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92 Range Rover Classic
14 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First time it's struck me in a car though.

I knew when I bought this 1991 RRC, it *may* come equipped with some POD gremlins. The first 2 weeks of ownership were simply turn the key & drive. The vehicle performed reasonably well for a 2 tonne behemoth, Not as spritely as my old LWB S-class, but performance that sat on that dyed-in-the-wool true British optimist's view of 'adequate'. Not the Rolls Royce adequate in other words `) .... but I digress.

It all started when preparing the RR Classic for towing. I purchased said vehicle to tow my Grandfathers' boat, which I recently inherited and boat ramps down-under are usually quite slippery, so you often find yourself wanting low range 4x4 to get yourself out of a pickle. Believe me, I've been there before and seen others in awd suv's fail miserably at this, so I wasn't taking chances.

The rear ARB step bar has tow hitch provision and was installed without towbar tongue or wiring. A testament to p.o. never having used this vehicle for anything other than on-road trips. So I thought wiring would be a doddle.
I consulted RAVE, and found myself in a mire. The schematics are just crap. Actually the whole ETM is crap, like a haynes manual. Now, I'm not going to say ze germans are better at everything, but when it comes to electrical troubleshooting manuals, Mercedes-Benz ****s over this junk.
So when I found the plug, and checked the wires out, none of the colours matched the schematic. Not the 1988, not the 89, or the 90, or even 91, not the 95 either.... I thought it was going to end badly. but multimeter in hand and test lamp on the other, I started to decode the mystery of the Prince of Darkness once more. I thought I'd given up on this when I ditched classic bikes over a decade ago, but I simply was not prepared for a POD troubleshooting exercise of this magnitude only 2 weeks into ownership (I should have learned the first time I hear you saying)

Got the colours & feeds sorted after a few hours of tracing, and that is when it all started to go downhill. The reverse feed was not delivering current. So testing this led me to the selector switch at the front of the ZF auto. No simplistic XYZ type here, oh no. instead I get the result of the POD collaborating with Ze germanz. (what idiot ZF engineer would capitulate to the POD? obviously someone in there did....) So first things first, the switch is buggered. nothing. Nada. It was working OK until I started mucking around, so I thought 'Oh, it must be something I've done....' so I retraced everything I did, and came up zero.

Coincidence? perhaps. I'm not a believer in POD & 'coincidence' having earned my stripes on 60's trimuphs, ducati's & guzzi's from the 70's. and the odd Laverda... No such thing as coincidence.
No POD is simply random. unpredictable. it just needs to feel like it's having a bad day and like British leyland, just goes on strike, only mostly it's never to return.

So, having thought I solved the problem, I bypass the switch to test the circuit, and it's STILL dead... WTF? oh here we go.....

And to make matters worse, I sold my last jar of genuine Lucas wiring harness smoke on eBay over 15 years ago. I was getting nervous..... :shock::shock:

Started tearing into the vehicle interior - steering column panel out, console out, fascia out..... and I find a POD horror story. My guess is simply that the vehicles 'first' owner (not the one I purchased it from) was either a collaborator for the POD, or was his incarnate. There was not a single wire under the dash that did not have a scotchlock, a pvc taped bare wire splice (no solder!) or a poorly crimped connector. And to top all that off, they then taped the whole shebang up with PVC tape until it was a neat ball of pvc tape hiding a rat's nest.

An aftermarket alarm was 'temporarily' bare wire spliced in as well for good measure, along with the removal of the factory Cruise control and a refit with a different aftermarket unit with a purple PVC box.... interesting.... oh, and like all 'older' cars, the wiring for the stereo head unit had been butchered about 6 times for each new headunit fitted over time. I counted 6 crimplock fittings on the ACC feed and illumination feed wires when I pulled the stereo out of the console......

SO, I hear you say.... This is not entirely the work of the POD - but mostly the work of his little imps. (original owner perhaps(radio wiring molestation) / vehicle service centre (engine bay), alarm installer / auto-sparkies...) perhaps you may feel vindicated in believing this. Until I tell you that I found 3 main relays that did not work under the instrument cluster, yet the circuits were functioning perfectly....... (yes, including the interior light delay, the ignition load, the HVAC.....) and then as we move out into the engine bay, I find the main +ve feed from the battery is only a pissweak 6ga brown wire, feeding no less than 7 multicoloured traced orange 4ga wires - with 1 10ga and 6 12ga fusible links taped together in a bundle directly underneath the coolant reservoir. That is not the half of it. The engine harness was crumbling to bits in a number of places, the alternator and tacho wiring was a shambles, the temp & coolant sensor wiring was almost strained tight enough to play a tune on.... the charcoal cannister wire was wrapped around the coolant reservoir bracket and almost completely severed... POD almost had me.... but I was not about to give in.

