SERENDIPITY – A LOVE AFFAIR WITH A SERIES 1 (PART 3)

Tink 13_opt

Last time I left you with the slightly depressing news that Tink had broken again, her exhaust had split in two, a shock absorber had snapped, and her splutter, splutter blurgh had reappeared.

Everything was running fine until Barny, Chris and I decided to test Chris’ newly acquired 12 tonne hydraulic winch that happened to be attached to a used Discovery.  It was planned as a gentle test, nothing too serious.  Having stripped Tink of her tilt, and folded down her windscreen, Barny, in his Tin Can (a Nissan D21 doublecab pick up), Chris in his Disco and friend Caroline and myself in Tink set forth for a play.

As we trundled along the rutted and rocky track for the half mile or so that lead us towards the small quarry, I could feel every bump through Tink’s antique suspension.  After we had each waded through the flooded quarry, we all managed the steep drive out the other side and after an immediate left hand turn we clawed our way up an even steeper embankment.  In these dry and dusty conditions Tink was taking everything in her stride, as was the Disco.  Barny however got up on his second attempt.  ‘Tyre pressures too high.’  We heard him mutter.

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Our next challenge was a pair of 40 year old railway sleepers that were placed as a bridge ‘Camel Trophy’ style over a 5ft deep ditch, and if I’m honest, they’d seen better days.  It was decided that we should go first as Tink was lighter than the Tin Can and Discovery, and therefore easier to recover if it went pear shaped!  At this point Caroline decided she wanted no part of this buffoonery and left me to cross it alone.  So, edging my way up to these rotting, decrepit looking logs, Barny decided to help me along.

‘Left!’ he shouted.  So I steered Tink to the left a bit.  He had a worried look on his face.  ‘More to your left!’  he shouted again.  So I gingerly steered left and leant out of Tink to see where I was.  ‘Barny’, I shouted.  ‘Are we talking your left or mine?’  ‘Good point,’ he said.  ‘More to your right!’

After successfully driving Tink over, we aligned Chris up to the sleepers, but the Discovery was too wide, so Chris and Barny had to find another way around.  Not a problem, about 150 yards away near to the boundary, the gulley widened quite considerably allowing them to cross over without too much drama.   It was then that I heard a knocking noise coming from the back of Tink, the bracket holding the tailpipe directly behind the rear wheel had finally given up and had fallen to pieces.  Chris came to the rescue with a handful of cable ties and did a rather neat job of securing the exhaust back in place…. for the time being at least!

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To get further up the hill towards Edward’s boundary, we were faced with three to four feet high rushes.  As Tink was the smallest and lightest, I was again volunteered to go first.  By this stage I had removed Tinks doors and chucked them in the back, this way it’s easier to jump in and out for a closer look at where I was heading.  On we proceeded, her bumper pushing forward the rushes that were as tall as her bonnet, and then some!

We pottered along across the top of the field at what I must admit was a steep angle until we found what seemed a suitably difficult place to head back down, again through a large patch of rushes.  After a quick recce, I decided that Tink would be safe, so we edged forward through rushes that again were taller than my vehicle!  Once out the other side I watched as Chris in his Discovery lurched their way through and escaped without too much drama.  Barny’s turn, he got half way through following Chris’s tyre tracks, but unfortunately sank.  This gave us the opportunity to use the ‘new’ 12 tonne Milemarker hydraulic winch which eased the Tin Can out without a problem.  After frolicking some more around the fields we retired for lunch.

Chris’s cable ties had done a stirling job of keeping the tailpipe secure whilst we were playing around the fields, but had melted away during the journey home which meant the patched up back box was banging itself to pieces against her chassis.  That wasn’t the only problem either, the front exhaust pipe had completely snapped just under the passenger seat!  Luckily I had less than a mile to drive with an exhaust banging and swinging freely underneath sounding like a Lancaster Bomber!

