As we move into the Land Rover Restoration Process, all important decisions have been made and a work order written which is broken down line by line. This provides the restoration technicians the plan, and time, to tackle the restoration from bumper to bumper. As we move through the restoration process inevitably small issues will surface and these will be added to the work order line by line to keep an accurate record of exactly what was repaired & refurbished.
As the vehicle is disassembled each and every part is indexed as coming from your vehicle, inspected, tested, cleaned, repaired or replaced, and made ready to be bolted back into place. All rusty parts are sand blasted and either galvanized or painted according to the customers' budget, and the location of the part on the vehicle. While many parts can simply be cleaned & painted we will find many that require some level of a decision to be made - this decision, would have been discussed in the restoration planning process when discussing the overall budget. Should we come upon parts that need to be replaced The 4x4 Center has partnerships with parts suppliers around the globe that help us source Original Equipment parts where possible and aftermarket parts that we know work well or that provide an upgrade from the original part. We do our very best to spend our customers' time and money wisely when restoring these vehicles. Our experience after many restorations has proven which manufacturers provide the best functioning, and most cost effective, parts available.
The body on your Land Rover is primarily made of Aluminum, which technically does not rust. However, aluminum does corrode and areas where the aluminum makes contact with steel, the aluminum corrosion can be severe because of the chemical reaction between the dissimilar metals. In some cases the corrosion can be fixed, but if bad enough, may warrant replacement. In the event body parts need to be replaced we first look for new, replacement parts. As the age of a vehicle increases, so does the likelihood that we will need to find used but better parts that can be restored. A paint job is only as good as the preparation. Nine times out of ten we strip the body to bare metal prior to painting. This allows us to make sure that poor previous paint & repairs are removed, which allows important details such as the body spot welds to stand out as they would have done when the Defender was new.
Defenders have been produced with a variety of petrol (gas) and diesel engines through the years. All NAS Defenders came with the Rover V8. Most gray market Defenders that end up in the USA are either carbureted V8’s, 2.5 normally aspirated diesel, or TDI diesel models. The common gearboxes are the LT77 or R380 and all Defenders use the LT230 transfer box. Each mechanical component is assessed to see whether it needs to be replaced, rebuilt, or serviced. Frequently, installing a rebuilt component such as a gearbox is a more cost effective solution than us repairing the component. When rebuilt units are not available we do it ourselves. Restorations are always going to include new brakes, brake lines, fuel lines, repacked wheel bearings, new seals, gaskets, etc.
British vehicles don’t have the best reputation for electrical & wiring systems but the Defender is fairly simple and the issues we see, are most frequently caused by corrosion or poorly added accessories. Some of the wiring harnesses are no longer available to purchase so we rebuild the original harnesses. There are numerous electrical upgrades we can add to your defender as we restore it such as LED lighting and upgraded audio systems.
Interiors are built to the customers' specifications. Seats can be re-upholstered in leather and headliners retrimmed in Alcantara if the customer prefers. Seats really need to be based on the original defender seat as they have a unique way of allowing access to the under seat lockers. Soundproofing has to be done in such a way that the fundamental design of the defender is taken into account. Just gluing layers of sound deadening into the floors of the firewall is going to trap a lot of moisture & cause corrosion. Like wise, sticking dynomat on every flat surface will just look like a mess as many areas inside the Defender are exposed painted metal surfaces. When we install sound deadening and heat shielding we do it as part of the whole restoration process thinking about how to best incorporate from the start, not leaving it as an after thought at the end.
The frame & the firewall are the backbone of your Defender. They are both made of steel. A galvanized frame offers the best defense against future rust as your vehicle is restored. Whether you have a Land Rover Defender 90, 110, or 130, The 4x4 Center can source the right frame for your vehicle and put the woes of rust behind. Now, some people love the appearance of the freshly galvanized frame and others do not; painting the galvanized frame offers additional protection and can be done if you prefer. The firewall almost certainly has rust in the foot wells. If this is fairly localized we will repair it. If it’s spread to the upper firewall it may be more cost effective to completely replace the firewall. Prior to being painted the firewall is galvanized and prepped for paint. This is a very important step as the galvanizing flows into all the cavities and seams of the firewall, which is where the rust typically starts. In addition these added layers of paint, we put plastic gaskets between the two metals to separate them, further reducing the propensity for the two metals to corrode in the future. Waxoyling the cavities is the final step against corrosion.
Many Defenders arrive to us with vague steering. This can be caused by a number of issues but, if the Land Rover is being restored it will always get new bushings, track rod ends, springs, and shocks. Nine times out of ten this takes care of the majority of handling issues. Even for standard applications, many customers choose to add a 2” lift at this time, which allows slightly bigger tires and adds visual appeal to the vehicle.
Learn to get the most out of your Land Rover at The 4×4 Center Driving School. Check out the challenges that await you at our 1,100 acre facility in Bolton, Vermont. Use one of our vehicles. It’s a fun, educational experience you’ll never forget.
The 4x4 Center is a World Class Land Rover Restoration facility located in South Burlington Vermont, known for North East Land Rover Repair and East Coast Land Rover Restoration and, is in no way affiliated with Jaguar Land Rover of North America.