Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

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Plodder
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Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#1 Post by Plodder » Wed Sep 30, 2020 7:53 pm

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I've finally been able to workout how to download a photo of my Flame Red Rover 416 GTI Auto on to the forum so I've decided to come out of the woodwork and share my restoration project .
Some of the work shown here will be retrospective , with work carried out earlier this year, the rest will be the long list of jobs to bring the car back up to a good standard.
It was registered in 1991 and I brought the car in 1997.
It had 3 previous owners and it came with 33k miles on the clock and was in good condition although already some of the panels were already different shades.
By 2006 it become our 3rd car and went through a period of being stored in a variety of location . Unfortunately one of these included a car cover under an oak tree at the bottom of my parents garden. This caused significant damage to the bodywork and lead to a lot of time spent unseizing brake callipers.
By 2016 the car had done 140k and was looking a little worse for wear so I decided to move it in to a dry lock up garage and work on restoring it.
By this stage the list of tasks was quite long.
The sills had rusted through on previous occassions ,in the usual places , and a variety of different quality repairs had been undertaken over the years.
The paintwork on the roof and parts of the bonnet has been damaged by the movement of the car cover during storage and there are now a number of small "hailstone" dents on the roof and bonnet caused by acorns and twigs falling from the oak tree during it's storage.
During storage a squirrel decided to make it's home in the air box and use the insulation from the bonnet soundproofing to make it's nest , it however doesn't seem to have gnawed it's way through any of the cables or pipes.
The original wheels were also looking a bit worn with the paint peeling and corrosion setting in. A piecemeal approach to having them recoated wasn't really successful either.
So the car was a bit of a mess although the picture above, taken in 2017 , appears to show a car in reasonable condition.
Since the start of the year I have made some progress , although a recent discovery of a rust hole in the bottom of the A pillar caused by a rather large dollop of windscreen sealant collecting water has set the project back a bit.
Some people I guess would suggest scrapping it and going to look for a low mileage example that's been kept in a dry garage for years but somehow to me it wouldn't be the same and the number of examples of this model on the road is very small so the scrapyard is going to have to wait a bit longer for this one.
I've allocated myself some money for the project and hope it's enough to cover the bodywork repairs and hopefully a full respray (i'll leave these bits to the professionals) at the end.
Last edited by Plodder on Sun Jan 10, 2021 7:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1991 Rover 416 GTI Auto - Flame Red - Owned since Aug 97 :D

Cthomas
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#2 Post by Cthomas » Wed Sep 30, 2020 8:05 pm

I had a 420 gsi in red and the same alloys which I miss
Rover 216 vdp 1990
Old ones
Rover 216 vdp 1986 my dads last car
Rover 420 gsi 1992 miss this one
Rover 214 sei 1995
Rover 820
Rover 3500 vp sdi
Rover 2600 sdi

Paul_1978_yorks
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#3 Post by Paul_1978_yorks » Wed Sep 30, 2020 10:17 pm

Great post - looking forward to seeing progress.
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#4 Post by Plodder » Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:01 pm

So I guess my restoration journey began 4 years ago with the  purchase of a couple of new brake callipers and an exhaust manifold cover (which was less than the price of a tin of paint using the Rimmers on-going "Mega Clearance sale" )
The calipers stopped the seized brakes / hot wheels episodes which had plauged the car since being stored outside.
During a visit to a local garage and with the car was up on the ramp the owner commented that the bottom of the radiator and the auto transmission oil pipes to the radiator were well corroded and should be looked at before too long. A quick rub  along the  bottom of radiator resulted in rather a large handful of rust and  a clean up of the transmission oil pipes revealed what looked very much like a pin hole and a dark area of leaking fluid.
Not wishing to damage either the engine or the transmission with a sudden loss of coolant or transmission oil the search for a new radiator and pipes was started.
In fact I had been looking for a radiator for some time but had stopped at spending £250 + on one from Rimmers. The problem  now was I couldn't  find one anywhere.
Auto transmission  radiators are rare beasts  indeed , although a later visit to a radiator repairer suggested it was possible to stitch the transmission oil cooler part of the radiator onto a new manual car radiator. This might be an interesting experiment with my old radiator when I get time.
Struggling to find a replacement radiator  I then started looking at places to refurbish my existing one , fortunately  for me a post on the forum resulted in me obtaining what was an almost brand new radiator including fan and oil transmission pipes.
Removing the radiator is very straightforward  and once removed it was clear the poor state of the radiator with perhaps 1/3 of the cooling fins corroded out.

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With the old fan transferred over  I gave the oil pipes a clean up and sprayed then with silver Optima high temperature paint from Euro Car Parts to keep them from further corrosion.  However this paint turned out to be less than useless and by the time I had put the radiator in and out a few times  I reckon  most of the paint had rubbed off. However since the car is now kept in drier conditions hopefully it will last more than 30 years.
The fan and pipes were fitted to the new  radiator easily and the whole assembly looked very smart.

