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The Slooooow down

4x4LRS after a hectic week or so stripping down are getting to the more detailed slower stages.

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 -


Theres not much left

Bertha at this moment consists of parts randomly scattered about the workhop but at least the team has biscuits :)

Did I mention

the front bulkhead was a problem? I believe I may have commented earlier in this blog that obtaining a good one was almost as difficult as finding an honest politician.

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


Tools of the trade !!

Took a trip down to the workshop today to find the 4x4LRS hard at work swearing and hitting things with bigger and bigger hammers.

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

1. Crisps

2. Copious quantities of tea and coffee

3. Tin of WD40

4. Hammer

5. Angle grinder

6 Bigger hammer


The empress has no clothes

Not that Bertha has that many regal qualities,

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.

Already the crew are reaching out to their network of contacts, hearing rumours of various bits that may be hidden away somewhere, and scouring the internet for leads for those more elusive bits and peices.

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

1967 ? pah still a young un !!

Well the panels are starting to be removed, and the extent of the corrosion to the front Bulkhead is becoming apparent, and its not pretty .

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


At the heart of the matter

Is an engine, the heart of any vehicle. Bertha has a 2.2 litre petrol engine, which for its age is in pretty good order (Thank god for the exemption from the MOT emissions test! )

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.


Its all about the money

Well we took the decision to make Bertha our own Steve Austin - we can rebuild her we have the technology - what we dont have is the 6 million dollars, We have an amount in mind to spend and it isnt huge, in fact it most of what we have, and we can only hope that at the end we end up with a vehicle worth at least what we have put in.

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


So why are we not doing this the proper way

Every one knows that the only way to restore any car properly, is to do it yourself, in the garage, back garden, kitchen etc.

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

A little history about Bertha

She came into our possession via Ebay a couple years ago, bought by myself (Rikki) for Lucy, my wife , after an unfortunate incident involving Lucy driving me 5 miles to a pub, and me only then mentioning that actually I fancied an afternoon with the lads. (e.g. without my spouse in tow)

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

Bertha has had it

Well its a sad day , Bertha the 40 odd year old series 2A Landrover has been down to our mate Richie at 4x4LRS for her annual check up,And the diagnosis is not good, Theres only so much welding and patching that can be done,and Poor old Bertha is about at the limit and to repair her is simply not a sensible financial decision , too much needs doing., So as from today Bertha is off the road............

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