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1994 Defender 90 Soft Top
Gearbox repair

This Defender 90 has come to us with a blown gearbox and a clutch that is shot, but there is more to this story than just some worn out parts. About a year ago the owner of this D90 decided to replace the original 130,000 mile LT77 gearbox in his Defender with a new rebuilt R380 unit from Rovers North. He purchased the parts from Rovers North and had them installed by some local mechanic. Once the gearbox was installed he was unhappy with the performance of the R380 and the clutch. Over time the customer replaced more and more parts to try and get the gearbox and clutch system to operate correctly. He replaced the clutch hydraulics and more, but with no luck. A little over a year after the R380 was installed something in the clutch gave out and the D90 became immobilized. The clutch and pressure plate were new at the time of the gearbox install and all the hydraulics were new, so why would this R380 not work correctly from day one, and completely fail after just over a year? Must be a crappy part from Rovers North right? Wrong.

Here you can see what we removed from the D90. To most it would look like just an old gearbox that wasn't rebuilt correctly and you'd curse the name of the place where you bought it, but to us, we see an R380 5 speed gearbox mated to the LT77 bell housing, and unfortunately for the customer, these parts are not "mix and match". The LT77 bell housing is too long to be used on the R380 and it will cause problems. So the reason for the premature failure of this R380 from Rovers North was installer error, not the part. If this R380 had been installed correctly this gearbox would be doing just fine and the customer would not have been chasing a problem around by throwing other costly parts at it.

The LT77 bell housings extra length means that the input shaft of the R380 does not connect into the pilot bearing in the back of the engine. In the image above you can see that the end of the input shaft is chewed up from all that "wobbling around", and with no support to the input shaft the gearbox slowly ate itself and then failed completely. Also each time the clutch was depressed this would allow the clutch disc to move freely between the flywheel and the pressure pate. Let out the clutch and the disc was now trapped in various locations between the 2 clamping surfaces. That must have caused some interesting vibrations on the road.

Do that enough times and your new clutch disc falls apart and looks like the one pictured above, the one we just took out of this D90. Actually we are surprised this mess lasted as long as it did. The correct R380 bell housing puts the input shaft where it needs to be to assure correct and long term operation of the gearbox and the clutch. So basically all the issues the customer has with this D90 come back to installer error, not parts. So after a year of messing around, and a pile of money spent on piss poor repairs the D90 has now arrived at ECR as a "problem child" that can't be sorted out, but that depends on who is doing the "sorting".

Here you can see our solution, a low miles, take out, complete R380 V8 gearbox. This is a take out unit from one of our diesel conversions (remember that all the money got spent on wrecking that other perfectly good rebuilt unit so a take out will have to do to get the 90 back on the road). This unit combined with a new clutch will get the D90 back on the road and operating correctly, long term.
Our question is, Did the customer save any money, or have any less of a hassle by having his "local shop" do his repairs?
Nope, if this D90 had come to ECR for the repairs in the first place the customer would have had the job done right, and with the money he could have saved he could have had some other upgrades done at the same time. Do it once and do it right with ECR, or curse your Defender, your parts supplier and all the "trouble" it gives you. The choice is simple... ECR.

Now that all the used and damaged parts have been removed it is time to do a proper clean up and get things ready to go back into the D90 correctly. Here you can see that we have removed the LT230 transfer case form the gearbox and are getting it cleaned up. Once it is clean, it will be full inspected and repaired as required to assure long term operation in the Rover. Then we'll mate it to the R380 5 speed and get everything installed into the Defender.

Once we put everything back together, we realized just how bad the local shop treated this D90. In the image above you can see the factory gearbox mounting bolts in the correct location as shown by the blue arrow. To our amazement the "local experts" actually drilled more holes in the customer's frame so that they could try and get the R380 gearbox with the LT77 bellhousing to fit into the Rover. You can see the new holes they drilled, now no longer used as we installed it correctly, shown by the yellow arrow.

Here you can see the Defender 90 back together, correctly, and ready for the customer to collect it. The gearbox shifts smoothly and the clutch operates as it should. The transfer case leaks have been stopped with new seals and gaskets and everything works as the factory intended with no need for "back yard engineering" like drilling more holes in the frame. If this 90 had come to ECR the first time, none of this re-work would have been needed and the customer would have saved enough to get a new top, a new winch mount bumper and a new 9000 pound winch for his D90, at the least. When you think about it in those terms, who do you want doing your Defender repairs? The local guys who have never seen a Defender before, and who keep calling it, "your Jeep"? or ECR?
We are your Defender source and there is no one better.