Archive for the ‘Landrover’ Category

One thing that I like about working in the woods is that it does take me to some interesting places, many of which are just around the corner but otherwise you wouldn’t have a reason to go there. I had the usual busy day planned yesterday until Frank rang and my plans changed. He needed a hand, or more accurately a landrover,  hauling some long chestnut poles from a coppice on the side of the Devil’s Punchbowl over a mile from the nearest access point to the waiting truck.

Chestnut coppice is cut on a long cycle, typically between 12 and 20years and the regrowth shoots from the stumps, known as stools, so that the cycle can begin again. This coppice is ready to be cut again though only a small area has been cleared so far.  This cycle of clearing, removing and allowing wildflowers to pop up whilst the regrowth starts again is important in managing the woods, not just for providing sustainable timber products but also in providing an excellent habitat in the woods for plenty of wildlife.

It’s the first time I’ve been in the punchbowl since the A3 was rerouted and it has changed enormously since the tunnel opened last year. You can still see the route of the old road on the other side of the valley but the matting it’s clad in to prevent erosion will soon disappear under new growth and it will be hard to remember what it used to be like. Strange to be there without the ever present drone of traffic in the background, it makes the birdsong seem unnaturally load.

The Devil’s Punchbowl is an amazing local feature, a steep sided natural amphitheature which cuts into the side of the adjoining Hindhead common. Easy to forget you are still on the borders of Surrey when you are lost in the bottom of the valley and more understandable when you learn that Hindhead common reaches 900feet in altitude. If you do get lost you’ll be in good company as William Cobbett hired a guide and still managed to get lost in the Punchbowl.

On the steep sides of the Punchbowl the Bell Heather is starting to flower and there will be a continuous display on the local heaths through to mid September another reminder that the seasons are changing relentlessly even if the weather we are experiencing this week makes it hard to rememeber just where we are. Only a week ago it was still pouring with rain and now we have a mini-heatwave.

The main poles Frank was extracting are for a roundwood workshop build he is planning – I think they’ll be just the job and I look forward to seeing how he gets on with the build. Not huge loads, more of a challenge to balance the 16ft lengths for the haul up the track to the top of the Punchbowl.

Puff the Magic Landrover coped well with the +30 degrees C temperatures and the long climb, and after a bigger load of shorted poles we’d filled the truck and finished the job. Great to be able to visit the punchbowl again and a pleasure to help out. Frank has given me some ideas for working with roundwood chestnut on my own shedbuild which is only 3 years behind schedule now.


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Over recent years we’ve become accustomed to blistering heat and endless sunshine at the Sussex and Surrey Coppice Group open weekend, our annual get together where members and guests have a chance to try different skills and swap ideas for new products and generally chat, not to mention buy something you really didn’t know you needed at the Tool Auction.

As for the last 3  years the event was held in Fernhurst at the site of the old Fernhurst Iron Furnace and hosted by Robin Barnes. The weather forecast for this year predicted it would be different this time so we turned up prepared for bad weather – and we weren’t disappointed! I was reminded of Dwayne, one of the cutters on the TV show Ax-men, who in an Oregon downpour in which he just about disappeared he pronounced it ‘A DandyDay!’ and got on with felling the trees. I tend to use the phrase to describe drenched days working in the woods.

To start off the going on the field was fairly firm, but as the downpours continued  eventually there was as much water on the surface as grass, walking on water definitely an advantage and we did give up on the open campfire  – but did that put us off?

Not much, though it was a more select gathering than usually attends and thats not a huge surprise under the circumstances. The rubbish in the foreground is not flood debris it’s the annual attempt to pass off unwanted items to other members loosely known as an auction.

The point of the day is not just for members to demonstrate their skills – we do that at shows throughout the season – but for members to join in and try out some new crafts. Ian Swain was putting new handles on old tools – something that lots of us do on occasion but it’s good to watch a master at work and there is always more to learn and I was keen to have a go but unfortunately too busy setting up for the auction. Next time Ian!

Tony Lucas was a welcome new face at the gathering this year coming over from near Lewes with his fine Landrover 110 – oh and some fine chairs as well. The steam chamber on the table was powered by a small boiler over an open fire, a neat little setup for demonstrating steam bending in the middle of a wet field.

As you’d expect with the Coppice Group there were a fair few old landrovers around and John Sinclair demonstrates a surprisingly deft touch with his Series III. Will he convert Stuart’s Golf to a rear engine model, or gently assist him to leave the field?

