Windows 3 – An upgrade

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Looks fine doesen’t it. This is Libby’s original Passenger Side door window. However, when turned over and looked at from the inside, we see this.

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Although difficult to see, it’s totally rotted out, as shown in the close up below.

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The drivers side was just as bad.

Series Land Rover Door tops are notorious for doing this. They are of a very old design, being flimsy steel framed sections welded together. There are lots of nooks and cranny’s where water can seep in and accumulate, thus starting rust points. Added to that, the window design is quite old and somewhat crude, with the panes being supported on (and sliding on) felt covered steel channels set into the window frames. These trap water and get damp and then rust through, allowing ingress of more water, thus furthering the problem. The design was probabaly adequeate when Landy’s first came out, but these days is a little antiquated and a bit of a liability.

So what to do?

Very briefly I considered rebuilding them, and then thought better of it. It would take a LOT of work to get these back to anything like good condition, and the experience would probabaly be painful. Most of the steel work within the door top frames was rusted though and I have no welding experience. So I wrote that idea off.

Next, I considerd buying some new, but original design doortops and transfering all the window hardware from the old tops to the new ones. But wait – this is the same design as before and will have the same issues. Maybe in 10 or so years time, I will need to renew the doortops AGAIN!?

In the end, I went with the far more expensive, but I think better option of replacing the door tops with the far more superior after-market door tops from Rocky Mountain Products (P/N RMG010). These are formed from extruded anaodised aluminium sections welded together and incorporate the same design of rubber channel window slides that are found in the window track raplacement kits previously fitted to the rear sliding windows and the center door windows. Although expensive (I got mine from RMP in Canada, though they are also available from their UK agents, Rocky Mountain Spares), they are of superb quality.

The new door tops are much stiffer than the the original Land Rover Steel ones, and so provide a stuffer door with less buffeting in the wind. They are very easy to fit – basically remove the old ones by (hopefully unscrewing the nuts holding the original door tops on) and replace with the new door tops. With Libby, it was slightly more work, as the nuts were so corroded, I couldn’t remove them from the door top studs. The nut splitter failed to work, and in the end, I carefully cut through most of the nuts with an angle grinder and then split the remainder with a cold chisel. This effectivly destroyed the old door top stud, so there was no going back now – the new door tops had to be fitted!.

I actually painted my door tops before installing them on Libby, so they match the rest of the vehicle. The glazing is easily removed from the frame using small stainless steel screws, to make painting much easier. Some people leave them in bare anodised aluminum and there is nothing wrong with this, as it looks very smart. But I painted mine in the same over all colour as Libby (Deep Bronze Green) for uniformity. And very smart she looks too.

Whilst installing the door tops, I also installed new door top rubber seals, as the old ones were hardened and cracked. These can be obtained from Rocky Mountain and are well worth fitting. They come slightly overlong and need cutting to size, but that’s no hardship. Because I don’t take my door tops off, I sealed the strip to the lower door, and the door top to the strip, using some waterproof sealant, to try and improve the weather proofing even further. but this is not essential. I did find I needed to trim the outer lip of the sealing strip where the drain holes are located in the door tops to allow the water to flow out. Installation of the door tops was dead easy. Screw the stainless steel studs into the door top, fit the sealing strip and drop into the door top onto the lower door, using the securing studs to align everything. Add the stainless steel securing nuts and tightn up. Fit the catches to the window panes and job done!

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It probabaly took me an hour or so to do both door tops (including cutting the old studs off) so it really wasn’t a big job to do.

I’m thrilled with these. OK, they wern’t cheap, but they are watertight and the door is so much stiffer, with far less vibration from wind buffet or road vibration. there is no shower of rust every time I slam the door or slide the windows open. The windows are easy to slide and both the front and rear windows can be opend (unlike the OEM one’s). The catches mean that you can lock the door from the outside by reaching in, and then slide the window shut to lock them. Whilst this can be useful in some circumstances, of course this means that it is easy to lock your keys in the car. Ask me how I know this…….

One thing that some users have commented on this that the window catches make it impossible to slide the windows all the way forward or all the way back. There may have been an earlier design of catch, but I find that I have no problem sliding both windows to the fullest extent and past each other.

