Please scroll to bottom of page to read in chronological order


Bertha on the move under her own power

Just a short clip  showing Bertha  can  move under her own power
While we  wait for the cork oil seals to do their job we have only done local  trips in her- however we are pleased that with the overdrive she can achieve the heady heights of 65mph, although she is far happier at a steady 50-55mph
Since she has been back a few things have shown they were not happy being made to  work for their living after 4 years in the workshop.  First the fuel pump  started to leak badly,  a decision to replace with a fully refurbished one was taken
Closely followed by a nasty noise from the water pump- a check on the play in the fan, and  an order went in for a new one
-  Now reading on the web it is "possible" to replace the water pump without removing the radiator- Don't believe them, trying to do so involves being able to see through solid objects and entails  having all the skin of your knuckles removed- take my advice and remove the rad !!- Also order your new hoses at the same time, they only cost a few pounds, Idiot I am we didn't, and after inspecting the hoses  we had to order  all 3 and a week later try to fit them with the rad in situ.  meaning the few remaining scraps of flesh on. our knuckles was removed.

Jobs coming up include  changing the  sealed oil filler tube for  the correct one with a breather cap- once I can find a decent one for sale, pressure test the Smiths heater matrix and see just how we are going to install it- and that will probably be the next blog post.


And here she is in all her restored glory

After nearly 4 years. a lot of blood sweat and tears  Bertha is back together, complete with roof and due to become the family runabout again very soon.- I could waffle on a lot  but  for this post I am going to let the image tell the story
Click image for full size for the full effect :-)


the day has come

After 4 years Bertha has emerged into the sunlight
there is still some fettling to do , when you do a total ground up restoration there are always those little things- but she looks gorgeous  and more to the point she went to the local MOT station under her own steam and collected this

Yes Bertha is back and road legal- the project is by no means over but the finishing line is in sight


Long time no post

Its fair to say its been a while- to say that we all underestimated the scale of this project would be an understatement.  But Project Bertha is not dead. There is no denying that the financial crisis didn't help either.

But there is now a glimmer of light at the end of a 3 year tunnel, Bertha is now almost mechanically sound and should be ready for her MOT in a few weeks- after that, its all titivating and smartening her up, the multitude of small original things that will stand her out from the crowd.

There is no denying now that this has been a labour of love by 4x4LRS  and ourselves and we neither  will never recoup the outlay of time and money spent on her- but as said 3 years ago this was never about the money and all about giving the old girl another 40 years of lease of life.

Bertha has stretched us all far more than we ever envisioned at the start , economic woes have put paid to many a plan, and as with any project at times things have become a little strained- but now we are finally getting to the other side and Bertha may soon be once again gracing the queens highway, I get the feeling that all involved in the project will watch her sail by with a tear in their eye, and pride in a job well done


At last an update on Bertha

Lucy has managed to sneak into the workshop and grab these pics

The key in the ignition is probably a tad premature, as we dont yet have a steering implement fitted
Stop, go and clutch pedals in place...
Gearbox in place, apparently we do now have overdrive ...  and a shiny handbrake lever..

Doors currently residing in the tub - which has had a respray and is back in its rightful place ontop of the chassis

Thats all for now folks, but things have moved forward , albeit slowly, but hopefully we are now  heading for the finish line


No news

is not always good news..Approaching 2 years since we started this "6 month" project Bertha is still in bits, and  while respraying is underway  she is still a while off seeing the open road again.

Doris the Disco is performing well  but not entirely without problems..
during the summer  she went out to visit the countryside on quite a few occassions

Over the winter she worked hard in the deep snow we had around here, and has managed a few  trips  down to London with few issues

One trip was called  off when the brakes decided not to slow her down, a tad nervewracking in the fast lane of the A1 , a new vaccuum pump soon sorted out that slight  issue and a change of underwear made the driver more comfortable.

