Category: Land Rover Rebuild

Here’s a bit of a blog about rebuilding my old Land Rover – a 1987 (On average!) One Ten County Station wagon. She has had various mods over the years, such as a 300tdi engine fitting. I have continued the mods in the 11 ish years I’ve owned her, including changing to utility side panels, and fitting a camper conversion.

Hopefully I will keep at least close to up to date as I complete the restoration/rebuild/recommissioning process. Please bear in mind it will be a slow gradual process, using cash and time as they become available from other priorities.

Some post may be technical, others factual progress reports, some may even become somewhat whimsical or emotional, but hopefully its going to be of interest / use to someone!

And relax…

So, this morning, I’ve put the old chassis away under a tarp, with help from George and Bryan, and had a bit of a tidy around. Got to take a break for a bit, as there’s kids off school, decorating to do, and other stuff going on.

I’m also going to need to source a few bits, like a new body cross member, and some bolts, and brackets and stuff.

Plus I’m absolutely knackered after last week’s exertions…

And now the scary bit…

As I write this, the body is now resting, propped on blocks, on its new chassis. The old chassis is sitting next to the vehicle, and the crane is chained up where it came to rest.

End of a long day…

But to get there has been a long slog!

Today has been exhausting. Having lifted the body a bit yesterday, we were able to then do some careful measurements of how high the body needed to go in order to clear the chassis. We’ve then finished building the A frames for the back end.

It’s worth pointing out at this point that in order for the chassis to be rolled out, the supports have to fall outside of the track of the vehicle, in order that the axles, wheels and tyres can pass freely through, leaving the body suspended!

To lift the back end high enough to insert the crossbar, we slotted a piece of 40mm box section between the body and chassis, and then very carefully lifted both ends with a pair of high lift farm jacks. We could then slot another piece of box through the crutch of the A frames and under the body, before removing the jacks and the other box section.

At the front end we ended up removing the turrets, and compressing the shocks, to reduce the height we had to lift the front to. The front end was lifted by means of a very solid A Tripod, (with a sleeper through the middle) holding one end of the box section, our previously used lifting strops attached in the middle, and the engine crane on the other end.

Some slight bowing of the box, but well within expectations. Chassis slowly withdrawing!

we were then able to slowly and carefully roll the old chassis, complete with engine and gearboxes, out from under the body.

It’s slightly un-nerving, seeing the body hanging!
“There’s nothing under here…”

As the vehicle is lifted, lowered, or moved, it’s vital to keep checking that nothing is catching, or fouling. At best, some components get damaged, at worst, the whole body gets dropped, with all the consequences that entails.

And just as we got beyond the point of no return, the heavens opened, and the rain set in…

But the old chassis is out, and “parked” out the way.
“what about the turrets?”

As we started to put the new chassis under, we realised we would need to remove the front turrets. However, by this point, we were soaking wet, chilly, and exhausted. So we propped the front end of the vehicle on the new chassis, shortened the lifting strop, and lifted, with fingers crossed. With the crane at maximum lift, and a slight tug on each wing in turn, the chassis scraped into place. We then propped the body to the chassis securely, and carried out the barest minimum of a tidy up, before heading to our respective homes, for a set of dry clothes, a brew, and a well earned sit down!

Well, it’s on…
and straight-ish.

The body has been left lifted a certain amount to make the fitting of mounts, running fuel lines etc easier, and to allow for the changing of the body cross-member, which I found to be completely rusted through.

Finishing up, ready to lift, lifting!

So, today and yesterday, George and I have spent in disconnecting, unbolting, fighting corrosion etc.

This has been a process of slowly working over the vehicle from front to rear, checking as we go, and not fully documentable. Things easily missed include: earthing straps, small wires, cable ties which attach things to body and chassis, even if the thing is already disconected, and breather pipes.

One outrigger bolt in particular gave us some aggravation, but was dealt with by means of a blowlamp, WD40, and then George turning with a long bar, while I pounded on the other end with a drift and a lump hammer!

However, by the end of today, we’ve got most things removed, and started lifting. Very, very tentatively!

So, after much “up a bit, down a bit”, and the inevitable missed connections, we had the front end lifted up and propped – some blocks between the chassis and the bulkhead seemed to do the job. But we also found that we could not lift the front too much, without starting to lift at the rear as well…

Lifting on strops attached to the bulkhead mountings
Body starting to come up
Body starting to come up
And back down on to some blocks.

The rear end was lifted by means of a small bottle jack, between the body and chassis, lifting one side at a time, then propping on timber, repeating the other side, over and over again. Forgot to snap any pictures of the process though…

Minor issues like the fuel lines being led through the body cross member were addressed once the body was safely propped.

By the end, we were able to replace the blocks with a handy sleeper.

Hoist left attached for safety while rear was lifted.
Rear body propped with a sleeper. Start of lifting frames for tomorrow.

By the end of Thursday, we had the vehicle securely propped, on the sleeper at the back, and axle stands at the front. We had also begun construction of the wooden trestles / supports that would hold the body up while we wheeled the chassis out from under.

End of the day on Thursday, body sitting fairly straight and level – doors still open and shut, so that tells us it is ok!
propped about 12 inches of separation – axle stands on outriggers do nicely!

The amount of mud and rust makes me wonder about a small body lift, to allow decent cleaning and painting access. It’s easy at this point to see how people end up “accidentally” building a monster truck!

How Heavy?

So, in order to swap the chassis, the body needs to be removed. this can either be done in one piece, or by taking it apart. Most commercial chassis swaps are done by the former method. The reason for this is that it’s a lot quicker, and reduces the number of parts needed (Snapped bolts, things that might as well be replaced as they are off etc).

