The Fairwater Collection !

An MGBGTV8 Sebring and some interesting Land Rover conversions.
Now, see also my professional site at: www.met-alchemy.com !

Lightweight Rebuild Frenzy

This lightweight of mine has seemingly been undergoing continual transformation since I built it up from a pile of bits in 2002.  Firstly it was built more or less as original, except for having the chassis, bulkhead, front panel etc. galvanised, and the installation of a 2.5 NAD Sherpa engine.  It had never been road registered since demobbing, but the id plates showed a nice early number and sure enough, enquiries with the Museum of Army Transport showed it to be a 1972 Series 3 vehicle.  Presentation of this proof to the Licencing Office led to a tax exempt registration being issued.

 

As first slung together, possibly even still with the diesel engine installed.

 

Well I must admit that the diesel lasted about two weeks before the noise and sluggishness got to me!  Out it came, to be replaced by a V8 from an SD1, as I had all the kit already there.  So much better this, although now I could hear the gearbox screaming its head off at me.  This was not noticeable over the diesel racket.  So the next thing was to get that gearbox out again and replaced by another spare one which was again, on the shelf.  This one proved to be good and relatively quiet.

 

                          As first put together, but with V8 and 255-85-16 tyres on Forward Control Rims.

                                 

 

My solution to the V8 versus bulkhead / footwell conflict!  Cut out the end of the footwell with a sabre saw, parallel to the outside of the chassis rail, and the A shaped bracket from the chassis to the bulkhead, and rebolt it in place set the two inches or so outwards.  The shape of the cut reflects the shape of the inside edge of the footwell, so that the two match up nicely when bolted in place.

                                         

 

See, on the cut out piece, you can see that the shape of the outer edge has been replicated by the cut line.

 

The manifold is the Range Rover 4 into 2 double down pipe manifold, which doesn't fit here unless you jack the engine over sideways just over an inch, by spacing out the engine mounting bracket from the engine itelf, and slotting the hole in the chassis engine mounting bracket on the other side.  (This is the later 4.2 installation).

   

We ran around like this for a couple of years before thoughts of upgrade came to mind.  The engine was showing signs of being tired and rumbly, and had leaking core plugs.  I had a 4.2 efi engine on the garage floor, with all its ancillaries, looking for a home.  I resolved then, to fit this for evaluation.  Of course, you can’t just throw it in and go, as efi’s need certain additions.  A high pressure fuel pump from a Range Rover was installed in the driver’s side underseat tank, new fuel lines fitted, and a speed transducer fitted in the speedo cable.  A bit of wiring up to get the ecu and relays alive, and an inertia cut off for the pump were then needed. 

 

Here is the 4.2 coming out from its former home in my previous LSE. It is a long story, why it came out, but it was thought that it was suffering from porous block syndrome.  I couldn't quite believe it, so it went into the Lightweight for further tests, after which it was discovered that it was just airlocks and two blocked injectors which had been "cleaned" by Lucas.  Now all is fine with it.  The LSE was sold with a 3.9 installed.  Useful crane on the 2B.  It makes the steering a bit hard though!

 

 

For this big engine, I needed to fit a bigger radiator, and had one from a 200tdi Defender specially for the job.  This is where things became complicated because fitting the rad, needed a new front panel to be fabricated, which I did, from Aluminium, and that tied in with another little project going on at the same time. 

 

Here is the 4.2 just before going in.  Oil pump base conversion already done as can be seen, with the oil cooler pipes.

 

 

I had bought a new set of wheels and tyres for my Series 2B FC, and those that came off, I resolved, would be fitted to the Lightweight.  These are 35”x12.50x15” Bfg AT’s on 15”x10” wheels.  They are pretty big and would not clear the light boxes on the Lightweight, and I had to fit bump stops spaced down a ½” to restrict upward movement and fouling of the arches.  I had to extend the front end by 5”, to move the light-boxes forwards, and at the same time, move the front panel forwards to provide much more clearance between the engine and new radiator.  This extension was achieved by fabricating new wing tops, as overlays, longer than the originals and incorporating a 5” wheel arch extension at the same time, to cover the extra width rubber.  These, I folded up from 2mm aluminium sheet.  Similar ones were made up for the rear arches too.  The front extension meant that the bonnet also needed lengthening by 5”.

