Having borrowed an engine stand and crane I made a start on stripping down the 200 Tdi to have a look inside. It arrived with the head already removed so I turned it upside down to remove the sump and have a look at the crankshaft and the bearings at the bottom of the pistons. The sump is easy enough, just some simple 10mm head bolts. The next step was a bit more involved, removing the oil pump needs a flexi-head socket holder because one of the two bolts is partially hidden under the pump itself. Easy to see…not easy to get a socket to turn…
Then the “ladder” needs to come off. Again relatively simple bolts but 3 were hard to get started and for a while I thought I’d end up rounding off the heads if I was not careful. It took several hefty whacks with an impact driver to shock them loose – odd, because when they came out they were covered in “copper-slip” grease. Someone has obviously had all this apart before… The manual I’m using ( Haynes) failed to mention that there are bolts inside the flywheel housing that also need to come off….
With the “ladder” off the crankshaft and the base of the pistons are easy to see. Turning over the crank by putting a socket on the end it all turned over OK but there was a distinct noise from the area of No 4 cylinder ( closest to the driver). It soon became obvious that the piston could be rattled about quite easily and both 3 & 4 are slopping about -a 2-3mm difference between the “snug” No 1 cylinder and no 4. My thinking now is to continue stripping the engine, looking for damage and take advantage of having it easily accessible to replace as many potentially worn components as possible while I am at it.
Here is that difference between the pistons, the way they sit should be identical, look closely and you will see No4 ( at the back) is sitting higher.
The Ambulance should have a 2.25lt petrol engine but I was told that this one had a Diesel engine installed, unfortunately the seller knew little about it. From the pictures it was a standard Landrover 2.25Lt so I imagined that it was a simple transplant from another old landrover. So far so good, the old landrover diesel might have a name as a slow plodder but its more economic on fuel than the petrol engine and is renown as a robust engine, easy to work on. The problem emerged when we started it….. very, very smoky, the blue smoke of burning oil. Adding some magic “stop smoke” did help a bit but a compression test soon showed that the engine is very tired, literally worn out. The blue smoke is engine oil getting past the piston rings and being burnt along with the diesel. An option would be to get the engine re-bored, new over-size piston rings and carry on… another is to find a better replacement.
…..and by chance I just happen to have a 2.5Lt “200Tdi” engine, from a later Landrover “Defender” sitting in the shed. This is a common upgrade for “Series” vehicles, often using the engine from an early Discovery, the rest of the vehicle scrapped for whatever reason. The 200Tdi is a more powerful engine and as a more modern design gives better fuel economy than the old 2.25lt engine, even when in good condition. The Dilemma now raises its head – the 200Tdi engine was obtained with a history that it was “throwing out oil….” No better diagnosis available. Hmmm. An initial look-over shows no visible damage, the engine has been partially stripped and some parts are missing but it turns over easily enough and there are no scores or marks on the inside of the piston bore.
….so the next stage is to get a closer look at the 200Tdi, put it up on a stand and strip it properly, looking for damage and any issues. If nothing is found then rebuild it, taking the opportunity to replace worn bearings and any other moving parts that are not up to the job.
The military have a nice habit of stamping the vehicles military registration number on a plate on the bulkhead but the plate on this vehicle only has the chassis number, no “registration”…. making it a bit harder to track the vehicles story. The records of most old Army vehicles have been deposited at the Royal Logistic Corps museum and in recent years digitised and made available for a small fee…. searching against the chassis number showed that the Museum does hold the record for the Ambulance and soon I had a .pdf copy…
So now we know that 24 EN 77 was delivered to Central Vehicle Depot Irvine at the end of March 1967 and put into some sort of vehicle pool before being returned to another Depot at Hilton and finally issued to its first ( and as it turns out only) real unit, 207 General Hospital in February 1970. 207 General Hospital was a Territorial Army unit, what is now the “Army Reserve”, based in NW England. 24 EN 77 spent 21 years with that one unit before being “Cast” and sold at Leeds in December 1991. I wonder where she spent the next 26 years ? Sadly DVLA no longer release information on previous owners due to “Data Protection”.
I’d like to know where 24 EN 77 actually served – Manchester ? Preston ? during its service. Did it deploy to Germany on Exercise or was Warcop the usual destination ? It seems never to have deployed “in anger” but will have spent its time ready and waiting in case the Warsaw Pact crossed into West Germany, a Cold War veteran.
Having safely reached home time for a better look around. The bodywork looks good in the pictures, close up its obviously had a recent repaint and mock-ups of Army unit markings had been added too. Internally the rear did not seem to have had anything done to it since its “demob”. It started, ran and moved – but created a fog-bank of blue smoke in the process. The very basic 1965 vintage dashboard hid some “interesting” wiring and the diesel conversion left something to be desired….the accelerator linkage featured an electrical tie-wrap as a major component, the diesel return pipe enters the fuel pipe through a small but completely unsealed hole punched in the top of the tank ! Nothing drastic at this point but why the bodges in what looked like an other wise good piece of work ? What else will be discovered….
The diesel engine, replaced what would have been a 2.25Lt Petrol engine….. Needs investigation and work, it smokes rather too much !
The inside was fairly basic and appears untouched since Demob… Space for 4 stretchers or 8 seated casualties and a medic perched on the heater – that box between the two bottom stretcher racks. Seems there was a small fire in there sometime, the right-hand passenger seat cushion has a nice burnt patch !
The driving compartment has been smartened up but remains 1965 basic !
First pictures of the vehicle at Dick’s yard were encouraging as was news that it had started and been towed the few miles to his place without issue.
No MOT, dodgy brakes and unknown other things needing work so just driving the Ambulance home was a non-starter, a trailer was required…. Hired from outside Glasgow, driven down to Guildford and back to Perthshire. 2.8 Tonnes of Ambulance and the trailer itself meaning that the load was only just below the 3.5 Tonnes limit of the towing vehicle….
The other problem became obvious soon after hitting the main roads, the load was not as stable as I’d have liked, a small but distinct twitchiness if I tried to drive at more than about 45mph. I now realise that the load should probably have been slightly more forward, with less weight behind the trailer wheels, more on the front. A 12 hour drive at 40-45 mph followed, with frequent breaks for tea ! Apologies to anyone who found themselves part of a rolling road-block as we trundled up the motorway network.
The advert was on the MILWEB site and the picture looked enticing…. so I contacted the owner for more detail and was told that the vehicle was an abandoned project that had been planned as a centre-piece to display at shows and rallies. No MOT but “solid” and “a runner”, needing work on the brakes.
The thought was that with a space in the back roughly 8ft long and just under 6ft wide there would be space enough to create a basic camper with a double bed, an ability to cook, storage for food and clothing…
The problem was that the vehicle was hundreds of miles away, down in Surrey and could sell at any time. Did I take the risk and extra expense of arranging a visit to check it out or did I just take the plunge and buy it. Against all rational thought I decided to buy it, sight unseen… The good news was that it was close to a cousins business premises and he agreed to collect it and store it until I could come down with a trailer to get it home…
Thanks Dick !
I’ve owned old Landrovers for over 30 years and recently bought a 53 year old Ambulance with the intention of converting it into a Camper so that I can continue wandering about on and off-road but also have a bit of comfort at the end of the day. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey, both the conversion and the travels afterwards !