Restor­ing Army Gary

The R6 restora­tion pro­ject

Land Rover AFRICA Magazine - - CONTENTS - Craig Rocher

Craig Rocher’s Se­ries III R6 picked up some se­ri­ous bat­tle wounds dur­ing its ser­vice in the mil­i­tary. But an ex­ten­sive re­build later, the Se­ries III looks ready for war once again.

Landy nut Craig Rocher, a char­tered ac­coun­tant from Cen­tu­rion has made the restora­tion of a clas­sic 1981 R6 Se­ries III Land Rover his spe­cial pro­ject. Bought from the pre­vi­ous owner for R65 000, the re­tired mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle has had more than R130 000 work done to it. We look at Craig’s de­tailed five-month restora­tion, which has re­sulted in one heck of a ma­chine.

On 22 July 1981, a beige 109 Land Rover Se­ries III R6 sta­tion wagon rolled off the pro­duc­tion line at the fac­tory in Black­heath, Cape Town. Fit­ted with con­voy lights, an army tow bar and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion code, it was sent to the South African National De­fence Force’s (SANDF) re­cov­ery point to com­mence its mil­i­tary ser­vice. The cur­rent owner of this ve­hi­cle, Craig Rocher, has done his re­search on the his­tory and rich mil­i­tary back­ground of his beloved Se­ries III. “When the South African Bor­der War ended in 1989, the army’s stock of Land Rovers was bought up by Landy en­thu­si­asts round the coun­try. This par­tic­u­lar model was pur­chased by Leimers Land Rovers to fix up and sell for profit,” Craig says. At that stage, the shorter (88-inch) wheel­base Land Rovers sold faster than the long wheel­base mod­els, and it was de­cided to trans­form this sta­tion wagon into a short wheel­base model – nearly 54 cen­time­tres had to be re­moved.

From the ground up

The Se­ries III went un­der the knife, and the ex­cess was re­moved be­tween the cab and the load bay, leav­ing the long wheel­base over­hang­ing where the petrol tank was lo­cated. The chas­sis was also cut and neatly welded back to­gether. “What makes this Landy so unique is that the R6 was never man­u­fac­tured as a short wheel­base model,” he said. Years later, it was de­cided to start the restora­tion process, but this Landy wasn’t in very good shape. Apart from the orig­i­nal paint fad­ing over the years, there was cor­ro­sion cov­er­ing most of the body panels and a badly rusted fire wall. They be­gan by re­mov­ing the body panels and strip­ping the en­tire ve­hi­cle down to the rolling chas­sis. The body panels were re­paired and the dents metic­u­lously re­moved. Good sec­ond hand panels were ob­tained where the panels could not be re­paired. A new roof was sourced in or­der to con­vert the sta­tion wagon into a sin­gle cab bakkie with a fixed roof. The en­tire Landy (ex­cept for the pieces that were orig­i­nally gal­vanised) was re­sprayed Rover Al­mond Green, one of the stan­dard Land Rover colours of the era. While the orig­i­nal parts of the body that were gal­vanised were still in mint con­di­tions, there were spots of the gal­vanis­ing that had started to rust. Th­ese spots were treated with a spe­cial gal­vanis­ing paint. It was de­cided not to re-gal­vanise the rear flap (which has faded over the years) as it added char­ac­ter to the Landy. The chas­sis, the load bay be­hind the cab and the in­side of the engine com­part­ment re­ceived an anti-rust coat­ing wher­ever traces of sur­face rust was found. “When I ini­tially bought the Landy, one of the pre­vi­ous own­ers re­placed the stan­dard R6 engine with an­other engine,” says Craig.

Engine over­haul

In keep­ing with the orig­i­nal theme, an orig­i­nal R6 engine was sourced and the non-stan­dard engine was re­placed. The new mo­tor was stripped down and many of the older parts were re­placed and ser­viced. The re­build of the engine was done over a pe­riod of seven months to al­low time for the parts to be or­dered. At the time of the ar­ti­cle, the newly re­built engine has done about 1 000 kilo­me­tres.

