Run by Martin Port
Owned since May 2013
Total mileage 49,487
Miles since July report 2675
Latest costs £12.99
Stunning evening sky as team C&SC checks in at the Portsmouth ferry. Inset: post-race calm with Port and his Landie atop the banking overlooking the Porsche Curves.
DIZZY GRINDS TO A HALT – AGAIN!
With the hub bearing failure a distant memory, it was inevitable that something else would crop up. First was a small stutter that was most noticeable at low revs. A few minutes adjusting the valve clearances sorted that and I took the opportunity to check the compression. With readings all around the 117-125psi mark, I was happy (considering it’s an old, well-used engine), and any concerns of imminent major failure were allayed.
Then came a request from Oxford Scientific Films to use my Land-Rover for a scene that it wanted to shoot for a natural history programme. The director is a regular reader of C&SC and thought that my IIA might be suitable.
Conveniently, the filming was to take place a stone’s throw from the office at Shepperton Studios. So, on a lovely early summer evening, I watched while the riggers assembled what looked like a corner of the Forth Bridge on my front wing, upon which sat a camera worth far more than my IIA. With Pixel the dog in the passenger seat, we did several runs up and down a quiet leafy track in order to get the ultrahigh- def slow-mo shot that they needed. With the sun dipping behind the trees, “It’s a wrap” was called triumphantly and I disappeared back down the M3.
Slightly more nerve-wracking was the annual MoT test. I spent a couple of hours prepping the IIA and was duly rewarded with a pass without advisories. Given my attempts to work more often from home, I was surprised to see that the Landie had still clocked up another 12,500 miles in the past 12 months.
It would then go wrong, as the gearbox began to make odd noises when lifting off the accelerator pedal. In the course of trying to diagnose what, I presumed, was play in the main shaft, I removed the Fairey overdrive, refitted the standard gear and bearing housing and all the noises and play disappeared!
The lock washer had broken up and I found the tabs sitting in the clutch sleeve, but there is a lot of play in the main gear shaft that I suspect is to blame. It will have to stay on the workbench for now until I can undertake the intended rebuild.
Frustratingly, that meant I would once again be heading down to Le Mans for the Classic without overdrive. With a few days to go, in fact, a further misfire came to the fore and, when I removed the distributor cap, I found that yet another 25D body had ‘eaten itself’. Like the last unit, the bob-weights were chomping their way into the casing, causing all sorts of rough running.
It serves me right for fitting a cheap remake I guess, so I dug out an original 45D with the correct advance curve for a Series Land-Rover. The electronic ignition module from the 25D wouldn’t fit, so I popped in a set of points and condenser and it ran just fine – until the following morning, when it refused to go above 10mph. With just hours left before catching the ferry to Caen, I noticed that the distributor cap was faulty – one of the internal contacts had broken loose and so I limped it over to see Will de la Riviere at Beech Hill Garage.
The 45D was a common fitment on later MGBs, so I knew that he would have spares of the required quality. After an hour on the forecourt overhauling the system and once again timing the set-up by ear – with a confirming nod from fellow Landie owner John Alexander – I was back on the road.
In a moment of madness for this Le Mans Classic, I left all of the weather gear at home in a bid to travel light – even ditching the tent in favour of a bivouac-style bedroll.
I’m glad that I did, too – the weather was glorious and, with empty French back roads and just a windscreen for protection, it felt as if I was driving the IIA as much like a sports car as it would allow. Smiles aplenty and, after a stunning few days awash with classics on and off the track, the only dampener was a faulty ferry on the return trip, which meant that I was very nearly the last vehicle allowed on.
“No more 4x4s – too big!” said the nice French lady in charge of loading. So I folded the windscreen to lower its profile, smiled hopefully and, much to my surprise, she waved me on and I reversed into the last available space out on the open ferry deck. Several hours later, I was, as a result, first off in Portsmouth and hitting Winchester before the other chaps had been unloaded. Even a few spots of rain couldn’t ruin the buzz from the weekend and, by midnight, I was crawling into bed, but not before I’d given the Land-Rover an appreciative pat on the wing for being a faithful companion once more!
45D and points replaced electronic 25D.
Pixel the dog in Landie for filming duties.
Last man on; others weren’t quite so lucky.
Lock washer tabs found in clutch sleeve.