Introduction to the Project
Yet another Land Rover restoration project on the net!
And this one will be no different than all of the others, in fact, it will probably be a lot worse because others out there have more money than me, a good workshop, more skills on working on Land Rovers and the important thing, a better donor vehicle.
My donor vehicle came to me out of the blue, a friend heard about her and took me up to see her on a damp and cold day in October back in 2013.
On first looks she looks like any ex-Army looking landie, bad paint scheme and a mess, and yes she is a mess, she had not been started for well over a year, she had been parked up in a ditch on a farm and started to be eaten alive by bushes.
So we spent a good hour or so trying to drag her out before even thinking about starting her.
To me though she was perfect! This is of course the standard lover of Defenders ‘Perfect’, you should know the type, they cannot see rust, holes, and the cost of restoration at all, what they see is perfect, show room, zero mileage car that needs no work doing to it at all.
That said I knew what I wanted, and 110 Defender was the top of my list, I have no use for 90’s, and no real interest in older Landie’s, although a nice series is on the wish list, but for a main car, I wanted a 110 Station Wagon.
The problem is that living on a small rock in the Irish Sea where at the moment MOT’s do not exist, cars are run into the ground, this is not a problem but there are many nice landies over here rotting away in fields that the owners think are worth thousands, I have seen loads that have no engine, most of the body panels have fallen off, and there are literally just a few things that may be salvageable, and the owners think they are worth £5000, you just cannot help but laugh, but it is a shame, at least they would go to a good home and off their land that is starting to look like a scrap yard, but alas that’s island life for you, and at still a little better than being ripped off getting off the island to collect something and bring it back by the Steam Racket.
So where was I?
My lucky find – and she was, I was lucky because I managed to find a vehicle of the island that was at least workable, but I will get to this later.
I was more lucky thanks to the previous owner understanding that she needs a great deal of work and she was letting her go to someone who really cares about these old wagons and a very cheap, but realistic price, and even though I felt a tad guilty at the time, I did not have a great deal of funds at the time to offer much more and to be brutally honest, she is in a hell of a mess.
There are certain things to look at when thinking of purchasing a Defender, and especially a 200 and 300TDi version, and that’s understanding that these were mass produces by Land Rover and if you are realistic, they were not really a quality build, if you wanted a nice Land Rover you would buy a Discovery 3 or 4, but if you really loved Defenders then you understood that bolts would either round over or rust off completely, The chassis would end up falling to bits and that unless you live somewhere that does not see rain, then you are going to be spending more time working on the vehicle than driving it around.
That said they are kind of indestructible, can be fixed with a hammer and a big screwdriver and will run without any fluids or oil at all, maybe not for long but certainly longer than most modern cars.
My new landie is mess, I loved it on first site, but to be honest, I should have run a mile, there is a lot of rust.
Things that you need to keep in mind is that if you can see rust, then you should be aware that there are loads more spots hidden away, for instance, if you see any rust on a door panel, at all, then that whole door needs replacing, and they are not cheap, now loads of people reading this will say that you can just re-skin the door, but to be honest its just not worth it, you are only putting off the obvious. And on the subject of doors, be careful of checker-plate, its been usually fitted to hide something, and usually not fitted at all well.
Door Posts – These are notorious on Defenders, again if you see rust then you need to be thinking that it will need to be either cut out and replaced, which means welding, and that can be expensive, anyone owning and maintaining a Defender really needs to know how to weld, it makes life so much easier for your pocket at least, and if you don’t want the welding option then you need to replace, and yes there are good galvanised alternatives available now but they are expensive too, but then looked after and cared for you are looking at 25 years + before problems start to occur again, and more if you etch primer and paint said items.
Foot Wells rust, in fact its more likely to find a space where there should be a floor, easy fix but again money.
The thing is that any Defender that has not been looked after much will need a lot of work, which iof you do yourself then hopefully that will help the wallet, the problem is parts, parts can be expensive, and kind of need to be, because of the craze of restoring Land Rovers of all types, there are a lot of suppliers out there, some good, some a waste of space, and like everything in life, you get what you pay for, if its cheap, then its either from China, not 100% right, and more often will not fit at all, and yes you can order the right part and it will arrive and not only look totally different, but you will also find that it will not fit at all. Thankfully there ar some goof forums and YouTube channels out there that offer good advice and warnings, and after time you will see who not to touch as a last resort.
So back to my new toy, She has rust, she has a lot of rust, I have only had a quick look underneath but I am already assigned to replacing the chassis, bulkhead and all the doors, but then that’s mainly because I want to fit galvanised options, it makes the vehicle more sellable in the future, not that I am thinking of selling it anyway.
I aim to strip it down to just nuts and bolts, shot blast, paint and rebuild every small part over many years to come, I also aim to swap out the 200TDi that is installed in this vehicle and at least upgrade it to a 300TDi which I can steal out of another donor vehicle that I have here in the form of a Discovery 1 rust bucket, again another car I loved until the bloody transfer box gave up the ghost.
I may even go for a TD5 if I can find one, buit this is something I will need to source before ordering a chassis, and I want a galvanised chassis and will need to think about engine mounting locations prior to having one shipped to the island.
On a good note I have a working engine, yes it only has 3 working injectors, but it did manage to not only start but also drive itself after nearly two years of neglect and being left totally alone.
The engine looks to be OK, nothing that cannot be worked out anyway, and if I decide to keep it, it will be easy to take out, strip down and rebuild, something that I may just do anyway.
Another thing that made me very interested in this vehicle was that it had a mains 240v generator fitted that apparently runs off the PTO shaft, not had a chance to test this out yet, but if this works or is at least fixable, then I do have a good use for it.
Especially as it states that it produces 20A, which would be quite handy.
So, very early days, I will have to clean out the workshop, somehow get the vehicle to the workshop which is down a step hill, but I have a plan for that, and then at least if dry, I can start to strip her down in my own time and see then, what’s to be.
Stay tuned for more news but it will not be for a few years yet, the house comes first, and there is a great deal of things that I need to do, hopefully I may even be able to put some of the work on YouTube, mainly so I can remember where things came from but also to hopefully give some of you readers something to watch on those nights that you can’t sleep, at least that’s what I seem to be doing of late…
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