Left on the shelf.

Left on the shelf.  An oversight, or a disaster, depending on your sense of drama

Left on the shelf. 

An oversight, a cock-up, or a disaster, depending on your sense of drama occurred this month as I set about the monumental task of moving my business and assorted ‘projects’ from my existing premises just east of Matlock to a bigger, dryer, industrial unit just north of Matlock.  With my head down concentrating on packing ten years' worth of stuff into my Dad’s 101 FC Land Rover and my 1966 Mercedes Unimog - two very capable workhorses in such times, we finally had to dismantle and move the four poster ramp.  The accepted way of completing this is to reverse a suitable flat bed (the Unimog) underneath the two ramps whilst in the raised position, lower the ramps, then undo the large bolts that secure the legs to the floor.  The whole process took about four hours and once lashed down with ratchet straps everything was ready to hit the road.

Pleased with our efficiency we finally raised our sight above eye level to realise, with some horror, that we had left my 1949 Land Rover marooned on the mezzanine floor!  This sturdy ‘shelf’ is about 10 feet above ground level and has acted as a very convenient storage area for various 80 inch Land Rovers over the years.   The procedure was to reverse them onto the ramp, raise it to its full height then bridge the gap with a couple of short trailer ramps.  Driven very carefully the 80 inch could then be tucked away for the Winter.  Without the four poster, retrieving the old Land Rover was clearly going to be difficult.  With many more pressing things to deal with I decided to put off doing anything for a week and in that time had no less than 36 valuable notes of advice from Facebook friends around the Globe.  I rather liked  ‘Barn find...buyer collects...’  from Dougal Oneton.  Thanks Dougal, but it’s a keeper!

The following weekend a plan had to be hatched as I was due to be out of the old place the next week.  Between us we could call upon two sets of ramp like things; a pair of ten foot long steel ramps specially constructed to allow a WW2 jeep to be driven into the back of the 101 and a seesaw arrangement built to enable me to transport two Nissan Micra Autograss racers on my trailer.  Using just one pair of either of these would not be quite enough, so we decided to experiment with both of them attached to the 4 foot high flatbed of the Unimog and secured at the other end to the RSJ that supports the mezzanine floor.

Gravity was our friend manoeuvring the seesaw into position as it was on the same shelf next to the Land Rover.  Having lowered this into position on the Unimog our spirits were lifted as it fitted leaving just enough room for the 80 inch front wheels to clear it - if we were successful.  The gap between the seesaw and the floor was then bridged with the ‘jeep’ ramps and it was beginning to look like a workable solution based on a non-scientific appraisal. ‘Looks okay’ was the comment.  What could possibly go wrong?

With everything in place we lashed it all down with ratchet straps, even allowing a tolerance for the Unimog to settle about four inches on its springs with the extra weight.  The time came to fire up the Land Rover and make the final adjustments to the approach line.  With no room for error we took our time with this stage.  With a final check I inched forwards very aware that I was about to drive my favourite Landy off a ten foot high shelf onto ramps designed and tested for something about 4 cwt. lighter.  It was like attempting a trails stage with the terrifying possibility of a ten foot drop onto hard concrete either side.  I inched the front wheels onto the ramps with ‘spotters’ either side making encouraging comments.  As the front wheels descended to the middle of the ‘jeep’ ramps they were clearly flexing by about an inch and with some urgency I had to get onto the more robust seesaw that had the added advantage of being supported by two tall axle stands.  The rear of the 80 inch, being lighter was fine and very gently the front bumper came to rest at the rear of the Unimog cab.  Stage one was complete.

We removed the ‘jeep’ ramps without much difficulty, but then had the second part of the problem to deal with.  We now had an 80 inch Land Rover at a very jaunty and unstable angle on top of the seesaw and hadn’t made a plan for the next stage.  We scratched our combined heads and looked at high lift jacks and winch options, but could not work out a solution.  Taking a break with a cup of coffee we looked for inspiration outside and found there was one small area that we might be able to reverse the Unimog into where the flatbed would be roughly the height of the adjoining ground.  The approach was rather a perilous angle with such a high load, but it appeared our only option.

The Unimog has very soft coil springs, so an inch of depression resulted in the Land Rover swaying about dramatically up there on its lofty perch, however we managed to get it roughly lined up and by jacking up one side of the ‘Mog even succeeded in getting the whole rig level - ish!  Bridging the gap with the ‘jeep’ ramps I was set for my second dare devil drive of the day and whilst the height was less frightening, the angles involved made up for it.  Again, with a bit of creaking and groaning and plenty of advice along the lines of ‘left a bit - right a bit’ my little Landy was finally on terra firma and with a flourish of V8 revs, I drove it for a short burst up the track to remind myself just why I so enjoy driving early Land Rovers.

A YouTube video of these exploits is available on Matt’s web site www.mattsavage.com.  Click on ‘Main Pages’ - ‘Videos’.


Matt Savage-1.jpg On the softly sprung Unimog every bump had the Land Rover leaning at a perilous angle and how to remove the seesaw became the next issue.

Matt Savage-2.jpg A pair of extra long axle stands helped reinforce the rig ready for the weight of the 80 inch.

Matt Savage-3.jpg  Matt and eldest son Ted secure everything to minimise movement, or any slip of the ramps.

Matt Savage-4.jpg. Almost there with bending ramps and worrying angles.

Matt Savage-5.jpg The near side of the Unimog had to be jacked up over a foot to attempt to get everything on the same level.

Matt Savage-6.jpg  The most frightening bit with many opportunities for something to go horribly wrong!

Matt Savage-7.jpg   Back on terra firma after quite an adventure. Matt’s 1948 V8 3.5  80 inch.

Reproduced by kind permission of Classic Land Rover Magazine.