This page shares all the details of a Series Land Rover Restoration, built by George Jeffcoate (07538 911146). It all started when George looked at my Land Rover Series III that had a massive MOT fail within eleven months of purchase from that ‘Classic Land Rover specialist’ in Thirsk… Browned off because theirs was a con job, wrong engine, no Range Rover Diffs as advertised, said dangerously unroadworthy by the DVSA as well as by independent Land Rover expert and book author Richard Hall. I engaged a QC and JustAnswer and reported this garage to the Ombudsman. Avoid Thirsk when it comes to Classic Land Rovers. George and I came to a mutually beneficial agreement and a proper Series Land Rover Restoration starting from another donor car was agreed to. Below is a video of one of her shake down drives, just to show you what the outcome of the project looks like:
George wanted a showcase for his business, to restore a Series III Land Rover to ‘As Near As New’ standard as possible. I wanted a Series Land Rover, fit for purpose as an almost daily driver that, Land Rover Schedule serviced, would never need for assistance by the RAC or AA. The time frame for this complete rebuilt was 1 year. This Series III was to be no Trailer Queen but a Landy that had best fit for purpose and longevity written all over it… a beautiful and reliable work horse.
When the Series Land Rover Group pointed me towards George to help me, I could never have imagined this outcome. Having worked with him for over a year, I wish to tell you that George is a genuine, generous, reliable man with a vast knowledge of Land Rovers. He is the salt of the Earth, unreservedly Dyslexic for Britain and if you want a Series Land Rover Restoration built by George Jeffcoate then give him a ring on 07538 911146 (International 0044 7538 911146).
A Land Rover direct replacement Richards galvanised chassis was bought, cleaned, etched with Mordant solution, primed and given multiple coats inside and out of black Hammerite Waxoyl. I like Waxoyl because it has stood the test of time and can be re-applied easily in the future. The ladder-frame and outriggers on the Richards chassis allow for a good fit for the bulkhead and bodywork. On Land Rover forums “who makes the best replacement chassis” is a frequent question. We decided to take the one headache less option and bought the chassis from Richards and, no, we are not on commission!
The 2,286cc petrol engine in the 1975 donor vehicle turned out to be beyond economical repair. Mark Slater (I.B. Engineering Nuneaton) completely rebuilt a Land Rover original 2,286cc 8:1 CR 5-bearing petrol engine. These were fitted from 1980-1984. Yes, purists may not approve that we opted for the sweetest engine ever put into a Land Rover and they may not like duck egg blue (a.k.a. Admiralty grey) either. Compared to a 3MB, the 5-bearing crankshaft engine’s compression went from 7.1:1 to 8.1:1. The 5-bearing crank is infinitely stronger than the 3-bearing. Its crankshaft rear oil seal design also is far superior and easier to replace if it would leak. It had a separate flywheel reinforcing plate, an improved timing chain tensioner, improved exhaust valves and improved piston rings. By improving bottom-end strength, refinement and having a life expectancy in excess of 250,000 miles, a 5MB was best fit for purpose. To achieve a noticeable improvement in performance and potentially a 3mpg increase (soft right foot and smile per mile optimism), we ticked the following boxes:
- all servicing adjustments spot on (Mark Slater adjusted tappets, points, condenser, dizzy cap, rotor arm)
- replace original coil with a Viper Dry Ignition Coil Sport VCS 3.0 Ohms
- replace original ignition leads with 8mm performance, double silicone high tension leads
- replace points wit K4 – Powerspark Electronic Ignition Kit for Lucas 45D 43D & 59D Distributor
- fit multi-electrode spark plugs (AccuSpark AC9C Triple Strike Performance Spark Plugs) and later on recerted back to normal ones!
