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THE DIARY, 2001-2002!

Other 'history' pages:
general information
conversion to a camper
service history (since we got it)
military service
Bosnia connection!

This diary documents the first couple of years of ownership of this vehicle - 2001 to 2002, as we coaxed it back into proper life and fitted it out for camping. Enjoy the story.

January/February 2001 diary:
The new distributor cap and rotor arm have made a HUGE difference to the starting.  It's been really wet (and snowy) here recently, and even without a run for a couple of weeks, it'll now start first time allowing for the funny petrol pump setup that means that it doesn't even begin to deliver fuel to the carbs until the starter motor begins to turn.  Points and condenser are on order. 

I drove it in proper dark the other day - that is back roads without streetlights - and found out just how bad the original headlamps were.  Looking at them more carefully, they appear to be the same as those fitted to early series 2 vehicles (suffix A) - 40/50 watt bulbs with spring connector on the back (not even the lucar triple connector).  Luckily, I'd just replaced the series 3 headlamps to halogen units, so had a couple of 45/60 watt sealed beam units knocking about.  These are now fitted, and the lighting is very much better.  Might convert to halogens if I can find them in the scrappie.

I pulled the dividing wall between the cab and the rear out, and in doing so sorted out the lighting arrangement for the rear. It's very clever wiring - click here for a diagram of what it's like as standard, and a couple of alternatives.  I've also taken out the upper stretcher carriers and most of the centre seat/cabinet arrangement (but had to leave the forwardmost part in because it's where the gearlever goes into the gearbox).  The vehicle now rides about 6 inches higher at the back than it did!

March/April 2001 diary:
Replaced the points and condenser, which finally sorted the cold starting. However, having got the cold starting sorted out, the hot starting is proving to be a problem. It's fine is I start it quickly after it stops, but leave it 5 minutes and starting is dreadful. There's been a strand running in the LRE UK forum which has helped a bit. The best advice seems to be that it's caused by fuel vaporisation, but dwell angle is also a possibility. I've checked that and it's spot on. This does seem to be a running problem with all V8s, and on this vehicle particularly due to the cramped engine space. The best answer is to replace the carbs with a four choke Weber, but that's a 600 option that isn't really 'on'. I've re-routed the fuel line and that's helped quite a lot. The next step is to check and overhaul the carburettors - the right hand one does seem a bit sluggish. I've also ordered a new coil to finish off the ignition system. One other thing that I've done is to rewire the fuel pump, so that it works all the time the ignition is on. Not quite so safe as before, but cold starting is spot on now (see Jan/Feb comments).

Andy from the 101 club collected the ambulance bits for a mate of his in Germany.

May/June 2001 diary:
It's been a slow couple of months - work pressures, holidays and all! I fitted a new coil to complete the full ignition system, then I decided to overhaul the carbs. You should have seen the pile of dirt that came out of the float chambers and jet carrier!

Overhauling them is fairly straight forward, but setting them is a different story. I haven't done a two-carburettor setup before and it proved to be a long, tedious job. Having got them balanced, it was a matter of setting the mixture, which upset the balancing, and so on. However, having finally done it, the vehicle runs much better, and the hot starting problem seems to have gone away. It's not surprising that something didn't work properly, given the dirt in the system.

Next job is to start on the cab refurbishment.

July/August 2001 diary:
I managed to break the choke control so had to fit a new one of those. Now holidays are here, and so is Billing. We had a day there and bought lots of bits for the 101 and the Series 3. Still working on the mixture for the carbs - it runs OK, but won't pull properly - I think it's too weak at the moment. However, we bought some nice bits and bobs from Billing, like the pick and shovel set for the front, an amber beacon, some nice new driving lamps and a new lock for the back door. We also got a new fuel filter element. In order to get the wiring a bit prettier, I've used some multicore to reroute the rear compartment wiring. We picked up some good ideas for the conversion from Billing, which will be included in the master plan soon. One of them even had a shower! I don't think we'll stretch to that, but you never know. Lois says that a toilet's more important since you can't poo in a shower. I beg to differ, but that's a different story....

I've now 'bitten the bullet' and removed the rear step completely from the tailgate, including cutting the brackets off. It was too heavy - OK for squaddies, but not for Lois, and certainly not for Hannah - we had visions of her unlocking it, then it falling on her! This will also allow for the internal single door that we want to fit just inside the big external doors. This door will be for 'on-site' use since, again, the two big double doors (while they may be gas-tight and waterproof) are a tad impractical for minute-by-minute use, certainly by a seven year old.

