1984 Rover SD1 Vitesse

1984 Rover SD1 Vitesse



Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Having read through Joe's red Vitesse thread, I thought i would bolster the Vitesse threads on here by posting mine. This thread is copied from another forum, as i obtained and immediately began working on this car back in November/December 2017.

Well i'm a bit special. Not only do I still have the VDP EFI (http://www.roversd1club.net/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=14879), now i seem to have picked up another disease/SD1.

So, Number 50 has finally landed.

It was a hard decision, what is special enough to be my 50th car? Well, the answer kinda fell into my lap, and then the ball got rolling very quickly.

The other day I was just browsing the usual Rover SD1 Facebook group, seeing what's what in the world of old British Metal, and one of the fellow Kiwis (who also follows this blog) commented on the photo with

[quote]nice  and just when I'm starting to think about selling my Vitesse I see a picture like this, and I think to myself, do I really want to let it go?!

I half jokingly said

[quote]Yes you do, you want to sell it to me

And from there, he sent me a direct message and well, a week later this arrived

Number 50, is a 1984 Rover SD1 Vitesse.

It's a good solid base, the body is straight and the paint is pretty good. The interior, except the boot, is tidy, and the engine has receipts for some serious work done in the past.

It's still running the 3.5L V8 like the VDP EFI, but it's backed up with a manual cog swapper. Receipts indicate that it's had an engine rebuild in the past, and is fitted with a Hurricane cam (good for an extra 20hp apparently, and doesn't run out of puff in the top end). The previous owner fitted a Link LEM G1 and had it tuned, along with Jag injectors (higher output), a cold air intake, and a full exhaust with headers. Needless to say it sounds utterly amazing.

Of course it's not all roses, and I knew this going into it. The reason I was offered the car was that the car has been off the road since 2013 because it developed a running issue, where it would run fine for a bit and then start to badly misfire, to the point you cannot touch the accelerator or it dies.

The previous owner tried a lot of things to identify and fix the issue but couldn't get to the bottom of it. Thus the car has just been sitting around gathering dust. Being an avid fan of fixing SD1s, I jumped at the chance to save this beast and bring it back up to scratch.

Unfortunately recently it's also developed another issue.... it doesn't like to start. This posed a rather annoying issue trying to unload the car from the trailer. We were almost at the point of pushing it off the trailer, up the hill and into the drive, but thankfully it stumbled into life and I managed to drive it off.

Visibility out the rear was a little limited

The car was packed to the roof with more spares to add to my collection

So that's the story of how I acquired Number 50. Its going to be a long project to get the car back up to scratch, but I'm looking forward to it. The goal is to have both of my SD1s at British Car Day, and then if the Vitesse is pleasing me enough I might move the VDP EFI onto a new owner.

Edited by KelvinatorNZ on Wednesday 11th July 10:21


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
As usual, I don't mess around when I get a new car. It was time to see what I had.

Update - The Car Page for the Vitesse is now up. Check it out for more details, http://www.tasteslikepetrol.net/cars/vitesse/

Having the car delivered so late at night I didn't really get a chance to give it a good look, or unload any of the parts that were in it.

In the light of day, she still looked great

The first task of the day was to unload everything from the back. It was packed to the roof with spare parts.

Out came the doors, which were on top. Well packed, and well protected. There are a complete set of four doors here, and either they are new old stock, or have been well looked after and stored because they are in very good condition with only surface rust on them. No signs of paint though.

With the doors out it was time to start pulling all the boxes of everything else out

Theres a lot of parts, including two mostly complete EFI inlet manifolds and plenums, some shocks, some lights and window regulators. Also most of the original parts that were on the car at various times, like the intake and original fan.

Oh and who could forget, a complete spare D suffix LT77 gearbox (with shortened remote)

With the car empty now, the true condition of the boot carpeting was revealed. It's not had a good life this boot. The bottom carpet is missing, but there is a tide mark up the side carpets and it appears it's had a lot of oil or something spilled all through it. The top carpet is badly stained also.

I'll give it all a good wet vac and hopefully it'll come up better but I may need to source replacements for some of it. The good news is the boot floor itself looks nice and solid (albeit blue, not black...). In the meantime I gave the interior a good vacuum to get the rubbish, and unfortunately, the mouse turds out. The car doesn't smell like mice like GRU did but there is mouse poo everywhere.

Also found in the boot was this little Schrader valve. It links to the two rear shocks, and sure enough, when I put air into it the rear of the car raised up, so they still work. The car has had a towbar before (and will again) so must have had the load levelling shocks added to tow heavy stuff

 Now that I could put the rear seat back up I was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the fabric. It has no tears and little to no wear. The Vitesse has bespoke fabric, so getting replacements wouldn't be fun.

The front seats have had seat covers on for as long as the previous owner could remember, and he never checked under them to see what the seat under it was like. I didn't like the covers, as the fluffy wool is just too "old man" for the racy Vitesse, so off they came.

So, what were the seats like under them? Perfect. There is one little mark on the driver's seat but otherwise no wear. I'm very happy. You can also see the more aggressive seat bolsters. Compared to the VDP, it makes the VDP seats feel like flat benches.

Since I was in the interior already I had to have a nosy at the Link ECU

The wiring isn't the cleanest I have seen, but apparently it worked

I removed the Link and opened it up to see if I could identify the model, as some of the later ones could be tuned by computer. This isn't one of them

I removed the board and noticed it has had a serious failure in the past. One of the injector tracks on the board was completely burnt out. Its been fixed, along with the couple of other little sections, but still doesn't give confidence.

The Link will stay for now, as if I can get it running it's a good option, but if I cant get it running properly then i'll need to see what my other options are.

Moving along, I wanted to see if any of the basics could help with the starting issue. Check out that engine, now with added structural supporting broom.

First I added 10L of 98 octane fuel, and a bottle of injector cleaner to the tank. Its been sitting for ages, so it's likely the old fuel has gone off. 

Then I replaced all the spark plugs. The old plugs were jet black and smelled of varnish, not a good sign. They were the correct BPR6ES though.

I also replaced the distributor cap, coil and injector resistor pack. I checked and the fuel pump is operating, despite sounding a bit odd. None of these helped, it's still really hard to start. When it does start though, it makes some awesome noises.

I'm thinking the issue could be the pickup in the distributor, or an issue with the locked out timing. In order for the Link to control the ignition advance the mechanical and vacuum advance in the distributor have been locked in place, I'm wondering if this is moving and throwing the timing out. I'll need to remove the distributor and have a look

Theres still more work to be done.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
The past couple of days have been busy, trying to get the Vitesse to start.

The starting issue was starting to bug me. The answer should have been obvious but nothing I did was making any difference, so I changed tact.

The first job was to change the fuel filter. The old one was date stamped 2007, and although it's been off the road a lot since then it's been full of stale fuel for most of that time. Speaking of stale fuel, since the fuel lines were disconnected I tried to drain as much as I could out of the system. Initially it was coming through as dark amber and stank like varnish. Today I added another 20L of 98 octane to the tank, so kept flushing the line until it actually smelt like petrol, and the colour was much clearer.

I noticed after cranking that my ground lead from the battery was getting warm, indicating high resistance. I happened to have another spare, so swapped that over, now it doesn't get warm. The old one was looking very rough.

When cranking I had noticed the Link hand controller was showing huge spikes in the cranking RPM. Now obviously this isn't possible, the engine cranks at 100rpm or so.

This indicated that there was an issue with the pick up in the distributor, it wasnt giving a clean signal. I ended up actually removing the whole pickup (remove dist cap, rotor and clear plastic cover, remove the two cylinder shaped nuts with slots in them) and cleaning it. There is a spec to refitting and setting the air gap, but I couldn't be bothered finding it so I just set the pick up as close to the rotor as I could, which still leaves a decent air gap.

The work resulted in a nice solid 100RPM when cranking. It wasnt the issue, but at least I eliminated a potential cause of issues for the future. Another issue presented its self though, the battery was struggling with all the cranking. My spare battery was still on charge, so what do I do? Well, Rover to the rescue!

Other work I did was to test for spark, which I seemed to be getting from both the coil and spark plugs. I tried another coil just in case, but it also didn't help. In order to eliminate the fuel system as the issue I grabbed some Start Ya ******* and sprayed it into the intake, to which it made no difference. No spluttering, no popping, nothing.

Well, it's spark then. I whipped all the plugs out again just to make sure they weren't flooded, and let them air out. I refitted them, swapped the distributor cap back to the original one, and tried again. No change.

In one last mad attempt before I rage quit, since I had the EFI bonnet open, I decided to try swapping the distributor rotor between the cars.

I'll be damned, the Vitesse fired straight up on the first turn.