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Reinstalling the radiator was straight forward although I realised I hadn't recorded which way round the oil transmission pipes were connected. It's possible it doesn't matter but it may also have affected the level of transmission oil cooling . A quick post on the forum resolved the problem with the o/s pipe going to the bottom radiator connector and the n/s pipe going to the upper connector

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 Running the car up to temperature I then noticed the expansion tank hose/bottom hose joint was weeping. I have struggled to find a replacement  bottom hose or  an aftermarket connector that had a similar configuration so I have made a temporary fix on the leak with some hose mending tape.

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 Subsequently I've found a corner section of hose from a T series 2 litre engine (another " Rimmer Mega clearance " sale bargain ) .
I just now need to get some standard aftermarket hose and connectors to make up a new bottom hose and I'll do this when I upgrade the coolant next year with possibly some non water coolant you can buy

The car now runs much cooler and the fan only kicks in when the car is taken for a run out.
Last edited by Plodder on Fri Jun 04, 2021 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1991 Rover 416 GTI Auto - Flame Red - Owned since Aug 97 :D

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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#5 Post by Plodder » Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:11 pm

Update on the dollop of windscreen sealant.
I cut away the excess sealant today to reveal the rust underneath.
Seems to be only on the off side and fairly localised but I have the feeling the screen will have to come out to allow a plate to be welded in place.
Back to the garage I think.
Watch this space!
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#6 Post by GTiJohn » Wed Oct 07, 2020 7:25 am

This looks like it'll be a fascinating series :D

You're right about the screen having to come out though... :sad
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#7 Post by Mr Teddy Bear » Wed Oct 07, 2020 12:12 pm

Don't use waterless coolant [ Evans springs to mind ] it's secret lies in it's poor heat transfer characteristics. The stuff leaves the heat in your block/cyclinder head instead of transferring it to the cooling system!
It's flammable and very slippery [like oil] banned by all forms of motor sport! :o
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#8 Post by Plodder » Wed Oct 07, 2020 1:57 pm

Thanks for the comment on non-water coolant .
I had seen various negative comments on its use.
I'll stick to a good quality coolant in future and change it regularly on its annual service.
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#9 Post by Plodder » Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:09 am

Update on the rust hole caused by the windscreen sealant dollop.(see above photo)
Silsoe Classic & Modern who have done some excellent work on replacing some poor sill repairs (i will post some picture when I get to that stage of my restoration!)have come back to me.
So its wing off, bumper off, door off, windscreen out -to allow access during welding - interior pillar trim off and dashboard released but not out to allow them to get a blanket in to protect the dash during welding.
I’ll probably have the other wing off at the same time so they can repaint both sides at the same time, which they believe they can do within the current estimate .
This is definitely a case of the heart ruling the head when it comes to making a decision about going ahead with the repair🤣
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#10 Post by crepello » Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:40 am

Plodder wrote:
Sun Oct 11, 2020 11:09 am
This is definitely a case of the heart ruling the head when it comes to making a decision about going ahead with the repair🤣
I'm in that place with mine, moreso because they are lower-spec examples.
BTW, the doors will lift off the hinge pins once opened past a certain angle. Preserves alignment when they go back on.

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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#11 Post by Plodder » Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:58 pm

A the begining of this year the next job up was the camshaft cover refurbishment.
Not only was the camshaft cover astecially in a poor state but  I'd had an oil leak over  the last few year that needed fixing

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The MOT said the oil leak was from the cylinder head gasket but I believe it is unusual for this to  occur and it's more likely to be the camshaft cover.
With the cover stripped off  and with the cover  seal removed I noticed  some scratches across a small area of the oil seal groove at ithe distributor end where the oil was leaking

However  I've owned the car for 27 years and  I'm not aware of the cover has ever been off in that time (the honest truth guv) so where these marks come from I'm not sure.
I tried polishing them out with a bit of wet and dry and a small honing stick  but wasn't able to remove them completely but I was able to make a visible improvement.
The cover was then  sent to Redditch Shotblasting for powdercoating and spruce  up of the lettering and ridges.
I don't have any experience of different  shotblasting company's  but I've seen these guys at a number of shows and their work looks really good.
Since the camshaft is really in your face when you lift the bonnet I decided they were my choice over a local company that had done some coating on the battery tray. The returned cover looked pretty good and gave me something to look at in the middle of the living room floor!

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Before fitting the seal to the cover I applied a bit of extra sealant to the area of the markings and followed the instructions from the workshop manual  about sealant on the areas around the camshaft cover gasket.
Once fitted with a new set of HT leads the end result was definetly an A+

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But I was still left with an oil leak. The level of the oil leak was definetly less but a leak there still was.

