Kelvin's 1985 Rover SD1 Vanden Plas EFI with Speedweeeeeeno

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Fine. Ill continue. Edit. Woo new page!

Started stripping the horrible white paint off the spoiler today. Its very thick, very hard and very brittle paint. I used a 40 grit flap wheel on my grinder and 80 grit by hand to cut through the paint. There are a couple of large cracks in the top of the wing, hopefully i can fill them with something, maybe sikaflex? and then ill be painting the wing in either bumper paint, or plasti-dip. Its a flexible rubber, so normal paint is a no go.


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I couldn't help myself, I HAD to work on the wing and see what condition it was in.

So the other day one of the amazing parts I scored from Whanganui was this original Vitesse rear wing.

These are crazy hard to get hold of these days in NZ, unless you buy a fibreglass replica from Rimmer Bros in the UK, for around $270 + shipping.

The Vitesse was the only model to get these spoilers. Rumour has it they increase stability at speed, and may even reduce fuel consumption by altering the coefficient of drag. According to Karen Pender's book the standard 1982 3500SE (no spoiler) had a coefficient of 0.405 whilst the early Vitesse was 0.360. The only body changes between the two cars was the spoiler.

Plus, they look awesome; they just finish off the back end so well.

So yes, I now have one in my possession. Unfortunately the previous owner had painted it white, and it was in bad condition. The paint was cracking badly, and the rubber wing itself was cracked in a couple of places.
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I started with stripping the paint off to see what state the rubber was in. Initially I tried 80 grit sandpaper by hand but wasn't getting anywhere as the paint was so hard and thick, so I moved to an 80 grit flap wheel on my grinder. I very carefully used this to strip off as much paint as possible, without cutting into the rubber.
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I decided to grab a DA orbital sander today and have another go. This was far more effective, and I managed to remove most of the paint
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This shows clearer how badly cracked the rubber is
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You can also see there that I still have some paint stuck in the rough texture where the wing has weathered. I'll leave this as is, as I don't want to dig into the rubber to remove it.

The standard Vitesse wing attaches by about 6 studs to the boot lid. Obviously my car doesn't have the holes for the spoiler, and I'm not keen to drill into it, so will be looking to attach it with Sikaflex or the likes. This meant removing the studs from the spoiler, which isn't a hard job, when only two remain.
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Using my Dremel and some sweet aliexpress cutting disks I cut them off as flush as possible. I also used my flap wheel to grind them down some more (after the photos were taken).
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Once it had dried off a bit I decided to have a quick test fit.

Does it belong here?
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Mmm, probably not. What about here?
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A bit better, but still not quite right. What about here then?
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Yeah, that's the stuff! It wouldn't hold itself on the boot lid, so no full photos as it's not mounted.

I did some thinking regarding the condition of the wing. Obviously I cant just stick it on as it is as it looks pretty rough, so I need a plan. I think what I'm going to do is take a fibreglass mould of the wing, and make a fibreglass replica and then mount that on the car. I'll store the original wing away safely.

This is a good thing for a couple of reasons. Firstly I won't need to uprate my tailgate gas struts as fibreglass is a lot lighter than the original wing; It'll also give me the ability to remake the wing if I need to, IE: if I get another SD1 that doesn't have one.

Now to add another skill to my set, how to fibreglass. Eek.

The MX5 is about to fall off its WOF, and its a couple of weeks until I can get it in for a WOF check, so until then I guess I'll just have to use and work on the Rover more. What a shame.

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A sticking trip counter that won't reset is a common "feature" of the SD1, and one that I'm keen to fix on my car.

Handily a spare speedo cluster was one of the parts I picked up on the weekend. This also had the sticky trip counter, so I decided to practice on this and if it works well then when I remove my cluster to swap the better lens over, I'll fix my cluster too.

