August 2013 Update

There hasn’t been much going on recently – I’ve been working too much and other things have been taking up the money anyway.

The rebuilt head has cut down enormously on the oil loss suffered since I built up the Tdi engine in 2008.  It’s hard to say whether it is still using any – my driveway isn’t quite flat and I don’t think the straightened Discovery dipstick levels indicate correctly where the level should be, so I might still be slightly over-filling the sump (the “min” mark is level with the joint between sump and ladder frame, which is where I fill to).  The water pressurisation has stopped.

The rebuilt transmission is running well, though I removed the front prop shaft last week end after a nasty rattling vibration appeared, following a few long trips to Bath and back.  The rattle appearing at 25 and 50 mph made me think it was a prop fault, most likely a UJ failure, and since the front prop flanges are no longer parallel with the new axles, it seemed the most likely culprit.  Thankfully, the prop is fine and can be reattached (a new prop with a double-Cardan joint from Bailey Morris was going to cost £356+VAT!).  The rattle is actually coming from the hand brake lever and linkage, so just needs a tweak on the adjustment and spring.

After refitting the 4.71 rear diff, commuting to and from work became much more of a chore.  Going back to the original under-gearing, with the incumbent high revs and noise, was very irritating to say the least on two 25 mile trips per day.  So, after much sniffing about on forums and in clubs, trying to find those who had blown gears with raised diffs or the Ashcroft HRTC, I took a punt on my problems having been down to using third gear with the high diffs and with the overdrive engaged.  Although the 3.54s are too tall, they are better for my use than the 4.71 diffs, so I re-installed the 3.54 rear diff and now only use the overdrive in 4th gear.  This retains the leisurely cruising and lower noise levels, along with the respectable 30mpg (10% over the mpg figure with 4.71s), although I do have to drop out of overdrive on long steep hills (which is still a taller final ratio than 4.71s with the OD engaged anyway).

Jobs I’d like to do on the 109 this year are: the installation of the Defender Demisters I bought at Billing (the black tubular units that screw in on top of the dash to demist the door windows), which seemed very effective and well designed on the demonstrator; to fit heated front wind screens (given how many more frosty winter nights we seem to be getting), and; replacing the creaky (but otherwise serviceable) suspension dampers.  I’m getting more inclined in the long run to fit PAS, since I’m getting older and Helena finds the 109 too difficult to drive around town.  That will be something that gets done in a few years time, using a mix of Defender column and pump with P38 box, but between now and then, I may fit a Panhard rod to the front axle to reduce lateral movement on the springs on cambered roads, so that I don’t have to make the same amount of steering correction up-slope as I do now; I think is an effect that all leaf sprung LRs suffer, where the springs, chassis and axle form a parallelogram which flexes a little at the corners, allowing the chassis to “slide” down-slope, causing an effective steering input in that direction as the distance between the nearside swivel and steering relay reduces.  I think the effect is exacerbated when using parabolic springs, and even more so when they have a greater camber (I have noticed an increase in this effect since fitting a third leaf to my front springs).

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  1. Hi Nick,

    I’m unsure of what diffs to go with for Ciggy. She currently has 4.7 diffs and I was thinking of going with a roverdrive to give me the lower cruising rpm’s.

    I’ve had previous troubles with using 3.54 diffs with a Series transmission and after suffering extremely short life I reverted back to 4.7’s. True, in my case it was with a rebuilt 3.5ltr V8 with boxer quad SU carb manifold so engine was generating approx 130hp but that is only a wee bit more than the 200TDi and I suspect the V8 was gentler in its torque curve than the 200TDi. The newly rebuilt gearbox suffered failure of several bearings within 4K miles of fitting the 3.54 diffs. I swapped the 4.7 diffs back in and the rebuilt (again) gearbox then lasted 20K miles with no issues. After that I reverted back to a 2.25d as the fuel costs were crippling me so can’t say how long it would have lasted.

    In my opinion the cause of the premature failure was down to the big gap in gears between 3rd and 4th. On a small tyred Series on 4.7 diffs the gap is not that noticable but when raising the gearing it amplifies the gap. On my wifes 109″ running on 33″ tyres the gap is awful and means we have to rev her hard in 3rd before changing to 4th or she bogs down and labours the transmission. Thankfully in the 2.25d it is patently obvious we are labouring her and thus avoid it by changing up later. In my old V8 I don’t remember feeling the same labouring probably due to the excess power but I now suspect that the power simply hid the fact that I was changing up too early and placing the trans under stress.

