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How to weld up the A-frame cross-member on a Land Rover

The other week, my recent purchase, the Land Rover 110, failed its MOT due to some rusty holes around the A frame mounting. I was not happy, it was the only part of the Land Rover I hadn’t checked when I purchased it a few weeks earlier – sods law!

So after my initial disappointment had subsided, it was time to think how to go about it. I had 10 working days to get it done and return it for a re-test without being charged for a second MOT.

My initial thoughts were to pay somebody to do it, and to start with this is the route we went down. I put the word about, and got told to take it to a old guy who does some welding on the side, and is one of the best welders in the area. He said he could do it, and I duly booked it in. Unbeknown to me at the time, this is where the fun would begin!

After dropping the Land Rover off at his workshop, I got a call 2 hours later, and he said he would be unable to do it as he didn’t have the right gauge metal for a Land Rover chassis or the right nozzle sizes for his welding gear. He had cut the worst of the rust out, and for this he didn’t charge me a penny.

So it came down to me and dad to do the work at home. It was not something I was looking forward too, and had to wait a few days for some half decent weather to allow us to get it done on the drive outside the front of the house.

Getting started

The first thing we did was to engage diff lock and park the Land Rover on the drive and chock the wheels. The second job was to disconnect the battery – very important when you are welding!

To make access easier we removed the following from the Land Rover:

  • 1 side of the A frame – This is usualy a pig of a job due to rusty bolts, but luckily the nuts and bolts came apart easily as new A frame bushes had been fitted recently by the previous owner
  • The rear prop-shaft Remember we chocked the wheels and engaged diff-lock so we could remove the rear prop-shaft – this made access so much easier.

The prop-shaft was just 8 bolts to remove, but the A-frame consisted of 3 bolts attaching it to the chassis, and then 2 large 19mm bolts which attached it to the rear axle ball joint. These needed to be tapped out, so the whole drivers side A-frame arm could be removed.

Welding the A-frame cross-member

We had managed to source some good thick metal for the job, and we started on the front face of the cross-member first.

We had been advised to put the metal on the inside of the A-frame cross-member and weld it on from the outside. This would save having to cut intricate grooves into the metal to allow it to fit around the strengthening supports for the A-frame mounts. It was pretty straight forward as the old guy had already cut a hole in the bottom of the cross-member, allowing us to just slide the metal into position.

This worked well, with the metal being held in place with a G-clamp. Even though the welding didn’t look particularly nice it was more than enough to do the job – it was better than a rusty hole anyway!

The second part of the job was to plate over the hole cut in the cross-member. This was much more straight forward, so after cleaning up the surrounding metal with an angle grinder, the new piece of metal was tack welded into position.

We used a car trolley jack to press the metal into position and hold it there while the tack welds were applied. A seam weld was then applied to finish it off.

Finishing up

With the welding done, and the welds ground back, it was time liberally apply some under-seal. I had bought some under-seal which comes pre-mixed with waxoyl. A messy job, but one which will hopefully keep rust at bay for a good few years.

To finish up, I replaced the prop-shaft, then the A-frame bar, and finally reconnected the battery.

HANDY TIP: When replacing the A-frame bar(s), it can be a bit of a nightmare to line up the holes for the two 19mm bolts on the axle end. Get a trolley or bottle jack, and place it under the nose of the diff (near where the prop-shaft attaches) and jack it up. Doing this pivots the diff (and the ball joint) and allows you to line up the holes and slide the bolts through.

In conclusion

I took the Land Rover back to the MOT station with just 2 days left (out of the 10 working days) and got it checked over. The MOT tester was very pleased and duly gave the Land Rover its 12 month ticket! Result!

As I said above, I was dreading this job, it just looked a pig of a job, but with a bit of forward planning, the whole job took just over a morning. We started at 9.30am, and was finished by 2pm. It was more straight forward than I thought, and it was all done on the drive at home!

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