Was it a fluke?!

Nope, it now starts every time, on the button

So the starting issue appears to have been a combo of a bad distributor rotor, and stale fuel. Of course now that it starts and runs well I couldn't NOT take it for a hoon up the road and back.... and what a noise! Theres some shaking through the steering wheel, and the engine is a bit smoky, but otherwise it seems to be running and driving well. No signs yet of the misfire that I replicated the other day either.

One issue that did show up badly when driving was just how bad the shifter is. It's all over the show, almost like it's not even attached to the gearbox.

I removed the console trim and boots to have a look at the shifter remote, and sure enough the whole remote is flopping about. You can see it in the video. There should be a series of bushes holding the remote in place, but as far as I could see mine are all missing.

This is the remote, it's a bit that sticks out the back of the gearbox with the shift lever and linkages on it

The bushes that I can see missing are on the bolts at the bottom of the picture, on the bit of metal sticking down. The way the remote moves also indicates that the bushes on the bolts where the remote meets the gearbox (on left in photo) are worn or missing too.

Rimmers sells replacements made of a more durable material for about $68..... plus postage. There are cheaper options on eBay, so will go that way.

Hopefully once I replace them I should have a nice solid shifter. Its funny, both of the manual Vitesse that I have driven had this same issue.

So that's another day, and another (major) issue resolved. Now I can work on tidying the car up, and replacing things like the badly leaking valve cover gaskets.

I should probably also find out if it's too low to get into my garage....


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Nope, I couldn't help myself.

I had to take the Vitesse for a somewhat decent drive.

It roars, it pop, it bangs and it crackles. Its everything I ever wanted in an SD1, and it's so much fun to hoon around in. I'm getting used to shifting with hopes and dreams, and boy does the engine pack a solid midrange punch. The EFI is nice to waft along in, but this is like riding a feral animal.

Still no sign of the misfire, so hopefully something I have done may have fixed it. Need to keep testing, but need to be careful with no reg/wof.

I took some quick photos whilst I was out. Excuse the dirt, still haven't had a chance to clean her; it's been all go go go. I also need to work out how to lower the rear shocks that I pumped up the other day 


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Just a small update today; I got rid of the bonnet support broom.

One of the differences between the Vitesse and EFI is that there were two methods of supporting the bonnet.
First was the standard locking rod as seen at the top of this image. It's a rod attached to the bonnet that travels along a slot, and at the top of the slot is sort of like an upside down J. As the bonnet opens the rod moves up the slot and falls down into the hook of the J, locking the bonnet up and in place. To close the bonnet you lift the rod back into the main slot, and lower the bonnet. It's a nice simple, reliable system. It does mean you have to go to the passenger's side of the car every time you want to close the bonnet though.

On the other hand, for some reason only known to BLMC, the Vitesse didn't get that simple system, it got a pair of gas struts at the front edge of the bonnet, which are designed to hold the bonnet open.

They're great when they work, but mine didn't. This required the use of a trusty broom to stop the heavy steel bonnet caving my head in.

Thankfully the previous owner had realised this was an issue and the car came with a pair of what he was told were good struts. Today I set about swapping them.

It's actually not a hard job. Use trusty broom to hold the bonnet up, and then a pair of 13mm spanners to remove the nuts holding the struts in place.

The struts came out easily once I managed to crack the nuts. I ended up sitting on the front guard and leaning in so I wouldn't kill my back. Low car life. The replacement struts went on with some copper grease on the threads so they can come off again in future.

The old struts were so wasted that the oil had parted company with them, and you could compress them by hand. No wonder they didn't hold the big steel bonnet up.

The replacement struts? They were good, which is great. They hold the bonnet up well, and although they groan a bit when lowering its a smooth action.

And to celebrate? A hoon of course. One thing I noticed though, despite getting the engine nice and warm (a touch over 100c) the electric radiator fan didn't come on. I thought it was triggered by the Link ECU at about 92c, but maybe I'm reading it wrong. Need to look into that, don't want to cook it.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Its been so darn hot recently that progress on the Vitesse has been slow.

Because it is so hot though, I had to find out why the fan didn't come on the other day.

I emailed the previous owner asking what he knew about the fan, and was advised that the power feed was wired to the coil and that I should check that. When I was diagnosing the starting issues and swapped the coil over I did notice a red wire that was just hanging around disconnected

I connected it back up to the positive terminal on the coil. The terminal was very loose, no wonder it came off at some point. I squeezed the terminal to make it a really tight fit. With something as critical as a cooling fan, there is no room for failure like this.

Once that was connected, I had to test the fan. I didn't want to sit around waiting for the engine to heat up, so the quickest way was to turn the ignition on, and set the Link to trigger the fan below ambient temp. Sure enough, as soon as it hit that temp, the fan whirred into life.

Well, who would have guessed that the fan would be wired to the coil positive? Not me. I'm sure there are far better places to get switched 12v under the bonnet.

Anyway, the fan works now. I reset the trigger temp to 92c as it was before, and during testing after a decent drive today I confirmed the fan does come on when it should. It moves a lot of air. Not as much as the viscous fan, but hopefully enough.

Theres still a few random disconnected wires in the engine bay, which I have no idea what they go to, but everything else seems to be working. Its one of the downsides to dealing with someone else's bodges. On the EFI at least I know what all the wiring is for, because before I got it, everything was standard. Anything that was modified was done, and recorded, by me. The Vitesse has had some changes and additions done that I just don't know about. Time will tell what happens, I may end up ripping these mods (like the air horns) out and redoing it myself, or at least just tracing it back and making a record for the future.

A couple of other small things I got around to doing was to lube the steering shaft bush and refit the driver's side glovebox.

The steering bush is a common failure point on SD1s, and the one in the Vitesse has been replaced with a nice uprated Nolathane bush. This will last a lot longer than a standard rubber one, and it's stiffer leading to better feel. Unfortunately one downside to this is that the bush grips the shaft unless it has adequate lubrication, leading to a kinda sticky binding feeling when turning the wheel. The bush in question is the bright red one.

I used a couple of sprays of my favourite lube. It's a synthetic spray that I have used many times for various jobs and it always works a treat. Its funny, the only reason I have and know about this stuff is that I found this can rolling around under the seat of one of my previous cars.

Since I didn't need any further access down there, I refit the glovebox. It makes the car look and feel a lot more complete, and adds some nice refinement. Looking at it, i guess I'll need to remove and clean the damn thing now. It hangs down a bit too, need to see if there is an adjustment in the catch.

I did find a cool business card when cleaning out the car. A google indicates they may not exist anymore. I like finding little trinkets from the cars past, especially from when it was in the UK.

Another random trinket I found was this steering column cover with the original sticker still in place.

Obviously the chances of ever seeing one of these stickers is almost zero, because the owner MUST remove the sticker. Clearly this owner was a rebel.

So that's all the work I have done recently. These 30c days really slow down productivity, especially with the car outside and the risk of being turned into human jerky being so high.

I still have some work to do very soon, like fixing the rear seat hinges and the tailgate latch. I have ordered valve cover gaskets and shifter bushes from the UK, so they should hopefully be here soon, and then I can take the car for a Warrant inspection and see if it passes, after being off the road since 2013.

I have also done a couple of longer trips in the car to see if I can replicate the original fault, and so far despite covering around 60km (on private roads... ahem), 40km or so today, the fault hasn't shown up. Hopefully this means I have fixed it, but it may still pop up yet, only time will tell.

I have noticed some other little things with the car since driving it more, like the rear suspension bottoming out over bumps, guess I'll need to keep that mad raked look by keeping the rears pumped up a bit more. Gosh its fun to drive though, staying at the speed limit is hard... the car just wants to push faster and faster. I don't know why, but 100kph feels so slow in the Vitesse, whilst in the EFI it's a nice cruising speed.

New shocks and springs, guess I'll add that to the list of "things I wish I could afford".


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
I'm ticking off things on the to-do list, getting ready for its WOF check. Someone had made a mess of the rear seat hinges, so that's where I started.

It might not be a Warrant issue, but having a rear seat back that doesn't lock into place properly, or even fold up and down properly is a bit of a pain.

The previous owner supplied the car with replacement hinges for the seat, so that made life a bit easier.

First step is to remove the side bolsters. Once again, push down the on seat base below the bolster, and you can feel around for the small Philips head screw. Remove that, push the bolster upwards and out it comes.

The seat back is then held in with a couple of bolts per hinge. They are a T40 torx

I removed the whole back section from the car.

I don't know what happened to the hinges but someone had Hulk Smashed both of them. I presume the hinges may have seized.

It even went so far as to bend the mounting plates

The hinges are held to the seat back by four large Philips screws. Use a BIG bit on these so you don't strip them. Mine were all loose, but they shouldnt be. To access the screws you need to pop some clips for the seat back trim.

