Return to: DIY Projects
I enjoyed David Jack’s article on budget four-wheeling, particularly his advice regarding the overfilling of the Lada gearbox to extend the life of the 5th gear. Maintenance on older vehicles is vital to maintaining their reliability. Th is statement cannot be contested. Th e next statement also cannot be contested: old Land Rovers leak oil – period. Live with it, accept it, ignore what the Land Cruiser people say, and go on with your life. My ownership of a 1976 Series 3 SWB 4-cyl petrol ex-military allows me to say this, along with 30 plus years of re-building a string of vehicles.
The point is that the gearbox and transfer-case oil needs to be checked regularly on these vehicles, and if you have ever had to do this yourself, you will know that it is up there for horrible-ness with rootcanal work at the dentist.
The worst culprit is the gearbox, as checking cannot be done without getting oil all over your hands and running down your arms to your elbows, because of the proximity of the exhaust pipe. The dumb squeeze-bottles make a substantial contribution to the problem.
I was fortunate to get a Rocky Mountain overdrive from my friend Jo Holmes, in a swap for some other parts. With the kit is a dip-stick arrangement which screws into the filler plug hole in the transfer case, allowing the oil level to be checked from the removable panel under the seat. Very clever blokes designed this arrangement, and, in fact, the whole overdrive unit, which is excellent. As an aside, it is so robust that you effectively end up with 16 forward gears, because it can be used in low ratio.
A little bit of thought given to the filler neck and dipstick arrangement in the attached photos shows a fix that is well within the capabilities of a “do it yourselfer” – which most old-LR owners are.
I got all the fittings and pipe at my local Builders Warehouse, and I cut and soldered it up in 20 minutes. The existing filler plug is standard pipe thread, so everything was off -the-shelf. Th e plug was drilled for a piece of 3MM brazing rod, which was knocked in once the right length was established. I hope the photos are self-explanatory.
Funnily enough, there is a hole punched into the side of the transmission cover (normally covered with a rubber bung) which is just right for this whole modification.
With a drop of oil on the end of the dipstick, you end up with about 300/400ml extra oil in the gearbox, but it doesn’t matter − because, hey, it’s going to leak out anyway. The result, of course, is that I can now check the oil in the gearbox and transfer case, and top up (when needed) in about 10 minutes − without mess or swearing.
This whole long-winded essay is a message to the Lada people. Maybe this arrangement or adaptation could work for their vehicles.