In other news....
A box containing a birds nest arrived finally, after a lot of searching a new replacement wiring loom has arrived.. of course with this the real fun is working out which bit goes where, get a feeling a few more "choice" words will be uttered when its time to wire Bertha up !!
remember that lovely bulkhead we found on a certain internet auction site. ( along time ago..)
Well while its in good nick it does need some alterations .. so the hacking about starts
here we can clearly see that 4x4lrs have created what Land Rover experts are calling an opening !
and here some highly technical engineering is happening.. Obviously I do know exactly the reason for all this.. but dont want to bore you with all the technical details of why the offside inverted flange needs to be re-engineered to match up with the concave universal grommet holder, while ensuring the vertical modular reinforcement platform remains entirely stable.
As I am sure you would find that entirely uninteresting and hard to comprehend.
(I think I may have got away with that !!! as long as no-one who actually knows anything about Land Rovers reads this blog )
But she is finally a complete rolling chassis
Work is now concerntrating on the gearbox and engine, It is still unclear wether we are going to try to repair the 1959 gearbox or source another. The 2.25 ptrol engine is being replaced with a deisel of similar vintage, taking Bertha back to the oil burner she originaly was.
So thats where we are, progress is painfully slow but meticulous.
The axles are back on, (except for a couple of mounting bolts that are still in the mail ! ) and as you can see Richie has made a start on the new brakelines
Now its very nice and pristine, a true testament to the engineers who built it, but what lays behind those locked doors at the workshop, no longer looks like that, Its prepped prepared, painted and in some of the important bits nearly has axles and wheels added.
I say nearly because obtaining new front leaf springs hasnt been easy, In fact it has been holding up things a fair bit. But thankfully some had been sourced and where due delivery Mid week in plenty of time to get the axles offered up to the chassis before today.
Except.. they havent shown up yet - so what I did sneak a peak at was a Chassis with wheels placed underneath in roughly the right place !! Also In the workshop was the replacement engine, a diesel circa 1970, this still needs stripping, refurb and thorough testing.
Bertha still has a long way to go before she wends her merry way back home to us
It also has a thingy, no idea what it is but it looks good
Guarded by Jayne, the dogs and the kids, the doors to the rear workshop are securely fastened to prevent access, Every attempt to get a peek or sneak a photo have been repulsed by the guards.
So I have absolutly no idea of whats happening down there...
But If Ritchie and Jayne dont send some photo's soon I am going to assume they have in fact sold Bertha to an eccentric Middle eastern oil sheik and are preparing to leave for a new life in the Bahama's
The last blog below shows the rear axle after 4x4LRS had refurbished it. Obviously something is missing - the before picture, well due to my incompetence we dont actually have one.
The rear axle was in a similar condition to this and as as can be seen below scrubbed up quite well, hopefully this front one will look as good when completed
The differential has been cleaned out and throughly checked, Luckily it is in good condition with very little wear or play in it. The springs are rock solid, (And I mean that in every way :) ) New brake shoes and new brake cylinders have been added
Unfortunatly one of the drums was cracked, so a new one was sourced. However coming to rebuild the hub a small teeny problem was spotted, The stud holes were very slightly the wrong size.. so the drum is off to get a miniscule bit drilled out .. such is life.
The Land Rover purists among the viewers may notice that the colour scheme isnt exactly the correct shade of Landrover axle colour.. After being derusted it was painted with another great British tradition in mind.. If in doubt cover it with ... ???? can you guess what it is yet? answers in the comment box below
The other major problem is the whirly bits for the gearbox that we sourced, then the supplier went bust. We still havent found any supplier for them... the search continues
The next stage in our exciting adventure, is to bring the front axle up to the standard of the rear one, Prep, coat and paint the chassis and get the axles back on her.. then she should at least start to look like a vehicle again rather than a pile of parts
While we may never have owned the round whirly bits we found, (see blog post 17th April below for more accurate technical description) they were much prized and the whole team were dancing the happy dance that the gearbox could be rebuilt with bits roughly the right shape and size.
However after the initial contact with the whirly bits supplier, he went all quiet on us, phone calls went unanswered, then the phone was cut of.
The gearbox whirly bits supplier the team at 4x4LRS had spent so long finding had gone out of business.
