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The oldest Land-Rover Series 3 around - cutting holes in the roof!


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On 11/16/2022 at 7:25 PM, DeanH said:

@mat_the_cat can I ask where you're based? I fancy a series 3 but I'm aware I'm looking at them with rose tinted glasses. Would be great to have a ride in one to get me thinking rationally again.

Ever driven a tractor? It's like that only slightly faster and the heater is a small asthmatic creature genetically engineered by Lucas who lives in a box and blows at you through a straw.

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As luck would have it a friend of mine, who's rebuilt a few of these boxes, was in the area and very kindly agreed to give me a hand today. I'd only got to the stage of removing the seat box, so this morning we lifted the gearbox out.



Then set to stripping it down. It turned out it wasn't actually a problem with the selectors, but a spring was broken (and another missing) on the 3rd/4th gear synchro assembly.


The one at the 5 o'clock position is still intact, the one at the top has broken and shifted round 90 degrees, and the third one is missing completely, and must have dropped out during a previous to me oil change. But the good news is no gear damage and negligible wear, and even most of the bearings are reasonably OK. So nothing to suggest a hard life.

Partially apart now, and ready for bits to be cleaned. Many thanks to @Talbot for assistance, advice and good company. 


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I had this issue too, but only one spring had broken and it was still shifting OK. I managed to replace it with some long reach pliers via removal of the selectors. A bit of a fiddle but doable.

I would like to have done what you're doing, particularly as I think I have some leakage of ep90 from the gearbox to the transfer case, but I didn't have the balls :-)

Sent from my VOG-L29 using Tapatalk

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6 hours ago, mjrose78 said:

I had this issue too, but only one spring had broken and it was still shifting OK.

What made you realise there was a problem, if it was still shifting ok? I think one of mine must have been broken for a while, and when the second failed it caused the two parts of the synchro assembly to become decentralised, and bind up to prevent gear engagement.

I've made a little more progress today, as I split the transfer box from the main 'box and stripped the gearbox down to the casing. To separate the two, you first have to pull the transfer box intermediate shaft out and remove the intermediate gears to access two of the fixing nuts. The shaft was fairly tight, and required a spot of heat before prying it out.


I cleaned up the bellhousing, as it looks like the engine real main seal was leaking into it. Once clean I replaced the layshaft front bearing...


...held in place with a spacer plate...


...and then the input shaft bearing. Spot the mistake! Fortunately not a disaster though.


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  • mat_the_cat changed the title to The oldest Land-Rover Series 3 around - gearbox rebuild underway
What made you realise there was a problem, if it was still shifting ok? I think one of mine must have been broken for a while, and when the second failed it caused the two parts of the synchro assembly to become decentralised, and bind up to prevent gear engagement.
I've made a little more progress today, as I split the transfer box from the main 'box and stripped the gearbox down to the casing. To separate the two, you first have to pull the transfer box intermediate shaft out and remove the intermediate gears to access two of the fixing nuts. The shaft was fairly tight, and required a spot of heat before prying it out.
I cleaned up the bellhousing, as it looks like the engine real main seal was leaking into it. Once clean I replaced the layshaft front bearing...
...held in place with a spacer plate...
...and then the input shaft bearing. Spot the mistake! Fortunately not a disaster though.
Two bits of the broken spring fell out of the box when I drained the oil! A quick Google told me what the issue was; it seems fairly common. You can just about see the two intact springs in the photo below. ba8d804cd994163d0f41068a745ae32b.jpg

Sent from my VOG-L29 using Tapatalk

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I realise that I have forgotten to fit the housing retaining studs, but I'm not happy with the input shaft bearing. The play seems just the same as the original bearing, but noisier! I've dribbled a bit of EP90 in there, but still sounds rough to me.

I've replaced the layshaft rear bearing and corresponding race in the gearbox housing:


Also the reverse gear gate springs (one had already broken).



