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).