Ownership Verified: I'll have some off - 1990 Land Rover Discovery Bobtail

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Welcome, one and all, to the saga that is - Quick Release II - Slower Release. Are you sitting comfortably?

You may remember that in 2017 I fitted a cheapy quick release kit to the bobtail and that later the MOT guys told me to remove it, there was too much slack in the fitting. I knew before getting it that I really wanted an Optimill quick release boss but the price just made my eyes water a bit too much. Like the Slickshift kit above, I've decided to just get on with these long-awaited upgrades before they become too difficult to find or something else demands my monies. So I bought the Discovery quick release kit.

I bought the boss kit from a third party as it came with free delivery rather than the £10 delivery I would have to pay on top of the £190 purchase price from Optimill themselves. Mistake. It took a week and a half to get here, no doubt because the seller had to buy it in from Optimill. How this all works is way over my head because surely someone is losing profit somewhere but anyway, it was here. I had checked the splines on the steering column and confirmed that the matched the boss, the number of splines isn't actually listed on the Optimill site but 36 seems to be standard for a Discovery. So I tried to fit it. It didn't fit.

A bit of measuring showed that the splined shaft was way too big to go in the hole, despite it having the correct number of splines. Right. Apparently the 200tdi Discovery 1 has a different shaft to that of later D1 and D2 models. Informed the seller who got in touch with Optimill and their less than enthusiastic response was that I needed a 36 spline Defender boss. Had they mentioned this on the site I would've been much better off. The seller arranged for a swap and last Tuesday I was in possession of a 36 spline Defender quick release boss. I immediately made all the measurements I could to ensure it would fit, they came up good and it went onto the column nicely.

Despite that hassle I think I've done quite well. Not only is this boss shallower than the Discovery one (it's actually shallower than the one I had before and makes it easier to reach the stalks) but it's cheaper, so I got a partial refund. As I said, it fitted, but the story doesn't end there. The nut I had on the column original was 27mm AF, a very large nut considering the small thread diameter which we will come to shortly. This nut was fine with my old boss but the recessed part of the new boss is barely bigger than outer diameter of this nut, so there was no way to tighten it. I needed a new nut.

New nut? Easy, right? Look up the part or try the existing nut with bolts to find the thread. Brought the nut inside and it threaded onto an M14 bolt. Nice, that's a standard LR part so I'll order one. It arrives and doesn't thread onto the column, clearly binding up. At this point I'm very confused! The other size I can see is 1/2" UNF, which doesn't seem quite right but as my dad was passing by Ye Olde hardware shop that sells nuts and bolts individually, I sent him in with the old nut to grab a 1/2" version.

Matey tests the old nut and confirms that it isn't 1/2" UNF, so I get my thread gauges out and the column actually comes out to 9/16-18, or 9/16 UNF. To Matey's surprise, the old nut threads perfectly onto a 9/16 UNF bolt. I apparently have the first M14 and 9/16 UNF combination nut he's ever seen. I now understand what has happened here, I replaced the steering column in 2019 with one from another Disco 200tdi and it seems that my original column was metric while this replacement is imperial. The nut was close enough that it made itself fit with little effort and became the holy grail of combination nuts. It wasn't loose and wobbly when fitted to either thread, really quite impressive. Anyway. My dad picked up a 9/16 UNF plain nut for me, 50p.

So fast forward to this morning and I have all the right parts. I saved the lock washer that came with the genuine LR (and rather expensive) M14 nut and with my new UNF nut I was ready. You've read the story so let's get into the pictures.

The column looking forlorn without a wheel. That's 9/16 UNF by the way, I knew that all along.


The two parts of the boss joined together. This boss has holes to fit an included roll pin to engage the self-cancelling collar on the stalk cluster thingy. Discovery one didn't have this but it was the least of my troubles. The two sprung locking pins are shown.


The base of the boss slid onto the shaft, it actually fits. The three pins are additional locating pins so you can't put the wheel on upside-down. Top pin should be central, which it is. There was a bit of confusion as the steering lock is slightly off-centre.


You can see the roll pin engaging the plastic ring for the self-cancelling. It's only just engaging but it pulls up when the nut is tightened. I took the broken cowling off a long time ago, it just got in the way.


Nut on and tight, with the lock washer biting in to the aluminium. I dunno if it's necessary as I didn't have one before but it's the standard part.


Wheel on. I didn't have any black machine screws, the ones I had used previously had heads that were really too small and the ones that come with the Optimill kit are countersunk screws so I just went with this button head screws I had. They're silver but whatever, the wheel isn't even real Sparco I don't think...


