Ever since the invention of the Land Rover, people have been trying to put different engines into them, seeking to "improve" upon what the factory engineers deemed sufficient. That tradition continues to this day. Old Series Land Rovers are a doddle to work on, and the rudimentary construction lends itself well to accommodate the ministrations of those backyard engineers who seek to make the Land Rover fast enough to keep up with modern traffic. Though the vehicles are simple enough, the engine bay is small and the gearboxes and axles aren't strong enough for much more powerful engines. So the choices are kind of limited.
There are lots of reasons to do an engine conversion. This one, done by a 67-year-old retiree in Oldham, UK appears to have been done "just because." Frank, an engineer, and a steam traction engine enthusiast converted his old Land Rover to run from a scratch built steam-engine, fed by a coal-fed boiler accessible from within the cab. The conversion, while possibly one of the coolest things we've seen in a long time, will not win any points in the top speed or economy categories.
Mildred, named after the mildew-covered state in which she was found, is a 50-year-old Series II Land Rover limited to just 15mph and uses 100 kilos of coal for each hour of motoring. It takes Frank two hours to get the boiler up to pressure, so it isn't the kind of thing where you just hop in and zoom off to work.
Frank says he spent about £24,000 building the vehicle and about 400 hours of his time. He plans to drive Mildred to work this summer, and take it to shows. Best of all, he says, "It keeps me out of the pub."
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