Luckily no beer tokens had exchanged hands, but it is still frustrating that the search has to start all over again.
But these things happen and are part and parcel of trying to use as many original parts as possible. The whole project evolves and changes almost daily.
For example: a few days ago after a discussion about the budget it was decided it was sensible to save a bit of cash and forget fitting an overdrive. A decent one, ready to go, was hard to find and those few that are around are by no means cheap. fast forward a few days and the rumours of a decent example at a fair price filters through the network, and it may be that we will have one after all.
Will we or wont we?
to be honest not even we know the answer to that until it actually appears in the workshop. such is the way of these things.
But all that should be changing in the next week or so, Word reaches us that the new chassis should be arriving shortly and the task of rebuilding Bertha can begin.
Keep calling back hopefully soon we will have something a bit more newsworthy to report
While not being particularly mechanicaly minded even I can see that the whirly bits are a bit battered and have some lumps missing, And I am guessing that the thin strips in the top photograph were at one point joined together and a different shape.
It all leads to further hunting for bits, I am assured by 4x4LRS that these particular whirly things are possible to get and Bertha will once agan have a minimum of 4 gears to use. A needed job, but in a way we will miss drive down the road coping with Bertha's erratic steering with one hand while holding the gear lever in second with the other
Sourcing this was a stroke of luck, good timing , and an outlay of a decent amount of cash. Its not perfect and needs a couple of minor modifications, but the time, effort and swearing has been significantly reduced by obtaining these rather than trying to fabricate and weld the old one
YES we have a solid complete bulkhead, unfortunatly the rest of Bertha is either in bits in boxes or in the process of being dismantled. the chassis is now "resting" while Richie at 4x4lrs decides wether to restore it for someone else, take the useable bits for his own restoration project "Katie" or let it continue to be used as a convenient coffee table.
Our new chassis is on order but before that arrives there is a couple of small issues , well a lot more than a coiple to be honest. but the ones we are looking at now, The gearbox, (for those of you who havent been paying attention, we were surprised to find Bertha's box was even older than the rest of her, dating from 1959) has been stripped down, 2nd gear, to use what I am told are technical terms, is knackered, shagged, kaput !! so now the hunt is on for the parts needed.
The Overdrive.. well we dont have one, but we want one, but prices for decent examples are silly, we may just have to forgo that extravagance as our cash supply isnt endless.
And the engine.. Having decided to change Bertha back to an oil burner, we now have to decide if we go for the earlier close to original date version, which had a worrying tendancy to chew up and spit out the crankshaft, or go for a 2 year older version which is less prone to such expensive displays, Only a total rivet counter would probably notice the difference in age between Bertha and her engine, our feeling is that we have got a few years in credit by using the older gearbox so can trade that off with a "modern" 1970 variant.
Project Bertha was never about restoring to historical accuracy, but reflecting her life, over the years she has become a "Bitsa" as things broke they were replaced with whatever was handy, Bitsa this and Bitsa that and part of the joy of this restoration is that we can continue that rich history.
I know 4x4LRS have been busy (After all Bertha isnt the only work they do, Check out their website) so dont expect too much to have changed.
Certainly until the chassis arrives much of the work will be cleaning and refurbishing components, which hardly makes great photo's and is difficult to make exciting!!
Certainly the blog is getting page views, especially after being featured twice on the popular Big Lorry Blog .
Having been involved in many "projects" in the past, (although not car restorations) I know how often soon after a project starts the honeymoon period between the client and contractor soon passes, and niggles start to set in. So far this project is "Niggle" less. Far from having concerns over the project/timescale/progress/quality as this project proceeds we are more and more impressed with the level of commitment being shown by all involved in it.
If this blog is starting to sound like an advert for 4x4LRS then I apologise, it is all about Bertha, But I do believe that all credit should be due to the craftsmen actually doing the work, Most of our involvement is writing about it, taking the odd photo, Bugging Richie and Jayne for updates and paying for their time and expertise.
It is a few weeks until the new chassis arrives which gives time to start refurbishing and repairing those bits of Bertha that are not getting replaced. This probably wont make enthralling blog reading, although I will update as Bertha continues to throw up surprises.
One major surprise has been the sourcing of a fully refurbished series 2A bulkhead. This will save a awful lot of time and work on the rebuild. although it made a sizable dent in the budget.
