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Sunday 31 August 2014

Econoseal Installation Summary

I've started to wire up my Daytime Running Lamps (DRL) connectors.

I'm using Econoseal waterproof connectors at the lamp end because they are likely to spend time underwater.  It is a Land Rover submarine after all.

Econoseal is the same connector used by Land Rover on the Discovery 2 for the reversing light switch and for the factory fitted spot lights.  I am also using a 4 way version to connect the DRL switching circuit neatly to the rest of the loom near the fuse box.  The connectors look neat and I have found them available individually at reasonable prices.

I searched on the Internet for fitting instructions and I initially only found another blog, the product brochure and some generic instructions.  Even the product brochure does not have any instructions.  The motorcycle enthusiasts blog was useful and pointed me in the right direction.  Eventually I found some ancient type writer style instructions from 1999 but are the current, 2014, up to date instructions!

I did not read the instructions until after I had done the first connector.  I got most of the assembly right but the water resistant bung should have been crimped along with the cable grip.  I did that with the next plug I assembled.

The assembly procedure is fairly straight forward.

Push the water proof bung on to the cable with the long thin end pointing towards the pin.  Give yourself about 2cm of cable to play with.  The bungs come in different sizes for different outside diameter cables.  The shop I bought from always ship with the smallest size and I bought some of the next size up as well.  It's a tiny bit fiddly but fairly easy to push on by hand.

Bare about 4mm of cable or on smaller cable double and fold back on itself.

Generic Ratchet Tool Damaged the Rubber Seal

Push the rubber bung back up the wire up to the bared bit but not covering it at all.

I used a generic ratchet crimping tool not designed for Econoseal.  I used the non-insulated spade connector insert for the Econoseal pins.  The middle size was perfect for the wire crimp but damaged the end of the rubber bung!

I eventually decided to form the cable grip round the rubber seal manually with a simple crimp tool and then use the larger size crimp tool position to form the start of the cable grip.  Then tidy it up using the simpler tool.  It's not ideal and needs a bit of care because the pins will not fit in to the housing if it is bent too much or sticks out sideways too much.    I also needed to be careful to ensure that none of the connection part of the pin was inside the ratchet crimping tool.  The edge of the wire crimp nearest to the connection end needed to be level with the outside of the tool to get a good crimp without damaging the contact section of the pin.

I have a few more to do so I have ordered a crimping tool with the right sized formers for the job.

The correct tool is best for this job

All my other low cost crimp tools were for insulated terminals which is the wrong type.  I am fairly sure that most of the low cost small non-insulated terminal crimp tools would probably be good enough for the job.  Even the wrong type I already have is just about good enough to crimp the wire in with a bit of effort but it does not form the crimp as neatly on its own as the ratchet crimp tool does with its better shape die.

The pins only fit one way up in the housing.  You can loosely slide them in easily but don't go too far until you are ready.  If the crimp mal-forms the pin it will not fit in the housing.  It's hard to describe but when you have a connector in you hand you can work out which way up the pin fits.

When formed correctly you need very little pressure to push the pin home.  You will feel a slight but obvious click.  If you find you are having to force them, you probably have the pin up the wrong way.

Once all the pins are in then put the yellow surround over the facing end.  There is a key-way molded in so it only fits properly one way up.  I had one that required a bit of wiggling but eventually it went in.

I think the end result is very neat. Job done.


Addition: Feb 2017

If you need to install a blanking bung in an Econoseal connector, it only goes in one way round.

Push in from the back holding the smaller end.


Specific Econoseal crimp tools:
[I can no longer find a supplier in the UK for the non-ratchet tool that I have]
You need a very small crimp for the Econoseal conductor
This e-bay link claims to do the job but is not the same as the one I use:
This looks like the crimp tool I used for the Econoseal connectors but I can only find it available in the US!

Generic crimp tools:
Non-insulated, non-ratchet
Very low cost that should do the job with a bit of extra help to form the small connection:
Better quality which is what I would use if I only had a few to do:

Forum discussions:

Econoseal manufacturer:
Update, I have since found the installation instructions on the 'See All Documents' link on the manufacturers Econoseal product pages:

Sunday 10 August 2014

Fitting a Tow Bar to a Discovery 2

It may be a bit over the top but I have changed my perfectly good genuine Land Rover tow bar for an after market alternative.

