Question: I live in France and do a lot of 'wheeling with a modified Range Rover classic V-8. My buddy and I break front CVs and rear half-axles. I run 35s and he runs 38s, so he breaks more than I do.
Yesterday I learned that the rear axles in Defender 110s were modified Dana 60s up until a few years ago. I also heard that the British Army had special armored Defenders for use in Northern Ireland, and they even had Dana 60s in front too.
Do you know about these LR Dana 60s? LR called them Salisbury axles. What kind of 60 are they, and can I get parts for them easily? Or did LR modify them so much that parts are not interchangeable?
Answer: To be honest with you, I really don't know all that much about Land Rovers/Range Rovers, so I had to ask a bunch of questions and my search led me to a local Land Rover owner (actually he has, like, five or six of them), who just happened to own two that had Salisbury axles under them. One was an ex-Desert Storm military vehicle, and the other was a special factory order. They don't look anything like a Dana 60. He provided me with a contact in England. Steve Clifton runs a Rover-based business (email@example.com) and says he can locate rear axles without a problem, but fronts are a bit more difficult to obtain. If you would contact him, he's sure he can find and ship (read: expensive) the Salisbury axles.
Then I remembered that longtime friend, historian, technical writer, and book author, Jim Allen used to own one of those machines, and actually worked as a mechanic for a major East Coast LR dealer and as a LR factory driving instructor. Jim had a wealth of information to pass on:
"The Salisbury axle is essentially a Brit-built Dana. If you recall, Dana bought the Salisbury Axle Company in 1919 and they became the Salisbury axle division of Spicer. I think the Salisbury name was dropped around 1970, but they had a division in England that built a variety of axles for MGs, Volvos, and others.
"The Salisbury used in Land Rover D110s and 101FCs, and some 109 V-8s was a "Wimpy-Sixty." Even wimpier than normal. It had a normal-sized D60 ring gear of 9.75 inches (as compared to the standard 8.25), but had 1.25-inch 24-spline axles. Most of the Salisburys used four-pinion differentials, while most of the Rover axles were two-pinion designs (there were some four-pinions). No limited slips or lockers were offered from the factory, except-for a couple of years-a very wimpy LS in the early '60s for the Rover differentials.
"Until the early '90s ('93 is the generally acknowledged year), Rover differentials were 10-spline (about 1-inch major diameter, about 0.8-inch minor). From '94, Rover diffs adopted the 24-spline.
"The only reason the Salisbury had such a great reputation is that the Rover axles were so incredibly wimpy. The metallurgy in the Salisbury was pretty poor overall (the Rover, too). Bottom line, you can buy aftermarket upgrade parts for a Rover diff a lot cheaper than finding a "legendary" Salisbury.
"There are a lot of differences in a D60 versus a Salisbury, but you can see the resemblance (especially the older ones). If I remember correctly, you can swap the insides over and use custom 30-spline shafts. Remember, also, that there are different Salisbury axle models, just like there are Dana 44s, 53s, 60s, and so on. There are two types seen on LRs, but I don't have all the info at hand."
Jim also clued me into a couple of very interesting shops. One here in the U.S., and the other in Australia. Great Basin Rovers in Salt Lake City (801/486-5049, www.greatbasinrovers.com or www.expeditionexchange.com/gbr/), has lots of interesting stuff for the British-built Jeep imitators. They have some rear axleshafts that are 100-percent stronger than the factory axles. The owner, Bill Davis, tells me that he also has some special heavy-duty CV-joint axles for the front end that are not shown on his Web site. He said that Dana 60 parts will actually, with some variations, interchange with those in a version of the Salisbury which is currently being made by a company called GKN. Great Basin Rovers also stocks ARB Air Lockers and Truetracs, as well as Detroit Lockers for the Rover axles.
The source in Australia, Jack McNamara Differential Specialist (www.mcnamaradiffs.com.au/), offers a wide range of custom-built locking differentials for both the Rover and Salisbury. His Web site makes for some interesting reading.