Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Land Rover Defender Mini Rig

Aussie Overlanders: Mini Rigs
The Land Rover Defender might be likened to the old Meccano set of parts. Hundreds of misaligned objects that actually resemble something. Having owned two Land Rover Series models and a single Defender before, and knowing how easy it is to 'tinker' and make various modifications to the base vehicle, I have been left with a desire to rebuild a Series II Landy. Thankfully, I have not needed to go from zero capability to full rebuild without the ability to practice on slightly smaller options. Introducing the Mini Rig Defender:

The team behind the successful overland website, Aussie Overlanders, have launched a new project called Mini Rigs (Facebook). These plywood laser cut 3d puzzles are perfect for any Land Rover enthusiast to rebuild a model Defender (with optional accessories) or a Series I.  The order process was straight forward - select the model, add in the optional accessories and use PayPal to transact the order. Within days of my order, the Landy puzzle had arrived and the assembly process started.

I had expected a full set of printed instructions and was surprised that I had to fathom out the rebuild. In honesty, it is aimed as a 3d puzzle and with methodical thinking, the task was not complicated.

The individual pieces are lazer cut and easy to pop out of the frame. I started with a 'dry run' building up the Defender to a point where it resembled the real thing but without committing the glue to bond the parts in place.

Is this the bonnet?
The attention to detail was impressive...

The rebuild was fun especially as the Defender started to take form and my ability to piece together the puzzle improved as I was left with less and less pieces.

The optional accessories included jerry cans, two spare wheels, high lift jack and spade. A bullbar with spotlights, roofrack with additional lights and side steps all made the Defender look like a true expedition vehicle.

The Land Rover Defender is unique... the abundance of 3rd party accessories allows the owner to individually customize their vehicle to the point that no expedition Land Rover Defender looks the same. The Mini Rig Defender has the same capability... I opted to put the spare wheel on the rear door and on the bonnet rather than the roof rack as per a few photos on the Mini Rig website.  I found myself rethinking where to glue the jerry cans, as if I was packing a real Defender!

Rebuilding the plywood Mini Rig Defender took a lot longer than I had anticipated and made me realize that my dream of rebuilding a Series II Landy might take a lot longer than anticipated and would probably cost considerably more! However, I thoroughly enjoyed the build process and the satisfaction of seeing the Defender fully built.

The Mini Rig Series I and Defender is a good project for any child who loves building model aircraft or Lego. It does require wood glue and would probably need supervision for children under 10 years old due to a few intricate parts - like fitting the wheels to the axle, which required a bit of sand paper and gentle force to fit.

The Mini Rigs are currently available via the Aussie Overlanders website and are available for shipping worldwide.


Buckets of rain tumbled from the sky keeping my 5yr old indoors. Craft work, and paintings kept her entertained until she spotted the wooden Defender and wanted to paint it. She knew that I wanted a Keswick green Land Rover Defender and so the process of painting the Mini Rig started. Colours were limited but the fun and enthusiasm made up for inaccurate painting. In true Landy rebuild-fashion, this little Mini Rig Defender got hand painted in a mismatch of colours. As mentioned above, all Land Rover Defender models are unique and so is my Mini Rig Defender:

Centre Steer Podcast:

John, a member of the Centre Steer podcast team, recently completed his Mini Rig Defender.  He uploaded the following YouTube video clip:

Additional Reading:
3D Puzzles ZA

Malawi Land Rover Models

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