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.

Post MOT Welding Woe

Found the places where I need to get busy with the MIG for the MOT. Here are some pictures…

This is the fuel tank outrigger on the passenger side. There is a tiny hole rusted through on the end. Likewise on the driver’s side.

Here’s the hole – the big one is drilled, so OK. The small one that’s more of a crack than a hole is the problem. To be fair to the MOT man, the one on the other side is bigger and this outrigger is very close to the seatbelt mounting.

This is the big one – the underside of the front spring hanger on the driver’s side. Lord only knows how I didn’t spot it. It’ll need quite a big patch and will involve some upside down welding.

Patching the spring hanger will do the job, but the outriggers will be a real pain to get to with the welder. I am actually considering replacing them, as grinding them off and welding on new ones would mean less of the body being removed for access. Only problem is that I can’t find replacement parts!

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!

Fingers Crossed

MOT booked in for tomorrow. Going to sleep with everything crossed tonight, but to be honest I’m expecting a fail.

As I said in the previous post, brake imbalance is the most likely – or perhaps a leak somewhere. Maybe the seats aren’t bolted down securely enough or perhaps the fuel tank seals are knackered. The shock absorber bushes are a bit crappy too!

I’m long past my late November deadline, due to some problems with batteries and charging. I popped out to the drive just after my last post to find the batteries dead as doornails. The only cause I can think of is that I left the heater switched on. Shouldn’t make a difference, but clearly something did!

Charged the batteries, started the engine and found that the bloody thing wasn’t charging. The charge warning light was flickering slightly and the battery voltage stayed down at 24.5v or so. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at this point.

A few posts on the EMLRA forums and a bit of money spent and The Duke now has a new generator cable and a brand new set of 075 batteries. Quite an expensive set of purchases, especially since they didn’t actually fix anything. Well, OK, they did help but they were not the silver bullets I’d hoped for.

Wiggling the old cable where it attaches to the generator panel had always caused the charge warning light to flicker. The new cable fixes this and I can refurbish the old one over the winter. It didn’t make a difference to the charging problem though. The new batteries provide a massive chunk of finest umph to the starter and hold a voltage of over 25v when disconnected – but they didn’t fix the problem either.

In the end I took the generator panel to bits to check around in there. Found that everything is working as it should, so moved on to the shunt panel. There are two supplies from the generator panel to the shunt panel, one for the radio batteries and one for the vehicle batteries. I found that the radio supply (which was disconnected as I have no radio batteries) was reading 30v, while the vehicle supply was down at 24v. So, in the end I swapped them over and hey presto, it works!

Lord only knows why the vehicle supply is reading so low. Anyway, I have a charging Land Rover again and I can debug the problem later on. On the plus side, using the radio supply and shunt means I get an ammeter reading, showing the current passing from generator to batteries. Looks cool and actually gives me some feedback about what’s going on.

Anyway, that’s why I’m so late. Keep those fingers crossed and I’ll report back tomorrow!


Just sorted out some insurance for The Duke. Starts on Monday at midnight.

Got it from Adrian Flux in the end, with a sizable discount for my EMLRA membership (so well worth the membership fee just for that). Fully comp with legal and personal injury protection, 5000 miles a year of non-business travel and an agreed value of £2500… all for £140 for the year!

The plan to organise an age related registration before getting the MOT fell by the wayside when I phoned the DVLA to ask a few questions about the process. Last time I phoned they told me I could do the transfer without MOT and insurance, this time they claimed I do need MOT and insurance. So, I’m going to get an MOT on the Q registration, using the expensive Heritage Certificate as proof of age for the engine – thus ensuring that it gets tested against 1981 emissions standards.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get the MOT booked in for next week some time. I fully expect it to fail first time, probably on brake balance and some other stuff. Even with one fail and a week of work to get back on the road, there’s still a slim chance I might hit my 29th November deadline… fingers crossed!

To Do – update

Here’s a quick update to the To Do list for The Duke’s MOT.

  • Fit handbrake gaiter – DONE
  • Headlight wiring – DONE
  • Track rod clip bolts (M6) required – ON ORDER
  • Brake/clutch pedal rubber pads – ON ORDER
  • Body tab/outrigger – DONE
  • Valance – both sides DONE
  • Get some insurance!
  • Transfer to age related plate – TURNS OUT AN MOT IS NEEDED FIRST!