Heres the willing victim, legit Smiths gauges
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You can see the lens although dirty is generally in good shape with only small marks on it. My current one was "marked" at the 60MPH/100KPH mark; obviously the previous owner had issues seeing the open road speed

Removing the lens is easy enough once the gauge is out, so working on the spare cluster, I removed the four screws and off came the lens

Another four screws and off comes the front surround
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These four little nuts are the only things holding the speedo into the housing. Remove these (and take care of the little washers behind them) and the dial will pop out the front
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This is the reset mech. The white lever gets pushed down by the button when you press it, which moves the little gears away from the numbers
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I pulled the needle and dial face off so I could investigate the internals more and understand why it isn't resetting
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Button not pressed

Button pressed

At this point all the numbers should spring to zero. Clearly it isn't working. On a whim I tried spraying some silicone spray onto the mechanism, and bam, everything freed up and suddenly it all worked like it should. The numbers all popped to zero
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Now, obviously it's a lack of lubrication in the mechanism that is binding it all together and making it stop working. I suspect that if you're careful and drop a couple of drops of oil into the mech you may not even need to remove the needle and face. This is promising, next I'll try on my real cluster and see if I can fix it.

Moving along, whilst here I removed the tacho to see why my one seems to show signs of dry solder joints. It worked occasionally, and when it didn't a swift whack on the top of the dash would bring it back to life. It'd be nice to reconnect, fix it and have it working again. Three screws on the rear and out the dial comes.

Woo, 8 cylinder

I suspect this little board, being the only place with solder on it, is the source of my issues

Its stuck down with some double-sided tape, which I cut through with a razor. The solder is only on the top of the board, not through hole. There isn't much room to work, but I suspect if im careful I should be able to clean up and resolder the joints on the board.

That's where I'm at for now. I'll need to remove my cluster and do some work to it, now that I have an idea of what im doing. Good start.

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Owning a Rover SD1 means accepting that you will always have something to fix.

I'm a couple of days behind posting, thanks to near constant work on the Rover and MX5, but here we are.

On the weekend I decided to uncover the Rover so that I could use it, as the MX5 warrant was due to expire. I have booked the MX5 in for its warrant check, but its a couple of weeks until I can get it done. In the meantime the Rover will get all the use.

Of course being an SD1 I couldn't just pull it out and drive it, no, I had to fix it first. Last time I drove it I noticed it rewarded me by leaking coolant from the expansion tank hose at the radiator, and the fuel hose on the fuel filter was once again causing me grief and cracking.

The expansion tank hose is an easy fix. I knew this was going to need replacing as I noticed ages ago that it was cracking on the ends and swelling.

More of my lovely coolant spilled. Damn this car has a thing for coolant.

So I didn't have to drain the expansion tank I just undid the two screws and raised it up so the coolant was below the outlet

Undo two hose clamps and off comes the hose. Remember to remove the coolant cap first if you havent done so recently, or the system may still have pressure, as I found out; it makes a mess. Take a lot of care removing and refitting hose to the plastic bottle, as the hose barb can be very brittle and breaks off if you're too rough. Then you're in a world of pain.

I did originally buy some 8mm ID "coolant overflow" hose, but when fitting it occurred to me that the damn system is under pressure, as it's not an overflow tank but an expansion tank, so overflow hose is useless. The hose needs to hold pressure.

It looked weird anyway, too narrow. I didn't have any spare coolant hose on hand so used some of my favourite excess "R9" rated fuel hose

It fits perfect and looks the part. I figure that unlike the fuel system if the hose does fail on here, I have a coolant level warning light that should give me some chance of killing the engine before going too far, and it's not going to spray fuel everywhere and burn me to the ground.

The old hose was well passed it. Very soft, swollen and cracked
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Speaking of cracked. FML, I'm sick of replacing fuel hose now. This hose has been on the car less than 4 months.
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I gave up on this hose as its rubbish, and went and purchased some proper branded hose from a local retailer. Unfortunately I can't source 7.6mm hose locally, so had to settle for 7.9mm. This is R9 EFI rated (as the crap hose should be) and made by Codan in Denmark. This was available, on the shelf per meter from Supercheap Auto.

So with more fuel poured all over the place, on went the new hose. It fits quite well, but does need harder clamping pressure to seal tightly. No leaks, and by golly I hope it's the last time I have to do those hoses.

