Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Tango 3 to Tango Base, I've turned the Rover over, over."

That was the (alleged) radio call made back from a country bridge to the RAF Mountain Rescue Base camp at Mungrisdale in the English Lakes one fall in the early 1980s. I confess, I was the hapless young driver who skidded on the ice patch, and ruined one of Her Majesty's Land Rover cars.

Soon after that they took my military driver's license away, never to be returned. Ouch!

But here we are durn near 30 years later and there's another short wheely Rover sitting in my dooryard here on our farm in Maine. How did that happen?

It has a few problems and indeed the first thing we'll do is to strip it down to the frame and grind off some rust and old paint and weld some patches in here and there and repaint in some kind of very utilitarian rust-proof paint. We'll also need a compression test, a full tune-up, and possibly a complete rewire job.

All of which sounds like a very fun rest of the summer to me.

And at the end of it all we'll have a farm truck and local run-around car that ought to last for twenty more years. Much needed, since I just found terminal rust and a very poor set of brake rotors and calipers on our 1997 Ford Escort, and since the Nissan can't possibly last more than two or three more years.

That's way too many dollars to invest in the Ford's brakes, given that it also needs a clutch and a timing chain (based on the mileage -- both are currently working fine), so we'll do what we can with a $12 set of pads and some elbow grease and then just run out the remaining life in the car before scrapping it. One, at the most two more winters.

We'll put our money in the Land Rover instead. It should keep its value and even improve in condition and reliability over the years as I plug away at it.

One day we'll even send away to Sheffield for a galvanized frame.

I'll die before this truck does.

"It's never over with a Rover."

Hats off to Aimee for believing, or at least pretending to believe in the Land Rover project. I've officially used up my stock of wifely patience for the year, plus all my birthdays and Christmas presents for the forseeable future.

Although she did seem to have a wee moment when she saw the seats in the back and the holes in the floor.

"Adds character!"

By the way, don't worry: Those awful non-original equipment roll bars are going to be the first thing to go!


  1. What was its birth-year?

  2. It's a '71, so a late model Series IIA. It has the negative earth electrical system and the headlights are on the wings ("fenders" for American readers).


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