I've started to inspect bits for wear - all gears look really good:


The rebuild kit came with 1st and 2nd gear synchro rings, so I'll replace those anyway, but the 3rd and 4th synchromesh is all one assembly, and another £200 or so. So I was keen to see what that was like.

4th gear looks good...


...but 3rd doesn't ☹️


That may explain why it was fairly easy to beat the synchromesh on changes to 3rd. Question is, am I expecting too much? It was perfectly drivable, just not driving perfectly. 

I've reached a bit of a delay anyway  as my circlip pliers aren't big enough to remove the rear mainshaft  bearing housing, plus the uncertainty over the input shaft bearing. 

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12 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

studs, but I'm not happy with the input shaft bearing. The play seems just the same as the original bearing, but noisier! I've dribbled a bit of EP90 in there, but still sounds rough to me.

Can you make a valid assesment like that though, there is a twist applied to that ballrace with just the input shaft in place?  What about trying it with the output shaft and that needle roller bearing that goes between input and output shaft in place, ie with the shafts properly supported?

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2 hours ago, Asimo said:

Can you make a valid assesment like that though?

Good question - I just don't know. I don't know what clearance the bearing is designed to have so may well be acceptable.

It's more the fact that it doesn't feel as smooth as the layshaft bearing beneath it. I actually have to temporarily attach the layshaft to it, to check for end float so I can do a similar video.

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After a bit of research I've established that there is a fair amount of clearance by design in this bearing, which probably means the original was reasonably OK. This video shows a similar level of float, which backs up what I've read elsewhere.

The only slight question mark is over why the new bearing is noisier than the old, when rotated by hand. I think I'll make an assessment when it's bolted back together.

So, only to the mainshaft rear bearing. This is in a separate housing, which is held in by Loctite, and a circlip. With the aid of heat, the housing was removed and cleared up ready for the new bearing.


Bearing in and secured.


I then needed to warm up the gearbox housing, to push the bearing housing back in.


Again, this is loctited in, partly to prevent oil leakage. 


Bearing housing in place, and circlip securing it.


The seal is a metal cased type, which I've known to seep oil between seal and housing, so I've used a thin smear of sealant to help prevent this.




That's now all the bearings fitted to the gearbox, so the next stage is to strip down the mainshaft, and replace the synchro rings. I found further proof that this is likely to be the same age as I am, with a gearbox casting date of October '78.


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4 minutes ago, somewhatfoolish said:

this gives me hope the latter isn't a silly idea.

Or (depending on how well it goes) confirms that you should get a specialist to do it :lol:

So far though, it's all been pretty straightforward engineering, and you can see how it's all supposed to work which is useful. I was a bit worried initially about whether it would all go back together in the right order, but I'm trying to be methodical about it.

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22 hours ago, mat_the_cat said:

I'm trying to be methodical about it.

Hmmm. It wouldn't totally surprise me if I'd managed to lose the odd washer, but I needed to temporarily refit the layshaft, to check the end float, and could I find it? No!

I figured that it was probably more important than a missing washer, and I eventually remembered where I'd placed it for safekeeping. I fitted it in the gearbox, and there was too much movement fore and aft. I've got a 0.405" spacer currently, so will try the next size up, 0.425".

The input shaft also needs a thicker spacer, as there's about 10 thou float where I need none. Spacer is 0.19mm, so a 2.15mm one should do nicely. 

I've replaced the front output bearing in the 4x4 selector housing...


...followed by the seal.


The rear output seal fits into the speedo drive housing, and has clearly been previously fitted with care and attention.


Unfortunately I then promptly did a similar job, so will have to order a new seal :lol:

I did however re-seal the speedo drive..new O ring, lip seal and gasket.


I've had a look at the mainshaft, and identified some wear in the 2nd/3rd gear bush. There's between 14 and 16 thou clearance versus a maximum of 7, so I hope I should notice a difference once replaced.

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Tonight I finished off the 4x4 selector box, ready for fitting to the transfer box.


