Author Topic: Bernie & Jekyll  (Read 525 times)

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Offline 1960SeriesII

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Bernie & Jekyll
« on: November 22, 2013, 09:00:08 pm »
Hello everyone, here's the couple we own:

1. Bernie, the ex-Swiss Army 1960 petrol SII, an immaculate truck that never failed us:




2. Jekyll, the ex-rust heap 1954 SI 86" with a Rover V8, a truck recently structurally rebuilt (bulkhead & frame) and one that has so far never stopped failing us since its arrival in May 2011, probably doesn't like the new owner (or is camera-shy and doesn't have any other way how to pass the message on):




Love them both, with Jekyll's neverending problems and our less than limitless cashbox, the former has actually taught me to finally start tinkering with the truck myself, under the continuous patronage of more knowledgeable people around me (being an office rat I never had the balls - or knowledge - to do so).

Jekyll is about to undergo some surgery this winter, under the auspices of a more knowledgeable friend - a 4.6 V8, tubular headers, Boxer manifold for 4 x SU's, LT 77 gearbox and many other goodies await him as sacrifice to the resident evil demons.
1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

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Offline blenky

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 09:12:24 pm »
Nice pair. :D

Offline s.o.t.d.

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2013, 09:20:38 pm »
The story of how you got Jekyll is worth a page of it's own, Jan. With photographs!  ;D
Dougal the One - Ton.
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Dougal , its wrong but its soooo right  :wink:
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I've been to M_rocco too, don't you know! (and Switzerland) :-)

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 09:45:14 am »
I'll try to reserve an evening for such endeavour, Mike, both of our leafers' stories feature a euroleafing odyssey - indeed, Jekyll's story is much more colourful ;D
1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2013, 08:58:57 pm »
I came across the Series Land Rover early in my life - me and my brother, who was later destined to become a car mechanic (presumably not for the same reason), had a toy ambulance car, perhaps incidentally a Series III 109" Station Wagon. I would say that this was my first encounter with these vehicles, however, I would lie if I would also insist that this was the deciding point.

It was only recently before that faithful day in May 2007 that I first thought of actually buying one. There was little chance that such a vehicle could be actually purchased from anyone in the Czech Republic (even though I later found out that there actually were several examples imported even during the Communist period). My friend brought me on the right track when he pointed out that his friend had purchased a reasonably priced Land Rover in Germany.

I began looking and found out that even though Defenders can really be bought for good prices nearly anywhere in Europe, Series II vehicles are hard to find, much less good Series II vehicles for good prices.

Then, I ran across a website where nearly all Land Rover Series ads were posted by a single person - a private owner from Switzerland. I came to find out a lot about this guy as I practised my German by communicating with him for some two months, before we finally got to agree on the right vehicle for the right price.

The first option was the diesel SIIA, his favourite "Diesler". It was a reluctant sale and in the end he actually did not have to sell it - I finally bought another one from his "stock", a 1960 SII 88", an ex-Swiss Army vehicle. The price details need to be buried and are never to be exhumed - let us just conclude that it was a "continental" price corresponding to the vehicle's exceptional condition, although the price still had a long way to go to reach the bottom price range at Landy Point, Germany.

Two of the first photos I received of Bernie:




I owe my thanks to my (now wife, then) girlfriend, who was always very supportive (despite knowing the price!), and to my brother, who did not want to know the price, but helped a lot as well! It is the photo on the right at the top which shows this vehicle (I received larger and colour copies, of course) and which I received by email during our German correspondence. It was a vehicle owned since retirement by an ex-Army driver, who also drove it while in service (the surviving records were made available to me upon purchase).

After painful days and nights of thinking and re-thinking the idea of buying a car (then) nearly 50 years old, I decided for the purchase. The remaining problems were obvious. I was in Prague, Czech Republic, while the Land Rover I wanted was in Switzerland, off Bern, the capital, some 850 kilometres away (Mike, Xander, and others - don't laugh, I was mostly an eurobox pilot then!).

There were some ideas, however, nearly all of them looked so very distant... Bringing the car on a trailer would be the most comfortable option, however, it would also be the most expensive one. The expected cost would be some 10% of the price, which was a bit too much. The other option was obvious - bring it over by actually driving it. The fuel cost would be high but in comparison to the trailer option it would only be small change... But driving such an oldtimer for over eight hundred kilometers seemed ridiculous!

