02 June 2023
Trevor shares some big moments as the Defender project begins to morph into a classic truck
Need to know
Time: 6 hours
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Models: Defender 90, 110, 130.
Tools needed: General workshop tools, lifting equipment or the assistance of sufficient helpers.
Parts & costs: BLRC: tinted windscreen, LR042725, £49.75; windscreen seal, LR056278 £13.60; quarterlights seal kit, LR012213, £36.YRM Metal Solutions: rear lower body mounting bracket (rear crossmember to tub) pair, part 373, £116; inner bracket rear subframe angle bracket x3, part 426, £4.20 each; front of rear body mount bracket pair, part 372, £83; Hi Cap support bracket x2, part 374, £33.12 each; stainless steel bulkhead screen mounts kit, part 154, £90.
• Disconnect the battery before work begins.
• Ensure cables and hoses are secure and protected from sharp objects.
• Take care to avoid sparks and naked lights when working around the fuel tank and pump.
• Always stand clear of suspended loads, and do not work beneath them.
• When lowering the body, or when checking positioning before lowering, always stay clear of the body – never work or inspect from beneath the suspended body.
Contacts: BLRC Ltd, blrcvehiclespecialist.co.uk, Tel: 02897 511763
YRM Metal Solutions Ltd, yrmit.co.uk, Tel: 01388 488150
The breakthrough moment with any Land Rover rebuild, for me, is starting up the engine for the first time, especially when major work has been done to it. I heard the Td5 engine running in its original home (the donor 2004 Discovery 2), though much work has been carried out since, in particular, changing the wiring harness from the Discovery type to the Defender version and re-piping the cooling system for a Defender engine bay.
Pleasingly, the engine started up quickly and easily and the Defender is now capable of moving under its own power. The clutch has been bled and the transmission is all working as it should. This new driveability is significant because I was able to drive the vehicle onto the trailer and transport it to the paint shop to fit the freshly painted, but bulky, HCPU (High Capacity Pick Up) rear body tub there.
Completing the rear bulkhead
In the last part, the lower areas of the rear bulkhead were reinforced by bolting in new galvanised structural sections which included the chassis and seat belt mounting areas. Now, less structurally important electrolytic corrosion damage to the lower B-post area has also been dealt with, and received a coat of Rutland Red paint to match the front bulkhead and seat box (Portofino Red was previously mentioned in error).
Resplendent: The fully repaired rear bulkhead has now been painted Rutland Red with silver cappings, in readiness to be fitted to the Defender 110’s rolling chassis.
Bulkhead mountings: Lower part of rear bulkhead (reinforced with galvanised sections) will locate to these new mounting brackets on the chassis using bolts through slotted holes.
Taking shape: The rear bulkhead is a key component for the Defender chassis cab and it has now been fitted to the four chassis brackets and to the seat box.
Fitting the HCPU rear body tub
For such a large body component, fitting a 110 HCPU tub is a very easy bolt-on job. The brackets for the chassis were bolted in place beforehand, comprising: two rear lower body brackets (rear crossmember to tub), three inner rear subframe angle brackets and two brackets for the front of the rear body.
The two different types of rear bracket are fixed to the rear crossmember with M8 bolts, while the front of rear body brackets attach to the chassis outriggers with M10 bolts. The tub is simply lowered onto the chassis in line with the brackets and bolted in place. Four M10 bolts with nuts fix the ‘Hi Cap support brackets’ to the front of body brackets. At the rear, seven M10 bolts with washers and spring washers fit through each of the brackets and screw in to captive nuts at the rear of the tub.
Other than this bolting exercise, the only other jobs to carry out are fixing the fuel filler neck to the HCPU and pulling the chassis wiring harness through to the rear light clusters, ready to fit the rear lights.
Safest way: Rather than risk damage to the newly painted tub collecting it with the trailer, the Defender was instead trailered to the paint shop to fit the tub there.
Rare salvage: The HCPU rear body tub, salvaged from a scrapper, was in sound structural condition and only needed painting in Rutland Red. Interior surfaces will be treated later.
Checked before fitting: The rear tub was first lowered onto protective wood blocks to confirm all the mounting points on the body and chassis were matched and would align correctly.
Simple to attach: The blocks were removed and the tub lowered onto the chassis. Under the front of the tub, M10 bolts hold it to the chassis bracket on each side.
Robustly engineered: The outer rear of tub chassis brackets are fixed to the rear crossmember using four long M8 bolts, then the tub is held to the brackets by two M10 bolts.
Important support: The three angle brackets are fixed to the rear crossmember lugs with two M8 x25 bolts, and one M10 bolt into the bottom of the tub.
