Forward Control

Early in 2013 I bought the remains of a 1967 Land Rover Series 2B Forward Control to rebuild. It is a retirement project and I will add bits as I have time. There are some pictures on the Pictures page. The original intention was a blog, but I seem to have done quite a lot to the vehicle before I got going, so the blog starts on the page called FC Blog 2

I have always wanted a Series 2 Forward Control, they are such a disaster! The original idea was good; increase the capacity of the 109 by moving the cab over the front axle and give the loadspace at the rear by making it higher. As far as it went it achieved both those objectives, but……..

The first attempt, the 2a, not only used a standard 109 chassis with a lot of extra very heavy bits on top and in front, but also attempted to use as many standard Land Rover parts as possible. This included the suspension and the narrow axles, which made them rather inclined to tip over, and the standard two-and-a-quarter litre engine; the petrol model was very underpowered for a vehicle that could weigh three and a half tons. The diesel with its 62 BHP was way the other side of underpowered.

After a few years of low sales Land Rover had another think. The four inch wider ENV axles, anti-roll bar and other improvements to the suspension improved its ability to stay upright and the six cylinder 2.6 litre petrol engine slightly improved the performance at the expense of a fuel consumption that sometimes didn’t make it into double figures. Even so, making it into top gear was still an event worth recording. If you wanted a diesel you still were stuck with the 62 BHP and measured your journeys with a calendar rather than a watch.

After only 169 diesel Series 2Bs had been sold on the home market Land Rover called it a day and ended production, which is why it is so surprising that so many have survived. My one started life as a 110 inch series 2b dropside truck, but at sometime it its life it was converted into a crop sprayer by the rather extreme step of cutting 20 inches out of the middle of the chassis and removing the body. It also had a Perkins engine fitted; by the time I first saw it it had spent several decades at the back of a barn unused gathering dust and much else as I was to find.

Having got the vehicle home and safely in the workshop, it was time to make a few decisions. The shortened chassis seemed solid and the important non-replaceble parts of the axles looked in fair condition. The bulkhead looked very good and there was enough bodywork to begin the rebuild. The first decision was to make no attempt to lengthen the chassis again which in turn meant that there was no reason to go for a lot of originality. The Perkins engine would go and be replaced by a 200 Tdi (pushing the power up from 62 to 111 should make it a reasonable vehicle).

More controversial is probably fitting a Series 3 all synchro box, power steering and disc brakes, but as I get older I can see that life will need to be made easier in the future. Also, my wife won’t drive my 109 without power steering. I now feel I am re-building it into the vehicle that Land Rover should have built.

Once inside the workshop I started stripping down to eventually a bare lower chassis. The upper chassis towards the rear and the rear lower cross member were both in poor condition. Replacing the rear cross member would be made by fitting a replacement pattern part; the military type was nearest to the original. The forward part of the upper chassis was in good condition, but the rear was very poor having been badly welded and twisted. Since the upper chassis is mainly a structure to support cab and body and does not contribute to the integrity of the main chassis, I decided to remove the rear part and fabricate new parts that would be joined with a properly constructed bolted joint. The front part is much more complicated, so it would go back after some remedial work.

The chassis proved to be in good condition bearing in mind its age and the hard life it had had. There were a few places where the rust had got a hold, but nothing major. One big problem proved to be the bushes where the rear spring attachment for the front axle went. The bushes proved impossible to move and closer inspection showed that at some time in the past enormous pressure had been applied that had distorted the chassis inner side and caused a crack. The only answer seemed to be to cut the old tubes out with a gas axe and get new bush tubes welded in. The opportunity to fit the later series 3 bigger tubes was taken and Andy from Meakes of Lane End spent a productive morning doing this, the other repairs and fitting the new rear cross member.

One problem, easily overcome as it turned out, was how to move the chassis. I bought a very tired small boat trailer for £18 and adapted it to fit. Apart from the suspension on the trailer proving a bit weak (fixed with two old Land Rover gearbox mounting rubbers) it worked well.

The chassis was taken straight from Meakes to “Robby-the-Shotblaster” who soon had it back to bare metal and with a period of fine weather I managed to get two coats of Rustoleum black on long before there was any rain.

The two axles had lain on the floor of the workshop since being removed, so it was time to start work on them. The diffs and crown wheels and pinions on these very rarely give trouble and seemed OK, so they were left in peace. The outer ends of the axles, as with most old Land Rovers, were a different story. In the case of the front axle this did not matter as everything outboard of the flange was to be new. New chrome balls, swivel kits and such from Paddocks and new swivel housings, hubs and defender disc brakes from Heystee. I also got the last NOS track rod on the shelf from Craddocks (old one a bit sad and rusty). A nice new coat of paint and the axle looked great.

The rear is, of course much easier. The brake backplates cleaned up well and new cylinders and brake shoes fitted.

The axles were both re-fitted with parabolic springs, but the rear ones proved impossible to get the axle in the correct place, so in the end on the advice of the man from GB springs I went back to the old springs and removed a couple of leaves. We will see how it works out, I have the removed leaves ready to refit if needed!

Fitting the 200 TDI in proved troublesome. The turbo outlet is too close to the chassis and the alternator and the turbo both foul the upper chassis, Also the injector pump fouls the upper chassis on the other side. To clear the turbo outlet I mounted the engine and gearbox slightly tilted to the right by a combination of modifying the gearbox mounting feet and using spacers under the rubber pads.

The alternator and injector pump were de-fouled by cutting bits out of the upper chassis top rail. This wasn’t enough for the turbo, the whole top rail was in the way and that bit actually was supporting part of the cab. It was solved by cutting out a part of the rail and replacing it with a bridging piece mounted the other way around.

The mounting pad for the air conditioning pump on the front right hand side of the engine is perfectly placed for mounting a pedestal for the gear lever and, after re-bushing the linkage, that worked fine. The injector pump sticking way out to the right of the engine proved to be in the way for both the transfer box gear lever rod and the hand brake linkage which had to be modified to go round it (hand brake to the side, transfer linkage underneath).