The dog on the left links the front and rear output shafts to select 4wd. The shaft which operates this is spring-loaded, so that when a pin is lifted (pushing the yellow lever down), 4wd in normal high ratio is engaged.  The upper shaft is linked to the high/low gear selector in the transfer box, so that whenever low ratio is selected, 4wd is also engaged. All this selection mechanism is lubricated by an oil slinger, so no appreciable wear. 

The 4wd selector box was slid onto the front of the transfer box, and the low ratio 4wd selector shaft slid into the selector fork.


I replaced the seal at the end of this shaft, and also the small O ring on the pin which allows high ratio 4wd to be engaged.


There is a little bit of rusting on the ends of the shafts, but I've smoothed this off and greased them.

Finally, the dust cover was fitted over the ends of the shaft.


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I had a small package of parts arrive, so set about changing the rear output seal. Greased it up to help it slide in.


Then used a 52mm socket, bolt and piece of plywood to draw it into place.



This done I could fit it to the back of the transfer box - first are the shims to preload the output shaft bearings, massive taper roller jobs.


Then the housing can go on.


Also arrived was a new shim and circlip for the input shaft. Zero play was achieved, but not too tight that I couldn't move the shim by hand.


Another arrival was the layshaft distance piece, next to the old one which wasn't thick enough with the new bearing.


I temporarily refitted the layshaft into the gearbox...


...and attached the bellhousing. The idea is that there should be minimal end float of the layshaft, but more than none. If there is zero movement, it means the rear layshaft roller bearing has bound up. You can't check this with the mainshaft in place, hence the temporary partial reassembly.


Next step is the mainshaft, specifically the bastard lockring,  tucked down below 3rd gear synchro.


I bought some flat lockring pliers, and modified them to fit in the gap.


Now although they would fit, they wouldn't open wide enough to get the ring out of the grooves. So I managed to tease it open a little with a screwdriver, and hold it open with drill bits down the splines.


And it's off, finally!


Notice that this has obviously been apart before, and clamped in a vice :-( It's not damaged the friction surface, but still...

With the gears removed, this is the bush which supports them. It often breaks up and/or shears off the pin locking it to the shaft, but the only problem in my case is some light wear.


Now comes the fettling of the new bush. It's put into place with 2nd and 3rd gears, and weighted down with some old bearings (using the old bush as a spacer) so I can check the clearance. 


Spec. is 4 to 7 thou, and I'm measuring between 5 and 6. I could assemble as is, but I'd prefer to get it as tight as possible. So I'll take the new bush out and remove a bit of material until it's at the lower end.

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I measured the length of the new bush, then gave it a light rub with 240 grit wet and dry on a flat surface. I did this in a figure of 8 pattern, to try and avoid putting any tilt into it. After only 3 passes it was down to size, so the next stage was to check the end float between bush and thrust washer (you'll have to imagine the snap ring holding down the thrust washer in this photo!)


Spec for this is 1 to 8 thou, and I'm measuring 10. If I'd left the bush as-is, it'd have been (just about) OK, but right at the limit of acceptability. To reduce this down you have to change the upper and lower thrust washers, which are available in a range of thicknesses for selective assembly.

So I'm waiting for these to arrive, but what has arrived is a new 3rd/4th gear synchro assembly. This is quite pricy from Land Rover suppliers, so I did a bit of research and found that it was also fitted to Rover P4 gearboxes, under a now superceded part number. It turned out that JR Wadhams had a few of these as new old stock parts rather than modern reproductions (which may be perfectly OK, I've certainly not read of problems with them). But these were half the typical price of those listed under the LR part number, and don't come in a blue box :-)


I can't fit any more until the main shaft is finished, so it's currently sat on the coffee table looking pretty!

Less good news is the engine. It looks like I need to change the rear main seal, but on the earlier 3 main bearing engines this is a bit of a ballache. Instead of a conventional lip seal pressed in from the rear, this is a split seal which you have to drop the sump and rear bearing cap to change. And I'm thinking unless the bearing shell looks pristine, I can hardly put a worn bearing back in place...

