Wednesday, 5 March 2014

I'm often asked...

"Why do you drive that prehistoric lump?"

They're referring to my ex-MoD (Army) Series 3 109" Land Rover (Military specification). It was built in 1983, and spent ten years with the Territorial Army, before being 'cast off', and eventually sent for disposal at auction. I'm it's fourth civilian owner.

Why do I own it?

  • It's a bit of history - I drove one when I was in the T.A. back in the 90's.
  • It may not be fast (even going downhill with a tail wind), but it's a fun thing to drive, being a go-almost-anywhere vehicle.
  • It's easy to find in car parks - it's camouflaged, not shiny, and therefore stands out... well, that and being a bit taller than you're average seventy-thousand quid footballers SUV plastic toy  
  • I use it for my Living History hobby, not just because it can carry all the I use over the course of a weekend at one of those events, but as part of the display stand as well;
  • It's because there's a fellowship of sorts between Land Rover owners, as we tend to wave to each other on the roads (it tends to be Series and Defenders who are this friendly, in the main, although Discovery and Freelander owners get the occasional look-in as well), go to specialist events (the much-attended Newbury "Sort Out", as it's known to many, comes immediately to mind), and run clubs for each other of many flavours (there are generic Landie clubs, Series Landie clubs, Ex-Military Landie clubs, Lightweight Landie clubs, and so on and so forth);
  • and oh yes, the insurance tends to be cheaper for older vehicles as well.

But most of all?

It's relatively cheap - and easy - to maintain yourself; you don't need a degree in computer engineering, or any overly expensive or complex tools, to perform routine maintenance on it. Just a willing pair of hands, a little knowledge (Haynes car maintenance manuals and other similar publications), and maybe the help of a willing friend or three every so often, and that's that - job done.

There's a saying in Land Rover owner circles: "The Job's NEVER done!" What do we mean? It's simple: Once you've cracked it, and got one maintenance task done, another rears it's sarcastic head, and beckons you forth to smack it on the head with a deadfall hammer. Or a breaker bar. Or both. Simultaneously (that's called two-fisted engineering, by the way).

So having owned this wagon for the best part of a year and a half now, what have I fixed, or had help with fixing?

  • Exhaust manifold replaced (cracked and then some).
  • Carburettor replaced (leaking float and gaskets).
  • Sump gasket replaced (leaking).
  • Rocker cover gasket replaced (leaking).
  • Oil changed.
  • Oil filter changed.
  • Replaced broken speedo cable.
  • Offside door top replaced (rusted to and then some).
  • Added cigarette lighter socket (to power my phone and other electrically powered accessories).
  • Replaced faulty indicator switch.
  • Replaced over-powered halogen headlights with more normal specification-compliant 7" sealed units, the halogens having created the problem with the indicator switch in the first place, by drawing too much power through it and causing the plastic frame of the switch assembly to warp as a by-product of the heat through the electric contacts of the headlight/beam switch (it's a weird lighting circuit path in a Landie).
  • Removed spare tyre from top of hard top roof, where it was bending the metal of the roof and rendering it somewhat less than waterproof at the joints.

The list of lesser problems and pending fixes goes on a fair bit, but the above are what I, or my mates and I, have dealt with thus far. And since no good deed ever goes unpunished, as soon as we fix one problem, as mentioned above, another crops up - the latest is a serious one: The water pump is about ready to fall over .

This last one is going to take at least a day to fix, as the radiator really has to come out first, before you can get to the water pump, which is behind the radiator fan, alternator, and associated gear at the front of the engine. And oh yeah, you have to completely drain all the coolant out first, which cannot be poured down a drain as it's toxic, so has to go to a specialist dump. Wonderful.

Remind me.

WHY do I drive this prehistoric lump?

Oh yeah.

Because it's fun.

I must be bloody mad!

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