1994 Rover 414Sli

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Vulgalour
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1994 Rover 414Sli

#1 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:30 am

Recently, I sold my 1997 Citroen Xantia 1.9TD back to my brother after a year of pretty satisfying motoring with it. Truth was the car was too big and I wasn't getting the best out of a diesel engine for the driving I do and my brother was in need of a large family car that was cheap to run that he knew the history of. A deal was struck and we went car hunting to get me a replacement. What we found was a tatty 107,000 mile 1.4 K series Rover 400 with MoT until April 2016 (clean sheet, no advisories) that was two and a half hours drive away in Beeston, which we then viewed and bought in the dark for £275 and then drove home. This is perfectly normal for how we buy cars.

There was virtually no fuel in it when we picked it up so we chucked £20 in the tank and bumbled off home. The clutch was nearly dead, one of the front brake discs is slightly warped (not so much you feel it under braking, but you can hear it when you spin the wheel) and there's at least one badly balanced wheel that makes itself felt at 65mph. Other than that it was great and trouble free all the way home and very good on fuel. Most importantly of all for me it was very comfortable as I have great difficulty finding cars with seating positions that actually fit me.

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We didn't get home until 2am so it was pretty much straight to bed before getting a proper look the following day. Horrible, horrible wheel trims are the most obvious horror.
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It has a few bits of the usual rust these cars have.
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Plenty of lacquer peel too.
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The rear bumper is laughably scruffy.
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Most of the trim is in good order, this is the most glaring issue.
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The passenger door mirror doesn't work and is full of putty or filler or something.
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The interior is in very good shape and one of my favourites these cars came with. A nice balance of colours to make for a very pleasant cabin.
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Scruffy and shiny steering wheel and very shiny gearknob. The radio is an appalling Sony Xplod thing which you appear to operate more by luck than judgement.
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This door card top corner is the only bad point inside as it's disintegrated and the vent is loose.
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Overall, it's a reasonable starting point, especially so for the money, and the drive home had me absolutely smitten with it. I really enjoyed driving my brother's old 216 auto which was an identical trim to this one but with the Honda engine... more on that later in the thread.
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Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#2 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:42 am

When I like a car a lot I get to work on it quickly. I bought this for much less than I sold the Xantia so I had a good amount of cash spare to improve things and get it more to my taste. First thing's first, ditch the appalling wheel trims. I'd rather drive around on black steels than those trims.
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Then the stick-on grille, another thing I absolutely hate about the R8. I'll be reverting to pre-facelift on this one and like with the wheels, I'd rather have no grille at all than the nasty facelift effort.
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Wasn't too keen on the big gap so had a ferret about at the unit and found an Alfa Romeo sill trim that had seen better days which just happened to have screw holes in the perfect place. This was trimmed to fill the hole as a temporary measure and is not a permanent fixture.
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The car also received its first wash before everything above the bumpstrip line was clayed and T-Cut by hand. This changed the colour from foggy red to the brilliant scarlet it ought to be. Lots more to do on the cleaning yet, a car like this normally needs three deep cleans before it looks as I want it to.
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The next day I wanted to tackle the roof. There was a slim chance I could carefully wet sand the lacquer back and re-lacquer over the red. Unfortunately, the unprotected bits of red paint were so thin there was nothing to work with. Instead, I decided to get some black gloss paint and go all Honda on it.
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A second coat the following day and it was looking much better until a spray of water went all over the wet paint so this need flatting back again so it can get a third coat.
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I had a quick clean of the interior. It was mostly in good order, I needed to give the stalks a bit of a scrub and clear off the silicone spray on the vinyls that was making too much dash glare but other than that it was reasonable inside. It will get a deeper clean later.
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Sunroof blind needs a shampoo to get rid of the marks on it.
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The original radio did come with the car and was in the boot so that was reinstalled and found to be working. I did have an issue that it stopped working when in Bradford traffic (another trip for more Rover things) but this was cured by fitting a new fuse. It also cured what sounded like blown rear speakers which now sound perfectly fine. The original Rover radio is much nicer than the Xplod, it sounds and looks better and is easier to use.
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The bootlid got debadged in preparation for the personalisation stages to begin.
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It was beginning to look like a nice car in the making that was rough around the edges. I had a plan, and that plan involved Bradford and Malhamdale.
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Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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1234dist
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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#3 Post by 1234dist » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:51 am

:welcome
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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#4 Post by crepello » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:52 am

Vulgalour wrote:Other than that it was great and trouble free all the way home and very good on fuel. Most importantly of all for me it was very comfortable as I have great difficulty finding cars with seating positions that actually fit me.

