Back to the Defender 90 Section
1994 NAS Defender 90 Soft top
Numerous upgrades, Service and more
This low mile Defender 90 has come to us from Maryland. The owner wanted a few changes and upgrades to make it better, so he sent it to ECR for expert work. The first step with any Defender that comes to ECR is for us to do a full evaluation of the vehicle. We then supply that information to the owner so that he can pick and choose what he does and does not want done. The D90 had a number of service items that needed to be taken care of, and a host of upgrades that the customer wanted, such as adding Air Conditioning, a new sound system with iPod capabilities, a new upgraded soft top and much more.
Once we completed the evaluation on the 90 we found a lot of things that needed to be addressed to get this 90 back into top shape. Most of the things that needed work were because of previous poor installs of equipment. Above you can see that a previous owner installed the radio head unit into the upper dash. They then relocated the hazards witch, fog light switch and the clock to the fuse panel. This arrangement doesn't work on a number of levels. #1 The center dash of a D90 is known for getting wet in heavy rains, so putting your radio there makes for a short lived unit. Yup, you guessed it this CD player no longer works. #2. We will be installing Air Conditioning into this D90, so the location of the clock and hazard switch has to move as it will be covered by the new AC system. So to solve these issues we will be returning the upper dash section to factory stock, and moving the radio into the Tuffy center cubby box that the D90 already has, where it should be.
This Defender has really low miles, about 26,000 miles. The good news is that it hasn't been driven much in the last ten years. The bad news... it hasn't been driven much in the last ten years. As we started to remove the poor wiring for the old stereo from the 90 we found a large mouse nest behind the dash. Not only did the mice take up residence in the dash of the 90...
The little rats decided it would be great fun to chew the insulation off the wires behind the dash. So we will be checking every wire in the dash and making repairs as needed to get the wiring safe and secure again. Its a good lesson to learn. If you park your Rover for long periods of time, get a hungry cat, or put some rodent poison in areas where mice might make a home. It will save you money in repairs and damage to your Rover.
The next step is to install the AC system. Above you can see we have made the needed changes to the EFI wiring to relocate the EFI computer to the side of the bulkhead and arrange the relays so that once the AC unit goes into place it can all be serviced. You can also see above that we have started to remove all the really nasty home done wiring that was added to this D90. Bare wires were wrapped with masking tape to make connections and it is really an electrical melt down waiting to happen.
In the front of the D90 we have installed the rest of the AC system, adding the new condenser, fan, filter drier and engine driven compressor. Once the dash goes back together we will get the new system charged, leak tested and ready to go. While we were in this area we had to replace a damaged radiator, repair the hood release cable and number of other things to make the D90 trouble free when it returns to Maryland.
At the rear of the D90 we are doing some work to make things look better, work better and last longer. In the image above you can see we have removed the spare tire carrier. It was showing a lot of rust and peel and basically bringing down the look of this otherwise pretty clean D90. We'll be stripping it down to white metal, then giving it a real coat of epoxy primer and satin black paint to make the rear area of the 90 look good again.
Above you can see a couple of the brackets from this D90's spare tire carrier. They are badly rusting and looking nasty. Fortunately we can fix all the pieces of the tire carrier and make them look better than new, and last longer than the originals did.
Here you can see that we have fully prepared and painted the tire carrier parts and reinstalled them onto the Rover. All the hardware used is now stainless steel as well, so corrosion won't be a factor in the tire carrier for a long time to come. That takes care of making the rear end of the 90 last longer. To make it work better we have installed a later model rear door latch with an external key lock. We also matched all the door keys so that one key opens all the doors on the Defender. In case you didn't know, the 1994 Defender 90 did not have an external lock on the tailgate. The 1995s and 1997s did, but in 1994 to lock and unlock the tailgate you had to crawl though the vehicle to get to the lock. Needless to say that is a pain in the butt and this simple solution works much better.
This image shows the refurbished tire carrier back in place on the Rover. Epoxy paint, stainless hardware and our attention to detail will now keep the rear area of this D90 looking good for a long time to come.
Another area of this D90 that was suffering was the dash. A lot of people had been in and out of the dash area to add the goofy add-ons over the years, and because they were so rough on the parts, a lot of them are broken. The upper speedo cable was pulled apart (a common problem for those not used to working on Defenders. They just pull and pull until the cable breaks). The dash plastic has also taken it hard over the years. Above you can see the dash surround. It is cracked and broken from the wrong sized screws and other mechanics beating on it. We'll be replacing all these broken trim pieces to get the dash back to stock and feeling solid and tight again.
Another area of the dash that needs attention is the lower dash. This area takes a lot of water abuse from the old leaky soft tops and it can rust, as you can see above. We will be removing the dash panel and treating it to the ECR epoxy system to make it rust free for a long time to come, and because we will be installing a Badger Coachworks soft top this type of water leak will be eliminated so this won't happen again.