After a test drive to confirm the straight ahead position is right, the cap goes on. Mostly straight. As the horn button is on the stalk there's no need for messing around with wiring and this never had an airbag so that's not a factor either.


Very happy with the result, I no longer have to take a screwdriver with me to fit the wheel every time I want to drive it but still have the theft deterrent of no steering wheel.

I'd really like to fit a Defender transfer box next...
 
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Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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My bodge to get working reverse lights again didn't work properly from day 1, but completely stopped working once I fitted the short-shift kit. This annoyed me because although they aren't part of the MOT, I like working lights. The reverse switch sits on the side of the gearbox, hard to reach in a 300tdi Disco where the tunnel was designed for it but almost impossible to reach from above when the tunnel is mismatched. I was able to just reach enough to find out that the cable was broken, probably from flapping around down there.

I got a replacement and fortunately access is a little easier from below, it's still a long reach around the exhaust and crossmember but you can actually get to the thing to unscrew it with a 19mm spanner.



After swapping it I needed to tidy up the cable and stop it breaking again, I still need the little adapter cable to go from the moulded plug to the spade terminals and this is the best I could come up with. it's tied to the handbrake cable so should hopefully stop it moving and not strain the crimp on those old female spade connectors too much.



Then I took it for a drive, because I could. First proper drive with the new wheel boss too, which is very nice and solid.


I wasn't satisfied with just one photo.


I really need to get the front winch tray painted...
 

RdKetchup

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Fix reversing lights, doesn't take picture of working reversing light.

Y_real_son.gif


I'm surprised the reverse lights aren't part of MOT, that's the type of thing that can easily be a factor in an accident with a pedestrian walking behind your vehicle.
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Fix reversing lights, doesn't take picture of working reversing light.

View attachment 3561768

Happy now? :tease:


OK so the sun makes them hard to see but I assure you that they are on.

I'm surprised the reverse lights aren't part of MOT, that's the type of thing that can easily be a factor in an accident with a pedestrian walking behind your vehicle.

I don't understand it either, I absolutely agree and wanted them fixed properly. Anything that can potentially see the lights is likely to come off worse if I reverse into it. :ROFLMAO:

The black paint looks awful in this photo, rear door from Keely looks decent though and the outline of the old Superleggera badge makes me chuckle. Got some new stickers too.
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Act I

I apparently didn't mention it last year but I noticed that the 30A fuse for the electric fan was blowing and I wasn't sure why. It hasn't ever been warm enough to trigger the fan, it only did that in the summer of 2018 when it was very hot. I tested it last year and it struggled to spin up until I pumped extra juice into it (no doubt full of crud), however it seemed fine after that.

Now it's summer and I'm driving it (didn't drive much last summer as I was fixing the transfer linkage and brakes), I'm a bit paranoid about that fan again. The last thing I want to do is cook this engine like I cooked Keely's lump. The fan uses a 2-stage temp sensor in the top coolant hose, a switch to select either stage or disable the fan and a 30A relay. There's a little box in the engine bay that presumably just commons the two negative signal connections to go to the battery.

The fan has it's own direct feed from the battery, via a 30A fuse and the aforementioned relay.

I've been working on building a bypass button, similar to the type you can buy as a starter bypass button for engine building. It's based around a 40A starter switch and the idea is it's man enough so I can use it to replace any relay and trigger that circuit manually, as well as bypassing anything else with lower current. Well, I haven't bought the thick twin core cable I need yet so I had to come up with another solution instead of switching the fan directly. This was to bypass the temp sensor using a spare relay, a Makita battery with USB adapter fitted and a 5V to 12V step booster. It just allowed me to remove the terminals from the sensor (which are spade terminals, fortunately) and fit them to the relay, then trigger it via the Makita supply. I suppose I could've just made a wire link but such a simple solution didn't occur to me.

This is the wiring on the temp sensor, by the way:



The switch is the black one bottom-left with the green/red/black wires (taken last year before making the new console):



Act II

Anyway the fan worked, although it sounded a bit rough. I had fitted the 30A resettable fuse I had bought last year and it didn't trip, so I don't get it. At the moment I don't have anything to indicate when the fan should be on or any way to run it manually to clear it after driving through water/mud, so I want to add both. If I replace the switch with an illuminated one it should light up when the temp sensor closes the circuit. :unsure:

I wanted to take the fan apart just to give it a rinse out with contact cleaner. I've never taken the fan apart or even out before but it had 4 screws on the back that appeared to hold on the back cover. Seems simple enough? No. The screws hold the motor + blade to the plastic shroud, with 2 small aluminium pieces with threaded holes that fall out once you remove the screws. Now I have to remove the entire fan...

