Spreading the disease
by Bill McLellan
This installment was happened across when the editor was visiting to check out some Land-Rover stamps that Bill had managed to find in Toronto
So much has happened since I last opened these pages that I hardly know where to start. My wife (upon whom be the peace) says my biggest problem is a tendency to go overboard or be too enthusiastic about marginal projects. She has certainly been saying so, long and loudly, ever since Land-Rovers started taking up residence behind the barn. When the first one appeared (and who will ever forget that eventful day) she was solemn and carefully non-committal. When four more showed up the next weekend, (or was it two weeks later - oh well, no matter) she was more open with her critcism. When number six arrived late in the Fall and winter began to close in on all six of these machines still in the same condition when they arrived, well, I will let you fill in the dialogue for yourself.
It is probably just as well that the 88 frame we bought from the same person who sold me the 109 diesel was towed directly to friend Harold's garage. There it sat for a couple of months, annoying both him and his wife. It is interesting to note however that the continued exposure to even just the frame of a Land-Rover manages to exert a certain primative influence over people. This was forced upon my notice just last week when Harold... At this point one must visualize the rather large single malt I just drank as the implication of what I was starting to say really sunk it.
Last summer when we were towing the first Land-Rover home Harold was loud in his comdemnation of these vehicles as a type and a class and everything else. From the depths of his garage he dug up an old parts catalogue from the early 1970's with supplement and gave them to me with the warning that he never wanted to work on one, ever. As a matter of fact, exposure to just the one machine, as I recall, led to a hangover that his wife still talks about. All last Fall, as he restored a Toyota LandCruiser he taunted me on the fact that the six Land Rovers were still sitting there, doing nothing but fall apart, while his Toyota would be ready to go duck hunting. he did rebuild the body but the engine refused to co-operate and teh LandCruiser sits there in his yard beside my Fiero, but that is another story.
Then a Land-Rover frame, and just an 88 frame at that, sat in his yard for months. Last week when he came over to pick up the Series III which had been chosen as the first restoration project I noticed a change in this man I have known for so long. I paused here for another long drink. Not only was this man willing to work on a Land Rover, he is also getting a plasma cutter so he can build frames now that he has a template and... Here I had to pause to open another bottle... he said, and I quote "Check with me before you dispose of the black 109."
Here is an example of the mountain going to whoever indeed. Why, you could have knocked me over with an empty bottle, as would have been the case if my wife (upon whom be the peace) had a more accurate throwing arm. He actually said how much fun it would be to tear around some of the trails in Limerick Forest in rebuilt 109's, or try to get down the Scotch Line that used to run between Merrickville and Oxford Mills and is now largely lost and forgotten. It might just be an interesting summer indeed. This weekend we strip down the 88 and start the rebuild. We will have to see if this change of heart survives the exposure to the real thing
Reprinted from the Ottawa Valley Land Rovers newsletter, February, 1995