Jesse is a “settled down” traveller (some of you may still call them gypsies) who runs a scrap yard .
He had some fun and games when the law began to insist on concrete bases and environmentally correct removal of liquids from the old cars he got in, but he managed it after making friends with some concrete mixer drivers who needed somewhere to dump leftover concrete. Let’s just say that his yard base isn’t “very” level, and resembles something of a patchwork quilt.
Now this bit is funny. Jesse, like many travellers, grew up cooking and brewing on a ‘yog’ or open fire. So when the concrete came he used the inside drum of an old washing machine (my suggestion, after seeing it elsewhere) for the fire. But, then, how to sort out a kettle iron for hanging the kettle in the flames ?
Not a big problem. We dragged an old lorry axle into pace and he welded the iron to the casing… if you have never seen stick welding using a car battery then you should try to. It’s amazing.
A week or two later I popped in to find him in a bad mood. Whilst he had been out, one of his sons had sold the axle… “wiv me kittle iron still stuck to it” ! (It isn’t as if there isn’t plenty of metal around to bend into another iron, that wasn’t the point!)
But that’s not the point of this story which started with Pat Webster, who regular readers might remember has a Ser 1, a Discovery and a dork for a son (hi Alan), ‘phoning me up to say that another friend of ours had been past Jesse’s that morning and spotted: “One of them Land Rovers that you and Frank like, being unloaded.”
Pat had been for a look and it was a Ser 1, seemingly in reasonable nick, and would I : A. Come and cast my eye over it to see if it would make a spares donor; B. Deal with Jesse or one of his lads; and C. All other things being equal help me to get it back to his, if/when he can buy it?
One millisecond after he asked I said “yes”. Of course.
When I got to Pat’s he had his Ser 1 started up. I suggested that if we went in that he’d be giving a clue to Jesse that he might be over keen, so we went in my L322, which Jesse knows of course.
At the yard (where Jesse actually lives, although the council don’t know, in a mixture of a log cabin and old showman’s trailer, cunningly surrounded by car bodies ) we immediately saw the Ser 1 “scrapper” drawn up just inside the gate.
Jesse, sitting on an old oil-drum next to his yog – minus one kettle crane – nodded, I said hello and walked over to the Landy.
No engine, but the gearbox was there. Regular readers may remember that we fitted a”new-to-him” gearbox in Pat’s a while ago, then I rebuilt his old one which now sits, slathered in oil and wrapped up at the back of his workshop. Still, another wouldn’t go amiss. Both axles were there compete with hubs and brake components, tatty wheels and tires (with air in!), steering column (no steering wheel), most of the bits and pieces, apart from the engine, in the bay. Chassis had obviously been repaired in a couple of places, but looked fine. Seat box and body panels had a few holes – some folk I know can repair them – but the bulkhead seems to have been made out of lace.
Body cappings looked good – too good for a vehicle of that age so, perhaps, replacements; no hood, but a full set of hoops, again so good they must have been replacements.
With almost a full set of glass lights as well, it would make a reasonable parts motor if the bits fitted his 1952.
There was no chassis plate but Jesse had the logbook – a while since I’ve seen one of those in a scrapyard, they’re worth a lot in their own right to a …er… “collector”. First registered 1953 – result !
I won’t bore you with the bargaining. Like many a traveller Jesse likes a deal. He started silly-high; I bid, on Pat’s behalf, silly-low and, after a cup of tea (served in Crown Derby cups, but brewed in Jesse’s “house” to his disgust) I reckon I got Pat a bargain and Jesse was happy as well. Pat would rather I don’t say how much in case he chops-on some of the bits to one of you lot !
Pat still hasn’t fitted a winch to his trailer (despite my sourcing it for him) so we had to push and pull his purchase on ourselves… with the help of a few of Jesse’s sons.
I don’t know how many sons Jesse has, but on the parking outside I’ve seen up to four brand-new Mercedes cars at a time. All next to Jesse’s brand-new Range Rover. Yes, this bloke – regular outfit, worn-down dealer boots, old cord trousers, oil stained waistcoat and trilby – drives a brand new Range Rover – one every two years!
Of course, he always tells me he’s: “struggling to put a bit o’ bread on the table…”
I was watching the TV programme, Car SOS, recently when the two presenters were underneath a rusty Range Rover that was up on ramps poking away with screwdrivers – and neither of them was wearing safety specs…
Would you put a parking ticket on a Range Rover belonging to The Duke of Edinburgh’s royal protection officers ? One traffic warden did.
Prince Phillip was in hospital recently for a few weeks. He wasn’t allowed any Royal visitors although Charles, his son, drove – again in a Range Rover – from his home to visit. An illegal, under lockdown rules, round trip of nearly 200 miles.
The motor used by Phillip’s blokes was parked outside King Edward VII’s Hospital in London, where it was issued with a fixed penalty notice by the traffic warden. A witness said the fine was attached to the car’s windscreen after it was left on double yellow lines.
The protection officers had reportedly gone inside for “a couple of hours”, leaving the vehicle parked in the illegal spot. When they appeared again, one of the officers removed the ticket and the Range Rover was moved.
I’ve seen a photograph of the warden fixing the ticket but can’t put it on here ‘cos of copyright.
A bloke inherited a fortune. He’d always wanted a Land Rover so off he went to the local showroom.
Small problem, he had hardly driven in his life. Of course, he doesn’t mention that to the salesman, and the next thing he knows, he’s driving a Discovery Sport at top speed down the motorway.
Suddenly, just as he’s reaching top speed, there’s an almighty bang from the engine, and smoke starts pouring from the car.
So he calls the salesman, and explains that it wasn’t his fault, something must have been wrong with the car.
The salesman takes some persuading, but the client is extremely rich, so he agrees to let him have another car.
This time, it’s a new Defender V8. Off he went – top speed down the motorway – when once again, there was an huge bang, and the engine leapt three feet out of its mountings.
The salesman isn’t as easy to convince, but… well, this is a rich customer, so he eventually agrees to give the bloke one more chance, but this time he insists that he goes with him, so he can see what is going on.
So they drive to the motorway, and the man starts accelerating. The car (it’s a Range Rover this time) shifts past fourth gear, to fifth; then to sixth. The car is going way over the speed limit, but he keeps accelerating.
The salesman is holding onto his seatbelt for dear life. He closes his eyes in terror.
Then suddenly, the car shakes violently, the engine makes an exploding noise, the car swerves, and finally comes to a halt on the hard shoulder.
“What happened?” yells the salesman.
“Well, I was going faster and faster, and I ran out of numbered gears… so I put it into ‘R’ – for ‘Race’.”
A friend emailed me asking a question about a part number for his 1989 Range Rover Classic. I dug my Classic parts book off the shelf. No use to him, I realised, it’s dated February 1977.
Like many Land Rover/Range Rover people I used to buy the parts book for whatever I was driving. Often, when working on a car the exploded parts diagrams were more use than the workshop manual (yes, I bought those as well).
Actually, none of my parts books is any use to me now. I have the P38, dated Sept 1994, the two parter… then there is the Ser111, 88, 109 & 109V8 dated March 1986 and the One Ten, Oct 1989.
Like most people these days I spend a lot of time perusing Facebook and Instagram, and I recently realised that the pedantic ones amongst us have lost the battle.
All Series and 110 and Ninety Land Rovers are now routinely referred to as Defenders…
As I put my Range Rover into reverse gear I thought: “This takes me back.”