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Gas Struts

A few years ago the gas struts supporting the top tailgate of my RRC gave up the ghost and lost the ability to hold it open. I replaced them with aftermarket ones from a Land Rover parts outlet but found that they had a different fixing from the originals, similar to that seen on the later Classics.

Whilst they certainly had the oomph to open the top tailgate, it wouldn't open fully without some extra assistance from me. I also noticed that when I closed it, the last few inches required more force than I remembered.

It occurred to me that this might explain why some owners have reported metal fatigue fractures of the fixings on both the top tailgate and the frame.

According to the what I have been able to discover, the Land Rover specification for the struts is:-

LR part number:

392916

Length:

500 mm

Stroke:

196 mm

Housing diameter:

18 mm

Rod diameter:

8 mm

Eject force:

240 Newtons

An alternative part listing is the Stabilus Liftomat 671363/0225N with a slightly lower eject force of 225 Newtons.

On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see the chaps at Gas Strut Engineering in Bedford (www.gasstrutengineeering.co.uk). They checked the aftermarket struts and confirmed they had an ejection force of 225 Newtons, so they ought to have been all right.

As you might imagine, a gas strut contains not only gas acting as the spring, but also fluid to act as a damper. They suggested that making up a new pair of struts with the same gas pressure but less fluid might help. Amazingly they manage to make the new struts while I waited!

I was overjoyed to see that the new ones have identical fixings to the originals which came on the car from the factory, so the car now looks like it should. They have little spring securing clips which look as though they might be a bit fiddly, but actually went on without any problem. And, even better, the tailgate now opens and closes properly without undue force.

So, for anyone who might wish to know, the Gas Strut Engineering recipe to which the new struts were manufactured (although this probably wouldn't apply to other suppliers) is:-

part number 3065AA-225N
type 8-18-MB-MB-225N,


 

Both the top and bottom tailgate on the Range Rover Classic are prone to rusting. This can necessitate their replacement.

 


Top Tailgate Swap

A fellow Register member enlisted my help for this, as it is much easier to do with two people.

The Vogue Tdi's upper tailgate was badly corroded, so that the lip holding the rubber seal had broken away.

   

 

This neat little tool from Snap-on extracts the studs retaining the headlining, without breaking them, to give more room to work.

 
 

Now the headlining can be eased out from its support and the side of the headlining needs to be moved down to give access to the cables, which run inside the shrouds.

There's only a single heater connection on the left side, but the right side also contains the remote locking leads in later models, which can be fiddled out of the headlining with the connector block still attached.

 
 


The top tailgate is fixed to the rear body frame by a single hinge bolt on each side, which can be loosened with a small socket wrench before disconnecting the gas struts, but don't undo them completely yet.

 
 

This is where the second pair of hands comes in, to support the top tailgate and prevent it falling when the gas struts are disconnected. Now undo the hinge bolts and remove the tailgate.

The central locking mechanism and outer handle with lock are removed from the old unit and will be transferred to the new tailgate later.

Remove the wiper blade and tie back the wiper arm to keep it out of the way when fitting the new tailgate. We needed to adjust the hinge position, to get the seal to fit properly (the middle picture shows it gaping on the left).

 
 


You can see how badly rusted the old tailgate was. After refitting the central locking mechanism, handle and exterior lock, adjusting the turnbuckles inside the lower part of the frame is how you get both catches to release simultaneously.

 
 
 

 

Job done! Time taken about an hour and a half. No special tools required, but copperslip grease on all the threads is a good idea to make it easier next time.


Bottom Tailgate Swap

It was a year or two later that the bottom tailgate needed replacement. Although it can be done single-handed, it's quite a bit easier with two people.

First remove the trim panel. The buttons nearest the hinge unscrew off metal studs, whilst the handle surround is attached by thin plastic pegs (which can easily be broken) into spring clips in the tailgate.

   

 

Remove the circlips which secure the side stays, taking note of the order of the components especially the washers on the inside. Slacken the four bolts which attach the tailgate to the hinges, but do not undo them completely yet.

   

Slide the tailgate away from the car to reveal the leads for the number plate lamps (one runs on each side lamp circuit, so there are two red and two black wires). The grommet in the bottom edge of the tailgate comes out and remains on the car side of the connectors.

 

Now remove the hinge bolts and slide the tailgate away from the car, taking care to let the spring-loaded hinges return gently to the default closed position. This is where an extra pair of hands comes in very useful.

     

The hinge fits between the outer skin (bottom) and the reinforced bracket inside the tailgate.

 

Fitting the replacement tailgate is exactly the reverse procedure. Don't forget to connect the electrics and the grommet. Some fiddling of the hinge bolt positions and of the latches may be necessary to get it to align with the rest of the body panels, so don't tighten anything up until you're sure it's right. A neat trick to help make this easier is to nip all the bolts up just short of tight, close the tailgate and tighten everything up from inside.

Time taken just over an hour, but I was helping a friend who had done another one previously.