Pic's to follow
At least Bertha will not be lonely, on a trip to view an age related series diesel engine for Bertha Richie at 4x4LRS came back with not one, but two engines, nestled sweetly in the back of a swb series 2A that he intends to be another restoration project.
Say hello to Katie -
Well I may have spoken a little bit too soon, Richie and I have had our eye on a reasonable example on E-Bay, still needs footwells, and some TLC but far better than what we got., but the price was climbing , Surfing the interweb thingy I found another example, Fully refurbished and primed- BUT expensive VERY bloody expensive.
Or is it?
The reasonable condition one is at the other end of the country, and would need a lot of work, By the time we spend a couple £100 driving down to collect, the man hours needed to refurb it, as well as getting it anti corrossion treated are we really going to save that much?
Kel, the man in the know, as far as series 2 Landrovers is going to take a look at the refurbed one, to ensure its correct. then a decision will be made.. a lot of money or a lot of travelling and work either way it seems that hens teeth are not quite as rare as I thought
The front has errr Gone!!
The rear bulkhead as been removedRemoving these panels has allowed a better look at the chassis. and there are some decidedly dodgy welds and patches on it, and some nasty holes around the front spring hangers and the rear shock absorber mounts.
Richie at 4x4LRS is of the opinion that the chassis could be repaired and good for a couple years yet, but the time and effort involved its probably more cost effective to simply replace it with a new one.
As more and more of the front bulkhead becomes visible the extent of the corrosion becomes apparent. The bulkhead is going to be the biggest problem with this restoration, finding a good seconhand one is impossible, no-one seems to make replacements and new parts simply dont exist.
The next stage is now in progress, removing the bulkhead from the chassis, sounds simple, just undo a few bolts. but nothing is that easy, One bolt alone that decided it was perfectly happy where it was took well over an hour to persuade out. and no doubt there will be many more like it.
In this last photo for now we see all the essential tools for stripping down a series2A
2. Copious quantities of tea and coffee
3. Tin of WD40
5. Angle grinder
6 Bigger hammer
the first to go was the hard top
With doors and winscreen removed we get our first close look at the problematic bulkhead. This is perhaps the hardest part for Bertha to source, Good bulkheads are rarer than hens teeth, Unfortunatly this one doesnt fall into the catagory of good, and is probably not repairable.
Next the tub came off, while the chassis looks pretty good from on top, underneath it is patched up and the metal is very thin, no way is it going to last any amount of time.
And finally the front wings are removed, leaving the grand old lady with very few clothes left on,
While work appears to be racing ahead, all involved are aware that the strip down is the quickest stage of this project, once Bertha has been laid completely bare the slower work of restoring and repairing the bits of her that can be saved starts, and the even longer job of sourcing the parts begins.
While we are all committed to keeping Bertha as original as possible, we are going to have to make some compromises. Some bits simply are not available, and some design elements from the 1967 era are simple not practible or safe nowadays. so things like the passenger side windscreen wiper will be reinstalled although not totally accurate for a Landrover of this age.
As we said earlier on in this blog, we dont intend to recreate a showroom 1967 Landrover, our aim is to recreate Bertha as an individual Landy, and many of the refinements/modifications she has recieved during her 40 years will be retained. Those changes are part of what Bertha is and part of her story so far
The gear box held another surprise, Its not a 1967 gearbox, its older, much older and in fact dates from 1959 - as we dig further and remove more bits Bertha's story becomes more complicated and convoluted .
4x4LRS are using the latest technology to reference the parts, seek out her history and find out what she looked like originally, and that technology works alongside the slightly batterd and well used Series 2 manual you see below.
The new chassis has been ordered, and with a 4-6 week wait until that turns up there is plenty of time to remove the tub and strip out the running gear. We are hoping that most of the driveline can be refurbished, cleaned up and hopefully very little will need replacement But as we have already seen Bertha loves throwing up surprises !!
This project is certainly causing a stir, with the entire 4x4LRS team being involved. The enthusiasm for the project is the main reason for us passing Bertha over to 4x4LRS for this renovation. It is clearly far more than "just another job" to them
But Richie, has done a little research , and from the VIN number it appears that Bertha may have originally had... SHOCK , HORROR - a Diesel lump fittedl.