A new lift pump and 2nd phase intercooler has helped with the rather lethargic attitude Doris has to motoring, as has removing the EGR, and Catalytic converter. Front valance has gone and end caps trimmed to allow for a robust steering guard.  and the diffs are covered in body armour .

Also to go were the  rear road tyres she came with, replaced by a couple of Avon rangers A/T's  not over impressed as they are wearing a bit quick for my liking, the BF Goodrichs on the front seem like they will go on for ever

Also replaced are a couple of indicator lenses and a headlight trimmer panel  that were adjusted slightly by driver error .

Plans for this month are to get at the transfer box and either replace or repair as she no longer wants to  difflock.  both the the throttle position sensor and the air flow sensor are showing faults on the diagnostic,  so the hunt is on for cheap replacements.

Hopefully my next entry will not take as long as this has has to publish, and will be back on topic, after all this blog is supposed to be about Bertha not Doris


The best jigsaw in the world..

Well not quite a jigsaw, butting putting Bertha back together again is a challenge, as  4x4LRS hunt for bits mislayed or not sourced yet, they tell us  just about every thing needed to finish her has now arrived.

As you can see below the replacement diesel engine and Bulkhead are in situ and work on the engine nearly complete

All new brake lines have been  shaped and fitted..

work is actually a little further on than these photo's show  various bits and peices have been bolted to the bulkhead, the rear tub has been panel beated and rubbed down ready for paint.

It is very doubtful that Bertha will be back on the roads before winter this year..  but hopefully by spring next year a full two years after starting  the project  she will be once again delaying other traffic on our local roads


How time flies when your having fun !!!

Over 14 months ago I wrote in my opening blog post.. "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"

And boy for us and 4x4LRS has there been some downs.  bits cant be found, time needed was massively under estimated and the difficulties of working with 40 year old rusted sold parts not truly appreciated.

Also underestimated was the effect of having a garage that gains a reputation for quality work at a reasonable price, over the course of Project Bertha 4x4LRS has gained in popularity and customers limiting their time to the rebuild.

We must admit with the addition of Doris the Disco to our fleet of vehicles we have added to the work load of 4x4LRS so not entirely innocent either.

However we have issued an ultimation ... either give us photo's of whats happening or we will demand you both change the heater matrix on the Disco and do the timing belt on the Sportage....
and if that doesnt produce photo's of the progress nothing will ...

Watch this space!!!


A younger model !!

As things are still slowly progressing with Bertha, the need arises to get another vehicle .. The aged Ford Mondeo is out and in its place we have taken posession of another LandRover, Not quite as old as Bertha, and in slightly better condition !!

Hopefully she wont spend as much time in the workshops as her older sister


Its been a while

since my last post, and things are still happening. 4x4lrs have got down to the nitty gritty of putting it all back together again, The wiring loom is just about done, brake lines fitted, the bulkhead is even in place.

It's also been a while since we started this project, a few days over 12 months to be exact. Our original 4-6 months timescale is looking improbable now .. At best we hope to have Bertha back on the road by the end of the summer (2010) however given how far we have already slipped and the amount of work still to do it may well be another 12 months before she finaly rolls out of the workshop.

I am hoping to obtain a few photo's of the progress and post them up shortly


Going Green

It appears to be all the rage to hug trees and bow down to the almighty god that is the environment. Here at project Bertha we are not immune to the pressures and guilt that not being "Green" imposes on us, so here is our small bit to save the planet

Take one series two bulkhead, that has ( In laymans speak) been skillfully adapted to its task In Land Rover speak it has been attacked with an angle grinder and beaten mercilessly with a big hammer
String it up from the ceiling, and coat it with lots of paint

And Voila as the French say.. we have a green component to fit to our Land Rover that was born when Green House gases meant only farting while repotting the Geraniums.
It does give an idea of Berthas final colour (Green if you had not guessed)
Im off now to e-mail fading Rock star and Eco warrior Sting to see if he will hold a benefit concert for this exciting green project so we can get her finished and have her, belching smoke and dropping engine oil down the highways and byways of this nation


Time to try..

and see if the different bits will even start to fit together
So far so good apparently, only a few thousand other bits to hope also drop in and fit !!


