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Agree with Western.

Following on from the initial question 'is this (blanking off the grill with chequer plate) a good idea?' the answer is a resounding no!

Blocking off of the rad is normally something people do if they are only using it for short journies (walk you lazy so & so's) and/or to make the heater more effective. If the cooling system is working correctly then the engine will get up to temperature in practically any situation and likewise, if the heater is working correctly that heat will transfer into the cab. What happens when the heater isn't working correctly (and the Defender heater is very prone to being very poor if not set up correctly) is that people block the rad which makes the engine run at higher temperature while marginally increasing the heater output. Of course the downside is that they are in all likelyhood damaging the engine and they will pay dear in if not in the short-term, in the long-term.

I assure you that when correctly set up the heater can be very effective, even on the earliest 90/110's.

As a post-script I will admit to doing this very thing in my youth.

About 20-years ago I got my first LR (an early S111) and while the heater was much better than the 'fug stirer' in the S11 of my fathers that I grew up with it was still a bit poor in the really cold weather (an unlined hard-top didn't help). Anyway, doing what I had seen many other do (I was young & impressionable) I made up a blanking cover for the front grill but having SOME understanding of how an engine worked I made sure there were plenty of holes for air to get through. Anyway, the air temperature was well below zero, there was a really good freeze in progress and I hadn't got more than 5-miles from home when the engine boiled. I immediately knew what had happened so the cover was junked, I replenished the cooling system (after it had all cooled down a bit) and was on my way. I made sure the heater & cooling system were working correctly and have never forgotton the experience.

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When I bought my 110 the previous owner had covered the front grill to increase warmth in the cab for his good lady wife.... He'd used Checker plate with some nice holes drilled in it.. (52 mm each X 3...)

He had also replaced the radiator, thermostat and head gaskets on the V8 !!!

When it came to sorting the car out, I ended up replacing the old engine as it never ran smooth. I had no confidence in it long term and so had a re-engineered unit installed....

Now runs at temp fine, although a little warm when on tick-over for a long time or crawling through green lanes....

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When you say it needs a good clean, it that internally or you are just going to clean out the matrix etc because it is clogged up?

The heater can be taken out without having to remove the wing etc, just remove the intake duct, undo the wiring & retaining bolts and pull it away from the bulkhead. You will need a new seal for when you put it back together but even as a genuine part these are very cheap. Don't be tempted to use sealant instead of the proper seal because then you will have trouble freeing it from the bulkhead should you ever need to take it off again, the foam-rubber seal does the job perfectly.

The setting up is getting the control cables adjusted properly, if you check what each cable is supposed to do you can get the adjustment spot on and the heater will be far more effective. The usual problem is that the inner is seized in the outer sheath and when you move the lever the whole cable (sheath & inner) move together and you aren't actually doing anything. Free the inner off and make sure the sheath is clamped seccurely.

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