Phil’s Lightweight Land Rover (Air‑Portable) site

aka — Truck Utility, General Service, 1/2 Ton, 4x4, Rover Series 3

my Land Rover lightweight

At Shepley spring festival - May 2010
LightWeight and Trailer
After the accident - February 2017
My Broken LightWeight

This site is mainly about the Land Rover Lightweight. I owned for ten years from 2007 to 2017, I tried to retain/restore as much of the original look as possible while modifying it to make it more suitable for my needs. I’ve described both the day to day tribulations of running a 40 year old vehicle and also given step by step illustrated guides to some of the modifications I’ve made, which may help you to carry out similar tasks.

Since first getting the bug in the mid 1980s I’ve owned 5 Land Rovers including, abortively, a 101 forward control. In April 2007 I bought my second Lightweight, a 1972 series III (I should never have let the first one go). This one was already running a V8 from a Rover SD1, the oil cooler from the front of the radiator had been removed and a Ford electric fan was installed in its place, it had a Series II gearbox and Range Rover diff’s. I initially fitted Avon Rangemaster 7.50r16 tyres, along with the wheels and front seats from a 1989 V8 110 CSW that I was breaking. I took off the hard top roof & sides that the previous owner had installed and fitted some hood sticks & a soft‑top, then re‑mounted the spare wheel on the bonnet and wired up a 12 pin NATO trailer socket.
I bought a decent ¾ton wide track Sankey trailer from Witham Specialist Vehicles to put the camping gear in. I’d put forward facing seats in the back for my sons which didn’t leave much space for luggage.

May 07 — Shepley spring festival only its 2nd time out
my Lightweight and trailer
my Lightweight

My Lightweight Diary

Most of the small images will display full size if you Click on them use your browser ‘back’ button to return here.

June 07 — 110 seats & cubby box
my Lightweight
July 07 — done my 1st 1,000 miles, mostly on tarmac towing the trailer. New Facet fuel pump relocated to under the seat box, replaced a leaking water hose, fitted a slightly shorter ‘fan’ belt, added a 2nd tool box (to store a RR hydraulic bottle jack in) under the other rear wing.

August 07 — new Mallory dual point distributor — Still lovin’ it even though, due to the unseasonal weather, I’ve not driven it more than 5 miles with the top open yet.

September 07 — spent 2 days at the Peterborough Land Rover fest, met some good people on the Lightweight club stand where I learned a lot, especially about Rover V8s in Lightweights and fitting external fuel fillers. Bought a few bits and pieces including a full set of ‘bug eye’ lenses for the side, tail & indicator lights.

October & November 07 — Fitted a proper split tailgate and a pair of Rocky Mountain alloy door tops.
Tailgate & Door-tops
my Lightweight my Lightweight

December 07 & January 08
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Rear, forward facing, folding seats
Fitted folding, forward‑facing seats in the back.

February & March 08 — Had a 2nd fuel filler panel for the tub side fabricated in stainless and started on the next big job — fitting external fuel fillers and re‑instating twin tanks.
Replaced a leaking screen wash bottle, fitted lap belts for the rear seats and some checkerplate wing tops.
Checkerplate wingtops & rear seatbelt anchorages
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April 08 — Fitted proper lightweight tailgate chains, a pair of rear bumperettes, correct pegs with chains to fasten the tailgate, ‘age related’ black & silver number plates and had a rear hub ‘helicoiled’ to stop an oil leak caused by stripped threads.
Tailgate chains, Bumperettes & Hub
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May 08
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Roll Cage
Fitted front lifting/tie down eyes and bow shackles, an in line fuel filter, rear reflectors, a finned cast aluminium transfer case sump cover.
Bought a welded roll cage (well heavy duty tilt frame really) to replace the hood sticks & ordered a new tilt with side windows and a sun roof from all wheel trim.

June 08
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Seat belt mounting
Fitted new Wolf wheels and G90 tyres on the Lightweight and trailer, they’re not quite as sure-footed on wet tarmac as the Avon Rangemasters but not bad off-road and they have the right military look.
Mounted new inertia‑reel front seat belts on the roll cage and bought a set of wheel arch extensions.

July 08 — Fitted rear lifting/tie down eyes.
With the external fuel fillers fitted I connected up the change over switch & 2nd fuel tank, and then discovered that the left hand tank leaked when it was filled to the top.
External Fuel Fillers
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August 08 — Bought and fitted a new fuel tank to replaced the leaking one.

