Practical Classics (UK)
It's show time!
Matt’s Landy takes centre stage at the LRO Show
Over the weekend of September 10-11, my Land Rover Ninety project was the star of the Britpart Workshop Theatre at our sister publication Land Rover Owner International’s annual show. It was a weekend of immense progress, but one that passed in a flash. Throughout the weekend, I played the role of apprentice while the experts from the LRO workshop team, led by Workshop editor Martin Domoney, worked alongside Steve Grant, Britpart’s in-house mechanic, to completely strip the Ninety of both axles, brakes and suspension and rebuild them to
‘as new’ while TV’S Alex Riley presented on proceedings at intervals throughout the day.
We started by raising the front of the Ninety and, after spinning a few spanners, rolling the front axle, complete with radius arms and brakes, out and on to axle stands. While Martin and the rest of the team stripped off the hubs to replace the wheel bearings, I broke out the degreaser and wire brush to completely clean the axle and chassis legs before applying rust converter and, finally, a coat of Rustbuster’s excellent EM121 chassis paint.
Let it shine
While the paint dried, I set to work with a rotary machine polisher on the driver’s door. Starting with a heavy cut compound from Scholl Concepts and finishing with the more gentle Pre-wax Cut and Cleanse from Race Glaze which promised to return lost oils to the faded red paintwork. Once buffed off I was astonished, as the original ‘working clothes’ paint shone brightly once more. One panel down, plenty more to go, so over the course of the weekend when I wasn’t required to be hands on with the mechanical work, I busied myself polishing the paintwork, transforming the entire car from faded pink to vibrant red.
The screen surround was particularly badly faded, so I cut the rubber out and soon had it shining brightly again before Steve, Martin and I carefully strung in the new, heated, windscreen and rubber. I’ll wire it up back at the Practical Classics workshop and report back on that job soon in these pages, but it certainly feels great to have the new screen safely installed and out of harm’s way, and the new screen rubber looks so much better than the rotten one that it replaced.
With the paint starting to dry, work could continue on the axle. I dashed to see our friends at Polybush who kindly provided a set of narrow radius arm bushes (my car is a transition model and we had specified the wider bushes in the polyurethane set from Britpart which were later fitted throughout the rest of the car), while Steve and Martin used our venerable old workshop press to remove the stubborn old bushes from the arms. LRO senior workshop advisor Andrew Varrell removed the calipers, hubs and discs from the axle in preparation for replacement, then delivered
some bad news. The front swivel joints were leaking, but worse still the chromed ball joints that run on the oil seals were pitted and rusty, meaning that new seals would soon be torn – complete new joints both sides required, then. More on that in a later issue, when back in the comfort of the PC workshop.
All was not lost, however, as in went new wheel bearings, on went new discs and calipers and soon the axle had been fitted with a pair of new 6.5J Wolf-style wheels with Falken AT3 tyres and was being rolled back under the car ready for new springs and dampers. The Britpart catalogue boasts a wide range of spring and damper options, however we’ve plumped for OE specification parts throughout. With the radius arms lined up, the body could be lowered and the damper top nut fitted atop a new pair of spring turrets (the originals had rotted through).
A new dawn
Sunday morning arrived along with the team, and work on the front was soon finished, with new steering arms and damper completing the job. I continued my machine polishing marathon, splattering Alex’s trousers in the process – oops! – while Martin led the rest of the team on replacing the rear axle bushes, bearings, springs and dampers before finally moving on to the brakes. New cylinders, springs and shoes went inside a new drum each side before the hydraulic system could be connected up. Andrew and Steve had spent the weekend replacing the original corroded steel hard lines with pre-made copper replacements and now it was time for four flexi hoses and some new fluid. A gravity bleed got most of the air out, before a few pumps of the middle pedal finished the job.
Finally, as the show drew to a close, we fitted the new rear and spare wheels, bolted the front wings and panel in place and lowered the car onto the ground. We’d done it. Together, we’d completely recommissioned the suspension and braking systems and with the new windscreen and wheels, and of course a good polish, the Ninety truly did look like a different car! I must extend my heartfelt thanks to all involved over the weekend and am now more excited than ever to finish the job – with just the engine swap and swivels now standing in the way of an MOT, then the open road.
‘I splattered Alex’s trousers with polishing compound’