- use a gas analyser to tune the engine to its optimum
- scheduled drivetrain services, added Lucas Heavy Duty Oil Stabiliser to drive train (Molyslip would also reduce friction)
Engine Running In
Running in a fully refurbished 2,286cc 8:1 CR 5-bearing petrol engine takes 500 miles of mindful driving and a complete oil change afterwards. The following may be ‘telling grandma how to suck eggs’ but it is worth remembering:
- Avoid idling because inadequate engine speed means that the oil pump generates too little pressure and does not supply enough oil to the lubricating points
- Run the engine at constantly changing speed levels not exceeding ⅔rd of the maximum speed (avoid underrevving and maximum gear speeds)
- Avoid excessive load (fully laden, towing, uphill in mountains)
- Avoid lengthy downhill driving (insufficient load and undesirable overrun condition) and do not use the engine brake system
As soon as the engine is fully run-in, my intention is to take HUC to a rolling road for tuning. This may well seem OTT for a Series Land Rover but this engine has a limited bhp output and a limited mpg, so I want to make the most of both. HUC has a Zenith 36IV (factory fitment Series IIA and III 1967-84) which is a primitive device that suits the 2,286cc petrol engine well. It is prone to throttle spindle wear, blocked accelerator pump jet and ‘O’ ring between the upper and lower body perishing or splitting (causing fuel flooding). As part of our initial engine tuning, we did an exhaust gas analysis and scored 3% CO which is good. I was disappointed however that my 2.25 petrol seemed to have as little power as that 2.5 diesel from Thirsk. George found out that HUC had only ½ – ¾ throttle because the accelerator cross shaft lever was the short one for a diesel engine, not the long one for a petrol engine (part number 531395). He changed the accelerator cross shaft lever, problem solved. My initial calculation is that HUC does 18.85mpg on undulating tarmac roads. Power wise I expect:
|2.25 Petrol||74 hp @ 4,000rpm||120 lb/ft @ 1,500rpm|
|2.25 Diesel||62 hp @ 4,000rpm||103 lb/ft @ 1,800rpm|
|2.5 Diesel||68 hp @ 4,200rpm||114 lb/ft @ 1,800rpm|
George Jeffcoate fitted a LOF ROADspec clutch because it’s much better than the original. I will do only light towing (1 ton), light green laning and visiting Aloeride customers by road. LOF’s TUFF Friction uses the highest possible grade of premium organic clutch material, a woven composite construction, rather than lower grade Laminate/Moulded types. This prevents delimitation of the friction face. The friction material has been engineered to contain high levels of copper and brass giving it the ultimate protection against heat damage and clutch fade (burst strengths of over 11,000 rpm). The Land Rover original LT76 gearbox was completely reconditioned, as was the transfer box, as was the Fairey Overdrive by Jeffcoate Senior. The downside of a Fairey is that they have a tiny oil sump. Check and top up its EP90 level regularly and it should not wear out rapidly and not whine loudly. The upside of a Fairey is that it may improve a 2,286cc petrol engine’s fuel economy to 18+ mpg (or never mind mpg and a faster top speed). Above spark strength and engine tweaks help its mpg also. Uphill and in 30 mph zones, third gear + O/D works better than driving in fourth gear. George thinks that I am too optimistic with that 18.85 mpg. By comparison, my 1948 Bentley Mk VI averaged 16.34mpg on a 1,600 mile (2,500Km) smile per mile trip to the Dordogne. The Land Rover brochure fuel consumption figures for a 2.25 petrol are 17mpg urban, 22.9mpg at constant 56mph. We live in hope.
I asked George to fit parabolic leaf springs because they react quicker to bumps and provide a softer ride than original leaf springs. In fairness, standard leaf springs only give a progressively uncomfortable ride when the leaves can no longer slide easily. That always points to poor maintenance. Given that I’m over sixty, I like driver comfort… This Land Rover restoration also has Nitrogen gas-charged Pro Comp shock absorbers (improve load capacity, ride and handling). I don’t intend to carry huge loads in the cabin. HUC got five Goodyear Wrangler Radial 7.50 R16C 108/106N (6-Ply tubeless) on Defender rims but, given that Goodyear in 2020 supports a Marxist movement, I won’t be putting Goodyears on again… ever! Perhaps some Michelin XZL 7.50 R16 116N when the times comes. Steel rims are painted pastel green so Rutland and Leicestershire mud won’t show too much. Purists may not like it, but I do. During the shake down drives (sleeping policemen, potholes and other bumps in road/track) it was glaringly obvious just how much more comfortable HUC is to drive compared to that Series III from Thirsk on Deestones. With parabolic springs a Landy stands slightly higher on its pins but the 7.5 x 16″ tyres fill the wheel arches enough to make the whole thing look ‘proper’.