I decided that the work needed to resolve this was only going to come about by my own hand, and while I've plenty of auto-electrical experience & tools, I just did not 'feel' like doing this on my xmas holiday break. But I had no choice if I wanted to drive the car.... for work is only a few days away now and I'm beginning to feel deflated.

Firstly, all the relays & under instrument fused circuits were checked, and after enlarging and printing out several RRC MY electrical schematics (all of them actually) and a bit of colouring-in work on the printed copies, I had a plan of attack.
All the tape removed, all the splices were either removed & replaced with new, resoldered & heatshrunk or crimped, soldered and heatshrunk, leaving a 'clean slate' under the dash. Then the suspect relays were replaced with osh-kosh it's bosch ones. (made in portugal? hope theyre better than the PRC junk... hehe) A couple tricks learned over the years helped me to source some of the strange multi-pin relays with non-standard replacements, and one relay block I had to replace with an entirely new bosch unit as it showed signs of excessive current (melting holder).

Then the reverse switch. I couldn't be ****d paying $350+GST for a f-ing 2 pole switch, so I got a few honeywell momentary switches with roller contacts, and pulled the shifter assembly out. after examining the best way to achieve a reliable and permanent solution for the switch, I fabricated a small bracket to hold them in a gang so that P-N-R had correct contact activation... Then after removing the side of the shifter housing and a bit of 'fine tuning' - fixed the switches in place before bolting it back together and running new wires up to new relays. THis will cure the P/N switch issue and gave me a direct switched source for reverse (the reason this whole thing started.... remember? yeah neither did I for a while....)

So, that left the mains feed, alternator and starter to investigate.

I wasn't real happy with the voltage readings inside the vehicle at the main distribution block under the dash, when checking the battery / alternator. Both tested OK - ( in fact the alternator is a 120A denso unit not the magneti marelli as fitted originally) so it was time to look a little deeper.

Didn't take long. While the earth strap to the chassis rail was 'OK' it wasn't really what I call up to scratch. yes, it's a 2GA heavy cable, but the conductors were covered in verdigris and poorly soldered on the ends. I just wasn't going to put up with that.

Lucky for me, my day job involves telco equipment installations in exchanges & data centres, so I'm used to high current DC cabling and what correct practices are. So I decided it was time to exorcise the POD from my RRC once and for good.

The decision was made to also add an additional battery for future trips (freezer, anderson plug etc)- but not in the time-honoured aux battery location (I have decided to leave the aircleaner and AFM well alone). The result is the battery, starter and alternator cables have all been replaced with new cables - high current DC flex for the alternator (0ga) and the starter cable has been upgraded to a heat resistant high current miltistand 0ga as well. The main feed to the battery isolator is 000ga and the multiple earth cables are high current DC flex (each 0ga)
The aux battery now resides in the RH rear corner. The CD stacker was removed, after discovering it was not connected nor compatible with the current headunit, which left heaps of room for a 960CCA N31 AGM Deka intimidator in a marine case. Feeds are isolated with breakers and manual switch also.

Additional LED driving lights were fitted to the front, and an auxillary reversing LED's fitted under the rear bar, out of way so they do not get damaged. I figured that it was no extra effort to do this as I had already commenced the trailer wiring and had to troubleshoot the reverse issue, so it was really a no-brainer to run extra heavy cabling to the rear of the vehicle for any future fit-outs.

Just thought I better write this down while I take a break from finishing off a few things inside - trim and securing the component locations / wiring to keep it all as neat as possible.

I have to say - geez, I was really not expecting the POD to smack me around like it did when I first attempted to solve the issue. It's been so long since I worked on POD electrics that I'd forgotten just how atrocious they really are compared to most other vehicle / bike electrics. And those old RAVE ETM's are really lousy. Funny how it improved for the later p38A and L322 etc... when you have a look at the modern manuals, they are much higher quality standard and certainly very clearly labelled, easy to follow schematics - just like errr BMW...`)`) (the german Prince of Darkness)

Now I just have to hope I get some trouble-free use ! got a couple interstate trips coming up so fingers crossed.... If any of my stuff bites the dust I'll just sit there at the side of the road saying osh kosh... it's BOSCH...


1970-1995 Range Rover Classic
95 Posts
Hope all goes well, MercGuy - I had nothing but electrical problems with my '98 LRD1 and know that it's frustrating as well as expensive.

All the best for the new year!

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