Saturday, July 7, 2012
The Great Land Rover Hunt of '12
(Photo, courtesy Jim "Fergie" Ferguson's Facebook, of the RAF Leeming MRT Troops with a Series III LWB RAF Land Rover Ambulance, circa 1981 or 1982. Me on the far right.)
I'm looking for an old Land Rover to fix up. Call it nostalgia, although my excuses are many.
The main theme I'm using, in this art of wifely persuasion, is that a solid Land Rover at this point in my life would be the last truck I ever bought. But we also need a replacement four-wheel drive farm wagon for our thirteen-year old Nissan Frontier, which, after great efforts, is still rusting out, and whose engine is too complicated for me to rebuild when, as it surely must after 215,000 miles, it finally conks out.
I could put the same amount of effort into an older Land Rover as I've put into this Nissan over the last few years and be repaid in decades, rather than years, more service.
So the plan is to find an old Series I, II, IIA or III Land Rover and repair the frame, rebuild the engine and, if necessary, the gearbox, and do all the brakes and suspension in one big rebuild project, to essentially strip it down to nothing and build it back up again.
I looked at one today, a Series IIA for just over $6,000. It was a pretty good prospect. The main problems were in the bulkhead and bodywork, the frame having already been welded and undersealed some years ago. But six grand was a little more than I want to pay right away, so I'm still looking.
Although I've worked on dozens of type of cars and trucks over the years, I've not worked on Land Rovers.
(I wrecked a couple while I was in the service, but never repaired them, not even the ones I wrecked. There's gratitude for you.)
So far, from reading the web pages and on-line manuals and watching You Tube videos, I like what I see. Everything comes apart with simple tools, and the whole body can be removed in pieces to give excellent access to the engine and the frame.
My Haynes manual, my first actual purchase towards this project, should come in the post this week.
What does Aimee think about all this? To begin, she was quite negative. Another crazy husbandly idea.
But I showed her some pictures of how good finished trucks can look after the rebuild process, and pointed out some of the technological advantages for our situation, such as the ability to tow farm machinery and hay wagons, or the fact that I should be able to rebuild everything on the vehicle with my current endowment of tools and skills, and pointed out that we could actually save money (over the very long term), she seemed to come around.
Or resigned herself. I can't quite tell.
Anyway, if anyone knows of a good Land Rover, legal for use in the US, and otherwise capable somehow of reaching Maine, let me know.