    I’m now loathe to go with 3.54 diffs and reckon on 4.1 or 4.2 diffs plus 235/85R16 tyres as being optimal for the Series to cruise at comfortable revs at 56mph on the motorway.

    Have you noticed the gap between 3rd and 4th? I’m curious as to whether it is due to different gearing in the later boxes, both my old V8 and my wifes 109″ had/have suffix D boxes and 4th does feel taller than earlier suffix boxes I’ve had. What suffix is your box if you don’t mind me asking and after all the miles you’ve driven would you recommend the 4.7 diffs plus overdrive or 4.1 diffs and no O/D.

    On a side note, fuel economy is quite important to me and on my wifes 2.25d 109″ with the taller gearing of the 33″ tyres plus 4.7 diffs and O/D she is comfortably managing 27mpg around town and pushing 33mpg on the motorway. I’ve calculated her rpm to be just 2100rpm @ 50mph which is what we cruise her at. I’m looking to maximise the mpg from Ciggy too so need to keep the cruising revs low. Do you happen to know what rpm’s you were doing at 50-56mph with the 3.5 diffs without OD engaged?

    Your thoughts much appreciated,


  2. Hi Ian.

    Unless you are using a V8, Tdi or heavily tuned 2.5 petrol, 3.54 diffs are a really bad idea. Certainly, behind a 10J 2.25 diesel, you’ll rarely get to use 4th and will consequently suffer worse fuel economy from the excessive gearing.

    If you find 4.71 diffs too low, then 4.1 could be the answer, but an overdrive would be better as it allows for the low standard gearing whenever needed and gives a 28% increase as opposed to the 4.1 diffs’ permanent 17-18%. 4.1 diffs aren’t cheap, either – I looked at KAM Diffs’ site and with the VAT and other bits associated with changing the diff ratios, those crowns and pinions were going to set me back about a grand.

    Fitting bigger tyres, like 9.00s, will typically give about a 10% gearing rise, and if you’re sensible about not fitting excessively wide tyres, the standard engine should pull them reasonably well. As an “upgrade”, it would be essentially free of cost if done when you next need a set of tyres. I reckon you’d see almost all of that 10% gearing increase reflected in the economy increase, unlike the modest 10% mpg increase I got from the overly tall 35% diff gearing increase.

    I reckon I’d have much better fuel economy as well as better driving characteristics and reduced strain on the transmission with 4.1 diffs, probably in the region of 15% fuel saving, as the overall gearing would be much better suited to the engine. I suspect that I would, like you, get about 33mpg with either 4.74 diffs and 9.00 tyres or with 4.1 diffs on my existing standard size tyres, the extra economy of my Tdi being offset by the extra drag and weight of my 109’s extras.

    So, in a nutshell, I would always recommend the overdrive if the budget can cope – it gives the highest manageable gearing step while also being flexible in allowing standard gearing and has no steering lock or suspension articulation worries associated with big tyres, but the big tyres would be a viable second best. I wouldn’t recommend a high ratio transfer case or diff swap unless you uprate the engine significantly. Even in my instance, I’m not convinced about the wisdom of those expensive non-standard diffs; fitting a Defender transmission would be cheaper and give a much quieter, more robust and easier to use transmission with gearing matched to the current Tdi and 3.54 diffs…

  3. Thanks for that Nick.

    It echoes my thoughts as I too had investigated the custom made 4.1/4.2 diff option and it came in at about the same cost as a new Roverdrive. and to me the overdrive (as we’ve found with my wifes 109″ Annie) gives much better flexibility of gearing to suit all road conditions. With Annies big tyres and the aforementioned big gap between 3rd and 4th we’ve been using 3rd O/D an awful lot when driving around town as 4th is simply a no go at 30mph’ish speeds and 3rd is too low. Had we gone with 3.54 diffs in lieu of the overdrive the vehicle would have been undrivable.

