N A few weeks I’ll be firing up the trusty Dunsfold Series I 107 and joining a bunch of like-minded Series I owners on our annual boys’ outing. Every year we go somewhere different and for 2016 our Dutch and Belgian friends have organised a trip visiting Luxembourg and the Ardennes. I like to act as tail-end Charlie and the 107 is the sweeper vehicle for anyone who breaks down.
Over the years I’ve had a few adventures and I’ve got the business of roadside fixes down to a fine art. Besides a crate of beer and several bags of crisps, I’ll load my old wooden ammo box into the back of the 107, which is packed with spares that will be of most use in getting a broken vehicle moving again. Originality isn’t important here; what’s crucial is to get a stricken Land Rover off, say, the Brussels ring road when the passing juggernauts are trying to blast you into the ditch.
In my ammo box I keep an old distributor which is already connected up to a spare coil and a set of leads, so that if there’s a suspected electrical fault I can simply drop the dizzy in the hole, cable tie the coil somewhere convenient and get the vehicle going in moments. You don’t want to be fiddling about with points and condensers at the side of a motorway; you can sort that out at the hotel later. Any distributor will do, as long as it fits. I use one from an old
ISeries II and it will work on any four-cylinder petrol Landy from an 80in up to a 110. Don’t worry about timing it up properly – safety is the priority and you just need to make the vehicle mobile again. Another essential in my toolkit is a long piece of wire with crocodile clips at the ends, which can be run straight from the battery terminal to the coil to bypass the ignition switch and circuit.
Sadly, the quality of electrical components is an ongoing problem, now that original 1950s parts are becoming scarce. There’s a batch of new rotor arms in circulation where the rivet for the centre contact is too long, so that current ends up tracking straight down through the insulation material and into the distributor shaft. They look fine from the outside so you’d never guess they were faulty. Dunsfold uses condensers and red rotor arms made by the Distributor Doctor (www.distributordoctor.com), which are expensive but very good, and the DD also makes an excellent electronic ignition system. We prefer NGK spark plugs, now that the original Lodge plugs aren’t available – and I don’t rate Champions.
Fuel is the other major cause of breakdowns. Modern petrol is just rubbish compared to what we used to have, and the ethanol content eats rubber components. Then a hose splits, and the pump squirts petrol all over your regulator box… We use plastic hoses now, which are actually modified Series III Lightweight parts. It’s a matter