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Land Rovers in Africa

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Land Rover Restoration and Rebuilds

Land Rover Restoration is very popular for all types of Land Rovers. This is mainly because these vehicles are built with a solid ladder frame chassis that lasts well and the body panels made mostly of aluminium are very resistant to corrosion and rusting. Series Landys and Defenders are built like mechano sets so it is quite easy to chop and change all sorts of body parts and panels.

Rebuilding older Series vehicles can result in a nearly new Landrover. It is a long and hard process and often very expensive especially if you want to rebuild a Series 1 back to conquers condition. Not all rebuilds are to restore the vehicle to original state, a lot of them are just to give the vehicle a bit of a makeover to extend its lease on life or to prepare it for a new life, like that of a camper or daily commuter, farm vehicle or a game viewer conversion. It is however one of the most rewarding experiences to rebuild an entire Land Rover, it gives you an intimate knowledge of the vehicle and the ultimate satisfaction in the finished product.

The military in many parts of the world have been big users of Land Rovers and when these vehicles are sold off by the army then they land up in someone's garage as a viable restoration project. South Africa got a real boost with regards to Land Rover ownership around 20 years ago when the South African Defence Force started auctioning off redundant stock.

Very often these vehicles where brand new and they where often driven home from the auction site. A sad truth however, is that the troops often maliciously damaged these vehicles and the military maintenance crews where not as good as you would have hoped them to be.

Various SA-unique vehicles where available and made ideal holiday vehicles and campers. Standard Land Rovers were also available, they quickly got bought up by the general public and various enterprising groups. Today, about 3/4 of the series vehicles on the road are ex-military. There were also a handful of Defenders sold off.

These days Defenders, early Range Rovers and Disco 1 vehicles are prime targets for rebuilds and restoration. These models are available relatively cheaply and a good selection of new and used parts are available to get the vehicles back into shape.

Rebuilding and Restoration Tips and Tricks

There are lots of tips and tricks to restoration and rebuilds, but essentially there are 3 distinct phases, first disassembly, second cleaning, fixing, painting and sourcing and then finally the re-assembly and rebuilding phase. You will inevitably start from scratch or by completely dismantling the vehicle.

Disassembly
Its a good idea to start some sort of labelling and sorting method for all the parts that you disassemble. It may seem obvious or tedious when you are taking it apart but when you need to re-assemble in a couple of months time then you will be grateful for an organised labelled selection of parts. Be warned that this is the easiest and the fastest part of the restoration process, it will take more than double the time to put it all together again. It will also be worthwhile to get the relevant parts catalogue or workshop manual so that you know how to take things off and how to put them back in the right place.

Cleaning Fixing and Modifying
Once you have everything apart then you need to asses all the components and decide what you want to clean and repair and what you want to replace with new or used part. This is also a good time to assess if you want to upgrade or modify anything on the vehicle or change the configuration. Small inexpensive items should just be replaced with new because the time in cleaning and fixing becomes limiting. Larger more expensive parts can be restored to almost new if they are structurally sound and just need some cosmetic work. Chassis repair is often a big part of a restoration project to repair or replace rusted or damaged sections with new metal pieces welded into place for strength. During this period you need to stay motivated and keep your finished product in mind because motivation will be required as you spend hours, days and weeks working with almost nothing to show for it.

Rebuilding and Assembly
The process to put everything together again is the part that takes the longest. However this is the most rewarding part where you will start to see the fruits of your labour. You will require patience to make sure that you don't take short cuts in the interests of speed and rushing to finish. Rather spend the time and do it properly, you will appreciate this once you are finished. You may also be in for some surprises here as you start assembling and realise that you don't have some parts or would like to replace an old one with new. But finally you will finish the restoration and have an almost new rebuilt Land Rover to show for it and hopefully a registered roadworthy vehicle that will give you many hassle free years of use.

 

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LandyOnline - Land Rovers in Africa  2000 - 2012                   Last updated 08/09/2012