    To clarify, Ciggy is currently being fitted with a 200Di and then turbo/intercooled at a later stage if the Di doesn’t work out. I’m aiming to do approx 18K miles a year in Ciggy on mostly A road/Motorway at a steady 56mph. I will be buying a new set of tyres as part of the rebuild so paying out for a large diameter set is not an issue. However Annies big tyres 255/85R16 (33″) are KM2 mud tyres. Sadly they don’t seem to do a large diameter AT or road biased tread pattern in that size which is frustrating. Most modern metric tyres are very wide by the time you get to a 32-33″ diameter. The 255/85R16’s work really well on Annie as they are relatively narrow for their height and we’ve found them to be a super tyre even on the road but for Ciggy I need a tarmac biased pattern to maximise mpg. The bridgestone D689 duelers on my jap truck are the sort of pattern I’m after for Ciggy, they give me 40mpg on the jap truck, are very quiet at 50-60mph and last 100K+ miles per set, sadly I’d have to go with 265 width to get the desired diameter 🙁

    Totally agree that going with a later 5 speed box as the preferred choice but to be honest, if I was going to the trouble of cutting the chassis (new galv one) I’d opt to go with a more modern Jap pickup engine and transmission. The Mazda B2500 engine and transmission for example will drop nicely into a Series chassis with a bit of cutting (already measured it up) and is a far more economical, reliable, powerful and well matched setup than most Land Rover combinations. The B2500 uses 4.55 diffs so the engine and trans are better matched to a Series than the 200TDi and Defender 5spd boxes in my opinion.

    Thanks again for your reply.


  4. The 200DI is said to have comparable performance to the 2.25 petrol. To that end, overdrive is definitely the way to go – you’ll have adequate acceleration through the normal gears and a 28% finial increase, but also the ability to split gears like on your 109. 4.1s might be manageable to a 200DI, but you would end up in 3rd a lot rather than 4th, which not only increases fuel consumption from the gear ratio, but saps power and increases gear box temperature and wear by putting the power through the lay shaft and gears, unlike 4th which is straight-through and thus more efficient and far tougher.

    If you do upgrade to the Tdi later, then it’ll manage 3.54 diffs for cruising, but accelerating is like with a 10J and standard gearing (a disappointing drop back down) and you need to spin the engine up a little before gently releasing the clutch. But with a 10J or 200DI, forget about those diffs or even the 4.1s.

  5. Nick,

    Curiously I found an old technical article in a magazine from the 90’s that suggested the 200Di produced 80hp. It seemed that LR was considering making the Di version available on the Ninety but never pressed ahead with it. I’m not sure where the jump from 62hp on the 2.25d to 80hp on the 200Di came from though? Other than a larger capacity and direct injection (10% gain?) the engines are very similar (I’ve currently got a 2.25d and a 200TDi stripped down in my workshop). It would however confirm the power output as being just slightly more than a new 2.25p.

    On the subject of gearbox oil temps, I remember reading a while ago that you switched to using a synthetic oil in yours for a trip abroad. Do you still use synthetic and does it reduce oil temps significantly? I fear the exhaust route on the Series 3 is simply too close to the box so I’m considering having a custom exhaust manifold and exhaust system made for the 200Di for several reasons. 1) being to utilise a side exit exhaust system to keep the exhaust well away from the gearbox and 2) to allow larger bores in the manifold itself and 3) to allow me to mount it properly using the studs in the head. Most people seem to bodge a Series 3 manifold on but that is small bored and not a match to the larger bore exhaust systems and they mount them using clamps so the manifold is not a precise fit over the exhaust ports on the head. I’ve found a company in Manchester that may be able to make me a custom manifold for a few hundred pounds, not much more than the cost of buying a new (and rare) Series 3 diesel exhaust manifold.

    Anyway thanks for your thoughts, they are very much appreciated. Also thanks for your posts on this site as I’ve made use of several of your tips and will be fitting seats in the back of our 109″ in the same way you did yours 🙂


  6. I previously had a 12J 2.5 diesel from a 90/110 in the 109. If I recall correctly, that had 81bhp. Of course, it’s the torque more than the the bhp that was increased by stroking the crankshafts to 2.5l.

    So, I’d expect a 200DI to produce a little more than that – the higher injection pressures and fuller burn of the DI should not only increase efficiency but also performance.