Once we have stripped down the wiring back to the stock harness, repaired the rodent damage, removed the broken and poorly altered dash trims, and removed the Tuffy cubby box for the new sound system install, you can see there is little left to the interior of this 90. While this is apart we will give it a good cleaning and then get the new parts installed and the old parts repaired an made ready to go back into place. Like we tell all our customers, "It gets worse before it gets better."
In the interior shot of the D90 above this picture you can see that we have removed the driver and passenger seats. These aren't part of the needed dash repairs, but Defender seats do have a common problem. The seat bases themselves break and need to be repaired. If you have a Defender, grab the seat. If it moves around and makes clicking noises the seat base has broken and it needs to be repaired. Above you can see that we have removed the seat and we are getting ready to make a simple, but little known repair.
The seats base frames on a Defender are held together with a pressed piece in 4 locations on each seat. You can see one of these above, the seat base has a hole cut in it and the seat frame is pressed into this square. Over time the pressed pieces loosen up and the seat wiggles and clicks. The solution is simple, we grind off a small area and weld the 2 pieces together. This cures the wiggle and the clicking for good and does not hurt operation of the seat in any way. A lot of our customers want new seats, or curse their Defenders for having "floppy" seats, but the truth is they just might have seats that need this ECR update. Once we complete the welding we paint the ground off area in black and then we'll reinstall the seats into the Defender.
Another feature that will make this D90's interior a nicer place to be will be the new sound system. We are installing an Alpine iPod ready system with JBL speakers in all 4 corners. The images above shows the Tuffy center cubby box that was in the 90. Underneath the cubby box we have installed the Alpine controls for the iPod interface and the selector that switches between the new CD changer and the iPod. These units do not need any service or handling by the customer, so tucked up the cubby box out of the way is a great spot for them, out of the way, and out of the weather if the top is off.
In the back of the 90 we have installed a set of locking Tuffy storage boxes. These serve a number of functions. #1 They are a safe and secure place in a soft top vehicle to lock recovery gear or personal items. #2 They hold a larger speaker for the sound system and #3 they double as a great arm rest for rear seat passengers. Here you can see that we have installed the boxes with the JBL speakers and wired everything up.
As we have removed the small factory speakers and their plastic trims to add the L and R Tuffy boxes, we have fabricated an alloy filler panel between the Tuffy box and the back of the D90 to protect the wiring and to make it so that gear and other items are not lost down behind the Tuffy boxes. We then painted the filler panels in AA Yellow to match the rest of the D90 and give the Tuffy box install a clean and finished factory look.
As we were spraying AA Yellow for the 90, we also updated the rusty and worn old door hinges to the new style Defender door hinges that combat rust and wear much better than the old units. For more information on new style hinges go here. These new hinges will keep the doors working better and looking better for much longer than the original style units. As with all our hinges upgrades, we have also added a full set of stainless steel bolts to hold these new hinges in place.
Here you can see we have started to get the interior of the Defender back into shape. The lower dash top panel has been removed, epoxy primed and painted and then reinstalled with all stainless steel hardware, and the dash panel has been installed back on the bulkhead. While this piece as out we took the time to lubricate the defrost cable so that the heat controls will have smooth operation, not the typical bound up Defender style.
As the interior comes back together we have started to install the new pieces for the upgraded soft top. The upgraded tops cure a lot of the problems with the factory Defender 90 tops. In the image above you can see that we have started to install the new "gutter kit" that is part of the top kit. This creates a real door seal around the top and rear edge of the door to keep air and water out. On a stock D90 you can usually reach behind the door between the soft top and unlock the vehicle. The new top cures this problem area and even uses a new one piece door seal to make the door seal on the soft top D90 work as it should.
This Defender has had a lot of mechanical items done to it that you aren't seeing on this page. A new A arm link, new Bilstien shocks, the engine is getting a complete tune up and PCV system, all the fluids and filters are being changed and much more. Along with all that service work to get the 90 back into top shape, the customer had one more special request. He wanted the seat to go back as far as possible, and recline as far as possible. The D90 was already sporting a set of our ECR ROX seat sliders for maximum leg room in a D90, but he wanted more.
Anywhere else they say, "No way." At ECR, we say, "No problem!"
To make the seat go back as far as possible the ECR ROX seat sliders do the trick, but as the seat goes back you loose recline as it touches the cross bar of the roll cage. Our solution for this customer was to relocate the cross bar without cutting up the 90 or making changes that can't be undone in the future if need be. Above you can see that we have removed the rear cross bar and the side brackets. We will modify these to allow for max seat travel and recline to give the customer the space he desires inside the 90.
We fabricated the cross bar and the side brackets differently to allow the seat to go all the way back, while still reclined all the way. The pieces were then blasted to white metal, epoxy primed and painted in a satin black in our spray/bake booth as you can see above.
Once installed, as seen above, the new cross bar and side brackets look like factory original parts, but they allow the seat to do what the customer desired. This set up now give the maximum leg room possible in a Defender 90 soft top.
Here you can see that we have installed the majority of the upgraded top. The new top seals better and looks better than the factory unit and offers better visibility.
