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