Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Real Desert Truck.

You may spot that this is not a Jeep and has no tangible links with a Jeep, but it is a true desert truck, so there’s the link. This is my pal Mohammed. Mohammed, with his pal Sulliman, cooks for us in Germa, Libya, where I shall be for January. Germa is a dusty little breeze block shithole in the middle of bumfucknowhere about 700 miles south of Tripoli. Mohammed has had his Datsun pick up for at least ten years to my knowledge and it’s always looked exactly like this. He did point out, with great pride, that he had bought a NEW brake master cylinder recently and for the first time in a few years revelled in having brakes. They have a sort of M.O.T. type test in Libya, but they only test the lights and do it every two years. To get round this most Libyans in the desert towns share a set of lights to be fitted for the test, then removed and passed on for someone else. One headlight and one rear light is, obviously, quite enough for any car.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

All the bits.

A visit to the Overland Preparation Barn in Matlock yesterday confirmed that we now have virtually all the bits required to build a 1943 Jeep. All that is needed is some warmer weather and a bit of time. The chassis is fine, but all the hub oil seals will be replaced and all the brake pipes. The new spring shackles are now done! the body tub is welded and spot on. In the numerous boxes are all the rather prosaic bits and sitting on a pallet is the new engine. Well. Not new, new, but rebuilt by skilled French technicians (no laughing at the back) about 20 years ago. Graham, at Jeeparts, checked it over and confirmed it appeared to be ‘a good one’ and was ‘20 thou over’. The whole project is now 2 thou over, but I’m sure the end result will be worth it.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Roman Way.

The time had come for another big spend over at Jeeparts, so I fitted the roof to the old one and set off on a 200 mile round trip to get an engine, plus some other stuff. It would be the furthest I had been in it since visiting the Combo’s in Italy three years ago. I opted for Roman Roads all the way to Shrewsbury, taking the Fosse Way down to Hinckley, then Watling Street the rest of the way. The Romans didn’t piss about. They wanted good road links at any expense. Anyone gets in the way, throw them to the Lions. And here we are today, still using their road network. I had forgotten what a thrill it is to drive my 59 year old Land Rover. A delicate balance of gear changing, brake pumping and vague steering. Having to get a move on to catch Matt at the Overland Preparation Barn, before he went home, I found I had to spread the gate of my feet to maintain balance through the lovely bends between Utoxeter and Matlock. I felt very much like Mr Toad at the wheel. Great fun! I made it and deposited a new engine and various other bits for the next instalment.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

My Aunt's Jeep

I went up to Matlock yesterday and did a tour of inspection. The completed body tub is standing to attention on it’s rear panel in a corner of the workshop and the rolling chassis is being wheeled in and out to make way for real work. Hopefully, before Christmas, we shall formulate a second list of parts for me to collect, no, buy, from Jeeparts UK. It will include a new engine. Gulp! Meanwhile I found this lovely picture of my Aunt Rosemary taken, probably, at the end of the war. She was a bit of a James Bond in her day and talks little of what she actually did in the war to this day. It was all a secret. However, she has clearly wooed a couple of chaps to change a wheel here, whilst her and an officer watch on. I shall email her and ask if she can remember any other details. She would not, for one moment, have been interested in the Jeeps, or the fact that the one at the front has a trailer in tow, but you never know, she may just say that the officer lives down the road and still has the Jeep covered in dust in his shed.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Light me up Giulio.

Sorry for the gap in transmissions Peter, but truth be told, there hasn’t been a lot of activity to report on. The boys in Matlock have had a ‘real’ job come in and that had to take priority. I did have a very encouraging picture emailed to me from none other than Ron Combo, in Italy. Ron has a good pal, Giulio, a singer of note and enthusiastic dancer any time after midnight. The picture shows Giulio, first opening the tenth bottle of wine that evening and secondly, livening up a quiet village main street near where they live. I can’t imagine why the other villager's didn’t come out and join in. They must have heard the music roaring out of the Jag. And it was Giulio on the tape. Great voice! Anyway, Giulio has a yard and in that yard is an old trailer with two Jeep rear lights. My aim is to ask Ron to persuade Giulio to remove them and bring them over to Blighty when they come over to see the Italy v Wales 6 Nations Rugby match next February. If it all works out I shall buy Giulio a pint in Cardiff, if they have beer there. It may be a Sunday. I’ll have to check. I’m worried now. Maybe he’ll settle for a lamb chop.

Monday, 29 October 2007

A Lick of Paint

With the first coat of paint now on, the great thrill is to actually tick things off the list as finished! With the body tub welded and repainted, Matt and the chaps are moving on to the chassis. There are a few, small, welding jobs to do, then the fitting of all new brake pipes and fittings. The brakes it came with, were judged to be serviceable anyway and some parts even look new. My role has been minimal, but I fear I shall be doing what I do best, and heading back to Jeeparts, with another shopping list before too long.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Nice new floor.

Piece by piece it’s taking shape. The rusty old floor is in the skip and this lovely new one is now in place, Matt went to great lengths to point out that it would be far better to get the whole tub sand blasted and weld to bare metal, but I wanted to retain the patina of old paint underneath the new paint I shall apply next Spring. Therefore, it was out with the grinder to clean up the metal for welding. With the new floor now in, the body is not far off being complete and the next task is to get the chassis and all it’s components up to scratch before refitting the body.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Measure twice, cut once.

The Matt Savage team have now started work and removed the old, rusty, floor section. I went back to Jeeparts and lashed out a fortune on a whole Land Rover full of bits. The biggest bit was a new floor panel. This should fit in perfectly once the chaps have hacked out the original 1943 spot welds and tidied up the edge of the floor.