Overall, it's a reasonable starting point, especially so for the money, and the drive home had me absolutely smitten with it.
You're doomed, I tell ye, doomed!!

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#5 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:05 pm

Cheers 1234dist!

Crepello, I was doomed a long time ago. My other car is a Princess.

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So, five days after buying the car and I had already sourced pretty much everything I needed to really make it look good. First stop was Bradford Auto Spares in, predictably enough, Bradford. They break Rovers, from the R8 onwards. They happened to have a red 400 J reg in and while I missed out on the grille and bonnet from it they did have other things I wanted.
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This is the car they're breaking (and still have at the time of writing).
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Namely, a good rear bumper (inside my car in this shot), a pre-facelift grille (white, not fitted yet) and a set of smart early wheel trims which were the ones I was after. Here I am at a friend's place in Malhamdale ready to start phase two of the day's events.
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I had entirely failed to realise that Rover changed the bonnet mechanism when they did the facelift. Fortunately I have sourced one from Bradford Auto Spares but here is why you can't fit the pre-facelift grille on a facelift car without it (or at least without modifying the standard latch).
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Here's what it should look like, on my friend's pre-facelift 216.
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Now, about two years ago my brother's previously mentioned 216 auto was bought by said friend, Joe, and stored in his field for 2 years giving parts to other Rovers.
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Rust, and impossible to acquire driveshafts were what brought my brother to part with his much loved 216 and Joe took the car on to try and put it right, encountering just the same issue, so it was parted out to save lots of other 200s. Joe and I spent the day swapping bits and pieces between the two cars and then I went home.
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It was another long day so it wasn't until the following day that I started to do anything with this stuff. Here's Joe driving my car out of his R8 graveyard.

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The following day I set to on the Rover again. This is how I am when I have a new toy I like, every day I find something to do and fix and tweak to my personal taste while I'm amassing the important stuff like brakes and whatnot. This day started with the rear lights. I don't really like either of the factory offerings for what I want to do with the car and had been aware of a product called Fly Eyes for a while. This is a perforated vinyl and gives the visual appearance of tinted lights without reducing the light output, very clever stuff. First off I needed to get the rear lights off the car which was a fairly easy job. Someone had pointed out on another forum that the car should have probably had smoked rear lenses given its age rather than the amber indicator types fitted and I think this little dent probably gives a clue about that.
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Ah yes, genuine scrapyard parts there.
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So on with the Fly Eyes film. It's easier to use than regular film and if I don't like it later I can just peel it off, clean up the lights, and you'd never know I'd done it. I do like it off the car.
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I really like it on the car. It's exactly the smooth out look I wanted. There have been some express disgust at it but it's not their car. Most seem to like it.
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With that done I could head over to the unit to swap the replacement rear bumper on. Off with the old to inspect what the bodywork was like.
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That's far better than I was expecting. I inspected the boot while I was at it. I found a typical Rover owner walking cane in there hiding under the carpet and an as-new toolkit complete with Rover stickers.
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There was a bit of faff with the bumper as the replacement had two sheared bolts and the brackets weren't quite as healthy as on the old bumper. I've got the bolts soaking in penetrating oil on the old bumper so I can remove them before attempting the same on the new one. The other issue was my replacement bumper had grey rather than black plastic so I had to repaint that and because the chrome trim was better in the old than the new I swapped that over too. I suspect getting the specific rear bumper trim for the 400 is practically impossible. No pictures though, the camera ate them somehow.