It was here that the adventure began. I decided to take the chance and went for the second option. My girlfriend, a friend of ours equally crazy about classic cars, and our pet dog became the only four members of the "Land Rover Expedition 2007 - Back To The Past", as our friend aptly called it.

The distance to be covered was some 1,700km (Prague - Bern - Prague), the time schedule was to leave on Friday, 11th May 2007, and return on Sunday, 13th May 2007. We left Prague on Friday just after 9:00 PM as planned, apparently missing only by minutes a spectacular car crash on one of the exits from the city.

We crossed the border with Germany and after a few kilometres drove again on the motorway (by then the German end of the motorway was about 40 kilometres away from the border). The direction was Nuernberg, Karlsruhe and Bern. Just before Nuernberg we had to stop for a short nap as we were all really sleepy and were afraid to use too many motorway lanes at once. Our friend Tomas's apt remark "Tell me when to wake up and I won't even need an alarm clock" eventually caused us to wake up about 2 hours later than planned, but on we went.

Just before noon on Saturday, 12th May 2007, we found the small Swiss village and after a brief phone call arranged a meeting with the owner at the only local landmark we were able to find - a small hotel, apparently closed down. The landscape around was wonderful, with green meadows climbing up both slopes of the small valley and wooden houses scattered all around, together with small islands of trees.

Then it came - the owner naturally brought the subject of the purchase along to the meeting and we had our first chance to see the vehicle that was to become our companion for the return journey. It looked strangely small on the relatively wide country road, but at the very first sight it was a vehicle in a great condition. The seller was happy to hand over the driving and I had got the first chance to drive the car long before I was prepared for anything like that - after driving the car that brought us here (a 2004 Skoda Octavia), the steering, transmission and brakes were a big change. I took the plunge and drove it over to the driveway leading to the seller's house, nesting above the road, up a steep gravel track. The driveway just underneath the track bent sharply across a narrow bridge and I had a rough time negotiating the bridge with the car, as the turning circle of the landy wasn't exactly the same like with the Skoda.

Bernie still with his Swiss plates:


Springs were a bit saggy, but what would you expect after 47 years:


The introduction to the advantages and preserved original parts of the vehicle took us well into the afternoon. The seller's wife was kind enough to prepare lunch for all the three of us (Rex was happy enough playing with his new Swiss playmates - kids, a Chinese pig and a lamb). We were shown practically everything related to the vehicle, including documents, tools and the car in general. The impression was wonderful, although we were shortly taken aback by the generous consumption of the engine, which we were told was about 20 litres for every 100 kilometres, while our idea was just over 12. In the end we overcame this shock (thoroughly unfounded, as we found out), the cash we brought and the vehicle changed owners and we were ready for the journey back.

Only four or five hours after our meeting with the previous owner of the Land-Rover, we left again to tackle the return leg of the trip. We followed a recommendation of the seller to bypass the motorway to Basel and went along country roads through an amazing mountain pass. The EU border was a bit of a worry as we expected problems due to the fact that we were still driving a car registered in Switzerland to a foreign person (we planned to change the registration after arrival to prevent further costs with the change of registration in Switzerland). The customs officer just waved us along after a painstaking millisecond of looking at us, probably worried that once we stop we could have trouble re-starting the thing.

Hitting the road in Germany after doing a sightseeing detour through north of Switzerland:


We rumbled along at 80 kph, which was not so bad as such, however, driving from the Swiss-German border to the motorway junction just before Karlsruhe, where we were supposed to turn right in the direction of Heilbronn and Nuernberg, seemed like ages. In comparison to this, the much longer journey from this junction to Prague appeared to be much shorter, perhaps it was helpful that we stopped every 100 kilometres or so to check the fuel-smothered Solex carb.

The long way home:


The Czech border was another challenge, but the Czech customs officer cared even less than the Swiss one and we passed through without any curious questions. We were finally back at home. The 250 kilometres to Prague and beyond to my parents' home (where the Landy would have to stay as I had no garage where I could park it in Prague) looked like peanuts.

By 15th June 2007 I already had a Czech registration, by then it was less than 3 months ago when I first started looking for a Land-Rover...

My wife with Bernie on the freshly installed Czech plates:
1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline blenky

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2013, 02:36:29 pm »
Nice.

Offline mr.scruff

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2013, 05:52:15 pm »
Great story Jan  :)

Offline Joskin

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2013, 08:55:50 pm »
Great story Jan, excellent read  Banana


as for your plans for Jekyll............. maximum hero points !!!  Rock
Its not bodging, its utilising available resources.....

