Back in 1999 my father purchased a 1968 series 2a short wheel-based Land Rover. I have fond memories of bouncing around in the middle seat whilst driving around the country lanes in Suffolk. In fact, the Land Rover used to bounce around so much that my brother and I affectionately named it Tigger. Then in the summer of 2004 the pinion in the rear differential snapped and when my dad investigated repairing this, more and more problems presented themselves, especially in terms of rust on the chassis and bulkhead. Fixing all these problems at the time was not an option so Tigger was parked up in the garden waiting till I was old enough to help my dad in starting a full restoration.
My older brother and I washing Tigger before the restoration started -
Disassembly: The easy bit
I started taking the Land Rover apart all the way back in 2013 at the age of 13, mainly working on it in the summer holidays when I was off from school. Although I had little understanding of how the Land Rover worked at that stage, I became very adept at loosening seized bolts and getting spanners in hard to reach places. It took much longer than it should have to completely strip the vehicle, mainly due to my young age and inexperience. The first really exciting stage of this project was when the old chassis was cut up and removed and replaced with a brand new shiny galvanised one.
Getting things back together
Last summer was a big turning point as we stopped taking things apart and instead started to put them back together. We started by fixing the issue that had taken Tigger of the road originally and fully rebuilt the rear differential. From there we replaced all the bearings and seals in the hubs, and the rear axle was the first part fully complete ready to go on the new chassis. As I started university that September, little work was done on Tigger until Christmas where the front swivels were replaced. We now had two complete axles and it really felt like the project was going in the right direction.
Nobody could have predicted coronavirus and despite the many negatives, it was definitely a positive for Tigger and I’m sure many other project cars. Instead of travelling around South America, I was now stuck at home all summer which of course meant lots of work on the Land Rover!
The first task of this summer was to strip the engine. We completely disassembled and cleaned up the head and lapped all the valves to ensure a good seal. All the seals were replaced as well as a new fuel and water pump. To get it looking pretty again, it was given a coat of the original duck egg blue paint. New parabolic leaf springs were ordered, and the fully rebuilt axles could finally be mounted to the chassis. With this done, the engine and gear box could be put on the chassis and the drive shafts were connected. Brake lines were run and new brakes were fitted. Other smaller parts such as the pedal boxes, steering arms and air filter also got stripped, rebuilt and repainted ready to be refitted.
The worst piece of the body was the rear tub. The cross supports were so rusty they pretty much disintegrated when I tried to remove them. Similarly, the floor had corroded so badly that there were several holes through it. A rear end knock sometime in this vehicle’s long life had also bent one corner quite badly out of place. Therefore, lots of the tubs structural pieces all had to be replaced. Putting a whole new floor in was beyond my skill so instead the corrosion was treated, and a new floor was riveted in on top. The seat base was also in a bad way The under-seat storage tray had completely rusted so had to be replaced. Both the side panels had corroded badly so they also had to be changed.
Another exciting stage was the arrival of a brand-new galvanised bulkhead to match the chassis, this had to be sprayed bronze green to match the other panels, so we had to learn how to spray. The front panel also had to have a new bottom section welded in which gave me a chance to practice my welding, and with much help from the grinder I managed to make it look reasonably seamless.
When lockdown started all we had were two axles and a bare chassis now we have the whole drive train linked up, brake lines run, a fully painted bulkhead and a rear tub and seat box ready to go on. After years of work, the dream of having Tigger restored and back on the road is becoming closer to a reality. The postman must have been fed up with delivering large Bearmach packages to our door every other day, but he can have a break for a bit as I am now back at university so work on the project will slow.
I have left my dad with the task of getting the wiring done so hopefully we can get the engine started when I am back home over Christmas. You can keep up to date with the build and progress of Tigger over on Instagram!