Instead, here's the first peek at my lovely little kettle. The underbonnet mat was got from Joe's and I'm on the lookout for about 7 of the fixing buttons to really finish fixing it in properly. The bonnet too was from Joe's and attached to the bonnet that came from the red breaker. My original bonnet was covered in rust, lacquer peel, a dent on one corner and was buckled, it was a mess. Joe and I swapped so he could protect the engine in the breaker car and I had a decent bonnet on my car.
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In Bradford traffic I had found my temperature gauge rising. Having owned enough old cars to know a few things I just opened the windows and cranked up the heater to control it. When I got home my brother and I investigated and found the fan switch wasn't telling the fan - which works perfectly fine - what to do so it was bypassed with a jumper until my order arrived meaning the fan is always on but the engine never gets too hot.
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Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#6 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:25 pm

Another day, another bit of Rover action then. I seriously love this car. It's so much fun to drive and just feels tailored to me. There's only two other cars I've owned like that, the first being my beloved old Princess who has been in the wars a bit and a seriously crusty old Citroen BX 1.9 diesel (no turbo) that is the only car to date that I've scrapped.

Anyway, here's how that bonnet I got looked after sitting under a tree for two years. Yep, the grille was left behind with Joe, I didn't want it.
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Now, when my brother had the car this bonnet came off he washed it sometimes as much as three times a week, his cleaning routine was dictated by mileage rather than time because like me he could barely get his bum out of the driving seat for having too much fun with it. That also meant that it made cleaning the bonnet to presentable was very easy, even the tree sap just wiped off and the paint underneath was in very good order still. It will still need a clay and a proper polish but certainly won't need as much effort as I had to put into the rest of the car. Here it is wet because the day I did this it just would not stop raining every time I tried to work outdoors.
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The other really handy thing at Joe's was that he spotted the old spoiler off the 216 breaker and went "Hmmm", wandering over to my car with it in his hand. We then discovered the boot and tailgate profile is identical. I don't really like the factory spoiler options for the 400, but a little black ducktail is right up my street so that's just what I did.
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After this I had an issue in that the spoiler fell off the car. It had been put on with Sikkaflex which is usually enough, and it certainly made splitting the two halves of the spoiler difficult when I had to do that to get the bolts back in. Now it's been bolted to the boot lid, which is a very fiddly job because access is poor, and then reattached with Sikkaflex which has held up much better. Here it is being held under tension with gaffer tape and newspaper to protect the fresh black paint. I didn't peel any red paint off when removing the tape, which was surprising.
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Here's how it looks. The back end is nearly how I want it now.
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It really has scrubbed up very well. I'm very happy.
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There's my old Princess in the background with a burst displacer, poor old girl.
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Another day and another job. This time that peeling D pillar trim. Removed it from the car and peeled the coating off before removing some kinks, prepping the surface and giving it a fresh coat of satin black. The trim clips where fouled up with sealant and there were five of them in here. It all seemed a bit excessive. Cleaned it all up and reinstated three white clips to the orange pegs fixed to the D-pillar, cleaned the glass of sealant too.
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After the paint was dry, slid the white clips into the trim piece and then eased them into place. Top and bottom of the refurbished trim was eased under the screen surround and the end result is very satisfying, it now doesn't look like anything's been done.
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The only downside is that the other side looks bad now so I've got to do that one too.
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Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#7 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:37 pm

This post brings you right up to date.

I've acquired a pair of front discs and a set of front pads, a clutch kit, a new radiator and fan switch. I hope the radiator is correct, the first one I ordered wasn't and I'm just waiting to get my cash back on the return. I am going to have fun fitting all that lot.

Yesterday I turned my attention to the chrome trims. The key thing I want to do with this car is to make it less fuddy-duddy. I'm a big fan of concept cars and that's really what I like to do, pare back a design and clean it up without being too silly. So, the chrome had to go. The door inserts had been replaced in the past with generic stick on chrome, two of which were a bit long, so they were trimmed down before the next step.

