Fixing the gear stick

For the last couple of weeks, gear changes in The Duke have been very hard work. The tiny pin which stops the stick spinning sheared off, adding a new element of drama to my commute.


The original pin had sheared and was stuck in the channel in the ball at the base of the stick.


So I had to strip the whole thing down.


The pin and the thread on the hole were totally ruined, so I had to think if something new.


I drilled out the hole


Then tapped it with an M8 thread. Much bigger and stronger than the old one.


Then turned down a set screw on the lathe


And heat treated it with case hardening compound, which will hopefully stop it getting squashed and bent.


I doubt there are many Land Rovers on the road with the original rubber blob on the base of the great stick. It’s meant to prevent vibrations but was totally worn away.


So I turned a replacement out of nylon and hammered it on.


At 19.3mm diameter is a snug fit on my spare gearbox and should help prevent rattles and make gears a bit easier to find.


All in all I’m very happy with my evening’s work. Just need the sun to come up so I can put it all back together again!

A Winter’s Tale

This weekend we headed off into the frozen wastes of Wiltshire to set up a rough shelter amongst the converted barns, Range Rovers and tweed-clad organic hemp farmers.  It was cold!  Apparently it got down to -4C during the night, though I slept like a warm, cosy and pleasantly drunk log in the back of The Duke.

On the way there we took in a few choice green lanes.  This included one of the most challenging we’ve been on to date.  After taking us through some woods – the map lead us to believe – the lane would join a track which would in turn take us back to society.  As we entered the woods we hit a very muddy incline which tested the ‘drovers mud plugging abilities and gave Dr J and I a chance to try and remember anything we may have known about off-road driving.  Clearly somebody had been up the slippy hill on a quad bike recently, but as we trundled further into the woods we started to get the impression that this was not a well-worn lane in any way.  The woods were clearly used for hunting, with a multitude of grouse feeders, shooting hides and even a pair of snapped-off deer shins to prove it.  These sorts of places don’t like green laners, they have guns and they are apparently willing to rip the forelegs off a woodland creature.  So by unspoken agreement we got a wiggle on and made for the exit.  Of course the track-to-freedom was little more than a narrow, impassable footpath.  We made our way out of the woods by retracing our steps like city-slickers out of deliverance-country; beating a hasty retreat to the Kennet and Avon for a bowl of chilli, over which we vowed never to return.

We arrived at the camp site just before dark, pitching tents and erecting what can only be described as a “rude shelter” by stringing a giant oil stained tarp between the Land Rovers.  We broke out the camping chairs and began the complex procedure of lighting my portable barbecue and emptying a few cans of ale.

I suspect Dr Johnson snorted a wrap of organic speed before we went to the pub.  Either that or the warmth made him loose his mind a little bit.  The beer was nice, the food overcooked, the other patrons were probably offended by our avant garde humour and the logs were plastic – or at least that’s what Dr Johnson thought.  An antique spanking paddle found on the shelf helped to keep the conversation flowing.

On arrival back at the gypsy encampment I set about boiling bottle after bottle of water in my Kelly kettle and poking them between the duvets in my drover-bed.  I slept very warmly and very well, awakening to an icy ceiling and the pleasing sight of a frost covered field glistening beneath the tentative caress of a December dawn.  It would have been more pleasing if I didn’t have a headache.

After a traditional breakfast we went for a nice walk and then headed home.  On the way back home something nasty happened in The Duke’s gearbox.  I haven’t had time to work out the cause, but he’s having some issues with gear selection which make me very nervous indeed.  Expect a detailed report on my findings soon!

Panic Overdrive!

Had a nasty fright on the way to work on Thursday.  Popping out of overdrive on the A33 there was a nasty graunching sound and it popped back in to neutral.  After that it wouldn’t stay engaged at all.  I managed to limp through the rest of the day in overdrive – hill starts were far from fun as I had to be very gentle with the clutch.
I assumed it was my DIY linkage, so popped the tunnel cover off and pulled the selector out with vice grips.  With the back wheels off the ground I started the engine, only to find that it still wouldn’t stay engaged.  There was much swearing at this point.  I have a spare gearbox, but am using The Duke daily these days and the idea of him being laid up for a couple of weeks was not appealing.  The £340 I spend on the overdrive and possibility that it might be worthless was also a minor bugbear.
In desperation I started to think of ways I could get the overdrive off without having to drop the gearbox or take the seat box out.  The battery tray between the seats seemed like a possibility, so I drilled out the bolts holding it on (only two of the six were actually there) and popped it off to find that it gives great access.
The overdrive has a cover on top – so it couldn’t hurt to have a look inside…  and it didn’t.  Turns out the selector fork is attached to the shaft in a very accessible place – so a quick fiddle was in order.  I guess somebody must have tinkered with it in the past because once slid 4mm forwards the overdrive selects and deselects perfectly.
Inside the depths of the overdrive

Once that was done (and I had finished some rejoicing) I spruced up the battery box with angle grinder and red oxide primer then refitted it with all six bolts.  Needs some green paint at some point but since it’s covered up, full of batteries and I’d fun out of paint brushes, I decided to delay that job.