Simple enough, just two brackets that Pete fabricated. I'll fully dismantle it then. Remove the circlip on the blade and it doesn't want to budge. Screw it, it's going back together. Turns out it's a Spal fan, couldn't find much online about servicing them.

Act III

The little circlip was a bastard, I don't have circlip pliers small enough so just had to manhandle it and naturally it pinged off. I couldn't find it anywhere so used an E clip, only to find the circlip on the side of the fan motor housing. I should've known...



I just put it all back together and said fuck it, I ran the fan for a while and it was fine. I've also left the resettable fuse in place for now, due to its size I just have to leave the cover off the fusebox which is a bit annoying.

Act IV

After that fiasco I finally put the missing labels on the console.

 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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I ordered a Raptor kit tonight, time to tidy the flaking old army black paint up a bit with a fine texture roller coat.
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Paint it, black.

Decided to tidy up the bobtail before the upcoming Late Brake Show Tour event that's going to be right outside my town on the 11th September. I liked the rough look but with paint peeling off everywhere it was getting a bit much. About time the rear door matched too...

So first thing was to tidy up the front winch mount. I've wanted to sort that ever since I photoshopped it for my wall mounted photo plate. Sanding down, Rust-oleum direct to rust black primer and then 'truck bed liner' spray that goes on with a nice texture. I fitted the new stainless security screws that I've had for years, there are new stainless square nuts behind too. I also painted the front part and front side bars of the roll cage, but I don't have any pictures.



Next up was sanding the body for Raptor, not a small task. Some areas went through to bare metal, especially where I removed the side strips. The top layer of paint was very chalky, the military satin black that comes in 5 gallons for £20 type. I sanded back as much as I could, there's definitely a stage where it looks worse before it looks better.





Two weeks later, Raptor time. After applying it has to sit for 3 days without getting wet, even with it being fairly dry at the moment it would get morning dew on it if left outside so I had to find a way to get it in the garage. Buying some cheap steel wheels and removing the crusty tyres was the answer, it dropped the back end just enough to fit in.

I sprayed the bare metal areas with U-pol acid etch #8, used u-pol degreaser and even tack cloths before applying the top coat. I decided to apply with a roller instead of spraying as that's a messy job and I would have to do a lot more masking. I didn't take into account that the rollers might fall apart...



Everywhere got 2 coats and I slapped a load of spare coating on the roof to help protect it and seal a couple of areas where I've had leaks before. I removed the masking as soon as I was done so it didn't fully cure and permanently attach the tape, or require a knife to cut it free.




How it looks close up, with the masking still on. Good from far but lots of little bits in it.


Photoshop of how the arches would look if I coated those. They stand out now so I reckon I'll do it. I also forgot to do the bits under the headlights so it makes sense and I've ordered some mixing cups so I can do small amounts from the last bottle.


I'll see how it turns out, it might not be perfect but it will be better than before.
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Time to finish this story. Next job was to paint the arches, in the meantime I also managed to scratch the front edge of the bonnet so would need to touch that up too*. I tried to apply what I had learnt from painting the bodywork, so mixed up smaller amounts of paint, didn't hang around to let the roller stick, finished with a single roll in one direction and changed the foam roller more regularly.

Did it work? Well, yes! Mostly.



Cage was next to be painted. When the sun came out the roller lines were pretty visible on the doors, they've faded a bit since. I cleaned some acid etch overspray off the front number plate with Novus plastic polish. It's held on with big rivets and it wasn't worth removing it.


It ain't perfect but it's on there.


The next night or something I basically did the rest, refitting and touching up the front bumper and side bars, refitting the big wheels, emptying the back and finally pumping the front tyres back up to full pressure, before taking it for a little test drive. The test drive was more to cool me down since it was a warm night and I was melting. The cordless DeWalt compressor made short work of this, I wasn't going to rig up my bigger 12V compressor at this time of the evening.


Interior was reassembled the next night and I went out for a longer test drive to find a photo spot. Found a nice spot. The Photoshop content-aware fill tool is great for removing litter from photos.
IMG_1522_P_2_S1920.jpg


I did a quick walk around and the fan even came on, proving that my work a couple of weeks ago did the job!


Not a bad place to be really.


Final touch-ups before the Late Brake Show Tour show on Saturday, a couple of missed paint spots and I realised that I didn't have any FG stickers on this. Fortunately I had some fairly old FG stickers from 2018 and they're stuck for now. I have a Smith & Sniff OTSOT sticker to apply.