They found a few little wasp nests around the vehicle. These are genuine Californian wasps and one or two were sort of flying about and about 3/4 of an inch long. Hope this sort spell of warm weather we're having doesn't wake them all up! ahhhhh

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Biting the bullet.

Last Friday I met up with, co-conspirator, John Carroll, at Jeeparts in Shrewsbury, http://www.jeeparts.co.uk We had a long chat with Graham and Amanda, who run the business out of a very tidy, newish, warehouse on Atcham Business Park outside Shrewsbury. John has a similar pile of rust to mine and we plan to use them as a pair on a daft mission in the future.

Graham showed us around shelves stacked high with new parts. There was enough stuff to build a brand new Jeep from scratch! Chassis’s from the Philippines rubbed shoulders with original big end shells packed during the war in Ford’s huge US plant by Chuck, or Hank, neither of these knowing that one day their carefully labelled packs would be on a shelf with pistons from ‘The Piston Company’ of Coventry, where 50 odd years ago a Reggie or Len would have been packing pistons in their part in the global fight against fascism. This was living history.

Anyway. We sorted out a list of parts that will require the equivalent of a Third World Debt to pay for, and departed into the autumn light of Shropshire. John on his Harley and me in my Skoda, to contemplate the next move.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

The ghastly truth

Sometimes it’s best to get these things straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. So here, in it’s entirety, is the latest email from Matt at the Overland Preparation Barn, up in Matlock:

Barry and I took the body off yesterday and had a look at everything. Barry is quite keen that you get a new body, but I think, for what you want to do with it, repairing the existing body will be fine. Although this is going to cost a bit of time and it'll still look shabby! The strengthening cross members have all rotted away. And (as we know) the floor needs a long plate on going from one side to the other. The bit under the fuel tank has been bodged up with wire mesh and filler. It looks horrible, and a nice metal bit would be better (as it is susceptible to being hit, off road), but I think if you want this to be metal then it would be easier to simply get a new body.
Now the chassis is in great condition, although it has been hit on the front RH side and on the rear RH side. And it looks like the rear axle has been pushed (in an accident) to the left hand side. But these little inaccuracies are very easily straightened (by Barry!) There is only one little crack on theLH front hander (that we saw when you dropped it off) that need repairing.
The springs look rusty, but I think they are ok really. All the shocks are ok. There is a little play is one of the king pins, but itmight be possible to adjust this. All the wheel bearings/hubs are packed with nice NEW blue grease! It could do with four new hub oil seals, and one (well two really) of the stub axles have a VERY big groove in it where the seal seals against.This is on the rear axle and I think the stub axle is part of the whole axle assembly, so I suggest we fit a speedi-sleeve to these (about £45 each).
The wheel cylinders and the shoes all look kind of new, so I think we'll simply clean them up and put them back together. The master cylinder looks old, so I think a new one of them would be a good idea. Also a set of (four) brake hoses.
Oh, and I guess there is some sort of bush that the brake pedal pivots on, this has worn as well, so we need a new one.
And, the steering box is knackered!
On the chassis there is part of a stamp that says "F", it's not possible to read the rest,looks like the beginning of Ford?!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Flaming Jeep!

This in from the Matt Savage Overland Prearation Barn: On Saturday (1st Sept) young Ted (aged 10) and I thought we'd try to get the Jeep running. With battery, jump leads, HT leads and a load of wire to coil and distributor... we got a spark!! Then had to find number one lead on distributor, pretty easy. After that I tried squirting petrol down the carb and operating the starter motor, it kind of tried to do something. But the squirting petrol whilst holding lots of wires and operating the throttle is pretty tricky. So I filled the carb with petrol (the carb body leaks fuel inside and out a little), then tried cranking again. Still it was almost trying to start, but not quite. All this with wires and crocodile clips falling off and coming loose! Anyway, we eventually got one battery for the ignition and one for the starter motor, this worked well. So we filled the carburettor up with fuel, and whilst operating the starter and throttle I also squirted some brake cleaner (very flammable!) down the carb.... nearly there, the odd splutter and a few backfires coming through the carb. Then another go with the same set up, leaking carb full of fuel, wires, crocodile clips, loose throttle linage and squirting brake cleaner down carb.... nnnnnn (ok) nenenene (yes!) nin eee nin eee nin eee (yes, yes, go on!).......... WOOF! (err, no... ahhhhh)  a little back fire came through the carb a ignited the leaking petrol in/on the carb!! After 5 seconds of panicking I soon put it out by smothering the carb with a rag.
No damage done!

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Collecting the Jeep

I have always had an unhealthy fascination with 4x4 vehicles. I bought my first Land Rover aged 19, a 1948 model, which I still have today, in good running order. A 1970 Carawagon followed 10 years ago which, in extensively modified form, I have travelled North Africa in. Now it is time to get the granddaddy of them all. A war time Jeep. Mousing around on ebay and millweb I soon realised they were pretty expensive and that unrestored examples were rare. Particular war time ones. Despite manufacturing half a million, most seem to have either been blown up, or destroyed by nature over the last 60 years. As a last resort I tried some old Landy contacts, AMD Four Wheel Drive, here in Leicestershire. They had one that suited my needs perfectly at a reasonable £3500. It didn't run and had been imported from sunny California. A deal was struck and I collected it from the barn of the 'A' in AMD' who expressed a strong desire for his photo not to appear on any web site. So that's him looking like George Clooney! I then trailered the Jeep up to Matt's place in Matlock, where we gave it a good look over and planned a restoration. Follow it on this blog over the coming months and if you happen to have a set of original wheels I would be VERY happy to hear from you. Likewise any other hints and tips. many thanks. Toby