110 Rear Axle Fitted

Yep – I have finally made that leap.

I chose now to do the axle swap because the kids are on school holidays, so I can use the RR for work and if Helena needs to go out while I’m working, she has the now more drivable Lightweight.  It means I can take my time to do the job properly without back-breaking long days.

The first job was to chock the front wheels, jack the rear end up and remove the back wheels.  The prop shaft was disconnected from the diff and the brake’s flexible hose was removed completely.  Then the dampers were disconnected at their bottom ends and the anti-roll bar links were removed at their lower, bushed connections with the spring plates.

The vehicle was then jacked up again to put stands under the chassis, on the main rails inside the hanger webs for the spring hangers at the front of the rear springs.  With the weight born on the chassis, the axle U-bolts were removed and the  rear shackle bolts were all loosened.  With the axle loose on top of the springs, I jacked each end up to place it on stands, removing its weight from the suspension springs, allowing me to remove the lower shackle bolts and drop the rear of each spring to the ground.  That allowed me to then lower the axle to the ground manually and roll it out from underneath to the rear.  It’s damned heavy to do, so if you have a trolley jack, use it!

Fitting the new axle in its place was essentially, in true Haynes tradition, a reverse procedure of the above.  The hard part was moving the axle into approximate position under the chassis – the discs’ diameter, unlike the older drums, is not enough to roll the axle – it sits on the diff and so I had to rob a drum off the old axle to roll it under.  I then had the problem of lifting the lower sitting axle over the rear spring eyes, which were an inch or more above ground level (the springs touched the ground about half way between the spring eye and centre-bolt).  Once lifted over the springs into position on stands (again, this was done manually and was very heavy), the rest of it went together easily.

New brake lines were made up to run from the callipers to the new T-piece atop the diff housing.  I used brass fittings and copper-nickel pipe to ensure longevity, and they will be painted with Schutz once I have completed the whole swap and checked for leaks.  The Goodridge stainless braided flexible hose was reused, and the new brake system’s pressure reducing valve was fitted just before the top end of the hose.  This was done by removing a vertical length of the brake line (again, copper-nickel, fitted during the big build), adding more brass fittings and flaring the ends.  The valve was orientated so that the inlet end is lower most and the exit to the hose is upper most to make sure it bleeds easily without trapping air.  It’ll be covered with Scutz too, once the system has been leak checked.

The QT Services diff guard was transferred from the old axle, after a quick spray with silver Hammerite to cover the small patches of surface rust appearing, and the diff was filled with fresh EP90 GL4.  The axle breather was routed up inside the flexi-hose’s protective coil wrap and cable-tied to the chassis at the hose mounting bracket.

The steel 8-spoke wheels were refitted to allow me to turn the car around on the driveway for working on the front end and to get the vehicle into service quickly.  The alloys will be fitted shortly after the axles have been completed, with the tyres being transferred from the 8-spokes (they have plenty of tread left).  The photos show how far offset the steel wheels are compared to original Land Rover wheels, and gives a good indication of why the steering has been so heavy all this time.  The alloys will bring the tyres back under the wheel arches about half way between where they are now and where they used to be (ie. the standard Defender position), so will fill the arches without looking aggressive and bringing the front tyres in line with the swivel pins, saving my arms in the future!

All that remains to do on the rear axle (other than bleeding the brakes and covering everything in black goo) is to add the disc mud shields.  They were previously blasted and red-oxide primed.  I gave the inside faces a coat of white Hammerite (I thought it might help reflect the discs’ heat, saving the paint from flaking), but it seems to be reacting with the red-oxide.  Such is the nature of Hammerite – it seems to react with everything, including itself!  They’ll be goo-ed as well and bolted in place, a simple job for tomorrow once the Hammerite has dried.

Edited to add that the rear disc mud shields’ white paint dried out well and they have been fitted and Schutz coated on their inboard (exposed) sides and can be seen in place in the background of the “front axle fitted” photo looking along the underside of the vehicle.  There is a lot of discussion on various Land Rover forums about whether to fit them or not, but I think that they will help keep road spray and any grease or oil from the vehicle’s belly off the discs and are worthwhile unless you do a great deal of off-roading, where they may become significant mud traps.  As this vehicle is mainly used for commuting and family trips, this is unlikely.  Ultimately, Land Rover put them there for a reason…

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  1. What axles did you put in your rover. I am thinking of putting RR/Disco axles in my 88 IIa and i’m wondering if you could give some advice. Thanks.

  2. Hi Matt,

    I have a Discovery front axle, which is the same as a RRC type and differs from Defender axles in the shafts, CV joint and drive flange. The rear axle is a 110 rear axle, used because of its Salisbury diff and heavier shafts, much sturdier than a Rover rear axle – SIII 109s all had Salisbury rear axles from the factory, and the 110 version is broadly similar. For an 88, though, a Rover rear axle from a Discovery or RRC will be ample, as it was on the Defender 90, to replace your existing Rover rear axle.

    Your conversion will essentially be the same as mine. You will face one potential issue that I didn’t, though: the diffs on coiler axles are sited further outboard than on Series vehicles, and that could pose you the same sort of problems in fabricating and attaching the new saddles and bump stops as on the front axle. This is because the 88 has the leaf springs under the chassis on both axles, not just the front like a 109. The good news is that you still set the new rear axle pinion axis horizontal, just like the original axle, so you can copy the inclination angles for the various new brackets from one to the other. Hopefully, the saddles won’t need to be unduly tall – you might even be able to make them the same height as the old axle’s saddles, and you might also be able to use a standard right hand inboard U bolt.

    Braking will be an issue. You will need servo assistance to power the disc brakes, and will need a suitable master cylinder. The Discovery/RRC master will not fit a Series servo. The Discovery servo will fit a SIII pedal box if you make an 8mm adaptor plate. There are early Defender master cylinders which fit the SIII servo, but I don’t know how well suited they are – they are made for front discs but rear drums, and so might not provide sufficient pressure to rear callipers. Alternatively, you can fit Series drum brakes to the later axles.

    The rest should be as I did it, but feel free to ask for any more specifics you need.


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