February 2011 - Posts
I went down fields counting cattle, and through the ford every day,
Always it got wet from the brook, started rotting the chassis away.
I bought my first land rover I bought second hand some forty odd years ago, it was a light green diesel rag top, the one with a full canvas top forward over the driver, "Rag Top". We always drove about in it with the back flap rolled up leaving two tensioning straps down to each side of the drop tail gate.
It was difficult to start in winter and when it did start it puthered and puffed light blue smoke every where it went. When starting the engine in a car park particularly if it was a multi story car park, you had to make sure there was no one walking by, the engine was started only when you were ready to go and when you knew you could drive straight out and onto the road. When driving along it was not so noticeable, smoke was diluted so to speak and the engine warmed up.
I was told by a mechanic who knew about such things that if I slackened the bolts holding the injector pump, and put a large pair of stilsons (big spanner) to grip the pump and turn it slightly while the engine was running, to adjust the timing it should solve the smoke problem. Well it did to some extent but we were ready to change it for a new petrol version, rag top short wheel base dark green model.
Out on the road with the family "in the back" we got stuck in traffic, it was stop start, stop start, and the car following was teasing our kids who were sitting along mud wing shoulders each side in the back with two almost leaning out the back with just the tension straps of the canvas for support. Each time the traffic stopped the following car rolled close up to the back of us , worrying the kids and making them squeal thinking there was going to be an accident just stopping inches from our drawbar. After half a dozen stops we were on a down hill gradient and it was a matter of just letting the Land Rover just coast forward then stop, and the following car was doing the same and still stopping just inches from us.
As you may or may not be aware, those old Land Rovers had a red knob to pull to stop the engine, that meant that when the ignition switch was switched off the engine kept running. It also meant that with the ignitions switched off the stop lights do NOT work, so on the next pull forwards, we came to a stop with the ignition off , no brake lights, the following car not giving his full attention that we had already stopped rolled smartly into our drawbar knob splitting his number plate and denting his ego. Needless to say on the next stop our brake lights worked perfectly and he kept a respectable distance. It was a day our kids will remember for a long while, but of coarse with today's road regulations they would not be allowed to "ride in the back" and with no seat belts.
The second Land Rover was a petrol one also with a "Rag top"
This new one was a treat to drive and used for everything from going on holiday, to looking cattle down on the meadows and taking cattle to market and kids to school. The big problem on looking back was the ford that had to be forded sometimes only six inches deep more often a foot deep, and in flood up to three feet deep. At that depth we used only went through with the tractor.
After a few years the gritty water in the brakes soon wore out the brake pads and of coarse rusted the brake pipes and with the new MOT testing brake pipes had to be replaced, a few years on and the brake hubs that the brake pads rub on had worn badly .When new brake linings were fitted, half the adjustment was taken up just to get the linings to touch the hub.Ten years down the line the back cross member had to be replaced and welded in, the bolts holding the drawbar for the trailer had pulled through the one wall of the cross member, arrived home from market one day with the drawbar knob swinging about on two bolt that had pulled through six inches and hanging low. Not long after that problem was solved a spring shackle on the rear of the front spring had broken and rusted loose, with another big hole in the chassis, that was patched and the bolt made secure again.
The next was the body on the drivers side was listing and decidedly low, it was the cross member under the drivers seat that had broken away, this again was sorted out and a new one welded in place, it must have been difficult to find solid metal to weld to. But when the old member was removed, it held one end of the fuel tank and the end of the fuel tank fell out, so a new fuel tank was fitted.The alloy body work was good, the engine too, and it looked quite smart for a working Land Rover but you could push a screwdriver through the sides of the main chassis, such was the rot and rust, so it had to be got rid of or sold.
Why advertise and sell them as rot proof when only the alloy panels of the body are rot proof, but then we were on the extreme of testing it with driving through the ford any number of times a day for all the years I owned it. The rest of its demise and its sale is told in the poem below.
I Remember My Old Land Rover
I had a Land Rover it was very useful, it was my only car,
Went everywhere in it, and towed both the trailers off a far,
The weekly shopin piled in the back, canvas flap pulled down,
Also took the girls to school, sometimes to a party in a gown,
I went down fields counting cattle and through the ford every day,
Always it got wet from the brook, started rotting the chassis away,
One day it started to list, and run down low on one side,
Thought it was a puncture but no, cross member to body subside.
