Work­ing clas­sic 101 FC

An­drew Ford­ham Brown’s 101 isn’t just a work­ing ve­hi­cle – it’s a com­plete life­style

LRO (UK) - - Contents - WORDS: PETER GALILEE. PHO­TOS: JONATHAN JA­COB

Re­stored 101 is dry­s­tone waller’s work­shop and home in the ma­jes­tic York­shire Dales

Here at LRO, we don’t re­call ever see­ing a Land Rover that’s bet­ter suited to its job. That’s a heck of a state­ment – reg­u­lar read­ers will know that over the years we’ve fea­tured some spec­tac­u­lar work­ing ve­hi­cles. At first glance, this 101 Mar­shall am­bu­lance doesn’t seem to be par­tic­u­larly spe­cial. But when you look closer, and un­der­stand what it’s be­ing used for, you soon be­come lost in ad­mi­ra­tion.

This isn’t just a four-wheel drive that will get its driver to the work that needs do­ing, and help him do it – no, it ac­tu­ally changes the way that the job gets done.

Ev­ery mod­i­fied Land Rover is an ex­pres­sion of its owner, so the best way to un­der­stand this huge rec­tan­gu­lar beast is to un­der­stand its owner, An­drew Ford­ham Brown. Back in the day, like many of us, An­drew was trapped in the main­stream of nor­mal life – house, em­ploy­ment, com­mut­ing and all the rest. ‘I’m from Es­sex orig­i­nally,’ he tells us. ‘I like the coun­try­side and I used to have a job in map­ping – we did work for Ord­nance Sur­vey, Na­tional Trust, peo­ple like that. It was in­ter­est­ing, but it was still eight hours a day in an of­fice.’ Wav­ing a hand across a glo­ri­ous vista of North York­shire’s high coun­try­side, he smiles: ‘This is much bet­ter!’

Like many who love the coun­try­side, An­drew had a back­ground in Land Rovers, start­ing with a diesel Se­ries III and pro­gress­ing to a Tdi Ninety. But how did he swap an of­fice job in Es­sex and a short-wheel­base Land Rover for all of this? ‘It all started when some­one asked me to do a dry­s­tone wall for them,’ An­drew ex­plains. ‘I said yes with­out think­ing too much about it and soon found that build­ing dry­s­tone walls isn’t as easy as it looks. But it was in­ter­est­ing, so I wanted to do more...’

Out in the coun­try­side, work­ing with his hands, An­drew re­alised he had been barely tol­er­at­ing his of­fice-bound work­ing life. It was time for a change. ‘When I started do­ing walling, peo­ple said it wasn’t a proper job. They meant not a struc­tured job, like work­ing in an of­fice or a fac­tory.’

But he was de­ter­mined not to re­turn to that kind of life ever again. Short-wheel­base Land Rovers were left be­hind – An­drew needed some­thing big­ger, some­thing he could live in as well as work with.

Laid-back de­meanour

Think dry­s­tone waller and you prob­a­bly imag­ine a burly bloke who talks in grunts. An­drew seems the ex­act op­po­site. Soft­spo­ken, with a laid-back de­meanour and a pony­tail, he looks more like a poet or an artist. But that makes com­plete sense, be­cause dry­s­tone walling does need cre­ativ­ity – an artist’s eye, the artist’s abil­ity to en­vis­age the fin­ished work when noth­ing but raw ma­te­ri­als are to hand. And that same abil­ity to see pos­si­bil­i­ties has shown up in the old Mar­shall am­bu­lance. ‘I’ve had it for about 17 years,’

An­drew tells us, ‘and I kept find­ing things about it that I felt could be im­proved. So I kept mak­ing changes and it’s grad­u­ally evolved.

‘The orig­i­nal chas­sis is a ter­ri­ble de­sign, full of rust traps where mud can get in and stay. I’ve re­made the rear cross­mem­ber my­self but apart from that it’s all stan­dard, though I treat it once a year with Wax­oyl. The en­gine is now a 300Tdi. I’ve had both Tdis and in my opin­ion the 300 is a much bet­ter en­gine than the 200 – qui­eter, less vi­bra­tion. It makes a re­ally good re­place­ment for the V8, but it’s a tight fit. A front damper mount is very close to the tim­ing chest – you have to be care­ful, be­cause there’s only about 5mm clear­ance.

‘On the other side, the ex­haust down­pipe just squeezes be­tween the starter and the chas­sis rail. This en­gine is a con­ver­sion car­ried out by Mo­tor and Diesel Engi­neer­ing (mdengi­neer­ing.co.uk) us­ing an old 300Tdi block bored out to 2.8 litres. Its in­ter­nals come from the 2.8-litre Brazil­ian ver­sion of the Tdi – the only changes are pis­tons, crank, turbo, and ex­haust man­i­fold. The pump is still Bosch, but a dif­fer­ent spec­i­fi­ca­tion. The en­gine and turbo mod­i­fi­ca­tions add about 25% power and 50% torque – you don’t half no­tice it!’

