Road to Rutland

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Martin gets set for new seats : credit: © Martin Domoney
Martin makes a few tweaks to his SIII’s cab in search of some comfort and quiet

You may have seen elsewhere on this site, Associate Publisher Steve Miller, go to town on soundproofing and trimming the inside of his Defender 90. It got me thinking about what I could do to improve things in my Series III’s cab – while not unbearable, the swathes of bare metal and gaps in floor panels weren’t doing anything to dampen the hum of the mud tyres or the whine of the LT76 gearbox.

Now, I’m a realist, and I know that a cart-sprung truck from 1975 is never going to boast Rolls-Royce levels of refinement, so I decided that my sound deadening was going to be done on a budget of next to nothing. Carpet and foam are all well and good, but in a Land Rover that’s regularly buried up to its axles in mire, they simply wouldn’t stand the rough-and-tumble life of a well-abused Series. My material of choice? Roll-up camping mats from the local supermarket.

Martin tries to calculate how much Clubcard discount he’ll score

​​​​​​At the princely sum of £6 each, I had metres of closed-cell foam with a foil backing to stick to the bodywork, with no worries about them getting damaged or wet. Happy days!

I cleaned up the inside of the cab roof with panel wipe, then sprayed contact adhesive onto the metal and the shiny side of the mat, before pressing it into place and trimming the edges. It’s not the neatest job and quite frankly a bloody nightmare to try to do on your own, but for less than 20 quid I was happy to give it a go. I also cut some smaller strips of foam and laid them across the gearbox tunnel, trapping the ends under the heavy rubber stable matting in the footwells.

Once the foam has proven to work, it will be cut and stuck down to the tunnel

Perfect? No. But any sound deadening is better than none

With all this progress, I got to thinking how else I could boost the Series III’s manners in preparation for the drive to our newest Spares Day, Rutland. One job I couldn’t put off any longer was removing the old weld-spattered driver’s side windscreen glass and replacing it with a fresh one that I luckily had in stock from my previous Series IIA. The specks in the glass were annoying enough, but what was worse was the steady stream of water down the inside of the glass when driving in the rain, the consequence of the ancient sealant drying up and cracking.

Weld-spattered windscreen removed, the new one can be fitted and sealed in

It didn’t take long to unscrew the clamping strips from inside the frame and remove the old glass, and the old sealer was so brittle that it only took seconds with a flat-blade screwdriver to chip it away. A bead of silicone RTV sealer around the edge of the new glass was all that was needed to weatherproof the screen again – another nice quick job done.

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Old mismatched seats had split and worn covers and disintegrating foams

Finally, something had to be done about the Series III’s seats. As well as not matching side to side (one base was standard and one Deluxe), neither cushions or backs had any support left whatsoever; the foam had degraded so much that you were essentially perched directly on top of the seat box.

As I’d saved so much cold hard cash on my budget soundproofing and ‘free’ screen glass, I decided to put my hand in my pocket and ordered a pair of Britpart Deluxe seats, with built-in headrests. Very nice quality they are too – having had a snoop around Britpart’s trim shop in the past, where all its seats are made on-site, I know they’re going to last.

Fitting was another job that only took minutes; my old military seat backs were held with split pins whereas the new ones bolt in place, but that was the only difference. The bases simply slot into the original frames.

New Britpart deluxe seats mean Martin can banish the tired old cushions for good

I purposely didn’t drive the 109 much until trekking off to Rutland Showground for our inaugural Spares Day last month, so I could make the most of the new refinements and appreciate them more. The seats are a revelation, offering actual cushioning over bumps and side support around corners, although the raised seating position over the sacked-out originals takes some getting used to. I’m also amazed by the difference the sound deadening has made, although I’m unsure if the strips over the gearbox tunnel or the lined cab are making the bigger improvement. Either way, I cruised to Rutland with my eardrums suffering significantly less than before I’d stuck the mats in, so I don’t suppose it really matters.

Great weather and turnout at our first Rutland 4x4 and Vintage Spares Day

As we were treated to beautiful sunshine all day, I can’t comment on whether the screen glass still lashes water in or not, but I’m going to assume it doesn’t, having seen the state of the old sealant. I could certainly see through it better, and that’s good enough for me.