Took it to be repaired and have a new cross member fitted,
Being close to end of fuel tank, that too with rot submitted,
Ventualy we got it back, though it was only away three days,
Vowed never to go through the ford again, that was only a faze.
On the passenger side in the foot well, a plate of steel was rotting,
Mud from the road splashing through, enough soil in there for potting,
On a dry day the girls they watched the road, till we hit a puddle,
Their feet were not quite big enough, to cover hole and the rattle
A square of plywood placed over the hole, so they could not see out,
In rough weather it blew it off, revealed a bigger hole worn-out,
Some holes were beginning to show, along the chassis rails,
Think its time to move it on, put in the local rag under motor sales.
Thinking it was almost scrap, didn't hold out too much hope,
Who would buy a thing like this; he must be a silly dope,
Only had one reply to this, a young man and his girl friend came,
Parked the Land Rover long side a wall, only saw good part of the frame.
A friend of mine he parked on the road, and he stood back a little,
They thought it was another buyer, they didn't bother to haggle,
Pulled out his money all in fivers, and paid me on the spot,
Should have charged a lot more money, but happy with what I've got.
I asked them what they had in mind, for this old wreck of mine,
They're going on holiday to Norway, to see the fiords and alpine,
Its engine was in tip top order, and the gearbox that's OK,
Its just the bit that hold all together, that I forgot to say.
In retrospect I could advise, when they finished their break,
It would last for two weeks, then push into fiord from highest peak,
Never heard from them again, so don't know if they survived,
Or what happened to my old Rover, think it must have died.
Countryman (Owd Fred)
Quote. It is better to wear out than rust out
Bishop Richard Cumberland
These two cases that I tell you of happened a few years apart, and I am not one to cause trouble, it takes a lot to wind me up into taking action like I describe hear.
It was ten years ago late June time and mowing grass for hay a couple of fields back from the farm and village, this field gradually sloped up giving a panoramic view of the back of all the houses and the pub. Next to the pub a new house had just been completed, in fact a piece of the pub car park had been sold for its development, and the builder man was working on his own transforming the garden from a building site into a garden.
He had been working at it all week having finished the front garden complete with security iron railings and gates and new black tarmac, he was now concentrating his efforts on the back garden. This was more difficult as the turf and other materials had to be wheeled round on a wheel barrow, and presumably the rubbish he was tidying up wheeled round to the front where his builder's truck was parked, a lot of hard work on a hot day.
It was early afternoon and the mowing progressing well, when I noticed, (from a quarter mile back) that one of the new panels, of the new panel fence at the back of this house had been lifted out of its slot in the new concrete posts. For the next hour and half I kept a close watch on the man working at the turf laying, he was raking up stones and surplus soil filling his barrow, the wheeling it to the gap in the panels and tipping it into my field. You don't mind the odd barrow full, annoying though it is, but this was repeated so many times that in a couple of hours you could see the pile above the wheat that was growing in that field.
Having finished mowing the field I thought I better investigate what was going on, so I put the front scoop bucket on the front of the loader tractor and made my way through the wheat round the tram lines at the back of the pub, then turned through the wheat with the bucket at the bottom of this new pile of trash stones soil and off cuts of turf.
As the field is slightly lower than the gardens a certain amount could be scooped up by the tractor, the rest I loaded by hand to fill the bucket as much as it would hold. Well over a ton in all. All the while this was going on the builder/ landscaper man kept his head down laying the new turf and as it was near his knocking off time wanted to get the job finished.
Once loaded I backed out the way I had come into the field, and back into the farmyard, The man must have breathed a sigh of relief as not a word was spoken in the half hour it had took me to tidy up his mess. I drove on out of the yard and along the road to the front of this new house where his truck was parked and could have tipped it directly in his truck. But that was too easy, I tipped it at the back of his truck onto the new black tarmac and just inside of the new gates which now could not be closed. On top of that he could not move his truck to go home as he was blocked in and it was now his knocking off time. I just drove quietly back to the farm and kept out of site, no doubt the new owner would be arriving home at any minuet and would want an explanation as to why all that soil stones turf and rubbish had been dumped in his gateway and on his new tarmac.