Next up, that other piece of 101 un­hap­pi­ness – the ‘it’s be­hind you!’ gear­lever. Along with re­mov­ing the bulk­head be­tween cab and rear com­part­ment, and cre­at­ing a much eas­ier-

ac­cess en­gine cover, An­drew has done a neat mod­i­fi­ca­tion that re­lo­cates his gear­lever to a po­si­tion an av­er­age hu­man be­ing can eas­ily reach. ‘For the gear­lever con­ver­sion I used all the orig­i­nal parts I could,’ he tells us. ‘Then there’s the for­ward ex­ten­sion, which is made from a piece of box-sec­tion steel. It’s not com­pli­cated – but it is quite dif­fi­cult to get the an­gles right.’ Well worth the ef­fort, though – as well as mak­ing for stress-free driv­ing, it nicely de-clut­ters the 101’s in­te­rior.

As for that in­te­rior, An­drew has man­aged to cram in all man­ner of neat and use­ful im­prove­ments – yet, some­how, the in­side of this 101 ex­udes a calm and even spa­cious feel.

‘A Mar­shall am­bu­lance body al­ready has some­thing like one-and-a-half or two inches of in­su­la­tion,’ An­drew re­minds us, ‘so they’re al­ready good in that re­spect. But I lined the in­te­rior with car­pet to stop any con­den­sa­tion. I use the Land Rover all year round, so I’ve had to think about keep­ing it dry in win­ter. The en­gine’s coolant is piped all round the back, through the cup­boards – that stops any damp­ness. It also goes in a cop­per pipe through one of the wa­ter tanks, so that gives hot wa­ter af­ter only about five min­utes’ driv­ing. In fact it’s al­most too hot; about 90ºc.

‘I’ve made a lit­tle door at the bot­tom of the right-hand back door – when you’ve got a Sankey trailer on you can’t open the back doors, but with this I can get in and out. There’s a sink, and I’ve made a shower too.’

Char­coal jerry can

Out­side, An­drew opens up com­part­ments to show us the air com­pres­sor, tool­box and winch kit – and sur­prises us with a front­mounted jerry can that con­tains char­coal. Var­i­ous stor­age boxes are se­cured to the roof, as is the awning, a very nec­es­sary ad­di­tion: heavy work in hot sun­shine needs reg­u­lar breaks for re­lax­ation and re-hy­dra­tion. ‘The can­vas was made for me by a lo­cal sail­maker, the rest is just steel sec­tions,’ An­drew ex­plains, sit­ting down to cof­fee while sur­vey­ing a glo­ri­ous land­scape.

’A lot of my work is fancy gar­den stuff, but I do field walls as well – I’m do­ing about three miles on this farm. It’s slow…’ For more about his work, see: af­brown.com.

Of course, trips back to base from re­mote lo­ca­tions are time-con­sum­ing, and if there’s a short break in bad weather you can’t make use of it un­less you’re on site. So An­drew of­ten stays put: ‘I can live in the 101 and some­times do, out on a job for three or four days at a time. When the weather is nice it’s heaven – es­pe­cially if there’s no phone sig­nal!’

Cush­ioned ride

Be­sides be­ing on-site ac­com­mo­da­tion, this Land Rover is a per­fect work­ing tool. Clum­sy­look­ing, its true abil­i­ties are soon re­vealed as we clam­ber up a steep and lumpy hill­side – a lock­ing rear diff makes a huge dif­fer­ence, ac­cord­ing to An­drew. The old Mar­shall leans spec­tac­u­larly, but never seems in dan­ger of rolling. It’s nim­ble, with a won­der­fully cush­ioned ride – per­haps we should have ex­pected that from a bat­tle­field am­bu­lance. On the job, it’s a per­fect an­chor for An­drew’s elec­tric front winch, eas­ily pulling huge blocks of stone into po­si­tion. With the 101 along­side a wall, An­drew can pull out his awning and keep work­ing in bad weather. And this is one 101 whose front-mounted pioneer tools ac­tu­ally get used!

All these mod­i­fi­ca­tions have trans­formed how An­drew can build walls. With the 1-Tonne as a com­fort­able base, he can do far more than would ever be pos­si­ble with a sim­ple pick-up. And when the weather’s just too bad? What could be nicer than sit­ting in the back, read­ing or just star­ing out at some of the most beau­ti­ful scenery in Europe?

A work­ing Land Rover, at work – but not as most of us know it.

‘I live in it three or four days on a job. When the weather is nice it’s heaven – es­pe­cially with no phone sig­nal!’

Side-awning shel­ters An­drew at work too

On the pull – An­drew’s winch gets a lot of use

Not a jerry can – it’s where An­drew keeps his char­coal

Hot-wa­ter shower is also handy for wash­ing boots

Air sup­ply, tools, re­cov­ery kit

Use that roof space! An­drew’s 101 equiv­a­lent of a dormer…

A must for keep­ing in touch Ð and nav­i­gat­ing

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