As for the original windows, they stayed on the shelf for a while, but a few weeks ago, I stripped them of all their useful hardware (window catches and window panes) as spares for future use or trade, then they made their last jorney to the metal recyling facility. Ironically, in the back of the Land Rover. If anyone needs some window catches or front window panes, let me know.

Wierd and Wonderful Land Rovers

I came across this the other day, via Phil Barkers Blog, and and thought I’d share it with you. It’s a Pathe News feature on both the Cuthbertson Land rover and the Land Rover Road – Railer. It’s interesting to note that the road-railer vesrion is still available for the many railway contractors operating on Network rail, abeilt Defender 110 versions. Interesting they say it can pull up to 50 tons. Ah yes, but what about stopping things? Not sure I’d want to tow some wagons with it, such as for shunting, as braking might be interesting, given the weight of a landy (even a 109) with that of a loaded wagon! Many other pick up trucks and utility vehicles have also been converted to road-railer configurations, and certainly they are quite common to see here in North America.  Also, there have been several cuthbertson conversions of 110’s as well. Not sure how the Cuthbertson is to drive – probably dire and the increased height increases the risk of roll-over.

Still, a fascinating insight in the development of the Land Rover as a Utility Vehicle.

Windows 2

Flushed with my sucess on replacing the window strips on the rear safari windows, I set about doing the same on the middle doors. The window strips here were in a really bad condition and totally rotted out. The windows were loose and shaking so badly that I thought they would fall out when going over bumps. The water would run down past the windows into the door frames, and had induced rusing of the frames from within. Idealy, the doors need replacing, as they are slowly rusting out and have twisted slightly, but I can’t afford to do that at the moment, so they had to be repairted. Again, I used the Aluminum / Rubber window strip kit from Rocky Mountain Products as they worked well last time. However, these tracks are designed for the rear LR safari windows. Although they will fit the middle door window frame, the windows of the middle door are of a slightly different construction, and so a slightly different intsllation method was required.

I tackled each door in turn. The glass was removed by sliding the windows back and forth until I could find the screws for the upper window tracks. As expected, these were pretty rusted and some choice words and brute force (including needle nose pliers) were used to remove the screws. However, once they were all removed, the upper track could be removed, allowing the glass to be tilted out of the frames. This was set aside and the remainder of the window tracks were removed – a frustrating job due to the rusted screws holding the tracks in, espscially for the lower window tracks. Once all the tracks were removed, it could be seen that most of the support frames for the lower tracks, which were part of the door frame, had rusted away. No wonder the windows were lose and rattling.

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Rusted window frame with window panes removed

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Rust in lower window frame of middle doors.

The vacuum was used to remove the rust debris from inside the window frames and the worst of the corroded interior bracket remains were removed. The inside of the frame channel was liberally coated in POR-15 rust encapsulator in an effort to slow the frame corrosion and allowed to harden for several hours before putting the new tracks in. Whilst the paint was drying, the aluminum channels were cut to length, ensuring a tight fit in the door frame.

For the lower door track, a hole has to be cut to allow the window catch to pass through. I marked this up carefully, using the existing window catch and then chaindrilled through the aluminum body, but not the rubber channel strip. This allowed me to slit the rubber so that when I installed  the lower track into the door, I could push the catch through the strip, so that the rubber would clamp tightly onto the window catch and form a water tight seal. It does make the catch a bit tight to use, but I rarely open those windows anyhow!

