109 April 2014 Update

A few little updates this month regarding the 109 transmission, Range Rover engine and Defender 90.

I have completed the gear box rebuild and refit, being held up by a mixture of weather, work and a lack of enthusiasm at doing such a  repetitive task.  The good news is that the gear box is working nicely, with no backlash noises now that is has a new main shaft and a standard transfer box input gear in place of the overdrive.  Gear noise is mild and there is no bearing rumble – the transmission is a fair bit quieter under all conditions now.  The new springs on the 3rd/4th synchro unit have done the job, and while a little stiff, are settling in.

I did find some fluid in the bottom of the flywheel housing.  It was too clean to be engine oil, and not smelly enough for EP90.  It was straw coloured with a blue hue, much like diesel has, which made me suspect clutch fluid.  A close look around the flywheel and bell housings showed no signs of the fluid being flung around the housings by the flywheel or clutch cover, just pooling neatly at the bottom.  This confirmed that the leak had to be from the clutch slave cylinder, and stripping the cylinder revealed a few small rust patches inside the bore, though the seal appeared in mint condition.  A new cylinder (TRW, the new GKN brand label) was fitted.

I also had to replace the front prop shaft’s front UJ, which was free in one axis of movement but stiff on the other.  After replacement, the old UJ was cleaned and inspected, but I couldn’t see any defects.  It may just have been some dirt under a circlip holding the opposing bearing cups to tightly together.  The slight vibration from the front has now gone.

Lastly, I recently found that the left steering lock was greater than the right, and while the right turn was tighter than with the original axles, I don’t like unexplained oddities like this and wanted to improve the right turn ability to match the left.  It turned out to be the steering damper running out of travel, so I loosened its retaining nuts and turned the steering (adjusting the stops) until the right turn matched the left at the maximum the swivels can take and then fitted washers between the damper ends and the inboard rubber bushes to take up the dampers shortfall.  I now have a very tight turning circle in both directions, tighter than the 90 or Range Rover can manage because the leaf springs on the 109 are further inboard than the radius arms of coil sprung LRs, allowing the stops to be adjusted out accordingly.  The tyre shoulders (235/85s on standard LR 7×16″ rims) come to 1.75″ from the leaf spring sides on full lock.  I can’t go any further without damaging the swivel seal or the inner swivel (chromed chalice) flange bolts fouling the outer swivel and seal retaining plate.






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  1. Congratulations on the gearbox. Fingers crossed that it’ll behave itself for a very long time now.

    Our 109″ also has great turning circle simply because of using modular wheels and adjusted lock stops to suit – better turning circle than most stock 88’s. 🙂

  2. The negative offset of after market wheels does allow quite a lot more steering lock. I had the same as you, though I used 8-spokes. The extra lock from the coiler axle swivels and CV joints is staggering, though. It must have reduce the turning circle by 30%,or more over the old axle with the 8-spokes. I can out-turn the 90, and I adjusted the stops on that already!

  3. Yep, I can well believe it. I reckon the modulars place the tyre centreline about 30mm further out than stock series wheels. The coil sprung axles must be near 50mm increase in track each side? The only downside is that you need wheel arch eyebrows and I’m not that keen on them as I prefer the stock slab sided Series look, so the combination of 255 tyres and modulars is already right on the limit with the tyre being dead level with the body sides. I can’t go any wider. I think the arches look better on dark colours like yours and more so on station wagons or windowed hard topped vehicles.

  4. Nice bit of diplomacy on the wheel arch issue there, Ian!

    I think the coiler axle track is about 6″ greater than the Series’, so each wheel is moved out about 75mm. But in addition to that, the swivels themselves seem to be able to pivot more (I suspect the swivel ball is a bigger diameter but the neck is the same, allowing greater movement before the seal reaches the neck) and the CV joints allow greater travel then UJs, so it’s not just the length of the axle.

    The steel modulars and 8-spokes come in two offsets – 30mm sounds like the lesser amount. I had inadvertently bought two of those for the spare wheels years ago when I decided to match the spares to the main wheels, but found them to be 15mm less offset than the older four wheels. To be honest, the 45mm greater than standard offset was too much, putting the side walls about 25mm (1″) outside the wings and making the steering very heavy.

  5. LOL, funny you should mention the differing offset issue on the modulars. I had the exact same darned experience recently. I bought four black modulars from Craddocks a while back to get four tyres fitted ready for Ciggys MOT stupidly thinking that I could order the fifth spare one later in the year once Ciggy was completed and ready to use for my commute. However when I ordered the fifth one I received a +8mm offset modular where the previous four where all -2.5mm offset, double checked my order and it was the same part number!?*

    As for eyebrows and diplomacy, I’m not keen on them myself but I don’t hate them. Indeed I actually like them in some case where they are well matched to the rest of the vehicle so I was actually being sincere! I also like them on Jayhoes 88″ where he carefully matched the black arches with black wheels, black chequer wing tops and black hood. The resulting contrasts against the limestone paint was superb. What I’m REALLY not keen on is snorkels………. 😉 😉

  6. great web page nick,,,, we should do my p38 steering step by step and post on you’re site,,what do you think ,regards vinny

  7. I’d be happy to do that, Vinny, as it’s a mod that holds a lot of interest but one I haven’t done yet. If you could put together a file of photos and a text document and email them to me, I’ll transfer it all into a post on the blog with all credits given to you.

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