Angola - the bush mechanic and an indestructible diff





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  1. #1
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    Default Angola - the bush mechanic and an indestructible diff

    We have just got back from a 3 week trip to Flamingo Lodge in our 2002 Defender. This is about a 6000km round trip from KZN where we live. No drama on the way up but an interesting and eventful trip back.

    On our way back we decided to spend a night in Lubango and vist the Tunda Valla before tackling the 400 odd km's to the border with Namibia at Santa Clara/Oshikango. On the afternoon in Lubango I noticed diff oil leaking through the side shaft dust cover on the left rear wheel.

    We were camped on a farm just outside town called Fazela Jamba - owned by an Angolan who studied in George and run by a South African guy from George. The farm interestingly enough also has 10 or so Dorstland Trekker graves on it.They suggested we let their mechanic have a look in the morning before we left.

    Now one needs to understand the situation in Angola - if you do not have the spares with you you don't get them other than flying them in specially. So he suspects it is a seal on the shaft and we open it up and that is what it is. We do not have a spare with us but he removes the spring from the seal, finds a new one off another seal lying around. It is a bit big but no problem - he cuts it smaller, joins it together, puts it in and job done and we think problem fixed. The last thing he does is sends an appy underneath to ensure diff oil levels OK. No one checks this last step and after much thank yous - and no payment - they did not want to be paid- we hit the road. And now the real saga begins.

    About 70km's further on I hear what I thought is a stone hitting the underneath of the defender. 30km's later we stop for a tea break and I smell oil - I check the diff housing and the plug is gone !!!!!!!!!!!!!! and even though the gears are still wet with oil there is no oil left in the diff.

    By some luck we had cell signal where we were and I could get hold of my mechanic in PMB. We put 500ml of gear oil I had with me in the diff and topped up with engine oil. Made a plug with a stick and insulation tape and headed back to Lubango and the same farm. We then got the mechanic to make a plug with a welsh plug and a plumbing fitting - filled up with oil and thought now we are definitely sorted.

    Later that afternoon while reversing around the camp-site I felt and heard serious clunking and jamming in the diff and now thought the lack of oil earlier is now leading to diff failure. Anyway after another discussion with my mechanic in SA and an alternative plan to remove rear side shafts and prop shaft and drive home on the front wheels if the diff fails we left the next morning.

    So for 240km's everything is going fine on the new tar road. But then you come to a nasty 80km section of road that is yet to be fixed. As I leave the tar onto the side of the road to drive on the sand we hit a bump and the diff locks up and we skid to a stop. We restart and I reverse slightly and the diff unlocks. We discuss removing the side shafts etc but everything sounds OK and we keep going doing about 20km's per hour for 80km's. A bit further the diff almost locks again but keeps going. A further bit of grating and two knocks in the 80km's and then no further problems.

    We cross in to Namibia and by now are thinking something must be broken in the diff. So the next morning we decide in Otjiwarongo to open the diff and check- would hate the diff to lock up on tar at 100km's plus.

    So we open the diff and guess what we find.............the remnants of the diff plug and a whole lot of iron filings. It seems what happened was that the guy in Angola who checked the oil levels must have overtightened the plug and it worked its way in to the diff and was caught and ripped inside the diff by the gears. The thread in the diff cover plate was bent as a result of this happening. The diff locking up and all the other noises were happening as the plug was thrown around in there and in to the gears.

    Believe it or not though not one little bit of damage to what must be an almost indestructible Salisbury diff on the rear of the Defenders that merely ground the plug into little bits. The place we stopped at had a second hand diff cover and after making a new gasket and filling with oil we continued the drive home with no problems and no repairs necessary. Total cost here to do this - R350

    So the Landy continues to amaze me. I do not believe any Japanese or American car would have survived something like this happening. Even the German guy in Otjiwarongo was totally impressed and him having driven down from Germany across Africa in a Landy 14 years ago says he would not venture the journey in anything other than a Defender.

    THE BEAUTY IS IN THE SIMPLICITY.

    DEFENDERS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. #2
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    Default

    I am a big fan of the Salisbury rear diff. Militrary grade, indestructible. The little ground clearance you sacrifice for the bigger pumpkin is outweighed by the benefit.
    And I like the name.

    Cant say that the same would have happened with the Rovers or newer Puma diffs
    Sold Land Rover 110 Tdi Hard top.
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    Sold: 2000 Discovery2 V8 Auto

    Current: 2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R: Mommy wagon, strapped to a rocket. What a car!

    Orra call sign B226

  3. #3
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    Common problem on Salisbury diffs. I replaced my rear diff level plug with a brass plug with stop lip after a similar experience (though I caught it early and did not run without oil). Permanent solution is to weld proper threaded boss in cover.
    '89 LR 110 V8

  4. #4
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    Hi Mike

    Thanks for the steps....

    Where did you get the plug?

    I have to check all oils and lubes on the 110 this December, and I reckon I don't want my filler or drain plugs in the diff.
    2012 Jeep Sahara Unlimited 3.6 V6
    Percivamus

  5. #5
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    Ek kry somer hoender-vleis as ek sulke stories hoor..wys net die Defender is a CHAMP!!
    "Jaag elke avontuur met n Hart wat gelowig klop"

    2008 Land Rover Puma 90 - sold
    2003 Land Rover Disco 2 Td5 - sold
    1972 Land Rover Series 3 88'' - investment
    2011 Land Rover Puma 110 - SWAMBO daily
    1966 Land Rover Series 2a 109" diesel - investment

  6. #6
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    Glad you are sorted. Nice story.
    I would like to challenge you in a nice way naturally ,on your statement that American and Japanese made stuff wouldn't have survived if something like this happened to them.I wouldn't be too sure of that hey
    ORA
    Last edited by OFFROAD ADDICT; 2011/09/12 at 08:31 PM.
    ORA
    -------------------------
    Ian

  7. #7
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    The Salisbury is/was a blatant copy of a Dana axle. Which is American.
    2012 Jeep Sahara Unlimited 3.6 V6
    Percivamus

  8. #8
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    When i was younger in the states, my brothers roomate had a chevy blazer the fullsize one withthe v8. he blew his ring gear mudding. after a tow home he took a product in states called jb weld ( one of those mix 2 liquids compounds that work on metal parts) glued the ring back together with jb weld and after it dried replaced it in the blazer and never had issue for year or 2 till he sold it.


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