There is a reason but only a few people will appreciate it.  Off road the tow bar dramatically reduces the departure angle and acts as a drag anchor!  It does however protect the back of the car from some damage.

I need a tow bar from time to time.  About two or three times a year it is used to tow a harrow round some paddocks and rarely to tow a tiny trailer.

I wanted to have a tow bar so I looked round at what was available that might be less in the way when off-road.  Being a 2004 car the tow bar has to be type approved to European Union directive 94/20/EC so I can't design or modify my own.

The US type 2" receiver hitch is an excellent idea and they exist for the Discovery 2 but no one has type approved it for use in the EU!

Nearly all the type approved designs for the Discovery are similar to the original Land Rover version.  Mainly because the mounting points have to use the ones provided!  Luckily Tow-Trust's design uses a removable drop plate instead of the fixed plate used by Land Rover.  It may only save 80mm but that is something.

The Tow-Trust web site has a generic picture.  They kindly e-mailed me the design showing the measurements and confirmed the type approval number: e11*94/20*1658*00
The fitting instructions show the shape of the metalwork.

I fitted this on Sunday.  As is common with cars it is a very simple job made very difficult by rusted on bolts!

It's not necessary to remove the rear bumper but it gave me easier access to the stubborn bolts and a tiny bit more space for leverage.

The bumper is very easy to remove.  It is only two bolts and disconnect the lights.

The rear lights are easy to remove from the bumper, just push in the metal clip from behind on the inside edge and push out.  Once the lamps are out, unclip the wiring loom from the bumper either side. The wires are held up with a single plastic clip either side of the bumper, visible and easily reached from within the hole left after removing the lamp.  The clip is just pinched together to pop it out.

I have reversing sensors.  That plug and socket need to be separated so the lead attached to the car is free.  The socket remains attached to the bumper and the plug is attached to the, now free, lighting loom.

Also removed through the holes left by the lamps are the short bolts holding on the bumper.  One either side and mine came out with little effort.  The bumper then just drops off.

That leaves the rear free to access the tow bar and made it easy to remove the rusty rear step.

Now it gets tricky.  There are only 4 bolts to remove to get the tow bar off but you can guess the problem.  After 10 years they don't want to come out.  I did the usual stuff, starting with soaking them in penetrating oil and eventually ending with one needing to be angle ground off.

The two in the middle at the top bolt in to two fixed threaded holes in the chassis.  A long breaker bar loosened them.  I left them loose while taking off the stubborn bolts at the end of the arms further back.  I can't give any extra tips because I broke an impact socket and, as I said, I finished with an angle grinder.

I even needed an angle grinder to remove the bolt holding the electric socket bracket on.  I wanted to re-use the stronger bracket.  Unfortunately I did not know at that time that it would not fit the new tow bar!

While I had the back of the car apart I took the opportunity to treat the chassis.  I used Dinitrol ML inside the entire chassis sprayed in using an air line.  When I changed to the black 4941 stuff for the outside the spray gun sprung a hole and stopped working!

I did what I could reach with a brush.

Assembly of the tow bar is fairly simple and just need to torque up the bolts to the specified values.

I tend to go a bit overboard with copper grease to avoid bolts getting rusted in and in this case to stop the under-seal gluing the components together.  I do spend a lot of time cleaning threads but that is a lot easier than angle grinding.

A couple of bolts torqued up to 45Nm and the bumper is back on.

Job done.

Thursday 7 August 2014

UK Car Lighting Rules

While looking for what type of lights to fit to my new bumper I came across some unexpected information.

There's lots of talk and few citations back to the actual rules but as the Discovery 2 (D2) is type approved, I came to the following conclusion:
Fit lights that have the 'E' mark on them just to be sure.

The only people who are likely to look close enough are MOT testers but I don't want my car to fail an MOT just because they don't like my choice of lighting.

More interesting was the bit about headlamp washers because I had just removed mine!

I had no idea that the washer jets are a requirement if you have bright High-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and apparently LED headlamps.

