• Welcome to my Series III Restoration Site
  • Fairey Overdrive Overhaul
  • Fitting Forward Facing Rear Seats & Belts
  • Fitting a Defender Heater

Welcome to my Series III Restoration Site

This site is dedicated to my eternal fiddling and tweaking of my 1972 Series III 109 inch Land Rover. I bought it in February 1992 and immediately set about a few repairs and a bit of tidying up and all these years later I’m still working on it! After years of minor rebuilds, in 2004 the discovery of some major corrosion led to a full ground-up rebuild. As this started, the specification started to creep, and many new features were incorporated in order to make it a highly usable combination of daily driver, family vehicle, expedition vehicle and general utility.
This multi purpose use leads to many compromises and is why the vehicle still continues to evolve after the rebuild as new ideas or new frustrations reveal themselves. I have acquired two more vehicles (the Range Rover and the Lightweight), which also have their own jobs.  They are not subject to the level of work or alteration that the 109 has been,  so they have their own smaller, more generalised blog sections.  The “how to” guides on popular repairs or modifications to all three vehicles are included in the FAQ section. Please note, I am not a trader in vehicles or parts, and am not a garage providing repair services. This site is to offer inspiration, technical information and ideas to other Land Rover enthusiasts, helping others learn from my experiences over twenty years, both positive and negative.  I write about what has and hasn’t worked for me – I cannot promise that the same ideas will work for your vehicle.
The vehicle is still an ongoing project and still gets the occasional new accessory or modification, but below is a list of alterations that make up the basic specification of the vehicle and are covered in posts in the respective subsections on the site navigation bar and menu:
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March 2017 Update

I have just been back to check on the 109 and give it a quick drive around the compound.  It is a bit manic doing an eight hour overnight flight (over 11 hours on duty, including the pre and post flight tasks), getting to Birmingham, collecting the hire car, rushing to the crew hotel for a quick shower and change and then driving to Bedford during the rush hour, then doing several little jobs and seeing old friends before rushing back to Birmingham to get some sleep before flying back – it was a very long day!

The good news is that the 109 is in good shape.  The inside seems a little dirtier, but outside seems clean enough, being stored indoors.  The rear tyres have gone a little soft, so I’ll need to bring my tyre compressor next time, and the rear fuel tank has sweated at the seams and left a fairly large stain on the concrete floor.  Such stains are always alarmist, looking far bigger than really represents the scale of the leak, and the leak has been about for several years (since I bought the vehicle in ’92), so I suspect that the POR15 fuel tank treatment will be quite sufficient to sort that out in the future, along with the under-seat tanks which, having been removed from scrapped MoD vehicles, are fairly old and sweat at the seams too.

The battery was as dead as the proverbial Dodo.  I don’t think it’s safe to leave them attached permanently to chargers, even the high end smart chargers, so I’ll continue to put up with the inconvenience of jump starting.  On the plus side, the engine fired instantly, as always.  In fact, the site owner was shocked at that, given it has been eight months or so since it was last started.  It was allowed to idle for a few minutes (while I tidied the jump leads and moved the hire car out) before driving out of the unit.  All gear selections were normal and everything worked as it should.  The only defect is a single blown bulb in the number plate lamp,  The single Vee-belt squealed a little at first, especially when moving the steering, but that soon quietened down as any surface contamination got polished off.  All in all, very pleasing.

I am still pondering the future of some technical aspects of the car.  It’s noisy at high speed, mostly transmission noise, and I have previously bought an automatic gear box from a Discovery to deal with that, along with the Borg Warner transfer box from an RRC to mate to that unit, that would give the quietest driving and best 4wd system (in my opinion, based on my RRC), but if I fit it, I’ll have to go the IVA route and lose the tax exemption on the vehicle.  While not horrific now, I have a nasty feeling that there may be steep road tax rises for diesel vehicles in the future now that they have fallen out of political favour.  I’m still considering 4.1:1 diff sets, which if used with overdrive only selected in fourth gear (or low range) should not cause the damage I got when using overdrive with 3.54 diffs.  I also rather fancy the idea of automatic torque biasing diffs (in this case Eaton Trutrac, as Ashcroft don’t make 10 spline or Salisbury units) to improve winter road driving, and I’d like to explore any ways of fitting viscous coupling to the forward drive to mimic the Borg Warner box.  It’s all harder doing it out here, though, where I have access neither to the 109 or old parts to offer up for comparison.  It’s vapour build or wish-list stuff at the moment, but the idea of 4.1 ATB equipped axles is very appealing, and would be just as useful if I can fit the later transmission, even if the noise level issue would be less pressing.

I also saw Helena’s 2009 90 at Rogers.  The people that bought it from us didn’t know how to drive a Defender and had no mechanical respect or sympathy, so had blown the rear diff, the transfer box output shaft and turbo, and decided that it must be the vehicle at fault, not themselves.  It seemed very sad to see it unwanted, but other than the removed rear seats (being refit, having been stored rather than sold after removal), it did look in very good order – no dents and only a handful of small, shallow scratches that would polish out.  The work that I did on the front wings, lower grille, side steps and rear cross member was all still evident, with no corrosion or marks, so while it wasn’t well driven, neither was it abused.  If only I had the money to buy it back and put it in storage too…

The Borg Warner Unit and Tdi-ZF4HP22 Plate

Just a quick couple of photos to show the Borg Warner transfer box and the torque converter housing (to take the  place of the existing flywheel housing) to mate the ZF auto box to the 200Tdi. The Borg Warner unit has the same low ratio as any … [Continue reading]

July 2016

I am back in the UK with the family for a not so summery holiday.  It's easy to forget how changeable the weather is here! I have been to check on the 109 and to give it a quick drive around the compound in all gear combinations to splash the oil … [Continue reading]

Some new bits and plans

Well, there's no chance of me putting any of this into place for a very long time, but I have bought a Range Rover Classic Borg Warner transfer box and a Discovery 200Tdi ZF22 automatic gear box and associated parts for a retrofit to the 109.  Both … [Continue reading]

Brief Visit, Feb 2016

I had a fleeting visit to the UK (I requested a specific flight pair that meant I flew my folks down to Dubai personally), and used the 24 hours in the UK for a few tasks, including checking on the house and the 109.  The result is that both are … [Continue reading]

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