In order to satisfy my own curiosity I carefully sliced the old hose so I could see how far the cracking went

I couldn't see any of the cracking extending into the inner layer of rubber (the marks you see in the photo are from the knife), but the whole outer layer was trashed. I'm not sure if it would be a matter of time for the cracks to work their way into the inner layer, or if they stop there. I would rather just not find that out tbh.

Whilst in the engine bay I also fixed another source of my coolant loss. When I fitted my Speeduino I chose the wrong bolt to mount the CPS wiring bracket to. The bolt I chose goes right into a coolant gallery and never sealed properly with the bracket on the bolt. Whenever I shut the car down it would drop a single drip onto the belts. I knew about this for a while but since the leak was so minor I chose to leave it until I needed to actually add more coolant, and since I lost some from the expansion hose, the time was now.

I whipped the bolt out, removed the bracket and screwed the bolt back in. I moved the bracket to the bolt above, and problem solved. That bracket is looking a bit shabby now, so I might look into designing and 3d printing a new one.

I scored a couple of other good parts from the Whanganui haul, including a pair of decent shape chrome grille strips. My one was painted black by the previous owner, and before British Car Day I used chrome tape to make it shine again. Its nice from far, but far from nice. It did the job.

They are held to the grille with three screws, and if they aren't broken off, a clip on each end

It needs a good polish, but already it looks noticeably better

Another thing I got from the haul was a pair of the series 1 indicator lenses. I wanted to see what they were like. Three screws and off came my orange lens
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I knew the series 1 indicators fitment in the series 2 housing was a bit meh, but it was pretty bad.
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I think it looked good though. The clear suits my light Zircon Blue.

I'm not a fan of the fitment, so I went back to the standard orange lenses. I'll have a think and see if there is any way to make it fit better.

The last part I wanted to fit for the day was the replacement door seal I picked up. Mine was quite badly torn at the bottom rear, and no longer fit correctly, leaving a large gap at the top.
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To remove the seal you need to remove the lower sill kick plate. Theres a series of screws the remove. Only the inner section needs to be removed.
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I had to loosen off a screw on the B pillar

And remove a screw at the bottom of the B pillar

The seal pulls out. I refit the replacement seal, and reassembled the car. The replacement seal isn't perfect either, but its a mile better than my old one.
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Theres obviously a difference in how worn out my seal was too, as now the driver's door is a little harder to close but seals a lot tighter. There is a noticeable reduction in wind noise too.

Oh yeah, my yellow bulbs for the fog lamps arrived, so i fitted those too. They aren't too yellow, more subtle than your usual yellow lens yellow light.
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I finished the day with a quick drive and some photos





And then a lovely drive out to the south coast to watch the sunset with the Wife.












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Much to the relief of my wife, I finally got around to fixing the hand brake.

Way back when I got my last warrant for the Rover the car rewarded me by breaking the hand brake cable when I got home. Ever since, I have been parking using just the auto transmission parking pawl to hold the car in place.

A parking pawl is a physical lock on the output shaft in the transmission. When you place the car into "Park" it triggers a mechanism that locks into a ring, stopping it from spinning.

They are pretty strong and will happily hold the weight of the car as long as they aren't abused. Usually the output shaft will need to rotate slightly for the pawl to line up, which means the car will roll or rock until the pawl locks up. Obviously if you are parked on a hill, and just let it slam into place over and over there is a chance that it will break, so I would carefully ease off the brake to slowly let the car roll until it locked.

They also make a horrible noise if you engage the pawl in a car being towed along the road. Oh to be young and dumb again.

My wife wasn't a big fan of the car moving when I parked, as it was a bit unnerving. 

I ordered a replacement cable and fittings from Rimmers on the day it broke, so I have had it here for a few weeks now just waiting to fit. My Wife went overseas for work shortly after the parts arrived, and I didn't want to be under the car with no one home, so I chose to wait for her to return. Now that she is back, I tackled the broken cable.

