Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gearing up for trouble

I suspect Olivia doesn't like to be all fixed (my first car the Mini had the same problem years ago). 

Just yesterday we replaced a hub gasket that had disintegrated to the point where we couldn't actually find much of it when removed!  There's no more oil spatters on the rim, no leaks on the hub - the engine's going well, the brakes work, all's right with the world!

Or so one would think...

I had a bit of a day planned today - traipsing around greater Cape Town collecting over a ton (literally) of various e-waste items and running one errand on the way in.

The errand happened to be in the same spot where Olivia had a melt-down a few weeks back.  As I turned into that road, I was thinking "here's where Olivia broke down"...and whaddayaknow, all hell broke loose.

First indication of trouble was that fourth gear suddenly started to sound like it had run dry - and I couldn't get it out of gear.  Made it around the corner on a green light with no oncoming traffic, but suddenly third and fourth just didn't exist.  It was like trying to change gears into a brick - no gap to be had!  First and second worked without a hitch.

I stopped as soon as I could, got out and checked clutch fluid.  All fine.  Third and fourth were miraculously back - until I drove off.  Then they were gone again.  I stopped in a field next to a nearby petrol & service station, and went in search of EP-90 - just in case for some reason the gearbox and/or transmission had run dry.  A bit of a search and a card-swipe later, I hauled out my meagre emergency tool box, made do with a shifting spanner, climbed under the truck (on top of a thorny plant, a clump of dry grass and half of Cape Town's sand) and checked the levels.  All good - gave them a top-up squirt just in case.

And went gingerly off again.  2km down the road, third and fourth were gone again - I pulled over just as Favourite Man phoned.  He told me to "get thee to Roverland" - a couple of km's away - and beg for help and/or fixing.  Suddenly third and fourth were back - hallelujah - so off I went holding thumbs things would stay that way.  He phoned back to give some hints and tips as to what might be wrong - selector springs might be worn/gone, something could be broken, there may be air or dirt in the system... the list of possibilities wasn't terribly short!

Olivia behaved perfectly all the way to Roverland, where I hauled a very nice gentleman out of the workshop to see what was up.  He fiddled with the gearstick, took her for a quick dash down the road, and informed me (thankfully) that there was nothing wrong with the gearbox.  However, the gearstick is wobbling a bit - he reckons the selector needs tightening and oiling up.  What probably happened was that it didn't quite go out of gear, so wouldn't go into any others.  Or a spot of dirt got in the way.  Will be attending to those matters as soon as I can manage, but at least now I know what the problem is, and that it isn't going to gigantically deplete financial resources to fix.

Nevertheless, Olivia behaved herself for the remainder of the day, hauling a trailer tipping nearly a ton and loaded down inside with more stuff, all the way home against a bit of a stiff breeze.

Let's hope she decides not to scare us again anytime soon with any new tricks!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Carbed up

Olivia's been giving a few rather serious problems lately.  She started jerking occasionally a week ago, and it simply went downhill from there.

I did a once-over early in the week, but couldn't see anything wrong.

Thursday was the final straw.  She wouldn't go with any power in a straight line without excessive revving, and that caused jerks and jumps to the point where she'd randomly stall.  I made it through most of a day driving around, some of it with a trailer full of computer screens for recycling, and a 4m pole plus wireless antenna plus double 4m ladder strapped to the roofrack.  But on my final leg home, dragging the roof goodies and an empty trailer, she stalled completely and utterly.  On a blind corner under a bridge... just as a surprise hurricane storm started!

It was mere miracle that no-one hit into the back of me, and an absolute life-saver that a good samaritan and his assistant stopped in their Kia bakkie to tow me off the road to the shoulder.  At which point the hurricane/storm struck in earnest.  Gigantic gusts of wind were soon joined by stinging hail and rain, and we were completely drenched in seconds.  The gentleman asked if I could get the truck going again - when I couldn't and he heard I was trying to get him just around the corner, he hauled out a tow bar and chains, hooked me up with great difficulty, and off we went.

Back home, once I'd stripped off soaked jeans, shirt and takkies and let the rain subside, we got the truck into the yard.  Early next morning, with great difficulty she was started on full choke and I drove her gingerly down to our nearest Landy mechanic.

His expert eye revealed the shaft on the carburetor was worn and wiggling, drawing in too much air randomly, burning the points (with a cutoff rotor that does things when over-revved) and showing up as running lean on the back three plugs.  He filed off the points to give a decent new surface, sent me off to find the spare carb that had come with Olivia's current engine, and drop it off for examination.

This morning I had a call that it looked good - when could I come in?  Well, this afternoon was it!

With a little hard work, the replacement carb was put in, and proved to be tuned to perfection on firing it up.  The points are still good, she sounds like a new beast!  Goes brilliantly too.  The jerk and misfire is gone.

There's been one other issue though... for months now the engine's been squealing around the water-pump area.  We've been frantically trying to source a replacement, but they don't come cheap or easily available.

Today the Landy expert grabbed his oil can as soon as I started the engine, dropped a drop or two on the fanbelt.. and that expensive headache noise disappeared! :-)  Yup, it was the fanbelt, not the water pump.

This evening Favourite Man educated me as to the application of good old Sunlight Soap in a block to the inside of a fan belt.  Olivia is now running quiet and non-squeaky, growling her "V8" engine growl.  An absolute pleasure to drive.


Of course, this is a Land Rover.  Our work is never done.  I'm now on the lookout for a new brake fluid container - Olivia's has been perished and cracking for years, held together with duct tape that today started to give way.  It's got a new layer now - but won't last forever.

Then there's the apparent leak on the back hub seal that needs looking at.  A drip on the gearbox / transfer box of more oil than is normal.  And the heater system to reconnect before winter strikes. 

When you own a Landy there's never a shortage of things to keep you busy!