Defender door hinges that don't rust?
Impossible you say? Well maybe, maybe not. If the door hinges on your Defender look like the one in the image above you are not alone. For years we have painted new hinges for customers to stop the rust bleeds on their 90s and 110s. The problem is that there is metal to metal contact inside the hinge, and no matter how good you are with the primers and paints, over time the paint and primer is worn away and then the rust bleeds start again. We solved the door hardware issue by using stainless steel bolts, but the hinges always looked terrible, unless freshly painted. The hinge shown above has been on the ECR 4 Defender 90 project for the last 3 years or so. As you can see it didn't hold up very well. The New England winters have taken there tool and the hinge not only looks bad, but is worn so that is has "slop" causing the door to need periodic adjustments as the hinge wore to make the door open and close properly.
The good news is that overseas they continue to work on the Defender line and make all kinds of neat little changes and updates (power windows, etc). There is now even a new rear door that resists corrosion better and they also have new door hinges. We haven't seen these door hinges because the last legal Defenders we had were in 1997, but they are easily installed on all USA Defender 90s and 110s, and even your Series III for that matter.
The image above shows the difference between the standard US Defender/ Series III door hinge (left) and the newer version (right). They look slightly different, but the real difference is not in the shape, but the hinge pin area.
Look closely above and you can see that a small bushing/washer has been added to isolate the 2 hinge halves from riding on each other. This should stop the paint removal and subsequent rust bleeds that happen in Defender 90s and 110s. The hinges come treated from the factory with a thin coat of material to help stop rust. This is a great step forward for Land Rover, but we still suggest you prime and paint the hinges for correct protection. Just painting the hinges with a spray can isn't going to cut it in the long term. The hinge above has already been primed and painted in AA Yellow and is now ready to install onto our test Defender.
Here you can see the new style hinges installed on ECR 4. The different shape looks better and a door hinge without rust all over it looks great. To install these hinges on a soft top or Wagon is simple. You will need to re-adjust your door, so make sure you are comfortable doing that as nothing is worse than a Defender door that will not close properly. You can use the same hardware, We suggest stainless, but you will need new shims (the black plastic things that go between the hinge and the bulkhead and door) as the new hinges are a different shape and so are the shims. If you plan this work yourself and you have a 110 or a 90 Wagon, make sure you get some of the gray panel push pins, as to remove the door panel you will need to remove these and replace them with new.
Will they stay looking great after a tough Maine winter? We'll let you know in the Spring.
Spring 2004 Update
This image shows one of the new hinges on ECR4 after the winter of 2004. The D90 was driven daily and is not garaged. So far there is no sign of rust from any of the door hinges. They all look this good. If the look and function of the new style hinges continue like this we will be very happy. We would say these hinges are a vast improvement, and if installed correctly are well worth the effort.
See you on the trail,
Back to the Articles Section
East Coast Rover Co.
21 Tolman Road
Warren, ME 04864