Bodywork & Trim
As for a Series Land Rover restoration without polyfiller, finding body panels that were straight and without dents was not easy. The door bottoms are Defender ones because, together with Defender door seals, I will have a cabin that isn’t overly drafty and is likelier to stay dry. Defender door checks (without their cover) because, with these, you won’t ever damage the A post and they allow a door to remain open. All doors have anti-burst locks for safety. Defender door mirrors provide optimal rearward view. The razor style bonnet (unused old-stock) is fixed with Series I bonnet hooks because the Land Rover Series II, IIA, III Bonnet Catch Striker Plate is not 100% reliable and I don’t want a bonnet obscuring my forward view in traffic. The II/IIA Maltese grill looks better in my view than the plastic grill. The spare wheel will be mounted in the tub. This Series Land Rover restoration was about creating a functional car, so I wanted standard seats (this creates a flat surface to sleep on for me and/or the dog). We had to fit seat adjusters instead of the standard fixed frame because, even though I’m not circumferent, the clearance between the front of my jacket and the Series III bakelite steering wheel was very tight. Expensive add-ons but, without them, I couldn’t drive the car!
With a paint job like John Adams’ (Coventry Classic Minis), who wants headliners or door cards (I didn’t want any to start with). John Adams did the entire car and his paintwork looks stunning! Meticulous prep, meticulous finish. The bulkhead, foot wells and tub were pastel green (LRC005) mixed with the urethane coating Raptor to give it much greater durability. The roof should have been Land Rover Limestone (LRC007) but looks like Old English White. It doesn’t look out of place on the roof. Kindly note that it wasn’t John Adams who mixed the paints.
Framptons (part of the Jepson family of companies) made my raised riveted black digits on reflective plate: 3D style injection moulded plastic digits are riveted by hand to a reflective coated aluminium plate with silver bevelled edge. Sure enough, from April 1st 2019, vehicles manufactured before April 1979 can display a classic black and silver number plate (registrations ending with ‘T’ or anything before). My 1975 Series III would have rolled out of the factory with yellow and white plates, see image gallery.
All galvanising was redone except for a few galv’ bits in the County panels. That’s because they had never been fitted, brand new they were, what a find! Getting galvanising done right can be a right headache and George sent everything to DDS Metal Services who did us proud. DDS only takes orders from trade not from customers direct. Ring George Jeffcoate if you need help with your Landy.
One of the frustrating things when you order a new, good quality Series III wiring loom is, that it may not have all the wires, or colour continuity or all the right connectors… arghh. Thanks to a Land Rover Defender 100 Amp alternator, I can have high beam halogen lights, LED spot lights, fog light, dual-speed heater fan, dual-speed wipers and GPS device running simultaneously without it draining the battery. We fitted a FIA Battery Master Cut Out Switch as one level of security. I had liked a Hella Rallye 3000 spotlight with H1 12V/55W bulb in the middle of the front bumper. My 1948 Bentley Mk VI has a centered Pass Light and this works a treat, so I had thought to replicate that with the Series III. Both Jeffcoate Senior and Junior felt that a modern lamp didn’t look right on a 1975 car, so George fitted two 4″ 48W LED spot lights behind the grill. The jury is out on which illuminates the road ahead best…
Right form the word ‘go’ HUC had a weak spark and this is despite a 1.5 Ohms Sparkrite Sports Ballast Coil, AccuSpark 8mm O/E style Silicon Performance HT Leads and AccuSpark Stealth Electronic Ignition Points Conversion Kit For LUCAS 45D. I replaced the Sparkrite with a Viper Dry Ignition Coil Sport VCS 3.0 Ohms which didn’t make a difference. In the process we did notice that the 8mm HT leads didn’t connect properly to the coil, so that was changed. The connectors in the brand new distributor cap had turned and so I ordered another new Distributor Cap LUCAS RTC3278G.
