A new project begins

On Thursday I set out for Doncaster with a friend who runs a Land-Rover garage, with the intention of ordering a 150″ custom replacement chassis for my 110, from Designa-chassis. (For those unfamiliar with Land-Rover terminology, the measurement is the wheelbase, that is, the distance between the axles, in inches. The current short-wheelbase model is the 90, and the standard long wheelbase is 110. There is an extra-long model, at 130″, and the 150 is effectively a 110 with a third axle a further 40″ back; this is generally thought of as the longest model.)

Taking mechanical drive to the third axle is quite complicated, and I had already been thinking about making the vehicle into a diesel / electric hybrid as a later project. A while ago, I realized that I can treat these as “problem and solution” rather than as two problems: my plan is to keep the existing 4-wheel transmission on the front two axles, and initially leave the third axle as a trailing axle while I plot (and save up for!) the next stage, to fit an electric motor and batteries to drive the third axle.

As we discussed the project on the way to Doncaster, the plans became a little more ambitious, and what I have actually ordered is a 170″ chassis, that is, a 130 with an extra axle. This gives more room for packing in batteries under the floor, and more room for general fun and joy.

Apart from lengthening it and adding another axle, it’ll be very much the same vehicle; all the present parts will be used, apart from the chassis (which has been patched quite a few times by now; the bodywork is aluminium alloy and has negligible corrosion) and one propshaft.

Starting from the front: the front bodywork will simply transfer over, as far as the back of the doors. (The present form is a “hard top”, that is, the three-door model, with one row of forward-facing seats in the front, and the back door opening into the loadspace.) Behind that will come the middle section of bodywork from a 5-door donor vehicle, with doors and seats, and 20″ of that vehicle’s loadspace. Then behind that will come the back part (load space) of the original bodywork. The batteries and motor and controller, when I do the electrification, will probably go partly under the floor and partly under the second row of seats. (That won’t be for about two years from now, I expect; the components available then might be more compact than the current ones, so I’ve specified a versatile mounting arrangement so I can leave that part of the design open for now.) The most similar vehicles I can find on the web are described on this page — search for “Phil Martin” for the nearest. Mine will have 20″ extra just behind the second set of doors compared with the one in those photos.

I’m having everything I can think I might ever need in the chassis built into it from the start, as it will be galvanized, and welding things to it after galvanization is a bad idea for several reasons. So, although I’m not currently planning to fit a roll cage, I’m having the mounting points for one built in. The mounting for the electric drive system is some long flanges with a row of big bolt-holes in each flange, and I’ve specified a couple of jacking-point tubes to be welded to each chassis beam for attaching other equipment underneath. (The 130 or 170 has the worst breakover angle of the Land-Rover designs, that is, it can get stuck on its underbelly on a ridge more readily than the shorter ones. Here’s a video of some people taking vehicles to the limit of their breakover angles. If this turns out to be a problem, I might want to attach some small crawler tracks just below the bottom of the chassis rails, or even screw drive augers, a smaller version of the drive of this Russian vehicle.)

Now I’ve paid the deposit, and they quote a turnround of 4 to 10 weeks. The actual rebuild will be some time in the spring, as I don’t want the vehicle to be out of action in the winter (especially if it’s like last winter!).

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  1. […] 170″ — converting my Land-Rover 110 into a Land-Rover 170, as described in A new project begins. I’m still waiting for the new chassis; the chassis fabricator is still waiting for the […]

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