The following day I crawled underneath Tink to inspect the damage, her exhaust was a gonna, a deceased exhaust, an exhaust gone to meet it’s maker, an exhaust that was now pushing up the daisies… you get the idea, it was shot!  So I phoned DLR, and to their credit told me I should try my local Land Rover people first, as they (DLR), would have to include carriage costs to the price.  They also said that if anyone should start being a bit silly with prices, it’s the same exhaust that’s fitted to an early Series III diesel!  It’s good to deal with an open and honest company like DLR, cheers guys!  Anyway, for a not so massive £50 quid I got myself a front, middle and tailpipe with all ancillaries to boot from a local Land Rover garage.

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To be honest, there isn’t much to write about next as the entire exhaust was removed and the new one fitted in hardly any time at all, quite easy really!  However, whilst underneath, I noticed that the exhaust wasn’t the only casualty from our little off road foray, the near side rear shock absorber had snapped at the bottom weld.  At this point I would have loved to have ordered a new set of parabolics…… but I couldn’t afford it, or so Karen Lee told me!  So, with two new rear shocks and relevant bushes, I stacked bricks in front of the front wheels as chocks, loosened the wheels nuts, jacked her up and removed her wheels.  I started on the broken shock first and the only difficult part was replacing the new split pin, I just couldn’t get the washer far enough in to slot the thing.  I know there’s a technique to make this a simple and quick job, but I couldn’t remember it!

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Time to start on the other side.  This time it started out bad, the top bolt for the shocker was solid and took a while to undo, then came the horrible bit.  The split pin that holds the bottom part of the shock was rusty and mangled and wouldn’t budge, it looked like it had been there for 51 years!  Three hours later (where does the time go?), after sawing, drilling, poking and hitting with a BBH, the split pin fell out and about a minute later the new shocker was primed and inserted into place, job done, eventually!  I had planned to change the oils in both diffs whilst I was underneath, but as I was already late for work and in need of a shower, as well as administering first aid to my cut and sliced fingers, I figured I’d do it another day.

With her lovely new exhaust fitted, and two new rear shocks, I was feeling proud, and Tink sounded a whole lot better.  However, I think the strange angles we found ourselves at, at Edward’s farm may have dislodged some dirt into the fuel supply, because under acceleration she responded with a splutter, splutter blurgh and died.  Unfortunately, with work and other life commitments taking precedence, Tink had to remain untouched for a while.

During this time Karen Lee began calling her a shed as well as other unprintable comments, and for good reasons I suppose.  Tink had been sat around for quite a while looking very forlorn and neglected.  She had become a storing place for all the bits and pieces that I seem to accumulate, so in no time what so ever, she was full!  I decided I needed a kick up the backside, or some other kind of inspiration, so we spent a day at the 2007 ARC National over in Staffordshire. Whilst there I called at the Series One club stand and bought amongst other things, a set of spark plugs and a carb to air cleaner hose… oh and one of those magnetic extendable pen things.  How cool are they?  Great for picking up keys that drop behind the bookcase!

Our day out had had the desired effect, and the following weekend I decided to strip the carb.  I bought a recon kit that comprised of lots of small screws, metal things , and lots of gaskets.  Why are somethings in life never so simple?  I started off by destroying my only 14mm spanner by cutting it in half as to be able to fit it between the engine and the carb.  Once the carb was off, I immersed it in petrol, and gave it  a good scrub with an old toothbrush to make it beautifully clean again!

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So, with a new recon kit and a shiny carb on the kitchen table, I began to take it to pieces.  Everything was going fine until I glanced at the old gaskets I was tearing and scraping off, and the new ones that were to replace them.  Errm, they’re  bigger!  Damn, they’d given me the wrong size  kit!  Not very happy, I put the thing back together and took it back,   ‘Oh yeah, I see what I’ve done, leave everything with me,’ said the owner, ‘and I’ll sort it for you, ring me next Tuesday.’

Over a month after I dropped the carb off, I got the phone call giving me the nod to collect it.  I rushed home with it, fitted it, crossed my fingers and started her up…… ‘SHE’S ALIVE!’  I shouted!