BUT – Most commercial chassis swaps involve the use of a post lift, crane, forklift, or similar. Surprisingly, I do not own any of these. I do have an engine crane, a high lift jack, a bottle jack, a load of timber, some steel box section, etc…

So, first question is what does the thing weigh?

A quick google finds some approximate weights for major components, which gives us a rough guesstimate:

Kerb weight2050
Items to be removed:
Gearbox and transfer box100
Total of items to be removed645
Total body weight = kerb weight – removed weight1405

its probably reasonable to expect the actual to be a bit different – even assuming these numbers are correct, there’s plenty not accounted for: Wiring, body mounts, nuts and bolts, pipework (Fuel, water, brake, power steering etc), fuel tank etc. Its not even clear if the axle weights include the wheels and tyres or not. and that’s before you take in to account modifications to interior, panels, etc. My vehicle has none of the original carpets, headlining, trim etc, but does have non standard seating, soundproofing, camper conversion, roof bars etc etc.

However, if you assume 800kg per end, or 400kg per corner, its probably not miles off. And those numbers are well withing the capabilities of my engine crane, jacks etc, as well as the holding capacity of the timber and box section I have available. So, all is well, and we’re good to go for a one piece lift!

Getting into it now

The stripdown continues:

Today, we have achieved the following…

  • Rear wiring disconnected
  • Mains wiring removed/ disconnected
  • Towbar mostly off – two bolts still to cut off
  • Water filler disconnected
  • Rear crossmember bolts mostly off – some bolts too rusty
  • Rad and intercooler removed
  • Preheater removed
  • Electric fan removed
  • disconnected horn
  • heater disconnected from engine
  • PAS reservoir and fuel filter unbracketed from body
  • Front axle breather cleared from bulkhead
  • Front slam panel body mounts removed
  • Started disconnecting wiring multiplugs at bulkhead

Let’s make a start…

Beginning the strip down for the body swap

Swing-away wheel carrier started being removed – Separated arm from brackets , one body mount bolt needs cutting to remove bottom bracket from cross member.   Most of the body mount bolts snapped off rather than unscrewing.   Swing-away needs clean-up, grease etc, and is missing one pivot lock nut, and one grease nipple.   Also noted that rear cross member and chassis is worse than first inspection.

New Chassis…

So after careful deliberations, and discussing with various people, the decision was made to purchase that rolling chassis from Beaulieu / Newbury.

Yesterday I had quite a long chat with the owner, and some haggling over what “extras” he had which I did or did not need, want etc.

The end result is that today, he bought over the chassis for me – he’s fortunate in owning a suitable trailer, and a 110 to tow it with!

So, the new chassis is a genuine LR HD 110 chassis, which was galvanised. At the same time, many of the attached brackets, radius arms, steering and suspension components etc were galvanised as well.

Front terrafirma turrets, springs and shocks are fitted to the front, with a terrafirma steering damper.

Fitted with Hi Ratio Salisbury axle, with ARB air locking differential (with switch, compressor, reservoir etc) and heavy duty terrafirma suspension – air assist on rear springs, with twin rear shocks.

Equiped with disc brakes all round (vented fronts), excellent brake lines, wiring loom (with intact connectors) mudflaps etc, and an extended rear tow hitch.

The whole thing has been given a cosmetic coat of buzzweld raptorcoat in black, on the bits which show, to maintain an original ish look.

This was the payment!
black paint to maintain cosmetic originality!
safely on the drive…
Compressor and reservoir, and extra pipework etc. I’ll need to track down some instructions for those…

I fitted a variety of spare wheels – some George had lying in his hedge, and the spare of my vehicle.

I then went round and checked all the pipework unions, and wiring were properly protected with plastic bags taped over (The previous owner had done most of them).

The whole lot was then secured with a heavy chain and padlock to my trailers, and covered with a big tarp.

Engine running!

So, here’s the engine running for the first time in around four years. Fluid levels checked, new battery, and she started fairly quickly – not quite first turn of the key, but not far off!

For those anoraks among us, it’s a 23L prefix 300 tdi, which, as far as I can ascertain, and also by heresay from the previous owner, means it left the land rover factory in a box as a brand new “crate” engine.

Deliberations – part 2 – Gearboxes

Ok, so the reason the vehicle came off the road in the first place was that the gearbox (and/or transfer box) went pop…

So, do I stick with the LT77 or upgrade to an R380 – which was supposedly the stronger, better gearbox….

And if I go R380, standard box or a stumpy?

And do I recondition my existing boxes, or replace them with second hand?

So, firstly, the different boxes…

The LT77 is an older design, and not as refined as the R380. The R380 can supposedly handle more power and torque, as well as running quieter. It can also be fitted with an oil cooler which helps it run cooler – better for the box, as well as not heating the cab as much…

The R380 was designed to fit behind the 300tdi engine I have. It’s possible that some or all of my problem has been caused by putting the new lump on the old box. So probably not an LT77. Particularly as I’d eventually like to tweak the engine a bit to get a few more horsies in there, and some extra torque.

The R380 comes in two variants, the standard and the stumpy. The standard box is longer than the LT77, so needs the engine moved forward. The stumpy is a modification which allows a straight swap from LT77.

If I’m going for a replacement chassis, I would probably be best off getting a standard R380. This will allow me to use the engine I have, with standard positioning – and so standard props, pipework, exhausts, wiring, etc etc. I’ve previously had to modify brand new parts to fit!

All three boxes will use the same transfer box, so I guess it depends what mine looks like when I get it off…

Just as a rough comparison, here’s some rebuild costs…

LT77 Rebuild816200 surcharge
R380 Stumpy rebuilt1680includes oil cooler etc
LT230 Rebuilt1080includes £200 surcharge
R380 Rebuild1488includes oil cooler