LAND-ROVER SE­RIES II

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RUN BY Mar­tin Port OWNED SINCE Septem­ber 2016 PRE­VI­OUS RE­PORT Sept 2018 It’s rapidly ap­proach­ing two years since I took own­er­ship of the transafrica Se­ries II and I’ll ad­mit to still be­ing sur­prised by the re­ac­tion it gets, thanks to its unique dec­o­ra­tion. Not a week goes by without some­one ask­ing: “Did it re­ally do all that?” Well, the sim­ple an­swer of course is “yes”, and thanks to its trav­els the 88in was lucky enough to be se­lected by Roger Crathorne to be one of 70 Land-rovers to drive up the hill at this year’s Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed.

With ev­ery­thing from Dunsfold Land Rover’s ‘cen­tre-steer’ replica to more con­tem­po­rary of­fer­ings in at­ten­dance, the Se­ries II took its place at the cir­cuit be­fore con­voy­ing to the site and em­bark­ing on a slow but im­pres­sive pa­rade up the hill and past the house. It was un­event­ful but an hon­our to be part of, and I breathed a sigh of re­lief for hav­ing com­pleted the drive to Le Mans and back, and then Good­wood, without any is­sues from the re­cently over­hauled wa­ter pump.

Next and fi­nal stop of a busy 10 days was a more sober­ing af­fair as we said our farewells to chief sub ed­i­tor David Evans. Nat­u­rally, the C&SC team ar­rived in clas­sics – David reg­u­larly drove his BMW and Cit­roën hun­dreds of miles in a day, so a trip round the M25 and into Lon­don was noth­ing, but ar­riv­ing home that evening I no­ticed that in eight days I’d man­aged to rack up 900 miles. Need­less to say I gave the Lan­drover an emo­tion­ally charged pat be­fore head­ing in­side and smiled to my­self that David would still con­sider that to be peanuts – af­ter all, it’s hardly Black­heath to Tan Hill and back in a day is it?!

With tem­per­a­tures still be­ing con­sis­tently in the 30s through all of this, I can for­give the Se­ries II be­ing a lit­tle thirsty, but I’ll ad­mit to ex­press­ing some con­cern when notic­ing wa­ter ex­it­ing the ra­di­a­tor over­flow when stop­ping af­ter a long run. Be­ing of a pes­simistic dis­po­si­tion didn’t help, as I won­dered if per­haps the head gas­ket had failed, but I man­aged to tem­po­rar­ily al­lay my fears when a com­pres­sion test re­vealed even and just about ac­cept­able read­ings across the board.

A sub­se­quent 150-mile roundtrip to Bournemouth in the 88in proved to be pro­duc­tive: not only did I achieve a dip in the sea, but also col­lected a set of vin­tage Dun­lop track­ing gauges cour­tesy of C&SC reader, Peter Har­ris, who had kindly of­fered them af­ter I used a sim­i­lar set on the Se­ries II.

Cru­cially, though, the Se­ries II per­formed fault­lessly once again, even if I did re­turn to its street­parked lo­ca­tion af­ter a pleas­ant day on the beach to find a chap ask­ing the fa­mil­iar “Did it re­ally...?” ques­tion once again.

But then, sud­denly, things took a turn for the worse as my dad was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal. With an­other mishap tak­ing place, I was left jok­ing to a friend that I’d bet­ter not take the Se­ries II when I went vis­it­ing later that day, just in case some­thing broke, but I did. In­evitable, re­ally, that when I stopped for fuel on the way home, I stood and watched as a stream of brown, frothy, cof­fee-like liq­uid poured out over the fore­court.

This time, though, I didn’t bother with a com­pres­sion test and whipped the head straight off. The cop­per gas­ket didn’t look too bad, but there were signs of leak­age be­tween the wa­ter jacket and oil­ways rather than be­tween cylin­ders.

I or­dered an OEM com­pos­ite gas­ket and then spent a Satur­day morn­ing putting it all back to­gether with help from son Dy­lan. A quick run up to tem­per­a­ture, a re-torque then it was ready for a proper road test… so I took it to Wey­mouth!

Apart from a con­cern­ing mo­ment when the coolant ‘found its level’ and chucked a bit out on the first stop, it ran no­tice­ably cooler and dis­played no fur­ther symp­toms on the six-hour cir­cuit. Let’s hope it stays that way.

THANKS TO

Δ Peter Har­ris Δ Roger Crathorne

‘I stood and watched as a stream of brown, frothy, cof­fee-like liq­uid poured out over the fore­court af­ter I’d stopped for fuel’

Clock­wise: con­voy­ing through West Sus­sex be­fore tak­ing to Good­wood hill (be­low); as­sis­tance with fit­ting the new head gas­ket; bed­ding-in in­volved a 225-mile round trip to Wey­mouth; con­tents of ra­di­a­tor con­firmed that at­ten­tion was needed

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