I think it may be time to restore the fuel pump wiring, too. Having it running all the time that the ignition's on is not a very good idea, although it did help the earlier starting problem. It'd probably be wise to wire the driving lamps in through a relay, too. Ah - Summer's here.

More August 2001 diary:
I rewired the driving lamps, through a relay, so that they come on with the main beams. I can see to drive in the dark, now. As I write, I've just heard the vehicle now has an MoT - it only needed a new U/J and headlamp. Regular readers will note that this is one of the headlamps I repaced with sealed beam units from the Series 3 - thus showing that it's not worth cutting corners. As always, Paul at HPMS had done a brilliant job. It's being tuned now - they are having a bit of trouble with the carbs! More on its return. We got to the Miltary Vehicle rally at the DLI on b/h Sunday - brilliant. Also, we're booked for Stoneleigh - better crack open the bank again.

September 2001 diary:
Fuel side sorted! The carbs are tuned, balanced and set. The main problem was the distributor - the centrifugal advance weights were stuck and the spindle was rising as the revs. went up. Basically, as the revs. went up, 3 or 4 of the pots went off (see my comment below in July/August diary "Won't pull properly" - understatement or what?). Not surprisingly, the thing was impossible to tune electrically. A new distributor was needed (from MVS - good, helpful place - see 'bookmarks' for their site). Blimey - is the end of the tunnel in sight? Stoneleigh came and went. Excellent show from the point of view of camping and the main stalls, but didn't get any new bits there, and no real autojumble to be had. Thanks to all of you who e-mailed us - it was good to meet. The vehicle is now fully tuned (including its new distributor) and is running perfectly. In fact, it's better than ever it was. The distributor really was worn out. The advance weights were sticking and only slowly returning to their proper position. This, coupled with a loose spindle and very worn gear, was what was causing most of the running problems. The carbs. being set up properly has also helped a lot. Very many thanks to Paul and his team at HPMS, who did a terrific job finding the problem and then curing it. The 101's also sporting brand new halogen headlamps. Given the vehicle a full service (too low milage for 12000, so based on the 12 month routine that you can download from
Alasdair Worsley's "1 Tonne" pages). I have bought and made up a Velleman electronic ignition, that I'll fit soon, to help keep it in tune.

October 2001 diary:
A slow period - such is the beginning of a new University year, I suppose. Still, we've had a couple of little outings to enjoy the newly performing engine. Also, we've done some more work inside, with the removal of another hundredweight or so of superfluous metal - the rear seatbox extensions, the lower stretcher racks and the elevating screws. It really is quite big in the back, now! We've got down to some serious planning on the rear layout - I'll post some of the ideas for comment soon. We've decided not to pull out the spare wheel box (although many people who do the conversion do this), mainly because the only alternative for the spare wheel is the roof, and Lois would stand no chance of getting it down. So this leave the main layout constraint as being the bed at the front of the rear section. Hannah will have a bunk in the cab. One plus point is that we've found a recovery service that will cover it with its 3600+ kg plated weight. Britannia will, so long as its not commercial, and we'll be taking out a membership very shortly. As mentioned in September diary, we bought a Velleman electronic ignition system. I made it up in September, and have just fitted it. Didn't seem to make much difference, but that's not really surprising since the conventional ignition was spot on. The idea is the the electronic ignition will let it stay that way. Slow tickover does seem smoother, though. 600 rpm (which is was the manual says) does seem very slow, and I might ease that up a bit. Anyone any comments?.

November/December 2001 diary
These months saw some good runs out, and a bit of additional work on tarting up the cab. In particular, the instrument panel was refurbished and some of the added wiring sorted out to make it a bit less like spaghetti. There's still a problem with the iginition - on our last run out, there was a sudden power loss. We got home, but I think that the dizzy has jumped a tooth on its drive - all the symptoms point that way. I really should have replaced the drive when it was evident that the gear on the bottom of the old dizzy was badly chewed, but I didn't, so now's the time. Thanks to some very helpful advice from
Rob at British 4x4, we'll be back on the road very soon.

