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Rover Vitesse, Progress is Made

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 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

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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