Back in May 2017 we purchased a Land Rover 90 – technically pre-‘Defender’. In July of last year we published the first story about it. If there’s any constant in the work we undertake here, it’s that nothing good happens fast. As per usual, time is malleable, quality isn’t.
After the accident, over 1.5 years ago now, we discovered that our Land Rover was a bit of a rust onion. As we removed parts to repair damage, we found rust. So we removed those parts. And found more rust. This kept on going until we completely disassembled the truck down to the chassis. Where we found more rust.
This is in some ways both an accurate portrayal of the issue, and an overstatement. The truck did have rust, but it was not a lemon. It was just 31 years old and not as well maintained as would have been liked, and wasn’t to the level we like to do things.
So off came each part, piece by piece, restoring where appropriate and reasonable, and replacing with new parts otherwise.
The process was painstaking. We cut out the passenger footwell and upper corners on the bulkhead, and welded in new ones, followed by an epoxy coat and primer (and soon to follow with the original Trident Green paint).
We found a completely gratuitous amount of body filler in several areas (more on that in a future entry here).
We built new wings from scratch.
We made it down to the chassis, where we found the front outriggers and rear crossmember were pickled with rust, and that the rear crossmember had been replaced once before. So we continued. We dropped the axles, removed the suspension, took off the engine and drive shafts, the exhaust, and everything else until we got down to the chassis alone.
The outriggers were cut off with new ones welded in place, and the second rear crossmember was dissected from the chassis and replaced with the third, and last one this truck will see, welded carefully with plug welds to ensure strength. Every steel part was de-rusted with a wire wheel, rusty bolts cut off in their totality, and every little detail attended to fully.
The whole chassis was then sprayed with POR15, a rust protective coating, on the exterior and will soon be filled with cavity wax in the interior.
We’ve reached an important turning point. We have shelves filled with replacement parts we acquired along the way during disassembly, and have finally begun to put pieces back together instead of taking them apart. What started off as just minor maintenance and addition of a few comforts like air conditioning ballooned into something rather more complete.
A frame-off restoration was perhaps not the intent when we started out, but the choice is not a grey one: Either do things right, or don’t do them at all.
Over the next several months the Land Rover 90 will be re-assembled, to a condition much better than we found it in. We’re excited to get back on the road soon, and we’ll post another couple of updates along the way!