15 August 2023
Philip Weiss, an Estate manager from the Scottish borders, talks us through his 'wee' project
When did you start the project?
I started the project in April 2021, but this was a false start due to health reasons. Essentially, I was given 12 hours to live due to sepsis, so once I was thankfully over that, I started the build in earnest in October 2022.
What made you want to build the Land Rover?
I am a self-confessed Land Rover nerd. I have three Land Rovers at present; a 2013 Defender XS called Peter, a 1971 series IIA called Henry, and a Land Rover camper trailer project called Baby Henry. I wanted to finish the Henry set, so the idea of a half-sized Land Rover was hatched, and Henry Junior was born.
Lawn Mower 'chassis'
Did you build it from plans?
Originally I was going to build a bespoke Toylander, and even bought a part-assembled one on eBay. Unfortunately the panels didn’t fit the donor vehicle – an old ride-on lawn mower – so I came up with my own plans, using my Series IIA as a template for measurements and as a guide.
What has the biggest challenge been?
So far, the biggest challenge has been to fabricate and modify the various ride-on mower drive linkages, gears and control cables and to adopt them to fit around the Land Rover body, chassis and floor layout.
What powers it?
Henry Junior will be powered by the original donor ride-on mower petrol engine
Have you tackled anything like this before?
I have tackled full-sized Land Rover projects before, having done a full restoration and fabricated parts for the camper trailer project, but never worked on anything of this scale.
What materials have you used?
The whole body is made from 12mm-thick marine plywood. The construction more or less follows the layout of a full-scale Series Land Rover with outriggers, floor pans, box sections, bulkheads and outside panels.
What jobs are next on the list?
The remaining jobs list is still extensive. I need to finish all the drive linkages and then have a test drive to make sure that it all works. Then I need to fill in the holes and gaps and sand the bodywork down until smooth, seal the marine plywood, apply two coats of primer, then two coats of Keswick Green topcoat and finish the details in silver.
What are your plans for it once finished?
Once finished, Henry Jnr will join the rest of the Land Rover family, and will be doing the rounds at the local car shows, vintage rallies and so on. Then I will make a start on a matching mini camping trailer to be towed behind Henry Jnr.
Has anyone else helped you with the project?
I couldn’t have got my head around the complexities of the ride-on mower drivetrain and linkages without the help of my good friend Paul Scott, who is an expert horticultural machine engineer. He works for Lloyds Ltd in Kelso. In addition, Louise my partner is always on-hand for that extra pair of hands, support and her upholstery skills.
Any advice for anyone doing something similar?
My advice for anyone starting a project like this or any other build is forward thinking. Think about where cables, linkages, etc, pass through bulkheads, voids and around and over or under other components of the vehicle.
Where can others follow what you’re up to?
To follow this build and my other Land Rover adventures, please visit my Instagram page @henrythelandrover.