 

Below is the new front panel with 200tdi rad, and twin oil coolers; one for the engine and one for the autobox which was a later addition.  The two fans are installed for back up purposes. Actually the electric one is more effective as it is close to the rad.  The viscous one is too far away and does not cool properly.  It could if it was fitted with ducting, but I am not sure about this yet.

 

 

Below, taken much later, you can see the 5" extension to the rear of the bonnet, and the extended wings with integral arches, among other things.  Heat vents in the bonnet which actually extract the hot air rather than try to let air in, which is what just having flush holes do.  Later fabricated exhaust, double downpipes carved up from a Range Rover system.  Etc.  You have to look pretty hard to notice that the vehicle is 5" longer than standard though, which is pleasing.

 

                         

 

That was about it really, and the transformation in the vehicle was great.  Handling was improved with the bigger and wider tyres and the performance was spirited. You could start off in third like you normally can in first. This is with the big tyres upping the gearing considerably too.

 

A change of image was in order.  It was no longer a very original military vehicle, and I was a bit fed up of the Rambo image.  I decided to change it from green and sand, to all over black satin as can be seen above.  I think it looks the part now actually.  Much more individual.

  

All that power going through a standard S3 gearbox was not ideal, and alternatives were under consideration.  A conversation with a resourceful friend and dealer of mine, led to the acquisition of a GM180 autobox from an SD1 Vitesse.  This had been fitted to a Series Land Rover transfer box, by Ashcroft, and had been fully rebuilt.  This, I was assured, would take all the power I could throw at it.  This box was not a direct swap, because although it would bolt up to the engine fine, with no adaptor, it was four inches longer than a standard box overall, so it needed modified mountings, modified shortened propshafts, an oil cooler circuit, kick down, a new exhaust because the original one would no longer fit in its normal route, modified and extended hand brake linkages and different hi-low gear operations, as the extension housing to the transfer box had been cut off and replaced by selectors and a hand lever which sticks out of the front of the seat box, giving direct hi-low change and 2-4 wheel drive selection on both at will.  Better than the original set up.

 

You can see the gate, minus its lever, below.

 

 

 

 

Here can be seen the front split propshaft.  This rear section is mounted on a centre bearing in a bracket on the bell housing.  The front prop goes from there, over the engine crossmember. Without this, the engine crossmember would have been in the way.

 

 

These are the two gearbox mounts modified from the originals.

 

 

In place, below, you can see the extended standard gearbox mounting bracket on this side, and the fitted up exhaust system with RR double headers.

 

 

 Headers, as first made.

 

Self made auto changer and gate.  Heater box mounted farther back to allow firstly, the water connections to be in the cab and easier to get at, and secondly to allow a tray to be installed above as in Ltwts there is no where to put anything down anywhere, and this tray is a bonus.

Hi - Lo, 2 and 4 wd lever to the right of the tunnel just in front of the centre seat.

 

 

Much swearing, crossing of fingers and suck it and seeing ensued; to get the gearbox into place and positioned ready for the mountings to be welded up.  It goes in with very minimal alteration to the tunnel, and with just enough room to drop off the hand brake drum in front of the centre cross member.  Prop shaft lengths were measured up and replacements made..

 

Things don’t end there though because in lining up the exhaust, I firstly decided to fit the Range Rover double downpipe exhaust manifolds, which, for a 4.2 engine, are far better, and this of course led to the engine needing to be jacked sideways by an inch on its mountings, to accommodate the passenger side one, which was fouling the chassis, and The front pipes for the system were then cut and welded up from a set of Range Rover front pipes, with some stainless extension pipe where necessary.  The front pipes were sprayed with cold galvanising spray for some protection.  Now each side has double downpipes leading into one, the driver’s side one crossing over to the passenger side, where they again come into one, into a 2¾” pipe.  This is flanged into a large centre Cherry Bomb, using a standard Range Rover centre box flange.  The tail pipe from this centre Cherry Bomb splits into two, each with a tail Cherry Bomb to either side.  The sound is amazing and you don’t need ICE with that V8 singing to you, giving maximum “Smiles Per Gallon”.  I have picked up recently, some resentment at the "boy racer" image of the cherry bomb.  There is a difference however.  The Saxo man, boy racer uses cherry bombs or their equivalent, to try to show they have an engine that they haven't.  The result is just a lot of noise.  V8 men however, use cherry bombs to show that they DO have the right engine, and to make it sound amazing.  That is the difference and I stand my ground!!

