MOT done, brakes done in!

On the way back from the passed MOT this evening I pressed down on the brake in a traffic jam and there was a cracking/popping sound from the rear offside area and the pedal went a bit spongy.  I guess the pipe must have been a bit stressed by all the work going on on the wheel hub over the weekend…

Speaking of the wheel hub, before the brakes broke, the garage rang me up at work to tell me the wheel was still wobbly.  Seems I hadn’t tightened the big nuts up against the wheel bearings hard enough so the drive out to the garage had loosened them.  He tightened them up again for me for the princely sum of £15, bringing the total MOT cost up to almost a ton this year.  Worse than that was the blow to my ego.  How can I show my face in public again?

So I have an MOT, my pride is slightly dented and I need to make a new brake pipe and bleed the sodding things again!

Got my shoes on wrong…

Lorna came outside to help me bleed the brakes again tonight. A few more bubbles came out and I think we managed to improve things. However, the pedal still goes down to the floor on the first push. On the second pump the pedal seems firm and goes down about half way. A bit of a plus point, but it has to be said that a two-pump operating schedule is probably not ideal for your average fifty-miles-per-hour-towards-children-or-cliff situation.

So clearly something is wrong. But what? My adjusters are wound in tightly and there are no leaks. After much searching on the Internet I found a possible explanation

By the looks of this photo I took the other day after refurbing the brakes, I have placed the leading pad on the back and the trailing pad on the front. Wrong way round. Apparently a slight difference in the shape of the two pads means the cylinders need to move further to actuate the brakes – thus the excessive brake travel on the first pump.

So, next job is to strip the back brakes down and swap things back to the way they should be. Fingers crossed this sorts things out!

After a little digging through the millions of photos in my “Duke” directory, I found a photo which shows that the pads on the other side are the right way round. Less work to do but possibly proof that this isn’t the only cause of the problem. Watch this space!

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!

Frosty Brake Replacement

It’s not snowy or rainy at the moment, so I decided to get up extra early this morning (well, 8am) to get a few hours done on The Duke before we go to a wedding later on today.

Donning my long johns, two T shirts, fleece, walking boots and woolly hat I ventured out into the garden at about 9am and got started. The temperature probe on my new multimeter gave a reading of -4 degrees. Cold!


I would have finished the job today – maybe Lorna could even have been bribed to come out and help me do some bleeding – but on the last cylinder (rear left) the bloody nut sheared and I had to saw off the brake pipe. So now I need to get yet more stuff sent through the post before I have working brakes.

Front left with new cylinders and pads back on

I spent well over £100 on new parts for the brakes. Have heard quite a few damning reports on the replacement cylinders that are available so spent about four times as much on “genuine” Lucas replacements. I think the brakes are the one part of the project where spending a bit more is a sensible idea!

Round the back of the front left. New pipes and bleed nipple visible.

Here’s a typical example of an old cylinder. Don’t look too terrible, but they’re pretty badly seized.

Rear left brake all back together – though I still need a new pipe to finish the job.

Scrap cylinders and pipes

So, the new pipe will be ordered tomorrow and hopefully fitted next weekend. Then I just need to start on the welding and I’m ready for MOT take two.

All aboard the Fail Duke

Well, I expected a fail and a fail’s what I got!

Have to say, before I say anything else, that Wingfield Engineering are a good first choice if you’re anywhere near Reading and need your Land Rover looking at. I knew they were going to be good when I pulled into their yard, drove past a collection of old tractors and parked next to a very smart looking Series 1! They were polite, speedy and down to earth; giving me some really helpful feedback, rather than the “your brakes are broken, it’ll cost £1000” you normally get at Kwik Fit. LRSeries were also excellent – going out of their way to ship my emergency order of replacements within two hours of me placing the order!

Anyway, let’s not get carried away just yet, there’s a long way to go before The Duke is back on the road.

We were running a bit late this morning, so it was well after 7:30 by the time I gingerly reversed The Duke out onto the street and headed off into the sunrise, Lorna following in Marvin the Mondeo. Took me a while to get used to the choke and the number of revs needed to change up but I guess that’s because I’ve been driving a modern diesel, not a badly tuned two ton petrol beast. Almost gave up and came home when I lost power at low revs on the A33 but I’m glad I soldiered on because in the end I just needed to “Man Up” and press harder on the money pedal.

