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1994 NAS Defender 90 Repairs and Upgrades

This 1994 Defender 90 soft top has come to us from MA where it is used on Cape Cod for summer fun. This very early NAS Defender is holding up well. The parts that are still original are in very nice shape, but we can't say the same for the items that have been worked on. Yeah, we know, every shop bashes the other, but in this case it is true. The parts of this 90 that have not been touched are fine. Everything that has been serviced or added to this Rover are completely messed up. The good news is that the Rover is now here at ECR where all the repairs and upgrades will all be taken care of with our usual attention to detail, but sadly, to get to that point we have to "undo" all the previous mistakes so that the 90 will function correctly, both now and for the long run.

The first area of business is getting the mechanical systems of the 90 back into shape. The motor has suffered at the hands of a past mechanic who did not know Rovers or Rover parts, and also from numerous past and just plain overlooked repairs. We have gone back through the systems and corrected the faults and done all the needed service items that a 13 year old vehicle needs. These included small things like installing the correct tune up parts to larger items like installing the clutch slave correctly so that it could be bled free of air to make the clutch work correctly. The previous installers installed the clutch slave upside down.

The 90 arrived at ECR sounding like a full blown race car with a broken Y pipe and numerous exhaust leaks at the cylinder heads. We repaired the exhaust manifold leaks and then installed an ECR ROX 304 stainless steel exhaust system. This system not only cured the exhaust troubles of the 90, but will also stand up to the island use as it is a full 304 stainless system.

The ROX system is a larger bore than the factory system and along with using Random Technology cats (for long life vs factory or aftermarket cats) it has all stainless steel flanges, hangers and hardware for long life.

Here is another shot of the system. Some systems on the market use stainless pipe (usually 516 stainless, that rusts) with mild steel flanges. That way you have good pipes, but the flanges rust off quickly and that isn't a long lasting system in our opinion. The ECR ROX system was developed after all the problems we found with the other systems on the market and we built out all the problems, and you gain a little performance to boot.

This image shows a good reason why ECR should service your Defender. This 90 has had "expert" care before it arrived here at ECR. In doing our normal services to make the 90 trouble free we found the factory original fuel filter still in place, and you can see just how clogged it was. This same sort of thing went for the air cleaner, brake fluid and just about ever other system that needs to be serviced or lubricated on a Defender.

One last truly sickening "upgrade" that was hacked onto this 1994 D90 was 1995 style tail lamps. The 1994 D90 usually has the square type lights, but this one was converted to the 1995-1997 style units. The Rover arrived with some of the lights working and some of them not, and this is usually just a case of bad bulbs, bases or a bad ground, but what we found in this "upgrade" was a complete botch job. The correct connectors were not used. Instead, the installer stuffed the wires into the lamps and then coated everything with silicone to try and make them stay in place (obviously they didn't).

This image shows behind the rear lights. Due to the way the roll cage is in a 1994 D90 you can't really install the 1995-1997 lights unless you modify the brake light base to angle around the roll cage support (as we have correctly done, see the green arrow above). Instead of making this modification to make the lights work correctly the previous installer beat on the roll cage brace with an air chisel to try and gain the needed space. When that didn't work they carved up the rear body to try and make it fit. When that didn't work they just twisted the wires together and jammed them in the lights. What drives us crazy is that we know the customer paid good money to have these lights installed on his truck. We don't think he got his moneys worth considering the "upgrade" was never installed correctly and the damage done to the rear roll cage supports will now weaken the cage system in the event of a roll over. To cure the damage we installed the lights correctly and then wrapped and heat shrunk all the connections so that they will last in the harsh environment behind the rear wheels. So you may think you don't need to send your Defender to ECR for service and repairs... but if you don't you may be getting this type of "quality" work done to your car like this poor customer did. Our view is that it doesn't take any longer to do it right the first time, and it takes twice as long to fix up someone elses mistakes. Get your Defender done right the first time here at ECR.

