Jack Dobson

Dobbo Dow n Un­der

Land Rover Monthly - - Upfront | Column -

“Get­ting the man­i­fold off takes a bit of time be­cause of my pre­vi­ous bodges, in­volv­ing putty and ex­haust ban­dages”

Next month I am get­ting mar­ried (I have had a year to pre­pare for this big day but it feels like it has crept up on me). We are hav­ing a beach wed­ding and, of course, you know what that means – we get to ar­rive at our wed­ding in our favourite ve­hi­cles – Old Girl and Bruce. As many of you will be aware, wed­dings have the ten­dency to be­come a fairly huge un­der­tak­ing and ours seems to be no ex­cep­tion. Us­ing our ve­hi­cles cer­tainly adds a de­gree of com­plex­ity. The wed­ding is about 750 miles away and on an is­land off the coast of Queens­land. The plan is for my dad and I to drive up there over the course of four days (my fi­ancée, be­ing more sen­si­ble, has opted to fly). I think it should be a bit of an ad­ven­ture though I am slightly anx­ious – the last time I took Old Girl on a big trip like this she dis­graced her­self in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion.

Now with a wed­ding cer­e­mony on the beach we re­ally need to have four-wheel drive. You would think that is part and par­cel of own­ing a Land Rover but, rather em­bar­rass­ingly, I must ad­mit that Old Girl is only rear-wheel drive. About three years ago I re­placed the rear dif­fer­en­tial with an early Dis­cov­ery unit. It is a higher ra­tio which makes a big dif­fer­ence to cruis­ing speeds (highly rec­om­mended for those of you with a more pow­er­ful, non-stan­dard en­gine). What I ne­glected to do was change the front diff so with mis­matched gear­ing I have been un­able to en­gage four-wheel drive. It has not re­ally mat­tered too much as Old Girl has been more of a city slicker these last few years.

Any­way it was time to find a new diff. After some calls and beg­ging, some­one took pity on me and of­fered me an early Range Rover rear diff. The only con­di­tion was I had to re­move it. All was fine un­til I got to the last prop­shaft bolt. Why is this al­most al­ways the case? I ended up hav­ing to dis­con­nect it from the gear­box end and re­mov­ing the diff with it still at­tached. Some treat­ment with an an­gle grinder and fi­nally it was free.

Back at home it was time to get crack­ing. First I chocked the rear wheels then jacked the front up plac­ing her down on a set of axle stands, which I had just rushed out to buy hav­ing dis­cov­ered my last set got lost dur­ing the move. I then drained the axle – there was prac­ti­cally no oil. Then it was wheels off, track rods off, but I did not have the right tool for this so re­sorted to my favourite tool, the Stil­sons (not rec­om­mended) and then onto the bolts that se­cure the end of each axle. As these are right in the fir­ing line for mud I was ex­pect­ing them to be a night­mare but they were re­ally very easy to deal with. Next it was time to with­draw each swivel away from the axle cas­ing just enough so I could clear the splines of the diff. Thank­fully the flex­i­ble brakes hoses are long enough to al­low this rather del­i­cate op­er­a­tion.

Then I was on my back, un­do­ing the front prop­shaft fol­lowed by the diff se­cur­ing bolts. It was a filthy job and the EP90 dis­in­te­grated my gloves. Us­ing a large screw­driver I was then able to jig­gle the diff out with­out it fall­ing on me (more luck than judge­ment). Put­ting it all back to­gether is ‘sim­ply’ a case of re­peat­ing the steps in re­verse, only this time you have a very heavy diff to lift up in a con­fined space. It was not a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult job, but it is time-con­sum­ing and I am glad it is over. It took me six hours to get it done.

The next day I took Old Girl for a test drive and found a place to en­gage four-wheel drive. Thank­fully with no nasty crunches it all seems to be work­ing. How­ever, I no­tice Old Girl is much louder than be­fore. I am used to a fair amount of noise – the ex­haust pipe has never quite fit­ted the man­i­fold – but the noise is dif­fer­ent; it is much louder and she sounds like a Spit­fire un­der ac­cel­er­a­tion. I open the bon­net and put my hand down next to the man­i­fold to see if I can feel where there is a leak. I find sev­eral which sug­gest a failed gas­ket and, more wor­ry­ingly, a crack on the un­der­side of the man­i­fold.

After re­mov­ing the in­let and man­i­fold sure enough I find that the gas­ket has failed in two places. Get­ting the man­i­fold fully off takes a bit of time be­cause one of my pre­vi­ous bodges, which in­volved in­dus­trial amounts of putty and ex­haust ban­dages. Fi­nally, with the man­i­fold re­moved, I can clearly see a crack run­ning along the un­der­side. I called sev­eral places to see if I could find a re­place­ment and had no luck. I de­cided to join the lo­cal Holden Face­book page (I have a Holden six-cylin­der en­gine fit­ted) and put up a wanted no­tice. Within 20 min­utes I had been of­fered three re­place­ments all within the lo­cal area. You see, so­cial me­dia does have its uses! When Brit Jack Dobson em­i­grated to Australia in 2010 he brought his pas­sion for Land Rovers along with him.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.