Did someone say mission creep?

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Switching to the transfer box now - I've got the rebuild kit for it, but struggled to find anyone listing it with the intermediate gear thrust washers...apparently stocks are exhausted.




This was a potential problem, as mine looked noticeably worn.


Closer inspection, and you can see a step in them.


The only option I found was some stupidly expensive (for what they are) NOS parts, so bit the bullet. I did consider getting some machined up, but they're not bronze all the way through, being steel-backed so not a simple job. When they arrived I realised that my originals weren't quite as bad as I thought, as there is a slight step by design. I could have probably taken out the excess float with shims, but hey ho.


These sit either side of the transfer case...


...and support the intermediate gear, here temporarily refitted to check for clearance.


Note that I've (deliberately) fitted it the wrong way round, as I wanted to be able to spin it to check smoothness, without it meshing with the output shaft gears. I have to remove it anyway to reattach the main gearbox, as a few of the nuts are obscured by it.

This was all good, so next I took a look at the engine oil leak. Clutch and flywheel off, and yes, that's pretty conclusive!


The clutch is fairly worn too, so the shopping list is growing :-(

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I understand how you feel. So the engine is out, and the bearings are checked, so, does the crankshaft need a regrind, or at least a polish? Do you pull the head off and give it a decoke? Do you pull the pistons out to check for wear? What about the camshaft? Just where do you stop?


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I'm hopeful, seeing as the engine ran quietly and smoothly, that any wear will be minimal. If you catch things in time, and it's been well looked after (and all the signs are that it has), you're less likely to have damaged the crank.

If something's been worn out for ages, chances are that some of the wear particles will embed themselves into the bearing shells and score the crank.

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Barring accidents 2286cc Land Rover petrol engines tend to keep working indefinitely. They happily tolerate sporadic oil changes. I don't think I'd bother rebuilding the engine unless it was clearly on the way out. That's good going wearing a clutch plate out though, didn't think that was possible on these. Mine was last changed in about 1975, and inspected in about 1995 when I took the gearbox off to change a clutch linkage pin (when no apparent wear was detectable).  

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Off with the flywheel housing, sump, seal retainers and main bearing cap.


Everything is looking very clean, so a good sign. But how is the bearing?


I'll happily take that! So it looks like it's just the 'simple' job of seal replacement. But look what arrived (makes sign of the cross...)


To be fair, I have had some Britpart parts which have lasted, and was from a supplier which has always sent decent branded (for what its worth) parts so may be OK. But I've had some blue bagged rubber parts which have failed pretty quickly! Plus I've read of some pretty short lives of this seal, so decided to spend 6 times as much (a whole £12 :lol:) on a decent brand. Turner use these in their rebuilt engines, which is good enough for me.


The seal is a weird design with a split in it to fit around the crank...


...and a spring you have to link, and tuck behind the lip. Plus the T-shaped seals which slot into the bearing cap.


On the subject of suspiciously cheap parts, you can pick up a clutch kit for very little (in the region of 2x what cost price was 15 years ago when I worked for QH). I decided to stay away from super cheap, although not what I considered stupidly expensive.


Ironically I have a link to NSK in another previous job! I worked for British Steel around 20 years ago, and they were a customer of ours. They were an absolute nightmare in rejecting our steel for very shallow surface defects. So much so that we had to change our way of inspection to avoid sending out such material. None of our other customers were so picky, so it's always impressed me now I've left!

Back to the main gearbox, and I've been playing around with thrust washer thicknesses trying to get the end float down on the 2nd/3rd gear bush. My first problem was this pin, which stops the bush from rotating, but has to be removed to swap the thrust washer. 


It's loctited in, so I tried as much heat as I dared without compromising the heat treatment of the mainshaft, but no joy. All I did was mangle the end of the pin to make pulling it impossible! So I ground it flush, and attempted the time-honoured method of drilling it exactly in the centre just off-centre enough so it buggers up the shaft as well.