Heating & Demisting
George Jeffcoate married a T7Design 5kw Midi Heater with Side Outlets 4x 50mm 12v (With Water Valve) to the existing Land Rover heating setup. He blanked off two of the four outlets, because no heat is directed to rear passenger seats (there aren’t any). The ducting from the heater to the adapted, standard cabin inlet is 50mm and this was used also for the dash vents ducting. The flexible hose from engine to heater matrix had the same diameter as standard Land Rover so that was very easy. As you can see from the photos, George fitted metal rimmed silicon pipes, these look good and are sturdier than the originals. The airflow of heater fan is 235 cfm (399 m3/hr) and draws 10.5Amp. It has 3 speeds but the Landy switch (off/on/on) only allows us to use speed 2 and 3. Speed 2 is more blowy than standard Land Rover and speed 3 is better still. The key to cabin heat is the thermostat that you use (74C summer, 82C winter), right now it has the 74 degree Celcius. My observation thus far is that speed 2 = less flow but hotter air and speed 3 = faster flow but not as hot. With a warmed up engine (a 2.25 doesn’t get all that hot), the T7Design is able to make the cabin reasonably warm! This is where those no-draft Defender door seals also come into play.
Commissioning a Series Land Rover restoration
At the time of writing this web page, George has three Series Land Rover restorations in progress in his workshop and one Land Rover Defender 130 restoration which is destined for the United States of America. He also offers maintenance and mobile repairs to many Land Rovers in the Midlands area. If you have a project in mind, then your best bet is to give George a ring on 07538 911146 (International 0044 7538 911146). My project stayed on budget and overran by only three months (12/11/2018 agreement signed – 17/02/2020 taking delivery). The delay was caused mainly by supply issues and finding quality parts, George will do his best for you always. A pretty good project outcome for the rebuild of a 45 year old car! I funded the project in upfront increments and we kept a running account, so money remained transparent throughout the project. Also George kept me up-to-date with images and messages. I visited his unit regularly once the build got underway. This level of communication and transparency helps Land Rover aficionados (from abroad) when they commission their Series Land Rover Restoration with George Jeffcoate. For me, the happy outcome of having worked with George is being able to (reliably) tow my little Norfolk Oyster to Rutland Water, Morston Quay, The Orwell, The Norfolk Broads, Carrick Roads or one day perhaps again Scotland… By the way, a Norfolk Oyster plus brake-back galvanised road trailer plus kit weighs a good 900kg, not a weight that slows you down on the flat (with O/D 50-55mph on the A47 to King’s Lynn), bit it does slow you down a bit uphill. Ah well, you’ll get there.
Series Land Rover Supplier Trouble
What neither George Jeffcoate nor I had accounted for, were the problems created by newly supplied goods. Seriously, in good faith you buy new components from seemingly reputable distributors and… it’s like plug & pray in computers. This is what anyone who restores a Series Land Rover may come across nowadays. In chronological order:
Carburettor: As this was going to be an ‘as new’ car, George bought a brand spanking new Zenith 36 IV replacement carburettor and it was diabolical, to the tune of you might as well bin it, spindle and jet problems. Couldn’t get it to work right. Next he give the kiss of life to an old Zenith 36 IV which worked better but my engine still didn’t run quite right (not free flowing though revs). I wanted HUC 100%, so I bought a restored-to-concours Zenith 36IV carburetter to 3229 Specification for 2.25 Land Rover Series 2a and 3 from Martin Lawrie at Fuggle’s Fettling Ltd. For the connoisseurs among you, these are its specifications (tuning hopefully proves/disproves that they’re right for my particular engine):
Main jet 125
Enrichment jet 195
Slow running jet 60
Ventilation screw 3.0
Pump jet screw 65
Richard Hall of Glencyone Engineering recommends this method to set the carb mixture: “run the engine until it is warm, adjust the idle screw until the idle speed sounds about right (Series Land Rovers idle a bit slower than modern cars – around 600 rpm). The engine should not sound ‘busy’ at idle. If you have an earlier vehicle with dynamo charging, the charge warning light should be flickering, but not bright. Slowly screw in the mixture screw (leaner) until the idle speed drops and the engine starts to run rough. Unscrew it (out) around a ¼ turn from this point, readjust the idle speed if needed. If the engine idles smoothly at the right speed, your settings will not be far out”.
