“We’re gonna have to pull the engine”

I’ve been hanging out on a Land Rover forum and mentioned my fondness for the simplicity of the old trucks. Another member posted these photos of the engine compartment of his Audi. One with the engine ‘cover’ and one with it removed.

Legend has it that you can only change two sensors without removing the engine. The crank sensor and the Temperature sensor. The temperature sensor is underneath the AC pump though, which needs disconnected. Therefore it needs to be done at a garage as the engine cant be run with no refrigerant gas as supposedly there is no clutch on the AC pump. (doubtful IMHO). To remove the engine means dismantling everything from the rear diff forwards, lowering the engine, front transmission and subframe then lifting the car off. On the Landy you can get to pretty much every part of the engine in situ. The engine only really needs to come out if the crank needs to come out.

For all the charm of an old Land Rover, the lads (mostly Brits) who haunt this forum pull no punches about what it’s really like to drive one of these things. Cold in the winter, hot in the summer, noisy in any season. Only time will tell if I can make the transition from the MINI. I’m approaching this more as art project and philosophical exercise than a way to get downtown.


The photo on the left is the rear brake light and turn signal on a 1979 Land Rover. The one on the right is from a 2016 Lexis. The contrast probably comes as close as anything to capturing my fascination with the vintage truck. So simple. So clean. Pure function.

The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Fans of the Harry Bosch detective series will, I believe, be well pleased with Michael Connelly’s new character/series. Just finished The Late Show (introducing LAPD detective Renee Ballard) and could not put the book down. (It’s not a cliche when it’s true.)

Harry Bosch was born in 1950 so he’d be 67 years old in any story set in 2017. Too old for the situations Connelly creates for Harry. Freezing Harry at, say, 47 years old puts the story back in the late ‘90s. Before a lot of tech that could/should figure in most crime fiction.

Sue Grafton long ago made the decision to keep Kinsey Millhone forever in the 80s. No cell phones or computers (that I recall).

In this new series, we get a female cop who knows her way around an iPhone and summons Uber when she needs a ride. Feels right.

Something else I noticed off the bat. In physical encounters with bad guys, there’s a threatening tension that didn’t exist for Harry. While Harry can pretty much kick anybody’s ass, Renee is tough and fit but no match for a bad guy that has a hundred pounds on her.

Connelly lets this new character have some sexuality, too. Harry got laid from time to time, but it’s different (and interesting, plot-wise) for a female character.

If you like the Bosch novels you won’t be disappointed by this first in a new series.

Some spoilers in this excellent review in the L. A. Times but for those that have already read the book, a good piece.

“I didn’t freeze Harry in time, because it’s better storytelling not to. As long as he can keep his health and his knees are good, he can close cases.” Nonetheless, at 67, Bosch presents readers of the redoubtable series with a different kind of ticking clock.


When 50 feels like 80

Since pulling the trigger on a Series (III) Land Rover, I’ve been on a steady diet of YouTube videos. Restoration videos; how-to videos; for sale videos; and lots of fan videos. One of the best of these is on a channel called Harry’s Garage. I gather Harry knows a good bit about cars and he is very found of his 1954 Series I Land Rover.

First half of the video is a walk-around and in the second half he takes us for a ride. The person recording the video is in the back of the truck and you can see the road and the speedometer. But you can’t hear a word old Harry is saying because the truck is so loud. When the speed reaches 50 mph the truck is shaking like the space shuttle during lift-off.

Since learning my new highway top-end would be around 50 mph I’ve been setting the cruise control on my MINI at 55 to get a feel for what was coming. It felt frighteningly slow. Every other car whizzing by. How will I get used to this, I wondered.

I won’t have to. Riding along with old Harry in his Series I at 50 mph felt like 80 mph!

Starting to look like a truck

Wish I knew the names of the technicians working on my truck. Trying to put together a trip to San Diego to see the truck and maybe learn about about its history. Probably a long shot. Nice to start getting some photos again. Never seen a battery like the one below. I’m told that’s because it has to crank a diesel engine.

If you’re joining us late, you can read about the beginning of the Land Rover adventure here.

10 Most White Trash Towns in Missouri

My hometown doesn’t make a lot of Top 10 lists so I was pleased to see it near the top (#3) of this list. What did it take to make the cut? Using publicly available government data, as well as Google Maps, data was collected on the following white trash metrics:

  • Cities where there are lots of white people
  • Cities where residents are poorer than average
  • Cities where a high number of residents are high school dropouts
  • Cities with a high number of single parents
  • High drug use
  • Higher than average Payday Loan Outlets
  • Violent cities (measured in aggravated assaults)
  • Cities with a high number of residents on welfare

Alas, Kennett has fallen on hard times since I left in 1984, not to mention when I grew up there in the 50s and 60s.

Source: RoadSnacks.net

Land Rover Repair Operation Manual

I purchased a Repair Operation Manual for my Land Rover. This is different from the owner’s manual. “The purpose of this manual is to assist skilled mechanics in the efficient repair and maintenance of the range of vehicles given on the title-page.” (Series III)

Land Rover owners insist these trucks are so simple, so basic, that any good auto mechanic can service and repair them. But the truck is 38 years old and having the factory manual can’t hurt. It was pricey but a good investment.

Chrome and Duct Tape

Had the bonnet up on the MINI yesterday and noticed a piece of trim had come loose. Tiny screw broke free from a plastic mount. Guessing the dealer would replace the strip and it would cost me a couple of hundred bucks. Plan B was a piece of duct tape, just to keep it from rattling. (A time-honored tradition in southern Missouri where I grew up)

Once upon a time this would have been a piece of chrome, not a bit of plastic. As I thought about this I realized chrome has been gone (for the most part) for a long time. Everything molded plastic, the same color as the vehicle. Is there ANY chrome on cars/trucks these days? Our Ford Fairlane and our Chevy Impala had so much chrome on it you could hardly look at it on a bright summer day. Americans loved their shiny automobiles.

Thinking back on the countless photos and videos of Land Rovers I’ve looked at in recent months, I don’t recall seeing any chrome. Which makes sense. Why put chrome on a farm vehicle?

Going topless

When my truck arrives it will have a hardtop. But I haven’t given up my dream of going topless in the warmer months. Lots of advice on this topic in the forum I’ve started haunting. This young man lives in Scotland:

“Unfortunately, living in Scotland, it’s rarely dry enough or warm enough to take the top off. I would love to get a soft top for my truck. The hardtop doesn’t really make it a great deal warmer or less draughty than the canvas. In the winter, even with the hardtop on it is bone chillingly cold. In the summer, with the hardtop on, it is like sitting in in oven. I reckon with the canvas, the summer would be much more comfortable, with the easy option of rolling the sides up and the winter would be just as equally horrendous. The funny thing is, even with the hardship and discomfort, driving the land rover in any season is always a joy and a choice.”

Yes! I hear that over and over. He shared a few photos of his Land Rover. I suppose there are perfectly restored Land Rovers sitting in climate controlled garages but I just haven’t come across those. Most owners seem to drive them, and drive them hard. I love the scruffy look of this truck.