    As far as exhausts go, there is a temptation to fit standard SIII exhausts to a DI or go oversize on a custom exhaust. Manufacturers spend a lot of effort in getting their standard exhausts right, albeit for a compromise result of different vehicle uses. For 12J, the right diameter is 2″, and I think a 200DI should use the same. A smaller exhaust will improve torque but reduces bhp and increases temperatures dramatically when the engine is working hard – my 12J would nudge the red climbing in 4th with a standard exhaust, but a 2″ pipe gave steady temperatures bang in the middle of the gauge. Going too big will decrease performance and economy because the exhaust gas flow stagnates and the engine can’t breathe out. That’s why cherry bomb exhausts popple and bang – they suffocate the exhaust by being to wide until enough pressure builds up to explode out the tail pipe.

    I tried using semi-synthetic gear box oils on recommendation from Roverdrive. I tried the 75W they suggested, but I found it too thin in the summer, increasing noise and harshness. Part of the reason they recommend that grade is that EP90 isn’t easily available in North America, like other heavy weight oils associated with old fashioned transmissions. Even LR have gone over to 75W for the Defender diffs for the same rationale.

  7. Yes, I’m intending to go with a 2″ exhaust and the custom manifold will have 38mm I/D branches rather than the 32mm of the Series 3 casting which most tend to use on the 200Di. The exhaust ports on the 200TDi head being slightly larger in diameter than on the 2.25 heads. In my opinion it is better to have the exhaust manifold slightly larger than the ports in the head rather than smaller but I may be wrong.

    It sounds like EP90 is the preferred choice then for the box. Thanks.

    I’ve been running semi-synth oil in the 2.25d (10w/40) and it made a dramtic improvement to economy in my wifes 109″ which is used mostly for very short trips locally into town and around the lanes here. Most trips being less than 15 miles. Approx 2-3mpg gain consistently since changing to that oil. However on longer runs (50+ miles) once it has fully warmed up it finds its way out of every gasket and seal so not ideal. What engine oil are you using in your 200TDi?

  8. Your exhaust manifold plan sound good. If there is any mismatch between the head ports and exhaust manifold, then making sure the manifold tubing is slightly larger is best as it won’t create an obstruction. Matching sections would be best, though, as a step in diameter will create a vortex, like a boulder in a stream, which will create a standing wave and flow restriction.

    I prefer EP90 in the transmission, but I won’t say it’s necessarily the best option. However, 75 weight oil has been available for the past 80 years, so I suspect LR would have specified it, at least in cold climates, if it was better. It only seems to be recommended where EP90 isn’t an option.

    I just use standard Halfords mineral 10W40 diesel motor oil in the Tdi. It’s meant to run on 10W40, and anything thicker could damage the turbo. It seems that 200Tdis run at lower oil pressures than 10Js and 12Js, even though they have near identical innards and share an identical oil pump. I suspect it’s merely because of the oil flow through the turbo being so great, but instead of 25-55psi when warm, a Tdi seems to get about 15-45. That worried me, so despite having rebuilt the entire bottom end of the engine and having the turbo rebuilt, I rebuilt and then replaced the oil pump. Subsequent enquiries to other 200Tdi drivers gleaned the same pressure readings, so I am confident it’s normal for the engine, despite the manual’s figures matching the earlier non-turbo engines. I would expect you 2ooDI version to give those 25-55 readings, though.

    I have been using relatively cheap engine oil for a simple reason – replacement intervals. Firstly, I replace the oil every 5,000 miles (and 10,000 for the transmission), and clean cheap oil is better than old expensive oil. Secondly, until the recent head rebuild, it was burning a disappointing amount of oil. The consumption was small enough that all the refurbishment specialists advised to live with it, but when the coolant started becoming pressurised, the head had to be skimmed anyway, and new valve guides and seals cured the oil consumption, so I may start using something a bit higher quality, especially since you suggest such a big improvement in fuel economy associated with the oil change.

  9. Nick,

    I’m the same as you, cheap oils replaced frequently. I change the 2.25d’s at 3K mile intervals and even the Mazda B2500’s oil gets changed every 9K miles despite that truck only being used for gentle motorway cruising at low rpm’s.