 

My originality when I first built the vehicle had extended to fitting original non servo’d 10” single cylinder brakes all round, and these were found to be rather scary in service with the manual gearbox, and would always only just pass the MOT despite being new.  With the autobox though, this problem was compounded, and the brakes were now nothing short of dangerous.  I had to stand on the pedal a hundred yards before wanting to stop from about 40mph.  This was due to the constant drive of the auto, and when engaging drive, at a stand, I had to again stand on the pedal to stop it moving.

 

Something had to be done!  I had already sourced a set of S2B FC brakes, for fitting, and so these were now pressed into service, together with a new LWB master cylinder and in line servo, with new wheel cylinders all round too.  While all the brakes were apart, I also took the opportunity to get the half-shafts out and change the diffs for Range Rover ones for the necessary extra gearing, and also to change all the oil seals and backing rings on the stub axles all round.

  

When I eventually had everything back together, I found that I had inadvertently fallen into a well known trap.  I went to put oil in the back diff, and however long I stared at the diff pan, an oil filler hole would not materialise!  I therefore had to drop the diff out again, cut a hole in the pan, and weld in a filler plug flange taken out of another scrap front axle.  An hour later, this annoyance over, and out on the road, at last I had brakes that really did work! 

 

Rebuilding the front axle.

 

2BFC brakes in place.

 

Rear axle under reconstruction.

 

I did have some teething problems with the autobox in needing to change an oil seal and in that the gear change modulation was not working properly. It was revving and not going anywhere very quickly.  This was solved after some experimentation, by the addition of an electric solenoid vacuum valve in line with the gear change modulator vacuum line, with a pin switch on the accelerator pedal such that when you press the pedal, the vacuum is vented, and this has resulted in far better torque transference in the drive and no slipping.  Strange one that.

 

I had already fitted a set of Chris Perfect’s Parabolic Springs, which with the addition of a bit of weight from the also recently fitted hard top, had made the ride far better, and indeed probably comparable with a coil sprung version, and are well recommended.  I would not recommend cheap parabolics though.  I originally fitted a set from one of the largest suppliers and these were harder than the original diesel springs which came off!  The ES3000 shocks they supplied were also far too stiff.  CP supply ES1000’s which are softer and more suitable for a short wheelbase vehicle.  CP provides two leaf rear springs, and in my experience, on a short wheelbase, you certainly do not require three leafers, like the ones "the large supplier" supplied.  It took me twelve months and Trading Standards, to get my money back from them.

 

Subsequent to this, military extended spring hangers were attached to the rear in order to gain some more clearance to the arches when under load.  This meant that the prop uj spindles were no longer parallel with each other, and were acting at about 2-3 degrees.  I returned this to within a half of a degree by dropping the gearbox at the rear, by spacing the crossmember down an inch, so angling it down.  This is to ensure premature uj wear does not take place due to the uneven accelerative forces generated in an out of parallel set up.  The front is not an issue, especially with the split front prop.   It would be an issue normally though, if extended ones were fitted to a standard set up, and camber shims under the springs are in order to normalise diff angle and camber.

 

Now with everything underneath painted in thick gloss black chassis paint, (Tetrosyl, part number TBL005), including axles, diffs, swivels, brakes, steering rods, propshafts etc. and a gearbox which doesn’t leak oil anymore, it looks as good as new and the drive has been completely transformed.  It is almost a vehicle of choice for its comfort.  Watch this space for further developments, including the possibility of a Defender 90 hard top and windscreen.

 

Why do all this?  Well you have to do something with your time don't you?