Subtle Modifications

An ongoing project has been the (hopefully) discrete and (definitely) reversible conversion of an 80 inch Land Rover to take the steering box from a later model. There are plenty of arguments for and against this sort of conversion but two simple facts at the very least make this a worthwhile one: Firstly the later steering assembly of the “recirculating ball” type is lighter and more hard wearing than the original. And secondly this particular Land Rover is missing its original steering box…

This has been quite a popular conversion over the years and the traditional way to do it involves obtaining a left hand drive steering box of the later type and turning it upside down in order to fit it to a right hand drive 80 inch Land Rover. Unfortunately it also traditionally involves welding all sorts of extraneous iron work to the chassis and the bulk head.

Steering BoxThe aim of this particular conversion is to make a steering box which is directly interchangeable with the original and requires no modification to the rest of the vehicle. Here is the casing from a suitable left hand drive steering box which has been machined to reduce its overall height. It has also had the oil filler welded up with an aluminium plug because this will now be at the bottom of the assembly. (A new oil filler has been produced in what is now the top face). After all the welding and machining it has been soda blasted to get everything nice and clean.

Steering BracketA rather hefty bracket is now in the process of being manufactured which will bolt to the steering box and mount (by means of the two smaller holes in the foreground) to the original mounting points on the Land Rover bulkhead. The steering column has already been shortened and fitted with an appropriate spline and this will make it a simple bolt on fit to the otherwise original Land Rover.
Visitors to the workshop may get the impression that – to borrow a line from a well known film – I do both types of welding: Gas and TIG. I have to confess, however that good old fashioned “stick welding”, more technically known as Shielded Metal Arc Welding, is much more appropriate for this job. I used my 30 year old Pickhill arc welder and duly have to confess to being old enough to have bought it new. These simple machines are known in America as “Buzz Boxes” which describes exactly how they sound and exactly what they look like. A good “Buzz Box” combines the harnessed power of a runaway combine harvester with all the finesse and control of a runaway combine harvester. Just the job for neatly joining together two large pieces of 1/4 inch plate!

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