Life at the end of the road

October 18, 2021

I thought it was Tuesday :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, Land Rover, life off grid — Tags: , , — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:14 pm

Well, that was a pleasant surprise, I awoke this morning at ‘stupid o clock’ thinking it was Tuesday and spent the entire day under the same illusion. Not until steaming my beans and broccoli for dinner was I relieved of this misconception. To say it came as a relief would be an understatement cos I’d been rushing round like an eejit all afternoon trying to get stuff finished for Wednesday Sad smile

Despite my best efforts I couldn’t stay in bed but tried pretty hard until finally giving up round 6:30. Going out about an hour later, feeding Marmalade, Spotty and Jiffy before going walkabout with Bonzo when the sun rose. Not that you’d know it cos the cloud was so thick as to give no clue as to its whereabouts.


With mushroom’s becoming thin on the ground we chose the road rather than the birch wood for this mornings perambulation and wandered by my old croft towards the head of the valley and back.


One of Raasay’s fishing boats the Mary M was looking for a late lobster or some velvet crab over at Ard Torran. Bonzo and I returned home for our muesli, having made the mistake some time ago of giving the pair of them a little yoghurt and the remains of my breakfast between them. Now they won’t leave me, alone as soon as my spoon starts rattling on the last dregs in my bowl Bonzo starts bouncing to the accompaniment of Molly’s whining. Not until they each have a spoon of yoghurt, milk and raisins in their dishes will they give me peace.

Unlike yesterday where the day was too nice to be in the shed all day, today was perfect, grey and damp with no sunshine and blue sky to tempt me outdoors. So, after giving my Stream Engine rotor another coat of paint I dived under my Land Rover.


Removed the centre section of the exhaust and most of the nuts and bolts securing the LT230 transfer box to the LT77 gearbox ready for lifting it out. Now with the handbrake drum and back plate removed it’s not that heavy and if you are doing it on the floor it’s not hard to lift it onto your chest, which is what I’ve always done in the past. However those days are gone Smile

P1190099 P1190100

I bought me a transmission jack with a built in scissor lift and strap to hold the box securely and just wheeled it out after making a wooden support to steady it better.

P1190101 P1190102

With the two boxes side by side I swapped the speedo drive and diff lock linkages, tested the indicator lamp switch and then put the new box onto the jack.


Before putting it in I made up a new wiring loom for the diff lock and reversing lamp switches and did a couple of jobs that were far easier to do with the transfer box out of the way. Tidied up some sound proofing and re routed some breather pipes. Putting the box insitu and securing it to the main gearbox before abandoning it in favour of the Stream Engine which I wanted to get fitted before the day was out.

The hydro turbine seemed to back together without any major drama and once built up I ferried it down through the birch wood to my secret cove.


It really is quite magical down there especially when the tide is high.


I’d like to say that that was it sorted but I’m not convinced. Methinks the stator is damaged as it’s vibrating and the voltages are uneven across the phases Sad smile However it’s not all bad cos at least it’s Tuesday tomorrow and not the Wednesday I was expecting Smile

So, now I don’t have to go to Portree tomorrow I can investigate the turbine and finish off my transfer box Smile

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.

P1120938 P1120939

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

  P1120943 P1120944

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.

IMAG0405 IMAG0406

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.

P1120932 P1120933 P1120935 P1120936

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.

DSCN0008 DSCN0011 DSCN0010

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

DSCN0012 DSCN0013

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

DSCN0014 P1120941 P1120942

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.

Older Posts »

Create a free website or blog at