Small jobs, maybe I can get them ticked off tomorrow…

…OK, it’s tomorrow now and I’ve ticked a good few of them off. Heritage Certificate and subsequent visit to the DVLA in Theale are the limiting factor at the moment.

Glued the valance tabs back on in the end, but only one of them actually stayed (the F clamp slipped off half way and ruined the bond). Hopefully the tester won’t be fussed!

Also slightly worried about the brake balance, but I might just pay the garage to sort that – not sure I can be bothered!

Brake and clutch rubber pads are on order. Need to measure the track rod clamps to see what length bolts are needed. Must remember to do that this afternoon.

MOT Party, Track Rod Troubles and a Maddening Manifold

Lots to report today – some good, some bad as usual! Not posted much on the blog for a while as I’ve been doing jobs that are too boring to bother talking about. Fixing the driver’s door, spending £23 on new headlight adjuster screws, fixing the brake light switch and cleaning out the interior are not particularly exciting, so I did them without taking any photos.

The excitement returned last night when Jason and Dr Johnson came round to perform an unofficial MOT test for me. Since they were the pair who helped me drag The Duke’s rusting hulk down to Reading, it seemed only right that they be the ones to give him his first seal of approval… or not, as it turned out. Lorna prepared a reward for them in the form of The World’s Greatest Shepherd’s Pie.

Jason did the paperwork while Dr J ran round like a maniac, poking, prodding and probing round every nook and cranny he could find. We jacked up all four wheels and ran the engine in gear to free-up the brakes, poked around the chassis with screwdrivers, examined the body for sharp edges and wobbly bits and ran the usual lighting checks. All this was based on the official MOT procedure which I printed out from this website.

In the end they failed me. Here’s a list of the problems they found…

  • Headlight wiring (I knew about that one, just haven’t had a chance to fix it yet)
  • Indicator telltale (Maybe not a problem, but they both flash regardless of direction)
  • Track rod end rubber cover/boot (split)
  • Track rod bent
  • Brake/clutch pedal rubber pads missing (Another one we’re not 100% on, but may be a problem)
  • Flexi brake hoses (x3) look very old! (Advisory only)
  • Trim under passenger door (Not bolted in place)
  • Body tab/outrigger (Not yet fitted – waiting for some bolts from eBay)
  • Valance – both sides (Not secured)
  • Exhaust blowing at manifold

So today I had lots to look at. None of it massively serious, just loads more work to do. First off was a trip to Halfords to get some exhaust sealing putty for the manifold-to-down-pipe join. I also picked up some red oxide primer and two five litre bottles of engine oil.

First job was to squish some putty into the crack between manifold and down pipe. Dead easy to do, though it makes your hands smell nasty. Left it for an hour or so to cure. While I waited I slapped a bit of red oxide primer on the new door channel bits I welded on a couple of months ago. They were already going rusty and Johnson gave me an ear bashing yesterday!

Once that was done it was time to start the engine and see whether the putty had done the trick. It had. A great job and well worth the £5… except… there was still a blowing sound round the manifold… time to start worrying…

Then I found this whopping great crack in the manifold itself. No chance I’ll get away with smearing that with putty for the MOT, so it looks like I’m going to need a whole new exhaust manifold, down pipe and all the fittings that go with it. Major pain in the backside, but nothing I could do today except perhaps spending the evening pricing up the parts.

So, I carried on with the jobs in hand. Next was to do an oil change. Dead easy, all the bits were as good as new, since they live in a bath of oil. The sump plug came out with only the subtlest of hammer-tickles and the filter came off all too easily – dropping in the oil bucket and splashing me and the drive with a couple of cups full of ancient engine oil! It took about eight litres of new oil to fill the engine back up and I bunged in a new filter too. The oil light came on for about five seconds after I started him, then went off as expected, so I assume the oil is flowing round the engine as it should.

Final job today was to get the track rod off. Research on the internet this morning confirmed that it is indeed bent and will need replacing. Luckily, replacements aren’t too expensive and I think I can get the whole job done (including new ball joints and boots) for under £50.

Should have read the manual to get instructions on how to remove the track rod – turns out you twist it off the two bolts at each end (which have opposite threads to allow this). I spent far too long bashing with the hammer before I realised how it works.

So, as I said earlier, some good news and far too much bad news. A good few days of hard work needed to get the exhaust manifold replaced and a few more odd jobs to do round the body before The Duke and me head to the MOT centre!