It was just a case of actions speak louder than words.
We have a field where the cows graze that back up to half a dozen expensive house, they like to think they are the best in the village, on walking into the field one afternoon to look the cattle, one family were having a barbeque in their back garden, during the day they had had a tidy up in the garden. They had chucked cabbage and brussel sprout stalks, lawn mowing's, turf off cuts, spent bedding plants and the like over the fence into the field. I went over and asked him politely to clean it up and put it into his brown bin for recycling. He just said Oh yer yer and made me out to be a fool.
Two days on and he had not cleaned it up so I went with the front bucket on the tractor into the field and loaded it up, about two good barrow loads. Drove back out of the gate and up the cul-de-sac in front of his house, reached the front end loader as far as I could over his front immaculate lawn and flipped the bucket a few time as it slipped out and returned his garden waste. All who lived up there saw what was going on, as it was unusual for a tractor to be up there.
It was just another case of actions speak louder than words.
Actions speak louder than words,
Remind them on what they have done,
Being polite to a neighbour,
Then treat you like you're a simple moron,
Get on with most over the years,
A bit of respect to be earned,
That goes for both sides every time,
But some they will never be learned.
Quote; "Saying is one thing and doing is another."
16th-century French writer Michel de Montaigne
They are a never ending problem, but not as bad as they used to be back sixty or more years ago. They would come down from the fields as the autumn got colder and into the stacks and bays filled with shoffs of wheat and oats, the stacks outside were thatched and for moisture would work there way up onto the top of the rick and make holes in the new thatching.
It was often ringed with small mesh wire netting while the threshing machine was working on it so as to make sure we caught as many as we could, a lot jumped from the top as the thatch was being removed, all us kids would be armed with nut stick with a knob on the end, and great excitement as they run and dodged about.
A good dog, my dog caught most but he almost came unstuck when he picked up a rat just as a big knobbed stick came down heavy and hit him on his head and knocked him out as he killed the rat. He came round after a short while and was back at work after a few days.
The sacks of wheat had to be stacked two high in rows apart so the cats could get between them, failure to do this, within a few days, while waiting transport rat would nibble hole always seemed to be in the bottom of the sack. When they are loaded sacks with holes would be under weight, and would have to be re-bagged and re-weighed, a lot of time spent for not stacking the sacks open in rows.
Just occasionally, a rat has come into the house, and the one I relate back to happed mid afternoon, and while we were having a break from work having a cup of tea.
While we were all sitting talking a rat crept round the corner of the house and ran in through the open back door, one of our group saw in the corner of his eye, what he thought was a rabbit. Mid roars of laughter it took him a while to convince the rest of us of what he claimed to see. Once we had taken him seriously we put our cups down and proceeded to search the house and the rooms that it could have hopped into. It was in a down stairs bedroom that we eventually detected some movement, as it scuttled under a bed, the under other furniture, when it ran across the room and under a wardrobe we saw for ourselves that it was in fact a large rat.
Right we thought we had got it cornered, all exits from the wardrobe were covered, and then one of us got down on hands and knees with a walking stick to flush it out. But to our surprise a rat could not be seen, it seemed a mystery where it had disappeared to, as we had guarded the wardrobe from when we saw it run under there. It had not got inside the wardrobe, unless it had suddenly made a rat hole into it while we waited, then realised it had clawed it's way up between the wall and the back of the furniture.
On assessing what height and roughly where it was, the door was opened the cloths parted and a large size eleven boot stamped heavily on the spot where it was thought to be. The rat slide down the wall to the floor crushed and dead, we moved the wardrobe forward, only to see a long slick of blood all down the wall and on the back of the wardrobe which had to be cleaned up quickly before it stained and dried.
If it had not been seen at that moment, we could have been living with it for weeks, plenty of places for it to dig in for a long stay, under floor boards in the cellar, and in the loft roof space.
A rat is a rat is a rat for the cat,
The dogs got my dinner n' he's getting fat,
When the water reaches the upper level, follow the rats.
Claude Swanson (1862-1939