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1997 NAS Defender 90 Soft Top
Repairs and Upgrades
This 1997 NAS Defender 90 Soft Top has come to us from Nantucket. Its quite a nice vehicle, and it already has some nice upgrades, like a new upgraded top, but it needs some repairs and some more upgrades so the owner has sent it to ECR so that we can make it right for him. As with any Defender that arrives at ECR for the first time we have completed a full evaluation of the 90 and have discussed that list with the customer to find out what he does and does not want done.
Once the work list is sorted out we have our direction for the project and we get cracking. This 90 has some "back yard" repairs that we need to correct and some routine service items that are lacking. These are things on a 90 that are as simple as making sure the filters and fluids are up to snuff to as complex as locating the "noise under the car" that the customer says no one can find.
After a quick look around we have found the "noise" under the car. It turns out that the forward mount for the LH upper rear suspension arm has cracked completely off the frame. You can see the chunk that is supposed to be part of the frame above. As the suspension moved up and down this would have made a terrible noise. The good news is that once the problem is located like this we can easily fix the problem. We removed the needed rear suspension parts and fabricated a few new pieces so that we could weld this part back in the correct location, and we made it a bit stronger so that it doesn't happen again. In the same area of the 90 the middle exhaust hanger had broken off so we fabricated a new one and welded that in place as well.
Underneath the 90 we are doing all the needed repairs and making some updates so that the 90 can better handle those rough cobblestone streets on Nantucket. A new set of Bilstien shocks will help the ride and handling, and a new set of front springs will handle the added weight that is coming from the new front bumper and winch combination. You'll also notice that the stereo speakers have been removed, along with the rest of sound the system, to make way for a new Alpine sound system and iPod connection.
Other upgrades include a new set of upgraded hinges and a stainless hardware kit to help the 90 look better and last longer. Here you can see the original hinges don't look so good after a few years on the island. For more info. on the updated hinges, go here.
Here you can see the weak factory bumper and odd ball spider looking lights have been removed to get ready for the new bumper and winch. We are also fixing some of the "island style" repairs done to the 90 and setting everything back up with the proper parts.
This image shows the new style hinges have been primed and painted and installed and the doors have been lined up to open and close properly. These hinges will help the 90 stay looking great and the stainless steel hardware used will also keep rust to a minimum.
To dress up the driving environment in the 90 we have added a new Alpine sound system with a new head unit, iPod connection hidden in the cubby box and new Alpine speakers all around. We have also fixed some of the interior trinkets and replaced the delaminated steering wheel for a better driving experience.
Nantucket Rovers mean beach use, and to make this 90 good for the street and the beach we have added a set of wider BFG tires for more sand flotation when air'd down. These new tires will also cure some of the vibration issue the 90 was having due to lack of tire rotation.
Just in case the 90 needs some help on the beach we have added a new bumper and a Warn 9000 winch. We have also added a set of Hella 4000 lights so that the Defender can turn night into day at the flip of a switch, and as usual we have set everything up with the proper relays and factory switch gear for a seamless look to the additional lights.
To be safe we have replaced the dreaded oil cooler lines on this 90 with a new set and have sleeved them in heat sleeve so that the exhaust manifold heat will not decay the lines. The original lines on this 90 were full of dry rot cracks and could have blown at any time. These vehicles are now a decade old, please check or change your oil cooler lines so that this does not happen to your V8 Defender
One of the work orders on this 90 was to repair the Air Cond., it wasn't working at all. During our swap of the oil cooler lines we found the problem. The oil cooler line was resting against the AC suction line and it wore a hole through the AC line, allowing all the refrigerant to escape. We'll install a new AC line and make sure the oil cooler lines are properly routed so that this will never happen again.
As this 90 is used on the beach an on board air source is a really nice thing to have (because you air down your tires for beach use). The on board air makes it so that you don't have to rely on the local coin operated air pump or drive around on under inflated tires once you are off the beach. The Oasis Air system is nearly as fast at filling up tires as our huge shop compressor and it is long lasting as well. Here you can see that we have fabricated the needed drop box for the RH seat box so that we can install the system into this 90.
This image shows the box installed after being primed and painted. We have set the compressor in place and will now hook everything up for a great on board air source.
Once fully installed, as seen above the on board air is both easy to operate when you need it, and out of the way when you don't. The blue arrows point to the on/off switch for the system and the standard size air chuck that will allow for easy tire fill up after a day on the beach. Beware if you have us install this system though, our past customers with this set up say they end up spending a ton of time air'ing up all their friends tires as well!
To handle the elements of Nantucket and to protect the seats we have installed a full set of seat covers. These units fit well and stand up to just about anything, and they look good too.
Here you can see the nearly completed 90. Once we fill and test the AC system, now that the new line has been installed, we'll do a few test miles to make sure everything is 100%.
This shot shows the completed 90 with all the requested work orders and upgrades installed and tested. The 90 has upgrades that include everything from better hinges and a new winch and bumper combo, all the way down to smaller repair items like new shocks and curing the mystery rattle. Next the 90 will be loaded on the transport truck headed back to Hyannis to meet the ferry so that it can be ready for anything the island has to throw at it.
If you have needs for your Defender, from routine service to wild modifications, contact ECR. We'll be happy to help make your Defender everything you want it to be.