Luckily I have never felt the need to fit brighter lamps.  I am happy with a good set of normal halogen lamps.  Those people that like the HID lamps may need to think carefully if they fit a heavy duty bumper because few if any accommodate headlamp washers.  I expect this will change if more car manufacturers fit HID lamps as standard.

In my reading I also strengthened my view that retro fitting LED lamps in to non-LED light units is not legal at the moment or at least confused enough to not be worth the trouble.

I'm talking about exterior lights, specifically the headlamps.  I will change the interior lamps to LED to save a bit of power when the doors are open.

It is a shame that the laws relating to the exterior lights make me hesitate because I am a big fan of LED technology.  Their theoretical durability and long life make them ideal for cars.  I'll just have to hope that the legislation or guidance round it is adjusted to take in to account the LED replacement lamps or perhaps that someone manufactures and gets EU approval for aftermarket LED lighting for a D2.

I am not as sure on the legal requirement for sidelights and indicators etc.  Some police forums only comment on the individual lamps requiring to be E marked.  I cannot find the definitive answer on this. 

However it is unlikely to be worth fitting LED indicators because the existing circuits designed for filament lamps are unlikely to flash correctly front and back! (Update 2017: You can now buy adjustable flasher units that are a direct replacement for the originals. These are specifically for LED indicators.)

Although not applicable to the D2, on some cars the can-bus system that detects if a lamp is working will not detect the presence of an LED lamp and therefore reports a fault!  The LED lamps that are compatible include a resistor but that defeats one of the benefits of LED which is much lower power usage.  The resistor draws the same power as the filament.  So fitting side and tail lights might have little if any benefit on some vehicles.

Plus there is a mixed bag of reliability information.  For each post I found reporting how reliable LED lamps are I found as many saying how unreliable they are!

My conclusion is that existing car lamps are so reliable and low cost that, in my opinion, at the moment there is no point in fiddling about with swapping to LED lamps on my Discovery 2.  Given a choice I would select light units with LED over filament but not retro fit LED lamps to existing units.

Over time I am sure things will change and the technology will become accepted so expect my car to get an LED makeover at some point.



European Union site
European Directive 76/656/EEC, as amended by 2008/89/EC
The Motor Vehicles (Designation of Approval Marks) Regulations 1979(2)

Lots of UK legislation

Changes to the MOT test for HID and LED headlamps 2011:

Lamp type approval:

Monday 4 August 2014

Discovery 2 Fitting A Bumper

It's been a bit of a Land Rover couple of weeks.  I've spent a lot of time under or in our Discovery 2.

On Saturday I fitted the heavy duty bumper and steering guard that I ordered from Torque Performance.  I spent ages looking round for a bumper that looked good and provided the strength I wanted for off-road use.

I want a car to use off-road but I also only want one car so it needs to look nice as well.

This shows the end result.

Torque Performance made it and were ready to ship in about a week. I had to delay things because I needed a Saturday delivery.

I started removing the old bumper about 9am and worked all day.  I had tidied up all my tools and was back in doors at about 7:30pm.  I think most people could do it quicker than that but I stop to take a lot of photos as I go plus the odd distraction.

The steering guard does not come with any instructions for fitting so I had to work that out but luckily removing the old bumper is covered by the Discovery 2 Accessory fitting guide.  Page 152 covers fitting a light bar which includes removing the bumper.  This is handy because before I read that I had a completely different expectation of where the bolts would be.

Removing the bumper should be a fairly easy job but as always the problem is removing stubborn screws.

The screws holding the wheel arch liner were the most difficult.  6 out of 7 on each side were easy, one  I had to drill out and one unbolted from the wheel arch instead of unscrewing from the liner.

Once the liners are removed, you can easily see the bumper bolts.

It is worth knowing that the side studs run in a slot, so the nuts only need to be loosened rather than fully removed.

I also removed the grill but that was because I was replacing it with a pimped version.

There are a few cables and the headlight washer pipe to disconnect but the removal is fairly easy.  I did the entire job on my own, supporting the bumper on timber, so it did not drop.

Once the bumper is off the crush cans can be removed from the end of the chassis as these are not used by the new bumper.

