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Kelvin's 1984 Rover SD1 Vitesse

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Well i'm a bit special. Not only do I still have the VDP EFI, 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

nice 1f642.png 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

Yes you do, you want to sell it to me 1f609.png

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

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Number 50, is a 1984 Rover SD1 Vitesse.

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

Big thanks to Brent at Classic Towing for transporting the car down the island for me, and making it happen a week earlier than planned (thanks other guy that bailed from having his car transported, opening up space for my car).
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Tell me how stupid I am here, 

 

 

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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.

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
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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.
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With the doors out it was time to start pulling all the boxes of everything else out
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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.
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Oh and who could forget, a complete spare D suffix LT77 gearbox
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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.
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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
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 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.
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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.
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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.
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Since I was in the interior already I had to have a nosy at the Link ECU
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The wiring isn't the cleanest I have seen, but apparently it worked
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 lo

Theres still more work to be done.

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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.
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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.
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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!
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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 Bastard 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
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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....

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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

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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.
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The seat back is then held in with a couple of bolts per hinge. They are a T40 torx
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I removed the whole back section from the car.
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I don't know what happened to the hinges but someone had Hulk Smashed both of them. I presume the hinges may have seized.
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It even went so far as to bend the mounting plates
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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With all the gross vacuumed up, I refit the seat, including the original head rests.
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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
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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
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One of the plate lights was really on its last legs. The connector was literally held together with one strand of wire
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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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.
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The car is getting more complete by the day.

I did notice one slight potential issue for the future
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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.

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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.

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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
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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.
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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.
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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.
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It's a VERY simple switch, with not much to go wrong.
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My switch was packed with old, hard grease that was covering all the contacts including the sliding contact
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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.
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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.
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Before refitting I connected the switch up and made sure everything worked as it should. Sure enough the headlights came on every single time.
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And that is how you rebuild a Lucas headlight switch.

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Hopefully this works. Let me know if the photos are borked again. 

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.
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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
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I carefully used a small scraper and some Sikaflex and filled the gaps in (the seal was later cleaned of excess sealant)
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The issue was present on the other side too
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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
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Whilst I waited for that to dry I decided to open Pandora’s box. The rust bubble under the windscreen.
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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
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So I hit it with the wire cup on my grinder until I got good metal
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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
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Once that was dry I used a very thin skim of Sikaflex to seal the hole
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Since that was kinda working, I drilled another pair of holes and used some more zip ties. Nice and secure.
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This arrangement allows me to access the connector with the inspection plate removed

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Offered up into place
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I found some screw in my stash to secure it, and tucked all the wiring away
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This allowed me to refit the glove box. Finally, the car is kinda complete
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Moving back to the rust patch, the Sikaflex was dry now, so I masked off and hit it with some etch primer
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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.
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I reconnected the connectors in the engine bay
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Whacked a spare bulb in
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And guess what, the system works. Light on for ignition check
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And turns off a couple of seconds later, as it should
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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
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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.
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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.
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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, 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.
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Then take one yellow monstrosity
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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.
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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.
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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.
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There was also clear signs of leaking through the gasket at the rear of the head
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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.
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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.
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The other gasket was in similar condition, except for a tear in the back of the gasket
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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.
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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.
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With a thin smear of sealant on the plenum mounting face, I fit the replacement plenum top

Much better.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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IMG_0774.jpg?w=1280&ssl=1

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 bugger 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.
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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.
IMG_0776.jpg

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 :-D

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.

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Send it to PG Hydraulics in Auckland. They specialise in power steering and will be able to rebuild and do some subtle tweaks on it to sort any inherent problems the racks have

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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 hands bushes (excuse the blurry photos, it was really hard to fit myself and a camera under the car)
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Oh look, is that the remains of a bush?!
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Yup, wasn't doing much.
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You can see that underside of the remote has actually been rubbing on the drive shaft. Not ideal
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I purchased the replacement Poly bushes from eBay and they arrived the other day. SuperPro SPF0355K. Listed for a Triumph but work perfect.
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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.
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The bushes come in two halves, and you need to reuse the existing metal sleeve from the old bush
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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.
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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.

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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.

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Replacement steering rack arrived from the UK yesterday, crazy fast shipping via FedEx. When they said delivery target was the 27th Dec i laughed. Somehow they made it, even with Customs taking their cut. Now i need to work out how im going to change the rack out. I suspect my single garage at home is too narrow to withdraw a rack from the side of the car.

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