With most of the pppr (previous piss poor repairs) work corrected and made right, we can now start to make correct and lasting upgrades to the Rover. Above you can see that we have added a set of Tuffy wheel well boxes to the rear of the 90. These add some much needed lockable space in the soft top Defender and also allow us to add a set of 6x9 Alpine speakers to give the 90 some better sound from the back of the vehicle. These boxes also happen to double as nice arm rests for the rear bench seat passengers.

Behind the boxes we have installed a set of ECR ROX spacers and painted them to match the Rover. These spacers fill the gap behind the Tuffy boxes and not only give it a finished look, but they prevent things from getting lost behind the boxes and keep the wiring in the rear corners of the 90 safe and sound. If you want a set for your own to install we sell them. Go here.

One of the requests from the owner of this 90 was that he wanted the ability to be able to play the radio at the beach for long periods of time and not worry about a possible dead battery. To make that a reality we have installed 2 Optima batteries in the 90 and added a dual battery cross-over system. This system allows the 90 to basically keep a second battery in reserve so that if the party goes on too long, a simple flip of the switch engages the 2nd battery and the Rover will start instantly, no more worrying about the electrical system, or if you left those work lights on too long.

The wiring and add ons in this 90 were really scary, we'll save you the nightmares of how the electrical upgrades were installed and just let you know that everything is now fused, switched and routed correctly. The new wiring and switches run the rear work/ reverse lamp and the front work light. The switch with the orange arrow runs the front work light. Simply flip the switch and the light come son and off. The switch is illuminated so that you can easily see that the work light is on. The green arrow points to the 3 way switch that runs the rear work/reverse light. In the up position the lamp is off all the time. In the middle position the rear lamp comes on and off when you select reverse in the gearbox for added light when backing up. Click the switch all the way down and the light comes on manually so you can load and unload your gear or set up camp. One last funny note on the ppprs. The way the rear work light was original wired it would only work when the tailgate was closed as the ground was incorrectly installed, so if you wanted to have the work light on while you opened and closed the tailgate... you couldn't. We have now wired it correctly and you can turn on the lamp anytime to make it much more user friendly.

Inside the 90 we have added the customers desired VHF marine radio so that they can communicate with boats and get the marine radio weather forecasts. We also added a PA system that works through the VHF so that announcements can be heard far and wide. We have also installed a Hella flexible map light for some much needed added light inside the 90 at night.

Outside the Rover we have fabricated a small stainless steel bracket for the VHF antenna that still gives good radio performance but keeps the overall height down and keeps the antenna out of harms way.

To add some more security, and to replace the seriously tired original cubby box, we have installed a new Tuffy center cubby box. This gives yet another secure place to lock valuables and also is a secure place for the new Alpine head unit and iPod hook up.

Open the new cubby box and the new Alpine head unit is exposed that has AM/FM and MP3 capabilities for tons of sound. We also added new Alpine front speakers to match the new 6x9s in the rear of the 90 for great overall sound.

Inside the cubby box we mounted the controls for the dual battery system. Flip the switch to "Dual On" and the vehicle maintains the twin batteries so that they are always at the ready and this is where the switch should be left. If you want to switch back to a normal one battery system switch it to "Dual Off". In case of a dead battery flick the switch to "Emer On" (Emergency On) and the second battery will kick in giving you a "jump start" without ever having to ask anyone for help.

This image shows the small retainer we made for the iPod. Simply hook up the iPod, as shown, and slide it into the foam backed retainer and close the lid of the cubby box. All you iPod's music is now available from the new Alpine head unit and your iPod can stay safely in the cubby box while it charges.

Along with the VHF marine radio we installed the owner wanted a PA/Hailer system to go along with the VHF, so we installed the PA speaker on the inner fenderwell and used a Td5 headlamp trim that has louvers on the front (because in a Td5 Defender the horn is behind the louvers) to allow the sound to travel correctly while the unsightly speaker stays safe and out of the way.

Here you can see the Defender 90 finished up and ready to head to Cape Cod for another summer of memories. Memories made that much better by ECR providing a correctly set up Rover that will do all its jobs better.
If you have Defender needs, from routine service to custom modifications, contact ECR. We'll be happy to help in any way we can and you'll be able to rest easy knowing the work was fully tested and done right the first time.


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