Replacement hinges fitted. I thoroughly lubricated these before fitting to make sure they were nice and free, and shouldn't rust or seize. This is how they should function. They are a bit over complicated because they lift the seatback upwards when you fold it down.

With the hinges in place I set about cleaning the rest of the rear seat area. The seat base just lifts up from the back as it has two hooks in the front edge There was a fair bit of dirt, grime and rubbish under the seats.

There is also zero doubt now that this car was at one point in its life a Moonraker Blue car, not original black. Not a big deal, but interesting.

With all the gross vacuumed up, I refit the seat, including the original head rests.

I hate refitting the bolsters, but found that they were easier to refit with the seat back folded down.

Since the car was in the garage out of the sun and I was on a roll, I decided to move on and tackle the tailgate release, which was missing

Once again the car came with a couple of spare parts to fix this. It wasnt a simple as just popping a new tailgate lock assembly in place and calling it a day.

First I removed the number plate lights and tailgate garnish. Just a few screws

One of the plate lights was really on its last legs. The connector was literally held together with one strand of wire

The previous owner taped over the tailgate vents because the exhaust design lets fumes in. Half the vent flaps were just floating around in the tailgate

The old tailgate catch was looking worse for wear. Someone had also tried to remove it and butchered the screws. Both were jammed and stripped

During test fitting I couldn't get the release lever to engage with the old catch. I'm presuming the old one is worn out, and maybe why it was all in bits in the first place
Its bit of an average design. The white plastic bit just pushes again a tab on the catch to release it

When the key is inserted and turned, it slides the rusty bit on the left across and engages and disengages the handle from moving the plastic bit.

I removed and replaced the catch with the replacement (whilst reusing the original screws which with some copper grease still work fine), and refit the lease lever assembly. It is secured to the tailgate with a pair of M4 nuts and washers. I didn't have the originals so found some substitutes.

Now the catch and lever works properly, but unfortunately the key is a different key. I don't have the original lock (or not that I could find) or I would swap the lock barrels. If I happen to come across it I'll swap them over. In the mean time it just means I have two of the same key on my keyring. It's also missing the central locking solenoid, which I may sort later.

Whilst refitting I cleaned the number plate lenses and fit some LED bulbs like I fit to the EFI. The wire got a new terminal crimped on it.

The car is getting more complete by the day.

I did notice one slight potential issue for the future

It JUST makes it to the entrance of the garage, but I havent tried to see if it clears the bump at the garage entrance yet. I might need to use some planks to get it in without slamming the spoiler. I'm not overly enjoying this low life, too much caution.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
I guess i should replace the tires shortly too. Despite all having good tread, they're flat spotted from sitting, and the youngest ones are date stamped 03, so i suspect the oldest probably had fears that the Y2K bug would destroy us all.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
In the quest to get the Vitesse ready for its Warrant inspection next week, I had to remedy something else I noticed wasn't working well.

When I first got the car, the first thing (other than not starting) that I noticed didn't work was the headlight switch. Park light setting worked, but no lights on the headlight setting, so I was moving a car full of stuff, that I couldn't risk stalling, down the road with no lights.

I found if you wiggle and jiggle the switch you could get the headlights to work, but that's not really good enough to pass a WOF inspection, so I had to fix it. Not to mention it's also a pain not being able to rely on the headlights to work.

I have spare switches (and they are even still available new thanks to being used on the MGB), but what fun is swapping parts when you can recondition them and keep them going for the future?

To remove the switch, first remove the lower shroud on the steering column. There is one Phillips screw in the underside then it carefully wiggles free. The top doesn't need to be unscrewed or removed. Turns out mine must have had a run-in with a rather angry steering wheel boss kit (not the current one, but I noticed the car came with a spare, now I know why) in the past as it's missing a nice arc of plastic

The switch is now accessible, and should just pop out if you're careful. There are two metal spring clips. If they don't just pop out you may need to use a small flat blade to push them inwards.

It turns out there must be two different types of switch. The one on the car has the little bulb picture the opposite way around to the spare I have, as well as the little picture being recessed into the plastic, not just screen printed on it. Another reason to rebuild the original one.

Disassembly is fairly simple. I used a flat blade to pop the sides apart. There are clips along the whole length but a gap in the middle for the screwdriver.

It's a VERY simple switch, with not much to go wrong.

My switch was packed with old, hard grease that was covering all the contacts including the sliding contact

There was a lot of wear on the sliding contact also, so I cleaned it up and gave it a quick sand down. I also cleaned and sanded the contacts in the switch base.

Reassembly is the reverse, just make sure everything lines up nicely and make sure you have the base the correct way up in regards to the top half. I smothered the contacts and any moving parts in dielectric grease just to keep it fresh, and flipped the sliding contact around so it would wear the other side instead. Some water on a rag got any human filth off the switch without wearing out the white paint further.

Before refitting I connected the switch up and made sure everything worked as it should. Sure enough the headlights came on every single time.

And that is how you rebuild a Lucas headlight switch.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
It rained heavily the other day, for the first time since getting the Vitesse.... and it leaked. Damn.

I've been spoilt by the EFI being water tight since I sealed the tail lights, but the Vitesse got caught outside in a downpour and ended up with a swimming pool in the boot.

A bit of poking and prodding and I noticed that there was water inside the tailgate glass seal, between the metal and seal. There was also some minor rust where it was wet, showing it had been leaking there for a while.

I started off by removing as much rust as I could from under the seal, and then using rust converter to slow it down so I can deal with it properly at a later date.

I suspected that the water may have entered the seal higher up, and travelled down. Inspecting the seal showed some old gunk in the top corners of seal, possibly old sealant that has broken down, which has pushed the seal away from the metal. I carefully removed as much of the old gunk as I could and taped off the area. I noted that when blowing compressed air at the seal to clean it out there was a section of seal down the side that wasn't stuck down

I carefully used a small scraper and some Sikaflex and filled the gaps in (the seal was later cleaned of excess sealant)

The issue was present on the other side too

I had also been told the washer jet could be a source of water ingress, so I used a thin smear to sealant on the gasket for that

Whilst I waited for that to dry I decided to open Pandora's box. The rust bubble under the windscreen.

I wasnt expecting good things. Just looking at it was bad enough, all the paint was bubbling and crunchy.

A couple of pokes with a screwdriver showed that all wasnt lost, there was good metal there

So I hit it with the wire cup on my grinder until I got good metal

Now, I'm not silly, I do realise that what I can see is probably just the tip of the rust-berg, but its all I can do without removing the screen. This will hopefully slow it down until once again, I can afford to replace the windscreen and have the metal fixed.

I slammed on some rust converter to get anything I didn't, and tried to get it in under the trim and into the hole

Once that was dry I used a very thin skim of Sikaflex to seal the hole

Whilst this dried I moved onto some other things that bothered me, like the ECU that was just chilling out in the passenger's foot well

I don't know exactly how the previous owner had the Link secured, but my plan was to use the original ECU mounting plate I found in the spares, to mount it in the factory location.

With the Link removed, this is the clusterfeck of wiring that was left

The relays were just zip tied to their original bracket, instead of being nicely secured to it. I straightened the mounting tangs, and fit the relays into their correct home

Then I set about fitting the Link to the plate. Link ECUs are a bit of a pain, as unless they changed it in later models, they have no real mounting brackets on them. It's a box with no holes, no tabs, nothing. Because of this, I used two original mounting holes and a couple of zip ties to stick it in place

Since that was kinda working, I drilled another pair of holes and used some more zip ties. Nice and secure.

This arrangement allows me to access the connector with the inspection plate removed

Offered up into place

I found some screws in my stash to secure it, and tucked all the wiring away

This allowed me to refit the glove box. Finally, the car is kinda complete

Moving back to the rust patch, the Sikaflex was dry now, so I masked off and hit it with some etch primer

And whilst that dried, off to fix another issue I went.

This time it was the coolant warning light that wasn't working. When I got the car I noticed that both of the expansion tank sensor connectors and the one on the radiator were disconnected, yet the light wasnt lit, so obviously it was missing a bulb. A quick removal of the binnacle cover, and sure enough, a familiar sight. Seems I'm two for two on my SD1s both having the coolant bulb removed.

I reconnected the connectors in the engine bay

Whacked a spare bulb in

And guess what, the system works. Light on for ignition check

And turns off a couple of seconds later, as it should

This car seems to be a bit hit and miss with its coolant level since I got it. It seems to be steady at the correct level now, though time will tell. At least having the light working means I can keep an eye on it easier.

