Kelvin's 1984 Rover SD1 Vitesse

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Well, all good things come to an end I guess.

I'll get back to that in a moment, but first, a couple of updates.

First, the Mini has been sold tonight. Although I will miss it, it was a great little car to drive, it needed to be sold. Owning it made me realise that the even without the supercharger the Cooper is actually a really great little car. Built like a BMW, but small, nimble and like a modern version of an old Mini (unsurprisingly). A+ would own again (with boost though).

Next up, Tess had a wheel alignment the other day. Thanks to Hutt Valley Tyres for aligning it. They treated Tess with enthusiasm and respect, which I really appreciate. The guy was stoked to work on her, and was full of compliments. A stark contrast to a call I made to another workshop the day before who, when I asked for an alignment, proceeded to rubbish my car over the phone when I said it was an SD1 I needed an alignment on. Pro-Tip, if you want customers, do NOT rubbish their car. You never know when that "piece of junk" is actually their baby, no matter what you think of it.

Here she is up on the alignment hoist.

I was impressed though, although the steering needed straightening (the wheel was on the wonky by 1/4 turn), I actually managed to get the toe pretty damn close just by eye when I reassembled it. Only needed tweaking by about a mm. Now the car tracks straight, and the wheel isn't on the piss. Lovely.

Unfortunately, now that the front brake calipers work properly, the damn master cylinder and servo/brake booster have packed a sad. The servo has started hissing when shutting off the engine (indicating a vacuum leak), and the brake pedal now sinks slowly to the floor if you keep pressure on it. I tried bleeding the brakes again, but although the pedal feels nice with the engine off straight after bleeding, with the booster helping the pedal sinks. I suspect fluid is bypassing the piston seal, and leaking internally (as im not losing fluid). There are signs that the master has been leaking down the servo in the past, its stripped the paint off the front under the master.

I'm working on options now, it's either get the master rebuilt locally and i'll re-kit the servo, or buy a new master and servo from Rimmers. But for now, that will have to wait as there are more pressing matters...

After five years, I have to move house. Unfortunately the landlord has come into some serious financial issues and the only way out is to sell the rental we are in.

We came to an agreement that instead of running open homes and selling it whilst we are still here, we have three weeks to move out. There is good and bad news to go with that.

The good news is that we are going to buy a house of our own; the new Tastes Like Petrol HQ. The bad thing is that we are still about a month away from having anywhere to move to. This leaves us with a sticky situation of a crossover period without a home.

Tess will hopefully be going to the same storage lockup that Nicks Vitesse is at, so that will keep her out of trouble, and off the street. All our other belongings are going into storage. I have a buyer for Effie, so hopefully (and sadly) she will be sold next weekend. I'll likely shed a tear when she drives off, it's like selling your first child. The buyer sounds like a great owner for her, and he is super excited. Moving is also why it was important to sell the Mini, I'm losing my parking spaces, and don't want to have to try to find parking for that car too.

So that's where we are; it's all chaos and mess. Due to this, I'll have to take a hiatus from posting as there just won't be anything happening, and I won't have a home and possibly no internet access. Of course I'll still be on Twitter and Instagram.

I will be back, and hopefully, bigger and better. As always, if you have it, drive it... or fix it.

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A month later;

Its been a long month; without Tess, internet or for the most part, a home. But now all of that is over.

We purchased, and finally moved into our house just over a week ago. We are still surrounded by an ever shrinking pile of boxes (where does all this crap come from, and where does it go now?!) but at least everything is with us again.

Our two goldfish were being babysat whilst we had no home, as we didn't want to try to move them each week to a different AirBNB. Sadly, after over 6 years of him being around, our little guy Stan "High Fin" Lee passed away the day before we were to pick them up. He was an old chap, so it wasn't totally unexpected, but its a shame he's gone, and he couldn't wait a day and not make the babysitter feel bad. His little bro, Dwight, has taken up residence in our lounge now, and is doing well. RIP in the big tank in the sky Stan.

Dwight doing Dwight things.

Anyway, Tess also came home the other day. She had also been babysat which was a great help, as she was able to be stored away in a dry garage and I didn't have to try to move her around. A huge thanks to our babysitters for their help.

