A True Off-Roader Again

A couple of weeks back, my Jimny suffered a pretty common 4WD failure. The dreaded little 4WD light flashing on the dash and no power to the front wheels. It was most likely a leak in the supposedly convenient but usually troublesome ‘vacuum hub’ system and, should I want to fix it, would involve tracing the source of the leak and replacing the pipes to fix the leak. It wasn’t something I was overly keen on doing though since it’s probably just going to fail somewhere else further down the line, so I instead decided to circumvent the whole thing and switch to manual locking hubs.

The tough looking 4X4 badge is a bit unnecessary, but hey.

These things are what your more classic part-time 4WD vehicles have, and can be spotted most commonly on older Land Rovers and the previous generation of the Jimny. Basically, instead of the hubs locking via a vacuum pipe or any automatic means, you need to get out and lock them yourself.

There’s not too much of a size difference, but they do stick out a little bit more.

I did think about this for a while because it did seem a shame to have a feature of the truck no longer working. So I listed it all out- what are the advantages/disadvantages of switching to Manual locking hubs? 

Disadvantages of manual Locking hubs

You Have to Physically Get out of the Vehicle and Lock/Unlock Them Yourself

This is probably the biggest downside. If you’re stuck in a bog/ditch and you’re wanting to switch to 4WD mode you might not be able to actually get at them. The thing is though, not engaging the hubs until after you go off-roading probably isn’t doing things correctly. You can always just leave the hubs locked indefinitely (and some people do). It’ll increase wear and maybe lower your fuel economy, but there’s nothing stopping you simply locking the hubs in the morning because you think you might use 4WD at some point during the day, then using it on off/road. Some people I see lock their hubs the moment winter sets in just for convenience’s sake.

You Might Forget to Lock Them.

Probably going to be the most common problem, attempting to get yourself out of a mess and making more of a mess because you didn’t lock your hubs and thus churned up more ground for nothing. However, in my case, I’m not using my truck off-road that much and so I’d prefer it to just take the risk and try to remember. basically, so long as I don’t forget, the system will work when I need it.

Advantages of Manual Locking Hubs


This here is the answer above all else. I don’t use 4WD that much, but when I do I want it to work. Sure, pulling the lever and engaging 4WD mode all from the comfort of the cab feels fun, but as I learnt during this cold spell when I may have actually needed the 4WD mode, I’d rather the inconvenience of having to get out into the cold to lock the hubs than the inconvenience of trying to get up a slope in 4WD mode only for it to fail because if a rusty vacuum pipe! Easy to fix, reliable and super simple to install, what could be better?

So after taking off the old hub, I fitted the first part of the new hubs and bolted them in place. It really is as simple as pulling out the part and lining up the new piece:

Very chuffed and proud of my work, I then set out on a drive to test out my new shiny hubs and show off the recently installed towbar. We’d tested the Jimny with our newer, bigger trailer before I did the work on the hubs, and it certainly looked the part:

On a wee drive to the pier I spotted something interesting- it seems we had a pretty significant rockfall in the cliffs just after the new corner (I call it new, new in that the cliff was blown up to reroute the road over a decade ago!) that could have completely blocked the road. Luckily, it seems to have stopped just on the verge, which was polite.

I then decided to go a bit further afield and took a drive up north to Brochel, as I quite fancied getting out and about with the drone since the day was so wonderfully still. My favourite shot was this huge composite I took from about 150m up of Rainy’s Wall, a huge long dividing wall that bisects the island at one of its narrowest points. It was built in the 1800s as a dividing wall between the estate and the locals:

You can see the full size in all it’s glory here. It was quite a simple setup, flying along the wall & snapping pictures as I went, then merging it in Lightroom. I had to do three passes however to also capture the land on each side of the wall. There are a few mistakes and mismatches here and there, but the overall effect is pretty spectacular! ‘Rainy’s Wall’ cuts across Tarbert, Raasay’s narrowest point. It’s a former deer wall that was build during George Rainy’s ownership of Raasay over 150 years ago, but it’s infamous as acting as the boundary line for islanders who had been relocated or lived in the north of Raasay as a result of the extensive clearances in the South. Seanair always says the rate was ‘a meal paid per stone for the wall’, and flying it really shows the extent of the work- I couldn’t believe how it much it just went on and on as I flew over. It a nice piece of poetic history it was eventually broken by Calum in the building of his road (although it was could have been cannibalised previously to build the fank). You can see one of the single images below, in total it’s roughly 40 images.

The wall & fank, described as the ‘Minature Machu Picchu’ in Calum’s Road. Can you see me?

I also cut together a wee film of footage around Calum’s Road, however, the effect on that was slightly ruined as the bain of my life- Youtube & Facebook copyright stikes- muted most of the nice audio. You can see the video here, although I’ll be making a new fixed version soon.

Also snapped a nice view of the bridge and the mammoth fish feed plant that’s been getting slowly pieced together over at Kyleakin for a few years now. Some people might see it as a bit of an eyesore, but I’m sure people thought (or still think) the same of the distillery here, but I’ll take the odd ‘eyesore’ if it means jobs and employment around the islands.

Also spotted this interesting survey boat snooping around Brochel, MOD boat armed with snipers to take down my drone, perhaps?

And it wouldn’t be a drive home without some nice wildlife:

So yes a very creative day, especially helped along with some relaxing, watching Seinfeld and eating leftover scotch pies from the rugby pub night at the distillery yesterday. But it wasn’t just me being creative this weekend, Dad has been busy crafting one of my old model wooden fishing boats into what I believe is going to be a Colvic Watson hull like our old boat the Saltire. I believe I had bought the thing in Inveraray when I was very wee, and she had been a staple of my bedroom ‘model shelf’ along with Airfix bits n’ pieces for many years, until I cannibalised her last year for parts for my ‘monster hunting‘ exhibition piece. She’ll rise from the ashes again, it seems!

Talking of monster hunting, Mary is busy working on one of her most ambitious projects yet. She’s currently creating a proposal for a puppet show and is busy literally carving, crafting and sewing together a beautiful puppet. As I type this, she is busy taking photos of some newly-knitted longjohns with my wooden kit as a backdrop! She has a meeting with the organisers on Wednesday as so wants something to demonstrate to them.

Geppetto’s workshop.

Quiet weekends eh. Who needs ’em?

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