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Series Land Rovers

General Maintenance: Cleaning after a mud run


"They die in the worst possible spot, revisited"

by Dixon Kenner (OVLR)

GENERAL SERVICING: After Murray's little build a road session, Bob Wood took fifteen gallons of mud off of his Land Rover. (He shoveled it into five gallon pails to save digging out the drainage pit). More mud made it down the drain and there was still more mud to come off of the "Bread Wagon". This observation lead to a long discussion on what else needs to be done after an off-road session.

"They die in the worst possible spot, revisited"

Back in April, with the off-roading season quickly approaching, Ted Rose wrote a short article entitled "They die in the worst possible spot" which outlined how to prepare your vehicle for a mud run. Now that the season is well underway, in fact well more than half over, it may be time for an article on what you do after a mud run. Just as preparing your vehicle properly is important, you just don't drive home and leave the Rover in the driveway until next t time. Bearing that in mind...

A good number of members regularly participate in off-road events and these people generally seem to have fairly reliable vehicles. Could there be some sort of connection between vehicle reliability and mud runs? Well, when one thinks about it there is. Mud runs, whether they be an afternoon jaunt down to Larose Forest, Dwyer Hill Road, or a more serious overnight run down the Calabogie Hydro Cut/Flower Station route can be expensive propositions. By expensive, we are not including any accidental d damage that may occur. As one of the unofficial club mottos goes: "Shit Happens". Here we are discussing the costs and work involved in participating in the monthly club mud run.

First the costs. Why should you even bother to read on, well... What costs come quickly to mind? Well, be prepared to go through at least one set of brake shoes a year. More than likely, depending on how often you venture into the mire, (and what p particular flavor of mire) you could be looking at two sets. Unlike the old days when it was a viable option to re pad a brake shoe, today new shoes are almost the same cost as re padding a shoe. Buying a new set will cost you about $60 an axle. If you don't clean out the brakes and you are looking not only at a new set of shoes every so often, but be prepared to go and buy new drums every few years. Drums could cost you upwards of $140 each, depending on what source you are going to get them from. While they will last through several sets of shoes, if you don't replace eaten shoes, the drums will get damaged. They are cheaper in England, but they weight a bit and you will be paying more in shipping than if you paid more from them in America.

Seeing that these figures can add up, what should you be doing after a mud run? A fair amount of work and the sooner the better. You should start by putting the vehicle up on jack stands. If it is summertime, your lawn probably could use a drink and some extra soil, so put your Land Rover on the front lawn. The driveway works if you don't mind cleaning it off afterwards, assuming you even bother. To clean the frame, a hose or pressure washer is fine to use.

Turn the hose onto the frame. Outriggers, nooks and crannies in the body can hold quite a lot of mud. Shoot the hose into the frame. You will be surprised at how much mud there is hiding up there. On top of the petrol tank is another hard to get a t, but excellent collection spot for mud. Aim the hose at the top outsides of the wheel wells and run your fingers along the internal lips along the edge of the fenders. You will find them full of mud. Make sure that you get the wiring harness free of the caked mud. Leaving this stuff around the lights and wires will lead to problems and sooner than necessary replacement. Older Land Rovers have a cloth covered harness. Mud and water will do wonders for that. No wonder people complain about Lucas el electrics.

Leaving the mud on there is just asking for an early case of frame rot. It should be noted that next month brings the annual OVLR frame oiler. As your frame needs to be nice and clean if the oil is going to do any good, now would be a good time to ge t under your vehicle and start cleaning. A clean underside also makes a lot more pleasant to work. Lying under the Rover, periodically getting showered with dirt as you try and do something is annoying. It is even more annoying to the person who might be doing you a favor and doing some of this work for you.

Bear in mind a new frame is going to cost you a minimum of $1,000, bar shipping, GST etc., from the U.K.. Bulkheads are not cheap either, difficult to repair, yet how many people le are not being meticulous with cleaning after ever mud run and have no splash guards inside the front wings? You would be amazed at how much mud can collect on the top portion of the bulkhead in and around the brake and clutch assemblies on one side, the heater core on the other. The foot wells rot out, not only because of the salt in the winter, but by being continuously kept wet from the mud above. Some of us, like me do not have the splash guards in place, but at least do clean thoroughly after every mud run. (yeah, I know, my set of splash guards are hanging on the basement wall...