Then I got to show it off on Saturday at the TLBS event about 10 minutes from my house. By pure luck a Disco 2 parked beside me and there was a Range Rover there too. Looks amazing from this distance, I was just inside the gate so I have no idea how much attention it got, I did see one bloke taking a picture of the interior though. Had a good chat with the Disco 2 owners and the owner of a 50th anniversary V8 Defender that he bought from Richard Hughes, the drummer in Keane.

DSC_6086_P_S1920.jpg


I had hoped to get the dashboard signed by Jonny, Rich and Edd but a combination of it being much busier than their Kent event and the display field being much more disconnected meant this didn't happen. Oh well.

Another rust spot on the roll cage has decided to weep and create a rusty streak so maybe I'll go back and spray that.
 

Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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By the way @Matt2000 , you should go visit Rufford Ford with this. :D
Might be a winter roadtrip, 60 miles each way will still be the furthest I've driven this so still want to sort the gearing out first. :LOL:
 

Matt2000

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Since 2017 I've been wondering how I could re-add an intercooler to the bobtail. The large intercooler that I had fitted to Keely was originally fitted to this truck but was removed to fit the larger 8274 winch, I was thinking of ways that I could put it back. I really liked the idea of having it above the engine, Subaru style, but that would either block the oil filler or require silly long flexible hoses.

Anyway, it wasn't until I was talking to the guys with the blue Disco 2 in the picture above that it occurred to me that I hadn't checked if a standard intercooler would still fit. If it did I don't understand why it wasn't refitted by the original builder but that's beside the point. I still had the original intercooler from Keely (yeah it was removed 7 years ago or something, I don't throw things away quickly) so grabbed all of the spare silicone hoses I had and set about cobbling it together.

Surprisingly, it fitted with the winch solenoid pack in place. The only snag was due to the pipes on a 300tdi intercooler being in a different place to those on a 200tdi version, hence one corner of the top panel sticking up in the second photo below. I ground out a section with my Dremel but it got hot and the angry end wasn't cutting well so I gave up and slapped it together with 3 bolts so I could get on to pipes.

Even more surprisingly, the pipes I had were suitable to hook everything up and with minimal persuasion. The whole pipe setup is actually a lot more rigid than it was before and there's almost no risk of pipes popping off under boost. Which is nice.




This particular intercooler isn't in great condition, I need to see if I can tease some of the bent find back in to shape, however I did notice a difference in torque on my first test drive. I could get a brand new one but they're surprisingly expensive, I suppose that's due to them being all aluminium. Maybe this compensates for the gearing, which would justify the cost.

Also, I mounted the Fire Safety Stick that I bought at the Late Brake Show Tour... show. You can see a demo of the stick here but it's basically a flare that emits a jet of fire supressing gas for 50 seconds. I had a small fire extinguisher mounted between the seats within easy reach, for this thing though I decided to put it up front as it's easy to reach and it fills a space on the dash that I didn't otherwise know how to fill. I added a little foam pad to stop it rattling.

Also note the 52mm blanking cap with LR badge, that's 3D printed and the badge is from the old steering wheel centre I had in Keely.



Finally, I learnt of a new product out from a company called Max Speed Technology, their DC1 kit.

1.jpg

http://www.rc-mst.com/product_car_info.php?class_sn=25&class_sn2=151&sn=3618

Be patient with their site, it's crappy and slow. This is something I've been waiting for, a 1/10th scale Discovery 1 body. It's lexan so it would essentially have to be turned into a hardbody if I wanted to bobtail it and chop it about, I'm prepared to do that and have already made Photoshop artists impressions. Otherwise I could just make a Keely replica to celebrate the old times. I really need to get some wheels this size for Bob too, I'm going to scale from a side profile picture to see how big they would be.

Edit: By my maths they scale to almost exactly 33 inches, which is what I already have on the bobtail. I don't know why they look too small. I still really want 35s...
 
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Matt2000

An Unfortunate Discovery
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Bobtail is in for the MOT tomorrow, I went out for a long drive today just to identify and strange issues and charge the battery up. Aside from having to wiggle a rear fog light bulb holder to make it work the only snag was with the windscreen.

Since painting the bobtail and in particular spraying some parts of the roll cage in situ, the windscreen glass has had a certain roughness about it from overspray. You could hear it when the wipers swept across and it tended to hold onto water. Not sure if it would fail the MOT but I wanted to sort it anyway. I thought that a run over with glass clear and an magic eraser might shift it but nope, so I dug out my old G3 clay mitt. It's a bit crusty as I haven't used it for a couple of years but those things are just amazing.

Using more glass cleaner as a lubricant and very little pressure, the roughness of the overspray just disappeared and the glass was perfect.

