Historic (ish) Photos

Thanks to Tony Hoare for letting me put a few of his photos of The Duke on my blog. Also thanks to Ron Fulton at BDAC for his help.

These were taken around 2004 during The Duke’s stay at the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. Apparently most of the land vehicles have left BDAC now.

Attempts to contact BDAC succeeded this evening and they confirmed that QinetiQ claimed ownership and sold The Duke which had sat in the BDAC collection for several years. Apparently they have both financial and recycling targets to meet.

BDAC were relieved of the vehicle in late 2008 but do not have the missing parts. So who can I blame for their loss? Perhaps I could contact QinetiQ, but I doubt it’d be cost effective for them to sell individual parts on eBay! That leaves only two possibilities: either Witham removed the parts before placing The Duke in the tender, or a member of BDAC, Witham or QinetiQ staff had them away on the sly.

In his natural habitat at Boscombe Down
Looks more or less the same at the front – now I’ve replaced the lenses on the lights! Strangely, I think indicators and side lights are swapped over in this photo!
Rear projection. NATO tow hitch still in place and clearly its got fog lamps not reversing lights!
The interior: More or less as it looks now, but the dashboard and centre-console-lighting-switch are missing.
Very cool field telephone. Doubtful this would have made it through the demobbing and sale process, as most radio equipment is removed. Might be able to pick one up at Sodbury though…

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’ll be putting the new door tops on and starting work on the dashboard. There will no doubt be more blogging when I’m done.

Interesting to see that one door top is missing in the photos and the other looks in a very bad state. Shows that they wore out over a long period of time.

Here are a couple of links I found to forums where Tony (I presume) posted when The Duke was at BDAC…

http://www.hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/showthread.php?t=2392
http://www.hmvf.co.uk/forumvb/showthread.php?t=2316

Fetching the Duke

I’ve always harboured a desire to do practical and manly things with my spare time instead of sitting on the sofa playing on the Xbox. When my good friend Doctor Johnson splashed out on a thirty-year-old Land Rover Country Station Waggon a couple of years ago I was inspired. Helping out with maintenance tasks (i.e. chopping bits off with an angle grinder) was great fun and at the end of a hard day’s work you have something real to be proud of – much better than writing software!

So a couple of months ago I ended up placing a bid in a tender for ex-military vehicles. A nice looking Land Rover Series III, fitted for helicopter support. Of course, I hadn’t looked at it. Witham is all the way up in the Midlands and there was no way I was leaving the comfort of the office to see what I was risking £555.55 of my hard earned money on. Anyway, that’s a good price for a decent Series III so I had no chance of winning. Right?

A month later, at 8am on a cold frosty morning, I found myself in the back of a borrowed Nissan Terrano, towing a huge car trailer up the A1(M). Doctor Johnson at the controls and Jason, who’s Dad had kindly lent us the Terrano, in the back. I’d won it. I hadn’t got a clue what state it was in: Was it a runner? Was the interior OK? Was the chassis roughly the consistency of ASDA Smart Price Stilton?

I almost swallowed my own face with disappointment when we finally got there and found it sitting alone on the end of a long line of 110’s (all in much better condition). The bonnet was up and the tyres were flat; under the bonnet it was easy to see two large empty spaces where the distributor and carb once were. The door tops were sat on the floor and, upon examination, seemed to be made of a powdery conglomeration of iron oxide and mould. Metallic sparrows had broken in and replaced the dashboard with a nest of wires and broken electronic items but worst of all, at least in my depressed state at the time, the chassis was badly “cheesed up” with rust.

The yard men at Witham seemed to find this very amusing. “Did you bid on it without seeing it then? All I can say is, you’ve got nobody to blame but yourself”. Well, yeah, thanks and all that, but now please shut up and perhaps also die. The second guy won me over by offering to put it on the trailer for us. “Want us to bring it round here then?” we asked.

“Nah, I’ll be back in a second”. A couple of minutes later he reappeared atop a massive forklift truck. “Don’t worry, I do this every day” he assured us, as he whacked a couple of chocks on the beefy looking tynes and lifted my massive new Land Rover eight feet into the air to get past a recently demobbed ten ton truck.

You can’t argue with that sort of awesomeness. I think it helped me get a grip on myself and that’s probably the point where I started to have fun again. Jay and Dr J were incredibly nice. Jason knows as much about car maintenance as I know about the Ugandan ministry of agriculture, but he was right when he said that it wasn’t as bad as it looked. Johnson dragged me under the precariously suspended green monster to inspect the good bits of the chassis and gave general words of encouragement.

The car trailer visibly flexed as the forklift disgorged its load upon it. The Terrano dropped down to 35 miles per hour on one section of the M25 and the diesel cost £75 but all the way home I stared out of the back window and grinned at the big green thing. Thank the Lord that the steering, hand brake, clutch and gears all worked; we used them all to get it into the drive. Thanks also to the random man who helped push. Would he have helped push a broken transit van? Is there some innate property of a knackered British vehicle that makes people care? Probably not, but he helped anyway.

So there you go. I now own a Land Rover. It’s big, it’s green, it can start a Lynx helicopter and will cost £1500 to get up and running but I don’t care what you think; it’s the best thing I’ve played with since my Lego got locked in the cellar.