Got the hang of it and started to tootle happily along Lower Earley way. Apparently I hit a top speed of somewhere between 45 and 50MPH at one point. Marvin’s speedo works, so Lorna was able to let me know the time. Little did they know that my foot was mashed through the floor in top gear and the vibrations were spine-breakingly severe. We hit traffic shortly after that, so I got to do a bit of first gear crawling. Apparently I pulled out in front of one of Lorna’s work mates, who later submitted a rather terrified account of what he saw. In the end — mostly because of the traffic — it took 45 minutes to drive the 9.5 miles from our house to Wingfield’s. Furthest The Duke has driven in a decade I think!

Got a call just before lunch with the bad news. Turns out it’s slightly more serious than I’d expected, but not as bad as it could have been…

  • The brake lights aren’t working – This could be because the switch has come loose again or because they turned the light switch onto “blackout”. Lorna claims that the brake lights were showing on the way there. Anyway, not a big fix, regardless.
  • The brakes look dodgy – He didn’t do a brake test because he wasn’t happy to go on the road with no brake lights, but he did say that the wheel cylinders and flexi pipes look ropey. I expected this and have ordered genuine Land Rover replacements to fit this weekend.
  • The fuel tank seals are cracked – True, the cork ones are a pain to fit and I think it was me that snapped them. New rubber replacements are in the post!
  • There are a couple of patches required on the chassis – Now this is the kicker. It’s grotty weather and Johnson’s using his welder this weekend. Not sure where the holes are, but I suspect at least one is on the underside of the chassis, so it’s going to be fun and games sorting that out.

I actually asked Wingfield to do the welding, but they didn’t fancy it, so I have to do it myself. If I win the lottery I’m getting a huge garage and a car lift, that’s all I’m saying!

So, we’ve failed our first MOT and there’s a huge amount of work to do in the next couple of weeks – including welding and the dreaded brake light switch. Despite this (or maybe because of this) I am actually feeling very jolly. I drove a Land Rover today for the first time and I also have a stack of practical and interesting jobs to keep me occupied. Bliss!

Shameless Tinkering

The XBox is broken, there’s nothing on the TV and the budget can’t stretch to Land Rover parts til pay day. Time for some shameless tinkering.

Spent most of the weekend clearing out the shed, which gave me the sneezes to end all sneezes and the headache to ruin all Saturday nights. Thousands of spiders are now homeless, there’s a boot load of crap waiting to go to the tip and every time I blow my nose, my hanky goes black.

That done, the tinkering could begin. Bitten hard by the cleaning bug I spent most of my time putting stuff away, sweeping and screwing the dash back together. Lorna still does a face when she looks at it, but I think it’s looking pretty tidy in there now.

Inside the cab. Some German car engineers are coming over this weekend to learn a thing or two about luxury.

The military dash. All spanked up and working (though there are some bulbs hidden behind there with nowhere to go).

The main dash. Looks OK. A few new bits needed but you’d never know!

I also took a couple of pictures of the brake light switch which I got working a few days ago. Tested it again today and it’d ceased up. Managed to fix it by smacking it on the bumber (again). Will have to keep an eye on it; it’s not really a component I’d want to go wrong.

The brake light switch sits behind the brake servo.

The brake light switch.

A House Call from Dr Johnson

Today we were graced with the presence of the good Doctor Johnson, Consultant Land Rover specialist. We spent the first hour on a guided tour. Johnson hadn’t seen The Duke since we picked it up from Witham, so some getting to know you time was required.

Having discussed where everything would go when we drive to Africa, what type of roof rack is best, whether you need to be able to sleep and cook inside the ‘drover and other down to earth topics, we set to work on the back brakes and electrics.

Both back brakes were jammed on and the drums took far more effort to remove than the front ones did. However, we managed to work out a few tricks (I say “we”, but I mean “he”) to make things go back together nicely. Also, the doctor has diagnosed nothing but a severe case of hypochondria with the brake system. Everything is ceased, but in good working order when freed up. Clearly The Duke has done little but stand in one place since his brakes were last serviced. So the cylinders are a bit stuck together but otherwise fine.

The grease spiders were back in force within the back wheels. I managed to dispatch one to the big greasy web in the sky but sadly one got away. Reading could be overrun. We may all be killed.

More success with the wiring too, but little of interest to report.

Finally, another tiny clue in the quest to Date The Duke: I found an ancient Dime Bar wrapper jammed behind the dash with the wiper motor. Sadly, there’s not a lot of information on the history of Dime Bars on the Internet, so it’s proving hard to match it to a specific year!