I’ve decided to add some more “creature comforts” to The Duke. I am sick of the noise and the condensation that runs down my neck when I start off on cold mornings. I didn’t much like the ice that formed on the inside of the walls when we went camping back in December either!

After much research I found some 7mm thick closed-cell “van insulation” foam on eBay. It cost me £70 for 8m and I used 7m of it lining the roof and walls. A couple of cans of “trimfix” glue were included in the price. I almost managed to do the whole job with just one can of glue but had to open the second for the last roof section over the front seats!


It looks like the international space station in there now! Emma enjoyed looking around once I was finished – though she still refers to The Duke as “Daddy’s Tractor”.


It was all pretty easy except the final section over the front seats. The roof tapers and the chunk of foam needed to be aligned on all sides. I had to peel and re-stick several times before I got it right.

Went out for a test drive and I can confirm that it’s still very noisy in there. Not sure if the newly insulated roof helped much as the overdrive whine is still deafening at motorway speeds. I still have the door seals to replace and maybe I’ll stick the last metre of insulation under the bonnet to see if that makes a difference!

It does seem to help with the heat a little – it was sunny this weekend and the uninsulated skin of the roof was hot enough to (slowly) cook an egg. Insulated sections are much less hot to the touch.

Door Card


Just a quick photo of the new door card I made for The Duke. Made of ply wood covered in some vinyl fabric I managed to find at Dunelm Mill with some lift insulation (the sort made out of recycled plastic bottles) in the cavity. Hopefully this will help lower nose levels in the cab and to insulate against the cold. Just got to make one for the other side now!

Shiny New Wheels

Not sure whether I posted about it, but I recently bought some second hand Michelin XZL off-road tyres from a bloke on eBay.  I had to drive to a military base in west London (the Defence Geographic Centre) to pick them up, which was a bit of a mission.  Got five of them for £300 including some bad-boy modern wheels.  I was going to get them swapped onto The Duke’s original wheel rims, but ATS charge something like £30 a wheel to do this and there’s no way I’m paying that!

Before and after shot

As you may have noticed if you read the last off-road adventure post, they’re white and rusty and look pretty terrible.  So I decided to paint them…

Such a boring job to do.  Cleaning them off, scrubbing with a wire brush, masking the tyres to keep them black, acid etch primer then two coats of Deep Bronze Green.  The finish isn’t that great close-up but from a few feet away they look much better!  Very happy.

Quite Dashing

Decided to add a cigarette-lighter-style 12v socket to The Duke’s military dash for stuff like the satnav.  The old dash is pretty knackered and full of unused holes etc, so I made a new one out of a sheet of aluminium I got off ebay recently.  The pics show the process…

Old dash and 6-way light switch
New plate screwed to the milling machine. Screwing it down to a chunk of scrap wood worked really well.
Didn’t have a drill bit big enough or a fly cutter small enough, so drilled round the edge and filed the larger holes.
Hammered the straight bend on the top edge
The curved edge at the bottom was harder to do. I filed a matching curve into the edge of the wood to make a template and carefully hammered over that.
Hammering the curve.
Finished product. Just needs a lick of paint!

Busy Bank Holiday

Busy day of Dukin’ today.  Fitted the flywheel housing and new oil seal to the 200TDi the went outside to enjoy the sun and paint the rear crossmember – a job I’ve been putting off for over a year!
 Here’s another oil seal – banged in to the flywheel housing as per usual with a block of wood.

Here it is from the other side.  The protector/guide fitted the right way round with the “fat” end towards the engine.  I lubricated it with some new engine oil before fitting and used a paper gasket this time, rather than bathroom sealant.

I used two long bolts to support and guide the housing into place.  The bolts which attach it to the engine are not long enough to make contact with the block before the oil seal guide starts to push through, so I needed to support the weight and keep it straight while pushing the first few millimetres by hand.

Tightening the flywheel bolts

Starter motor fitted and exhaust manifold in place.  Plenty of room for everything to coexist when no turbo is fitted.

Looking better in green than it did when it was a black and rusty lump.  However, the difference between brand new Deep Bronze Green and 30-year-old Deep Bronze Green is quite apparent!
Also, just for the record I fixed the brakes last week.  Turns out I’d cross threaded the pipe into the cylinder ages ago and it had finally worked itself loose.  Thank heavens for split circuit brakes!  Anyway, all fixed with a brand new cylinder now so we’re back on the road!

Fun in the Workshop

The Duke’s been running pretty well recently, so there’s not much to report on the blog.  I’ve been spending my time in the workshop instead, making bits and bobs on the lathe and mill.

Last night, Dr J came round to make a dog to connect his capstan winch to his engine.  They cost about £50 each on eBay – even for a copy – so we made one out of a chunk of 45mm bar scrounged from the offcuts bin at a local engineering firm.

First job was to drill an 18mm hole all the way through.  Slightly smaller than the 3/4″ bolt that will hold it to the front of the crankshaft.  We then bored the hole out to exactly the right diameter.

Boring out the “dog end”.  This didn’t leave a massive thickness of metal round the edges (~4mm) so I’d recommend getting 50mm diameter bar if available.

Milling out the slots was very boring but went without a hitch.

Perfect fit!

I’ve also been working on The Duke’s NATO hitch recently, so here’s a couple of pictures of that.  The packing plates are all home made (only two shown) and the swivel pin was made on the lathe out of silver steel.  Not exactly the cheapest option, but it does mean it should be rust free for some time.

The hitch itself

The DIY swivel pin.  I spent some time polishing it!  I couldn’t find the split pin for the end for a reasonable price, so I’ve threaded the hole to take a 3mm screw as an interim measure!

So it cost very little to make the dog (wear and tear on the tools being the biggest cost) but it did take the two of us six hours, so I can see why these things cost as much as they do!  I think it’s safe to say though, Dr J and I would much rather spend six hours using a lathe and drinking beer than paying somebody else £50 to do the same!

Even Colder!

Got up early again today to do a bit more on The Duke before Lorna crawled out of bed. Along with some work yesterday, I’ve managed to make some good progress.

Firstly, thanks to the Lovely Lorna for some more excellent pedal pumping. Bled the brakes through reasonably successfully, though there was a touch of foaminess to the fluid, so they may need doing again before The Duke goes back on the road. Instead of buying a replacement pipe for the back I actually made one. Got all the tools and fittings I need to replace just about every pipe on the Land Rover for £90. Christmas money well spent and brakes more or less done!

I also spent some time yesterday taking off the front suspension. I worked out that it would be easier to patch the front dumbiron without the spring on, so decided to take the lot off and refurbish both springs as I did at the back.

Front springs gone!

Today, after sweeping away a layer of ice crystals from the drive, I dropped the fuel tanks off so I can get access to the outriggers that need replacing. While they were off I replaced the cracked cork seals with the new rubber ones I ordered a few weeks back.

Fuel tank back on the floor!

While I was lying on the frozen tarmac I happened to find the other end of the speedo cable (haven’t looked that hard in the past!) so I decided to swap that out while I was at it. What an annoying job!

In the end I lost one of the screws while trying to attach the new cable. Not sure how terrible this is really. Might just forget about it!

Speedo cable where it meets the gearbox next to the handbrake drum.

In a terrible breech of health and safety regulations, I tested the speedo by jacking up a rear wheel, starting the engine and bunging it in gear. It works!

Speed demon

So, that’s a couple of niggles sorted and some prep done for the big welding jobs. Other than the welding, all I need to do now is get some new spark plugs to get it firing on all four cylinders again, split and grease the springs and refit the front suspension. Just hope the weather warms up a bit!