I've had great success using Duck Tape, of all things, to wrap scruffy chrome inserts and lend them a fresh lease of life, here's some zebra print ones I did on my Xantia.
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For the Rover I wanted red ones. I'm sure you can buy a set for the 200 from somewhere but was certain a set for the 400's rear bumper just weren't going to be available. This was a sensible and affordable option and will withstand weather, pressure washing and regular washing as the Xantia has proven. Best of all, the red Duck Tape is very nearly the same colour as the Rover.

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You're now up to speed on my daily, which is a super little car and one that has gone from looking like a scruffy old beater to something just a little bit special in a week, for very little money indeed. Fortune has been on my side with sourcing parts and I hope it continues because I'd like to get a good couple of years out of this one.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#8 Post by crepello » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:05 pm

Heh! I was after that bonnet from BAS too - being long-distance, I was discussing by email with them. It got sold over a weekend without the bosses knowledge. They had several more on the racks, but don't look after them, so they were all variously dinged in storage. Shame, and difficult to understand why they don't use some scrap seat foam to pack them.

Someone on eBay is regularly advertising bonnet liner fir-tree buttons at the moment.

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#9 Post by gbs100 » Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:15 pm

:welcome
Ive seen your updates on retro rides. welcome to the joys of rover ownership :clapping

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#10 Post by GTiJohn » Wed Jul 29, 2015 6:43 pm

:welcome

Nice mods - you've got the car that suits you and it looks great.

Really like the black roof :clapping
I like Twin Cams.... and Single Cams

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#11 Post by 220 GSi turbo » Wed Jul 29, 2015 9:02 pm

:welcome indeed!

I was starting to miss your Princess project threads over on Kev Davies' site, so it is good to know you've got another BL/Rover product to work on!

That rear lip spoiler is superb: it echoes the subtlety of a Rover 620Ti :cool

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#12 Post by Vulgalour » Wed Jul 29, 2015 10:07 pm

I'll get back to the Princess soon. I needed something that wasn't such a chore to sort out, something that I could just enjoy straight away and brought some joy back into car ownership and gave me a proper kick up the rear to get things moving anew. This little Rover has proved to be just that. Thank you to everyone for a warm welcome, I'm not too surprised to see some familiar 'faces' here given the circles I rotate in.

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Today I got the proper radiator and my refund on the incorrect one. I've been at the unit sorting out a full length key-strike on my housemate's brother's Ford C-Max. Really, really nasty thing to repair and has taken me a lot of the day to get close to sorted. In between paint drying sessions I determined to sort out the Rover.

I've done radiators before, normally they're not too much hassle. For some reason, on the 400 you have to remove the air filter box and battery to stand a chance of getting to the lower pipe and it's a bit of a faff to get it out. What few wires the engine bay has get in the way as you do this and one even runs over the top of the battery clamp bolt. Pretty annoying but eventually the old rad came out mostly in one piece.
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The water that came out was mostly okay. It's been run on blue, which I'm not too thrilled about, and while some K-Seal has been put in it doesn't appear to be the usual twelve bottles worth. No amount of K-Seal was going to help the radiator that came out though.
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That old radiator was comprehensively ruined. The bottom rail came off with the fan. I'm glad I decided to do this first as that radiator was definitely going to cause me problems pretty quickly. Double checked all the various bits on the new one were in the right place, swapped the rubber feet and top brackets over from the old one and installed the new fan sensor. Because the fan sensor is on an interference fit rather than screw in or similar, I also put a tie wrap around it to make sure it doesn't fall out. That's probably just paranoia but I'd rather be safe than sorry, I had expected there to be some sort of clip to hold it in place but there isn't.
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Before refitting the system was flushed as much as it would let us until it ran clear. For the short term I'm running on plain water and doing a weekly flush until as much old blue antifreeze and K-Seal remnants are out of the system before putting fresh OAT in. I'm aware it's going to take a lot of flushes and patience to get it swapped over properly to OAT. Everything buttoned up fairly easily apart from a bit of faff with the air box clips. One thing I did find out is that the previous owner probably has changed the oil and filter not long before selling the car, both look really good and the oil filter looks fairly new in the engine bay so those are at least some things I don't feel I need to do.
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Last job after that was to bleed the system. Spent some time burping it in the conventional manner until I was directed to this little bolt (the little wet brown blob, this was just after undoing it) just to the right of the engine as you look at it from the front of the car.
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Unfastened that and lots of air came whistling out followed by a little fountain of water. Topped up the water afresh and did it again to find only water coming out so I was satisfied it was as well bled as it could be. I was also advised to ensure the heater was set to hot while this was done so that the heater matrix would be bled properly too.