No stress, no strain: To get the tub perfectly centred on the chassis, in relation to the cab, some packing washers were inserted, rather than forcing the brackets out of shape.
Building up again: With the rear tub fully secured to the chassis, the ancillary parts are re-fitted, including tailgate catches, a pressed number plate and rear lamp fittings.
Proud moment: This nice old original Land Rover badge was saved and refitted to the tailgate using the original screw holes that had been drilled at the factory.
Wiring back: The chassis loom to the rear lights was from a hard top model, so it was extended slightly using soldered and sealed joints to reach into the HCPU tub.
Taking shape: With the HCPU tub fitted, the vehicle is now beginning to actually look like a Land Rover again – it’s an exciting stage of the project.
Fitting the truck cab
All the glass, comprising the windscreen, rear quarterlights and the sliding rear window had been removed from the truck cab prior to it being prepared and painted. The windscreen was cracked and had a perished seal, as did the quarterlights, so all required renewal. The rear sliding window was typical of every Land Rover pick-up I have driven, in that the sliding glass rattled in the frame, the window channels being in poor condition.
So the sliding window assembly was removed and will be converted to a single, fixed piece of glass that won’t rattle annoyingly.
Removing all of the glass makes the truck cab so much lighter to handle and there is no risk of fracturing any of the glass as the cab flexes while moving and fitting it. For this reason, it is best to have the glazing replaced after the truck cab section is bolted down in place.
New seals between the bottom of the truck cab and the front bulkhead (and often the rear bulkhead) are advisable, although they present challenges in getting the cab correctly bolted down.
Waiting for a lid: The front ladder bar on the tub will be removed and a new seal fitted to the top of the bulkhead where the windscreen frame will meet.
Classic scheme: The truck cab has been finished in Limestone (paint code LRC007), as I’m going for the early One Ten look – Limestone over colour (red in this case).
No jiggling required: Without any glass, the freshly painted cab is easily lifted on by two persons and, encouragingly, it mated to both the front and rear bulkheads perfectly.
Too far apart: The new seal between bulkhead and screen frame may cause bolt-hole alignment to be out when aligning bulkhead-to-screen mounts, until seal is compressed.
Good looks will endure: The new bulkhead screen mounts (supplied with fitting kit) are manufactured from stainless steel, so won’t suffer corrosion like the original versions.
Not always obvious: Land Rover bulkhead screen mounts are handed for the left and right sides. These are helpfully labelled LH and RH inside to avoid confusion when fitting.
Only moderate force: To correctly align bolt holes with the threaded holes in the mounts (ensuring gaskets are aligned), the windscreen frame was clamped to compress the seal.
Do not overtighten: After entering into the threads, the M8 stainless steel bolts are tightened with a 13mm ratchet spanner, pulling the screen frame into alignment with the bulkhead.
Scope for adjustment: When satisfactory alignment of the rear of the cab to the rear bulkhead has been achieved, the truck cab side fixings are now tightened down.
Firming the structure: Four rear fixing bolts are tightened down with a 16mm socket and wrench, again continually checking the panel alignment to ensure a good mating line.
Glazing: Now that there will be no further flexing and moving of the truck cab, a new tinted windscreen with a new seal has been fitted, as have the rear quarterlights.
The very early One Ten Land Rovers, including pick-ups, HCPUs, hard tops and station wagons, all had a colour scheme of Limestone paint on the upper bodywork, with the lower body in a contrasting colour such as green, red, blue, brown and so on. The windscreen frame and the split door tops (with their distinctive sloped sliding glass) were in Limestone too. It is a unique and classic look, which I admire greatly. This is exactly what I want for this HCPU, so all of the remaining lower bodywork has been prepared and painted in Rutland Red. The split door tops will be painted in Limestone, as will some smaller parts, such as the rear light panels and the ex-military light mounts.
Repairing the damage: Bonnet has been painted Rutland Red (paint code LRC607). Front wheelarch trims have also been painted red to deal with age-related marks and imperfections.
Recycled: The plastic headlight surrounds and the mirror backs were faded grey with age so, rather than discard them, a coat of paint invigorates them for a new life.
Keeping chilled: The Td5 radiator surround differs from the earlier examples in that it is vented at the bottom to allow for additional cooling of the radiator-intercooler pack.
Almost there: When completed with all the detail bodywork sections added, plus good wheels, this will look like a classic truck that stands out from the crowd.
In part 15: The rest of the bodywork will be fitted, including the doors with door tops painted in Limestone to match the truck cab. This, with seats and lights fitted, will complete the Land Rover into a working pick-up truck. However, some time will need to be spent on getting the cab-body-door alignment as good as possible so that the appearance is optimum and the door shut is excellent.
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