In my excitement I immediately took her out for a drive and forgot about the precariously stacked wood and other bits of crap that I’d stored in the back…. I thought her rear springs were moaning a bit!  So her first job was to take the junk in the back to the tip, the old oil, the odd dead battery, rusted exhaust bits, and broken shock absorbers, wood – the usual rubbish!  I was so pleased to get her out on the road again that after we left the tip, I just carried on driving for the pure fun of it.

However, as I found myself on the M61 on the way to see a friend in Preston, the weather took a turn for the worse.  With the driving rain and the buffeting spray from larger vehicles, I realised that I’d been much better of either walking the 20 odd miles to Preston or dragging myself along by my top lip.  None the less, I continued on my way and decided that the A roads was a better bet for my homeward journey.  Soon though the rainfall was reduced to a mild torrent.

During that summer I didn’t bother using my sensible 4×4, instead choosing to drive Tink everywhere, even the kids at the Youth Centre took a shine to her!  Not everyone however, was as accepting of her basic charms.  Karen Lee disliked the fact that Tink had no seat belts.  Many years ago whilst living in Tenerife, she rolled her car and was saved by the seat belt she was wearing… fair enough.  In fact, it was true to say that Karen Lee wasn’t overly enamored with Tink at all.  ‘The seats don’t adjust, the steering wheel is horrible, the pedals are in the wrong position, I can’t find any gears, and there’s no seat belts.  However,’ she said, ‘I do like the air vents!

Another nasty habit Tink had, and I was warned about it years ago, was that because the pedals go through the floor, when driving when it’s raining, or through puddles, you end up with water sprayed up your legs because the seals have worn out!  Fitting the new felt seals that I bought from DLR was a ten minute job, and quite easy by simply undoing the pedals and slotting the seals into the holes in the footwell.  It also stopped ‘some’ of the drafts!

For most of the time Tink was completely stripped to her waist, which made it easy for friends and family to jump in the back if they wanted a lift anywhere.  But with the combination of 51 year old suspension, and a sheet of aluminum under their bums, they usually only did it the once!  So I pondered on buying a pair of bench seats for the rear but thought better of it as they’d only encourage the odd passenger (I’ve always considered people who want to jump in the back of Land Rovers a bit odd).

When it came to fitting the tilt again I found that it had shrunk!  So remembering a thread that I read on the Difflock forum once, I poured boiling water from the kettle along the edges of the tilt and pulled down so to stretch the fabric so it would fit again.  It worked perfectly, eventually!

Speaking of the tilt, not long I had bought it had become tainted by black soot from the fireworks people were letting off in the field behind my house.  I was pretty annoyed about that, but I suppose I couldn’t keep it clean forever.  I spoke to a young lady at Exmoor Trim and asked how I could clean it, turned out that I couldn’t, bugger.

And so the more I used Tink on a daily basis, the more the old dilemma returned to haunt me.  How can I make Tink a more practical and safe Land Rover?  Some ideas that I was pondering were along the lines of fitting a pair of Range Rover diffs.  Some other Series 1 owners suggested that I fit a 2.25 engine along with the Rangie diffs as they wouldn’t work well with Tinks standard 2.0ltr.   Adding an overdrive was another option and would possibly make driving long distances more pleasurable!  Speaking of long distance driving, there’s the space under the passenger seat, I wondered for a while if it was best to add another fuel tank under there, or just carry a jerry can for long journeys.  And then I laughed at myself, long journeys?  In my Series 1?  Maybe not!

For the time being then, Tink was running smoothly, and I had a huge grin on my face.  Surely there wasn’t anything else that could go wrong with her.. was there?

Until next month…

Words & Photos by Damian Turner.  The above content originally appeared in LRW magazine and is reproduced here with their kind permission.  Any advice or opinions are those of LRW magazine and its writers. Land Rover World magazine.

lrwcat SERENDIPITY – A LOVE AFFAIR WITH A SERIES 1 (PART 3)

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