The Land Rover Writer

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ode to Dave Dudley

"Six days on the road" sang Dave Dudley, back when trucking songs were entertaining. I just spent 700 miles or so traveling in the QE I, my '66 Land Rover Series II-A. I'm still exhausted!

The trip from Vinalhaven started with a 90 minute ferry ride, then a 2 hour drive to Portland, ME. I had invited a group of Land Rover enthusiasts, young and old, male and female, to gather at a brewpub and entertain me. They did a terrific job and I had a ball. I also have new offers of places to stay in the future - very cool.

Then came the next morning's drive to Cos Cob, CT, where I had plans to mooch off of new friends, who own a summer house in the island. I mow their lawns and do some simple chores for them, and in return, they grace me with their friendship, hospitality and friendship. It's a very one-sided deal for me.

Before the long trip, however, I chose to tank up at The Seed and Bean, a coffee house started by Land Rover enthusiast Jassy Smith. Her BFF, Barry Jones, and his dog, Sarge, came along to entertain me even more. The artsy building, Jassy's grandmother's one-time residence, made for a welcome change from the chain coffee houses everywhere else in the country. 

 From there it was a noisy 4.5 hour drive to Cos Cob, CT, a village area within Greenwich. The QE I's overdrive linkage had failed two days before departure, but Rovers Down South, which now owns the rights to the Fairey Overdrive, came through with the promise of a linkage rod to be delivered to CT.

Running a Land Rover at highway speeds without an overdrive is not a mechanical problem for the car, but it is a problem for the driver. The gear noise and overall vibration noise is quite high at 60 mph, even with my handheld radio and ear buds. Running a Land Rover at 60 mph is also a financial problem for the driver because of $4.05/gallon gas prices in CT. The Rover gets 18-19 mpg at highway speeds, so it costs a lot to make the 350 mile trip.

While in CT, I met up with Jon, a new enthusiast with a Range Rover Sport, and since I last talked with him in December, two 1980's Land Rovers about to be imported to his driveway in Fairfield. I drove the Rover around Cos Cob and Greenwich a bit, but it mostly sat while I mooched rides or took the train into NYC to gawk and people and buildings. I also saw many Range Rovers and even a Defender in NYC; I could not even imagine driving in Manhattan.

The drive home took 6.5 hours, benefiting from the new overdrive linkage that I installed in an hour the previous Saturday. I felt very tired when I arrived in Rockland, too late to catch the ferry home and worn out by the relative boredom of an interstate drive. The working overdrive did help reduce the fuel usage, though, and made the driving safer. However, the low beam headlights have ceased to work, and I fear that means the dimmer switch must be replaced.

The good news is that the shift lever, worked very calmly by me, remained intact! The bad news is that the latest replacement unit from Rovers North now comes without the mounting bracket, meaning it's not a field repair any longer. 

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