Anyone who’s driven a Series Land Rover for more than a few miles will appreciate (or not) the uniquely vague characteristics of the steering. It’s a distraction from the noise!
Any amount of wear in the steering components, (6 ball joints, relay, swivel pins, half shafts, steering box) will worsen the trim of the Land Rover.
As most of the the above were replaced with genuine or good quality parts during the original rebuild and a new steering box fitted in 2020, the handling characteristics of LGL are pretty good… but with room for some improvement and that improvement comes by way of replacing the mounting plate on the steering relay.
The steering relay sits vertically in the 2nd cross member (the bumper being referred to as the 1st cross member) and is held in place by 2 bolts in the top and a round plate at the bottom.
The relay is held securely at the top but the pressed steel plate (bolted to the underside of the 2nd cross member) allows the relay to “walk” fore and aft in the chassis under steering load. This leads to additional travel (and therefore vagueness) in the steering; not transmitted from the steering wheel. A stiffer, better fitting plate is needed.
Once again, Design Development Engineering have come to the rescue of the Series Land Rover owner. They manufacture a very smart CNC replacement bottom plate. As it’s machined from a single piece of metal rather and pressed, it is inherently more robust. Also as the inside diameter is made to a higher tolerance, walking of the lower end of the steering relay is drastically reduced.
Technically, it’s not necessary to remove the relay lever (below) to exchange to the relay plate, but it’s easier to see what’s happening with this part removed.
As mentioned above, with the relay plate not being a great fit, the relay walks inside the diameter of the plate. This is evident in the next two photos:
I compared the internal diameters of the old pressed item and the new CNC machined item:
So, there’s a 1mm difference. Thats obviously 0.5mm on either side. It might not sound like much but will be amplified when it comes to changing the turning radius of the road wheels.
It was some time before I drove the vehicle after fitting th new relay plate and I didn’t give it much thought until I got over 30 MPH (which happens)… the difference was amazing. With the bottom of the relay better secured, the vehicle tracks in an almost straight line and there is less input required at the steering wheel. A simple upgrade offering an immediate improvement in to the steering.
Another great piece of equipment from Design Development Engineering. If you’re interested in other parts and equipment they make, check out their Instagram account. I cant wait for their super charged, portal axled Series 2 to hit the road!