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Rooftents, rear-diffs, drop-arms and Drag racers

October 28th, 2009

What a couple of weeks it has been. Starting at 9am, finishing at 10 or 11pm at night.

As anyone who has ever worked with Tom before will testify, we have never worked this long or this hard before. It’s no longer a full-time job preparing the car, its way more involved than that.

Work has continued on the car non-stop, with use of a friend of Carl’s workshop proving invaluable. The workshops location in Guildford has also allowed Tom and Carl to really get to know the M25, which we can confirm is a most enjoyable marvel of modern motorway construction and didn’t hold us up once. In fact, it held us up almost every day. The overhead signs informing us not to drive and drive as we were driving there at 8am were particularly useful and a good idea we both agreed.

That aside, we have now reached a point with the car that a few weeks ago seemed an almost impossible dream; she is almost finished. A few finishing touches are needed, but the mechanical side of the prep is tantalisingly close to conclusion.

This has been achieved with the help of a couple of manic mechanics, namely Dave Wilson and Andy Wright. In truth, these two are actually engineers and racers rather than garage mechs.

Both run cars at European Drag Racing events, both cars are totally bespoke and both boast over 2,500HP each. With top speeds of over 250mph easily within reach of Dave and Andy’s race cars, the boys were dreaming of an injection of pace this week.

Andy at the weekends:

BA racing

Thankfully, dissuaded from the folly of trying to improve the Landys 0-60 time, effort was concentrated on finishing off all the major mechanical jobs.

Andy essentially rebuilt the front end of the engine through replacing the timing belt cover, resealing all front gaskets, replacing the water pump, fan belt tensioner and re-milling the thermostat housing on the lathe.

Meanwhile, Dave got hold the standard roof rack the boys had bought and began to chop, grind, hammer and weld. The biggest issue with the rack and rooftent stems from the tents dimensions; it over hangs the sides thus offering it little or no protection from side-swipes if we misjudge a path through the wilderness.

To combat this, Dave widened the rack to afford the tent some protection, whilst also raising the sides to allow for a much more useable cage on the front roof rack section for our sand-ladders, land anchor and assorted kit as well as mounting points for our big ol’ additional lights.

The mount for the land anchor itself is ingenious, as is the rest of the rack, which is now built to tackle anything the boys can think to throw at it.

For a taster of some of the terrain that the boys will face, we recently went to Land Rover Experience at Eastnor Castle where we were taught how to use our winch and land anchor.  The pictures below demonstrate a little of what your average Land Rover is capable of.



Andy continued to come up with all the answers to our mech problems, as he re-tapped the sump plug, helicoiled one of the hub member threads, fitted the Kenlowe fan and helped dismantle the whole front steering setup to name a few jobs.

This done, Andy and the boys replaced all the old rubber bushings with Polybush bushings, to improve ride quality and handling. Ricky Packham, another member of the title winning Top Methanol Drag Racing team ( also travelled down to help out this week, to aid the replacement of the hub swivel bearings, which allow for smooth steering movement. Unfortunately, Rick’s transport choice for this journey – the legendary Vauxhall Combo – decided it did not like the M25 (or any road for that matter) so promptly gave up the ghost. This lead Rick needing to call a friend to travel down in Rick’s recovery truck so he could be Rick-overed… The first day Rick helped us it poured with rain as he slaved away all day on Toms drive changing shocks and springs, then on the second day he helped us the Combo died. A measure of the man, it hasn’t dissuaded him though and he is still willing whenever we call. Thanks mate.

Rick works away in the rain:



Hub swivel bearings required the entire removal of the wheels, brake calipers, disc brakes, hub assembly, half shafts, CV joints, draining all the oil and liquid grease and finally the removal of the hub assembly itself. In itself, not a complex job, but an arduous and awkward one.

By this time, Dave had almost finished the roof rack, which is now unrecognisable from the flimsy metal skeleton we left him with. It really is a stunning construction, tailored exactly to our needs. Most weekends Dave is travelling down the Santa Pod 1/4mile at 270mph, and then on his weekend off we was clambering over our Land Rover fixing items left right and centre. Excuse the pun, but the man’s drive is just amazing.

To say we are grateful to Dave, Andy and Ricky is an understatement. Watching them work, learning how to avoid making the same silly mistakes that we have been doing and then how to fix those problems when they do arise, has been just brilliant. Additionally the use of the workshop that can fit the Landy in, thus enabling us to work under lights until late at night has been a God-send.


The rack now complete, the boys were able to attach the rooftent. Again, it looks stunning; a hell of a lot bigger than we thought it would look with the awning out. Carl fashioned new fixings to sort out the aluminium ladder, as it flexed to the point of breaking without additional supports. Tom mounted the awning and the Hella lights, so that the ol’ bus now looks like she means business.


The final mention for help this week goes to George from Antares, who helped us out in his own time with our dual-battery system and assorted electrical problems. Having given up most of his Sunday to help two muppets with no idea of electronics, George tackled the big issues and soon had us set up with most of the system. Another day will be required to finish it off, but the power management system is in place and just needs testing.

So, the ‘Done’ list now almost outweighs the ‘To Be Done’ list for the first time. The interior space and living arrangements are now the priority, with a new departure deadline currently being chosen. End of November seems most likely, a lot later than we originally intended, but in truth that was youthfull naivity on our part thinking we could essentially rebuild our car, organise all the necessary paperwork and arrange all the kit we would need in the space of 3months whilst working full-time at the same time!

Huge thanks go to Andy, Dave, Ricky and George and also to Mr and Mrs James and Mr and Mrs Picton, who have had to cope with the pair of us disappearing for most of the week only to appear with urgent requests for mugs of tea and plates of anything hot and suitably calorific.

  • Riders Retreat - mountain bike holidays in Morzine
  • Land Rover Experience
  • Watling Tyres
  • Draper Tools
  • Brit Part
  • hel
  • Koni
  • aalx designs
  • Bradt Travel Guids
  • Map Vivo
  • Antares - engineering with answers
  • EBC Brakes
  • Sentry Safes
  • Twisted Performance
  • X Eng
  • challenger 4x4
  • Goodwinch
  • K and N
  • Kenlowe
  • Waeco
  • Polybush
  • MM 4x4 Land Rover
  • Keith Gott
  • comma
  • Stigs stainless fastners
  • Tracmat
  • Alli Sport
  • BOSCH - invendted for life
  • Allparts - number 1 in car parts
  • Proppa
  • Goodyear 4x4
  • Aaron Radiator
  • Sign a rama
  • better Prepared
  • Devon 4x4
  • foley specialist vehicles
  • Labcraft LED lighting
  • Mammouth Premium
  • Plastor
  • Exmoor Trim
  • Terrafirma
  • sound reduction systems
  • aquarius
  • Master Lock
  • P and O Ferries
  • Dixon Bate
  • hibiscus
  • Ring Automotive
  • Roverland