The lower tracks should be screwed onto some steel support strips welded across the window frame channel in the door, but since these had rusted away, there was nothing to screw the channel to. Instead, I used Permertex Black sillicone adhesive sealant to glue the frame into the channel, sealing the ends of and sides of the channel against the inside of the doorframe channel with more of the same. This turned out to be pretty resiliant and made a good waterproof seal. The upright strips were then attached to the door frames, this time by scewing into the door frames, but also with a good coating of the silicone sealant adhesive for leak proofing.When drilling the screw holes, remember to resess the screw heads into the rubber track, so that the glass window panes can slide above them. The top tracks were then  added to complete the window frame, by drilling out the scewholes and scewing the track to the window frame. Once all the upper holes had been drilled, the top frame was removed again, the glass panes carefully instralled in the lower track in the correct order (front fixed pane goes OUTSIDE of the sliding rear pane), the upper track (with silicone adhesive already applied to the top and outerside of the track) mounted on top of the window panes and the whole lot tilted back into the window frame. Once firmly pushed into place, the windows can be slid back and forth so that the relevant screws can be driven home. Any sealant that had oozed out was then removed and tidied up. The outer fixed front pane was sealed into the track using clear sillicone sealant so it can’t be slid forward, as there is no catch on this window pane to prevent it being moved. The less viscous clear silicone was also used to secondary seal the window tracks into the door frames, so providing a robust water tight seal.

And that was it! Total time for each window was a few hours, excluding time for the POR-15 to dry and cure. I did the job over two rather warm days, allowing one day for each door, with plenty of stops to cool off in the garage. The windows are now leakproof and water tight and don’t rattle. They have very little chance of falling out and are far more secure. When I eventually replace the doors, I will either remove and re-use the existing door tracks in the new doors, or by a new kit. I’m very happy with these tracks and the relative ease with which they can be fitted into the various different types of land rover window frame. I’m sure they will also work in the rear window of a truck cab as well with no problem.

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Finished job

Windows 1

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No, not the computer kind. Land Rover windows.

Probabaly every Series Land rover owner knows the problem. Although Land Rover did many great things when developing the Series Land Rover, one of the things that wasn’t so good was the design of the window runners for the sliding glass windows. Old school technology even when the vehicles first came out in the late 50’s, these are basically felt covered thin steel channels with a U-shaped cross section, sitting in the window frames, supposedly acting as a weatherproof seal and allowing the windows to slide back and forth. Great concept for use in the dessert, but in the typically miserable British weather. prone to trapping moisture and debris and rapidly rusting out. I think typically, most window strips last about 10 years before requiring replacement. Unfortunately, what this does is then allow water to seep into the door frames (or doors if you have a station wagon), accelerating corrosion of the window and door frames. It also means that the windows don’t slide easily and results in a shower of rust everytime you slam the door.

Since Libby is a LWB station wagon, she was prone to suffer from this more than other Landies, simply because she has six sets of sliding windows. When she rejoined me me here in the US, all the windows were loose and to be honest, the front door window frames were completly rusted out. It was time to take action!

The easiest option would have been to scoop out the debris, obtain some new strips (which atre cheap and easy to obtain), glue them back in and forget about it. However, this wouldn’t really solve the problem. The water leakage (and resulting corrosion) would continue and I would end up doing the job again in a few years time. However, there is a far superior (abeilt more expensive) alternative. These are Rocky Mountain Products window tracks and door tops! They are far superior to the OEM ones and work extremly well. Plus, being made out of stout rubber and anodised aluminium, they are less likely to corrode and disintrigate when wet.

The first set of windows I tackled were the rear ones. These were extremly loose and I was worried about them falling out! I was put on to Rocky Mountain products by reading TeriAnn Wakeman’s Green Rover website. For those of you who have not encountered it, it is a good read. In it she details in considerable detail her experiences in living with her elderly series II LWB Dormobile Camper and her extensive modifications to it to turn it into a reliable long range expedition vehicle, which she has taken all across the US and from Mexico to Canada. Although she has extensivly modified the Green Rover to suit it’s current purpose, these are well thought out modifications and upgrades, done for a purpose and and not to make the vehicle more aggressive. Well worth a read and some of the expedition pictures are superb.

Anyhow, in her website, she details how she went about replacing her side window chanels with Rocky Mountain ones, which are essentially follow the instructions as supplied by RM. So, thinking this was a good idea, I went ahead and ordered a kit, which basically consisted of six lengths of rubber double channel window strips enclosed in an aluminum surround, and a bag of stainless steel screws.

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Scrap piece of Rocky Mountain Window Track, showing double channel rubber internals and aluminium surround

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The channels have to be cut to the appropriate length, but one kit will do two side windows. I obtained my kits direct from RM Products in Canada, but they are available from their UK distributor, Rocky Mountain Spares, (though it seems like in the UK you are paying the numerical equivalent in pounds sterling to what I paid in dollars!).

