This page chronicles the restoration and outfitting of a 1964 Land Rover Martin Walter Dormobile Series 2a - L.W.B. Station Wagon. The project was completed in three countries over a period of about 10 years, and required a fair amount of translation from Haynes Manual to English.
In 1994, Phase #1 of the Restoration began in the Shop of Richard Bass of Essex, UK and ended in Barn of Andy Moffet of Inverness, Scotland as the LWB Mantle. The restoration was chronicled in LRO Magazine and LRW Magazine.
Upon initial disassembly of the vehicle, it was apparent the frame and much of the sheet metal was well beyond repair. A galvanized frame was selected to replace the badly rotted original.
Bulkhead, doors, floor pans and seat boxes were replaced.
The badly neglected upholstery and trims were removed and replaced as-original in grey "rhinohide" material.
The original 70 horsepower 2.25 liter 4 cylinder Petrol motor, four speed gear box, transfer case, rear ends and axels were restored to as-new condition.
The exterior was properly sprayed in the Original "Sand & Marine Blue" scheme. The frame and under carriage was sprayed in black waxoyl sealant.
Upon completion, the vehicle was placed into storage, where it remained until 2002. Over the eight year period from 1994 to 2002, approximately 100 miles were placed on the vehicle.
In 2002, the vehicle was acquired for use in the United States as a hunting and fishing vehicle. Due to the nature of US Highways, the 45 mile per hour stock configuration was no longer suitable for its intended use. With this in mind, Phase #2 of the restoration involved making it USA Highway compatible. The vehicle was shipped to Jake Wright, Ltd., Ilkley, West Yorkshire, UK, where it was fitted with an ACR Power Plus engine, fit with the Stage 2 head, Power Plus Carburetor and stainless exhaust. In addition, the vehicle was fit with a Fairey Overdrive. The modified package provided about 50% greater horsepower and insured a comfortable cruising speed in the 60+ miles per hour range, while maintaining a very original stock appearance within the engine compartment.
Upon completion of the drive train modifications, the vehicle was transported to Southampton where it was loaded on the vessel "Trianon" - a 6,050 vehicle auto-hauler, which arrived 30 days later in Port Hueneme, California, USA.
Phase #3 began when the vehicle arrived in the USA. Apparently damaged somewhere between Inverness, Scotland and California, USA, the vehicle arrived with one door which had been re-sprayed. The re-spray drew attention to the now chalky finish of the 8 year old paint. The vehicle was stripped of all trim and re-sprayed in its entirety.
Upon reassembly, several "non-stock" modifications were completed. The modifications related to dampening noise, improving comfort and adding convenience. The modifications were completed with attention to mitigating alteration of the original vehicle (ie., existing holes were used, non-permanent fixtures were employed, and original components were largely retained).
On the exterior, front and rear receivers were fabricated and installed. The receivers accommodate an array of accessories including, platform cargo carriers, tow balls, recovery hooks, d-rings and a warn X8000i Multi-mount winch. Below the receivers quick connect electrical outlets were installed to provide power for the winch and/or booster cables. The front receiver also serves as a base for a pair of 55 watt halogen bad weather lights. In addition, the stock head lights were removed in favor of LHD modified reflector halogen driving beam lamps.
An age old dilemma for a Dormobile owner is the lack of rack space. Due to the opening nature of the roof, a permanent expedition rack is obviously impractical. In an effort to address the problem, a quick disconnect rack which cantilevers off the vehicle to one side was fabricated. In addition to affording the luxury of a full length expedition rack which comfortably carries a pair of 8' inflatable Bucks Bag Boats, when the rack is deployed off the side of the vehicle it quickly becomes a generous canvas covered awning providing additional shelter from the heat or rain. The design of the rack employs four cab gutter rail mounts which securely affix the short cab length rack as well as a permanently attached rear ladder rack which provides anchor points for the free spanning portion of the rack. To access the rack, front diamond plate wing covers were installed, as well as a rear ladder. Atop the rack, an array of off-road lights provide approximately 1.5 Million candlepower of well disbursed off-road lighting, as well as a pair of swiveling 55 watt work lights for camp or repair lighting needs. In addition, a 5 gallon NATO fuel can, high lift jack, additional spare tire mount and the XM Radio Satellite antenna are attached to the cab rack.
