The engine was a non-runner with unknown history or mileage, but believed to be good.
The donor: a tired old 200 Tdi Defender 130 HCPU whose engine had moved on to better things. The body panels are the main prize and that rear canopy is a welcome bonus.
with a complete spares and consumables package, although they now offer the excellent International TGV 2.8-litre engine with their conversion kits - a progression of the Land Rover 300Tdi engine.
formulating a plan
In conversation with Land Rover chassis manufacturer Alastair Banks, at Richards Chassis in Doncaster, we decided that the Mazda SL35Ti would be an excellent choice of engine for a Defender 130 HCPU - a good strong engine for one of the biggest of Land Rover models. What about building a 130 for expedition travel on a sensible budget? An Overlander that doesn't break the bank. I was totally sold on the idea and promptly placed my order with Richards Chassis for a heavy-duty Defender 130 chassis with V8 engine mounts. The M&D Engineering conversion for the Mazda engine employed the existing engine mounts on the Range Rover, so my new chassis would require the same V8 mount specification.
One of the main challenges in building a 130 HCPU (High Capacity Pick Up) would be finding those body panels, which were particular to that model alone; these are less plentiful than more mainstream Land Rover models. However Nick McFarland at Jungle 4x4 managed to source a donor that had all of the required panels in good condition. It was an ex-utility company hack, complete with a good rear canopy, which was a great bonus for my future plans.
The 130 was trailered home from the other side of the country and we dismantled it; Nick took the parts that he required. I got the rest, which provided me with much of what I need for Pilgrim.
The new chassis for Pilgrim was soon ready at Richards Chassis; these guys don't hang around and I collected it along with three others that were Ireland bound. Shipping large items, such as Land Rover chassis, to Ireland has long been a problem for companies such as Richards Chassis -the Irish Sea is one of the most expensive stretches of water to cross. So I now in the workshop in association with and
At Stoneleigh I chanced upon the Ashtree team; their fine galvanised parts will be a feature of Pilgrim.
frequently transport chassis for Richard Chassis customers to my yard in Belfast. The economies of transporting three or more chassis on my trailer make it much less painful for all of us on the Emerald Isle.
As ever, Richards Chassis had each of the four Ireland-bound chassis cleaned of any excess zinc, the threaded holes re-tapped and all other holes re-drilled - making the job of constructing the Land Rover so much more convenient.
Soon after getting Pilgrim's chassis home, I was at the lANOtiOUI&vuwc! show and I stumbled upon a new company called Ashtree Land Rover, who had an eye-catching display of galvanised Land Rover products on their show stand. These ranged from bulkheads of a number of vintages, Series radiator panels and many other smaller galvanised components. Ashtree Land Rover, established by Lyndon and Jill Swann with Kevin Hardie, are primarily in the business of repairing and refurbishing Land Rover bulkheads, but they will clean and galvanise anything for you. They also do wonderful things with tired rusty radiator panels.
Not only did we work out a deal at the show, for Pilgrim's bulkhead to be repaired and galvanised, but also I was offered Kevin's services for a weekend of bulkhead extraction, engine removals and anything else we could fit into two solid days of toil at my yard. Kevin is an absolute demon with the spanners and tools and on the Saturday morning we soon had four or five bulkheads stripped and ready for shipping to the Ashtree Land Rover yard in Andover. All of these bulkheads I would've said were largely scrap but Kevin assured me that if not all of them were useable, there were still elements of them that could be used in their repair operations at Ashtree.
Kevin was very enthusiastic about making Pilgrim as rustproof as possible and we loaded more and more items onto the trailer, bound for Ashtree Land Rover, to be shot blasted and galvanised. These items included battery boxes, sills/b-posts, the double cab cross member, body cappings, brackets and even the tow bar. But even after taking the time to gather up these other parts, I still had Kevin's service for almost another day and a half.
I eyed the two Range Rovers and suggested that we could extract at least one of the engines. "One?" said Kevin, "Let's have them both out!" We started with the blue one. By this time I had tested the engine - to get it running I only needed to replace a perished fuel feed hose and plenty of battery power to give it a good crank and get the Mazda purring. It was a good one, running just as sweet as the other Range Rover. I shot some video of the lump running to send to my friend Arjan, who would be coming to collect the engine, and taking it to his home in France, if it was serviceable. I did manage to get some brake fluid all over my feet for my trouble - the
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