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From: (Andy Dingley)
Subject: Re: Land Rovers are giant tinker toys
Date: Fri, 05 Apr 1996 20:14:42 GMT (Christopher Hall) wrote:

>Pre 1970 ish vehicles are all inch size fixings, you will need 3/8",
>7/16", 1/2", 9/16" and 5/8" AF spanners and sockets, 

You'll need some Whitworth spanners too. 
These may be a little awkward in the USA.

Get yourself a good set of hammers and prybars, a foot length of 1/2"
or 3/4" diameter bronze as a drift, then trade all your hammers in for
ones at least twice their original size.

Andy Dingley                

"Cut the second act and the child's throat"
  - Noel Coward, on seeing the young Bonnie Langford on stage

From: (Andy Dingley)
Subject: Re: Land Rovers are giant tinker toys
Date: Sun, 14 Apr 1996 10:21:33 GMT

The moving finger of (C. Marin Faure) having

>The Discovery is constructed more in the manner of the Range Rover than
>the Series/Defender Land Rovers.  As such, it is much more difficult to
>"take apart."  

I've never pulled a Disco apart, but a Range Rover is ridiculously
easy to strip.  You can pull body panels off and put them back on
again within half an hour. Many bodywork servicing tasks become a lot
easier once you realise this, and you're no longer afraid to rip a
panel right off, instead of messing about trying to reach up inside

To change the rust-prone body crossmember under the tailgate, the
easiest way is to start by lifting the roof panel off !

>I can't speak for Mercedes 

G Wagens are quite easy to pull apart.

They give you plenty of practice at it too   8-(

From: (Andy Dingley)
Subject: Re: Buying Used Range Rover
Date: Sun, 07 Jul 1996 17:25:03 GMT

The moving finger of Dana Vantrease <> having

>'Thinking about buying an '88 RR in OK (first look condition) with 93K 
>miles to replace my 94 RX-7.  

Forget it. Buy the Rangie if you want, but it's never going to be a
replacement for an RX-7, especially not a relatively new one.

An '88 is getting into the "respectably aged" territory. If you're
fond of working on cars, and you like the idea of having a Rangie,
then it's probably a very good idea. If you want something that is
going to be "turn the key transport" that survives on an annual
service at the dealer, then forget it.  Things _will_ break. Few tasks
are difficult on a Rangie, few need special equipment, but you do need
to check that parts are available in your area, or by reasonable mail
order. In England, _everything_ is available and usually reasonably

I drive an '85 Rangie. At the time I bought it I'd moved to Ireland
and my previous car had just died. I still needed something smart to
visit clients, I hate spending money on cars, I like the idea of a
Rangie (I was living on a dairy farm up a long unpassable mud track
and regularly moved cattle around in a trailer), but I was no longer
driving my huge mileage in England, as all my clients were local. An
'85 Rangie costs less than a new Skoda and even at UK petrol prices,
it's affordable for a low annual mileage.  I've always done all my own
maintenance, right up to head machining.   It was the perfect prime
vehicle for _me_, but if you're driving an RX-7 right now, you'll have
to think hard about it.

An '88 is one of the better years to have.  They have the improved
fuel injection engine from '86, but they don't have the
over-accessorized complexity that came in in '89. '89s have all sorts
of powered seat gizmos and junk that no-one really needs, but it goes
wrong all the time and just costs you money for annoying tat. If I
wanted electric ashtrays, I'd buy a Citroen.  

NB - The above paragraph may be quite wrong. I don't know what extra
goodies they put on the US vehicles before the UK got them.

Things to check:

Electrical. Any sign of loose insulation tape and plastic splices ?
Run away !    

The wiring loom quality is shameful, and simply not appropriate to an
off-road vehicle. The wiring beneath the floorpan isn't protected
properly and the wire gauge is far too small. Expect problems with
faults in the loom that goes down to the gearbox and rear fuel pump -
easily fixed by pulling new wire and using some spiral-wrap
protection, but damned annoying. The actual modules connected to the
wiring don't seem too bad. If anything Lucas-made does fail, it tends
to be mechanical components like wiper gearboxes and window lift
gears. Dash gauge weirdness is usually caused by a failed
multi-function module inside the dash. 

