Mr. Wolf thought I’d like to hear the sweet sound of the 2.25 liter diesel engine that will drag my saggy ass around town. He’s been working long and hard on getting the engine right. If you look closely you’ll see some smoke. Not as much smoke as the mosquito fogger that patrolled our streets during the summer nights of my youth… but a little smoke. What the fuck, I’ll buy some carbon credits. I’m hoping there will be less smoke once the engine gets some miles on it. That will happen as soon as he gets the brakes sorted out.
When I opened the brakes up I found some things I didn’t like, so I’ve ordered all new OEM wheel cylinders, new adjusters, and new shoes. Even high quality parts are so cheap for this thing I figured we should just start fresh with nice parts.
If you don’t know shit about old trucks, and I don’t, you need someone like Mr. Wolf. You’d like to think the folks doing the restoration would get everything right… but they don’t.
“Feeling good about the Rover right now. New injectors made a big difference, it’s running smoother and making more power. Many hours of fiddling with the injection pump may have paid off, better cold start and less smoke.”
The Land Rover project is about three months behind schedule, to the extent there was ever a schedule. The 2.25 liter diesel engine simply wasn’t performing the way Mr. Wolf thought it should. Too much smoke. Just not right. Until today the working assumption was a problem with the o-rings on the injectors.
“The ones that were in there originally seemed like they weren’t big enough (not a tight fit) but everything else I could find wouldn’t allow the injector to fit in the bore. Given that the actual injector seal is accomplished by a copper sealing washer AND an aluminum crush-washer, I think the o-ring is really only there to keep debris from falling in. Therefore I’m thinking that the slightly loose fit is actually just fine, but I’m open to being proven wrong. So I reassembled it with the old o-rings.”
Whether or not I’ll be able to find someone to keep a 40 year old diesel engine running well enough to make the Land Rover an everyday truck remains to be seen. Which is why Mr. Wolf is going to such great pains to get the engine right before he send the truck my way. But this has always been more about fun than easy.
It’s been a long time since I drove a car (or truck) without power steering or brakes. The Land Rover has neither and I’ve been told it’s like learning to drive all over again. With that in mind, Mr. Wolf is giving extra attention to the brakes on my truck. Adjusting drum brakes is something of an art, I’m told.
“Missing since the 1950s, this is one of the first Land Rover’s ever shown to the world in 1948. Recently rediscovered just a few miles from its Solihull birthplace in the UK, this is the world’s most historically significant unrestored Land Rover. As part of Land Rover’s 70th jubilee, the Land Rover Classic team is now beginning a sympathetic restoration to preserve it.”
There is a YouTube video showing how to do just about any task or repair. Some of these are very well done and some are not. Because it is so easy to record a video and upload it to YouTube, there are some really bad ones. The two videos below are excellent and all the more so because they are first time videos. The two-part video demonstrates how to rebuild the diesel injector for a Ford 7.3 liter engine.
George Tergin is a local auto mechanic and businessman. He’s a regular at the coffee shop where I hang out and has been advising me on matters Land Rover related.
The production values in these videos are really good. The sound is perfect; lighting very good considering the video was recorded at a workbench in his shop; George’s presentation was clear, concise and easy-to-follow. Really hard to believe he has never done one of these. There were some nice small touches like speeding up screw tightening.
Rebuilding a diesel fuel injector seems pretty technical to me. Lots of little springs and rings and everything has to be put together just so. Making this seem simple in a how-to video is a very good trick. Especially on your first try. Bravo George. (And those who helped you)
The Land Rover Adventure that started on May 1st will spill over into 2018. A few elements of the restoration were not up to Mr. Wolf’s high standards.
“One injector was not sealed correctly, and I think all four were missing the “nozzle washer”. I’ve ordered all new seals, and in the meantime I had a friend drive the injectors over to Diamond Diesel for testing because I was too impatient for shipping. Yep, all four were bad. I’m having them do a fancy rebuild and calibration rather than rolling the dice on some cheap remanufactured units. I am hoping (and hopeful!) that this will resolve the smoking issue.”
