Life at the end of the road

December 7, 2017

Transformed :-)

Filed under: Land Rover, shed/house, weather — Tags: , , , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 9:06 pm

Thursday night now, not long in, just demolished a stir fry and the Earl Grey is brewing, don’t worry, the wine will probably come later, it is only 19:21 after all. Well, storm Caroline passed without incident, here at least, an abundance of Raasay’s equivalent of tumbleweed being the only obvious signs of severe wind. I dunno whether it’s even the right name for it but I call it couch grass and after winter storms it can be seen clinging to fences, blown under doors and piled up in sheltered corners. This morning its dead fronds were whirling in the wind eddies at the back door, I dunno why I call it that cos we only have the one Smile Same at ‘number 3’, though that one was always the front door!! I’m a great believer in as few holes as possible in the house ‘envelope’, patio doors and windows are fine for the summer in sheltered locations.


The ‘violent storm’ 11 gusting ‘hurricane force’ 12 that presented itself full onto our triple glazing would have made for a good old draught on a large expanse of glass I’m sure. That was just before 8:00am, it was still dark and I’d no inkling to go out in it, though the pigs and hens got a quick feed a little later.


Yesterday would have been me old Dad’s 89th birthday so I’d decided to go and visit me Mum and visit his grave.

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Me old Pop would be quite happy there under his ‘Five Sisters of Kintail,

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not that you could see them, you couldn’t even see Eilean Donan castle a mile or two down Loch Duich. Still, despite the rain and murk we enjoyed the walk down the newly tarred road to Ratagan.

You gotta laugh

Sure it was raining and this stretch of road is no different from any other road in the highlands insomuch as it’s full of puddles.

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It’s not ‘rocket science’ is it, the puddles freeze, the tar cracks, a pot hole starts and grows, all that’s needed is a man with a shovel. I emptied that puddle with the heel of my boot, there must have been dozens of them on that short stretch of road from Ratagan to Ardearg. The council say ‘there is no more money in the pot for road repairs’ so why not send someone out with a shovel to let the water away? They have the men, the vans and plenty of shovels I’m sure.

The hundred or so mile long round trip gave me a good chance to try out the Discovery transfer box and I have to say I was well impressed. The 1.222:1 ratio certainly makes for quieter driving but then I guess my box was noisy anyway. I’d also sealed up a few gaps in the transmission tunnel so I guess that helped. However even taking these into account the RPM was lower for a given speed and the speedometer was reading the correct speed for the first time in years. Since the vehicle was built as far as I know, certainly since I started using a Satnav.

The real and most important test though came on the way home when I called at Sconser quarry for 2 tons of 20mm chips.

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OK 1980kg of chips Smile either way that was a gross weight of 5.3t as good a way of any of testing the transfer box. First though I had to go to Portree for a hearing test, which, I was in two minds to cancel. The weather was poor, the wind strong and I’d not be getting back until the 17:30 ferry.

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Well, I decided to risk it and after my appointment landed back at Sconser almost an hour before sailing time. Typically it was just plain windy until the ferry arrived, then, soon as the Hallaig made its approach to the pier an almighty squall came howling down Loch Sligachan!! Expertly handled, Hallaig berthed successfully and I hauled my load all the way home. Sure I was in low ratio once or twice but no more than usual and on the whole I’m well chuffed with the modification. Big ‘thumbs up’ for the Discovery to Defender transfer box swap Smile

Storm Caroline

As I mentioned, she passed without too much incident and now there’s only a fresh breeze of north wind .

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Whilst it was on the whole dry, the wind was too strong to really do much outside up at the house so first thing I did was deliver some wine Smile 

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Then it was down to Port Arnish to check the boats, the storm force winds making the tide a good deal higher than predicted.


The wind was just a few points north of west so it wasn’t quite so bad at the old fish farm slip, even so it was getting a pasting.

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It really was way too windy for doing anything outside so I spent the rest of the day in Calum the Kubota, first doing a drain at the house and then working on the Torran path.

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It was quite sheltered down there with the birch trees anyway but with the cab closed and the heater on it was just toasty Smile

The ferry had missed the first two sailings right enough but, unfortunately for the ‘post lady’ the third ferry brought with it 8 sacks of mail Sad smile

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Luckily she got home just before this dump arrived and as I type here at 21:00 another load has arrived on the back of a good ‘gale force 8’

Still, Nairn went by in the gritter about an hour ago so with a bit of luck she’ll get into work tomorrow, me, I think I’ll be working on my clothes hanger.

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Trouble is, I only had two pieces of oak and they required a lot of work.



December 5, 2017

Three days ‘on my back’ :-)

Well, the old clutch replacement turned into a bit of an epic, a job that I could have easily done in a day turned into three days lying on a cold concrete floor. Still, the last two times that I’ve done a gearbox replacement or clutch on the ‘Old Girl’ it’s been outside so I’ve that to be thankful for.

I left you on Saturday night having successfully removed the old gearbox and transfer box as one unit then split them apart on the floor. I had fully intended refitting the original LT230 transfer box from the Land Rover despite it being a little noisy. I knew the box was in good condition and the noise was just from some rusty gears I fitted a few years ago The original gears failed in 2014 and I replaced them with some rusty ones given me by a mate. This was only ever intended as a temporary measure as they were really badly corroded and whined worse than the ‘wee dug’ in the car. And as anyone who has been in a car with Molly will testify, that really is bad Sad smile I dunno if my hearing got worse, the gears got quieter, I learned to live with them or a combination of all three but over time I got used to it and replacement seemed pointless.