Beneath the vehicle, the stock leaf springs and shocks were removed in favor of Simmonite Ground Hog Comfort Parabolic Springs and Pro Comp Extended Travel Shocks. The combination provided for superior articulation off-road and superior ride on the highway. The Stock 15 X 5.5 wheels and 31" Firestone Town and Country tires were discarded in favor of 15 X 7 wheels and 31 X 10.5 BF Goodrich AT Tires. The combination significantly improved ride, decreased road noise and gave the vehicle a more substantial footprint, reducing cornering instability and provided a more contemporary appearance. A pair of Free-wheeling hubs were fitted to the front axels which actually increased fuel efficiency about 1 - 1.5 mile per gallon.
Although the stock Land Rover rear end is touted to handle up to 125 horsepower, the ACR with 115 horsepower snapped a short axle. With this in mind, the stock Land Rover 10 spline split axles and differential was removed in favor of a Salisbury rear end with heavy duty Dana 60 pinion gears and 24 spline axles. Although the axle utilized was a rebuilt 3.54:1 gear set suited for a Series 1 with a V-8, the carrier and pinions from a 4.70:1 fit neatly into the 3.54 differential. Aside from the bench work related to re-gearing, the unit was a direct bolt on replacement for the stock rear end. The re-fit necessitated a shortening of the drive shaft of approximately 2". At the same time, the shaft was balanced which also reduced high speed vibration and rattle.
Although the Fairey Overdrive worked perfectly, the linkage was terribly noisy. The constantly rattling linkage drove the decision to remove the Fairey Overdrive and replace it with a Rocky Mountain Roverdrive, touted to operate silently. Unfortunately, the Rocky Mountain Roverdrive linkage was every bit as noisy as the Fairey unit. As the Roverdrive design employs a shared oil sump with the transfer box, it seemed a preferred configuration based on the long haul and high revolution nature of the intended usage. To improve the linkage rattle of the Roverdrive, the linkage bolt was fit with three rubber washers and the angle bracket was attached with rubber a mount pad. Additionally, the shift bolt was dip coated with Teflon, The re-configuration resulted in a capability of cruising comfortably at a maintained speed of 65 miles per hour and virtually eliminated interior cab driveline noise.
Unfortunately, one of the by-products of the epicyclical gear design of the Roverdrive, the significant increase in operating temperature and the associated internal expansion of the transfer box gases. The unit repeatedly scalded heavy duty oil when operated at full loads. In an effort to address this, standard gear oil was discarded in favor of high temperature rated synthetic 90 weight agricultural application gear oil. Oversized access panel oil seals were fabricated out of high density cork, a heat dispersing finned billet aluminum pan cover was added and during the gasket installation, a quarter inch vent was installed on the access panel top of the transfer box which eliminated the oil leaks. Despite the modifications the epicyclical gear design of the Roverdrive continued to scald the oil when driven up grades. In an effort to address the continued Roverdrive over heating problems, a high efficiency 15,000 btu cooler and 12 volt Tilton piston pump were added to the transfer box. The hot sump oil is pumped through stainless braided teflon lines to the cooler and then reintroduced at top of the overdrive where it aides in suppressing the heat build up associated with the high revolutions of the Roverdrive. The cooler is thermostatically triggered at 180 degrees, and can be manually switched as well.
To handle the engine related temperature demands of extended travel and the higher output ACR engine, a custom high efficiency radiator was fabricated and installed within the original radiator constraints. The modified radiator body was fabricated with 5/8" tubes which considerably increased flow and cooling surface area (vs. the 3/8" stock tubes); which tubes are suspended in a cooling grid comprised of approximately 3 times the cooling fins as the original. Additionally, the stock thermostat was replaced with a higher volume unit and a finned aluminum transfer cover plate was installed to the gear box. The fixed fan was replaced with an electric fan which added about 5 net horsepower. In total, operating temperatures were reduced about 10 degrees Celsius on constant load use and the increased heating issues previously experienced on grades were all but eliminated.
