Making Basil better


My goal had been to get Basil road legal and registered by my 30th birthday - April 26, 2001. That goal was met with the plates going on at noon. So what now? There have been a lot of improvements made to get this far, but that's not it. Not even close. The pace of work may slow down a little but there's still lots to do.

April 26, continued: The charging system hadn't been working. Instead of debugging a voltage regulator that was incorrect for the vehicle, I decided to retrofit a GM internally regulated alternator. More power and more reliable. I had to rotate the rear of the alternator for the correct alignment of the connectors, leading to a short introduction on how to reassemble an alternator. Whoops. The twin pulleys come off a 1985 Tempo. Everything did eventually go into place although it was a slow job. The rest of the evening was spent enjoying the truck, now able to roam free without too much of a care.

April 27: Not much work on Basil today. Instead, we cleaned out the garage, built a workbench and organized the piles of car parts. Oh, and put the correct size of fan belt on the alternator instead of the a-little-bit-too-small one we had. Tip: 15410 is the part number. It's fun to tell a parts guy that you need a fan belt for a 1967 Land Rover with a GM alternator and a Ford Tempo pulley. They get upset.

May 2: Well, it turns out that the clutch on Basil is both slipping and dragging. A new pressure plate and friction disc are on order. I've learned more about adjusting the brakes so they're better with more room for improvement. But until that clutch is replaced, Basil is back to being stationary. Sigh. It sure was a fun weekend, though.

May 8: Kudos to Atlantic British of Canada. Fast service and good prices. Rovers North (excellent service) and Craddock (inexpensive) have also delivered parts. A new fuel filler hose was fitted with much excitement on Saturday (tanks are heavy when they're half full), illustrating just why the previous owner had hacked off the end of the hose in a fit of frustration. Otherwise, the parts are here but Basil is waiting. Why? Because I installed a turbo on a Miata over the weekend, then promptly tore into the transmission of my own Miata!

May 16: Well, the new aluminum flywheel of the Miata needs to be replaced due to a defective thread. So it's back at Basil again. First Eric and I replaced the door pins for the rear door so it could be hung again (they were well and truly stuck in there). Then a tappet adjustment and off to the OVLR Spring Tune Up day. It was a 70 mile day for Basil and he pounded along just fine. He's a good truck, even if his clutch didn't disengage. So I tackled that the next day. It's in place now after a bit of a struggle with the transmission and a lot of destroyed fasteners on the floorboards. But it's in and bolted up. Tomorrow we'll see if it's actually functioning - the old pressure plate had some bad arms on it, so it's good to see a reason for the clutch problems.

May 29: The lack of updates is a good thing. I've been too busy driving and enjoying Basil to work on him. The clutch transformed the beast - it must have been slipping in every single gear and it feels like I've got a lot more power to play with. Now Basil can tear around quite happily. New doortops are on the way from Wise Owl parts in BC along with a replacement transmission mount and a spin-on oil filter adaptor. European-spec H4 headlights are coming soon so I can see better at night. The choke cable also broke and I've got a new one ready to go in. The float for the gas gauge is also not interested in floating so that needs replacing - easy. Yesterday I fabricated some new exhaust hangers and those will be welded on the frame this weekend. Lots of little detail work...

June 5: I've managed to find a deluxe bonnet with a tire mount. It's just about finished refinishing and should be mounted on Basil tomorrow. Along with that, the new doortops, spin-on filter and transmission mounts arrived from Wise Owl. The exhaust hangers are welded in place and rustproofed, awaiting the exhaust proper. I also had the opportunity to meet the Prince of Darkness when some wiring shorted out in the rear, taking out the taillights. More pictures to come eventually.

June 8: The new bonnet is in place - much better! I not only refinished the top of it, but also cleaned off the steel substructure and gave that a few coats of black paint. The exhaust has been hung and is mounted very solidly. The spin-on oil filter is in, the float for the gas tank is replaced so my gauge works....but the big news is the doortops. Yup, they've finally been replaced. No more bungee cords holding the tops in place when I drive around! Basil feels like a real vehicle. There's a tach waiting to go in as well.

June 11: I forgot to mention the new coolant hoses and fuel filter installed last week. The wiring for the headlights/sidelights has been changed to UK spec, allowing the side lights to stay on with the headlights. This makes Basil easier to see at night. The weekend saw a reasonable highway trip with a couple of hours at 60 mph - I suspect there's a bit of play in one of the front swivel pins, leading to a vibration above that speed. Oh, and I installed a sound system: a harmonica. Sorry about the lack of photos - I'm between cameras at the moment.

June 26: We've been off to the Birthday Party and busy playing in the mud. To prepare, Basil got a few new bits. A fire extinguisher was mounted behind the driver's seat. A bin was made to fit under the middle seat for more storage space. The battery tiedown was replaced with a proper one. The oil light started coming on at 25 psi, then 35, now 40 - so a new sender was ordered as the gauge still showed proper behaviour. That was about it for preparation. Upon the return, one of the front hubs had loosened up so that was adjusted. The sticky throttle was lubricated and a lot of mud was removed from the undercarriage. The new sender was installed and works perfectly.

June 30: A spare tire carrier was installed inside the car to better hold my jack. Now it's not bouncing around! A pintle hitch was also bolted on to the rear crossmember to give another recovery point. Just in case. A bunch of parts have been ordered in anticipation of a long, 2000-mile trip to Colorado that's coming up. But right now I'm happy bombing around in the heat with no top on the truck. Very entertaining.