LT230 Ratios

As my Land Rover was built in 1986 before the 19J turbo diesel and was originally fitted with the gutless but ‘bombproof’ 2.5NA diesel developing a staggering 68HP it had a transfer gear ratio of 1.667:1 the rusty gears that I fitted were from a later vehicle giving a ratio of 1.410:1. This is was the stock ratio for all 90,110 and Defender vehicles for the next few decades and still is as far as I know. It worked well on my Land Rover as I’d fitted the later 19J turbo diesel engine which was a much improved 85HP with only marginal sacrifice in fuel consumption. The slightly higher ratio transfer box restoring the original ‘economy’ of around 22MPG without sacrificing any of the rather lame towing ability.

A popular mod among Defender anoraks is to fit the Discovery transfer box with its 1.222 ratio for improved economy, better cruising and enhanced motorway performance. Now, I’d had one of these Disco boxes sat in my shed for 3 years  but decided against fitting it on account of my frequent trips up Calum’s road with 3.5t on the back. The oversize tyres on the ‘Old Girl’ already made her pretty ‘tall geared’ as it was. I knew the box was lovely and quiet as I’d driven the whole vehicle home before removing it and the engine.


On balance it seemed a saner option to keep the 1:410 ratio, however, upon splitting the gearbox from the transfer box I discovered that the input shaft gear was worn out where the gearbox output shaft mates to it. In view of this I decided to fit the Disco transfer box, something I may live to regret Sad smile Still, it’s far easier just replacing the tranny box than the gearbox and it would save me the cost of a new 1.410 input gear (the disco one is cut differently to make it quieter).

Now there is acres of info on the Internet about this conversion and most of it will tell you it’s a ‘straight swap’, well not quite. The Defender handbrake mounts are in a different position, Defender on left, Disco on right.

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Fortunately, lodged in the recesses of my brain I remembered something about this and sorted it before fitting the box.

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The holes are 40mm apart and easily tapped M8 x 1.25 Smile 

In she goes

It was going really well on Sunday and having adopted a leisurely approach to this job I even found time to go for a walk with wife and dog.

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Heading off down to Port Arnish where we managed to do a little ditching and open up a few drains. If only Highland Regional Council would adopt the same approach they’d save a fortune on road repairs, they have the men, they have the shovels, all they need to do is go out in the rain and use them!!!

Anyways, once I got back I lifted in the gearbox having first aligned up the clutch using a 22mm copper pipe which is the perfect size for a Defender centre plate and flywheel bush.

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Couple of first class dodges here, first one being to put a block of wood over the gear lever aperture in the transmission tunnel and wrap a ratchet strap around it. With a jack at the ar5e end of the gearbox and the strap at the front I carefully aligned it up and shoved it home.


Though not before I fastened the clutch pushrod to the release fork with a cable tie, nothing worse than that falling into the bell housing as you pull it home.


Several dozen pairs of latex gloves and one boiler suit later I had it all in, transfer box on and called it a day. I was pure wrecked and me back killing me from lying on the concrete all day, it was time for a roast pork dinner and some wine.


By rights there wasn’t that much left to do on Monday but I still managed to make a meal of it. Once all back together I took it for a road test early afternoon and it wouldn’t stay in high ratio Sad smile Despite it only being a simple adjustment it took me way into the evening to sort it. The rod I had to adjust was just plain impossible to access on the ‘Old Girl’. On any other Land Rover it would have just been a matter of removing the centre seat and lifting up an inspection panel held down by four bolts. Sadly that just aint possible on C530 VSX due to all the insulation I’ve fitted Sad smile

Eventually by cutting a 13mm spanner in half, doing some contortions and using a long screwdriver to ‘run down’ the nut I sorted it and by Monday dinner time she was ‘good to go’. Seems OK as far as the gearing goes but we’ll no for sure tomorrow once I stick 3.5t on the back and try and drag it up ‘Calum’s road’ Smile


What should have been a very productive day turned into a rather chilled one which saw me just pottering around mainly and cleaning up three days mess in the barn. Whilst I had given the ‘Old girl’ a blast to Brochel and back last night I decided to do the 24 mile round trip to Raasay Engineering and back to collect gas.


I arrived there to find an old friend sat in Simon’s trailer, Sammy the Lister ST7 generator that had powered my house for some 10 years!!! This 1978 beauty had run 12 hours a day for 18 years before I got him and has still never had the heads off. Simon has been using it to run a welder and said she still starts first time and runs sweet.


It wasn’t the only Lister there either, here’s a marinised HR2 from an old lighthouse tender, looks pretty corroded but I bet it’s still a runner. These Lister engines are pure indestructible.

Once back home and feeling well chuffed with my quiet and slick gearbox/transfer box combination I thought about having a damn good clean up. As many will testify, I am not the tidiest of workers.

First off though, with a forecast of a fine morning and pish afternoon, I went over to Torran to see the neighbours.


Taking a spare gas cylinder with me then doing some work at the Schoolhouse on the way.

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The Lister ST2 ‘Start O Matic’ that I fitted in 2006 was due a run. These generators where the ‘weapon of choice’ for many a highland house or estate back in the day before major electrification. They would automatically start up if anything over 60W was switched on then shutdown when everything was switched off. This one is wired up through a Studer inverter to start via an internal switch to those two light bulbs. Its duties are generally restricted to the washing machine as the solar/hydro and 2.2kW inverter copes with just about everything else, however I do generally run it up for an hour or two every month or so.

Whilst the Lister was chugging away Molly and I went onto Torran cottage for coffee and craic Smile

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Then it was back home to deal with my gas cylinders and the big clean up.


Certainly seems bigger in there now I’m not tripping over that crate with the ex army gearbox in it Smile

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Anyway, that’s it, after 7:00 now, time to feed the animals and really test the Land Rover with a heavy load on the back.

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