In late August, I had to make a run to the airport to pick up a pair of travelers. The flight landed around midnight, and I meant to hop in the Land Rover to go and pick them up. As luck, and Lucas would have it, The Rover had no headlights.
I debated. It was still light enough to technically see, even at midnight, but was it a wise decision(?). In other words, would I get a ticket if stopped by a police officer.
I took other transportation. I probably would have made it.
I should, i.e. need, to replace the wiring from headlight to taillight, but like this weekend, I found an issue, not necessarily the issue, and the vehicle has headlights once again, so I moved on.
The Ghost of Joseph Lucas is enough to put the fear of copper in anyone. Joseph Lucas is the founder of Lucas Electrics, which “powers” many of the classic British vehicles. I don’t know about Jaguar owners, but in Land Rover circles, Joseph is known as The Prince of Darkness. Joseph started out as an oil lamp manufacturer. I think he hit his peak with whale oil.
Lucas still holds the patent for the short circuit.
Land Rover’s “Pink Panther”; Photo credit: Atlantic British
In 1968, Britain’s Ministry of Defense ordered 72 Series IIa 109’s from Land Rover. They were destined for the SAS, Britain’s elite commando unit, for use in the deserts of the Persian Gulf region.
The SAS had been using Land Rover 88’s, but they proved to be a bit small for the task. The 109’s were refurbished for the desert terrain. Fuel capacity was increased to 100 gallons, reservoirs for spare water and oil were added. The chassis and suspension were both upgraded to handle heavy artillery. Sand tires were installed and the spare tire mount was taken off the hood, and built onto the front of the vehicle. A bead breaker, for changing tires, was even added to one wing. The ’68 Land Rover also came with a sun compass, which had become standard equipment, after North Africa’s Long Range Desert Group in WWII.
The sparse Pink Panther interior; Photo credit: Atlantic British
But the unique feature of the SAS Land Rover was the color scheme. It was painted a mauve-pink. The experiences of the Long Range Desert Group showed that the pink color was remarkably good camouflage in the desert, especially at dawn and dusk.
For armament, the Pink Panther carried a machine gun on the left side of the hood, smoke canisters and grenades, anti-tank weaponry and rifles. The vehicle when fully loaded, weighed 3 tons.
Pink Panther; Photo credit: Dunsfold Collection
The Series Pink Panther served the SAS from 1968 to 1984, when a modified Land Rover Defender 110 took over. Of the original 72 Pink Panthers, only 20 are known to still be around, with most in private collections. The Dunsfold Collection owns the one above. It has become one of the most sought after Land Rovers ever built.
Edsel Ford was the president of the Ford Motor Company from 1919 to 1943. When he returned from a tour of Europe in 1932, Edsel Ford turned to Ford’s chief stylist, E.T. Gregorie, to create a sports car like what he had seen in Europe.
Built on a Ford ’34 Model 40 frame, the Special Speedster is a work of art. The body was aluminum over a tubular aluminum frame, crafted by Ford’s Aircraft Division.
An extreme rear cockpit, looked out over an elongated hood. All four wheels are at the car’s corners.
The cockpit featured Lincoln period instruments, leather seats, simple windscreens, and no doors or top. The instruments were replaced by Stewart-Warner gauges in 1940.
Originally powered by a stock Model 40, 75 HP Flathead V8, the engine was replaced in 1939 after a winter freeze cracked the block! Tsk, tsk… The Speedster is now powered by a 100 HP, Mercury 239 Flathead V8.
The Special Speedster can be seen at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
I have not done a Rover post in a while, simply because I have not worked on the vehicle in a while. I have not been idle on that front however, as I’ve been hoarding Rover parts for at least a year, and quite possibly two.
Since my work truck now has a body shop appointment, due to an Out of State Trespasser, I will need the old Land Rover for a week or two on the job, so my motivation to rid the Rover Hut of parts has grown considerably.
As in life, one part going out, leads to the replacement of several others, and such is the World of Land Rovers. After installing the new Turner engine in San Antonio, I found that this motor was not happy with the standard mechanical fuel pump. I then installed an inline electric pump, which made all the difference. The added benefit to the electric pump, was that the problem of vapor lock dissipated. Living in Alaska, vapor lock was like the Yeti: the stuff of legends. Traveling in Texas and Mexico, brought the beast out into the realm of reality.
