Carrying on from where I left off in part 1 (clicky link if you haven't read it yet) finding solace from a huge pizza and a bottle red wine, oh and the Series 1's steering box falling apart,
Now then,' I pondered to myself. 'Where the ‘eck do I find a 1955 steeringbox?' All the usual suspects were tried without success, so I looked on the Series 1 club website and among their list of parts suppliers was Red Dragon Restorations, the only place I found to have one. And whilst I was enjoying my spending spree, I ordered a Series 1 parts catalogue which I figured would be invaluable.
When our ‘new’ steering box arrived, I read through the instructions that the owner of Red Dragon had given me with regards to replacing the old unit. After I’d stripped the steering surround, I had to remove the two bolts in the footwell that hold the steering box to the bulkhead, the three horizontal bolts that hold the bracket onto the chassis and another bolt that holds the bracket to the wing. Next I had to break the ball joint and feed the whole lot through the footwell, and fitting the ‘new’ unit would be the reverse of the above! All sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t, it was a horrible job! That said, if I was to do it again, I could do it in half an hour! Old Land Rovers, great aren’t they?
And so with the old unit resting securely in my vice, I used Chris’s hydraulic bearing puller to remove the drop arm, and loads of WD40 to help remove the chassis bracket, then they were swapped onto the ‘new’ unit. I then went and removed the ball joint that I had destroyed and fitted the new one onto the steering arm that goes to the relay. By this time it was getting dark, so I donned my head torch and fitted the new steering box back onto Tink by sliding the unit up through her wheel arch and feeding it through the hole in the bulkhead. I then fumbled my way fitting the nuts and bolts securing it to the footwell whilst wishing I had longer arms, then the securing bracket to the chassis and wing, all that was left then was to fit the steering column bits. Phew, I was feeling very, very pleased with myself, things were progressing nicely, all that I had to do in the morning was to connect the new ball joint to the drop arm, fill it with oil and move on to other jobs I had noted for the MOT.
The following day, after I’d given Chris his bearing puller back, I donned my ‘lying under the Land Rover’ clothes and went to fit the new ball joint to the drop arm........ errrr no. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t fit the ball joint into the drop arm, I then realised that what I should’ve done was to fit the drop arm last! I went and borrowed Chris’s bearing puller again, removed the steering box again, pulled off the drop arm again, and refitted the bloody steering box..... again! This time I fed the ball joint into the drop arm, then slotted the arm onto the steering box, tightened everything up, filled with oil, and jumped for joy, yay!
On the subject of oil, rather than just buy any from the corner shop, I asked on ‘www.Difflock.com’ what oil would suit something this old, the suggested that their Classic 15W50 Engine Oil will serve well for all year round protection. As far as the gearbox, axles, steering box etc, their Classic GL4 Gear Oil 80W90 would be ideal, so I ordered both.
The other jobs I had noted for her MOT were to get the windscreen wiper working, replace the snapped axle strap, and give her a thorough service. However, the dark nights were closing in, it was raining everyday, my bad back began to flare up with the miserable weather, I had more work to do, oh and general apathy! See, I have some very good excuses for not doing anything to Tink for the following five months!
As March arrived with lighter nights and warmer weather I began to notice that I had a Land Rover parked in my back yard and so with new enthusiasm I set about preparing her again. I remembered that she had an issue with spluttering when the accelerator was pressed. The engine would ‘psssst’ every time I pressed the accelerator then die for a short while. As it was at least twenty years since I last looked at an ignition system, I invited Barny around to share in my confusion. Nothing much looked out of order, but we did notice that all the ignition parts bar the coil were a mish mash of old and new bits. £50 was spent new leads, new dizzy cap, new plugs, a new coil, new rotor arm and new points. Once fitted there was a noticeable improvement straight away.......... but she was still ‘pssss'ting’!
‘Okay, let’s look at the fuel supply.’ I thought confidently, forgetting for a while that I was a complete novice at this. Although Tink had been run every fortnight or so, she hadn’t been driven for about five years, so maybe the fuel system was blocked. The first thing I did was to clean the sediment bowl, I don’t know why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. I then proceeded to strip the fuel pump and fit a new diaphragm for the accelerator pump. That didn’t solve it either! The next move was advise given to me by an experienced Series 1 owner, ‘Take the carb off, and blow it.’ He said! Hmmm, do I really want to be that friendly? Anyway, after staring at the carb for a while (I must admit, it scared me), I removed it and blew into everything I could! And do you know what? It worked, she wasn't pssst'ing anymore!
Okay, time to look at the windscreen wiper. Yes, it was there, so was the motor. What wasn’t was any kind of wire and plug to give it the energy it needed to fulfill it’s obligations. My mate Chris told me I needed a ‘banana plug’, so another mate, Julian gave me a couple. Once I fitted the plug and attached the bare wire to the motor, I switched on and it still didn’t work, until that is I persuaded it! However, once it did work, it was next as useless, so a quick trip to Buckley Bro's in Darwen for a new wiper arm, blade and little adaptor thing so it would fit onto the old motor arms. Woohoo, another step forward, I was becoming confident!
And then I remembered that the near side axle strap was dangling in two pieces and the bolts holding them secure on the chassis had their heads snapped, great. As I didn’t have time to start drilling the bolts out, I cut the strap and soaked the bolts on t’other side in penetrating spray before removing them. If it ain’t there, it can’t be MOT'd!
Last minute checks meant a few things, the battery needed to be secured, now where did I put that small ratchet strap? I then noticed that the brake lights didn’t respond to the call of the brake pedal. The brake light switch is in the most vulnerable of places just forward of the drivers footwell, so I removed it, cleaned out all the muck and goodness knows what else, and refitted it. I now had two working brake lights.
So, as far as I was concerned, it was MOT time. Although I was fairly confident of her passing, I had managed to convince myself that she wouldn’t. The time had come, and so with with only 37,373 miles on the clock, off we trundled.... slowly. My confidence in her grew with every mile we drove, hoping that her new steering box would last longer for me than her last one did.
And? Well of course she passed! I was well chuffed, my Land Rover was now legal to drive for the first time in around six years, and it felt great! Driving home with no roof and her doortops removed, I couldn’t help grinning like a Cheshire cat as I thought to myself, 'Let the adventures begin!’