Engine. Does it work ?  Does it cold start ?  Does it have any
unexplained little problems ?  The Lucas fuel injection is good when
it works, but things do break on it and it's not one of the cheapest
things to get fixed.

Oil leaks from around the heads do develop over time and can't be
fixed without pulling the engine. You can live with this, but it looks

At around 100K, the engine will benefit from being pulled and having
the camshaft & head gaskets replaced. It will _benefit_, it doesn't
_need_ it until 250K or so   (but if I was lifting the engine for any
other reason, I'd do it).

Noisy lifters are an indication of an unloved engine. This is one of
those engines that gets upset if you don't change the oil regularly
and sludgy lifters are a symptom.

Gearbox. They're all noisy (actually it's the transfer box) and they
didn't stop being noisy until the chain-drive transfer box came in in
'89. Be wary of one that's especially noisy on the over-run though.

The gearbox change has always been lumpy, but responds to hitting it
with that big stick they provide in the middle of the vehicle. They're
just a little agricultural, always have been. First sign of real
gearbox trouble is when they jump out of first or second gear when you
pull away from a junction. They'll drive this way for years, but you
need to rebuild the box to cure it.

Auto boxes are more reliable than manuals - no bad habits at all.

Transfer boxes are generally reliable, but if the diff lock isn't used
every few months, it can get sticky. You _must_ have the diff lock
warning light working and driving around on one where the diff lock
has jammed locked is asking to break a diff (done it)

Axles are more solid and reliable than almost any of the US 4x4s. You
can break them if you try hard, but in general use they're rock-solid
and last for years.  You can get locking diffs from ARB if you want to
take up serious rock-crawling off-road. One easy way to break an axle,
particularly the front hubs is to not check the oil levels. Each front
hub has independent oiling and letting these run dry will trash the
wheel bearings in no time. Like sticky lifters, poor lubrication here
is indicative of a poor maintenance record.

Prop shafts should be tight, with no play. UJs are cheap and easily
replaced, but spline wear is expensive. While you're under here, check
for play in the input pinion shaft to the front diff. They do have  a
tendency to break up the bearings here, causing vibration when

Power steering pumps last forever, but the boxes go at around 100K.
They're easily exchangable for a moderate amount of money, not too
difficult to fit, or you can reuild your own (see this month's LRO).
When changing a box, make sure you don't apply end-loads to the
steering column. It contains shear-pins to make it collapse in an
accident, which are easily broken and not officially replaceable.
A new steering wheel makes a big difference too. Rangies still use the
large diameter appropriate to all-manual steering, and it's just too
big and awkward. Going an inch or two smaller makes it so much nicer
to drive.

The chassis lasts forever, unless you live in a salt mine. The rubber
bushes in the suspension don't last though, and almost every Landie
can be improved by a new set of bushes. It takes you, an assistant, a
trolley jack and an assortment of big hammers and crowbars, a weekend
to change them all. Polyurethane bushes are generally best, giving a
more controlled ride, but the original rubber are slightly less noisy
on-road. Shock absorbers wear out in time, but they're easily changed.
The rubber bush & split-pin fixing of the rear shocks is a joke.
Bushes only cost pennies, but they don't last long and start to give
some funny noises over bumps.

The bodywork is a steel bodyshell, partially cloaked with a second
external shell made of aluminium alloy. The alloy lasts forever unless
you hit it, but you ought to check for rust in the steel. They all go
in the same places:

Inner wings (fenders) beneath the bonnet (hood).  Not usually too bad
here, unless someone has spilt battery acid. Easily repaired by
welding patches, or you can change out the panel.

Bonnet lid (hood). This is usually steel, although early ones were
aluminium. Check the adjustment of the hinges and catches, but the
rust problems of the early steel bonnets are generally history.

Sills. These rust like any other car, but are easily patched by
welding. Be suspicious of any plastic oversills or side steps, as
people sometimes fit these purely as camouflage.