The injectors are and the new seals are installed but it turns out they use “an O-ring that is some goofy size” that had to be ordered. In the meantime, Mr. and Mrs. Wolf are headed down to Baja for a couple of weeks of camping so work on the truck resumes in 2017.
It’s been a journey. Almost bought a truck from the Cool & Vintage guys (Portugal); seriously considered Arkonik (UK); and wound up in the capable, Master Mechanic hands of Grayson Wolf.
I’ve been thinking about what I’d tell someone considering purchasing a vintage Land Rover (frame off restoration). They’re expensive, of course, but you can’t be in a hurry. And if you know almost nothing about older vehicles, you need a guide. Someone to keep you from making a very expensive mistake.
If all goes well I expect to meet Mr. Wolf next month and get my hands on the truck. Mr. Wolf is shooting for nothing less than perfection and I think he’ll achieve that.
Santana Motor S.A. was a Spanish car manufacturer based in Linares, Spain. The company originally manufactured agricultural equipment but decided to expand beyond its original products line and entered into talks with the Rover car company in 1956 in an attempt to get a licensing agreement to build Land Rover Series models in their factory. An agreement was reached in 1956 and production began in 1958 it was licensed to build Land Rover models. (Wikipedia)
The guys at Lucra Cars replaced the original Land Rover Santana badge on my truck with a custom badge that — incorrectly — identifies my truck as a Defender model. Not a big deal but I’ve been looking for an original badge and found one with the help of Paul Misencik at Autology Motors. That this matters to me (even a little) suggests I’m becoming a Land Rover guy.
Mr. Wolf has had the truck for less than a week but has already logged 200 km and spotted (and fixed?) a problem with the brakes. It was a little chilly in the Bay Area today so he had the heater on.
“How cold does it get in your area in the winter? The heater in the truck is working properly, and it is keeping me toasty in the oh-so-cold 40 degree California winter, but a blowtorch it is not. The defrost function is especially wimpy, but I think of my Westfalia: the defroster in the Westy doesn’t even have a blower motor, it just sort of wafts vaguely warm air in the general direction of the windshield, and you know what? It kind of works! Would it be acceptable if you were a punctual business man on an icy morning, and you needed your windshield defrosted RIGHT NOW? Absolutely not. But if you’re living life at Westfalia/Series Rover pace… Yeah, sure, it’ll do.”
“So… How hearty do you feel? Do you want to stick with the stock heater, don gloves and a hat, squeegee in hand for the drive to the coffee shop, or have you gone soft on me?”
Mr. Wolf said he could replace my heater with a better after-market heater for about $1,000 and I was considering it until he questioned my manhood. I’m sticking with heater we got.
I’ve struggled to explain the appeal this old (1979) Land Rover has for me, given that I’ve only driven one once, for about 5 minutes. Mr. Wolf clearly understands the zen-like pull I feel but cannot articulate.
“I love fast cars, but slow ones are good for the soul sometimes. Driving the Rover is like driving my Volkswagen Westfalia: you will get there when you get there, you have time to look at the scenery and the sky, lots of waves, smiles, and thumbs up, and you never get stuck behind that slow asshole when you are in a hurry because you are that slow asshole! It is relaxing in a way.”
YES! I am that slow asshole. Exactly!
UPDATE: “Transmission very good, clutch needs adjustment. Engine running good but still hard to start when cold and very smoky. Both could just be it needing lots of break in miles, diesels tend to take a while to break in.”
We’ve entered the penultimate phase of The Great Land Rover Project. The final phase being me driving it back and forth to the coffee shop every day. The restoration phase (parts 1 and 2) are done and now Mr. Wolf drives the truck until he’s found and fixed all those little things that show up after a frame-off restoration. While this is underway I plan to go out to SF for a weekend to finally meet Mr. Wolf and discuss care and feeding. Then its one final trip from the Left Coast to Hooterville. To be continued.