September 08 — Passed the MOT after replacing some brake pipes.
Showed my Lightweight off on the Lightweight club stand at the Peterborough LRO show at the East of England Show-ground.
Fitted new canvas from all wheel trim, with side windows and a sun roof and realised that the plastic windows in a soft top are actually transparent when they’re new!
New canvas hood
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October 08 — It’s pissed down with rain this month so no opportunity to work on the Lightweight but at least the new hood should shrink to fit nicely.
Bought a 16" fan for the front of the rad.

November 08 — Replaced the ropes along the bottom of the sides & back of the new hood with bungee cord.
Fitted stainless steel extractor vents on the bonnet sides in an attempt to clear some of the heat build‑up you inevitably get when you run a V8 and replace the engine driven fan with an
electric one.
stainless steel extractor vents
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Bungee cords
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December 08 & January 09 — Between the shite weather and my sciatica I’ve not even driven it let alone done any more work on the Lightweight.

February 09 — Bought a military drop plate so I can do a quick-change between the NATO tow hitch and a civilian tow ball.
Sent the Lightweight to RPi Engineering to have the engine sorted: New Rover V8 4.0l short engine, SU carbs, electronic ignition, reconditioned heads etc.
Wrote to tell the DVLA and phoned my insurers Adrian Flux the increase in engine capacity meant the annual premium went up, but by less than £20.
Quick-change tow hitch
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March 09
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New 4.0 Rover V8 in place
Drove it home to Peterborough from RPi nr. Norwich and took it for a bit of a spin each Sunday afternoon this month, done about 300 miles and the new engine seems to be starting to free off a bit. There’s some real power there but I’m only giving it short bursts til it’s properly run in.
Bought a proper under bonnet tool box.
DVLA still fannying about wanting to see receipts before they’ll issue new registration documents showing the bigger engine.

April 09 — Fitted the under bonnet tool box, didn’t get it in quite the right position and so I had to cut a notch out of the stiffener at the back of the bonnet so it would still shut without fouling the toolbox.
New registration documents finally arrived from DVLA.
Under Bonnet tool box
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May 09 — Drove to Rochester for May day week-end towing a heavily laden Sankey wide track trailer, 115 miles each way including a 7 mile tailback on the M25 at the Dartford crossing on a warm afternoon. Pulled well, no problems, no overheating, and about 14 MpG.
The gearbox gave up on me (luckily close to home) horrible noises and no more 2nd gear, so I’ve had a reconditioned 2A box from Ashcroft Transmissions fitted, now the transmission noise has reduced to the extent that I can actually hear the engine, I’ve even contemplated fitting a stereo system!
Did about 140 miles over the Late spring bank holiday week-end, towing the trailer again, the ‘new’ gearbox seems good so far.
Weather brightened up at the end of the month so I took the canvas and doors off and went for a spin.
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June 09
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Long Wheel Studs
Fitted extended wheel-studs as the thicker steel of the Wolf wheels means the standard ones are shorter than the wheel nuts.
Fitted the mesh ‘bee catchers’ that go behind the air vent flaps.

July 09
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Went to the Land Rover show at Billing where I had another silver & black number plate made so the Sankey trailer matches the lightweight, and picked up a few bits including an X‑Eng disk brake kit, as the standard hand/transmission brake is noticeably less efficient with the extra gearing of the Range Rover diffs. Following the instructions for fitting it was fun - an innocuous phrase like "dismantle the drive flange" doesn’t prepare you for the need for a special tool to remove the large and inaccessible circlip. The new brake is really good though - well worth the effort.

August & September 09 — A 350 mile round trip to Whitby without the trailer, much of it on fast main roads, and then a 250 mile round trip to Bromyard this time with the fully laden Sankey trailer, on a mix of fast main roads and winding country A roads, looks like I might’ve sorted the reliability issues.
Re-fitted an engine/gearbox steady bar that had been chopped out by someone to make it easier to fit the exhaust pipe.

October & November 09 — Cleaned up and repainted some of the rusty bits on the Sankey trailer.
Cleaned the gaps between the spring leaves on the Lightweight with a pressure washer, then dried them and sprayed lithium grease in.
My electrician is slowly rewiring the Lightweight including fitting the new wiring loom (harness) that I’ve bought from Auto Sparks.