Now for the shameful bit:  When I replaced the battery box I found that the main earth strap was pretty useless.  I needed to fit a proper fat cable to the starter and all I had was the old positive cable I got free with the 200Tdi engine.  So now I have a red negative and a black positive.  Not great – maybe I need to swap them over at some point!

Wheel Bearing Wreckage

The Duke failed his first MOT of the year this Monday.  The news wasn’t massively bad – just some play in the rear offside wheel bearing.  So I ordered the parts and took the day off to sort it out today.

The wheel had a really good wobble going on.  To be honest, it’s a miracle it hadn’t fallen off!  On the morning of the epic journey to my stag do last year, Dr J noticed that the hub on this wheel was loose – or at least the bolts weren’t fully tightened.  While performing a roadside repair I snapped one of the bolts half way down.  Then we went away for the weekend and drank until the memory of the event was totally expunged.

So I shouldn’t really be shocked to find that the inner bearing was absolutely, totally and completely destroyed.  The whole area was filled with a muddy greasy gunk and the rollers in the bearing had dropped out of the cage so I had to use tin snips to get it all free.

Thanks to Lorna’s Dad I had all the tools I needed to get the snapped bolt out (really should give those stud extractors back soon…)!

Getting it all back together again was very simple.  I got a kit from Britpart because we are living in difficult times financially and it would not be right to spend my hard earned cash on genuine parts when I need it for beer.  Hopefully I can get a new MOT booked in for next week and get The Duke back on the road!

Fun in the workshop

Just a few interesting pictures from the last couple of weeks in the workshop.  Have got the gearbox more or less back together now and have even made my own linkage for the overdrive.
Here’s the weird arrangement of levers and springs for the high/low ratio and four wheel drive selectors.  Took me a while to work out how it all works!  

Here’s the infamous castle nut which lots of people bang in with a cold chisel…

…but I made my own “600300 tool”.  It took me about five hours to make from a chunk of 40mm steel bar.  I had to use the lathe, mill and rotary table then sort-of-hardened it with blowtorch and case hardening compound.  Well worth it for the 30 seconds of use it saw!

Next job was to make my own linkage and lever for the overdrive.  The most complex bit was making a block which pivots on a steel bush, has a 12mm threaded hole for the gear stick and a slot with three 6mm threaded holes for the lever which links it to the overdrive.  Pictures follow.

Tapping the hole.

I made three holes to allow me to change the angle of the lever when fitted into The Duke.

Here’s the end of the actuating linkage jobbie which I heated, bashed with a hammer and drilled. 

Here it is in place.  The L shaped bracket is far to flimsy but I think I might need a welder or a massive bender…  as it where… to make a more sturdy one.

Here’s where the linkage links to the overdrive.

The whole caboodle.

Gearbox Investigation

This is more of a utility post than something that anyone is going to find massively interesting.  Hopefully you’ll like the pictures though.

Now I have a plan to do some more major work on The Duke I am feeling much more motivated to get stuff done.  The overdrive is crying out for a gearbox to be bolted to, so this evening I unpacked all the bits I carefully put away last summer and started to check them out. Eventually I’ll have a list of everything I need to rebuild the box.

Gearbox main and lay shafts with all the gears and synchros in place.  I now understand how a gearbox works!

Detents and interlocks on the gear selectors
In fourth gear

The only real problem with this gearbox (which the guy who sold it to me said has been rebuilt quite recently) is reverse.  To get the shaft out you need to warm the box with a blowtorch and then tap the shaft out with a hammer and drift – a process which sounds complicated but turned out to be very easy indeed.  Not only is the gear itself worn out, but the shaft is worn badly too!
Even with a roller bearing, the shaft is very badly scuffed.
Couldn’t resist trying the overdrive on the transfer box. 
Have the day off tomorrow, so watch this space for more photos!

Fairey Enough

Finally found the cash to buy an overdrive!  Got it on eBay for £333.33 – about the going rate.  You’ll be interested to know that The Duke himself was £555.55, so this purchase was far from cheap; but it actually comes out somewhere around 5% of the total cost of the restoration, so maybe not so bad.  The 5th gear which the overdrive gives me should also give a pretty good improvement to The Duke’s woeful fuel economy and might well pay for itself at some point.  So if you ignore the fact that I could, instead, have spent the money on a five-year-old Mondeo with one careful previous owner, it’s money well spent.
An overdrive
And lets be honest, you don’t buy a Land Rover because you want to be sensible!
Bloke who sold me the overdrive was a nice guy and it’s in great shape.  He’d recently refurbished it and showed me the receipts for all the parts.  There’s no linkage or lever, but that’ll make a nice workshop project.  My plan is to reassemble the replacement gearbox and bolt the overdrive into that, then buy a second hand 200TDi engine and drop the whole lot into The Duke in one go this Summer.

Teeth look in great condition – I am just amazed that all of the engine’s power is transferred through those tiny little things!

I’ve said before that I’m not keen on the 200TDi conversion, but I’m also not keen on paying 40p for every mile I travel, when I could be paying a quarter as much.  I also think that making all the pulleys and adapters would be a fun workshop job which adds to the interest.

More great dental work.  Some slight impressions on these is you look closely, but far from a problem!

Yet more nice teeth!

 Everyone posts this picture.  Must be a tradition!

So there you have it: a plan and hopefully more stuff to come on the blog.  Watch this space!