Tess seems happy in her new home, although she takes up an awful lot of it
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In order to help reduce what we put into storage, I filled the boot and back seat with spare parts. There was a lot of weight in there but the new suspension handled it OK.

One thing I did change as soon as I got her into the garage, was to replace the tailgate struts, so that I didn't end up being decapitated by the stupidly heavy tailgate. I went to Supercheap with a spare strut and matched it up against the ones they had on the shelf, and tried to get the highest force they had, which was 450N. These are a little longer than the original struts, so you do have to take care when fitting them as the top edge of the tailgate might contact the body, but in normal use they work perfect, even with the Vitesse spoiler.
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The other small thing I did was to add my trickle charge hard wire connector to the battery. As Tess sits around a bit, it'll be good to keep her battery topped up, without having to have clips on the battery and the bonnet open.
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So that's where we are today. A good second-hand brake booster and master cylinder arrived this morning, so that will be fitted shortly, and then we should be back on the road. I have big plans to get this car in better shape, including stripping out the interior for cleaning (and fixing the heater box issues).

More on that later.

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After rebuilding the calipers an issue that was slightly noticeable before, was very pronounced now. The brake pedal was sinking. This was not ideal.

The pedal had been soft and a little sink-y before I rebuilt the calipers, and I was hoping that the calipers may have been the cause of it, but clearly not. If anything, having all the pistons working properly had made the issue more evident, and holding pressure on the pedal would now cause it to gradually sink to the floor.

Unfortunately having just reassembled the calipers days before the car had to be moved into storage due to losing our house, there was nothing I could do at the time, and I had to drive her to storage. Needless to say driving down the hill from home was interesting; having to keep pumping the pedal to build pressure back up. I got there OK, and I got her to her new home again later.

A sinking pedal, with no fluid loss, means the master cylinder for the braking system was leaking fluid internally, passed the seals. Whether this was from the car sitting for so many years, or if it had just worn out, I'm not sure.

The other issue I had noticed, was that when shutting off the car there was a hissing noise coming from under the bonnet. I tracked this down to coming from the brake servo (or brake booster as its otherwise known as). This would indicate it was leaking vacuum, so that wouldn't be helping at all.

I was initially going to just rebuild the master cylinder, but once I narrowed down the noise to the servo I knew it was going to be a bigger job than just the master and started looking for other options. I would need to at the least, replace the servo (as rebuild kits are NLA) and rebuild the master.

Rimmers has both, and even do them as a pair for a discount, but the freight made the parts rather unattractive. I was wary about getting an old used one that had been sitting on a shelf somewhere for years, so wasn't too keen on getting something locally from a wrecker (if there was even anything still around).

I did end up going for a secondhand pair of servo and master, from a car that had been driven at speed into a tree, and came worse off. The seller claimed the servo was only two years old, and the master worked well (maybe too well...) and wasn't leaking. It was cheap enough to take a punt and hope it worked.

The replacement parts arrived the other day but I haven't had a chance to unbox and inspect them until today.

It's a bit dirty and covered in polystyrene from the packing, but there are no signs of fluid leaks or peeling paint on the servo under the master (like my current one does).

There aren't may ways to test if the servo is OK or not, but one of them is to see if it will hold a vacuum. I happen to have a small vacuum hand pump, so I plugged it into the vacuum line and drew a vacuum. Being such a big unit it took a while, but eventually I drew a decent vacuum, and sure enough to held it for a few minutes without dropping. Great success.

Of course I did the same test to the one on the car.... the results were uh... different.

I checked and double checked all the connections, but no matter how much I squeezed, I could not draw any vacuum at all. I guess that confirms that then, the servo is poked.

I can't really test much of the master, but I did split it from the servo to see if there were any signs of leaks.
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Plenty of grease, but no brake fluid. Excellent. It will be interesting to strip down the failed servo and master and see how it compares to this one. I'll tidy up the mating faces, and then use some copper grease before reassembly as they were a little seized together this time.

I still need to drain the brake fluid res, and removed the failed parts and fit these replacements, and then bleed the whole system. First though, I need a new, very expensive addition to my workshop tools, just to make my life easier.

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