    Well the only ‘change’ we’ve done to Annie (the 2.25d 109″) this year is to change the engine oil from Halfords classic mineral oil (20/50) to the Halfords own 10w/40 semi synthetic. The improvement in mpg was immediately obvious and virtually all the fillups since have resulted in 2-3mpg higher than all previous fillups prior to the oil change. I’m perplexed at how it could make such a difference other than the fact Annie is used in very short stop start journeys locally so cold thick oil will have more of an impact on economy than on long journeys were the oil will have warmed up anyway. If you look through her fuelly figures here you’ll see that after fillup #35 we switched engine oil and ever since all the fillups have resulted in 28-29mpg. Before the oil change she was generally getting 25-27mpg. To be honest my wife and I are shocked at how good her economy is because in like for like driving our modern Mazda B2500 pickup is hopeless and struggles to get better than 25mpg. We don’t use the Mazda for local driving at all now, Annie is used instead.

    However the Mazda comes into its own on the motorway and has also just achieved the highest mpg figure of its 8 year life, 42mpg, and that was done on Halfords 5w/30 ‘Ford spec’ semi synthetic oil. When we first bought the Mazda we used the recommended 10w/40 mineral oil but I found it needed changing frequently and with me doing 20-30K miles a year it was becoming a pain changing oil every 5K miles so I switched to the halfords semi-synth and reduced it to 10K intervals. Then in my quest for better mpg I read that 5w/30 gave significant improvements so from about 3yrs old the B2500 has been running that and has consistently achieved 35-40mpg on its summer tyres. Not too shabby for a double cab 4×4 truck weighing 1800Kg and running on 265 wide tyres 🙂 In winter it falls to dismall lows because I swap to the BFG AT’s which are superb on the ice and snow but are dire on fuel economy but hey, better to be alive and use a bit more fuel than dead in a ditch!!

    So I personally would never run mineral again in my trucks. I’ll probably go with 10w/40 semi-synth in the 200Di, may even try the 5w/30. Despite warnings that it will shorten engine life, I’ve now done 207K miles on my Mazda 2.5TDi engine and it produces no smoke at all, burns no oil, gives impressive mid range acceleration and very impressive mpg! (Hence my statement earlier about swapping one into a 109″). On the 2.25d it does make it a little noisier and it has leaked a lot more than the thicker oils but even that is not burning oil, is pretty pokey (also done 209K miles) and is giving good mpg.

    I know many will laugh at me buying Halfords oils but to be honest I’ve had no issues with them and we generally buy them when they have their bank holiday special offers on. In one case I managed to buy 10ltrs of oil for Annie and get a Halfords professional 3/8″ drive socket set thrown in all for £30 – bargain!! 🙂

    PS. Apologies for length of posts and for asking you so many questions – it is just getting close to Ciggy being back on the road. Also your 109″ was the inspiration for me getting back into the hobby and as you use your truck daily you have genuine experience of higher mileage use which is what I value.


  10. I’d be reluctant to go thinner than 10W40 on the Tdi because the crank bearings take quite a force, but it make sense that thin oil increase fuel efficiency as they allow the engine to turn more easily.

    I always use 235/85 BFG ATs, having tried a few other tyres, so you can include that information in the mpg factors. As you can tell, I have made a few efforts to have reasonable mpg, but have a far from optimised vehicle, preferring capability and flexibility of use to economy. That’s the beauty of LRs – they’re so adaptable for different types of use and preference.

    Regarding Annie’s oil loss, remember the 12J and exhaust influence on temperatures? After the engine had been rebuilt, it used a standard 2.25 petrol exhaust. The coolant temperature would often get close to the red arcon long climbs in 4th with OD on warm days (20oC+). Over the years, oil leaks became more and more prominent from the head gasket edges, rocker gasket, brake servo vacuum pump (where a 10J’s injection pump is) and some block core plugs. It didn’t burn anything, starting was always instant and the engine had plenty of poke for a 12J. Removing the head revealed cracks in each piston crown (new AE pistons fitted during the engine rebuild). A set of new pistons was fitted along with the 2″ exhaust, and the temperature stayed stable under all conditions, even on properly hot (by UK standards, ie. 35oC or so) days. The crank case breathing and oil leaks never reoccurred. It sounds like Annie’s crank case is being pressurised by combustion gasses, and at her mileage, it could be simply age and wear of the rings and bores, or it could be a damaged head or piston.