January/February 2002 diary
Having worked in the freezing cold (literally) to get the timing cover off (after taking the fan, radiator, oil cooler, etc etc etc out), I found a very worn and chipped drive gear - it looked as though the dizzy drive had jumped a number of teeth, not just one (see last month's entry). The timing chain was a bit slack, too - so that's been replaced. Now that everything's back together, the engine sounds brilliant - it has the distinctive purr that V8s have, and the power is back the way it was. Getting the distributor back on and lined up properly (it turns as you put it on, so you have to guess where to start from in order to get it lined up when it's in place) was a piece of cake, and the oil pump worked first time, too (not being self-priming, they sometimes don't work to start with and you have to do funny things with vaseline to get them going!) Doing the dwell and strobe timing was easy too. What's the catch?

March 2002 diary
While driving, half the power went suddenly. Regular readers might find this familiar (see November), but this time there was no associated backfiring. Working through the 'remove the plug leads to see which cylinders are missing' method, I found that cylinders 1,4,6 & 7 were not firing. Does this give you a clue? Now, I'm going to sound very cocky here, but I happened to know that these cylinders have in common that they are fed by the left-hand carb. Five minutes work later replaced the needle that had dropped off the carrier, and power was back to normal. While doing that 'remove the plug leads...' test, it became evident that the plug leads that I'd fitted shortly after getting the vehicle were poorly constructed, and the end fitting were loose. So I've got a new set. Thaey've made another huge difference - shows it doesn't pay to cut corners. I actually overtook something on the road!

April/May 2002 diary
Now the vehicle is running nicely, starting properly and sounds a treat (that statement will ensure that it breaks down today). It's time to get back to the conversion of the rear. We've re-registered the vehicle as a 'motor caravan', mainly for MoT purposes, but also cos it just isn't an ambulance any more. We've adapted the rear doors so that the old tailgate is now bolted to them - after sawing it in half. That solves the problem of having a big gap between the bottom of the doors and the floor which couldn't be closed from inside. See photos from the
'Conversion History' part of the site. We've also re-lined the rear inside walls of the vehicle and taken the blue anti-flash glass panes out. These were almost opaque, and taking them out - just leaving the clear glass - means that we can see out, and the inside is MUCH lighter. Off to build some furniture...

June/July 2002 diary
Now came one of the biggest headaches we've ever had! Not a BIG fault, but a very annoying one, and fixing it turned out to be really, really frustrating! The flasher unit went wrong - clicking at odd times and sometimes not working. The wiring looked ok, so I got a new one. It chattered badly when it was fitted. It only did this with the engine running - ignition on, but not running, no chatter. Earths were OK. If I picked up a 12V feed direct from the battery - same, the relay chattered while engine running. BUT (and this is the bit I couldn't understand), if I picked up a feed from the Auxilliary battery there was no chatter whether the engine was running or not. Feeds from both main and aux battery together, chatter. Good one, eh. A couple of people made suggestions, but now that I've cured it, I though you might like to hear the answer... It was several problems, all at the same time: The power pick-ips from the back of the starter solenoid were corroded and starting to get hot. Replaced them - brighter lights and things, but still chattering. The leads on the back of the ignition switch were also loose, so replaced them. Still chattering - although a bit different now - more of a 'fizz' than a 'chatter' (you'd have to hear it to understand). The sympotoms of "connect to main battery gives problem, while connecting to aux battery doesn't" were still there. Here's the big one...and I had to resort to an oscilloscope to find this one: The alternator diode pack was breaking down, and was giving bits of AC every now and again. Hence running a lead from the aux battery (which is behind it's own blocking diode in the split charge system - see comment about earlier alterations below) was OK - DC only, but mix that with a very rough source from the main battery and the voltage varied from 12 ish to -5 ish. Lights not bothered by this, but a sensitive flasher relay was. Good, eh? Of course the other problem was that the wiring bore very little resemblance to the wiring diagram for the Ambi. It looked as though bits of extra wire had been put in at some point. And also there's an error in the army diagram (no surprise there) in that the heavy lead from the ambi panel to the main battery terminal post isn't shown - only the 12v sensing wire. I've got a JPEG of the amended version - in the resources area..

While doing this, I've found that there was a big voltage drop across the split charge diode. I wanted to leave the old system in place until I'd sorted out the problem above, but now that it's fixed, the time has come to ditch the diode (which is old technology anyway) and replace it with a relay system which is simpler, safer, more reliable and more effective. The change was very easy (see amended wiring diagram in the resources area), but the change in charge rate is significant. A good move! Instead of fitting a new relay, I used the one in the fuse/relay panel that used to work the compressor (which I removed some time ago). Again, see the fusebox layout diagram in the resources area to see what's what.

I've finally bitten the bullet (and got the credit card out) and bought an overdrive. All I have to do now is make up a linkage to be able to work it - more of that later...

