Is This the Most Exciting Day of a Restoration?

What is the most exciting day of a restoration? I think its the day of the first drive. My Land Rover Series 1 107 restoration had been on axle stands for a couple of years. But today was the day that it would finally stand on the ground on its own and propel itself. But there were still a few things that I had to get done to make this happen. All of them are seemingly simple and easy but still hold some surprises.

Fitting New Shocks

The first surprise was when I came to put the shocks on  I came to find two of the bolt holes were blocked. One with an old bolt and the other with sand or dirt. I must have overlooked these. So with a bit of persuasion, I had them cleaned out and then fitted the new Girling shocks which looked great.

I had also finaly got a new original lock washer for the brake and clutch pedal shaft. My original one was broken and no longer usable. Its always nice to finish off these outstanding details that seem to linger on.

Bleeding the Brakes

The next important job was to put the brake fluid in and bleed the brakes. I was a bit nervous about this one because it would reveal if I had made and connected up the brake pipes properly. First I greased the threads of all the bleed nipples with some red rubber grease. Then opened all the bleed nipples with drain tubes on and filled the main reservoir to let the system gravity feed. I waited patiently but nothing seemed to happen.

I had also lowered the rear of the chassis so that the master cylinder was angled upwards to avoid the dreaded airlock in the back of this old CB type master cylinder.

Then I eventually started to see the brake fluid coming out the rear right cylinder which was a relief. But I also started to see leaks at many of the joints. Most of them were not properly tight so once I had done that they stopped leaking. Fast forward a few weeks and there was another problem that I found.

The original brake master cylinder that I had had restored at great cost, was leaking. It is a later Series 2 CB type and not an original Series 1 type. These old CB type cylinders are notoriously difficult to bleed, because they get an airlock that forms in the back of the cylinder. So I decided to replace it with a newer CV type. This is an aftermarket product that I immediately had re-sleeved with a stainless steel sleeve before fitting to make sure that I would have a reliable and trouble free master cylinder.

Fitting New Wheels

Next up was fitting the propshafts. These are the original ones that I had reconditioned and they have come out very nicely. Normally it is so tedious fitting the propshafts and having to tighten the bolts. But with the vehicle on axle stands with no body on makes it much easier.

I still had to fill the diffs with oil as I had not done this since reassembling the axles. This was also easier to do than normal without the bumper on the front and the body on the back. The front was no problem but the back was another surprise. There was a small leak ot the bottom casing but I decided to leave that leak for another day and rather keep going to get this Landy rolling.

And so I got to fitting the new wheels. Earlier in the week I had fitted the General SAG radial 7.50×16 tyres with tubes onto my already painted rims. Getting new rubber is one of the coolest things about owning a car and fitting the tyres is one of the coolest things about a restoration. I had left this to the last minute until I really needed them and enjoyed every minute of fitting them and dropping the jack to let the landy stand on its own.

Finally everything was done and the moment had come to take this Landy on a drive. It is always a combination of excitement of nerves at this point. Excited if it works but nervous about what will go wrong.

The First Drive is the Most Exciting Day of a Restoration

After the last two smoky black exhaust starts I had changed the carburettor from the cheap Zennith copy to a brand new Webber. The difference was remarkable as the engine started up easily and ran perfectly with no black smoke at all. Amazing what a good quality carburettor will do.

And then I was off.

It was fantastic driving this vehicle that I had worked on for so long. Everything seemed to work as it should which was a huge relief. I even had brakes, not the best but a good start.  

We just took a short drive and when we got back another check of everything revealed all was in still in order. There was just one noisy tappet so I will have to reset those to see if that will sort it out.

Seeing this landy out of the garage in the sunlight for the first time was very satisfying and definitely the most exciting day of a restoration that has taken years. I marvelled at the idea of rebuilding this from scratch. I could get a little glimpse of what the finished product was going to look like. And start to think about what it was going to be like having this vehicle on the road and driving it when I wanted to.

You can watch the full video here on my channel The Overland Legend

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