The fol­low­ing parts were re­placed on the engine: oil pump, wa­ter pump, push rod seals, valves, valve springs, pis­tons, rings, all gas­kets, oil cooler hoses, fan belt, speedome­ter ca­ble, HT leads, coil and spark plugs. The head was also prop­erly cleaned and over­hauled. When the engine was stripped, the empty engine block was cleaned to en­sure that the newly built engine started with a solid clean base. The twin SU car­bu­ret­tors were also cleaned and com­pletely ser­viced. The orig­i­nal San­tana 4-speed gear­box with syn­cros was fit­ted for easy gear changes, “al­though you still have to search for the gears once in neu­tral. Th­ese gear­boxes were known for their strength and longevity”, adds Craig. Ac­cord­ing to Craig, the trans­fer case and gear­box were still in very good con­di­tion and were re­in­stalled into the Landy. The front and rear dif­fer­en­tial were also in­spected, cleaned and over­hauled. The prop shafts were re­bal­anced, greased and fit­ted. New oils were added to the drive train to en­sure that the run­ning gear was op­er­at­ing as smoothly as pos­si­ble. Craig en­sured that the low range and four­wheel-drive func­tion was work­ing prop­erly. A new stain­less steel, free flow ex­haust was fit­ted to­gether with braded flex­i­ble joints. The ex­haust man­i­fold was re­in­forced as th­ese were no­to­ri­ous for crack­ing and break­ing off. “The new ex­haust lets you hear the growl of that straight 6.” In the mil­i­tary, the R6, cer­ti­fied to carry up to a one-ton load, were the work­horses that car­ried troops or towed a wa­ter tank or can­non. Be­cause of the stren­u­ous work­ing con­di­tion, th­ese Landies were fit­ted with heavy duty clutches. When the clutch was re­placed dur­ing the restora­tion process, the same heavy duty clutch was sourced and fit­ted to­gether with a brand new thrust bear­ing, clutch mas­ter and slave cylin­ders. The sus­pen­sion, steer­ing bushes, leaf springs, brake lines, brake hoses, brake drums and brake pads were all re­placed with brand new parts. The steer­ing box was also over­hauled to en­sure that there were no leaks and was op­er­at­ing as it should. The R6 was no­to­ri­ous for hav­ing ma­jor over­heat­ing is­sues and the ra­di­a­tor was over­hauled. The stan­dard rub­ber ra­di­a­tor hoses were re­placed with heavy duty high pres­sure sil­i­cone hoses. A new ther­mo­stat and stronger vis­cous fan were fit­ted to en­sure the cool­ing sys­tem was in tip-top shape. An­other unique fea­ture of the R6 is that it was fit­ted with an oil cooler that was off­set to the right hand side of the Landy, un­derneath the ra­di­a­tor. New oil cooler pipes were fit­ted be­tween the oil cooler and the engine. A stain­less steel replica of the petrol tank was made and fit­ted to­gether with a new petrol level sender unit. This means that the bat­tle with dirty fuel is fi­nally over. In-line fuel fil­ters were also in­stalled. New light fit­tings were in­stalled to­gether with new wiring. The con­voy lights were orig­i­nally gal­vanised so the lights were stripped down to the gal­vanis­ing and rewired. New door rub­bers and win­dow slide rub­bers were fit­ted. The fixed glass win­dows were fit­ted with new glass in­clud­ing the orig­i­nal lam­i­na­tion film. New slid­ing win­dows were made and fit­ted. Small gal­vanised catches were made for the slid­ing win­dows so that they could be eas­ily opened and closed. To en­sure that all the vi­tals of the engine were op­er­at­ing cor­rectly, new gauges were fit­ted. An oil pres­sure, tem­per­a­ture and volt gauge was fit­ted, in­clud­ing new wires. The back lights of th­ese gauges were wired to the in­de­pen­dent dash light switch. The volt gauge was wired in such a way to warn the driver when the al­ter­na­tor was not charg­ing; this is a pos­si­ble in­di­ca­tion of the fan belt snap­ping. The rims were re­sprayed white and new tyres were fit­ted. The stan­dard size tyre (7.5/16) was sourced and fit­ted to the Landy. The seats were re­uphol­stered and the seat brack­ets were cus­tomised so that both the left and right front seats could be re­moved, al­low­ing ac­cess to the com­part­ments un­der th­ese seats, as well as easy ac­cess to the bat­tery. Aux­il­iary 12-volt power sock­ets were in­stalled in the cen­tre con­sole be­tween the two seats. The Land Rover badge on the back of the Landy was stripped down and re­sprayed and then lightly sanded so that the let­ters looked orig­i­nal.

AF­TER

BE­FORE

Seats were cus­tomised to be made re­mov­able.

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