Our Vehicle - Nelly


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Nelly is a 101 Forward Control Landrover with an Ambulance body. Prior to our ownership, she belonged to the Ministry of Defence. We bought her in Spring 2001 from Craddocks, although we have not traced her history or the date of production the military discharge papers indicated that she went into service in 1980 and the DVLA used this information to issue her with a 'W' number plate.

When we bought her she had been sitting in a yard for about three years and had to be carried home. A bit of cleaning and the engine started and went to a fashion, but not for very long. After visits to many local garages while we learnt about engines and what we could attempt ourselves, if you know what is wrong. The first problem with getting an MOT was finding somewhere that could lift her, we ended up at the local coach garage and at the third attempt she got her first MOT on 14th September 2001.   

Registering her was simple - we took the MOD discharge form, MOT certificate, insurance letter and money to the DVLA office, queued up and then she was road legal!

We had an MOT but she didn't run very well, so soon after the MOT we took off the petrol tank to clean it, cleaned the carbs, replaced the HT leads, distributor cap, rotor arm, points, clutch slave cylinder, brake cylinders, brake shoes and front hub oil seals. The headlights were upgraded from candle power to halogen. We had a problem with a leaking front hub oil seal and had to replace the spacer.

The MOD must have routinely painted her every year or so as the number of layers of paint on her was ridiculous. We sanded the worst of the flaky paint off and then primed the bits that went to bare metal. We tried Crown one coat paint on parts of the body work but it just rubbed off so we stopped.

Christmas 2001 saw us buying a LPG gas conversion kit that is fitted and fully functioning, still need to fit the needle lifting kit. The tanks are in the spare wheel holder - three 45 litre tanks. This has preserved our compressor tank and the batteries are still on the side.

March 2002 and Nelly got new tyres and rims in the form of Continentals, 10.5 by 20 so the Speedo and odometer needed recalibrating.

We couldn't decide whether to leave the bulkhead in or take it out so we put in a door, with climbing holds as the handles, but the added advantage is that at least four canoes now fit inside Nelly with ease.

May 2002 and finally the paint got sorted, we went to Scope Paints in Birmingham and invested in Brushing Enamel, 5litres of grey undercoat, 2.5l of Golden Cup (bright yellow) and 2.5l of Trafalgar blue. The effect is stunning as everyone at Gaydon saw. 

The heavy army step arrangement at the back has been removed and the doors extended down to fill the gaps. Catches have been fitted to allow the doors to be fixed open 90, when other people park close to you and the door needs to be opened. This gives us a bit of extra privacy but with air circulation.

June 2002 and a pop-up roof has been fitted. The original roof is still intact, the new part has just been bolted on and accessed through the escape hatch. The usable space is double bed sized with the end above the back doors lifting up 1m so you can even sit up in bed. This leaves us lots of space to think about storage and when travelling the roof folds almost flat.

August and Nelly had a trip to Gloucester to see Andy at Ali Sports and she has a shiny new 36 gallon petrol tank to replace the original leaky one (sorry no pictures yet). 

September and she has a new MOT, only problem was the fog lights and horn not working but nothing serious. The MOT was done as a campervan as the sink has been fitted into the back now. The next project is to fix the stove and sink in more securely and set up the water filtration system.

The spare wheel holders have materialized and Nelly can almost carry two spare wheels on the back doors. Two separate holders have been fabricated that will be winched up and down.  After a few months of use we think that stage 1 modification is called for. We want to have the holder modified to take both wheels although an extra leg will be needed as it has started to droop to one side with one wheel on.

Our ideas about what we want to have in the back are taking shape now, we have a seating area that can be used as an emergency bed, a sink and water system from Brownchurch has been installed..

The big improvement before Christmas was the installation of the radio and two speakers. There are back speakers still to be fitted as soon as we have decided where to put them.

The left side is now fitted with wooden shelves to hold all the stuff that we want to take with us. 

We have found a new shop in Halesowen (Towsure) that has sold us some good 12 volt lights and fans. se can now see and will hopefully stay cool, well at least a bit cooler.

The walls have mostly been carpeted. More worrying is that Nelly overheats after a few hours of driving, we have just changed the oil and there was no water in it so we think the radiator needs recoring and that will hopefully stop the problem.

Radiator re-coring did not solve the problem so the heads have been off skimmed and replaced and that seams to have stopped the overheating and she is now even sucking the water back in out of the overflow bottle.