I heard about a guy refurbishing a Range Rover Classic who was pleased to find a NOS (new old stock) Boge self-levelling strut.
It reminded me of those day when a debate raged about these struts.
In case you are not aware, the strut was fitted to an A-frame under the rear of the early Range Rovers and, when a a lot of weight was carried in the back, the strut would pump up and level up the rear. Some of the earliest 110s had it as well.
You need to remember that this was in the days before anyone could just go out and buy a set of 2ins lift heavy duty suspension for Range Rovers – or any other Land Rover come to that. So those of us who wanted a bit more ground clearance and tougher suspension for hard off-roading and carrying all that recovery gear, had to come up with our own ideas.
It’s so long ago now that I can’t remember exactly what we came up with for the 1972 Range Rover, OSM 400M, that I rebuilt, but it was something like Ninety rear coils on the front and hi-cap rears on the back. Gas shocks were easy even in those days. I chose Rancho. I think we measured a 1.5 ins lift from this setup.
Now, back to the Boge strut. The debate I referred to above was about whether to keep it or not.
If it was fitted and leaked, you would fail an MOT. And to replace it was a lot of money. So the idea spread that if it was cut off with an angle grinder, and the cut nub end rounded off, ninety per cent of MOT inspectors wouldn’t know something was supposed to be there and, therefore, not fail it.
The feeling was that, with up-rated suspension the strut was superfluous anyway.
Having thought, and talked it over with my mates, I cut mine off – a lot easier at the time as we were down to a rolling chassis.
I recall that, at about the same time Russell Fisher, the editor of the then 4×4 Magazine also cut the one off the chassis that was being used to build the famous TEW 100 inch hybrid.
Whatever the coils I came up with for OSM I never had a moment’s problem with the suspension so I was happy enough.
The story doesn’t quite end there tho.
Some time later, when I wrote a feature story on the work of the Greater Manchester Police Motorway Unit for the newspaper I worked for at the time, it was hard not to notice the large numbers of Range Rovers they were using.
I wrote freelance articles on off-roading and Land Rovers for various magazines over the years and I suggested to the editor of whichever one I wrote for at the time that an article about the recovery gear GMP Rangies carried might go down well.
I got the nod.
In those days when we had to put our own kit together, from places like sailing chandleries and professional crane and lifting companies we found a few things the bobbies did were useful.
For instance, just inside the tailgate, there was a sheath knife fixed to the interior. My police guide explained that if someone was trapped in a vehicle by their seatbelt the knife had to be close at hand – and every Police Range Rover would have it in the same place. (Again, this would be before those seatbelt cutting gizmos hit the market)
Another idea I picked up on was the flat recovery strops. They rolled up into a smaller space than a rope to store and, if covered in mud they could be hosed down whilst lying flat, where ropes would trap mud and stones inside the yarns which could weaken them.
I loved the comment about one strop when I asked what the breaking strain was: “I dunno, but it will pull a loaded artic. (old man-speak for HGV) off the carriageway on its side!”
And finally I get to the point of this story. The Rangie was loaded. It took three bobbies a good half an hour to empty the whole thing for the sake of my story and a photograph.
I remarked on the weight and asked if they carried out any suspension modifications.
The story was that they would like to but had not been allowed to – remove the self-levelling strut.
I was told that (at the time, it may have changed now) any modifications from standard needed a request to “on high” and removing the strut had been refused.
They said that the self-levelling strut, sensing all that weight, pumped the motor up as high as it could go as soon as it hit the road.
This wasn’t a problem in normal motoring but, when weaving in and out of traffic at speed in an emergency, or chase, the normal suspension at each side barely worked so that the whole rear end pivoted on the strut. Quite frankly, they said, it was dangerous at high speeds.
They were jealous when I told them I’d cut mine off.
…Oh, and as an aside. I have spoken to many people over the years who fitted “Police Spec.” springs to their Range Rover or Land Rover. They didn’t you know. There is no such thing outside of the marketing man’s imagination.
Sticking with suspension for a moment or two.
I once wrote, in a magazine, that I am opposed to replacing the air springs on the P38 and L322 Range Rover with coils.
My reasoning was that those airbags were engineered to go with the weight of those vehicles (and incidentally, didn’t have the Boge strut ‘cos the air suspension is self-levelling anyway). I doubt if the same expertise – and expense – has gone into manufacturing coils for those motors.
However, given that the soft dash Range Rover Classic was originally designed for coils I can’t see any good reason why the air suspension fitted to that model can’t be changed
Am I the only person in the universe who thinks that the Lego Land Rover is ugly, with only a vague resemblance to a Land Rover ? Oh, and the colour is horrible as well…
…and am I the only person who is frightened to open my electrically-powered sunroof ? What if I can’t get it closed again ?
I’m not sure if I’ve written this in my blog, or in some magazine or another years ago but I was reminded of it the other day so…
A bunch of us from work (obviously before I retired) were in the pub and a conversation started: “what’s your dream car?”.
It went around the table with Ferrari and Mustang etc etc, until it got to me. Slightly embarrassed I said: “I drive my dream car…” (Range Rover in case any of you are wondering!)
There is a saying: “A picture paints a thousand words.”
…it takes words to say that.