More research is being done, but it may be that our first major decision is whether to keep the petrol as she came to us with when we bought her, or if she did originally have a diesel to source and install one of them instead.
Despite it being technicaly possible, if we go for a diesel we wont be fitting a V6 Turbo version off a Discovery !! (as some of our "Friends" have suggested) But we would look for a diesel from around the same era as Bertha's creation.
The problem, as always is, if we go that route we are getting an unknown engine, we know the petrol one we have is pretty good.
Heart and mind?
Originality over practicabilty?
thats part of the fun of a project like this, the discussion and debate on how far to go and what risks to take.
But this isnt about the money, as explained before, some times you just have to go with your heart and sod the wallet.
Its day one of the project, and I am 200 miles away in a hotel, and have no idea of what, if anything, is happening to Bertha, yet I am still excited by the idea to .
On Thursday I intend to call by the workshop to get an idea of exactly what we can achieve with our budget. If we can get Bertha to travel at the same mph as Steve Austin would be a good start
However in this case there are are few factors that have to be taken into account
- Lucy works away all week and cannot devote the time at weekends to the project
- I on the other hand work from home and have time, however I also firmly believe that "no nails" or "Gaffa tape" is the only answer to any problem which would probably not work to well on a restoration project
- Ritchie, despite being a business man, is also a fan of Bertha, I believe he enjoys getting away from the high tech, electronicaly controlled 4x4's of today and almost as a respite loves working with a basic mechanical machine
- Both Jayne and Ritchie share our desire to keep Bertha as original as possible, the difference being they have the ability and expertise to make it happen.
So are we selling out by getting a workshop to carry out the restoration and not doing it ourselves?
I dont believe so
Bertha has 42 years of history in her, 42 years of traversing Britains roads under different owners, with many drivers, doing many different roles. That whether your a Landrover fan or not that is part of all our history, Bertha has survived to this point , against many odds , where many of her stable mates have fallen by the wayside.
She deserves better than "no nails" and gaffa tape", she has earnt better, and with the care and attention already shown to her by 4x4lrs she couldnt be in better hands
This is not a project that will earn us money, knowing the guys at 4x4lrs I doubt wether they will make a fortune out of this either, It is all about Bertha, a down to earth. solid bit of British engineering that to date has survived despite the odds, and keeping that alive.
Landrovers invoke an emotion every time you meet one, old Landrovers tug at the heartstrings
Needlessly to say that comment was not particularly well recieved, and while most women would like flowers or chocolate as a grovel gift, Lucy has always had a passion for old Landrovers.
So a flick through Ebay, a drive to South Yorkshire and just under a thousand pound later we became the proud owners of Bertha. (Bought I have to say from an absolutly charming man, with a real heart for old Landrovers, I got the distinct impression that if he had not approved of us as owners of Bertha/believed we would look after her, he would have chased us off his land with a shotgun!!!)
Shortly after we found that Bertha needed a small amount of work and a google search for a local Landrover specialist led us to 4x4lrs and the owners Ritchie and Jayne, who have looked after her ever since.
Bertha is not a show vehicle, she works every week being used as Lucy's transport to and from work,
Her little eccentricities, like being unable to attain a speed higher than 48 mph, the brakes being more for show than effective , the ability to consume half the daily output of a petrol refinery on a short trip, and depositing the other half on the local carriageways in the form of engine oil.
The way that 2nd gear wont stay engaged for more than a second or two, the steering is not so much as vague, more hit and miss and taking Bertha into any area that cannot accomodate the turning circle of a supertanker is a recipe for trouble, make her more endearing and all the more reason to ensure she can continue to traverse the highways for another 42 years
For 4-6 Months while Richie strips her down, replaces the chassis, Bulkhead(replace/restore), replaces gearbox, strips and rebuilds engine, rewires, repipes, cleans replaces bits, revamps/restores other bits and makes pretty, basically a restoration job on Bertha, BUT not to shwroom condition.
Bertha has always been a working Girl, and we want to reflect that keeping the dents and wrinkles that give her her character but give her another 40 years mechanicaly and bodywork wise...
As far as that financially sensible decision goes? we dont do sensible ...
So , she is now of the road for a few months, this blog will hopefully keep a track of the progress, the ups and downs, and a reminder as those bills come in just how she did look and to encourage us it will all be worth it in the end