With that done we got the car running. As it reached 1/4 gauge we found that the small top hose on the radiator was leaking. This was fortunately just a bad clip and a new one resolved that. Then it was the waiting game because the temperature rose to 1/3 and just stuck there stubbornly. Took an absolute age to get to half gauge, the fan coming on all on it's own proving that the new switch was working properly.

Absolutely no issues presented themselves so we called the job done. Bit of a chore but a worthwhile one as it takes a big worry away. This weekend I hope to tackle the clutch, the brakes are okay for a bit as they still work perfectly fine so I'll do them when I properly have time to devote. I'm stretched a bit thin at the moment with work commitments so I need to find a couple of days of downtime somewhere soon.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#13 Post by crepello » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:15 pm

Vulgalour wrote:Because the fan sensor is on an interference fit rather than screw in or similar, I also put a tie wrap around it to make sure it doesn't fall out. That's probably just paranoia but I'd rather be safe than sorry, I had expected there to be some sort of clip to hold it in place but there isn't.
[...]
Before refitting the system was flushed as much as it would let us until it ran clear. For the short term I'm running on plain water and doing a weekly flush until as much old blue antifreeze and K-Seal remnants are out of the system before putting fresh OAT in. I'm aware it's going to take a lot of flushes and patience to get it swapped over properly to OAT.
[...]
Last job after that was to bleed the system. Spent some time burping it in the conventional manner until I was directed to this little bolt (the little wet brown blob, this was just after undoing it) just to the right of the engine as you look at it from the front of the car.
On my (earlier) 214, the fan sensor is retained by a collar which bayonets into the walls either side of the hole in the radiator side tanks. It seems to be this: http://www.rimmerbros.co.uk/Item--i-CDU1502, but doesn't look much like it! Unless the Rimmer's one can blank an unused radiator hole, with a knock-out if a sensor is required?

I've been reading about OAT, in connection with my dad's 400 bubble having pinkish antifreeze since its last garage service. T'web says OAT eats coppery items. I don't know if the 400 bubble has copper-free plumbing, but my 214 certainly has copper or brass in the heater matrix.

When bleeding, did you jiggle the jiggle valve in the small return union on the inlet manifold? I borrowed a slim knitting needle to wiggle mine, with the hose off, naturally, until the flow was steady.

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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#14 Post by Paul_1978_yorks » Wed Jul 29, 2015 11:34 pm

Enjoyed reading the thread so far!

Are you based in Bradford then? I'm in Wakefield so not too far.
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Re: 1994 Rover 414Sli

#15 Post by Vulgalour » Thu Jul 30, 2015 12:12 am

Crepello: I can't figure out how that clip would fit on my rad. It's a similar shape to the rubber grommet and sensor together but you couldn't then fit the clip if you put the grommet and sensor in. Very strange. I did not jiggle the jiggly thing because I didn't know there was one, I don't think I need to though, car is behaving itself and there's no sign of airlocks. I will keep an eye on it all the same. OAT is the convention for any K series engine and since my new rad is all aluminium and plastic I shouldn't need to worry about it damaging copper and brass, which my old radiator was. Got to make sure I look after this engine properly, it seems to be a good one.

@Paul: I'm actually up in Thornaby, Teesside so not really that close to Bradford at all. I don't mind travelling for parts, I've been all over the place to get stuff for the Princess, I even went to Brooklands from Derbyshire to collect a set of seats for it.
Current Fleet:
1980 Austin Princess 2 1700 HL
1994 Rover 414 SLi

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