Land Rover Series 2 Camper Rebuild
Purchased at an Army tender in 1990, is where the story of this
Land Rover Series 2A LWB started
for me. The vehicle was fully complete up to the convertible stage, and was chosen to be
rebuilt into a Landrover camper. Due to study commitments the vehicle lay idle until the end of 1993
when I started to rebuild. Having done two previous rebuilds already, the standard
procedure was to remove only those parts which required repair or replacement. Little did
I know that this rebuild would be laden with pitfalls.
engine (Land Rover 2.6l) refused to turn, so out came the engine. With the
engine out I considered the option of putting in a replacement because the 2.6l was not
exactly the most user friendly engine around. It so happened that at the same time some
almost new Land Rover 2.5l TD engines were going for a song, so I got one and that solved that
problem. (I discovered later that the only reason the 2.6l engine didnt turn was
because the sump was dented and stopped the crankshaft from turning, the engine was
actually in perfect order.)
Then I looked at replacing the
series 2 gearbox with a series 3 unit which had been lying in
the garden unused for a couple of years. The Series 3 box needed to be overhauled, me being a
novice in the gearbox department, I was a little apprehensive. With the assistance and
advice of a gearbox guru in the form of Frank Dandridge, I set about the task anyway.
After we had completely reconditioned, and I had partly reassembled the gearbox. I noticed
that the matching cover was cracked and unusable. Since each casing and top cover are
matching and unique to each other, I had to find a matching pair. Do I promptly
disassembled the box again. I then reassembled it using the new casing. Everything went
well until I had to fit the reverse gear, the whole system was completely misaligned. A
few phone calls to some experts revealed that S ll and S lll casings are the same except
for the reverse gear position! So then I took a deep breath, and let fly with a few @#$%#
words, and then took the whole thing apart again. After two weeks of phone calls I located
a complete series 3 casing from Hennie Botha in the Eastern Transvaal. Finally I got the
gearbox together again, and it all seemed to work for a time being.
Next up was the fire wall, which revealed some problematic
cracks and therefore needed to be replaced. This wasnt too difficult and a good
second hand one was purchased. At this stage the chassis was completely exposed and more
and more army style botched repair jobs became visible. Every time I walked past the
chassis I noticed another piece of checker plate, or another crack in the chassis. That
evening at a braai I mentioned the chassis problem to Darrly Beck, who said that he had a
near perfect replacement for me. So after a bit of wheeling and dealing I had a
replacement chassis, which I cleaned up and had galvanised. The rear axle which was
standard Rover axle, I replaced with a more robust
ENV axle. After all this engine
swapping and diff swapping, the original propshafts were nowhere near the right size, so
they were remade to fit. Due to the engine swap I had to make modifications to the engine,
battery and radiator mountings. It was also necessary to re-manufacture the cowling, front
grill and make brackets for the intercooler and oil cooler. The basic ideas for these
modifications were borrowed from my brother Brian.
Then after a tedious and complete re-wiring job, it was
finally time to start her up. After a couple of turns of the engine and a huge puff of
smoke she started up and ran like a dream. The gearbox seemed all right except for first
gear, which simply refused to engage. As I write this story I am not quite sure what the
problem is, and am contemplating removing the gearbox and checking everything again!
In the meantime I have started preparing some of the body work for painting. The colour
which I had chosen was safari/cream/desert sand type colour, but once applied appeared a
bit yellower than I had expected. With the choice of name undecided, my wife Annabel,
suddenly came up with a name. She was listening to a song by rock group U2, entitled
"Lemon". Annabel thought Lemon was the perfect name, since it described the
colour of the vehicle fairly accurately, and just sounded good. When she told me the name,
the first thing which sprung to mind was that the name summed up the type of vehicle which
I had purchased, it was a real Lemon. And so the name came to have two meanings, with the
original having nothing to do with the problems which I had encountered up till now.
Land Rover Camper Interior
This sweet & sour tale of agony & ecstasy finally came to a very sweet end. In
the winter 1996 edition of Landroving, Lemon - Part 1 appeared. Then Lemon went
international with an article published in the 1997 Summer edition of Land Rover
International. Now almost a year later Lemon has done 5000 km without any
problems. Let me pick-up we I left off last time.
With a self propelled rolling chassis I was starting to see the light at the end of the
tunnel, and believe that there was life after a rebuild. Having completed 90% of the
mechanics I set about preparing the various body parts for repainting. The golden rule
with paint preparation is the longer you spend the better the end result. Since this
vehicle was destined for "thornbushville", I wasnt spending too much time
on preparation. However I still enlisted the help of Annabel who did a fine job of sanding
the bodywork. The spray painting was done by my mom, who did an excellent job, with the
only blemish being Brians fingerprint.
With the lower body
fitted I started work on the top, which involved a bit of construction. Since my vehicle
was a 109" extra long, which is approximately 30 cm longer than a standard 109",
a standard roof would not fit, so I constructed one by joining two standard second hand
roofs. The side tops also had to be lengthened and extra windows fitted. Once all this was
complete, it was assembled and the vehicle was finally ready for the roadworthy, which it
passed with flying colours.
Work then started on the interior, the cab area was carpeted and soundproofed, an
exercise which I find improves the comfort levels considerably. A small stowage cupboard
was build into the front roof section, where the radio and CD were installed.
The next major task
was to design the rear interior and fit it out as a camper. The design is such that it
incorporates a portta-potti, double gas stove, fridge, basin with running water, shower,
kitchenette, storage space for provisions and clothing and a double bed. The bed structure
is made out of aluminium and hardboard, and can be either a single bed or folded out into
a double bed. The kitchenette was made using plywood and has several custom sized
cupboards, where all food provisions and eating utensils is stored. The stove and basin
were fitted into the counter top, which also houses a rubbish bin. The water for the basin
is supplied through an electric pump from the onboard water tank. The water tank is 65l
and is fitted under the passenger side seat. The electric pump also supplies water to the
externally fitted shower.
The power for all the electrics (except engine functions) is supplied from two 90
Ah deep cell cycle batteries, which are independent from the vehicle battery. These
batteries are charged by two Siemens solar panels mounted on the roof rack. The fridge is
a Minus 40 compressor driven type which runs off 12 V.
The upholstery namely the curtains and cushion covers were made by Annabel.
She also did a fine job of making the toilet/shower tent which fits on the side of the
vehicle, for overnight stops. So far we have completed a few short camping trips, and have
found our camping set-up to be very comfortable and easy to use.
entire project took me three years to complete.
At the end of the project I have a vehicle which I have custom designed to my specific
needs, and which I know inside out. This self sufficient vehicle is intended for trips to
out of the way places throughout Africa, and possibly overseas.
A word of advice to anyone doing a rebuild, dont give up ! Oh, and good luck!!