This is my second Land Rover, but my first ex-military Land Rover. I bought it as a tender for my Alvis Stalwart because my wife was getting fed up with me carrying greasy items in the back of her Ford Explorer.
My interest in military vehicles comes serving with the TA from the 1970s until 1980/81. I drove 6x6 AEC Militants and Bedford RLs in the TA, 215 Squadron, Royal Corps of Transport in Mile End Road and took part in big NATO exercises in Germany. We had some Series IIA Lightweights as hacks, but I never got to drive many Land Rovers.
In 2006, I got the opportunity to buy a Stalwart; it still swims.
I really wanted a World War Two DUKW, but the sale fell through; the Stalwart was second choice.
This Series III came from another Ex-Military Land Rover Association club member, for just £200. It was running (just). It didn’t stop very well and the steering was almost seized solid – it took both feet against the bulkhead, both hands on one side of the steering wheel rim and brute force to move it.
I got it onto the trailer under its own power, and off again onto my drive, where I stripped it down and rebuilt it. I’m an engineer and worked for Ford for 34 years.
One of the first jobs I undertook was stripping down the steering.
I sought advice and poured almost boiling oil carefully into the steering relay. With the front wheels off the deck, my daughter sat inside heaving the steering wheel. With the weight off the wheels, it wasn’t too bad.
I also backed off the steering box adjusting nut about one and a half turns, which made it very ‘interesting’ to drive. It still wanders too much for my wife’s liking; she can’t drive it. I like it.
It didn’t need much to get it back on the road; the bulkhead was good and solid, with just a tiny patch in the passenger side footwell that earned it an advisory at the MoT.
The gearbox layshaft might need replacing soon. The original military-spec chassis has a removable gearbox crossmember, so dropping the ’box shouldn’t be too bad. I couldn’t get the right Firestone tyres, so I’ve got 7.50 Michelin XZLs off a Defender from eBay; they improved the ride.
The tilt is secondhand from a mate at EMLRA. I painted camo pattern on it to match the original tilt. The radio mast on the back goes up to 8m. You push up each section and then lock it into place.
I’ve got a 350 man-pack radio hanging on the Dexion racking, a 353 vehicle set on the radio table, with an encryption unit on top of it. I’ve also got a 320 set, Special Forces long range unit.
There are two aerials on the wings and two on the side brackets; one pair is VHF, one pair UHF. Boxes on the wings contain aerial tuning kit. The radios are basically relay units; the Land Rover would have spent hundreds of hours stationary with the engine-driven 24-volt generator feeding the radios. The 8m mast, and my other 3m glassfibre mast can both be mounted on the ground, with guy ropes.
When I bought it, the 2.25 was running civilian distributor, leads and plugs (12volt). It ran fine until on one trip it cut out on the M1. The RAC said my points had melted and fitted a new set, which lasted to Toddington Services – the points had closed right up and wouldn’t open. We were taken home on a low-loader.
I decided to convert it back to 24-volt. You can get a 24v ignition kit from Jolley Engineering for a little over a hundred quid. It makes all these ignition problems go away. But it is a nightmare trying to change the plugs because the leads have such a fine thread where they screw onto the plugs; it’s easy to cross-thread them.
My future plans include trying to trace its history and getting all the radio kit working properly.
Originally featured in the March 2015 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
See your vehicle in the next issue of LRO, email firstname.lastname@example.org