that!”

Initially, we wanted to have a Volkswagen Touareg Gen 1. Unfortunately, during the first test drive, we discovered that the trunk of the Touareg is not as big as expected. On the way home from this test drive by chance, we parked in a car park right next to a Land Rover Discovery 4. Amazed, we stood in front of it and noticed that this trunk is hard to beat in size. After some research, it was soon clear that the Discovery is the perfect vehicle for our application. However, we then decided on a Discovery 3. The Land Rover Discovery 4 is basically just a facelift of the Discovery 3. Although the Discovery 4 has a much neater appearance and the interior is also much more stylish, large parts of the bodywork and the basic functions we required are identical:

  • high-torque diesel engine
  • automatic transmission
  • All-wheel drive and off-road capability
  • Air suspension with Terrain Response System
  • good Ground clearance
  • large trunk (with folded seats 2558 l)
  • seven seats
  • Towing capacity up to 3500 kg
  • quickly foldable rear seats (level trunk floor)
  • Accessories supplier for conversion
the bright side
the bright side ©Christian Hein

Development

After a long search, we found a suitable candidate in November 2018. Now the modification and the search for the suitable accessories began. Quickly we came across the brand Front Runner while searching for a suitable roof rack. This accessory manufacturer from South Africa offers a colourful bouquet of accessories for Land Rover and many other off-road and travel suitable vehicles. We also found the matching rear ladder for the disco here.

At the same time, we fought our way through the multitude of roof tent manufacturers. Finally, we got stuck with the Darche High View 140. The following points convinced us of this tent. We wanted the option of an awning, because we did not have an awning at that time and because we knew from our trip to Norway that the weather was not so good for a few days at a time. The roof of the awning has a skylight which allows you to look at the stars in bed – we thought that was really cool. And last but not least, the roof has a telescopic ladder that can easily fold up. Furthermore, the ladder in black with orange anodized steps looks really chic.

After a long back and forth, already various CAD designs of a possible trunk extension and cost calculations, we decided against a self-construction. I had the option offered by Front Runner in mind during the research and it was soon clear that we would get out in the same price range if we wanted to build it similarly chic. So I also ordered and installed this item. Absolutely no wrong decision. The drawer system fits perfectly into the trunk, closes wonderfully at the sides, offers a lot of space, and additionally the possibility to fix boxes and equipment at movable lashing eyes.

  • Front Runner Drawer Kit
  • Front Runner Drawer Kit
  • full set up
  • Sleeping area

Electrical installation

T-MAX Duals Battery system
T-MAX Duals Battery system ©Christian Hein

Land Rover Discovery 3 has a battery compartment in the engine compartment on the right and left-hand side, as the vehicle is designed to be driven on the right and left-hand side. In the case of left-hand drive, the vehicle battery is positioned on the right-hand side. On the driver’s side, on the other hand, only the brake booster and ABS block are located. However, there is still space for a 60 Ah battery in the left-hand battery compartment. We decided on the double battery system from TMAX. It offers a high-load relay (250 A continuous current), which connects the second battery with the vehicle battery when the engine is “on”. When the engine is “off” the two batteries are separated. The voltages of the individual batteries can be checked via a display. It is also possible to connect the batteries manually. This allows, for example, your own starting aid when the vehicle battery is empty. In addition, we installed three 12 V sockets and six USB ports in the trunk which are supplied exclusively by the second battery. An accidental discharge of the vehicle battery, e.g. through the cool box, is thus impossible.

Water installation

Water for all purposes
Water for all purposes ©Christian Hein

On eBay, we got a 42-liter water tank from Front Runner suitable for the roof rack. The tank was mounted on the roof rack in the middle of the front. A hose along the roof rack was laid to the rear. With a Gardena water stop connection, we wanted to be able to connect a hose that allows a water tap at bumper height and can be removed while driving. Unfortunately, we soon found out that a Gardena water stop only works with line pressure. Our water column of max. 40 centimeters and a resulting pressure of perhaps 0.04 bar is probably not considered “line pressure” at this point. Therefore the water stop was not tight. We quickly built a plug from a Gardena connector sealed with body sealant, which we attached to a loop of Paracord on the roof rack, and the problem was solved. The Gardena connector also offers the possibility to fill the water tank comfortably with a garden hose.

Extra storage

When we bought the water tank we also received a Wolf Pack transport box from Front Runner. We had already searched for various boxes and soon found out that (compared to suppliers of certainly much higher quality aluminum boxes) the price-performance ratio of the Wolf-Pack transport boxes is hard to beat. Despite the lack of seals on the lid, we never had moisture in the boxes (heavy rain and high-pressure cleaners included). Only at the bottom of the boxes, there are 4 small holes which made us doubt the tightness of the box. We closed them on both sides with tape. In total, we use five such boxes. Two on the roof rack and three on the drawer system. First, we used standard lashing straps with a clamp lock to fix the boxes on the roof. But this was a thorn in my side all the time because the rest of the belt length was always in the way and even with a shortened belt the loose end was fluttering wildly in the airstream. Finally, we decided to buy the incredibly expensive Stratchit combination belts from Front Runner. They offer a velcro strap to fix the excess belt length and a rubber cord. After the first attached box, it was clear, the belts are really worth their money. Never before have the crates been so comfortable to attach and detach.