Oooh, this might just work!


And it did 8-)

I'd previously calculated the correct washer thickness based on the original float, but when they arrived and were fitted the bush had zero float. 

I then realised that there was a miniscule wear groove on the original washers, so what I really needed to do was add the thickness require to the worn surface, not the actual washer thickness. This is difficult to measure with home tools, so I've just bought all the available thicknesses, and will send back the ones I don't need. Dingocroft have been really helpful with this, and were happy to take back parts.

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In this next thrilling installment there is actual progress! Not a massive amount, but better than nothing. My selection of thrust washers arrived, and a mixture of brands. OEM...


...and not OEM.


The washers sit either end of the bronze 2nd/3rd gear bush, and limit the float to between 1 and 7 thou. Mine was at 10 with the original washers, so some assembling, measuring and reassembly later I'd got it so it was tight on a 1.5 thou feeler gauge (the thinnest I have). Happily that was with a 0.128" washer each side, so will be as central as possible. That'll do! So I could then loctite in the bush locking pin.


The bush slides over this like so:


This was just a trial fit to make sure the pin was below flush. It was, so the 2nd gear could be fitted after making sure the oilways were clear, and oiling it up.


Same for 3rd gear.


With that done, the second thrust washer sits on too, all held together by the bastard snap ring. With a new one, the gap is next to nothing so I had to improvise to get it on.




And in place! Note the fan heater to stop my hands freezing to the shaft, ad it's been sub-zero all day here. 


A quick check of the float again, and I could flip the mainshaft over and assemble the other, easier side.


New synchro rings going in, followed by first gear. It should be ready to go back into the gearbox, but I've got a minor concern about the play on first gear. Can't find a spec in Haynes, so will have to research elsewhere. 

There was quite a bit of wear in the linkage for the yellow knob (4wd high) so for few pence of a new bush, I thought I'd pop one of those in as well.



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Mixed results today. To start with I put the mainshaft into the gearbox casing, which was a bit of a fiddle clearing the reverse gear. I don't have a press, so came up with the bright idea of using the nut and a selection of spacers to draw the shaft through the rear bearing.


This worked well, right up until the moment it didn't. Just as I neared the end I heard an ominous noise from inside the gearbox, of small parts clattering around. The vibration had shaken the 1st/2nd gear synchro hub apart, and springs/ball bearings fired everywhere. According to the manual this is a "fairly complex unit" and "should be left well alone".

No choice now! But in the event wasn't as bad to reassemble as the description suggested. Once back together, I built up the mainshaft again, taped the synchro hub together and repeated the process. Followed by wriggling the layshaft into position, and installing the new 3rd/4th gear synchro assembly. 


This done, the bellhousing could be attached.


Everything seem to turn nice and smoothly, so next job is to fit the selector forks and mechanism, and check whether all gears engage correctly...


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The first difficult task tonight was actually getting into my workshop, as the padlock had completely frozen solid! To make matters worse, both my blowtorches, my oxy acetylene kit and my hot air gun were the wrong side of the door. After struggling for a while to even get the key in, I resorted to thawing it out with a 'warm fluid' straight from the tap.


Once inside I began the task of engaging the selector forks inside the gearbox, and attaching to the selector rods. This took a surprising length of time which I'm going to blame partly on inexperience, and partly on numb fingers! 


I then tried to select gears by moving the relevant rods. 1st, 2nd and reverse all slipped into place quite easily, but worryingly I couldn't engage 3rd or 4th at all. I had to temporarily attach the gear lever, and even then it took some effort to move.

I'm hoping that's just down to a new synchro assembly, and will loosen off in use. It seemed just to be the initial start of movement when resistance was felt, and the actual engagement felt pretty positive. Plus this is with a dry box apart from the assembly oiling, so once full of EP90 it should be easier.

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  • mat_the_cat changed the title to The oldest Land-Rover Series 3 around - cutting holes in the roof!

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