Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anatomy of a Land Rover Series II

When last did you drive a Land Rover Series?  Did you dream of driving a Series through the African veld, the front air vents fully extended in the hope of getting fresh air into the vehicle?
Did the smell of EP90 gearbox oil make you look at the complex, yet simple, gear lever combinations and wonder if you were leaving an oil stain behind?
Land Rover Series II 109"

My first drive in a Land Rover Series was the day I offered to buy a 1968 Series II 2.286L diesel.  She was named Jaboa (after the previous owners: Jenny and Brian's overland adventure) and was perfectly modified for expedition travel.  Her steering wheel wobbled in my sweaty hands as I drove her North from Johannesburg.  Traffic congested behind me as I double-clutched in an attempt to select the right gear for the smooth but hilly motorway.  The radio, mounted on a wooden roof console, struggled to be heard over the clatter of the diesel engine. The Fairey overdrive required a punching action on the gear lever to get it to engage and would squeal brutally under load.  Equally, the brake pedal required a strong shove to pump enough brake fluid through the pipes to engage the ancient drum brakes.  Sounds tough, but it was a pure pleasure!

I spent the next few months in 1999 driving around Southern Africa, mostly in silence, as it was difficult to keep shouting to my passenger, over the racket of the gearbox and engine!  She was renamed to 'Mrs Golly' for Grand-Old-Lady, as she had a fine presence about her which attracted many admirers, and a few detractors who voiced their opinion about Land Rover.   You can read all about my first overland adventure in this very amateur blog, which I created in 1999 (with very low resolution scanned photos): To Africa & Beyond

I have borrowed the concept of 'The Anatomy of a Land Rover' from Nick at Langebaan-Sunset blog.  His idea of labeling the external and internal features of his Land Rover Defender is a good and practical way for all overlanders to ponder what accessories we considered worthwhile.

This is the Anatomy of a 1968 Land Rover Series II 109":

Our travel habits, comfort & speed, have matured over the decades with the ease of driving modern 4wd vehicles. Travel in a Land Rover Series resets all of this.  Slow and noisy, they teach you to think when driving i.e. remember to keep your thumb out of the interior of the steering wheel when driving over rough terrain and to constantly think ahead and select the right gear before getting stuck on an obstacle.

The beauty of buying a 2nd hand fully expedition prepared Land Rover is the fact that I didn't need to spend lots of my money on kitting her out.  I added a two metal cases in the back, which stored food and daily cooking items, and did not need to modify anything else. The previous owners had even hung curtains which rolled up when not in use.  

My ownership of her did not last as long as I had hoped... In my youthful enthusiasm, I parked her on a friends farm, waiting for the day I returned from an overseas trip.  Sadly, my overseas trip consumed my time and slowly my next planned overland adventure with her faded from memory... a few years later I handed her over to new owners (keys only as the paperwork was lost) and hoped that her adventures where continuing somewhere in Southern Africa.
Fuel Log Book

Additional Information:
Vehicle number plate: CPX784T

Model: 109" Station wagon
Engine: Series III 2.286L diesel engine
Year: 1968
Built: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Unit number: H131

Additional items: Fairey Overdrive, dual battery system, long range fuel tank, Rooftop tent, and fridge.
Trip Log Book

Max speed: 60Mph (on a serious downhill)
Max fuel load: 90 Litres (excluding the possible 8x 20L jerry cans)
Fuel Consumption: 12L / 100Km
Tyres: Firestone 7.50X16
Average price for diesel in South Africa (1999) was R2.40/L

I often ponder this question to myself:
'Would I take a Land Rover Series on an extended overland trip again or do I enjoy the comforts of a modern vehicle too much?'

Would you?

Transferring diesel from spare tank to jerry can

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful. Just a few years ago we put out Series III SWB 2.25 diesel, 'Tonka' pout to pasture (some friends are adopting him as a rebuild project, but we haven't actually sold him.

    You've summed up the driving experience very well. In Tonka's later years I had to stop every 500km to transfer some of the EP90 that had flowed into the main gearbox back to the transfer box in case the one overflowed and the other ran dry.

    But we made so many friends driving Tonka - people always sought us out of a chat, and the detractors, well, they weren't worth dripping oil on.


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