Fridge

When choosing the freezer, we chose the Dometic CoolFreeze CDF-18, the same model as the VolkswagenT5 we used in Norway. Due to the positive experiences with the box, the compact design, and the quite good price (for a compressor cooler and freezer) we bought it. After the first tours, however, it must be mentioned that 18 liters of volume quickly become too small for cool drinks and chilled food.

Stove

While searching for a petrol stove with two flames we found out that this is not so common. Gas and two flames no problem. Petrol and one flame also no problem. But petrol and two flames is really rare and we finally came across the Coleman Unleaded 2-burner stove 424. It is incredibly unwieldy and big (American style), but we have space. So far it makes a really good and robust impression. Only the output of the two flames could be higher.

Awning

Before our trip to Corsica, we quickly installed an awning because we wanted to have at least one shade. Since we already had the roof rack from Front Runner it was clear that it should be the Easy-Out awning from Front Runner because here a plug&play installation is possible – but no chance. We had done the calculation without the roof tent – because this is not from Front Runner but from Darche. Unfortunately, the crossbars of the roof tent are too low, so that it was not possible to fix the awning to the brackets provided. In the end, we had to make some spacers to nail the awning to the roof rack about 60 mm down shortly before departure. The awning offers with 2,5 m x 2,1 m sufficient surface and has already done an excellent job on hot summer days and as rain protection. The assembly time with two persons is less than one minute. But it is not possible to set up the awning alone.

Tires

After our trip to Corsica, we wanted to change the tires. On various stony off-road passages, we were very afraid of damaging the all-weather tires. We decided to use the General Grabber AT3 265/60 R18 110H. This offers a good compromise between off-road capability, stability, and suitability for everyday use (the Discovery is used as a daily driver). Regarding the rolling noise, the tire is not noticeable (at least on the really well insulated Discovery). Here we would have expected a much higher noise level. Roof racks including the water tank and boxes can be heard much more intensively at this point.

All-terrain tires
All-terrain tires ©Christian Hein

Light

As a last step we mounted original Land Rover auxiliary headlights on the front bumper during the winter break. Concerning the light output, these halogen headlights are certainly not comparable to modern LED bars. But we wanted to install the original Land Rover headlights in the first step – because we simply think they are chic. The installation of the additional cables for the electrics went very well, because all plugs and free pins are already standard. Only the information that the use of the additional headlights must be enabled in the ECU (which I learned a few months later) was not described anywhere in the manual. This caused a complex troubleshooting with finally manual laying of a line through the splashboard in the passenger footwell.

Planned are the installation of LED-bar and maneuvering lights on the roof rack to the rear and to the sides, because e.g. reversing at night is really uncomfortable off-road or in the forest.

Conclusion

The Land Rover has currently become a motorhome that is absolutely suitable for everyday use. We still have five seats and (at least during the summer months) we always have all the equipment with us, so that we can always just drive off. Travelling with the disco is very comfortable and the off-road capability is completely sufficient for almost all conditions.

  • front
  • side

Technical data

carKITCHEN INSTALLATIONROOF TOP TENTMountings
Land Rover Discovery III 2,7 Liter TDV6DOMETIC COOLFREEZE CDF 18
18 l fridge / freezer
Darche Hi View 140
Roof rack:
Front Runner Slimline II
Performance 140KW / 190PSFront Runner water tank 42 litres incl. mounting on roof rackDimensions closed: 120 cm x 140 cm x 28 cm
(L x W x H)
Awning:
Front Runner EASY-OUT
Drive system: permanent 4-wheel driveTMAX Dual Battery System
Second battery: 60Ah AGM
Living space: 140 cm x 240 cmFront Runner Rear ladder
Air suspension with Terrain Response System
Coleman Unleaded 2-burner stove 424
(Petrol)
Weight: 58kgFront Runner drawer kit
Trailer hitch with 3500kg towing capacity3x 12V and 6x USB in the trunkincl. awning (250 cm long) with removable floor and three entrancesDimensions of left pull-out:
914 mm x 461 mm x 208 mm
(L x W x H)


Dimensions right-pull-out:
914 mm x 373 mm x 208 mm
(L x W x H)
7 seats, 280 to 2558 litres trunk volumeTelescopic ladder5x Front Runner Wolf Pack
Tires: General Grabber AT3 265/60 R18 110H

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