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Series Land Rover: Freewheel Hubs

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Freewheel hubs were available for Series Land Rovers from the mid sixties and the MAP type (made by Mayflower in the UK) that was locked and unlocked by use of a spanner was the first to be approved by Land Rover. Fairey freewheel hubs appeared later and tended to gain more popularity as they could be locked and unlocked by hand. Neither of these types are still being manufactured but can be sourced secondhand - more so the Fairey model. Another popular type is still manufactured (in Brazil) by AVM and versions are still available to fit any Series Land Rover.

Much has been written about the advantages of freewheeling hubs saving fuel and reducing wear and tear on axle components. Certainly the theory is sound, in that, with the freewheel hubs unlocked, the differential components, halfshafts and front propshaft should be motionless. This means energy is not required to turn them and that energy ultimately comes from burning fuel - Series Land Rovers burn plenty!. However, those components are all well lubricated and designed to operate with minimum resistance to motion, so the fuel saved in halting the motion of those particular parts has to be balanced against the fuel required to push a 1-1.5ton box on wheels along the road against significant air resistance. Yes you will save fuel but better control of your accelerator foot will save you much more. If you jack up a front wheel and rotate it with the freewheel hub unlocked and then rotate it again with the hub locked and then you will get an impression of how much energy is saved by these gadgets.

Freewheel hubs have other advantages though that seem to be less frequently mentioned. Unlocking them when a front wheel is raised off the ground enables you to better judge the condition of the wheel bearings and if the brake shoes are binding at all. This is due to the relative ease of rotation of the wheel once the freewheel hub is disconnected. Also, being able unlock a freewheel hub facilitates the removel of a front propshaft, since the propshaft can be turned to gain access to securing bolts without the need to jack up the vehicle and rotate a wheel.

AVM
MAP
FAIREY

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