Series 2A (JFK 893C) – Part 2 (The head)


Harry feeling the late snows before the roof’s on.

First things first, I had to built Harry a home. I wasn’t going to leave him outside to get ruined. I’d made this mistake with a kit car previously, a very pretty JBA Falcon. Even a tarpaulin “Tunnel garage” wasn’t much better, causing condensation. I roughed up some plans and built a car port outside of my garage/workshop.


Now that I had ‘Harry’ home, I set to getting it running. Charging the battery got it started quite easily, but it ran rough.

After turning it off, I checked the oil and… Found it white and foamy. Only really one thing that can be – a blown head gasket. Bugger!

Having had a few cars sent to the scrapyard for just this problem, I was quite alarmed!

Despondent, I muttered for a while, then watched a few youtube videos and wondered just how hard it might be to do this. Everything seemed surprisingly simple, and that the Land Rover Series engine was about as easy to work on as any. So I decided to give it a go and, following the trusty Haynes manual, removed the rocker cover to be greeted with the classic grey sludge.

Grey sludge reveals bad newsThen came the head, and I spent a few hours cleaning it up and painting it;

Head 1 – Looks purty, but devils lurk within






Small but deadly

It was at this point that I noticed a tiny crack leading out from one of the ports. I asked around and was given the name of an engine specialist in Totnes and on ringing him, he said to “bring it down for a look”. I happened to be going that way the next day so I stopped by (complete with a car full of work colleagues) and I was told, firmly but kindly, that “It’s scrap. I could weld it, but it’ll never hold in that place.” Bugger again!

It turned out that one of my work colleagues knew someone who knew someone who might have a spare cylinder head, so I was given a number and sure enough, this chap thought he had one. I met him the next day (he only lived a couple of miles away) and sure enough, he’d removed the head from a Series 3 engine that was identical (An Ex SWEP cherry picker). This new head had been lying on its side in the weather for a few years, which made separating the manifolds a major effort (about four hours worth!) and the the ports were full of crud and the valve stems had rotted out. Fortunately, I could use the ones from my old head.

The “New” head and the battle to remove the manifolds

Several more hours and I’d succeeded in cleaning up the ‘new’ head fairly well, including polishing all the ports. I lapped in the original valves using the handy rubber-hose-and-cordless-drill technique which worked very nicely, broke a new set of valve spring compressors.





Making things pretty

Block cleaned, oiled and wrapped in clingfilm to protect it until the head was ready.

New head gasket in place with copper sealant.

Head back on, Manifold mountings cleaned and new gasket in place, ready.

Nearly all re-assembled.