ECR4: PROJECT DEFENDER
ECR 4: 4 point internal roll cage and interior trim
A customer who has been watching the build up of ECR 4 on this web site asked me if recently if ECR 4 would ever be "done". I guess I was taken back by the question because to me it is done. What I mean by that is that I drive it everyday, it is my primary source of transportation and I haven't missed an off road event yet since it has been built. I'm sure he was referring to that fact that ever time he logs onto the ECR site that something else has been added to ECR 4, so technically he is right, ECR 4 is in a constant state of flux and I doubt it will ever be "done". It continues to be tweaked and modified to be the best Defender 90 for me. My answer to the customer was that is is a lot closer to being done now, than it was last winter! Considering it didn't exist last winter.
The next update to ECR 4 is the fabrication and installation of a 4 point roll cage that fits under the current hard top, and that will fit under this summer's soft top. The bar will be designed to hold all my water sensitive electronics up in a center pod that will keep everything up as high as possible. This keeps the Tdi's deep water capability and means I won't be shorting out anything if ECR 4 goes for a swim. Yes, I know the raised air intake hasn't been built yet, that too is on the list, but safety first, right? Actually I really want a CD player, screw safety (just kidding)... that air intake can wait, I'm tired of listening to Super Swamper tire "whine" on long trips!
Seriously, the first step in the roll bar was to mock everything up and make sure the design worked with all aspects of hard and soft tops and was ergonomically correct.
The hard top was tested with the mocked up bars, and then removed so that the bars that had been temporarily tacked together could be removed for full tig welded for strength. In this image you can see the hard top is being take apart and is about to come off. If you remember from the initial build up of ECR 4, you'll recall we strengthened the bulkhead to be ultra tough so that the upcoming roll cage could mount directly to it. That system worked out well and the cage mounts are very slick.
Once the cage was fully tig welded and all the seat belt mounting points had been added the cage was fully sandblasted and painted in a semi-gloss gray that matches the interior color of the 95-97 D90 Station Wagons. This image shows the cage prior to paint.
With the paint work done, the cage was installed back into ECR 4 and the trim around the dash board was finished out. Here you can see the cage back in the 90 and bolted in place. The lower body mounts (that you can't see) mean that the cage is tied in top to bottom and side to side to the galvanized frame for roll over protection. You can also see that the shoulder belts are self contained in the roll cage, so no matter if you run a full hard top, no top, or full soft top the shoulder inertia belts will still work correctly.
With everything in place the hard top was installed on ECR 4 and the front and rear headliners and roof side trims were installed. This image shows the front headliner and the front hoop of the roll cage in place. The twin bars in the middle connect the structure, as well as give a place to mount the electronics such as the CD player, CB, etc. Watch for more images as the interior and electronics package is added.
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