Within the interior of the vehicle, noise abatement and convenience was the primary focus. The now-sagging door trims were removed and replaced with La Salle Trim composite panels. In addition, the door interiors were lined with sound proofing pads. The La Salle Trims are much more durable and water resilient than sock vinyl covered wood panels. The fiberboard headliner and interior panels were covered with color matched vinyl and the backsides were sound proofed.
Absent a suitable dash location, an AM/FM/CD Marine Radio was installed beneath the front passenger seat in the "toolbox". A Jensen Marine Radio was selected for three reasons: 1) it afforded a wired remote control which conveniently fit into a standard 2" (52mm) instrument panel hole; 2) it provided Weather Bands which prove invaluable when the vehicle is used in the wilderness; and 3) it provided a chassis and face plate that is largely unaffected by moisture, grit and dust (all of which seem to find their way into the toolbox). In addition, the interior of the vehicle was fit with a 2160 Garmin GPS unit, XM Satellite Radio, and a ceiling mounted DVD player, a TV Tuner fit with forward cab lighting.
As the primary use of the vehicle is extended highway travel to and from hunting and fishing destinations, additional extended use instrumentation: oil pressure, engine jacket water temperature, and transfer box /overdrive oil temperature gauges were added on the dash, as well as a period appropriate Smiths electrical clock. In addition, an array of switches were added and wired to operate fog lights, off-road lights, side spot lights, winch solenoids, the electric windscreen washer fluid pump and the auxiliary heat. To accommodate the gauges and switches a pair of panels were fabricated from sheet aluminum and sprayed marine blue.
In an effort to address the greater electrical demands of lighting, winches and electronics, a split electrical system was incorporated. The generator was removed in favor of a high output alternator. A second battery was installed with a battery isolating solenoid. The original battery located in the engine compartment was removed in favor of a deep cell marine battery. The starter circuit was removed from the engine compartment battery. The original battery was relocated under the driver's seat adjacent to the propane tank, and isolated so it exclusively serves the starter and alarm circuits. All non-essential electrical circuits were re-directed to the deep cell battery. In this configuration, the vehicle remains capable of starting if either battery becomes discharged. A solar panel was installed in one of the roof windows to provide constant trickle charge to the starter battery.
To insure reliable ignition, stock points, condenser and coil were discarded in favor of a Pertronix Electronic Ignition with a Pertronix Flame Thrower coil. The Pertronix ignition fits neatly within the stock distributor. In addition to simplifying the ignition tuning and improving reliability, the electronic ignition conversion considerably reduced vehicle emissions and is said to increase horsepower (a marketing claim we have not been able to confirm).
In the galley, a six gallon marine water tank and electric pump were fitted below the stove, and plumbed through a fold down faucet provided by Dormobile, UK. The addition of running water in the sink is extremely convenient and allows storage of rods and/or firearms in the area designed for water storage adjacent to the wardrobe.
To supplement the stock Smith's heater, a 300 watt ceramic element 12 volt DC electric heating unit was installed above the rear seats and cab. The unit also doubles as a cab circulation fan during warm weather. As the vehicle is operated in below freezing mountain environments, a double redundant emergency propane powered unit was also installed in the rear wardrobe.
Finally, all the glass stock was removed and replaced with tempered tinted glass. The front wind screen was replaced in European style green glass which assists in cutting the early morning and late afternoon glare, and Series III sun visors were installed. The Front side windows were fabricated in 35% grey tempered glass and the rear sides and rear door was fabricated in a Limousine blackout 15% tempered glass. In addition to the added daytime privacy the glass provides for the occupants, the tinted glass significantly reduced the interior temperature of the vehicle in sunny weather and provides a high measure of security for items left in the rear cargo area by making the cargo area obscure to the outside.
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