December 09 — I’ve started to make a solid front-hinged lid for the Sankey trailer, but the trailer is both wider and shorter than a SWB series roof so I need to cannibalize two 88in roofs to make one trailer hard top.
Trailer hard top under construction December 16th & 17th
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Trailer hard top - December 18th Snow stopped progress
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January & February 10
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Trailer hard top in place
At last the rewiring’s completed, I’m back on the road and the trailer hard top’s finished.

March 10 — I’ve finally sorted out an ongoing problem where the clutch linkage was hitting the front prop shaft.

April 10 — I’ve bought the steel (50mm x 100mm box section 3mm wall) for some jackable sills (rock sliders) and had a chat to the welder who’s going to fabricate them for me.

May 10 — The sills are now made and welded in place, I’ve cut the wheel arch extensions to fit with the sills and screwed them on and given the car a coat of NATO green paint & it’s lookin’ good.
Put in a lot of road miles this month with trips to Rochester, Shepley and Whitby.
New sill
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Arch extension cut
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Wheel arches
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June, July & August 10
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All painted
Just enjoying driving around in the summer with the sides rolled up. Towed the heavily laden trailer for a family camping holiday at Praa Sands near Penzance, 350 miles each way, long hills and traffic jams on hot days boiled off a pint of water from the radiator but otherwise no problems other than the price of petrol!
MOT mid August: headlight alignment; 2 shock absorber rubber bushes; brake light switch; no real problems.

September 10
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Peterborough LRO show - Lightweights in the Arena
Had a great week-end on the Lightweight club stand at the Peterborough LRO show, showing off the Lightweight and Sankey trailer.

October, & November 10 — Anti Freeze in!

December 10 — 5 days at Nottingham Centre Parcs for Xmas towing the trailer with 4 bikes tied on top. Rufford Lane was ungritted and had a complete covering of compacted snow, the sign that said "Road Closed - Flood" was too inviting to ignore. Just one of those fords that were everywhere on country roads 40 years ago, but the local kids cheered as we went through.

January 11 — Why would both hydraulic systems (brakes and clutch) fail at the same time? New clutch slave cylinder, one new wheel cylinder & all new brake shoes on the back axle sorted it.

February 11
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Khyam Land Rover Tent
Bought an unused ‘Land Rover’ branded Khyam tent on eBay for less than ½ the (exorbitant) list price. Not sure if it’s got the best connecting tunnel for attaching it to a soft-top Lightweight, I’ll find out when I use it in April.

March & April 11 — Bought a 200TDi radiator with a built in oil cooler, modified the rad housing slightly and plumbed it all in. Then just as I was was putting in the finishing touches and wiring in an over temperature warning light on the dash I spotted a serious crack in the right hand exhaust manifold, I haven’t been able to source a replacement so it’s been welded.
Fitting a 200TDi Radiator
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Cracked Right Hand Manifold
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May 11 — Towed the trailer to Rochester for the May day week-end, the new tent fitted on to the Lightweight nicely. 120 miles each way - the welded manifold held out and didn’t use any oil or loose any water but the temperature in the bottom hose got above 92°C a couple of times on the journey down (quite a hot afternoon) so I’ve replaced the old Ford electric fan with the 16" one that’s sat in my shed for 2½ years waiting to be mounted behind the radiator.
Changed and re-aligned the bottom hose as the alternator belt had started to cut a groove in it! Re-purging all the air from the cooling system was a bit tedious.
New Tent
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New 16" fan behind the Radiator
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June 11 — New fan seems to have done the trick - towed the trailer 70 miles each way to Wells-Next-the-Sea on the Norfolk coast for a few days camping holiday and on a mixed journey of fast A roads and country lanes in warm weather the temperature warning light never came on.
Bought 2 2nd hand door bottoms from someone on the Lightweight club website as the frames on mine have pretty much rotted away along the bottoms. Transfered the door tops (windows) and the rest of the furniture (hinges, locks, draft strips, mirrors, check straps etc.) to the new doors, fitted and painted them. Geting them to fit and lock properly took a lot of adjustment and fettling. I managed to sell the old doors on eBay to someone who was pleased with them!
Really enjoyed a 250 mile round trip to Middlewitch, the Lightweight tows the trailer round the bends on the A6006 like a train on rails.
Found a crack in the left side exhaust manifold but managed to source a replacement, as I took the old one off it fell appart in my hands. Not much room to swing a spanner but I bolted the new one on and it’s ok now.
Rusty door frame
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Left side Manifold
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Not much room
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New Manifold
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July 11 — Racked up over 450 road miles this month, the first two week-ends included a 150 mile round trip to Sheringham and a 60 mile round trip to Ely, both with the trailer on. The A147 ‘Trans Norfolk Highway’ is another fun road to drive, unlike the fen roads where the verge subsidence on the B1095 ‘Milk and Water Drove’ & the B1096 ‘Forty Foot Bank’, tries its damndest to throw you, Lightweight trailer and all, into a drainage dyke to sink and never be seen again (cue sound of duelling banjos).
Followed by an 80 mile round trip to the LRO show at Billing where I met up with the regulars on the Lightweight club stand.
Re-routed the petrol pipe that was running uncomfortably close to the exhaust pipe and left hand manifold (see the ‘New Manifold’ picture above), it now runs in the transmission tunnel and up over the back of the engine.
150 mile round trip to Warwick with the trailer to round off the month.

