Se­ries 1 nos­tal­gia trip

NZ4WD - - Geoffzone -

I went trip­ping for a cou­ple of days re­cently with a bunch of the sim­plest 4WDs about. Their elec­tron­ics were lim­ited to ig­ni­tion coils. Yet, there we were, out past the black stump with a ve­hi­cle with no spark! Proof if ever it was needed, that elec­tron­ics fail­ure is no new phe­nom­e­non! The prob­lem was that the ob­vi­ously an­cient dis­trib­u­tor ro­tor was cracked so the sparks were tak­ing their own off-road short cut. Some­one took to it with a file and re­moved much of the car­bonised area but the crack re­mained a prob­lem. Some­one else was despatched to a dis­tant ve­hi­cle hav­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate spare and we were soon mo­bile again. Th­ese were Se­ries One ( S1) Land Rovers on a road and off-road trip in the Molesworth area. Two groups met at Han­mer of a pleas­ant au­tumn eve – a bunch from the North Is­land and some from Can­ter­bury. I was in­vited along. In my Land Rover. It’s a S1 Disco after all. They’d heard that one of course... Many read­ers will be aware that Landies were known by their wheel­base di­men­sion in inches. That of the first, from 1948, was 80 inches and the mo­tor 1600cc. I’m sure there’s an anachro­nism there some­where? 1954 saw the wheel­base ex­tended to 86” while the mo­tors had al­ready ex­panded to two litres. A long-wheel­base model of 107” was in­tro­duced, and in 1956 the ‘short­ies’ grew two inches to 88” and the longs to 109” which car­ried into the later S2 from 1959. This be­ing an S1 event we had rep­re­sen­ta­tives of all five ear­lier mod­els in­clud­ing soft-tops, sin­gle cab, full hard­tops and ‘sa­fari’ tops as well as a mint ex-farm LWB flat-deck. Some had had full chas­sis-up re­builds and some were quite orig­i­nal. Many had ac­ces­sories – Cap­stan, drum or hy­draulic winches and rear PTOs. With the old­est be­ing nearly 70 I’ll bet they had in­ter­est­ing his­to­ries. We headed north over Jack’s Pass in con­voy, four­teen oldies, plus a 90 and my Disco, nei­ther of which were strictly nec­es­sary. The pass was cor­ru­gated as hell as per usual. And dusty, I felt for those with no roof or rag­tops open at the rear. Been there! The pace was ex­cel­lent, hardly less than most peo­ple would drive their mod­erns. Gaps opened to lessen the dust devil. Most ve­hi­cles car­ried PRS, a mod­ern con­ces­sion, to warn of over­tak­ers or haz­ards. Be­ing a week­day there was lit tle other traf­fic. We hes­i­tated in the morn­ing sun for a photo shoot on the pass de­scent. Soon we paused to en­ter our off-road route into St. James Sta­tion. It’s a DOCad­min­is­tered run to Scot­tie’s Hut and put the Landies in their nat­u­ral el­e­ment of a rough track in the moun­tains with creek cross­ings, though they were sea­son­ally low. A gor­geous still day with great views. The party re­turned and gath­ered to a large ta­ble in a Han­mer inn for a very so­cia­ble meal. Next day we went north again but by Jol­lies Pass which is a slightly longer and windier route, our first des­ti­na­tion Lake Ten­nyson for morn­ing tea. One driver proudly used his newly scored junk-shop Cole­man cooker. I gave him a half-litre of fuel for it – which luck­ily he didn’t use. I’d been hav­ing trou­ble with mine which was flar­ing and smoky. I’d pulled it to bits look­ing for blocked jets or other mal­adies to no avail. But once home I dis­cov­ered the fuel bot­tle con­tained turps though marked as white spirit! Should have given it the sniff test... From the lake we con­tin­ued north via the Rain­bow Road. This is a ‘Hy­dro’ road that car­ries the main trunk power lines from Ben­more to Welling­ton. Per­mis­sion must be gained from the Rain­bow Sta­tion, there’s a fee and a DOC ac­cess form to com­plete. We were head­ing to the Rain­bow Sk­i­field for lunch. A cou­ple of mi­nor ve­hi­cle is­sues ran us late so I was sent ahead to warn some of the Nel­son 4WD group that were await­ing us at the turnoff. Our run up the moun­tain was an ex­cel­lent ( and, for me, un­ex­pected) bonus. We were es­corted through spec­tac­u­lar coun­try to the top of the tow and a sad­dle at about 1750m that looked down on Lake Ro­toiti on another beaut clear day. And I was chuffed to in­spect a Pis­tenBully groomer

with its tracks and clothes off at the base work­shop. Back down we went and con­tin­ued north to the Wairau Val­ley where the N.I. bunch turned right for Pic­ton, the south­ern­ers headed home and I broke north-west to another event over the week­end. It had been an ex­cel­lent ex­pe­ri­ence trav­el­ling with the old Landies and their very so­cia­ble crews for two days of shin­gle and off-road scenery.

The bunch.

Rain­bow Sk­i­field.

Con­voy on Jacks Pass.

Trip or­gan­iser drops in.

Brains trust at work.

Top ‘o the tow @ the Rain­bow (Sk­i­field).

Rare LWB flat deck.

Bad ro­tor.

Oiled plug.

Pow­er­ful Is­land Pass and Creek.

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