How the old Land Rover models lend themselves perfectly to improvised tools and levers
When one of my cycling mates called round for a ride I suggested that, by way of a pre-ride warm-up, he could help me lift the bulkhead onto my Series III rolling chassis. I explained how we’d lift it, how to carry it, how to lower it to the chassis, and I showed him the mounting bolts I’d placed into the chassis ready to secure the bulkhead. I also explained how it would fit perfectly.
It did, except that the bolts didn’t line up and we were stood holding the thing, with me gazing around the workshop. Now, this guy knows nothing about cars, let alone 1970s Land Rovers, but he was already laughing and said: “I think the tool you’re looking for is over there on the bench.” It was. I picked up the heavy lump hammer, applied a couple of hefty blows and declared the bulkhead a perfect fit.
It seems everyone knows a heavy hammer is the universal Land Rover assembly tool – a fact the current incarnation of the Land Rover company would probably care to forget. But, I’ll bet those Series I models that Solihull is currently restoring for wealthy customers have felt the occasional precision application of heavy steel during their rebuild. I can suggest other tools used during my own SIII rebuild, including a tree-splitting wedge and a 15-feet-long steel tubular bar that proved the ideal instrument to straighten my rear body tub.
Such tools are not blunt instruments. When carefully and thoughtfully applied, they can precisely adjust heavy metal. It’s a matter of prethinking how the metal will react – how far will it bend, will it kink or crack, or whether adjacent components might be affected. When using improvised tools and levers, it’s vital also to think whether the tool itself might break, bend, or slip out of position causing damage or injury. Thick gloves and eye protection are always worthwhile, and special care is needed if the vehicle is supported on stands or ramps, where long levers or heavy blows could dislodge it.
Improvised tools are sometimes essential for old Land Rovers but, if the operator is tired, frustrated, or not taking time to carefully think the process through, they can make a heck of mess.
“It seems everyone knows a heavy hammer is the universal Land Rover tool”