I keep in touch regularly with an old pal of mine Gordon Alderson, who runs 4-Tech his Land Rover based business in Leverington near Wisbech in Cambridgeshire. Gordon told me about 2 of his customers that run two tidy 110 trucks that they use for work and play, and he suggested that I might like to come up and stay with him and his wife Helen and the girls Kirsty and Lindsey to check these two trucks out. Well as you know it's always a pleasure to meet up with any old Land Rover chums, so I loped off up the M11from Kent to their place to take a look see. After breakfast on the day we had arranged to meet up, Robert Gent and Nick Howling in these two trucks showed up at 4-Tech and we all had a cup of tea and a chat before we headed off. Robert is a farmer with his father on their 900 acres of arable farm land nearby. Roberts grandfather started the farm and when he left school he went straight onto the land with his dad. Robert told me that owing to modern farming techniques and the fact that they have given up growing potatoes it has freed up a lot of his time, so he does some contracting with the huge machinery they have available and deals in Land Rovers. The Land Rover side of his life started around 15 years ago as a hobby and its grown into a business today and he buys, breaks, and sells them as well as doing repairs and MOT preparation.
Nick is a plant operator for a local firm and they do a lot of work on all the many waterways and dykes there are in the area and a lot of this work is for the Environment Agency. He drives a company TD5 110 at work every day, and as well as owning and running his truck he is also currently rebuilding a 90. He started with an old 90 Defender, but 5 years ago he bought the 110 with no engine and gearbox as a van bodied wreck. He stripped it back to a chassis and patched it, and welded in a new cross member, then rebuilt it has a pick up. Robert got to build his truck when he had a loan of Nicks truck one day and liked it so much that he built one for himself almost exactly the same as Nicks. Nick told me “we are both more than happy with our trucks and they are fit for purpose. They are not too extreme and they suit us both for work and play and they come in dead handy for shifting stuff about”.
LET'S GET IT ON
Soon it was time to set off to have a play, and we had to call into one of Roberts farm yards first, before we drove to a nearby off-road site. Robert and Nick had arranged for us to have a private session at an excellent off-road place that they regularly use, the Venture 4X4 off-road site at Three Holes. The site at first look seems a bit compact, but that only means that the hazards come at you one after the other a lot quicker, and believe me there is enough there to keep any off-roader whatever their capabilities are, well happy for a day. It's all here for drivers to enjoy and to test and hone their skills with side slopes, trenches filled with thick clag and water, steep ups and downs and some lakes and ponds of varying depths for you to immerse your Land Rover in, and Robert and Nick had a crack at all of them on the day. I must be honest and tell you that I wasn't expecting much from these two trucks as with all the weight up the front end, I (rather foolishly as it turned out) thought they might not be very capable, and that they would spend most of the day either stuck in the mud or sliding about with their back ends hanging out on the bends and turns on the course. I suppose I should have know better after all my years off-roading, because these guys that live in the countryside drive Land Rovers on private land almost as soon as they can see over a steering wheel, and Nick and Robert really gave it the big one, and put on a good show. They have got these two trucks well sorted and pretty soon they were plastered in so much mud that they looked like they had been painted in army drab paint, and I was well impressed with both of their Land Rovers and their obvious off-road driving skills.
THE SAME, BUT DIFFERENT
Both of these trucks stand tall an proud on massively large tyres, and Nick's are Maxis Mudzillas which he got from JCS 4X4, and these monster 37/ 13*5/ 15s are wrapped around a set of wide modulars. The truck rides on Scorpion plus 2inch springs with De carbon shock absorbers. The lot sits on lift blocks that were made by Robert as were the rock sliders. Nick chose to have his trusty Superwinch Husky E8000. He told me “I like it as it has a slow reel in speed which is easier to keep well under control on any recovery. It will happily pull for me all day long, and I prefer to have a worm drive winch and not a winch which runs through planetary gears”.
Robert told me “after I drove Nick's when I borrowed it one day I was well impressed with it, and I could see that it would be really handy for me to use on the farm. So I bought myself a new galvanised chassis and set too and built one for myself, and I was able to use a lot of the parts I had available to me in my workshop and yard”. Robert's has a 3inch lift with 2inch billet alloy blocks. There are tubular front turrets with 2inch lowered rear shock mounts, and after trying lots of different springs he has opted for a set from Old Man Emu that has given him the ride that he wanted. The front radius arms are QT 6 degree cranked versions and the back also has QT cranked rear trailing arms. Robert made his own version of dislocation cones from thick nylon machined billets, and he made his own rock sliders as well. Both trucks are 300 TDIs with R380 gearboxes, and Robert's has twin TD5 intercoolers which he was able to modify and install after he moved the radiator back. The Mickey Thompson Baja Claw tyres on his 10X16 modular wheels are big 37/13*50/16s, and just like Nicks Land Rover it stands tall and proud. Back home on the farm Robert has a 1953 80 inch Series 1 which he restored as well as a K reg 90 hardtop which has been in the family from new. He has just took delivery of a galvanised chassis for it and he is rebuilding it for his son. Robert told me “ my Sunday Land Rover is a Discovery 3 TDV6 SE which I love, but 4 years ago Charlie I built an H registration rag top 90 and since I finished it, it's done less then a 1000 miles. Honestly Charlie its just so nice I just cannot bring myself to use it”. Robert when you have worked hard and spent a load of money and time on a rebuild of an older Land Rover, believe me I know just how you feel mate.