The Rovers North News features technical articles in every issue, written for the gearhead and engineers among the readership.
As someone who used a Land Rover daily, Jeff created a new category of article that he called the "Lite Break." Read these selections and you'll see what he means.
Lite Breaks - An Ignition Switch Goes Missing [Courtesy Rovers North News, March-April, 2005
By Jeffrey B. Aronson
[Your Editor experienced a Lite Break that demonstrates why independent people love Series Land Rovers. Read on.]
Naturally, the temperature that clear night was -12 degrees F. Even the moon chose its new phase instead of providing illumination. That=s when the ignition switch on my >66 II-A chose to go AWOL.
As the principal of a rural high school, I=m expected to monitor sports events, this night, a basketball game. Before the doubleheader began, I thought I would run a quick errand in town and then return to my duty. I jumped into my Rover, which I had parked proudly near the school=s main entrance. Why not have people admire my choice of vehicles?
I took out the absurdly tiny key and pushed it into the ignition. The key pushed the switch in; pulling the key back out, I could see that the switch no longer sat flush with the beveled edge of the light switch ring. In fact, turning the light switch did not produce a sharp Aclick@ nor any light.
Out came a screwdriver and a pocket flashlight so I could peer behind the dash panel. There I could see the innards of the ignition switch, which at that point resembled a wild jack-in-the-box. I attempted to turn the backside of the switch and snap or screw it back into place. Nothing doing - it only seemed to make the whole thing fall apart more completely. I worked on this for some 20 minutes, leaning over the dashboard with only the top of my head visible through the windshield..
My motionless state in the car. prompted one student to report to her mother, AMr. Aronson is either asleep in his car or dead.@ Her mother asked, AWell, did you check and see if he was all right?!@ Her daughter replied, ANo.@
Finally, I felt a deep chill running through my body, went into the warm buildingand decided to call for help. I had a dim memory that I had replaced the switch once before and that the different colored wiring plugged into spade connectors, marked with a letter that indicated their function. It goes without saying that I could not remember which color wire went to which spade connector or their functions.. I summoned up the courage to call a few Land Rover enthusiasts at night for help
Mike Smith of East Coast Rover insisted the entire exercise was actually quite simple. I needed only a roll of ignition wire [14 - 16 gauge], a wire stripper or needle nose pliers and some electrical tape. Since there=s not very much amperage running into the switch, Mike also sais that as long as I was careful there should not be much danger of an electrical fire. Routinely, Mike carries a little bit of wiring for this very type of purpose when he=s out off roading. Bruce Fowler, Unity, ME, also chastised me for not having an alligator clip mini wiring harness in the car for this very purpose. I not only did not have the wiring; I actually had only needle nose pliers, a small amount of dubious wire and no electrical tape. Of coursethe temperature had fallen lower. So I, performed my duties as principal, found a motel room and put the whole thing off for the night.
The next morning, bright and still bitter cold, I found a NAPA store open and bought a small roll of yellow wire (a color not used behind the fascia panel). I also bought a useful wire stripper. Since I forgot the tape, I chose to use some medical tape instead.
The back side of my ignition switch, which is circular, now orbited on its own behind the remainder of the switch. First I found the brown wire, which brings power to the switch. Helpfully, this connection is a twin spade one; this would prove very useful later.
I needed to create a bridge wire connecting the brown [power] wire to a white one that sent power to the alternator. I found that I could slip the wire under the female spade connection at each male spade connector. When I reconnected the battery the ignition and oil warning lights illuminated themselves. Tentatively, I pressed the starter button and heard the reassuring grinding of the starter. Off came the battery cable so I could start phase II.
I would need to have lights, brake lights, turn signals and a heater blower motor functional in order to use the car. The twin spades at the power wire meant that I could create a separate bridge wire that would send power to any lights. I looked for a blue wire which sent power to headlights. In my car, there were two red connection for parking lights, turn signals and brake lights. I crimped a female spade connector to a new yellow wire and ran two wire from it, bridging to both light connectors. Again, reconnecting the battery demonstrated that it worked fine. I used my medical tape to encircle the back of the switch and stop any wires from slipping out of their connections and grounding out to the dash or bulkhead.