The binnacle cover is a bit rough. Not sure what I will do with this, it's not TOO warped but the vinyl is shrinking and pulling away, and it's missing two of the mounting pegs

Anyway, the primer was dry, so on went a couple of light coats of gloss black paint. It's not an amazing job, and I didn't bog it up or anything, but it should slow the rust from spreading. When I machine polish the car I might be able to knock down the harsh edges of the new paint and blend it in a bit nicer.

Hopefully it'll rain in a couple of days so I can see if my leak fix worked or not, but until then it should have some time to cure.

The next job will be replacing the valve cover gaskets, which will be in the next couple of days so it's done before the WOF. When I do that I'll be swapping to one of my spare plenums, to get rid of that yellow monstrosity.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Another familiar job; A pair of upgraded rubber gaskets to replace the leaking cork ones.

I did this job on the EFI a while ago https://www.tasteslikepetrol.net/2017/02/rover-sd1..., so I wont go into too much depth here, but once again I had an oil leak from the Rocker Cover gaskets.

The passenger's side gasket was leaking quite badly. Strangely it wasn't leaking out of the gap between the cover and head, it was leaking out of the screw, straight down onto the exhaust manifold. It was quite a substantial leak, as you could watch it seeping out when the engine was running.

So, lets begin. Take one super low Vitesse with extra low front spoiler, and try to get it into the garage without ripping the spoiler off. Needed some planks to get it over the bump, but it wasn't too much of an issue.

Then take one yellow monstrosity

And rip it to bits. I'm getting good at this, it took about 5 minutes to have the plenum top off, including finding my hex socket.

The trumpets look good, with minimal oil.

With the plenum top off, four screws and off comes the rocker cover. Pleasingly the valve-train looks in great shape, very little browning and no sludge at all. Heck, it even looks cleaner than the EFI did.

The cork gaskets were in better shape than the EFI ones, but still not great. It was clear though why the oil was leaking through the screw. The gasket had pulled away from the hole so it had direct access to the oil, nothing to stop it leaking out.

There was also clear signs of leaking through the gasket at the rear of the head

Since the cover was off, and no one ever seems to do it, I serviced the breather. There is a tiny little hole in the middle that usually gets blocked. Mine was blocked, and took a lot of brake clean and poking with various bits of thin wire to clear it.

I carefully wiggled and jiggled the new rubber gasket and cover into place and tightened it down. It pays to make sure none of the gasket is pinched, and that the metal collets the screw goes through hasn't fallen out.

The other gasket was in similar condition, except for a tear in the back of the gasket

The other side was fitted with a new rubber gasket and that was that job done. Easy.

But I wasn't finished yet, I had to do something about that horrible yellow plenum. It just sticks out too much and doesn't fit the look of the sleek, gorgeous Vitesse.

I had two spare plenum tops. One was painted in a battleship grey but the paint wasn't in good condition, and the other was bare aluminium with red lines in the top.

In order to make the transition as easy as possible, I swapped as much as I could from the old plenum to the replacement. I swapped the throttle linkage, throttle pot, and over-run valve. I also thoroughly cleaned the plenum; cleaning out the breather passage, and throttle body.

Speaking of over-run valves, I capped it off the other day and unlike the EFI I noticed no difference. I wondered why, and found out today.

These are the two valves from the plenums. The one on the left is from the Vitesse, and the right one is from the spare plenum. The one on the Vitesse has been "adjusted" to completely closed and will not open on deceleration. I'm not sure that the one on the right is correctly adjusted, but you can see the gaps between the coils of the spring. The one in the EFI was correctly adjusted when I refitted it, so obviously that's the reason why blocking it off had different effects between the two cars. I fit the closed off valve back into the Vitesse.

With a thin smear of sealant on the plenum mounting face, I fit the replacement plenum top

Much better.

I did find one thing out, if you have the hose clamp for this hose in the wrong position, it will act as a throttle stop, and when you fire the car up to test, it'll hold the throttle open a crack and rev straight up to 3100rpm. Sounds awesome, but not so good for an idle speed. This is the correct position. Rover didn't think very hard when they designed the placement of this clamp. Terrible access.

The red stripes don't fit the Vitesse so much, so I may paint them a different colour in the future, but for now its a huge improvement over the yellow.

A couple of interesting observations, firstly the old setup must have had a huge intake/vacuum leak as it needed a lot more idle screw to idle normally, and the engine now pulls like a freight train. Its much smoother, idles better, pulls harder and runs nicer. I'm very happy with it; I didn't expect any improvement in its running.

WOF day is two days away, so now that it's not pouring its oil everywhere I might almost be ready for it. Eek.

Goes hard for what it is and all that.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
The Vitesse had its longest drive in a long time today, to see if it would pass a WOF.

Well unfortunately it didn't pass the Warrant of Fitness test, but for a car that has been off the road for about 4 years, and done ****** all mileage in that time, I think failing the WOF on one item isn't too bad.

What did it fail on? The steering rack. Unfortunately its filling up the LH rack boot with oil, so it's leaking passed the seals. This means an instant failure, and not just a quick degrease, clean and pass.

I'm looking into my options now. It's a toss-up between taking the car in and getting a pro to rebuild it; removing the rack and having it rebuilt; rebuilding the rack myself, or just replacing the whole rack with a reconditioned one from Rimmers. Either way its a pain to get the rack out, and I'll need to make sure I order the right parts if im going to rebuild it (as there are a couple of different brands of rack).

Of course it wouldn't be my SD1 if it didn't mark its territory.... Thankfully just a dribble from the overflow. I suspect it needs a new cap.

The trip in for the check was OK, although the shaking from the steering got a bit tiring. It was a 50km round trip, and since getting the Vitesse I have clocked over 100km total and its running like clockwork.

After failing the WOF check I shot over to get some new tyres fitted. I went for a set of Falken Ziex ZE912 in the standard 205/60R15 size.

Other than looking better and having a decent compound, they completely eliminated the shaking from the old flat spotted tyres. Driving back home afterwards was complete bliss.

I got one of the old tyres put onto the spare wheel, as it turns out the spare was even older than the 15+ year old tyres on the car! The tech changing the tyres said I should give the old spare to a museum

It turns out that the spare and one of the tyres on the car also had a tube fitted. Yes, a tube. I honestly didn't think they still did tubes in passenger car tyres, and apparently they shouldnt.... but hey, it's all sorted now, and im back to completely tubeless. Getting with the times eh.

So that's where I'm at. I need to replace the shifter remote bushes are they are literally completely gone and then fix/replace the steering rack. I have 28 days to get it rechecked, or it has to have a complete new WOF check, so I best make a call shortly.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Upon returning home after the WOF check, I felt it was time to sort the bucket of porridge shifting.

When the car was in for its WOF check I had a quick poke around under the car and confirmed my suspicions that there are no shifter bushes in place. There is a lot of oil all over the gearbox, and the rubber bushes just gave up and crumbled away. Obviously I couldn't do anything about it at the time, so as soon as I got home I got stuck in.

First issue, was how do I get my jack under the car? My usual trick is to just drive up on a few bits of wood and then the low profile jack clears the spoiler, but the Vitesse spoiler is just so low that even that didn't work. I ended up driving onto bits of wood, then jacking the car from the side lifting point (sill behind the front wheel), putting MORE wood under the wheel, and then the jack would clear the front spoiler. Phew.

Of course I popped a couple of axle stands under the car, and then had a poke around. Before I start on the shifter bushings I had to have a quick look at the steering rack issue I failed the WOF for. I was shown that the rubber boot was full of oil and sure enough, I gave it a squeeze and more oil poured out. I snipped the Zip-Tie and had a closer look.

There was a lot of oil on the innards too, so I gave it all a wipe down, and then fired the car up. I swung the steering lock to lock a couple of times, and then had a look to see how bad the leak was.

Yep, she's leaking alright.

Anyway, nothing else I can do to that, so I reinstalled the old boot with a new zip-tie and moved onto the bushes.

Look mum, no [s]hands[/s] bushes (excuse the blurry photos, it was really hard to fit myself and a camera under the car)

Oh look, is that the remains of a bush?!

Yup, wasn't doing much.

You can see that underside of the remote has actually been rubbing on the drive shaft. Not ideal

I purchased the replacement Poly bushes from eBay and they arrived the other day. SuperPro SPF0355K. Listed for a Triumph but work perfect.

This job wasnt anywhere near as hard as I was expecting. I read some horror stories about not being able to access the top bolts, but using a 3/4" ratchet, a really long extension and a 1/2" socket it was a doddle.