Piping hot food (and more than a little local beer and cider) always helps to keep out the rain and The Men in Hats aka Dave and Ritchie did a great job in cooking up the venison – I’ve left out the photos of the butchery you’ll be pleased to hear – and the rest of the local meat feast.

Fresh from his success with his magic goblet machine Roger’s been working on a setup for shaping spoons and utensils on a repeatable basis. It’s based upon a small stock knife (similar to a drawknife in size) which is anchored at one end on a modified bench with a series of steps in it to assist the cuts with the knife on the blank.

Unlike a normal spoon making process the bowl is carved first using a large gouge and then the form is cut swiftly and accurately around it with the stocknife.

Very interesting approach to making utensils. As you can see it knocks out butter knives/letter openers very easily just using the stocknife. Roger’s aim was to investigate a simple and consistent approach to making utensils which increases speed whilst retaining acceptable quality, allowing a lower cost item made from sustainable products. I think he’s got something here and I’m tempted to try something similar for making spatulas.

Though I was busy around the site the polelathe proved popular with people trying it out through the day. Here Rick gives it a go for the first time and as he’s soon to be on his way back to New Zealand – perhaps there’ll be an NZ branch of the APT before too long.

The auction was big hit and with a massive 70 lots to get through Peter Jameson excelled himself and just about managed to keep his voice. The porters were the stars of the show and Roger prooved to be quite a performer as he gave us the background to each of the chainsaw sculptures he’d entered into the auction. I think both buyers and sellers seemed happy with the event and by something approaching a miracle the rain just about held off for the time it took to flog the lot.

I fully intended to buy nothing and one again I failed miserably and returned home with the usual assortment of odds and sods, but more sods than odds I suspect. I was tempted by this intriguing tool, but as Dave seemed keen on it I thought it would have a fine home and resisted the temptation to bid it up. Can you see what it is yet? And why does it have two hooks on it?

Ritchie’s roundhouse become the centre of activities and allowed us to keep the fire on once we’d abandoned the campfire outside. But even inside  it turned in a sea of mud but at least we stayed afloat in the roundhouse just.

As I’ve had a few complaints about the lack of Landrover content recently, here is a gratuitous photo from the weekend where Landrovers outnumbered other vehicles to the extent that you could be forgiven for thinking it was actually a Landrover rally!

The water pouring through the grate and into the spillway of the old furnace in the woods below the fields gives you some idea of the amount of water trying to leave the site. Never mind – I think a good time was had by all.  Back to the usual heatwave for next year?

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Do you like the view from my new office?  It was nice and quiet until someone opened the lid and let me out. If I’ve been a bit quiet recently it’s not for lack of things to post on, more a lack of time to post. The restoration of my 1961 SII landrover Puff hit a milestone earlier this year when he passed the MOT Test with flying colours but it soon became obvious, to anyone following at least, by the smelly pall of blue smoke that the engine needed some serious work.

But one thing leads to another and a quick swap of heads was always a bit optimistic and an afternoon job stetched out for weeks and then months as a replacement engine was found (about 20feet in front of our door, strange that!) which then also turned out to need reconditioning. Ho hum. But the engine is rebuilt and ready to go in so time to paint the office ready for it’s new occupant.

So after having the cylinders bored out, the crank ground and the block skimmed and all new parts fitted the engine really is as good as new. Better than new probably. No the experience hasn’t turned my hair white, this is my friend and landrover guru Richard fitting the new engine.

Today we finally managed to find the time to fire it up. Once we managed to connect everything up the right way around that is. The pistons were a tight fit into their cylinders and it takes a bit of turning over but after quite a lot of turning over to move the oil around it fired up straight away and ran smoothly and amazingly quietly for a landrover engine.

Now we know it works we can finish the the rebuild and prepare it for running in. It’s very rare these days to see a vehicle with a sign saying  ‘Running in – Please Pass’  and I think I shall make one up just for fun.

I shall post a more detailed look at the rebuild in a post soon but this has been a red letter day. I went off to split some fire wood just to celebrate. Many thanks to Richard and Gary without whom I’d still be scatching my head and wondering where to start.

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It’s not unusual for the old cartshed I use as a workshop to get in a state over the summer. A growing layer of discarded shavings, part finished and abandoned projects as much of my work is outside or between shows. This year has been worse than most and I’m having trouble even getting to the lathe in the corner. So there is nothing for it, a rainy but warm sunday is dedicated to providing an environment I can actually get to under the debris.

Eight hours of hard labour later and there is something of a transformation. Up a couple of notches from dire to just messy I think.