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2013, 05:25:16 pm »
Gearbox noises. Engine losing power, then overheating while stuck in traffic. Fuel gauge stuck at three-quarters full. The low-box lever jumping out of gear. Not the mishaps you would likely want to encounter when traversing Europe in an age-old Series I! Despite all this, the truck made it.

Jekyll breaking the world rust heap land speed record:


By the time that all the participants of the Czech Series Land-Rover owners’s meeting were already gathered at the Malesov campsite on the Friday in anticipation of the event’s start on Saturday, strange noises started coming from the general direction of the road leading into the campsite. “Your truck is here!” someone laughed at me, listening to the horrendous rattle.

We walked over to greet the newly arrived participants – I had already received many messages saying that the truck has had many difficult moments en route and was haunted by a premonition that not everything would work as I hoped it would. That was an understatement in many ways.

Although the truck eventually did make it and covered some 1500 kilometres without actually breaking down so seriously as to make further travel impossible, the original idea of patina and a reliable mechanical underneath somehow turned into too many small (and a few not so small) problems. After driving the SI for a bit around the campsite, it took me two more days to gather enough courage to sit in the truck and drive it for anything else than just a few hundred metres and stop, casually pretending that the truck isn’t really mine!

All of my Czech friends appeared very fond of the truck, lifting my spirits a bit – Martin, a friend whose V8 SI started all this, remarked jokingly that he will obviously retain the honour of having the truck with the largest exhaust pipe, as mine did not resemble a Tiger tank hiding underneath, with just the cannon sticking out back!

Well, I had it coming – finding a SI 86” with a 3.5 V8 fitted on Carandclassic.co.uk in March or April 2011 had me thinking. I fancied something V8 powered since 2008 and eventually, after much deliberation, I could not resist buying the truck. At the time, OLLR provided the human chain needed to get the truck from a town close to Edinburgh, Scotland, to Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

The first photos I saw of Jekyll:






A few short message exchanges with the key member of the human chain squad, Kev/mr.scruff, confirmed the truck was road-worthy and should not break in half en route. Kev boarded Jekyll and went south – the non-working fuel gauge caused him at least once to run out of petrol (and I think Dougal had to come to the rescue at that time), but eventually he got as far as Jon/landyboy’s home, where a change of drivers occurred, leaving Kev to heal his physical and mental scars of driving the scrap heap for several hundred of miles.

It was Jon who then went on to drive Jekyll for the “remainder” of the journey, from southeast of England to central Europe. There were plenty further attempts to cure the engine losing power and investigating the cause of the disturbing gearbox noises (eventually a bolt was found loose in the gearbox, probably due to the previous owner’s hurried removal of an overdrive, plus a missing tooth on the first/reverse gear) and – if I remember correctly – engine or gearbox oil had to be filled up.

The two occassionally almost inseparable mates on the road - Dougal and Jekyll:


The bill for the journey was obviously horrendous and we had a hard time putting together enough cash to repay Jon’s services, as we did not quite prepare for the amount of various liquids that Jekyll managed to consume en route, but eventually we managed to put together enough cash in several currencies to pay up – this proved to be a lasting problem, there’s simply never enough cash to finance this cursed vehicle!

Jon inspecting the noisy gearbox somewhere en route to CZ:


The all-stars euroleafing team:


Jekyll’s Saturday shame corner and Sunday’s laning
Birmabright Weekend’s Saturday’s great greenlaning trip saw the SI enduring the shame of sitting at the campsite – after the stories of gearbox noises and the images of big yellow truck having to haul it back to my home, I ended up leaving the SI behind while enjoying the greenlaning trip in the nice, original and 100% reliable Bernie, an ex-Swiss Army 1960 SII 88”.

On the Sunday, the plan was to visit the National Agricultural Museum and do a bit more greenlaning. After many grim thoughts, I eventually came to the conclusion that breaking down close to Kutna Hora (where my parents live) could be more convenient that doing so while somewhere half-way between Kutna Hora and Drozdov, my home village, some 130 kilometres away from the campsite.

Regaining its honour during Sunday's laning:


Jekyll at the National Agricultural Museum at Caslav:


So, accompanied by the compassionate Jon Holmes, who sensed the uneasiness with which I was boarding the truck, I eventually led the Sunday’s leafer column in the first right-hand drive vehicle I have ever driven for any considerable distance, unsure if it would make the trip back. Jon, obviously much more optimistic, kept reassuring me that the vehicle is not that bad, while offsetting this with scary stories from the trip, but we did make it to the museum, where the SI fitted nicely among some exhibits parked there for the oncoming museum’s weekend, when they would be seen in action.