August/September 2002 diary
The main summer month really should have been taken up by holidays and work on the vehicle. However, finishing off my Project at work took up so much time that both went by the board to a large extent. OK, excuses over - what has been done? Well, you'll recall that the last entry ended with news that I'd bought an overdrive. August was, therefore, taken up by firstly making up the linkage to be able to operate it, and second getting all the bits to make it work. The o/d itself came from LEGS, and the people there are very helpful indeed - and nice with it. However, I'm still trying to persuade them that I need the shim and spacer that fit on the back of the clutch sleeve to stop the roller bearing dropping into the transfer box. As usual with these things, I've got loads of information from the Yahoo Groups (in this case, the "Sixstud" group was more help than the "101" group), and even got the dimensions of the bits I need from a guy who goes under the snappy name of guitar03278, but is called Gordon. Still, I digress... if push comes to shove, I'll get them made up from Gordon's dimensions. The linkage was good fun to make - from heavy steel plate and 1.5" box steel. Pictures are in the
101 resources section. The difficulties were that there is only very limited clearance between the gearbox and the floor, and there needs to be a connection with a second transfer shift cable which goes to a wince control level in the cab. All good stuff, and the fun bit was making sure that the range of movement in the control lever was transmitted via appropriate ratio of levers in the new linkage to the corrent range of movement at the overdrive. So, once I get the shim and spacer, all will be able to be connected together.

The other news it that I now have a built a kitchen unit, complete with gas cooker and sink. The former runs from a Camping Gas bottle in the locker behind the spare wheel stowage, and the water comes in the same way. In one respect I had to do that since it's now re-registered as a Motor Caravan, and therefore it needed the kitchen gubbins to make it into one. It couldn't be registered as an ambulance any more because it hasn't got any stretchers! (See April/May 2002). Photos in the Conversion section.

October/November 2002 diary
Yes, as I hoped, I got quite a lot of the domestic electrics fitted - these are the mains lighting, 13A sockets, that sort of thing. In short, I've put two lamps high up on the walls, with individual switches, and both controlled by a single dimmer. And two double sockets, one near the worktop and one low down. The inlet is in the outside cupboard that the fresh water comes in and the waste water goes out. A properly wired in ELCB and MCBs are to follow (a Christmas present to be) - I'm using a plug-in one for the present.

This was the first half -of the month....
Not a lot to report in October so far - sorry. I suppose the BIG news is that she sailed through her MoT. Nothing at all to be done. Great news. The difference between the milage on the new certificate and the last was embarrassingly low (just over 1000), but - hey - this is a project, not a daily runaround! Overdrive's still not fitted. LEGS were really helpful and sent the thrust washer, and Paul at HPMS is getting the spacer made up now to the dimensions I got (see below). I really do aim to get the o/d fitted by the end of the month. Honest. Oh yes, and I've got a chest of drawers and a worktop in, too, which completes the kitchen. LRO at Peterborough was the usual fount of bits and ideas - a really good show this year.

But then came half-term hols and the overdrive is fitted!!! And before the end of the month - and not only that, it works! The part from Paul came through and fitted perfectly, and the mechanism that I built by measurement only needed a bit of tinkering to make it work, and the cable through to a winch lever works fine. All in all, I am very chuffed! Huge thanks to everyone that helped, especially the people on the Yahoo groups 101 and Sixstud, who came through with loads of advice (and those all-important dimensions) and Allan at LEGS.

Next job (for November) is the domestic electrics in the back.

December 2002 diary
It's been a busy month at work, and the weather's not be very good for working outside, so not very much to report. The big thing to report on is the Christmas Outing! Unfortunately Kodak failed to deliver the digital camera on time, so no photos can be posted yet. But I'll get some scanned later. We went to the middle of nowhere (well, where else would one go in a 101?), got parked and found we'd forgotton the kettle. So had to go back for it! The overdrive worked brilliantly, so did the cooker and the sink. However the pressure switch on the water tap wasn't very well set, so that'll have to be adjusted. The fridge worked very well, too. So, we are now able to use the vehicle for the reason it was bought! Sleeping arrangements next on the list.

Well, that's it really - to continue with this level of detail would just get boring and repetitive. This diary shows the trials and tributlations of the two years it took to get a clunky old ambulance up to a well-running camper. The continuing story can be found in the Service History pages.

For the history of conversion to a camper, click here
For the Service History of the vehicle since we got it, click here

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