As a bonus I’ve also generated several large bags of  designer firewood and kindling from abandoned lumps of wood now too dry to continue. But nowhere to store it – a tarp will have to suffice.

And yes lurking on the bench on the left is an engine. Just one of the many projects keeping me busy at the moment.

Partway through my first total rebuild of a landrover petrol engine. I’d like to claim the credit for all of the work but I can’t and I have to thank Gary and Richard for Boring, Grinding, Skimming, Stripping and Rebuilding! Should be finished in the next few days (famous last words) as I’m looking forward to using the landrover over the winter though progress will be balanced with woody work.

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Working with a scythe is an enjoyable experience in its own right, but there are fringe benefits as well. One of these is that you tend to end in special places with a scythe, whereas with a strimmer you’ll be stuck on a verge somewhere.

The recent scything course I gave to the South Downs National Park Volunteer Ranger Service (bit of a mouthful that) was no exception. We started off in the workshop but soon adjourned to practice on some thistles in a nearby meadow, part of the Woolbeding estate.

The meadow is right by the river Rother near Midhurst. Looks more like a peaceful stream at this time of year, though the 10 foot drop from the meadow to the water level gives some idea of how it can flow during the winter.

I should have been taking lots of photos of the mowing, but on this improvers course the team had got the hang of it quite well in the main and I was captivated by the ancient parkland oak trees in the meadows. Large trees with the fabulous gnarly shapes and wide spreading canopies that come with growing out in the open.

Back to the mowing. With this many thistles the job should really be more topping than mowing as cutting the thistles is more important than cutting the grass. That’s normally the case with using scythes in conservation work. I started using a scythe on bracken (when I was 16) and I get to use them on bracken, brambles and weeds far more often than I get to mow a meadow for haymaking so it’s useful to look at different ways of working.

Oooh, now this will be the gratuitous Landrover photo then, dressed up to look like a serious comment on scything technique. Now how does that song go? After me…

….One man went to mow, went to mow a meadow, one man and his Land Rover went to mow a meadow.  Two men went to mow, went to mow a meadow, two men, one man, and his Land Rover, and his other Land Rover…went to mow a meadow…..got the picture yet?

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Just to add to the mountain of work I seem to have taken on my triumph in getting Puff the magic landrover through it’s MOT test was short-lived as she soon started to live up to her name – puffing like a goodun’ but blue smoke in this case. Possibly the valve stem seals but that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

With the head off it became clear that the pistons are more than a little bit loose in their bores. At least new rings required and possibly a rebore (Eva – if you are reading this I think I need some advice from your other half and possibly it’s a job for his firm! Send me an email as I’ve lost yours – please!).

The head looks alright. Though it needs a good clean off and a rebuild with new valve seals.

Meanwhilst it turns out that I have a spare engine. Well it used to be a spare landrover, though it’s been known as the ‘Red Shed’ for many years now. Time to find out if this has a better block – and as luck would have it – the bores seem in better condition and Richard my Landrover Guru has already reconditioned the head. Getting the engine out will be fun, but as I am breaking the landrover around it the access will be ok. It’s a late model Series III and it’s going into an early Series II so there will be some work to do in mating it to the Series II gearbox and it seems the waterpump is siezed………. well at least I won’t get ‘bored’ too easily.

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A desperate attempt to break the blog block and write something. I’ve got a load of articles to write up but somehow I never quite manage to get anything written before I am absorbed in the next job. A lot of them are smallish jobs to fit in and today that included a bit of woodturning, fetching and bagging charcoal and putting a landrover in for its annual test. Oh and preparing to go up to Wimpole hall near Cambridge for the festivities there this weekend.  No pressure then.

The priest in question is a wildfowler’s or fisherman’s club. I make them to a traditional victorian (or older) design. sometimes I weight them and sometimes I don’t. This one, made from wild cherry is not weighted but the wood is reasonably dense and the head of the club is reasonably large and dense so it feels well balanced. This one is destined for Germany where my international marketing reprentative has been busy drumming up business (thanks Rich).


The flying colours are because I spent most of the morning replacing a seatbelt, rejuvenating a windscreen wiper motor and fixing the washers on my 1965 SIIa landrover known as Georgina. The old test ran out while I was in Somerset helping with the scythe festival and it’s taken a few days to get her booked in. In the event she passed the test with flying colours – not even a single note – quite a relief.

The foxgloves were caught in the evening sunshine out on the commons. It’s been raining most of the week, particularly when I tried to bag the charcoal and no matter how much I shouted – it didn’t want to stop. Hard to complain, after all we do need it, and maybe we’ll be lucky at the weekend and have good weather.



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