The bushes come in two halves, and you need to reuse the existing metal sleeve from the old bush

With some wiggling and bashing of knuckles I managed to sort it. The trick I found, was to do one bush at a time (one bush = two halves, a metal sleeve, bolt and washer) and leave the bolts in the others until it's their turn. I started with the hardest to access which is top RH side, doing it mostly by feel. Once the sleeve was in both halves of the bush I slipped the bolt in and spun it a few threads so it wouldn't come out. DO NOT tighten fully though, you need the remote to move so you can get the other bushes in. I did the same to the top LH bush, and then moved onto the lower side ones.

These were actually a bit harder to do. With one side in I needed to use a small pry bar to give me enough space between the bracket and trans for the other bush, and then it was just a case of wiggling and strategically tightening the bolts to align all the bushes. If you have trouble getting the side bolts into place, I found that tightening the top bolts can help align it all.

New bushes in place. This lifts the whole remote up, and leaves little to no movement in the remote.

I should probably find out where that leak is coming from. I swear it appears that some of it is coming from the fill plug.

I haven't driven the car more than just out of the garage, because I also did an engine oil and filter change (and im 1L low on oil and haven't bought more yet) but already the shifter feels so much more direct. There is still a little movement in side to side in gear, but I believe there is an adjustment for that. It's not a major.

Just as a reminder of how bad the shifter was

And this is what its like now

Huge improvement, well worth the money and effort to install the bushes.

Now to top the oil up and work out what to do about the steering rack.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
A replacement steering rack from Rimmers has been ordered. Brand new, but reconditioned to replace any seals that have perished from age. Also ordered a suspension kit, with new shocks all around (as mine are very soft and I was told it wont pass the next warrant) and standard Vitesse height springs. Now to wait for shipping, hope it gets through customs OK, and then fit it.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
It isn't a fun job, but it's one I needed to do. To get Tess on the road I needed to replace the steering rack.

But first, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Tess (yes, the cars now have names. Tess the Vitesse and EFI, pronounced "Effie", the EFI) failed her WOF on a leaking power steering rack, and boy was it leaking badly. I suspect it was the original rack, and may have just failed either due to time, or from sitting for years. Either way, it needed to be fixed.

My first thought was to get the rack reconditioned, as surely this would be more cost-effective and quicker than ordering a replacement rack... but how wrong I was. No one was too interested in actually doing the work, with the only workshop in Wellington able to do the work quoting about $600 to do it plus labour to remove/fit if needed, and the only other place I was recommended was in Auckland, which was "about $800", excluding me having to remove the rack and send it to them. Not only that, everyone was busy and being only days away from the big Christmas shutdown, there was no hope in me having it back before mid Jan or so. Eek.

The next option was to source a used rack and fit that, but in the end I ruled this option out as it was probably just going to be money down the drain when that one eventually succumbed to its 30+ years of age and also starting leaking.

The only option left to me then was to order one from the UK. The pricing wasn't great, but considering its a brand new unused rack (albeit made in 1986) that has been reconditioned with new seals, it's not a bad deal. Even better was the next day when I went to place the order, the rack was suddenly on sale at only 200 Pounds! Win!

After much calculating we worked out that it was cheaper to buy the rack with a set of replacement standard Vitesse height shocks and springs than it was to buy the shocks at a later date... oh what a shame, so they got tacked onto the order. $400 of just shipping costs later, and the parts were on their way.

I had a good laugh when the Fedex site said ETA for delivery was the 27th Dec.... 5 days after it was ordered, but I'll be damned if I didn't get a call from Fedex the morning of the 27th to say it had cleared customs and I needed to pay the Government to clip the ticket, and then it would be out for delivery.

And there it was, later that day, 5 days after the order was placed in the UK, and two days after Christmas. One box full of springs, and the other with a steering rack, four shocks and some door window seals. Amazing. HUGE thanks to Rimmer Bros and Fedex for the great service.

Yes, a BRAND NEW "Cam Gears" rack. Not used, and not an old used rack that has been reconditioned. Bling Bling.

Like usual getting the car in the air is the standard low-car faff, but once up I whipped off the wheels and began poking around.

Interestingly someone at some point has swapped the standard two hose 4 pot Vitesse calipers for single hose 4 pot calipers. The disks are standard Vitesse vented disks, so not performance loss, but an interesting change. Filthy as hell and covered in multiple layers of paint. They need a clean and probably a repaint. Be a good candidate for an XJS big brake upgrade.

Braided Goodridge hoses to the calipers. Yes, the standard strut legs have been painted yellow also >_<

That's enough poking around, let's get to the real work. Removing the rack.

I got really stuck for ages trying to get the tie rod end to come free from the knuckle on the RH side. The typical way to remove these (and all taper fit ball joints) is to give the side of the item the ball joint goes through a few hard smacks with a hammer. This will usually shock the taper free and it will pop out. This happened on the LH side after a few whacks, but the right side just didn't want to pop.

This is the offending article

I suspect it was original, and was rusted in the knuckle. In the end I used a couple of Pickle Fork style ball joint separators to pop it. It didn't go without a fight though, and unfortunately it made a mess of the boot in the process.

A win is a win though, this meant I could move on.

The next step was to disconnect the oil hoses. I believe the correct thing to do is to remove the hoses from the rack, but I just couldn't get a spanner in there to undo them on the car, so I chose to disconnect them from the pump. This also allowed easier draining and cleanup of the fluid. One pipe in the back of the pump is a 5/8" hex and the other is just a standard hose clamp

There aren't many photos of the next part of the process because it's a hell of a messy job. Even with barrier cream all up my arms it took ages to clean the grease and oil off me.

The rack is held to the crossmember with four large 17mm bolts, the nuts of which are visible in the above photos on either side of the jacking bump on the crossmember. A spanner held on the bolt on top of the rack, and a rattlegun on the nut under the car and they were undone quickly. The one bolt at the back on the RH side cannot be removed with the pipes in place on the rack. I just pushed this up as far as it would go, using the pipes and hoses to hold it in place.

Next is to disconnect the steering coupling from the spline on the rack. This was bit of a pain as mine had been there for many years, but a good soaking in WD40 helped. Completely remove the 1/2" nut and bolt (has to be completely removed as the bolt locks the spline in place) and then use a thick chisel driven into the split to open up the coupling and release the spline. There wasn't enough room to move the steering shaft to free it from the rack, so I had to push the rack forward to free it up. This is a great time to also check the rubber disk on the coupling for any splits or damage and replace if needed.

Before the rack can be removed the engine needs to be lifted a few inches. I ummed and ahhed over this for ages, until I just bit the bullet and did what Haynes recommends. Use a jack, and a block of wood under the sump.

Because I only needed clearance on the RH/Drivers side of the car, I removed both bolts on the RH side and removed only one bolt and loosened the other bolt on the LH side. This allowed the engine to sort of pivot on that bolt when it lifted, so when it was lowered again everything was easy to align back into place. Keep in mind that I don't run the standard radiator fan and shroud, so I didn't have to worry about moving or removing these before lifting, but may cause issues on standard cars.

The engine is held with two 17mm bolts/nuts on each side

To gain enough space to remove the rack I also had to remove that yellow brace you can see over the rack boot. This is bolted through the RH mountings for the sway bar

The engine does have to come up quite high

With the engine up, and the rack unbolted all that is needed to do is to wiggle and jiggle the rack out. The rack MUST be removed from the RH/Drivers side of the car, and to get it out meant that I had to rotate the rack upside down, so that the pinion pointed downwards. It also helped if I raised the LH side of the rack.

Eventually it will come out and you will wonder what all that fuss was about. The original "Cam Gears" brand rack as used on the later SD1s. Apparently the best for road feel of the three brands used at various times (but all interchangeable)

The hoses came through with the rack with no issues, so I see no advantage to removing them on the car other than gaining a little more space from being able to remove that one mounting bolt.

The hoses are held onto the rack with two different sizes. One was a 17mm and the other was smaller, and I used a 9/16" spanner for it. They were easy to break free off the car, but the smaller pipe took some careful coaxing to spin in the nut. These hoses need to be transferred to the new rack, and MUST be kept clean from any dirt entering them. I ziptied a glove over the end to keep them clean upon refitting. Take note of how the pipes are run on the rack too as they need to be oriented correctly.

Before refitting the new rack you need to center it. There is a port on the rack for checking the centering, and apparently locking it, although I didn't need to lock mine. its a 1/4" hex to remove this plastic plug

It's hard to photograph, but there is a dimple in the rack that can be seen through this hole when the rack is centered. When it's not centered there is just solid, shiny metal that can be seen

Not centered

Almost centered (rack needs to go slightly to the right)


Apparently you can insert a bolt into here to lock it in place, but I didn't find this was needed, and I just used a mirror to check it was still centered when it was on the car before fitting the steering coupling, and again when the coupling was in place.

Pipes were refitted and had a very quick clean. I ensured that the pipes and hoses weren't hard up against each other or the rack.

