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Land Rover Diary

Part Two: I remember the joys of Land Rover Ownership.

First Posted: 20th Aug 2010 21:29

In part one, We left our hero gazing wisfully at what, at first sight, looked like a bit of a wreck.

It was a 1997 P reg Ninety.

It had no bumper.

It was full of straw and farming type deposits.

It had a big dint in one front wing.

The dashboard was hanging off, and strange wires appeared and disappeared from all over the interior.

"Run away", I hear you cry, "Run away NOW!"


It had just had the suspension polybushed, the shocks replaced, the steering rebuilt, a new front propshaft, a new brake servo and master cylinder, and new brake pads and calipers, the timing belt replaced, and the exhaust renewed.

And it was cheap.

So, I bought it.

I was once more a Land Rover owner.

I had the inevitable hassles of getting it insured: "It's a commercial vehicle, we don't do those".

I embarrassed myself at the Post Office:

"I want to tax my car", I said, "It's a Land Rover", I said proudly.

The woman behind the counter said "yeah?", and gave me one of those looks, the one that every married man knows, that classes you as something less than the dirt on their shoe.

I went to pick it up.

I drove it home: I had a grin from ear to ear. (where?)

I started noting the telltale signs of previous Land Rover ownership:

I kept scrabbling around by my right hip, trying to find the interior door handle.

I bruised my knuckles, trying to find the slidey bit of the window in the door (windey windows? what?)

I remembered how to feather the accelerator on overun, to catch the backlash in the drivetrain so as not to break my neck.

I remembered to rest the outside of my right foot against the footwell, so that we didn't proceed like a startled kangaroo over bumpy roads.

I failed dismally to remember how much winding you have to do to the steering, to get any lock on (take note I have been driving modern cars for ten years)

I started to recall just how noisy the inside of a Diesel Land Rover can get (well I couldn't miss that, really, could I)?



The next morning, after the first flush of enthusiasm had died down, (all evening, I kept going to the window to see if it was still there, or if it was a mirage - it was still there, 1.5 tons of Land Rover make a bloody solid mirage), I went over the thing with a bit more thoroughness.

Dashboard: three screws replaced, sorted!

Speedo doesn't work: check!

Reversing light doesn't work: check!

Rear Fog light doesn't work: check!

Amazingly, Head, side, brake and indicator lights all work, as do the windscreen washers, and wipers, although the drivers side washer is pointed at the windscreen rubber, rather than the windscreen.

Even the rear wash wipe works.

I cleaned out the straw and... errm, stuff, from the interior.

Under the mats, a solid floor panel. An original, solidish (ha) footwell (I know it's original, 'cos the inside of this Landy is white - as was the outside, once, although somebody has sprayed it bronze green at some point).

I lifted the seat squabs: yep, battery there, fuel tank there, HOLY SH**, what's that?

Under the middle seat, there's an ominous black box, with lots of wires, and writing that says ECM something or other.

AAAAAGHH, no, not an engine management thingy, I hate them. I thought 300Tdi's didn't have them!

Quick, put the seat back and we'll say no more about it.


So, priorities.

Number one, a bumper. (you shouldn't really drive around without one).

Number two, a set of side steps (I'm not that long legged, and it's got big wheels and tyres on it).

Number three, the speedo - I suppose I'd better.

Off to Paddock, then, and back with bits.


Four bolts, two plates with captive nuts, one girder.

Ok, so which way up does it go?

I know, it sounds like a silly question, but guess who tried it the WRONG way first?

There is a subtle difference in the width of the brackets on the bumper, one set are very slightly narrower than the other set: the narrower ones go at the bottom, where they just fit between the side bits of the front chassis legs.

So I balance the bumper in place on the chassis legs, and shove two bolts all the way through to stop it dropping on my foot.

Now, captive nuts. So if I lift up the bolt on one side I can slide the plate thingy between the bumper bracket, and the bit of the chassis leg that sticks out... no... no, I can't. Bugger.

Take the bumper off and look at the job.

OH... see, the captive nuts are in a spring steel cage... which obviously clips to the bottom bracket (narrower, remember!) on the bumper, and then we can offer it up.

Now we're sorted. Clip the nuts on, put bumper in place, drop bolts through, tighten up finger tight.

Find socket, 13mm - what else?

Socket... socket set... Tools... hmmmm...

Have you noticed, that as a Land Rover, you accumulate an enormous array of tools over the years. In my previous incarnation as a Landy owner, I had two full socket sets, plus lots of loose sockets, numerous spanners, screwdrivers, and an assortment of hammers. Now, after 10 years and three house moves, I've got sod all.

Dive into cellar...

Half an hour of banging, crashing, shrieking and cursing, re-appear at head of cellar steps with pitiful remains of half-inch drive socket set. BUT IT HAS GOT a 13mm socket - YAY!

Tighten bolts on bumper until I can practically shove it sideways (overtighten, what's that)?

Ooh, shiny! It looks so much better with a bumper on it.


Been to pick up daughter (9 years old). She Loves it!

Called at motor factors and got three essential items: Haynes Manual, set of spanners, and a bloody big hammer!


Next time: Side steps, Speedo, wiring... or not, maybe...


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