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Check your balls regularly!
The latest thing, which has actually been around for quite a while, seems to be using grease, or special Land Rover grease to replace the oil in the steering swivels. Whereas I don't wish to question the wisdom of the manufacturer........ is it a good idea?
Well consider this:
On a Land Rover with pristine chrome balls & good oil seals
The normal EP90 gear oil will do all that is required to lubricate the internal components, ie: bearings & CV joints inside the sealed swivel housing environment.
If the chrome balls are badly pitted, as many out there are, this destroys the oil seals very quickly & lets out most of the slippery stuff. Without lubrication, bearing failure is very likely over a period.
The more important thing is: If the deteriorated swivel seals let the oil out, they will also let in dirt & water............
Filling the swivels with grease presumably is fine, if the chrome balls & swivel seals are good. Although on Series type & 90/110 Land Rovers, I'm not altogether sure if the grease can adequately splash lubricate the Railko bush through the small hole in the bush itself, up into the fibre bearing. Remember how you are supposed to lock in the Series type freewheeling hubs (if fitted) every so often, to churn the oil about to reach the top bush? Range Rovers have roller bearings top & bottom which are more open to splash lubrication.
Grease, even official Land Rover special grease plus grit equals grinding paste, which is ideal for cylinder head valve seats when they need grinding in, but a bit harsh on the expensive bits inside your steering swivels.
Water getting in, on the other hand, with a little help from air & ferrous metals, makes rust. This is not good for bearings either.
The CV joint ball bearings were very rusty as well. I don't think that this was a particularly extreme case, it's what happens. When the oil goes out, the muck gets in.
I recently dismantled two 1972 Series IIA front axles for spare parts. On one, the balls were reasonable, on the other they were shot. The internal differences were noticeable. On the good one, the half shafts & universal joints were excellent, clean, hardly worn & very smooth. On the bad one, they were very rusty & gritty, with a large amount of slop in the joint bearings. Luckily, I only needed the bad ones to cut up for the Freewheeling Hub project, but even the wheel bearings were rusted onto the stub axles, and removal was difficult.
The basic Land Rover design & layout has been around for a long time, They will work in adverse conditions, even in a bad state of repair, a bit like old steam locomotives .......! But don't forget that however good the mechanical arrangement may be, metal to metal contact requires adequate, clean lubrication if the wear rate is to be acceptable.
Maybe I'm being over cautious, but the photographs don't lie, seeing is believing..........
If you are considering filling the swivels with grease because the chrome balls are on their way out, either change the balls for good ones while you're at it, or fit military style gaiters ....... preferably both!


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