July 9: A busy weekend. First, Basil got a reworked alternator mount, some rustproofing on the inside of the doortops (remounted along with the roof) and some small maintenance items. Then I put new window tracks in one side of the top. I am NOT looking forward to doing the other side. After all of that, some offroad fun with OVLR members. I can't wait for the parabolic springs and new shocks.

July 12: Fooled with the carb for a bit yesterday, trying to stop the bowl from flooding and drooling fuel onto the exhaust manifold. Finally got it (I think) with a different float valve. Learned a lot in the process as well. Today it was a new Pertronix FlameThrower coil (epoxy filled "for extreme vibration" - seemed appropriate) and a Pertronix ignitor. Installation was dead simple with Basil being very happy and even picking up a bit of power.

July 19: New springs! The rear was a bit of a pain to do after an upper shock bolt broke off inside the frame. I had to drill through about 5.5" of bolt to get it cleared out, and I do not want to do that again! A big thanks to my friends Padma and Laura for the help. Luckily the fronts came off without a whimper, so now Basil is sitting proud on new springs and shocks all around. Initial impressions are - holy cow, did that thing lift high off the ground; and the ride is smoother. I haven't concentrated too much on the ride yet as I'm trying to track down a vibration that appears under power. It looks like it's time for some new U-joints - the old ones weren't happy with the increased ride height.

July 26: Finally. New U-joints, full lubrication of the sliding joint and alignment of the yokes in the rear propshaft - and now Basil runs smoothly under power. Well, for a 1967 Land Rover, anyhow. So the truck can get back on the road and around town. Thanks to Alan Richer for the tip on the yoke alignment, as that's what did the trick. I'm getting pretty fast at propshaft removal. Now there are a large number of small jobs to do in order to get ready for the long road trip: new shackles for the front springs, new bumpstop for the rear, replace a transmission mount, check straps for the rear suspension, new adjusters for the brakes, some work on the footwells, etc, etc. Just your typical job list.

July 27: Okay. The suspension check straps are in, the brake adjusters will wait, etc. I spent the afternoon fine-tuning a few things. Basil also has some bright new eyes - European-spec Hellas with Philips Premium bulbs. Even in the daytime they look better. Tonight will be the real test.

July 30: I cleaned up the brakes after our offroad adventure on the weekend (see the offroad page) and changed the transmission and diff fluids because of some whining noise. The reason became apparant when the transmission fill plug was removed - lots of metal shrapnel. This fluid had been in the truck only a short time, so it's obvious that the transmission is not well. Within a few hours, Ted Rose had helped me locate a used SIIa tranny. It's in the back of the truck right now, waiting to be installed. Sigh.

August 24: It was too busy to update the website. Basil got his new transmission finished the day before leaving to travel across the US. Thankfully, the new tranny does not generate shrapnel the way the old one did. It does, however, seem to have some bearing that's upset with me. Some other items went out on the way to Colorado, but those will be covered in a new diary. Maybe this weekend.

Working conditions are much more pleasant than they were even a month ago!
Hello down there! Removing the old generator mounting brackets
Doesn't everyone use impact wrenches to assemble Ikea shelves?
Clutch replacement! Basil did not look at his best during this job. Unfortunately, I was so filthy that I couldn't take a better photo. All that transmission fluid mixed with mud and dirt made for a dirty boy.
Two simultaneous clutch jobs. Am I a sucker for punishment? It's a race to see which will be back on the road first...
Basil needs new doortops. Badly. There is absolutely nothing left of this one. The amazing thing is how difficult it was to remove!
Yaaay! New doortops, lovingly refinished in Tremclad Red Oxide primer. Matches pretty well and the glass slides soooo smoothly....
The new bonnet with the spare in the proper place. Again, Red Oxide. This time in the rain.
The fire extinguisher, mounted behind the driver's seat. Easily accessible yet out of the way.
The hi-lift jack securely mounted to a spare tire carrier inside the truck. Much better.
My useful pintle hitch. But I never tow anything - why is it useful? Well, it's not only a good step for the rear passengers but it's also good for recovering stuck trucks. See the offroad page for examples...
The front parabolic springs. I cannot recommend these enough. Thanks to Rocky Mountain Parabolics!
The new stance with the high springs. Compare it with the old photo from a year ago!
The new headlights. They're much flatter than the original ones, but what a difference in output!
Seems foolish, but the new cupholder makes travel in hot weather more comfortable!
Tranny swap time! The interior is removed and Trevor (blue shirt) and I (dirty shirt) start unbolting. Thanks to Laura for the photography!
I like air tools. Trevor seems to think I like them a little bit too much.
Removing the exhaust. It doesn't look like it was put in just a few months ago, does it?
Yours truly, eating dirt.
Unbolting the exhaust from the exhaust manifold.
Two guys can take a transmission out of a series Rover. We removed the steering wheel to install the new one and that helped a lot.
Doesn't look like Basil's ready to head across the country, does it? One week later, the truck was in Colorado.
If I'd known at this point that the bushing on the flywheel was going south, my life would have been easier.
Trevor leads a Flintstone fantasy.
Pulling a few bits off the original transmission for transfer.

The new transmission went in, and Basil took off for Colorado!

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