Reconnecting the battery, the car would start and the lights stayed lit, turn signals blinked and brake lights signaled an impending stop. I ran this way for a week until a replacement switch arrived from Rovers North.
Does this problem happen only in Land Rovers? Nope. A local mechanic told me that very week of a student who had to drive his Chevy Cavalier by holding his key partially on while he drove and shifted at the same time. It took longer for the mechanic to find a GM key than it did for me to get my ignition switch.
Copyright 2005, Jeffrey B. Aronson and Rovers North
Lite Breaks – Light Brakes [Ciourtesy, Rovers North News, June 2008]
By Jeffrey Aronson
Series I, Series II and early Series II-A Land Rovers helped you live life on the edge, not only because of their expedition capability, but because they came with single circuit brake systems. The automotive norm called for a master cylinder which would distribute hydraulic pressure through a series of brake lines to 4 wheel cylinders (8 cylinders if you had a 109”).
Federal legislation would require dual circuit brake systems by the late 1960’s and in 1968 Land also introduced a vacuum brake booster on its dual circuit systems. The advantage was, of course, that if one circuit failed, the other would operate and you would not lose all braking or a seal failed.
The value of a dual circuit system became clearer to me recently when a rear brake line failed on the QM I, one of my two ’66 II-A 88’s, as I pulled into a dirt driveway at a job site. The pedal pressure suddenly disappeared and the car barely stopped. I checked the fluid level and found it down a little, but a quick look under the Rover did not show an obvious leak. However, when I had a co-worker pump the pedal for me, a shot of brake fluid erupted from the right rear wheel area, just missing my head. That’s how I identified the broken brake line.
The first challenge was to get the car home so I could work on it. I used a small vise grip to close off the end of the brake line, but it was not very effective. Naturally, my drive home would require me descending down a steep hill into our village’s main street, then turning left against traffic onto the lane where I live. Low range provided the ideal speed for safety, and first gear low range meant that I could navigate the descent and slowly wait for an opening to turn into my lane.
Once home I checked all the brake lines; to my surprise, many must have been changed by previous owners because they looked much better than the rusted one. So I ordered the pre-sized brake line and some brake fluid from Rovers North.
The line had failed because of rusting just in front of the right rear connection. I cut the line in front of the screw in connector and then used a socket to remove the old connector. Crawling to the front of the car, I found the junction box that took fluid from the master cylinder and distributed it to the front and rear brakes. It resides on the top of the frame rail just behind the right front wheel. Using a flare wrench, I tried unscrewing the fitting from the connector. No luck – it was too corroded in place. Since my Genuine Part brake line had all the flares and connectors in place, I knew that I could cut the entire line if necessary – and did just that. Once cut, I could use a long socket and a small vise grip to finally remove the rest of the line. Take your time and use generous amounts of PB Blaster or similar corrosion removal product.
The moment that I released the lines brake fluid started to gently leak out; I put a cardboard piece underneath the fitting and let it drip gently. Every so often, I would check the level in the master cylinder so it would not fall too far and let air into the system.
I unrolled the new brake line slowly and gently; I did not want to put any kinks into the line. It seemed short at first, but as I worked the metal I realized it was sized perfectly. The greatest challenge came in creating a U - curve in the line as it exited the front fitting and then ran alongside the top of the frame rail. Land Rover frames have small clips for the brake lines, which were still intact on my Rover. I did not have a mandrel with which to make the curve, so I used a couple of small fluid cans as molds for the curve.
Fitting the brake line to the front fitting first allowed it to fill with brake fluid and I found that patience and gravity filled the line slowly with fluid, not air. Once fluid ran out the rear – without any bubbles – I connected the rear fitting to the rear brake. To my delight, the system did not require any additional bleeding to effect solid braking action.
The job of removing the old brake line and installing a new one took under two hours and meant that the Rover was out of work service for only one day – essential for my work.As if often the case with Series Rovers, Range Rover Classics and Discovery Series I’s, it’s a Lite Break that lets you get home and lets you make the repair.
Copyright 2008, Jeffrey B. Aronson and Rovers North
"The Land Rover is not a vehicle, it's a way of life."