Rescued after a decade buried in a barn: Series I 86in
LRO reader Paul gets an old farmhand going again after a decade buried in a barn...
I found this 1956 Series I in a shed on a farm in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, where it had sat for more than 10 years.
The farm and Land Rover are owned by Andrew Russell and the car has quite a story. It was originally bought by Andrew's father, John 'JR' Russell, in the early 1980s to replace the Morris Minor 'farm car' that he had commandeered from his wife.
The Moggy came to grief rolling off a cliff and the Land Rover was bought as a replacement. It was christened 'JR's toolbox' as he used it to transport tools, fencing gear and all manner of other stuff to remote parts of the farm.
It did many years' sterling service but was gradually used less and less as more modern pick-ips became available at lower prices. The fuel pump started playing up and eventually it was parked up in a barn about 10 or 15 years ago - nobody had the time to fix it up.
JR died some years ago and the Land Rover was more or less forgotten and gradually disappeared under a growing pile of boxes, bottles and other junk.
I was out on the farm and, being a keen Land Rover man, spotted the neglected Land Rover under the pile of stuff; I asked Andrew if I could have a go at getting it going. I exhumed it from under its pile of clutter and cleared out the decades of junk that had accumulated inside it.
It sat at least half an inch higher after I had removed all the fence posts, chains, rope, wood and a two-inch-deep carpet of fossilised mud in the rear tub. It had no brakes (JR claimed they were for sissies - he just put it in first and stalled it to stop) and every drop of oil had drained from the gearbox and axles, but it was remarkably free of rust.
Being a sissie, I set to work rebuilding the brakes with new master and slave cylinders and linings, and set about getting it running. In true Land Rover tradition, it fired up after its decades-long snooze after a bit of fiddling with the points and plugs and a bit of fuel pump fettling.
An old tea strainer on the fuel pick-up sorted out the running and reliability problem that had originally seen it consigned to the barn. A play with clutch got it changing gear using the old fence bolt that had long ago replaced the snapped-off gearlever (and which I am under strict instructions not to replace).
Andrew ferreted about in the barn and unearthed the passenger door and both door tops; and a quick scrub of the paintwork with some petrol got rid of various creosote spills. Some vigorous hammering sorted out the biggest dents, replacing them with various smaller ones. And there she was, ready to go again (at least around the farm).
In celebration I drove it up to the top of the farm and took these pictures of it ready for plenty more years of service - home-made maize sack truck cab, fence bolt gearlever and all.
This owner review appeared in the June 2016 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.
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