The new top seals better because of the door seal kit. It uses modified parts from the European soft top and combines them with custom parts to make a real seal around the door, thus cutting water and wind noise and making the D90 a better place to be.
Inside the 90 we have started to put the interior back together after replacing a lot of damaged plastic from past installs. We have moved the clock and switches back to their factory locations and corrected all the rodent eaten wiring.
We also removed and lubricated all the heat and defrost controls for smooth operation of the controls. The dash and all its parts are now stock looking and bolted in solid and secure because of the repairs we have made.
Now that the dash is complete we have installed the new AC system that will help cool off the Rover in the heat. The new AC systems work well and have better controls than the old factory installed systems. The fuse box cover still needs to be installed, but when we are done the interior of the D90 will look correct and be functional, something it was missing from all the past hack work done to the Rover.
Top keep with a clean factory look, but make the 90 as nice as possible we have installed a set of JBL speakers in the doors. We then topped these with a set of the factory speaker grills for a clean look that has aftermarket sound quality, but doesn't scream "aftermarket".
Inside the Tuffy center cubby box we have finished up the install of the new Alpine sound system. The new head units now rests in a secure and weather resistant area in the cubby box, and the 6 disc CD changer is also within easy reach of the driver inside the cubby box.
We also fabricated a small cushioned bracket inside the cubby box for the iPod, as you can see above. The new Alpine unit now has AM/FM, a CD player, a 6 disc CD changer that plays MP3s and an iPod interface that lets you plug in your iPod and connect to all your music files directly through the Alpine head unit. That is a lot of music and a very cool system.
Here you can see the soft top windows are in place and we are getting the Defender ready to head back to the customer. The Rover is currently in our spray booth where we will raise the temperature to about 100 degrees to test out the new Air Condition system, as well as the new engine cooling parts. Its December in Maine, but we can still test your vehicle in Texas style conditions, year round.
This image shows the rear end of the D90 buttoned up and looking great. No more rust and a new top make the Rover look a lot better, work a lot better and these parts will last longer too.
Back up front on the 90, the customer has decided to add a new front bumper and skid plate while the 90 is here at ECR. We have removed the cheesy factory brush bar, front bumper and factory under-bumper winch mount and are now making the needed modifications to install the bumper.
Here you can see we have installed the new bumper and are getting everything set up. The factory under-bumper winch mount holds the winch down in the road debris, and like most winches mounted that way, this winch was in need of repair, and the free spool was totally seized. We rebuilt the winch and got it ready to go in the new bumper.
This image shows the completed front end. We have added our turn signal relocation kit and the ECR ROX recovery points to the front end of the 90 so that it is ready to go. The ECR ROX points accept a standard 5/8 shackle so that you have tons of recovery options with your winch. We also installed the customer's driving lights on the bumper and installed a lower skid plate to help protect the steering gear during of road outings.
We get a lot of questions about our turn signal conversion kit, so here is some data. The 1993 D110s and the 1994 D90s had the turn signals mounted in the bumper. When you upgrade your front bumper, to something like this Safari Gard unit, you loose the turn signals. If you just re-wire the signals into your front parking lights the turn signals will flash too quickly, as the bulb is too small to run the flasher correctly. You can install some turn signals in the bottom location, but that changes the look. Our signal conversion set up keeps the 110s and the early 90s looking right and acting right. Our set up still gives you the 4 front parking lights, but the bottom two double as turn signals. As you can see above in this D90, all 4 parking lights are on (orange arrows), and the LH signal is flashing (blue arrow), and it flashes at the correct speed.
Here you can see the completed project ready to head back to Maryland. The Defender 90 has been fully serviced and a lot of needed repairs have been made to get it up to snuff. We have also added a number of upgrades from new hinges to adding air conditioning. We restored the tire carrier and set up a full iPod ready sound system, and topped it off with a new upgraded soft top and a much better looking front bumper. The D90 will now be a much more pleasant vehicle to drive around in and will be ready for whatever the customer decides to tackle.
As a last minute addition the owner of this D90 decided to add a set of ECR ROX sliders to his list of upgrades. Here you can see that we have fabricated a set of sliders, complete with Hi-Lift jack points, finished them in satin black, and fitted them to the D90.
The ECR ROX sliders will make a welcome addition to the Defender and will protect the sills of the Rover from being harmed by off road hazards. The sliders are tough as nails and you can even use them to jack up the side of the Rover if need be off road. Our Hi-Lift points are made with safety in mind to keep your jack from slipping to the side when you are lifting your vehicle. The sliders protrude past the stock body so that rocks and stumps passing by the slider will not harm the body panels.
The ECR ROX sliders are mounted at multiple points front and rear. 5 bolts and a backing plate in the front and 3 bolts plus a chassis stiffener in the rear. All this adds up to sliders that will not bend. All ECR ROX sliders carry a lifetime warranty. If you bend them off road (we've tried and we can't) we'll replace them, no charge.
If you have needs for your Defender, from simple service work, to custom fabrication such as making your seat go back more, contact ECR and we'll be happy to do it for you. We can make your Defender world class... just like this one.