Refitting is just the reverse of removal. Wiggle and jiggle the rack into place, being careful to route the hoses over the crossmember and under the sump, and to not damage any of the boots and threads. The rack comes with good protective covers on all the threads and splines which helps. Remember, like removal, turning the rack upside down helps to refit (but isn't good for taking photos).

It'll eventually just fall into place, and then it's time to install that damn steering coupling again

I had my lovely wife help this by holding the steering wheel straight whilst I wiggled it all into place. I needed to use a chisel again to open the coupling so the spline would slide in nicely. I also applied some copper grease to the spline, so that it wouldn't rust together again, and that helped to slide it together.

Once that's in, drop the rack bolts through the crossmember. There is one bolt on mine that is longer than the others. This goes in the front RH side hole. It's obvious if you have put this in a different hole as it's a fair bit longer. Then start bolting it all back together.

Check the hoses are in the right place, and then the engine can be lowered down again and bolted in place. This is good for space under the car, and not having to worry there is an engine above your head holding on by a jack and one bolt.

Once everything was bolted back into place, I refit the hoses to the pump with a new hose clamp. This is where I would usually be fitting the tie rod ends but unfortunately that turned to rubbish. One of mine had a damaged boot from removal, and both were looking aged and generally a bit blegh. I didn't just spend hundreds on a new rack to fit old worn out parts back onto it, so I went to Repco and picked up the last two that they had in stock for an SD1.

They are TRW JTE224. The TRW website lists them as the correct part for all SD1s including the Vitesse

and the photo looks OK

As does the technical info and measurements of them

Unfortunately what was in both of the boxes isn't quite right. It doesn't look like the photo, or the old part, and more importantly the threads don't match up.

The old one has a 12mm thread, the new one 10mm. Either this is a mistake and a bad batch, or the TRW part is wrong. I'm going to check tomorrow if any other stores have them in stock and if they can source me a pair to match up. If they can't, I will have to resort to ordering a new pair from Rimmers.

In the meantime I have refilled the system (with the same ATF as I used in the EFI), loosened off the PS pump so it can be spun by hand and hand filled the rack.

Once the level was stable, I tightened the belt and secured the pump and fired up the engine. I ran the rack lock to lock to bleed the air out, and refilled the pump until the level stopped dropping and then that was done.

Now I'm at a halt until I can get a pair of tie rod ends. Once I have those, I can fit them, put the wheels back on and take it for an alignment. Then its WOF time!


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
For the first time this year, Tess finally made an appearance out of the garage.

Since replacing the rack a couple of weeks ago, and getting the wrong tie rod ends from Repco, I've been waiting patiently (hah!) for a pair of new ends to come from the motherland via Rimmers. It seems no one else in NZ has a listing, let alone the ability to supply them.

When getting a Warrant of Fitness inspection on a car, if it fails you have 28 days to return for a free recheck without having to do another full inspection at your cost. Yesterday was 28 days from the initial inspection where the car failed....

So on Tuesday, with one day left, the new tie rod ends hadn't arrived yet and I was out of time. When I removed the old rack the RH tie rod end was seized into the knuckle and unfortunately the boot got torn to bits removing the joint.

Finding a universal boot locally was a pain in the ass. Repco had nothing, Supercheap Auto thought I wanted a boot liner for my car, BNT said they had them on the phone but somehow magically lost all of them 20 mins later when I went in.... but a huge thanks to Autolign in Petone who not only had a decent range in stock, but actually managed to sort me out one that fit perfect.

I really didn't want to reuse these joints but with no other options it's all I had. They were good enough to pass the initial warrant check, so they would still be OK to pass the recheck. I just didn't want to use old and worn parts on my lovely new rack.

Anyway, I reassembled the steering, did a quick spanner check, and began to refit the wheels. One thing I wanted to do when refitting them was to replace the wheel nuts with some spares I have. The current ones are all pretty rusty, and although the replacements are old and used, they're far less rusty. Original on the left. Interestingly they are actually different, with the original ones having a shorter hex, and a bigger domed cap.

They all went on, got torqued up and Tess was on the ground once again

A quick test drive shows that the alignment is slightly out and the steering wheel is off to the right by a couple of degrees. Everything else is working properly, as it should, but the steering rack doesn't feel as smooth as the old 30+ year old one. Hopefully it'll wear in and get better.

Yesterday I drove Tess in and went for the recheck. A few minutes later, after checking the rack had been replaced, this ugly thing was stuck to my windscreen

So that's a great success, the first warrant since 2013. Getting Rego (road tax) was a bit more of a pain. I swung home after getting the WOF, and swapped my plates over to the personalised plates I will be running and went to VTNZ for the rego

Unfortunately there was a nationwide system outage for the rego label printers, meaning no one could sell me rego, take the cars rego off hold, or swap the plates over. Eventually I managed to get the post shop to sell me rego without printing the label. This meant I could use the car last night, and the worst I could be ticketed for would be "Failure to display licence label in the correct manner". Better than driving an unregistered car, but this did mean I had to swap back to the original plates again. I'll change to MEH another day.

One of the other things I needed to do yesterday was to change my oil again. Back when I did the shifter bushes I also changed the 4+ year old oil with some nice, expensive VR1 10W40 as used in Effie. Unfortunately Tess didn't take too kindly to this thin oil, and started smoking heavily when getting up the revs. She blew a little smoke before the change, but this was like a Bond smoke screen.

The oil that the previous owner had been using was a 20W50, so I thought something along those lines would be a good start. I ended up picking up some Penrite HPR30 20W60 with "full" Zinc.

I drained out the 5L of expensive 50KM old engine flush oil, and filled up with the Penrite. I didn't change the filter, there was no point as it was barely used. The oil came out a little darker, but still golden.

With the HPR30 in her, the smoke has lessened a lot, and the oil pressure is still very good. It's thicker than I usually prefer, but every engine is different and this is what Tess likes. It's also cheaper than VR1 which is good (not to mention coming in 5L and 1L bottles, which is great when a drain and fill takes 5.5L. Two bottles of 5L VR1 isn't cheap)

Driving her last night was great. Sure, it was pissing down, but gosh it drives god. The Falken ZE912 tires seem to be working well in the wet and dry. Compared to the Supercats on Effie, it's like comparing apples and chewing gum. I can still over power the Falkens, especially when it comes on cam in second gear, but otherwise it was nice and grippy.

The new shifter bushes make a huge change in shifter feel, with far less movement, and much more accuracy. The gearbox is still very noisy, and has a great trick of sometimes popping out of 3rd when you let the clutch out (uncommon though). I will try Ramon's recommendation of flushing with white spirit, and then using an engine oil with Molyslip and see what happens. Worst case, I have that spare box in the garage.

So that's where we are now. The car is fully road legal and usable. I need to swap the tie rod ends and get an alignment, and the damn boot still leaks like a sieve. One step at a time, but now I get to put some Miles on her.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
One of the things that has bothered me about Tess is the wipers. The RH one sits too high, and they are the weird old pin fitting.

Being the sneaky one I am, the plan was to swap the standard J-Hook style arms from Effie to Tess, so that I could easily get replacement blades instead of just refills.

You can see how much higher the RH wiper on Tess sits compared to Effie here. The wiper on Effie is almost obscured by the bonnet and well within the dark strip at the bottom of the screen, whilst Tess sits high and is visible in the drivers vision. It's a real small thing, but bothers me.

Wipers are easy as to remove on these things. Just a 13mm nut to remove and then the arm can be wiggled off the spline

This is the difference between the two. Tess has the one on the left, where the blade is held on by a metal pin. The one from Effie on the right uses a standard J-Hook. Replacement blades to suit the pin style are less common, whilst J-hook ones are everywhere as its standard on a lot of modern Japanese cars.

Good and bad news, the arm from Effie fit Tess

But the arm from Tess didn't fit Effie. The spline size is different for some reason; Tess has a bigger spline and the arm won't engage on Effie. I had to swap them back over and live with the pin arms on Tess, but at least I did manage to align the arm height better. The LH arm can't go lower without catching the windscreen surround but that's fairly normal.

With that disappointment I moved inside the car to have a play. Mrs Petrol pointed out my ugly missing label on my computer the other day and reminded me to fix it

Luckily I have some spare buttons, so I harvested a label. I could swap the whole button over, but to do that you need to remove the front panel, which means risking ruining the whole thing as the front panel is the only thing holding all the buttons and springs behind them, in place. I used a razor blade to carefully pry the label off the button

and stuck it back on with its existing adhesive. If it comes loose I'll look into a dab of glue to secure it

Don't worry, I have started cleaning the grot too, but that's another post, when I have finished.