I won’t go into adnauseum detail on the complete procedure, since it is clearly explained on TeriAnn’s site and in the RM instructions. I basically follows the instructions to the letter and installed the tracks in my rear windows in just a couple of hours. Basically remove the windows (take very good care NOT to lose the metal part in the window catch – it falls out easily. Ask me how I know!). Remove the old window strips, which was relatively easy as they were so rusted, they basically fell out. A harder job was removing the old screws, but basically these eventually came out by being unscrwed with some pliers! The aluminum drip tray was removed, emptied and cleaned up and the drain holes cleaned out and re-sealed to the bodywork. After refitting the newly cleaned and emptied galvanised drip tray, the new tracks were cut to the correct length with a small chop saw, ensuring a tight fit in the intended location. The new tracks were installed in sequence (bottom, top, front side and rear side if I recall correctly) using both the stainless steel screws supplied, as well as some Black Permatex adhesive to provide a watertight flexible seal between the window track and the bodywork. I actually added some clear sealant to the top of this joint between the bodywork and the tracks, just to make extra sure everything was sealed and waterproof. One thing to note is that when installing the screws, you need to eacavate a little of the rubber to allow it to sit down tight below the bottom of the glass window pane, otherwise you won’t be able to install the windows correctly.

I did have some pictures taken during this procedure, but do you think I can find them? Oh No. If they ever turn up, I will add them to this page. However, here is the final product.

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Ok, difficult to see I know, but this window is now tighly sealed against water. The drain holes work as they should and no water gets inside. The only thing that I would say is that the windows are a lot stiffer to slide back and forth, but I found that running a bar of soap along the channels made things slide a little easier. However, that is a small price to pay for a dryer interior.

I was very happy with this repair and modifications. Although I generally keep Libby in fairly original condition, this was one mofofication / upgrade I was happy to perform. Despite the extra cost, I think it was well worth it. So much so, that in fact I did the cntre door windows as well, but that is a story for another day.

The Window track kit is designed for the rear sliding windows of an Landy. However, I have also used it on my centre door windows and I’m fairly certain that it could be installed in the rear sliding window of the truck-cab version, so it is fairly versatile.

Tommorrow, dealing with the middle doors and replacing the front window tops.

Catching Up and Introducing Sasha (the Scion)

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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.

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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.

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Rusted out Middle LHS door window track

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Rusted Out Middle door window track

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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.

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“Who are you looking at?”

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

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

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“OK, well I thought it was funny!”

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“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.

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Boiler – almost completely scrathbuilt

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Underside

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Two Garratt Boiler units

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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.

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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

Land Rover A Vendre

No, not mine.

We were in Canada visiting family up in the mountains north of Montreal last weekend. We travel up several times a year to see them and it is always good to get away. Anyhow, whilst we were buzzing around, Diane spotted this for sale on the side of the road.

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The things you find on the side of the road in rural Canada

Yes, a V8 petrol LHD 110 3 door in reasonably good condition (though the bulkhead could do with a little tidying up).

This must be a private import as no LWB 3 doors were officially imported into North America by Land Rover. Only 525 NAS 5-door station wagons and several hundred NAS90’s were “officially”imported. Therefore, this must have been a private import and being a truck bed makes it quite rare. I suspect from the painted out number plate on the front this may have been a Belgian vehicle at one point.

Anyhow, we took a few pictures for interest, given below

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LHD Cab

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A Vendre – “For Sale”

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Judging by the sticker saying “Land rover 110” above the radiator, this must be a pre-1990 vehicle, as after that it said “Defender 110”. Of course, the sticker could be a retrofit, but I don’t think so. Clearly the vehicle has been repainted cream from marine blue at some point. I didn’t get a good look at the chassis (wasn’t going to crawl around under it on the road side), but on the whole the vehicle looks in fair, but used condition. Just what a Landy should be.

And no, we didn’t buy it – Diane wouldn’t let me. 2 is enough apparently!