August 11 — 150 mile round trip to SE Derbyshire to collect a 3cwt AMI Continental Jukebox. Pleased that I managed it on one tank of petrol. Passed the MOT again with minimal work needed:- another shock absorber rubber and a hub oil seal.

September 11
my lightweight
Setting up camp at the
Peterborough LRO show
Last camping weekend/festival this year, 140 mile round trip to Fillongley, Nr Coventry.
When I’ve sat in traffic or queued up at the end of a journey and the engine’s hot - if I switch off (or stall!) nothing happens when I try to restart unless I let it cool down for 15mins. I think the solenoid on top of the starter siezes, it’s very close to the right hand exhaust manifold and gets hot when there’s no airflow past it! I’ve bought a new starter motor, I’ll fit it and see if that fixes it.
Went to the LRO show here in Peterborough and enjoyed the company on the Lightweight club stand.
Put new bushes in the drivers side door hinges and adjusted the lock striker, the door still needs quite a slam to catch properly though.

October & November 11 — The thermostatic sensor (fan switch) packed in, it failed to always on and flattened the battery as I have it connected to an unswitched supply to make sure the engine doesn’t bake when I switch off hot. I got a new switch from the local motor factors, it cost £10 and took 15 mins to install, all seems good now.

December 11 — Fitted a modern Bosch PMGR starter motor, now starts on the button like new cars do. Higher torque, faster cranking speed, lower current draw, smaller and lighter - what’s not to like?

January to April 12 — No news is good news, appart from a disappointing lack of snow in the eastern counties this year.

May 12 — Towed the trailer to Rochester in Kent for the May Day bank holiday week-end, started off well but the right hand exhaust manifold that a friend welded a year ago cracked again. I tried get an expert (welding instructor at the local tech) to re-weld it but it just got worse. As you can see in the photos below my manifold is closer to the block and needs a shorter downpipe than the available alternatives. The 2 pieces are just proped together at the failed weld for these photos. I eventually sourced a pair of matching manifolds from a Rover P6 saloon and fitted one.
Compare 3 Right Hand Exhaust Manifolds
Block Hugger
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and Deeper
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June & July 12 — 120 mile round trip to Southwell went ok. 150 mile round trip to Warwick proved that she still runs hot when the ambient temperature gets above 25°C.

August 12 — two more trips to festivals towing the trailer this month: Towersey in Oxfordshire 80 miles each way; & a farm site near Bedworth (near Nuneaton) 70 miles each way. Passed the MOT no probs too.

September to December 12 — Not used her much this autumn, wife’s Saab is more sensible/comfortable/economical both for shopping and longer trips when we don’t need the trailer.

January 2013 — Took her out for a spin for the first time in over 2 months, (well used her to take some rubbish to the tip actually) started ok after the fuel had pumped through and once everything had warmed up, reminded me of all the fun I’d been missing, they say it might snow soon though!
Then at the end of the month the fuel pump failed.

February 13 — New Facet electric fuel pump fitted, surprisingly difficult to track down the low pressure pump for use with carbs.

March - May 13 — Just pottered around locally, no problems.

June - September 13 — Passed the MOT, running niceley, trips out to Southwell, Ely, Nuneaton, Otly and a weekend at the Peterborough LRO show where the Lightweight club was awarded the best club stand.

October 2013 - May 2014 — No problems, driving nicely, disappointing lack of snow again over the winter months but that’s not unusual around East Anglia.

June 14 — Uneventfull trip to Southwell Nottinghamshire (60+ miles each way).

July 14 — Round trip to Sheringham, over 150 miles and all on less than one tank of petrol.