We have the power (nearly) and a birds nest

The replacement diesel engine has been cleaned and rebuilt, 4x4LRS tell us that getting the gearbox and clutch to mate up to the engine was a bit fiddley (actually they used other words that I really shouldnt publish! ) But as you can see its looking good, lets hope it runs !
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 !!


That Gearbox

the one that to be frank was wrecked, has been ditched, to make life a little easier when piloting bertha we now have a series III casing (1970) with a Series IIa bellhousing. This allows the gears to have synchro and help avoid those embarrassing crunching noises .. see below for a highly exciting picture of ... the gear box!

And so time moves on

and onto another stage in Bertha's progress-
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 )


So Slow

Well the 4 and 6 month deadlines have passed, and Bertha is still undergoing surgery !!

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.


starting to take some sort of shape

Sorry for the lack of blog posts, but 4x4LRS have been busy, and with the holidays things are still progressing slowly.. But we can now reveal a "Very near to" rolling chassis

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

So Bertha is Starting to look like a vehicle again, theres still a long way to go, and our original 6 month estimate is way out of the window. But to be honest we much prefer the job to be done right than rushed.


I got a glimpse today !! Bertha's got backbone

Richie relented and opened the door to Bertha's sanctum deep in the heart of the 4x4lrs workshops. Camera-less I couldn't take a quick paparazzi type scoop snap so had to rely on staying around the workshop so he couldnt get anywork done until he relented and promised to e-mail me something..

So when a new mail tonight arrived I eagerly opened it expected something close to the vision I had seen earlier - and this is what I got..

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


Some bits that are not as rusty as they were

Following on from my post about the rear axle and how shiny it is I present to you another enthralling update.. as the mail from 4x4LRS was a little sparse of information I am hazarding a couple of guesses that this is the front axle, and its current state .. ( to see the before pictures scroll down a couple of entries)

This is how the front axle is now looking a bit of an improvement !!!

It also has a thingy, no idea what it is but it looks good



I apologise for the lack of updates, this is due to me being banned, not from Blogspot, not from visiting 4x4LRS but from going anywhere near the workshop where Bertha is undergoing her restoration.

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


Before applying makeup

Remember to take a photo... DUH !!

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.

Ensuring the same heinous misdeameanour doesnt happen with the front axle Richie has sent me this shot of the front axle which he has started to strip down

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


One down One to go (well nearly)

The first steps of the refurbishment are under way, first to get the wire brush and paint treament was the rear axle

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


You cannot miss what you never truly owned

What a load of old tosh, of course you can..

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.

The bare bones

I freely admit I dont know much about mechanics, It is an art that simply leaves me bewildered and befuddled. I do have to say though even with my limited knowledge that something doesnt look right with the rolling chassis , I simply dont remember Bertha's wheels being set that far back !!!
Joking aside - a great step forward in Bertha's restoration, The new chassis has arrived from Richards Chassis , as you can see he has an innovative way of transporting them.
Lining it up against Bertha's original it matches perfectly.
With this now on hand the work to rebuild can start. With most of the major components now at hand the project feels like it has turned a corner.


An awful lot of nothing

Been a week or so since by last blog entry.. and to be honest theres not a lot to say today, No pictures becuase I havent been down to the workshop, and no news as very little has been done.

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


Bits and pieces

For a while this blog be will devoid of pictures of large pieces of Bertha being removed - simply because they already have been. While we wait on the chassis arriving, the job of restoring/repairing the rest of her begins. The gearbox is out, and the gears are stripped. and apparently the pictures below show why she never wanted to stay in second gear

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


This little beauty..

We have, hens teeth, this little darling is a life saver

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.


Whats a week?

7 days in the life of a 40 year old Landrover is not a long time, so for the last week I havent been near the workshop. It will be mid to late week next week before I can get down as see just how little of Bertha remains intact.

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.


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