This LRO reader emailed LRO.firstname.lastname@example.org to ask Peter Galilee about locating the engine serial number on their Land Rover Series I.
I own a short-wheelbase Series I from 1953. I believe the engine is the original and I need to find its number so I can order spares. It was very dirty, so I cleaned parts of it to look for the number. I searched online to find where the number should be, but it isn’t there. There is a number partly stamped and partly cast on the rear of the engine, but
I’ve been told this is a date. What can I do?
S Erdhart, London
There were two models of short wheelbase Land Rover produced in 1953. Rover described its Series I Land Rovers by model-year. A 1953 model-year 80-inch would have been produced between summer 1952 and summer 1953, and both the vehicle and the unit numbers (engine, axles, gearbox, etc) were eight-digit numbers starting with 361.
A 1954 model-year 86-inch would have been built between summer 1953 and summer 1954, and its vehicle and unit numbers were eight-digit numbers starting 461. These are the sort of numbers you want to find. The engine number should be located on the top front corner of the machinedflat exhaust manifold mounting face. The punching was sometimes light, and metal is hard – so, scrub well with a wire brush.
If it isn’t there, it’s virtually certain that your engine is not the original unit – or if it is, something has happened to it. Perhaps the original engine freeze-cracked and was rebuilt with a new block. Military rebuilds often had the number skimmed off and then stamped elsewhere (see photo), so check carefully. Finally, look for a small rebuild plate adjacent to the bottom of the dipstick tube. Numbers on the back of the engine (which aren’t always present) are for the date.
Numbers cast into the metal (ie raised above the surface) refer to the particular casting they’re on. Engine numbers are always punched into the metal.
This workshop advice appeared in the November 2015 issue of LRO. Back issues are available to download on digital devices here.