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Rover Vitesse, Leak Chasing and Tidying Up

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 screw 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.

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