There’s a Horse in my Land Rover!!

Well, not quite.


Every Series Land Rover owner knows that a few extra horsepower can sometimes be helpful, especially those with the diesel engine. On the whole, the 2298 4 cylinder diesel is fine, especially when well maintained, but once in a while (such as when heavily loaded and going up hill), some extra horse power would be handy. But stuffing a horse into the vehicle isn’t the way forward!

Actually it wasn’t a real horse. And it was done for another reason.

As part of our work with Graham Equestrian Center, we take a display and information booth (aka the “Graham Roadshow”) to various events throughout the year to promote general awareness and our activities. Towards the end of September, it was the Family Farm Fun Day at the local agricultural center. It turned out to be a beautiful day, with the first hint of autumn. As well as various organizations such as arts and crafts societies, local food making, there were things like petting zoo’s for the kids, sheepdog displays (ironically conducted by someone from the next town over from where I grew up back in the UK), breed groups (the goats were particularly cute) and other agricultural related activities such as Master Gardeners Associations and beekeeping demonstrations. So we arranged to have a booth at the event. Normally, when we go to these kinds of thing, as well as taking various displays, leaflets, etc., we take our secret weapon – Mechanical Missy!


Mechanical Missy – in her home enviroment

Missy is our mechanical horse who usually lives in our class room. Basically it’s a giant hobby horse that is actually designed for Jockeys to warm up on before a race! However, we use her to train first time riders how to mount a horse, how to sit properly and how to dismount. The motion fairly accurately replicates the motion of a real horse walking and does so very realistically. It’s safer to do this than with a real horse, especially if the rider is anxious or nervous – horses will pick up on the fear. On the other hand, Missy will stand still as long as you need, she doesn’t kick, buck or get bored and she doesn’t need feeding or mucking out. And we’ve had a few potential riders mount up and decide that this isn’t for them. Again, much better than trying to do this with a real horse. Once a rider is comfortable with Missy, then they progress to a real horse, usually in the first lesson, so they don’t actually spend a lot of time working with Missy.

Missy also has another purpose, relevant to this posting. She also goes out with us asĀ  part of the Graham Roadshow, as she attracts a lot of attention and kids all want to clamber up, sit on and ride her. Basically, its a marketing tool to get people to stop by. And oh how it works!

Now normally when we do this, I borrow Jim McDonald’s F250 pickup and load Missy in the bed of the truck, along with tables, tents, hay bales (for use as mounting blocks), etc. You get some VERY odd looks going round the Baltimore beltway with this thing in the back of the truck, the head nodding up and down! However, on this case, we weren’t able to use the truck, since Jim needed it to pull his horse trailer, as he was taking his horse, the REAL Missy (for whom Mechanical Missy is named) along as well to do a demonstration.This lead to some thinking about how to get mechanical Missy to the site, until it dawned on me that LWB land rovers come in pickup versions and that we should be able to squeeze Missy in the back of Libby. Which turned out to be the case. So in Missy went. It was a little cramped and Missy’s head was essentially in the front seat area. But not too bad and it was certainly derivable in a safe manner.


Missy and I, with her hay bale


All loaded up

As it turned out, Libby became our second secret weapon. As well as what we had to offer and a ride on Missy, many Dads (and some women) also stopped by just to inspect Libby. And more Dads crept round to have a look whilst their kids were riding Mechanical Missy. Some even wanted to sit in her! Heh, whatever works! We should take Libby to some of the future events!


The GEC Display, with Me, Missy and Libby tucked around the back.


Jim McDonald with the real Missy explaining something to the audience

At the end of a VERY long and tiring day, we stuffed Missy and everything else back in the Landy and I drove it all back to GEC for unloading. A very successful day and Libby proved to be a really useful vehicle (with a nod to the Rev W. Awdry).

As for Jim and the real Missy, they were very good too and Jim put on a good display. However, Missy was very confused and wary of those white woolly things being herded around by dogs. I think she needs some more exposure to sheep!


Catching Up and Introducing Sasha (the Scion)


Sasha the Scion

I must apologize. I’ve not been around here much recently, due to heavy family and work commitments. The hours have been long and I’ve really not felt like sitting at a computer after I got home from work in the evenings. That said, it’s not that nothing has been going on. Far from it.Libby has been earning her keep.


Libby in the sun. Note the plywood under the engine bay to catch the diff oil leaks.