I removed the dash mat for the first time and to my surprise, it was hiding some goodies. No idea what the rubber gasket goes to, but the screws and washers are for various dash trim bits, and the spanner is for my collection.

So that's where Tess is for now. I really need to pull finger and start getting her ready for the show, but unfortunately I'm going to have to spend some time on Effie very shortly as once again, she needs some coolant work frown


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Effie passed her WOF easily, so both cars made it to the show on Sunday. Unfortunately the weather was gross and it ended up pouring down, but both cars looked great. I spent Saturday machine polishing and waxing Tess, which has made a huge difference in the paint. Being black, its unlikely to stay that way, but hey.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
It's never a dull day in the garage when you own a Rover.

Having shown off Tess at the show the other day, it was time to start digging further into some of the issues she has. I couldn't risk doing this work before the show, in case it was delayed and didn't make it there. That was a good choice it seems...

So what was the plan? Well, the obvious first step was to replace the springs and shocks with new shocks and standard Vitesse height springs. I purchased these on sale with the steering rack, because I knew the current setup was bad. The front shocks could be compressed by hand on the car, and the front was just too low to be practical. The rear also bottomed out badly over bumps, to the point it would pop the passengers glove box open on hard bumps. It wasn't pleasant.

The other job I wanted to do whilst there, was to bleed the brakes. They haven't been touched in at least 4 years, since the car was sitting, but who knows how long before that too. The pedal was spongy, but the brakes did all work, just not as good as they should (and not as good as Effie).

A surprise job was thrown at me the other day too; I needed to do the transmission fluid. I knew the gearbox wasn't happy because it whines and rattles, but changes smoothly and otherwise drives well. The other day I picked the wife up from the train station, and proceeded to do a 0-100kph full throttle pull on the motorway. **** it sounded amazing, but after that I had some reservations about the gearbox and decided to park her up until I could get her in the air.

I noticed after that run the gearbox developed a clunk coming off throttle, and was making a different whine. It wasn't happy. I needed to have a look.

So today I decided it was as good time as any to get Tess in the air and start spinning some spanners. I got her up on all four stands, and made a hovercar. Being the first time I have had all four wheels off the ground in one go (except for the WOF), I had a good look around and got some photos.

These are the lovely box section rear trailing arms. No, I don't know why they chose these over the readily available standard ones.

And the massive exhaust. Its well built and looks good. I'm pleased to see standard two bolt flanges all through it, instead of the stupid flanges the Rover uses standard (three bolt, sliding flanges with olives).

And the target for today's suspension, the front struts

Before that though, I wanted to tackle the gearbox. I needed to drain the oil and see what the state of that was.

On the SD1 LT77 gearbox, the drain plug is on the drivers/RH side in the iron mid case, and the fill plug on the passengers/LH side, in the alloy rear housing.

This is the drain plug. On the D suffix box it's a 32mm hex

and the fill plug (with a socket on it). This is 15/16"

As it turns out, the gearbox in my Vitesse is a suffix C box and not the D suffix it should be. So many things have been changed on this car, it's no real surprise. The suffix C box uses 15/16" for both drain and fill plugs, but they are in the same location as above.

I cracked and removed the fill plug first (as is good practice, just in case it's seized in, and you drain the oil without a way to get it back in) and then removed the drain plug. To my surprise, only a tiny trickle of oil came out. Nuts. That might have something to do with the angry gearbox. This is all that came out (ignore the coolant, that stuff is everywhere in my garage). Probably 50ml or so, not the 1.9L it should have.

Bloody amazing the gearbox worked half as well as it did considering!

The drain plug has a magnet on it, to catch metal shavings that occur in normal use. Amazingly, this magnet did have some shavings on it, but nothing too unusual for an old gearbox. No chunks.

I gave Sonic the Metallic Headgehog a haircut

And then it was time to get radical (dude). The SD1 whisperer, Ramon Alban, wrote up many years ago about how he flushed and cleaned his gearbox out, and swears by it. Others on forums have also done it with good results. I figured, since my box was already in a bad way, it can't hurt. The flush calls for a 2:1 ratio of white spirit and ATF. Fill the box with that, run it through the gears with the engine running and then let it idle for 10 minutes with no load. This ensures that the oil pump in the gearbox circulates the mixture everywhere, and that it gets into all the gears and syncros.

I grabbed two bottles of white spirit from Supercheap, and just used some leftover ATF I have from doing auto services.

These by the way, are one of the best tools you can buy. It's a hand pump bottle, with a hose and curved steel pipe on the end. The pipe hooks into the filler hole, and you can pump up to the trans from the ground. Its easy, clean and no fuss.

So in that mixture went, and as per the instructions I ran the car through the gears. The box was a little quieter, but that was probably just because it now had some oil actually in it...

This is what came out. It went in pink as per the photo above....

The magnet also found some more shavings

Still no chunks though, so we are kinda winning. I filled another couple of pump bottles of fluid and pumped them into the gearbox, and did it again, this time leaving it to idle for longer. This time the fluid came out much more pink.

This time the gearbox was much quieter in operation, so maybe it is helping. We will see. I have a special mixture of oil to go in, but first I need to grab some new fibre washers for the plugs. More on that next time.

Anyway, onto the shocks. Unlike the Mini, the front struts on the Rover also incorporate the hub and stub axle, so you have to remove it all in one go. This makes it heavy, and awkward to work with. Another issue I soon encountered, was that my bloody swaybar is kinda rust-welded into the lower arm and I cant remove it without cutting it off. Lame. Glad it has urethane bushes I guess.

To make life easier, I unbolted the front calipers from the hub and hung them up. Well, one of them anyway...

The passenger's side didn't go so smoothly, and the ******* thing broke the copper hard-line that goes into the caliper. I didn't even apply much pressure to it, so obviously it was weak. It turns out that the pipe was rusted into the nut, so that didn't help.

Question. How do you stop a broken brake pipe from draining the master cylinder reservoir (when you have braided lines and can't clamp them off)? With a rubber glove of course.

Stretch it over the opening of the res, and zip tie it in place. This creates a seal in the system, so the fluid can't just freely drain out. As you can see above, it pulls a fair bit of vacuum, so to be safe I also used a silicone cap to plug the pipe in the meantime. Better safe than to drain the whole system onto my garage floor overnight and then have to refill an empty system.

So that sucked, and now I have to go get a new pipe made up. The one plus to this is that since one caliper is off, i'm going to look into repainting both as they are looking pretty haggard. Many layers of flaking paint.

Moving on, back to the struts. I unbolted the swaybar from the crossmember, so that it could hang down (since I couldn't remove it from the arms), and one of the lower arms had to be removed (or the swaybar still fought me). With all that sorted, out came the struts.

On went my sweet spring compressors

and off came the strut top

The boot on the RH side is mint, but the LH is torn and will need replacing. The same can't be said about the front bump stops. Years of being smashed by lowered suspension had turned them into chunks floating around in the boot

You can also see a lot of oil floating around in the above photo. This is from the shock, as it had been leaking badly but was contained within the boot, effectively hiding the failure. The shock on this side was so bad that as soon as the strut top was off, the shock collapsed down by itself. You can pull it up by hand, but it pulls itself down again. Well ******ed.

The next fun was to remove that massive nut on top of the strut leg, so I could remove the insert. I didn't have any spanners big enough, so what do I do? Improvise. Out came the chain oil filter wrench and a breaker bar.

Other than the strut flopping around, this made short work of it, without even damaging the nut. I could reuse it if the new shocks didn't already come with new nuts.

Off came the nut, to reveal the shock insert.

I saw in the receipts the front shocks had been replaced years ago, but wasnt sure what was actually in here. The shock should just pull straight out; and this is what I have. Monroe Gas-Matic.

This is the difference between the old and new shock

and the old left and right shocks (left on top)

Old spring vs new spring. You can see the new spring is a fair bit longer and slightly thicker coils.

I added a squirt of hydraulic jack oil into the strut leg (adding this is neither here nor there; some say its to help transfer heat from the shock to the strut leg. It's easy to do, so I did it), and slipped the new shock into the leg. A couple of dabs of copper grease, and on went the new nut. This was tightened by hand as much as possible, and then cranked up tight with the chain wrench. Its well nifty that thing.

Anyway, that's where we sit today. I can't reassemble the front struts without new bump stops, so i'll need to express freight some from Rimmers, and I need a new brake line made (but first I need to undo the old one from the braided flex line, which is proving to be very hard to do). Tomorrow I will swap the rear shocks and springs, and hope that goes well and that I don't need parts for that too (and if I do, I'll add that to the order). Thankfully the new shocks have new bushes for that.

To be continued.


