Protect your Defender 110’s flanks with this tree slider upgrade. Martin Domoney of Land Rover Owners magazine explains how...
- Tools & Kit: Basic toolkit; Pick; Tape measure; Torque wrench; Hammer; Punch; Marker pen; Drill and bits (vehicle dependent)
- How Long? Three hours
- How Difficult? 2/5 - Easy
- Product: Shadow Defender 110 Tree Sliders Black (pair)
- Safety Advice: Wear eye protection when using a drill, and when working under vehicles.
Whether you use your Land Rover off-road regularly or not, protection from damage in day to day life is not to be overlooked. While the front end is shielded by a factory fitted, steel-section bumper, the sides of Defenders aren’t so well armoured. Doors and sill panels are easily dented due to their aluminium skins, and replacement or repair of these items can prove costly.
There are two main options available when applying some side protection – rock sliders and tree sliders. Rock sliders, which replace the thin sill sections and bolt solidly to the front and rear outriggers, generally have a lower-profile design. This adds a strong base to the body of the vehicle, warding off obstacles off-road and giving a structure sturdy enough to accommodate a high-lift jack.
Tree sliders take this design and add a handy tube to the outer edge, meaning obstructions (such as rocks, car doors and, yes, trees) are kept even further at bay. They also double up as convenient steps, either for getting in and out while at the shops, or standing on to get a better view of the terrain ahead. We’re fitting a pair of First Four Offroad black powder-coated tree sliders from the company’s Shadow range of products. They have built-in jacking points, all the fixings are supplied and the tops feature grip tape, meaning even muddy boots won’t slip off. Let’s crack on!
Martin has fitted lots of different tree sliders in his time, and was happy to find that
these First Four Offroad ones didn’t require any swearing to fit. ‘The separate rear mounting
bracket makes the job a lot easier and allows more precise alignment.’
Release support bolts
Editor Mike’s 110 already has OEM side tubes fitted, so these will need to be removed before the First Four tree sliders can go on. They have two support struts that are fixed to the chassis rail with two 10mm bolts into Rivnuts. Loosen and remove the bolts.
Unbolt from body
The main brackets of the OEM tube steps bolt through a seam in the body. Loosen and remove all four 13mm bolts each side, and keep the fixings somewhere safe – after all, you may want to refit or sell the tubes one day.
Lift the tubes clear
With a bit of a wiggle, the side tubes will come away from the underside of the Defender. You don’t need to unbolt the support stays to remove the tubes, but you may want to unbolt them to make the steps more compact to store.
Release wheelarch spats
The original sill pieces are next. The wheelarch spats are attached to the sill trims with plastic rivet clips. Push the centre pin through, and use a trim tool to remove the plastic clips. As we have mud shields fitted, only our rear wheelarch needs to be released.
Unbolt the sill trims...
The sill pieces are joined together and secured to the body with a series of small brackets. The quickest way to remove the trims is by releasing all the vertical (10mm) bolts, which will allow the assembly to be removed all in one piece.
...and remove them
With assistance, ease the wheelarch spats away from the ends of the sill trim, and lower it down. Once removed, wrap the trims in the packaging the tree sliders came in; this will prevent the paint being scratched or chipped while they’re being stored.
Clear dirt and mud
Use a pick or screwdriver to unblock the ends of
the outrigger before going any further; the tree
sliders sit closer to the ends of the brackets so it’s
important no mud or debris is trapped before fitting
them. Re-apply underseal if any gets scratched off.
Prepare the surfaces
The brackets for the sliders fit tightly over the rear
body supports; give them a thorough brushing.
If any gets in between the tree slider mount and the
chassis, underseal could be damaged and water could
be allowed to collect, starting corrosion.
Loosen bulkhead fixing
The bulkhead outrigger supports the tree slider’s front, so the nut must be removed to allow the hole in the slider to locate. Use penetrating oil on the thread before undoing the nut. Use an 18mm spanner to hold the bolt head while removing the 19mm nut.
Unbolt spat if necessary
The 110 has a mud shield system with relocated front mudflaps. One of the securing bolts for the assembly passes through the spat, and the thread of the bolt looks like it may foul the slider. We’re removing the bolt and using it the other way round.
Slide bracket into place
The rear bracket can now be slid over the chassis outrigger, and the holes can be checked for alignment. This 110’s outrigger had four holes that line up with a set of holes in the bracket. But if yours hasn’t, mock up the fitment and drill holes to suit.
Start the bolts
There needs to be a degree of movement in the bracket while the slider is aligned to the body, so thread the supplied bolts through the four holes (don’t forget the washers) and start the nuts – but don’t tighten them up just yet.
The tree slider fixes to the rear bracket with two 19mm bolts and washers, which sandwich the bracket and thread into bosses on the back side of the slider. Get the bolts ready and apply copper slip to the threads before the next step, as it’s quite fiddly.
Fit the tree slider
Offer the slider up and slot the front mounting tab over the bulkhead bolt’s thread. Lift the rear of the slider up to the outrigger bracket and start the bolts in the boss by hand. Take care not to damage the paint on the underside of the wing and tub.
Tighten bracket bolts
Set the height of the tree slider at the back of the vehicle; the holes in the brackets are slightly elongated, allowing some up-and-down movement. When you’re happy that everything is in position, tighten the two 19mm bolts fully.
Fit the bulkhead nut, and nip it up so it takes the weight of the slider but allows movement. Use a tape measure to check the front and rear parts of the tree slider sit an equal distance away from the body. Make adjustments until you’re happy with the fitment.
Tighten up these four bolts that secure the rear bracket to the outrigger, and re-apply any areas of underseal that may have scraped off. Hold the bulkhead bolt with an 18mm spanner, while you torque up the nut to 66lb ft.
And here’s the finished product, a sleeker and much stronger solution than the original side tubes. The grip tape makes getting in and out easy, and we found the tree sliders a much easier installation and closer fit than some one-piece sliders.
This article originally appeared in Land Rover Owners Magazine and has been reproduced with permission. Article is written by Land Rover expert Martin Domoney.