The electric pump recently fried out, which started this whole affair. The last time The Rover was in the Lower 48, my gas tank started to leak at the seam. I had heard that rubbing Ivory bar soap at the point of the leak, would seal the thing, and sure enough, Ivory worked like a charm. In fact, that field repair ended up lasting several Years, and yes, I meant to capitalize that. Obviously, once one replaces the fuel pump, one might as well replace the leaking tank, especially since a new tank is sitting under the work bench.
Dropping the old tank on this truck is relatively easy, although a tad harder when it is almost full. One thing that constantly amuses me, hours later, is how a simple item like a gas tank can change over the years. One would think at 52 years old, the mold would be kind of locked into a pattern, but no. This isn’t the first time I’ve replaced the tank, so I know that the tank has grown in length incrementally over the years. That is only a problem due to the fact that the tank fits into a fixed amount of space. You’ll get the thing in there, but it will take a bit of pressure.
Rovers North claims that the new tank has been tested for leaks. It better be, but I’ll carry a bar of Ivory just in case.
Since I was under The Rover, and the tail pipe had broken from the muffler, and since I have the replacement parts, I decided to pull the exhaust too. I know what you’re thinking, the tailpipe was hanging there just fine from the clamps, but there is another reason for the exhaust removal. That will be for another post, assuming the job goes in the direction of the plan.
While dropping the muffler, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a brown blur racing at me. I had just enough time to jump up, and bang my head, which caused the blur to change direction before running through my hair. I thought I knew what it was, but I hadn’t seen it for a while. Sure enough, the little force of nature came zipping by me again, and this time I was able to get a good look at it.
It was my resident weasel, which I’ve written about on here before. He was living in my wood shed this past winter, but as each week passed, and the wood pile became smaller and smaller, he was forced to find another place to live. He’s brown now, with the black-tipped tail. The weasel is as feisty as ever, not even remotely impressed by my presence, and quite possibly still holding a grudge.
The Commercial Truck Company of Philadelphia produced large electric trucks between 1908-1927. The Curtis Publishing Company bought 22 of the C-T Model A 10’s. These trucks worked nearly 24 hours a day in shifts, running bulk paper to the plant, and finished newspapers and magazines to the Post Office and to customers. Some units also hauled coal to run the huge boilers at the publishing plant.
The truck hauling bulk rolls of blank paper
45 lead acid batteries were used to power the four GE electric motors, for a top speed of 12mph empty. Keep in mind that the trucks were purchased to replace draft horses pulling carts, and the speed limit at the time was 10mph. The trucks could haul a max load of 10 tons at 8mph.
A truck could operate 22 hours on a charge, and was recharged after 2 hours. Today, five 12v batteries would operate the truck at full power, but one battery will move the vehicle. Curtis Publishing operated the 22 vehicles between the years of 1912 and 1964. Of those original 22, 15 are known to still exist. The steering column had two wheels, one to turn the front tires and the second to control forward and reverse as well as the throttle.
The 15,700 pound truck has a 132″ wheelbase, and each wheel gets power from its own GE 85-volt, 10-amp motor. The tires were solid rubber.
In 1955, two Land Rovers with six college students left London to see if they could trek all the way to Singapore. Officially, the adventure was tagged “The Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition”, but eventually it became known simply as First Overland.
The two Series I Land Rovers were christened “Cambridge” and “Oxford”, with one painted the light blue of Cambridge and the other the darker blue of Oxford. The six adventurers and their Rovers, were helped out by a young BBC producer by the name of David Attenborough. Attenborough supplied the film that would document the expedition.
After successfully driving to Singapore, the young men returned home in 1956, and the footage was turned into a documentary film. Tim Slessor would write the now iconic expedition story: “First Overland”. The Land Rovers, however, would follow a different road.
Cambridge found its way to Iran a few years after First Overland was completed, and was never seen, nor heard from again. The other, Oxford, journeyed to the Ascension Island, which is in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. There it was used until sometime in the 1990’s, when it was parked, and has been rotting away since then.
Finally, Adam Bennet of York saved the tired, old, metal traveler from its apparent fate. The Land Rover was returned to the U.K., where it has been brought back to life. It has a few more battle scars, but it is back in driving condition.
BBC has a video out with the surviving members of the Far Eastern Expedition getting behind the wheel of Oxford for one more drive.
Oxford & Cambridge on their Far Eastern Expedition