The heavy duty bumper does not provide positions for the washer jets.  These are too easily damaged for off road use so I am glad to get rid of them. I was not sure how to seal off the pipe.  I did not have anything suitable to block the tube, so I opted for clogging up the washer pump with mastic and refitting.  Some people might not like the idea of deliberately ruining a perfectly serviceable component but I had no further use for it, except to block the hole.  I also disconnected the cables and taped up the connectors.

Now I was ready to start fitting the new bits.  The first fitting job was the steering guard.  This was the hardest job.  It fits using two of the steering box bolts on the drivers side (UK right hand drive) and an existing hole in the chassis on the passenger side.

The hole on the passenger side is covered by a plastic liner.  Although the three screws are easy to remove, forcing the liner out of the way is tricky.  With a bit of bending it is possible to get it out and back in again.  The liner needs to be cut round the nut to get it back in.

The steering guard is heavy and awkward.  The bracket is a tight fit for the chassis and it has to go under the anti roll bar and over the track rod.  I used a trolley jack to support it while I aligned it.  I had a bit of a delay at this point because I didn't want to remove the steering box bolts until I knew what torque setting was needed to put the bolts back.  Eventually I found it in the Haynes manual which stated 90Nm.

For mounting at the chassis end, Paul at Torque Performance, gave me a pointer on the phone when  I placed the order.  He said slip the bolts part way in through the steering guard holes, then offer up the bumper and push the bolts through to support the bumper.

There is a lot of allowance for variations in Land Rover sizes and for other accessories so the steering guard needs bending slightly to get enough bolt to stick through to fit the nut on.  I used a G clamp just for a moment to get the nuts on.

The bumper has huge slots so it was easy to just slip the bolts in at any position and then adjust to the desired height and angle when tightening the nuts.  I could have done with some thick oversized washers as the slots are quite wide.  I did not have any to hand but may retro fit some another day.

I used some 6mm timber to make sure the gap was even round the bumper.  From then on it's all plain sailing to finish the job.

The lamp bar is extra but easy to fit with three allen bolts on either side. I did have to file down a washer to make it fit as the hole was close to the bumper bracket.

I fitted the number plate with steel bolts and number plate stickers just to be sure.  This whole renewed interest started when we forded some deep water that washed the number plate off early in the year.

It was a busy weekend and there will be a couple more blogs on what I changed next on the Discovery.



October 2014: I now also have the matching rear bumper.

September 2016: The powder coat had fallen off and the bumpers rusting so I have cleaned them up and coated in U-POL Raptor load bed liner.

Gear Stick Gaiters

The faux leather round the gear sticks in my car were looking a bit tired.  They are fairly easy to replace.

The trick is that you fit them inside out then fold them over the elastic ring that holds them neatly on to the gear knobs.

The plastic clips that hold the wide end on to the centre console can be a bit tricky to release but I have a set of trim removal tools that helped. The usual screw driver or similar tool would also do the job.

Sunday 3 August 2014

3D Printed Car

Some thoughts that resulted from a conversation over dinner with friends.

We were talking about Land Rovers and replacing or welding inner wings that have rusted.  The outer wing bolts on but the inner needs welding.

It would be much easier if cars clicked together like Lego bricks.

As children my brother and I deliberately made cars out of Lego as strong as possible and smashed them together.  The winner was the car that survived the longest.  Based on those early 'scientific' experiments I reckon that Lego would be strong enough to make a full sized car.

I have no idea how heavy it would be but that got me thinking.

Why are cars a shell of thin metal.  Why not make cars out of solid sections with a light weight interior.

That is exactly how 3D printers create solid objects with the minimum amount of plastic.  The insides are a hollow honey comb type structure with a solid skin.

At the moment low cost 3D printers are too small to make a body section for a full sized car but the parts could be made to intersect like a jigsaw or clip together like Lego.  How great would it be if, when you had a dent or something broke, you just printed out a replacement section.

It adds all sorts of possibilities.  Cars could be made with weaker and lighter components knowing that if a bit breaks off you just print out a new one.

I expect there are loads of other possibilities if the starting point is not pressed steel.

Just my thoughts for the morning.


3D printers are large enough now to print houses and boats. They are often used on car parts.