August - November 14 — Just local driving, no problems except the tilt, which has been neglected and lived outside for 6 years, is starting to rot. The holes mean the passenger seat gets wet when it rains, so I’ve ordered a new one from Undercover Covers.
Rotting Canvas
Outside View
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Inside View
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December 14 — New tilt arrived and fitted.

January to May 2015 — uneventfull local motoring.

June 15 — 120 mile round trip to Southwell race course.

July 15 — Had the overrun brakes (hydraulic disks) serviced on the Sankey trailer, overdue really, first time they’d been looked at since I bought it 8 years ago - replaced pads & Flexible hoses.

August 15 — MOT test time again, it’s passed with a non functioning speedo every time for the past 5 years, how come they decide to fail it now? A new cable fixed it, then a 225 mile round trip to Suffolk with 4 adults in the vehicle and towing the heavily laden trailer, one night at home then a 350 mile round trip to Whitby (no trailer this time) - all went well and it’s good to not have to guess how much to slow down when a speed camera looms.

September 15
xRay of my broken finger
No Lightweight driving for me at the moment, can only just manage the wife’s Saab (power steering & automatic box) since I crushed a bone in my little finger and had some steel pins put in to try and get it to set straight. Was drilling through some 3mm steel with the trusty Black & Decker when the bit jammed and the drill body kicked back the other way and slammed my hand against some angle iron.

October 15
Ruth Driving
We had a slight problem with the Saab so my wife had to drive the Lightweight on a 300 mile round trip to Rochdale on a Saturday - I think she’d enjoy driving it as much as I do if it weren’t for the cold rainwater dripping on her legs! My hand is slowly on the mend and I’ve now driven it a few of miles around town.

November 15 — Hand healing well, driving OK now.

December 15 — Sudden onset of horrible noises from the transmission under acceleration, turned out to be the rear diff that’s knackered (thankfully not the reconditioned gearbox I put in 6½ years ago). I’ve had an early Range Rover diff that I bought off Ebay installed, so far it seems to be a good’un.

January 2016 — 120 mile round trip to Nottingham, new diff not noisy so all seems well.

February & March 16 — Uneventfull local motoring.

April 16 — Adjusted the handbrake so it holds on hills again, then another trip to Nottingham.

May to July 16 — Another trip to Nottingham, adjusted two wheel bearings, had a short that melted the insulation on the wiring harness from the alternator to the starter motor so replaced affected wires and OK now.

August 16 — Another year and MOT time again, this is the first time it’s needed any serious work, chassis welding at the front spring hangers on both sides & it turns out the exhaust had been custom made so a new back section had to be fabricated - ouch!

September 16 — Lots of trips to the tip (Household waste disposal facility) - when you prepare to move house from somewhere you’ve lived in for 20 years you realise how much crap you’ve stuffed in the shed that won’t now ‘come in handy one day’.

October 16 — The sheet metal on the trailer tailgate has finally succumbed to rust so I chopped it out of its frame as best I could with a slitting disc on the angle grinder then pop rivited a sheet of 1.5 mm steel on to the inside and brushed a couple of coats of paint on. Strange how the weathering and algal growth starts to look like cammo.
Trailer tailgate
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November 16 — Took all my tools, spares and everything except the work-bench and shelving out of the shed, loaded them into the lightweight and trailer and drove 175 miles to Whitby where they’re now sitting in a nice new 20ft shipping container at a self storage site. On the way back, 50 miles from home, the steering got uncomfortably vague, steering box just needed oil and it’s OK now.

December 16 & January 17 — Not much happening, waiting for house move to complete.

February 2017 — The end of an era, if I hadn’t installed those heavy duty hood sticks you probably wouldn’t be reading this. After a bit of snaking on sharp braking a trailer tyre popped off its rim, the whole rig spun out of controll and came to a halt on its roof, facing the wrong way with the drivers door hard against the central reservation crash barrier of the A1 near Grantham. For a few frightening moments I was hanging upside down by the seat belt with the door jammed and petrol dripping on me.
The photos below were taken after I helped the Fire Brigade unhitch the trailer and they winched the Lightweight back onto its wheels.
Crash Damage
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my lightweight

As I was in the process of moving house to somewhere without a garage I decided against rebuilding it and let the insurance company write it off and took the money. If I can find a genuine Series 2 Lightweight with a (T)Di conversion, open top & striped as for airdrop at the right price I'd buy it in a flash.