Land Rover Restoration Blues

Land Rover restoration is not for the weak. You have to be prepared for those deep dark blue days. On one random Saturday afternoon I had a moment.

So today I came to start working on this restoration after finishing everything on the radiator. Yesterday I put everything together and finally got a cap, put that on and tightened up all the pipes. But when I close the bonnet I see the radiator cap touches on the bonnet. &%#$@!

This was after I’d taken the radiator in and out about four times trying to fit it. Honestly I felt like giving up right there and then because these problems just seem to go on and on. Now I had to take the whole thing apart and redo it and lower the radiator so that it fitted.

Anyway I decided to leave that for a while and do something else. So I had a look at sorting out the fuel system with a correct accelerator linkage and restoring the fuel tank

Restoration Problems

This was another set of problems one after another after almost 5 years of this Land Rover restoration. When doing a rebuild you need to anticipate having problems. But when you include an engine conversion on top of a rebuild you need to multiply those problems by a factor of a 100. And that is exactly  what I was dealing with. So much so that I made a special video just on how to convert a Series 1 from the 2L engine to the 21/4 engine with all the tips and tricks that I had learned. Let me know in the comments below if you found it useful or if you have any tips to share.

Series 1 Accelerator Linkage Modification

I consulted the manual to see what accelerator linkage I needed for the 2/14. I have the original accelerator linkage for this vehicle but it doesn’t work because the carburetor sits on the left hand side of the engine for the 21/4 and not the right hand side like on the original 2L engine.

So off I went to Liemers to find a used linkage system . That wasn’t too difficult and I came home with all of the necessary parts. After cleaning everything up I was ready to get it fitted. But that’s when I discovered the next problem. It took me a while to figure this out and the confusion was real. Even trying to explain it for my video I kept getting myself confused.

The more complicated part is the carburetor linkage which is different for Solex and Webber/Zennith carburetors. The bracket is the same but the “carburetor bell crank assembly” as it’s called in the manual is different. There are two types, one that pulls down and another that pulls up. You need to make sure that you have the right one for the carburetor type. The earlier Solex pulls up while the later Webber and Zennith pull down. 

Initially I had the earlier mechanism that pulled up but I needed the later one that pulled down for the Zenith carb. So I had to go and find the correct linkage with the spring operating in the opposite direction. I did find one and that solved the problem

Restoring a Series 1 Fuel Tank

The fuel tank looked in pretty good condition as it was protected sitting under the seatbox with the cab roof on. So I was quite optimistic to get it restored. When I removed the level sensor it was bent and the float was missing. I opened the top up and saw that it is a very simple device and everything looked good inside. So I cleaned it up and decided to give it a test. Using the actual fuel gauge and power from the battery the result was good. It seemed to accurately show empty and full. So I have decided to re-use it.

I cleaned the petrol tank on the outside with a metal brush to remove all the rust and then cleaned the inside with a sand and soapy water mixture. The inside didn’t look too bad with just a little bit of surface rust and no visible damage. So I cleaned and dried everything and then painted the outside with a primer and quick dry enamel topcoat. Then I refitted it.

At this point I realised that I had not tested it for leaks. I briefly thought I’d just leave it and take a chance. But luckily I was sensible enough to remove it and test for leaks because there were some leaks. So I took it off to a radiator shop to repair the leaks and recoat the inside of the tank. They did an ok job fixing it but unfortunately changed the base plate which made refitting it a bit more difficult. But in the end I got it back in and everything seems fine or at least I hope it is all fine.

Making up New Fuel Lines

The last piece of the fuel system was to make up some new fuel lines. I had sourced all of the fittings so I just had to refit them to some new plastic tubing which I had. Using a heat gun I managed to soften the plastic enough to get the metal fittings on and then once it cooled there was a solid tight fit.

Solving the Radiator Problem

For some reason I didn’t use the radiator cap initially. I was too busy looking at the height on the carburetor and didn’t focus on the radiator. Thinking that it would be fine but it turned out to be too high. I must take this whole thing apart and redo this and lower the radiator so that it fits.

Instead of bending the original radiator panel to fit the Series 3 radiator, I had decided to use 3 brackets to make the two fit. They consisted of two angles for the sides which fitted fine and a flat piece for the top. It was the flat piece for the top that was the problem because the radiator mounting points could not sit flush with the front panel. This is the most obvious way to fit it. But with hindsight it is obviously not correct because the tip of the radiator then sits above the front panel which is clearly going to be a problem.

So the solution was to fit a 25mm square tube as a spacer to lower the radiator by 25mm. This also improved the position of the radiator as the fan now sat more towards the middle.

In the end it was a waste of time, but wasn’t such a big problem to fix. And it was a big relief when everything finally fitted. The bonnet now closes and everything clears comfortably. Land Rover restoration is an up and down process with events of agony and ecstasy. If you keep going and don’t give up you will eventually reap the rewards.

Watch the full video below on my Land Rover Series 1 Restoration at my Youtube channel @theoverlandlegend

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