I have a 1956 86in and I've been given a heater, a screen vent and some flexible pipes from a long-scrapped Series I. When I look in my parts catalogue the heater is the same as the one I have, with the two doors and the top air divider. The demister vent looks different, but it's about the right size. When I offer it up to the screen it has two metal tabs and I see it would fit in the same place as the one in the parts catalogue. There is only one screen demister vent, but that is how it was on the old Series I that was scrapped, so I plan on keeping it the same. I have seen this type of vent on another Series I at a show.
Is all this correct, and does the demister just screw direct to the windscreen frame?
J Hefferson, Middlesborough, North Yorkshire
Yes, the demister vent will fit by screwing it direct to the windscreen frame - not the aluminium channel that holds the glass, screw it to the galvanised frame itself, with pan-head self-tappers.
Your vent isn't a standard optional-extra item, though. What probably happened was this: some time around the Sixties or Seventies the owner of that now-scrapped Series I wanted a heater. But by that time his vehicle didn't justify the expense of buying a proper optional-extra kit from a main dealer.
The solution: get the required parts from a scrapyard. In those days every decent-sized town would have several scrap-yards - you could go along and unbolt what you wanted, with no issues with health and safety. In the scrapyard, one of the most common sights would be a Morris Minor 1000, and that's where your demister vent originates.
The heater itself may be from a Land Rover - they continued virtually unchanged for years - but perhaps from something else, since the basic Smiths heater was installed in many cars and commercial vehicles. Many early vehicles counted a heater as an optional extra, but a lot of owners didn't opt to have one fitted - they were expensive, and the buyer would probably have struggled to find the money for the vehicle itself, let alone a heater.
I’ve seen these vents on several Series Is and they do a good job - probably better than the ‘proper’ item. Routing all the heater’s hot air to one vent is an old trick that works well and was commonly done when Series Is were in daily use. The above photos show a Morris Minor vent alongside a standard Land Rover vent, and this is the way you should fit it - the outlet pipe is at the opposite end from the Land Rover’s vent, but the Land Rover pipework follows a zig-zag route to get to its bulkhead aperture, whereas the pipe-work from the Morris vent can go almost direct to the heater - probably one reason why these vents were a popular ex-scrapper retrofit. If your pipework is past its best, flexible heater-vent pipe is available to members of the Series One Club (you can join via lrsoc.com).
On a Morris 1000 the vents fix to the top of the dash-panel pressing and so the securing tabs are at 90 degrees to the vent aperture.
To fit a Land Rover they have to be bent well back - usually, screw the vent on to the screen and then do final bending to get the vent into its correct position. It’s worth persevering, though - your Morris ex-scrapper de-mist vent is a little bit of post-war history, and, in my opinion, nice to fit and keep in use just because of that. Anyway, ‘proper’ Land Rover de-mist vents are difficult to find in good condition, and expansive when you do find them. This will do very well as an alternative.
This workshop advice appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of LRO. Back issues are available to download on digital devices here.