A standard Land Rover Defender 110 Station Wagon has a gross weight of 2950 kg rising to 3500 kg for heavy duty models. Knowing that we would be carrying a lot of extra weight from extra equipment, items and personal effects (a visit to a weight bridge in the UK prior to departure revealed a weight of 3250 kg and still not fully loaded!) with much of the time spent off-road, we decided to upgrade the suspension.
Terrafirma heavy load front coil springs, with castor correction, and heavy load rear coil springs were fitted with 50 mm extra height, along with single shock absorbers front and twin shocks at the rear.
The suspension will take a pounding, especially on corrugated roads and twin shock absorbers reduce the heat build-up in each one. This set up survived remarkably well considering the African miles we did, with only the following problems: rear nearside twin shock mount bracket to axle bracket ripped off; rear offside lower link trailing arm bracket worn; broken front nearside coil & leaking shock absorber.
The shock absorber bracket was repaired by welding and the front coil springs and shock absorbers were replaced, but with standard load components as non-standard ones were difficult to source. This survived the remaining 9,500 miles of the trip until eventually replaced back in the UK
With hindsight I would have undertaken the following work:
Have the rear axle shock absorber brackets strengthen.
Take a couple of spare lower link trailing arm brackets & shock absorber brackets that can be welded on as replacements in the event of failure.
Fit cranked lower link trailing arms to reduce the stresses caused by the body lift (fitted on return to UK).
Fit twin shock absorbers to the front (fitted on return to UK – but seriously reduces turning circle so second absorber removed for now).
As the front and rear coil springs and the front and rear shock absorbers are different, carrying spares probably would be sensible but is a question of feasibility due to space. Having twin shocks all round does mean you still have one serviceable absorber in the event of failure of the other.
The additional height from the springs meant the front prop shaft had to be replaced with one giving increased angle. A Discovery double cardan one was fitted and that required a replacement UJ, but a long way into the trip – these UJs are not greasable and are not intended to be repaired. I’ve had problems since returning to the UK. For future trips I would look into this aspect in greater detail and would probably fit a wide-angle prop shaft or seriously consider sticking with the standard set-up. Get the set up right before venturing into the wilderness.