Original Poster:

152 posts

18 months

Wednesday 11th July 2018
quotequote all
Things with Tess haven't been going quite to plan, so I took a couple of days off, but here we go again.

After pulling down the front struts to replace the shocks, the next part of the game was to strip out the rear and replace the shocks and springs there. I also needed to get some oil into the now clean but empty transmission.

That was the first thing I wanted to do, fill the trans. Now I did mention in the previous post that I had a special mixture of oil to go in the trans, and here it is.

Another variation of a Ramon recommended solution for the gearbox. He swears by a mixture of  "5W40 "Castrol RS" " and a dose of Molyslip. Now, neither the Castrol RS oil (which I believe has been superseded anyway) nor the Molyslip is available locally, so I substituted for the closest I could get. The Shell fully synthetic oil seems to be decent stuff, was available in 1L bottles, and cheap. The Nulon Smooth Shift is an additive that is meant to improve shifting. This seems to be very similar to the Molyslip additive, and should do nicely as a substitute.

I was originally going to use some Redline MTL, but my local BNT was out of stock. I couldn't be bothered ordering it in, so decided to try this combo instead. Hell, if it doesn't work to plan, it can't be worse than no oil, and I'll just drain it and refill with MTL later.

Filling the trans was the same as filling it with the flushing solution, except I squeezed the tube of the Nulon additive in first, and then pumped in the oil. Of course, before I did this I popped the drain plug back in with a new fibre washer. The washers I used come in a pack, from Mitre10, and were cheap as chips.

Much better than the over re-used and over crushed washer on the fill plug (which was loose and leaking originally), and the remains of the washer on the drain plug, which had turned to mush and stuck to the transmission. Needed a scraper to remove the remains of that one.

The verdict so far? Well, I haven't driven the car obviously, but I ran it through the gears today. At idle it's already much quieter, although the bearing whine is still just audible but it doesn't sound like a bag of bolts now. All the gears went in slickly, but the real test will be how it drives on the road after about 200km or so when the oil has broken in. Its going to go either way, it'll be an improvement on no oil, or I have just made it so much worse and will need to rebuild my spare gearbox for transplant. That'd be my luck.

Moving back the main event, the suspension. This is what's currently in the rear, some lovely Monroe air shocks. Well over their use by date, don't seem to hold air and do NOTHING that resembles damping. Playing with them, I suspect the air in them does all the damping, so without any air in them they just bottom out. Guess this explains why they recommend something like 15PSI in them at minimum. One of them also rattles when shaken...

It's a fairly tidy install with the air hose run through a tiny little hole the perfect size for the hose. The springs are a bit random. They are lowered, and have a sticker on them with "PROKIT" on it, but other than that no obvious markings.

The bump stops have seen better days... years ago. You can see above, in the middle of the spring mount, a nice clean patch. That's where the metal bolt that should be the bump stop, has been hitting it.

No bloody wonder it feels like the car is being rear ended when going over bumps in the rear. Ouch.

Now in theory the rear suspension should the one of the easiest things to do on a car like this, with a solid live axle. The shocks are just bolted top and bottom, and the spring is held in place by a clamp on the bottom, and hopes and dreams at the top (well, they kinda freely rattle around in the tower but are stopped from dropping out by the shock limiting the axles downwards travel).

First up was to find the top of the shock. Drop the rear seat, and then behind the carpet will be the top of the shock. I also removed the bolsters, because it's easy on my cars and I didn't know what I was looking for (and thought I had to remove them; you don't, but the extra room is good).

With those located on both sides, all that was left to do was to stick the jack under the axle to take the weight

Rattle gun off the nut, and lower the axle down to drop the shock out of the body

The bottom of the shock had a locking nut setup with two nuts. Whizz them off, and the shock just freely pulls out. You can see the state of the bushes too; they are stuffed. Interesting to note there was nothing locating these shock in place in the (much larger) holes, other than friction and the compression of the bushes.

Old shock vs new shock. Here you can see the length difference, which I will go into shortly.

With the shock removed, if you lower the axle down further the top of the spring comes free, and the spring is then only retained in place by the single clamp on the bottom mount. This is held in with a 10mm nut/bolt setup. Undo that, remove the clamp and out comes the spring.

New spring is a bit longer, but has more coils.

With the spring removed you can also remove the top cone that has the bump stop mounted to it, and replace the bump stop. Obviously mine was missing something previously...

That's better

Pop that on the top of the new spring, and slip the new spring in place. Here starts the first of many issues I have with the Rimmers kit. If you refer back to the photo comparing the two springs, you can just make out that the overall width of the new spring is narrower than the old spring. It's not by much, but its enough that when you try to get it to sit nicely on the lower spring perch, it doesn't. It's a real fight to get it to sit nicely, and it has a habit of pulling free from the clamp.

The problem gets worse when you fit the shocks that come with the kit.... but more on that soon. To fit said shocks, first you need to fit the new bushes. These are a much better design than the ones I removed, so obviously Rover had some idea of what they were doing here. The new bush goes through the hole so that it has rubber on each sides of the hole. The two washers are to squish the rubber against a metal sleeve on the inside of the bush.

This is the lower bush in place, with the metal sleeve inside. The sleeve is only half the length of the bush. This setup locates the shock centrally in the holes.

Just for reference, here is an awesomely drawn diagram from one of the Rover workshop manuals.

I love exploded diagrams. This is what things look like inside my head.

Getting the bushes in is a pain. LOTS of silicone spray helps, but in the end it just takes lots of force and some twisting to get them in place.

Tightening up the top nut takes some creativity as I didn't have a spanner small enough for the flat on the top of the shock, to stop the shaft spinning as you turn the nut. I gently used some vice grips on the shaft and a ratcheting spanner on the nut to tighten it up. You can see some squidge in the second photo; you need to tighten the nut until it squashes the rubber and the nut starts to tighten down on the sleeve.

So with the shock installed I noticed one of the most annoying issues with the Rimmers kit. The shocks are too long, and allow the rear springs to drop down too low. For me this caused binding of the cone on top of the spring, which would pull the bottom of the spring out of the retainer clamp. If the shocks were shorter this wouldn't be an issue. I could also have issues come WOF time if the springs fail to be captive. I will have to see how I go on that one.

I was a bit pissed off by then but decided to do the other side too, just in case there was an issue with that side of my car.

The bump stop was even worse on this side, it had been hit so hard it had dented the cone inwards!

You can see the impact point on the spring perch

Low springs plus stuffed shocks = pain.

The new bump stop pulled the dent out as I tightened it, but the issues I had on the right side were also the same on the left. It's the kit that's at fault, not the car. You can just make out the grey zip tie that is stopping the spring from pulling out of the retainer.

After this I was pretty pissed off and feeling a bit dark about the whole job, so I took a day or two off from working on the car.

Today I cracked back into it, and got stuck into reassembling the front struts. Autolign supplied some generic bump stops that fit well (to suit the 22mm shaft); thanks to one of my Facebook followers for messaging me about that.

Reassembly of the struts isn't rocket science, it's just the reverse of disassembly. Compress the spring as much as possible, fit it, fit the boot, then the spring seat and top mount. Whack the nut in and tighten it up. Oh, another thing, the flash new nuts that came with the new front struts didn't actually fit, they are too small, so I had to reuse the old center nuts.

I thought fitting the struts back into the car would be hard, as completely assembled they are actually pretty heavy, especially with the new springs, but it went smoothly and easily. I'm a fiercely independent person in the garage, so I managed it all myself. Jack under the strut, and whilst operating the jack with one hand, maneuver and align the strut with the other hand. Align the studs with the hole, raise it up and pop the nuts on. Done. I did need to do some extra jiggling to get the swaybar back into place, but nothing major. Jacks are such a handy third hand.

It was good to finally see the car looking more like a car again. Since the struts were in, I took the chance to swap over the new tie rod ends, to get rid of the worn out haggard looking ones on the car.

This is the part number for future reference.

Fits like a glove and looks so much better. Be interesting to see if I can tell any difference in the steering. They are a lot stiffer than the old ones.

The last thing I did today was to remove the other front caliper for repainting.

As you can see they don't look flash at all. The black paint is covering many years of other colours, from red to white (primer?) and even our familiar friend, yellow.

The pads look to have been changed fairly recently as they have good meat on them, but the retaining pins and shims have seen better days. I'll get some new ones in my next Rimmers order and swap them over in the future.

Compared to Effies brakes, these are ugly.

Be interesting to see if the pads have any part numbers on them, as they are different to the ones in Effie. Would be good to know more options.

That's where we are. I'll need to find some time to get to the brake specialists in town to have the broken pipe remade, and I'll repaint the calipers. Once that's done, I'll drop her down and see how I feel about the new ride height. Many nerves about that. I hope like hell it was worth it.