I recently had Libby inspected by a local Land rover Specialist (Treasured Motor Car in Reisterstown, MD – great service for unusual vehicles), as not being a professional mechanic, for my peace of mind I feel it’s worth occasionally having someone do a once over to ID any potential faults. The long and the short of it, is that she’s basically OK, but they identified a number of issues that will need attending to in the not too distant future. These are all mechanical and should be feasible to do myself, consisting of renewing the track rod (tie rod) ends, the front wheel bearings (LHS is starting to get a bit iffy and I might as well do both at the same time) and the UJ’s on the propshafts need replacing (I knew about all of these and so it was nice to have my assessment confirmed. The front and rear diff pinion seals also need replacing, as both diffs are leaking oil all over the drive. OK, it’s a Land Rover, but I try to minimize the oil leakage as much as possible.This may be a bit more of a complex job, as I have a Salisbury rear axle and setting the pre-load on these is more complex. I need to read further to see if this is something I feel that I can do myself. All of this is dependent upon time, which is often in short supply at the moment. However, if we do build the garage this year, it will mean some where nice and comfortable to work. I have recently replaced the front window tops with superior aluminium Rocky Mountains ones, which are superb, but not cheap. I’ve also replaced all the window tracks in the rear windows and middle doors using the aluminum window tracks from the same manufacturer, which are far superior to the OEM type, though stiffer to slide the windows in. Pictures of some of the work are shown below and it will be detailed more fully later.


Rusted out Middle LHS door window track


Rusted Out Middle door window track


Middle door window removed and rusted out track being extracted.

At some point in the future, both the front lower doors and the middle doors will need to be replaced, but for now, this will keep things more watertight. Further Landy posts to follow.

In other news, Canyon is doing well. He’s been off work for a few weeks due to some stiffness in one of his rear legs, but he is now recovering well. He’s growing a long coat with the onset of the colder nights.


“Who are you looking at?”


“What are you doing back there with my tail?”


“No you can’t have my tail as a hair extension!”


“OK, well I thought it was funny!”


“Ahhhhh, that’s better. Grass,my favorite food!”

I’ve been commissioned to build a model for a friend of my fathers and have also been building an identical one for myself. These are 2 of the Vivian style industrial garratts in 7 mm (O) scale. It has been a long slog, but we are starting to make some progress now.


Boiler – almost completely scrathbuilt




Two Garratt Boiler units




Garratt with front and rear engine units attached

More details to follow later

And finally, I had to replace my regular car after it was damaged in a collision with a deer. This was an extremely unpleasant situation and re-inforced my opinion that insurance companies will screw you. The incident occurred when I was driving into work and a fawn ran right out in front of me and into the side of the wing. There was no way I could stop and unfortunately, the fawn was killed. I felt terrible about that, but at least it was quick. (We are over run with deer here and one has to be very careful driving at this time of year with all the young inexperienced ones around) It also stove in my bumper, the wing, the rad grill (but not the rad itself) and crumpled the hood / bonnet. Neither the airbags were deployed or any glass shattered and the vehicle remained driveble. Immediately afterwards, as required, I contacted my insurance company and from then on the situation went down hill. The long and the short of it, a very exasperating situation developed in which the insurance company screwed up just about everything and wrote off the vehicle based on very nebulous understanding, with no recourse. I felt that the vehicle was not badly damaged and this was confirmed by the body shop, who said that it was a relatively easy repair and that the frame was not twisted. I normally keep my vehicles for at least 10 years and 200K+ miles, so I was very annoyed that the insurance company wrote the vehicle off seemingly arbitrarily, without allowing any second opinion. This was despite the fact that I was prepared to pay for repair of the majority of the damage myself. I have actually taken action against them due to the fact that I have since discovered that they either misled me or flat out lied. This is still ongoing, but I can say that we shall be changing our insurance company shortly and that the current one will lose our business for insuring both the vehicles and the house. Ultimately, I have had to replace the vehicle and was fortunate to find one of the same make, but with only 31ooo miles on it. Not bad for an 11 year old vehicle. But, I would have preferred to have my original vehicle repaired (and it would have been cheaper as well).

So meet Sasha.




It’s a first generation Scion Xb, and basically looks like something a young child would draw if asked to draw a car. Basically a box on wheels with all the aerodynamics of a brick. Scion is a marque of Toyota and the Xb is a lightly re-designed version of the Toyota Bb, which was available in Japan (and which may now be entering the UK market on the grey market). I think you either love them or hate them. I love them as they are small, economical, and you can stuff a huge amount of stuff in the back. I also like the fact that there is plenty of head room, even for someone of my height. Diane thinks that it looks like a miniature Land Rover and I have to admit when the two are close to each other, there is a certain similarity in appearance. I’m not that fond of the leather seats in this one and so a set of seat covers will probably be added at some point. And this one has a spoiler on the rear door, which will probably go at some point. Quite why anyone would put a spoiler on something shaped like a lego brick, I don’t know. I’m happy with the car, but I still wish i had the original one. However, I guess I’ll have this one for a good few years yet.

More to follow shortly