Tappet assembly: As you have read and seen from the pictures, my SIII had a completely rebuilt, Land Rover original 2,286cc 8:1 CR 5-bearing petrol engine. Four new tappet assemblies from Bearmach… After some 3,000 carefully driven miles, #4 tappet bolt broke, so slide, slide guide and tappet inlet valve went AWOL, #4 pushrod wrapped itself around the Turner Engineering camshaft and the engine block was holed. My beautiful engine is a write-off thanks to crappy components. As Jeffcoate Senior established with a mallet, these sodding tappets were not hardened!!! Not fit for purpose and a predictable accident waiting to happen. Because George Jeffcoate restored my Land Rover with a warranty “the deliverable comes with a 12 months full warranty which includes but is not limited to engine, gearbox, transfer box, drive train, brakes, steering, axels, differentials, electrics”, he was duty-bound to replace the engine. It speaks volumes about George that he never hesitated to make things right for me. I am really sad that he and Mark need to put in a lot of work through no fault of theirs, the fault is Bearmach’s and its manufacturer. A Land Rover Lightweight original 2,286cc 8:1 CR 5-bearing petrol engine is going in now, so terracotta replaces duck egg blue. Just to put this into some context, Turner Engineering engines have suffered similar fates for similar reasons. None of this “should have gone to Specsavers”. Crappy components happen because we don’t make them in Great Britain anymore. Proud patriotism by a lifelong Anglophile.
Driving on the B576, HUC abruptly lost power which sounded like vapour-lock (temperature gauge had gone up). Once safely parked on Brampton Wood Lane, way too much water could be added to the radiator and, on pulling the dipstick after seeing that the road surface was dry, it became clear where that water had gone to… The below video shares what the engine sounded like before switching it off and waiting for a tow. There was me and George thinking that this Landy would never need for assistance by the RAC or AA. In hindsight you can hear what sounds like a blowing exhaust. With 20/20 vision you know that you are listening to a hole in the engine block.
Gearbox: George outsourced the full reconditioning of both gearbox and transfer box. So it was disappointing, for him as much as it was for me, that HUC jumped out of 3rd gear on overrun (going down hill with feet off the pedals). In an old box that would be due to either excessive wear in the layshaft gears or to a poorly adjusted selector. A detent spring holds the selector shaft in the out-position, it presses onto the ⅜″ steel ball bearing which in turn is forced into the groove on the selector shaft, stopping the shaft moving involuntarily backwards and forwards. What George discovered is that the gearbox builder had used too weak detent/selector springs, so he had to replace #3 gear spring with the proper spring. Again George having to correct someone else’s workmanship…
Oh Prince of Darkness that is Lucas and wiring… after driving a good 115 miles to Leighton (west of Shrewsbury) and arriving in massively humid Wales, I tried to start for the return journey. Slight flickering of the dashlights then fade, a few clicks of the solenoids and then nothing. Panic call to George (for how would I get home). It was embarrassing that during this call the Land Rover Series III fired up and another 3 hours of trouble free driving were enjoyed. Sadly the not starting repeated itself at home and George Geoffcote Mobile Repairs sprung into action. You’d never guess, in less than 2 years a brand new Halford’s battery cable had disintegrated inside the connector. Quickly repaired and connectors now greased up to the hilt. All went swimmingly until I took the missus to the pub some weeks later. Switched on main beam and… nothing other than some French perhaps. Turns out that one connection point in the brand new Lucas indicator stalk had started become wobbly. It took quite some testing before George found that little bugger. Anyway, tightened the connection up, and all was well again.
Life with a Land Rover Series III
Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder but this Land Rover must be one of the nicest looking cars in the car park because it doesn’t only put a smile on my face. I love the way it drives (spartan, slowish and not too noisy as it has a petrol engine) and what it can do (field work, load carrying, towing and time travel). It is an acquired taste, one that I caught driving my then Series III LWB in my early twenties. Once we get on top of all the little new component (!) failures then it’d be perfect.