Gromet's Un-Researched History
Gromet Is Tough. He goes out in this kind of weather without wearing a vest.
I'd been looking for Gromet for quite sometime, our search took us everywhere, including a journey up into the "Last of the Summer Wine" country but even this foray was to no avail, then Warwick 4x4 took up the challenge. They organised an expedition which fanned out across the length and breadth of the UK looking for the poor blue waif and stray which was transformed into Gromet. Yes within days the alarm bells rang, they had found him pottering about in Hillsborough, just north of Sheffield, England, (well south of my beloved Scotland)
We knew it was Gromet because there was a plastic gromet on both front wings, just where the wing mirrors should be. All his joints ached, he had donned a pair of broken spectacles and was wearing an old pair of tatty carpet slippers together with a faded blue smoking jacket.
One or two camels, a chicken and a brace of goats were exchanged before the flat bed was eased into position and with lights a' flashing Gromet was rushed off to the operating theatre, in Warwick, for remedial surgery before being wheeled into intensive care to be tended by a dedicated group of mechanics who totally transformed Gromet. Within weeks a beautiful butterfly emerged from the garage, minutes later a gleaming red, coil sprung Series III Land Rover also emerged from that self same abode.
Gromet's insides were completely refurbished, forward facing rear seats were grafted into position along with thick pile carpets, a roof lining and a new cubby box. A brand new galvanised chassis, adorned with glittering Range Rover axles and disc brakes all round, was slipped under Gromet. Luxury or what? You wouldn't believe it; relatively speaking of course, Gromet is still a Series III Land Rover, well that is what I call him, after all Land Rovers were built to be adapted, and adapted he has been, but I suppose other, less charitable persons, would call Gromet a hybrid, on account of his coils.
To give him that rugged expedition look a sparkling new roof rack, complete with access ladder, was delicately bolted into position, and very useful it has been to, and then to finish the ensemble a pair of 90 door mirrors were added, together with a stainless steel exhaust, (which has been replaced twice now, it is now on mild steel) the inevitable squeaks and groans, very carefully positioned to cause no damage but to add that authentic ambience. A Kenlowe Hot Start and a Kenlowe electric fan, were fitted, the Hot Start is brilliant but the fan has now been removed to accommodate the gorges new oil burner.
Four years ago Gromet rose like a veritable phoenix, and is now a fully fledged member of the family, accompanying me backwards and forwards to Nottingham everyday. Gromet has also transported us to Wales and Scotland on numerous occasions and has even ventured down into the 'Smoke', YES! Gromet has gone round the M25 and on into the East End. This journey was a turning point, Gromet turned bright red, admittedly he was red before we started, but I am sure you can imagine how he felt as we slid down in our seats while a three wheeled Plastic Pig, otherwise known as a Robin Reliant, flew passed us, we were not even comforted by the fact that if Mount Kilimanjaro just happened to be round the next bend we would go straight up it while he would have no choice but to go round it and hopefully fall into the river Congo, wher he would surely have been eaten by crocodiles. The truth is he obviously did not know his place but the damage was done, the seeds of discontent had been sown, (see Gromet's new engine, below) Gromet's engine gave a nervous hiccup and a defiant puff of sooty black smoke. Putting this aside Gromet is a great success and is covering in excess of 11k miles a year.
Gromet has had a new gear box, that is a story in itself, a new engine of course, two miniature theatre type spot lights mounted at the front, just below the grill and, more recently, two running lights on the wings. I have been looking for these little gems for years, ever since I saw them on a Dutch Army Land Rover in LRO magazine. I finally found the pair at Billing, each is a combined running light and direction indicator mounted one on top of the other.
ALSO after numerous punctures, too many to mention, Gromet has been re-shod with a new set of white 8 spoke wheels and BFG Trac Edge tyres from Paddocks of Matlock, only 4 though; seen the prices of them?
The cab has a hands free unit for my mobile telephone. Initially I could hear nothing, or very little, of any conversation thanks to the old 2.25L diesel unit which created such a frenetic rattling and crashing on the other side of the bulk head, but everything has changed now thanks to the transplant. There is also a hole in the instrument panel, this was created by the huge oil leak the old 2.25 deposited on the drive each night. I got worried and attempted to fit an electronic oil pressure gauge twice! I eventually tracked down an adapter to link it up to the oil filter but the rotten gauge still doesn't work! The first gave no reading, the replacement gave a full scale deflection!!! I now only have a big hole to remind me where the gauge should be and a large old oil stain, on the drive, to remind me why I originally wanted one, although that has now been joined by many more oil leaks, they never stop!
And Now For The Engine
Choosing an engine is not easy,not easy at all. In common with many Series owners I thought about engines day and night, I bored my friends, and family rigid, I perused copy after copy of Land Rover Owner for years. Gromet was no help, he wanted a mighty V8 power unit BUT, as I pointed out to him miles per gallon and cost are against it, not to mention the possibility of broken half shafts and too much strain on his second gear box, however he argued that they could run very well on liquid gas (Propane/Butane) cheap and environmentally friendly and a reduction of power of 5%. "No, no", I told him, I was after a compression ignition system, old Rudolph Diesel's machines, for example the Nissan six cylinder diesel, is a popular engine, it sounds great and keeps going for ever but he told me it is too long, his grill would have to move forward, like that of a 90. An Iveco turbo charged diesel would be powerful and sensible BUT it is not a V8. I continued reading and asking and to be fair I got huge amounts of very useful advice, in fact an earwig, by the name of Godfrey advised me to go for an 8 cylinder GMC 6.2 Litre diesel, but again that is another story and I diverge. Eventually a choice was made, I am in the Series III Owners Club and they gave me masses of advice and in fact it was Frank King, (Mr Series III) who put me in the right direction. He told me Steve Graham, of Billingham, Cleveland had just rebuilt a 90, naturally aspirated 2.5 diesel for himself and within seven hours of the phone call Gromet was being driven up onto Steve's flat bed ready for the 180 mile drive north back to his garage.
So it is no more "Move Over Mister Slow Guy" but:-
Mind you during the cold dark nights, as Gromet sits outside the house, he is still prone to flights of fantasy, as he slides back into the occasional dreams of the classic mighty V8 power plants that might have been, with their throaty rumble and masses of raw power throbbing between his axles, but that is all these will o' the wisps are, fading dreams, because Gromet really loves his new thorough bred Land Rover 90, naturally aspirated, 2.5L diesel engine.
Steve Graham is the Wonder Man who achieved this transformation. Steve is not only a real Series III enthusiast, member of the Series III Owners Club and Land Rover Garage owner, non-franchised of course, so he also knows what's what around the older Land Rovers, but he is the proud owner of the first diesel Series III - and what a job he made of it, it is immaculate, although we were all devastated when, on producing a magnifying glass, we detected, what looked like, a paint run just under the off side door hinge. I am going to have to get a photograph of it for Gromet's gallery, the Land Rover, not the paint run.
Gromet's Web site, has been running since March 97. Gromet's expedition into hyperspace has been very interesting and rewarding and has in fact brought him a partner. Yes his Wallace (I know it should be Gromit BUT Gromet was actually named after the gromets on his wings) his Wallace resides in South Africa, Bruce Molzen, who lives near Cape Town, has just purchased a LWB Safari with a Falcon 2.5L turbo diesel and is christening the love of his life "Wallace". He has his own page, on this site. Click here to go there now.
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