Fingers crossed for the MOT, I had no issues last year and nothing has changed, I now have a proper removable wheel so that should sail through without them even noticing it.
 
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Matt2000

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Gah, failed on a 'loose' wheel bearing. Will investigate, hopefully it just needs re-setting. I have plenty of lock washers but only one actual bearing kit. Picked up some minor rust on the rear crossmember too so I'll get underneath and give it a good seeing to at some point.

Didn't notice anything when driving yesterday or when driving to/from the MOT station but the flex in those tyres can mask things.

Edit: I took the hub assembly apart and the bearing isn't happy but it did tighten up using the standard torque figures, I might get away with it and then I can change it at my leisure. If it doesn't work all it has cost me is 45 minutes and a lock washer. There was no sign of any blue grease so maybe I haven't been in here since buying the truck.

While digging out my circlip pliers I found a matching bearing kit so I can change the inner and outer bearing and race without having to buy anything. I think I have some spare drive flange gaskets too because this one is toast.
 
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Matt2000

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I hate brake calipers. Somehow my experience over the last 18 months has made drum brakes look reliable and easy to work on.

The failed wheel bearing was tightened up and it got me through the MOT despite it looking quite nasty in there, it didn't loosen up at all do I did one other drive on it before getting parts in to change the taper roller bearings. I've probably covered the process before but taking a Land Rover hub apart and removing the wheel bearings is usually quite simple. The most annoying thing with this process is that the hub is bolted to the brake disc.

To remove the hub and disc assembly you of course need to remove the brake caliper. Not usually an issue but the lower of the two caliper bolts decided that it didn't want to play. After smashing my hand into the floor of the Discovery as it came free, I unscrewed the bolt and noticed that it seemed much shorted than the first bolt I had removed. It had broken inside the hole. An M12 fine thread bolt.

I took everything apart and ordered an M12 fine tap, along with a new stub axle as when I got everything apart I saw that it was badly pitted. I definitely haven't been in here before. Drilling out the bolt wasn't easy as it's extremely tough, through luck more than judgement I managed to get through with only one broken twist drill and didn't go off to the side and damage the thread. I didn't have the right size drill for the M12 taper tap but I did a bit of sideways cutting to reveal the original thread. I did try to peel the old bolt away from the inside of the hole but it really didn't want to play.

With lots of swearing the tap got through and cleaned up the thread. This simplified version doesn't represent what really happened over the last few weeks but it's good enough.



I now have a new stub axle to fit and have replaced the bearing races inside the hub, I didn't want to leave the new stub axle open to the elements tonight so fitted a cover I 3D printed. Annoyingly, after emptying the CV grease out (most of it went into the plastic bag shown above) I realised that some oil was leaking from the axle into the swivel housing and slowly refilling it, I'll get as much as I can out before refitting the halfshaft and CV and I suppose it doesn't really hurt to top up the axle with fresh oil after this is done.

All of this caused by a split rubber cover, amazing what trouble a split rubber can cause. :neutral:

Hopefully I'll have this done tomorrow (weather permitting) as I really miss driving this thing. As mentioned last week, the MX-5 isn't the best thing for winter driving!
 

Matt2000

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Time for another update! After the last update I tried to finish off the rebuild of the hub but found that I didn't have the correct inner hub seals... A week later, I finally got some of the correct parts through so could finish it. Nothing particularly interesting about putting it together, the caliper bolt torqued up nicely so the thread inside the swivel housing was fine.

Refilling with grease is never a fun job, it comes in a packet with a triangular point and you snip that off to squeeze the grease inside. The grease has to make some turns before it gets inside so if you don't form a seal between the packet and the hole it all comes back out.

Anyway that was all done on Saturday so yesterday I could take it out for a drive. It's been pretty wet recently so the roads are covered in shite, it was clean when I left but it's covered now. The first place I went was to drive one of the local fords, it's quite deep at the moment. Then I just enjoyed bumbling around the countryside for a bit, until I stopped to check the fuel level and saw that the gauge was right at E.

I know the float gauge I fitted isn't totally accurate and that there was fuel left in the tank, however I've never actually ran it out so don't know how far down the pickup goes or if there is any crap in the bottom of the tank. As it turns out, I was probably fine as I only managed to get 32 litres in.

 
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Matt2000

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After working on and driving the Miata, Friday and today were days for driving the Disco. Nowhere in particular, really just to nice places of the countryside where I could walk off a bit more of Christmas. The roads are still a mess, which I don't mind and pulling over where it's muddy to let cars pass on single track roads makes me look good. :p

Thought a photo would be nice instead of just words all of the time.

 
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