  11. From my own experience the BFG AT’s will be costing you approx 10% mpg compared to running a more tarmac orientated tyre like my Bridgestone D689 but then you’d have to have two sets like me and swap from summer to winter which becomes a chore and not something you need worry about if mpg is not as important.

    To be honest we don’t really drive Annie with fuel economy in mind. She was bought as a second family vehicle for fun and for my wife to use locally. When I drive her I just drive for enjoyment and will often be found pushing her along the A roads at normal traffic speeds and she’s frequently been doing 60-70mph on the motorway so in reality her mpg would be a good 3-5mpg higher than it is, if we drove her more carefully. Even when thrashed she still seems to return decent mpg but to be fair she is very light compared to your 109″. Annie is probably about as light as you can get for a 109, being a truck cab with an empty bed, probably no more than 1600Kg. I’d guess your 109″ is some 200-300Kg heavier?

    Yes, Annies bottom end will need a rebuild soon. I rebuilt the head last year and while that was off I inspected the bores with a bore gauge and they were pretty good for 200K miles, some wear but not as much as I was expecting. Piston crowns were also in good shape. The oil leaks are at their worse with mineral oil or thinner semi once hot but agree that there is some crankcase pressurisation going on – that is the problem with only doing a head rebuild instead of the whole engine at the same time. The head rebuild resulted in significant increase in power almost certainly due to better compression with new valves properly ground in but this of course means the bottom end is under greater stress and most of the gaskets on the block are 30 years old and have age hardened and cracked. As soon as Ciggy is on the road I’ll be rebuilding Annies bottom end and her gearbox too which is currently syncro-less.

  12. Oh, I should point out that Annies 2.25d is not running in standard tune. I run my 2.25d’s with advanced timing.

    The factory timing for these engines is designed for longevity and quietness. Sadly this also results in lack of power such that you might as well get out and walk. The lack of power also means that you have to drive with your right foot implanted in the sheet metal which means economy is dire too.

    I manually time my engines by setting the engine timing ever so slightly advanced on the flywheel and set the pump timing advanced to a position where in normal running it runs smoke free but under acceleration it produced a black haze. This timing in conjunction with decent fuel results in a huge hike in power of the factory setting especially if used with Shell Vpower fuel which suits the high compression and advanced timing. The extra power means you can drive with your foot resting on the accelerator so mpg is dramatically increased.

    However there are BIG downsides to doing this – the engine is significantly noisier, it runs hotter (useful in winter though 😉 ) and it won’t last anywhere near as long. It is also mandatory to run semi-synth or synth oil as mineral breaks down far too quickly. A previously rebuilt 3MB 2.25d setup like this lasted me just 80K miles before snapping a crank albiet run mostly on mineral oil. Thankfully Annies is a stronger 5MB engine so will last a fair bit longer especially running semi-synth with very frequent oil changes. Having driven several 200Di LR’s now I would say Annies 2.25d is producing only marginally less power and matching their economy. The difference is that the 200Di will produce that power and last 400K miles, Annies 2.25d won’t last half as long 😉

  13. Nick, I should clarify that the above comment regarding not much difference in power and economy between Annies 2.25d and the 200Di’s I’ve tested was in terms of ‘not enough of a difference’ to warrant the expense and hassle of the conversion. Hence the reason that I want to go for the full TDi install but sadly funds are limited at the moment so will be going Di as short term measure only until I can afford intercooler and turbo rebuild etc.

    I have driven, and driven in, a couple of 200TDi’d LR’s too and the performance is astonishing. The TDi’d versions were also sigtnificantly quieter than the Di’d ones and in one example that had high quality german made sound insulation fitted it was so quiet that it was better than my modern jap truck – very impressive! My opinion therefore is that as I’m going to all the expense of doing the conversion I might as well have all the benefits and opt for the TDi.

    Anyway, I’ll leave you in peace now, sorry I got a bit carried away with the length of comments…


  14. I can see why you feel there is little point in replacing a 10J with a DI, with the DI performance increase being too small to justify the work and the increased harshness, but as you say, full Tdi performance is pretty impressive and an overdrive will be required, which will further improve mpg compared to a 10J or petrol. However, some really don’t want extra performance and just want a more frugal and reliable engine to replace a worn out 2.25, and don’t want to go to the expense and effort of fitting all the air and oil plumbing associated with the Tdi. For them a 200DI is still a good alternative.

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