The infamous tailgate. These get a bad reputation, and sure enough
they do rust. They're not too bad though, and replacements aren't a
bad price. Check for rust in the corners of the upper tailgate and the
bottom edge of the lower tailgate. Tailgate locks and latches rarely
work. The lock barrel is a typical cheesy car lock, exposed to rain
and corrosion. It's replacable, but a locksmith with a Kaba barrel and
a milling machine can make a solid brass replacement that should last
far better (I've done this). The latches are often recommended for
replacement, but they're expensive and adjusting the pull-rods (easy)
ususally fixes it anyway.

The worst rust trap on the whole vehicle is the body crossmember that
runs under the tailgate. The brackets where it bolts to the chassis
are typically rotten on a vehicle of this age. Replacing the
crossmember is a nightmare task - I've done it by welding in one of
the cheaply available repair sections for the lower portion, but this
is so awkward to align afterwards that I'd recommend doing it the
official way to anyone else and replacing the entire tailgate frame.
The repair panel costs more, but the work is now a simple few hours
with spanners and pop-riveter, not a welder. 

Another bodywork problem is cracking halfway up the B pillar between
the doors. Looks terrifying, but it's only about half an hour's work
with an angle grinder and mig welder to fix each side invisibly. It
tends to appear on ten year old vehicles used for a fair bit of

Brakes are generally reliable, but you'll need new disks (rotors)
every few years - a very easy change.  Wheelbearings are also
reliable, but check they're adjusted correctly by jacking a wheel up
and feeling for movement. While you're under there, check for
corrosion on the brake pistons. Once any corrosion starts in the
chromed piston, it's not long before you have big problems and maybe
need a new caliper, so keep on top of them. Regular hosing down under
the chassis helps a lot. Changing the pistons and seals themselves
isn't a difficult job, although the little sods can be a bit awkward
to extract sometimes.  

If you are working on the brakes, vented disks are well worth having
at the front. Kits are available to convert older Rangies to use newer
vented disks and pads. I have one of these conversions from B&H
engineering and it's great.

ABS seems reliable, but they sometime require a complete new pump
assembly which is expensive. I don't know life expectancies on this,
but it does sometimes happen to some vehicles.

A couple of C. Marin Faure's comments:

> You should be prepared to work on a Land Rover yourself. 

> It is ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY that you buy a factory service 
> manual for your Land Rover.  They are the best I've ever seen, 

Absolutely. Couldn't agree more with either of these.  As for manuals,
the official workshop manual for an '88 comes in two volumes, with a
third volume as a parts catalogue. You need the first two, but you
only need the third if you're too far from a Landie dealer to use
their's, yet trying to order parts directly from their part number.
It's also worth getting the Haynes manual - much simpler in layout,
and it covers most of the information you need for simpler day-to-day

It's also worth reading at least one copy of LRO (Land Rover Owner).
It's a good magazine, and the adverts are an essential resource. I
keep an old copy on-board in the wallet of servicing manuals, just in
case I need to mail order a new halfshaft from Croatia   (Craddocks
quote regular deliveries to Slovenia)

Anyone in the US need a copy of LRO posted over ?   I'll swap for a
copy of Circuit Cellar Ink or model rocket mags.

As for tools, you'll need general car-fixing stuff, but in the biggest
of sizes. Get a pair of jumbo-height axle stands and a good jack if
you're going to work on the suspension. One of the nicest things about
Rangies is that you don't need to jack them up - I can easily change
gearbox oil or even a whole diff without lifting it off the wheels.

A Snap-on long breaker bar and their branded sockets in 13/16" 6-point
are well worth having. This one size covers much of the suspension,
and the quality is such that you know you're not going to break it.

If you're pulling body panels, you'll also need a long-arm rivetter
capable of pulling the jumbo rivets used on the alloy bodyshell. Don't
be afraid to take panels off your Rangie - many of the larger
servicing tasks get easier if you lift the panel off first and they
seem to use pop-rivets like quick release fasteners. I sometimes drill
my rear parcel shelf off, just to get extra space in the rear load
space !

PS to the Landie & Rangie crowd:    Anyone feel like working up an FAQ
on this sort of thing ?   My web space awaits.

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