The SD1 hand brake, like most things on the car, was a bit less than conventional compared to other cars. A lot of cars have the hand brake lever pull on a pair of cables, one to each rear wheel. Not the Rover, the Rover has one cable running from the lever to the RH rear wheel, and then a "Compensator" on the rear axle housing which pulls on another cable that goes to the LH rear wheel. This cable from the compensator to the LH rear wheel is what had broken, but it knocks the whole system out when it breaks.

I had used some zip ties to hold the broken cable up against the axle housing as it hung down otherwise
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You can clearly see the broken strands of wire in the above photo. It appears the plastic sleeve that is meant to be present on the wire is long gone, and the wire has just rusted through. It probably didn't help that everything under the car is coated in an underseal, including the cable.

I'm used to working on small cars recently, so had to shuffle my garage mess around to fit the Rover in, and then I had to get it high. Real high. I actually ended up moving the axle stands from the rear axle to the rear lifting points in front of the wheels as this gave me more height and it was easier to run the handbrake cable with the axle hanging down.
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This is the compensator. It should be pointing to the left, not right

The cable shoots off up under the car to the front, where it meets the hand brake lever

The cables are held to the rear drum levers with a pin and washer. A split pin holds it in place. I forgot to arrange new split pins so had to reuse mine, but I'll replace them next time the car is in the air.
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Typically the left side was missing its washer, and the split pin is undersized for the job. The right hand has a split boot, which I replaced.

Remove the split pins and the metal pin will push out, allowing you to remove the cables from the levers
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The compensator needs to be removed from the axle housing. It's a nut and bolt setup, with the nut hidden behind the bracket. A spanner is needed to hold the nut in place.
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To completely remove the cable for replacement you also need to disconnect it from the hand brake lever up the front. I don't have photos of this because it was a super messy and tight job to do, but there is a large rubber boot that needs to be removed. I found it's easiest to work your fingers in under the boot near where the cable enters it, and then work your way around. The boot has a lip that goes over a metal frame on the body.

Once the boot is off it's just another metal pin with a split pin holding it in place. Remove those and the cable will be free. There should be two clips holding the cable to the axle housing, and then you can remove it.

With the cable off the car the boot and compensator need to be swapped over to the new cable. The boot just pulls free, it has a grommet in the end that stays on the cable. The compensator has a 10mm nut/bolt setup that you need to remove to split the two halves.
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Mine was rusted together, so needed some persuasion with a chisel to split. My fulcrum pin and bushes are looking a tad flogged too, but I had already ordered replacements of both when I ordered the cable
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I slathered the compensator in copper grease, and the bushes in rubber grease and refit to the new cable
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I backed the adjusters right off, and refit the cable. The trick to setting this up correctly is to follow the workshop manual exactly.

Start by reconnecting the front of the cable to the hand brake lever, with all the adjusters backed right off. Run the cable, and then mount the compensator to the axle.

Do not attach the RH side of the cable to the drum, start with the LH side cable. Run it over the axle housing

Connect the left hand fork end to the lever, and adjust the cable (which can be done with the fork attached) so that the lever is in the off position and the compensator is 30 degrees from vertical when viewed from the rear of the car. This is a critical setting to having the cable in adjustment.

Now connect the right hand fork to the lever, and "take up the slack in the inner cable by pulling the outer cable rearward until the lever just moves". Screw the rearmost adjustment nut (up by the front hand brake lever) up to the bracket (and remember there should be a metal plate between the nut and bracket) and then one complete turn. Wind up the lock nuts and tighten.

According to the manual the wheels should be just free from binding on the first notch, and locked solid with the lever on the third notch when pulled. Mine might be a little tight, I can feel some drag on the first notch, but it locks hard on the third. I presume the cable will stretch a little and will need some more adjustment soon anyway. The old cable must have been an issue for a while as the adjustment on that had been set to take up heaps of slack, whilst the new cable is only at the start of the thread.

So, that is how you replace and adjust an SD1 hand brake cable. It's a shitty job to do without a hoist, but it can be done and it's pretty straightforward really.

Now the car holds on hills, both wheels hold, and the hand brake can over power the idle creep of the transmission. Great success, it's good to have a working hand brake again.

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