Take off the wheels and the drums (the second might be a bit difficult. Drums tend to be uncooperative at the best of times, and these drums may be full). Look at the mud and clay that are packed inside the drum. With a hose, clean out all of the mud and clay. Do not use a pressure washer to clean out the brakes. The pressure from the washer will force water through the seals, something you do not want. It should be clean inside there. Put the drums back on. Put some anti-seize on the drum screws before you replace them. With a large spanner in hand, find the adjuster, turn the wheel, and adjust the brakes. Despite the fact that you just put on new shoes two days ago, you will be amazed at how much of the pad has been eaten away by the fine clay that is normal for our environment.

While playing with the brakes, don't forget to wash out the gearbox/ transmission/ parking brake, assuming it works in the first place. It hangs a bit low and acts at times like a grader picking up everything. The transmission brake could be failing b because of a leaking rear seal, the lever arrangement is rusted solid et cetera, besides being full of mud and clay. However to keep the drum and shoes in good shape it should be cleaned.

Get out the grease gun and grease any places you are able to (some tie rod ends and u-joints have grease nipples, others don't). Forcing grease in will force any water out. Put some grease on the wheel cylinder nuts and bleed screws, just to keep the them from seizing up solidly and creating a large headache when you have to bleed or otherwise address the brake hydraulic system.

Other things that suffer greater than normal wear includes your clutch. As you rock back and forth, keeping moving in some bog, you are putting a lot of extra wear on the clutch plate. You are also looking at potential problems with your rear main se al. Once and a while you should check the fluid level in the diffs. In fact seeing how much water is also in there would be a good idea. You don't want to be like one Land Rover I know of that one winter had to be towed down the road, fishtailing all the way trying to get the rear axle to crack the ice within.

How often should you be cleaning and how thoroughly? It all depends on how deeply you muddied the Land Rover and what soil types you were playing in. Larose Forest and Doc Dolan's spread both have spots of a very fine clay. This clay can blow away a set of shoes in one afternoon. The Calabogie/Flower Station run doesn't have fine clay, but it does have some thick black mud that sticks all over the place. For the most part, the mud collected in some light off roads will not require the removal of b rake drums and meticulous cleaning.

What should you be carrying on a mud run? Expanding slightly on the list that appeared in last month's newsletter (a good starting point). Some people bring absolutely nothing, not even a spare tire. Some bring just about everything, which is really nice if you happen to forget something. If you want to be prepared, and many are, get a large plastic or metal box and fill it up. Below is a short list of recommended items:

  1. Some electrical goodies: A coil, cap, rotor, and if you are ambitious a set of wires are a good idea. Considering when you are wading in fairly deep water you will notice that the water of pouring out over the wings like two small, but high volume w waterfalls. Think about where else that water is going underneath the hood. LUCAS electrics are not renowned for their reliability in wet situations. Add to the little box a can of WD-40. The stuff is a requirement to drive the water out of wet wires, et cetera, when your prized pet is dead with electrical failure.
  2. Silicone sealant, or Hylamar. A couple quarts of engine oil (20w50 or your own synthetic oil if that is what you are using) and hypoid gear oil (90wt).
  3. Some mechanical wire, gaffers tape, and electrical tape.
  4. Hose clamps (Jubilee clips for the concours types, Tridon for those who like Canadian Tire).
  5. A box of tools (spanners, sockets, vice grips, screw drivers, big rock for Bates to use).
  6. Some rags and stuff to clean up with would also be nice.

In conclusion, to quote one long time member, "mud runs are bloody expensive. OVLR is renowned for its mud runs, but it costs..." There are ways to minimize these costs and while Land Rovers may look better covered in mud, the underside should be free of it. Who cares about appearances, well....

Reprinted from the Ottawa Valley Land Rovers newsletter, October, 1994


Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-2011. Last modified March 15, 2005.
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