Land Rover Defender Blog

Tips For Working On The Driveway In Winter

Here's our top 4 tips for working outside during winter.

Ben Gribbin

Ben Gribbin

December 9, 2010

Hello, I'm the editor of FunRover. I'm a massive Land Rover fan. Currently own a TD5 90. 2015 MR Blogger of the Year


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Many Land Rover owners will find themselves "tinkering with sockets and spanners" on their drives in winter. Not everybody is gifted with a super-duper dedicated workshop or warm, toasty garage. Some jobs just need to be done outside and in the middle of winter, that means working in ice, snow, wind and rain. If you have a job that needs doing or you simply can't wait to fit the light bar that arrived today, you should check out our top tips for working outside in the winter. These tips might sound obvious but are often overlooked. Plan and allow yourself adequate time to complete the job in hand and dress accordingly for the length of time you will be out in the cold.

1. Dress for Warmth

This might sound daft, but you'd be amazed at how many people don't do this. You'll see them walking down the road, ankle high in snow wearing t-shirts and plimsolls. It's easy to forget that, whilst moving around, walking or running for example, your body keeps itself heated thanks to the working muscles. However, when your lying on the ground, potentially for hours on end, moving only your arms, you'll very quickly feel the chill. So dress up appropriately. Often many light layers allow freedom of movement and can be easily peeled off or replaced to keep you comfortably warm.

Get yourself a good, warm hat. Your typical woolly hat is perfect as it doesn't get in the way when moving your head in confined spaces and covers the ears. Thinsulate woolly hats have an outer wool layer, and an inner Thinsulate-fleece layer - keeping your head comfortable even in the coldest temperatures.

Then you need to layer up your clothing. "Long Johns" and thermal undergarments are a must. Layering up your clothes traps air within each item and insulates the body. Many army surplus stores stock arctic grade base layers, and these are widely available online for a fairly reasonable amount. Over your base layer, put on a good, thick T-shirt, a Micro-fiber fleece and then your jacket. This will keep your core warm, meaning you can work for hours at a time even when the mercury dive-bombs.

Work pants by Dickies, complete with built-in kneepads. Comfy and warm!

We've found that tool pants or work-trousers with knee-pads are a great over-layer for your legs. The knee-pads again lift you off the floor, adding insulation between you and the freezing ground that can literally suck warmth out of you. You might even choose to buy a larger size than normal, to allow for more layers underneath. The trousers are usually water-resistant and are a must when working on your Landy as they have plenty of pockets and holders for knives, hammers e.t.c. Dickies are one well respected brand, producing some very hard-wearing work-wear.

A good, solid pair of boots and socks are essential!

Don't forget your feet. Getting cold feet is quite annoying and can be painful, so again, layer up and put 2 or 3 pairs of socks on. Remember, you may well be warm now, sat in your central-heated house, but will you be able to maintain that feeling after being outside for an hour? If you suffer with poor circulation or hate cold feet, then the ultimate sock is the Heat Holder. These are by no means a cheap sock, but they're lined with a thick, fur layer and have a 2.34 tog rating. Not sure what that relates to, but it's one snug sock! Do a Google search for "Heat Holders" but expect to shell out £5+ per pair.

Boots are another must for working safely on a vehicle anyway, especially steel toe and protected heel types. These boots also have very thick soles, again offering more protection and insulation from the cold. Combined with some warm socks as above, your feet should never get chilly again. These boots are also brilliant for green-lane trips or winter driving, as some Land Rover models (*cough* anything that pre-dates a Discovery 2) have 'inadequate heating'.

Even latex gloves add a little warmth to your hands, whilst maintaining maneuverability.

Keep your hands warm with some fleece-lined work gloves

Finally, you need gloves. Even latex gloves can help to protect your hands, but a pair of thick, leather builder gloves might be more suitable. Either way, you need to really look after your hands and feet, so don't neglect them.

2. Prepare a work surface

A tarp makes working outside bearable! It also covers up that greasy oil slick!

You probably now resemble the Michelin man with the amount of clothes you've got on. However, you need to think about the surface you're working on. Brick and concrete conduct heat away from your body, so get yourself a big tarpaulin, then one of those lined-picnic blankets. Combining these two, you can work on snow, ice, wet - whatever the weather. One added bonus, tarp's are available in some pretty brash colors, and the more vibrant the better. Then, if you drop a small screw, washer or nut you can easily locate it and you have the added benefit of knowing it hasn't fallen into a drain or crevice to be lost forever.

3. Let there be light!

Finally, what's the point being warm if you can't see anything? Pick-up a few of those portable work lamps from Machine Mart or Screwfix and position them so as to provide a consistent light that won't be blocked out by your own shadow. There are even dual-lamps with their very own stands available, so shop around and pick one that will fit your location and needs.

4. Be sensible

There's no good in pushing your body to the very edge of it's limits to get your Landy back up and running. If you start to feel cold, uncomfortable or numb, take a break and go warm up. Grab a nice hot cup of tea and look after yourself. You can always come back to a job later or even plan ahead and break it down into smaller, shorter tasks.

Following the above helped us work in minus 2, on top of snow and ice for 5 hours straight. It's well worth preparing before getting out the socket set.

Have any cold weather working tips? Share them with the FunRover community! Post your tips below...

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  1. Wanderer says:

    I’ve spent every Saturday for the last 6 weeks helping my brother to weld my Discovery. A gas fire in the garage that you can go to when having a hot cuppa is great. Taking a break for a bacon sarnie or a bag of chips is worth while. Eat out side if you have tools everywhere. No point in shedding all those clothes in the house. You won’t feel like going back out in the cold.Don’t for get to have a laugh. Plenty of banter and good company helps a lot.

  2. Richard says:

    An old foam camping/sleeping mat can really help insulate you from the ground. I’ve recently replaced mine with a 30mm foam mechanics mat that I picked up from a VW show for the bargain price of £7. This now lives permanently in the back of the 90 as an anti-rattle device. Those 500w work lights throw off quite a bit of heat as well as keeping you illuminated 🙂 An insulated mug for your coffee and a partner primed to refill it regularly is a great boon too.

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