12 June 2012

Book Review: Land Rover guide travels well

What you need to know about Land Rover Series I-III (1948-85) — common problems and how to fix them

 
Your Expert Guide: Land Rover Series I-III 1948-85
Maurice Thurman, RAC,
112 pages, £12.99, $24.95
www.velocebooks.com

It’s axiomatic that old Land Rovers have gone in harm’s way. They are as infinitely repairable and as durable as a London Transport Routemaster double-decker bus. In the same way, they can be repaired to keep on doing what they do in perpetuity.

Nevertheless, Land Rovers are specialized, and things wear out in different ways: whether the Landy was permanently up to its axles in sticky mud on a Somerset farm, left in a mouldy barn for 20 years, replaced by newer models, or returning from some student’s trip around the world — none of it on pavement.

What you need to know is what goes wrong, how to identify the problem and how to fix it. This book offers 112 excellent pages of troubleshooting. Frankly it should be chained beneath the dashboard, like a Gutenburg Bible. Unless you are so smart and experienced that you could have written it, you’ll always need it.

It’s also an excellent guide for somebody considering buying an old Land Rover, since many of the subjects are photographed — both gruesome examples of failure (rusty, twisted exhaust bolts, leaking cylinder head damage) — and also clear pictures to show how a heater valve or Stromberg carburetor ought to look, along with explanations of assembly and disassembly procedures.

The book covers Land Rovers using all nine engines used in the Series 1 II and III models ranges, including the 1,595cc IOE valve 4-cylinder from 1948-51; the 1997cc IOE motor from 1952-58; the 2052cc diesel engine from 1957-61; the 2286cc OHV petrol 3-main bearing engine from 1958-80;  the 2286cc OHV 5 main-bearing petrol engine from 1980-85; the 2286cc diesel OHV 3-main bearing engine from 1961-80; the 2286cc diesel OHV 5-main bearing engine from 1980-84; the m2625 petrol IOE engine from 1963-80; and the 2625cc petrol IOE engine with the Weslake head for the American market in 1966-67. If you have one of these, this book’s for you.

Beyond that it deals with all sorts of simple problems, both vital to enjoying a day out in the hills — or maybe halfway through Kenya (won’t start) — to buying an old Land Rover (jumps out of gear). The book suggests the reader not tackle any of these tasks unless they feel competent to do so. But with a Land Rover, you may not have any choice.

However the book includes links to clubs and parts suppliers worldwide, so it’s safe to travel.

Provenance: ***
Maurice Thurman is a retired teacher who has grappled with Land Rovers in remote parts of the world like Brunei and Papua New Guinea, for which they were designed, and where he started clubs. The author of several Land Rover books, he can be found at Land Rover gatherings around the UK. He has also written the Essential Buyer’s Guide but this covers much of the same ground with bonus advice on repair work. Thurman gets three stars, but the book gets none for not telling us about him.

Fit and finish: ***
Excellent, perfect-bound with glossy cover, clear typography, useful photographs, and much practical step-by-step advice..

Drivability: ***
Apart from oil and waterproof pages (which would be handy if you keep it in a notoriously porous old Land Rover), it’s hard to fault this book, as it is by design portable. It should always be with you, and don’t forget a flashlight so you can read the instructions.

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