However with the area now cleaned up it seemed that there was oil weeping from  TDC sensor joint.
A quick replacement of a £2 oil seal seems to have fixed the problem completely. :D

Whilst under the bonnet was starting to look good the hole left in the bonnet insulation by the squirrels nesting in the air box was beginning to get a bit frayed and dumping insulation into the engine compartment.

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A search using Breakerlink yielded a nice second-hand insulation panel and clips which was quickly swapped over with no issues and another step improvement under the bonnet

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Next up those tatty corroded wheels get the treatment :cool
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#12 Post by Plodder » Fri Oct 16, 2020 8:34 pm

The wheels on the car are original, as far as I'm aware, as they haven't  been changed since I brought  the car in 1997.
I'm not sure what they are called but I think they have always set the car off well.
However 23 years have taken their toll  with the paint  lifting in places and  the metal underneath corroding.
All this wear and tear has lead to them looking pretty poor and leaking air. Two of the wheels required regular maintenance to keep the pressures up.
Ad hoc repainting of the wheels over the last 15 years  hasn't really worked.
The picture below doesn't really show just how bad they were.

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So in February I took them to a small company called B J V Engineering  near Hemel Hempstead.
They stripped all 5 wheels back and powder coated then in a similar silver colour to the original but with a more metallic element to the paint. They said this would disguise any surface roughness in the paint finish caused by any underlying rough areas from the corrosion showing through.

After powdercoating it is almost impossible to see any of the areas where corrosion  had taken  place.

The centre pieces had also lost their colour but the company charged a lot of money to wet paint them so I decided to do these myself.

Initially I purchased 4 new centres from Rimmers " Mega Clearance " sale for the huge sum of £2.50p each. But these were either a slightly different  size or made of an inferior material  because the first one I struggled to fit and eventually the clip  broke off.

So I went back to the old centres and resprayed them using a metallic silver wheel rattle-can  and within a couple of hours I had four almost  perfectly matching centres to compliment the wheels.

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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#13 Post by Plodder » Sun Oct 18, 2020 10:22 pm

Furlough in April , May and June this year brought me a lot of spare time.
During that time  I decided to recoat the long  fascia strip on the dash.
30 years of sunshine had lifted a large amount of the coating and given it a yellow appearance.
Removing it , despite  sound advise from the forum, resulted in a segment  of the veneer coming away from the end of the strip  and the first clip pulling out of the wood as the end of the clip had lodged behind the  edge of the opening cut in the dash.
Once removed the extent of the problem was fully realised. Rubbing my hand up and down the strip resulted  in a huge amount of the varnish simply falling away.

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I removed the rest of the  varnish using successively finer grades of wet and dry using a block to avoid rounding off the edges of the fascia and losing the edge of the veneer.
Once cleaned up I  stuck the chipped veneer back in place and used Chesnut Cellulose Sanding Sealer and Chesnut Acrylic Gloss lacquer  spray to bring the colour back up.

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The result colourwise is really good but it lacks the shine of the other interior wood trim. I've  read you can spray varnish over lacquer to give it a glossier finish so I'll  have a go at this some time  , probably when I fix the clock which now fluctuates between bright and dim of its own accord. I think I may have damaged the wires to the plug when disconnecting it from the clock.
 
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#14 Post by Plodder » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:50 pm

This is the last retrospective  installment and it covers the restoration of  the bodywork but not the paintwork.
I would say the bodywork was ok (It passed it's MOT's)  but definetly not good. It was a workhorse over the first 9 years of ownership covering the best part of 100k miles and the only TLC to the bodywork  over those years was a wash and polish.
Over the years the sills rusted through in a number of places.
These have been repaired with varying levels of competence.
The n/s rear wheel arch lip had also  corroded under the rubber edging strip but I managed to catch this before too much damage was done although it was a bit rough.


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Recently though I discovered that the lip around the boot catch had also rusted through.

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Then  just before the cancelled  Restoration Show in March, where the car had been selected to appear, a small bubble in the paint on the leading edge of the o/s rear wheel arch proved to be hiding a ,  you guessed it , a small rust hole.

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I looked around a number of companies but finally decided  to give the work to Silsoe Classic and Modern in Bedfordshire .
In the end they repaired the rear ends of  both sills and all the other outstanding issues.

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All in all I'm please with the repair and high on next years list is to get the car rustproofed to maintain the good work done.

All sorted ,I thought , until the windscreen sealant dollop above  was discovered.

Currently the vehicle is back with Silsoe Classic and Modern to be sorted  - although once all the trim is  back they'll  be nothing to show for all the time , effort and money spent!
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Re: Rover 416 GTI Auto - Restoring an old friend

#15 Post by Paul_1978_yorks » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:37 pm

Really enjoying this thread - thanks for all the updates!
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