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It’ll be done by Christmas… Honest!

November 10th, 2011 No comments

I have set myself (some may say an insurmountable) challenge of rebuilding my old SIII 109 Land Rover and getting it on the road before Christmas. As you can see from my earlier post, it hasn’t moved in over six years. However, these are minor trifles, so what if the engine hasn’t run in all that time, or that the bodywork has gathered (in some places up to an inch of ) moss. These are problems that can be fixed with enthusiasm, determination and elbow grease.

I had wanted to keep a ‘day-by-day’ or ‘week-by-week’ blog post on how I was progressing, however, time being a luxury it slipped down in my priorities. I shall make up for that with this post.

"Will you walk into my parlor?" said the spider to the fly...

The project started properly in early September and the first thing to do was a complete strip down, to see what the damage was and to see what work was needed. I was surprised at how quickly happened! Over a period of two days it went from being 99.9% complete to just a chassis.

The doors have come off...

Floor and seating gone...

I was helped by my friend Jim with the big bits such as the roof, a task that would have been almost impossible if I were working on my own. Thanks Jim..!

Off comes the roof...

It can be difficult sometimes to decide what to take off next. You can get overwhelmed by the scale of it. However, I found that the best approach was to focus on small bits and forget about the rest. Before you know it you are half way…

About half way...

I managed to lift the rear tub off all by myself, something I would not advise to anybody..! It is a two man job at the absolute bare minimum…

Last few items remaining...

It came as a great relief the amount of (or should I say ‘lack of’) rust damage. I had imagined the worst, however, the chassis was in very good condition. The only visible damage was a small patch on the rear cross member (no surprise there I hear you say). It was only a very minor bit of surface rust, nothing a good wire-brush wouldn’t fix.

The only bit of rust to be found on the chassis...

The worst of the rust damage was with the main cross-member on the tub. It was being held together by the rivets. This would need completely replacing.

Main cross-member on tub completely rusted away...

Other than that there were only a few spots of rust on the rest of the body, a little on the door bottoms and the footwells in the bulkhead.

The corrosion damage to the tub caused by the rusted cross-member...

The first bit of restoration was to make a replacement cross-member for the tub. Yes, you can buy them, but that is not my style, plus you can have great fun over engineering it. Here is my version, all made from 4mm mild steel, over twice the thickness of the original part.

OK, so, it is a 'little' over engineered..!

My plan was to upgrade the engine and fit a 200Tdi. I had picked one up from eBay a while back and now was the time to dry-fit it. I still find it amazing how many of the parts from Land Rover are interchangeable, the series gearbox fitted perfectly to the engine (see my post on fitting 200Tdi for more detailed info [link to follow]). I ‘borrowed’ the engine mounts from the 2.25 petrol I had taken out and the engine dropped in without a hitch. It was good to feel I had made a turn and was now starting to put things back on.

The dry-fit of the 200Tdi engine and gearbox...

Next I had to work out how to mount the radiator. The original radiator was damaged and leaked like a sieve. Two brackets mounted on the front chassis cross-member, a plate on the top and we’re good to go (I shall post photos of these when I get the chance).

Positioning the radiator before fabricating the mounts...

The part that was causing me most of my worries was the front axle. One of the main reasons the Land Rover was taken off the road in the first place was the damage caused by the seizing up of the diff, this in turn caused the two half shafts to shear off..! (great fun) Anyway, I found a donor SIII axle (again on eBay) and so took to salvaging the parts needed. A couple of nights later and it is looking as good as new, ready to be put back on. The rear Salisbury axle was still in perfect condition, a few very minor spots of surface rust on the outer casing.

The fully restored front axle ready to be fitted...

Next on my list was the bulkhead. On the whole it wasn’t in too bad a condition, again a few spots of rust here and there. However, I did want to prepare it properly and prevent future rusting, so out came the wire brush and after a good coating of acid-etch primer it was sprayed with several coats of grey primer.

It is important to say at this point that I am not trying to restore this back into showroom condition. All I want to do it put it back as a solid work-horse. So the final finish of the paint is not a major concern of mine. I have had to keep reminding myself of this after spending hours cleaning one small part. If I had the time, then yes, I would spend as long as needed on each and every piece. However, I have set myself the goal of getting it back on the road for Christmas. As long as it looks clean and is in good condition I will be happy..!

The bulkhead all cleaned and primed...

More to follow…