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Rover Vitesse, Rocker Cover Gaskets

Another familiar job; A pair of upgraded rubber gaskets to replace the leaking cork ones.

I did this job on the EFI a while ago, so I wont go into too much depth here, but once again I had an oil leak from the Rocker Cover gaskets.

The passenger’s side gasket was leaking quite badly. Strangely it wasn’t leaking out of the gap between the cover and head, it was leaking out of the screw, straight down onto the exhaust manifold. It was quite a substantial leak, as you could watch it seeping out when the engine was running.

So, lets begin. Take one super low Vitesse with extra low front spoiler, and try to get it into the garage without ripping the spoiler off. Needed some planks to get it over the bump, but it wasn’t too much of an issue.

Then take one yellow monstrosity

And rip it to bits. I’m getting good at this, it took about 5 minutes to have the plenum top off, including finding my hex socket.

The trumpets look good, with minimal oil.

With the plenum top off, four screws and off comes the rocker cover. Pleasingly the valve-train looks in great shape, very little browning and no sludge at all. Heck, it even looks cleaner than the EFI did.

The cork gaskets were in better shape than the EFI ones, but still not great. It was clear though why the oil was leaking through the screw. The gasket had pulled away from the hole so it had direct access to the oil, nothing to stop it leaking out.

There was also clear signs of leaking through the gasket at the rear of the head

Since the cover was off, and no one ever seems to do it, I serviced the breather. There is a tiny little hole in the middle that usually gets blocked. Mine was blocked, and took a lot of brake clean and poking with various bits of thin wire to clear it.

I carefully wiggled and jiggled the new rubber gasket and cover into place and tightened it down. It pays to make sure none of the gasket is pinched, and that the metal collets the screw goes through hasn’t fallen out.

The other gasket was in similar condition, except for a tear in the back of the gasket

The other side was fitted with a new rubber gasket and that was that job done. Easy.

But I wasn’t finished yet, I had to do something about that horrible yellow plenum. It just sticks out too much and doesn’t fit the look of the sleek, gorgeous Vitesse.

I had two spare plenum tops. One was painted in a battleship grey but the paint wasn’t in good condition, and the other was bare aluminium with red lines in the top.

In order to make the transition as easy as possible, I swapped as much as I could from the old plenum to the replacement. I swapped the throttle linkage, throttle pot, and over-run valve. I also thoroughly cleaned the plenum; cleaning out the breather passage, and throttle body.

Speaking of over-run valves, I capped it off the other day and unlike the EFI I noticed no difference. I wondered why, and found out today.

These are the two valves from the plenums. The one on the left is from the Vitesse, and the right one is from the spare plenum. The one on the Vitesse has been “adjusted” to completely closed and will not open on deceleration. I’m not sure that the one on the right is correctly adjusted, but you can see the gaps between the coils of the spring. The one in the EFI was correctly adjusted when I refitted it, so obviously that’s the reason why blocking it off had different effects between the two cars. I fit the closed off valve back into the Vitesse.

With a thin smear of sealant on the plenum mounting face, I fit the replacement plenum top

Much better.

I did find one thing out, if you have the hose clamp for this hose in the wrong position, it will act as a throttle stop, and when you fire the car up to test, it’ll hold the throttle open a crack and rev straight up to 3100rpm. Sounds awesome, but not so good for an idle speed. This is the correct position. Rover didn’t think very hard when they designed the placement of this clamp. Terrible access.

The red stripes don’t fit the Vitesse so much, so I may paint them a different colour in the future, but for now its a huge improvement over the yellow.

A couple of interesting observations, firstly the old setup must have had a huge intake/vacuum leak as it needed a lot more idle screw to idle normally, and the engine now pulls like a freight train. Its much smoother, idles better, pulls harder and runs nicer. I’m very happy with it; I didn’t expect any improvement in its running.

WOF day is two days away, so now that it’s not pouring its oil everywhere I might almost be ready for it. Eek.

Goes hard for what it is and all that.

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