After seeing all of the several halls of exhibits at the museum, we had a short chat at the parking lot. The OLLR crew, now reduced to two vehicles, as well as several local participants, understandably decided they could put the time needed for the following greenlaning trip to much more use returning home, so we bid farewell to them and departed for some 30 kilometres of tarmac and greenlanes, visiting the ruins of the Lichnice Castle as well as a beautifully restored lime kiln just down the hill from the castle. Here, we shook hands saying our goodbyes to the rest of the participants. The meeting was over, the journey home was ahead of us, with me driving the SI V8 shed, while my wife resorted to driving Bernie for the third time in her life.

After pumping as much petrol as was physically possible into the SI’s tank, we headed west. Travelling at 80 kph, which we keep as a rule with Bernie, the noises from within the engine and gearbox area gradually subsided and I was able to taste what it really means to drive an ex-Rover P6 V8-powered SI really means. Increasing speed from 50 to 100 kph while in fourth gear was a priceless Ferrari-like experience.

Against all odds, the SI reached our home safely and was reversed to its roofed parking space to await its further fate. Needless to say, both me and my wife needed a drink after all this!

After spending about two weeks thinking up a name for the truck, I ended up with Jekyll en route, seeing how many hideous and scary details are hidden under the beautifully used looks of the truck. Eventually, the name ‘Pekelnik’, given to the truck by other Czech forum members, meaning ‘One from hell’ or ‘Devil’ stuck much more.

The next weekend, after doing a test drive with the family and pumping some adrenaline into our bodies by depressing the throttle pedal, I armed myself with a screwdriver and a wire brush mounted on an angle grinder, decided to remove the ‘surface rust’ and ‘paint it over with a few coats of paint so it doesn’t deteriorate’.

Two or three hours again I needed another drink. The outriggers, under coats of rust flaking away in chunks, were all thinned down so much you could see right through them in several places. The bulkhead door pillar bottoms were partially bitten off by the rust worm and there was an inch-wide hole in the driver’s side door pillar just above the wing.

Oscillating between thoughts of sale and restoration, I ended up being persuaded by my wife Hana, that we’ve stepped into this (read: I made us step into this) and now have to move on. In two weeks we received an estimate on the restoration, concentrating on strip-down, chassis & bulkhead external zinc-coating, wheel sand-blasting, painting everything that got refurbished in a colour similar to the one already on the body panels, as well as other details.

The price tag more than doubled the buying price of the truck, but we could not but take it as life’s another lesson. A truck in Bernie’s condition and a truck in original condition which needs bringing up to Bernie’s standard will put you down to Bernie’s cost at least. In the long run, it is always cheaper to buy a restored truck, which is obvious – until you see a good price for an SI V8 with a great patina…

Jekyll at the beginning of his rebirth:


Whoooaaaar etc., following shortly after the work on bulkhead/frame was finished:
1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2014, 07:10:13 pm »
Finally managed to do a short trip with Bernie, the weather was simply irresistible over the weekend 8)





Rex, one of our two JRT's fetching the biggest piece of wood available:


Gina, the other one, digging the westernmost metro station:
1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 08:57:10 pm »
A few pics from this afternoon:










1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2015, 12:37:02 pm »
Bernie has been out and about in the snow today dgs





1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline blenky

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2015, 09:17:22 pm »
Looks like fun. Is the roof a pvc one. Also whats that under the front driver side alxe?

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 07:28:12 am »
Yes, a Bieri hood made in Switzerland. Not many of them around in good shape, unfortunately. Very easy to put on/remove.

No idea about that lump hanging down from the plate below the driver's side spring - haven't noticed that until now. Either a perspective  something that didn't move aside fast enough. Will check if it's still there when I get back home rbchn
1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"

Offline 1960SeriesII

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Re: Bernie & Jekyll
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 06:59:42 pm »
Bernie is having his engine rebuilt with toughened valve seats and above all a replaced seal between the engine and the gearbox where oil was leaking (or rather rust-proofing the central part of the vehicle).

Jekyll is still mobile, but with the clutch slipping and valve stem seals probably gone after I cooked the engine, courtesy of a blown electric fan fuse:





1954 SI 86" V8 "Jekyll"
1960 SII 88" "Bernie"
1966 SIIA FC "Robur"