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Project Tomcat, Opening the Boot

You’d think opening the boot would be a simple task, but no, not in this Rover.

The seller did tell me the boot was jammed shut, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it still bothered me. He told me some spare parts were in the boot too, so I wanted to know what they were (nothing interesting).

It was stuck in such a way that you could turn the key in the lock, or pull the cable until the cows came home, and although you could hear the mechanism moving, nothing happened. I even tried the old trick of getting someone to push down on the boot as you try to open it, as that can take pressure off the catch if it’s binding. It didn’t help.

The obvious way to get into the boot was to fold the folding seats down and clamber through. Nothing is ever easy though, the only way to fold the seats down is to pull a cable, which is on either side of the inside of the boot. Ah.

After much googling, I found one person that had a similar issue, and he explained how he did it. It involved bending the pivot points on the bottom of the seat back, lifting it, and pulling the release.

Sounds easy.

I started by removing the seat bottom, which pulls up from the back of the base, to unhook the hooks at the front edge. This was the first of the water puddles.

I then used a small pry bar to gently lever both of the pivot points so they bent off the pins mounted to the body. Once both were free the back of the seat could be moved around slightly, just enough to lift it up and see into the boot from under it. Using a torch and my longest prybar I managed to push on the back of the release cable for the seat I was working under, which released it and I could remove it. I then used the prybar to reach over and pop the other seatback too. I used an 8mm ratchet to undo the bracket and remove the seat base properly on this side.

This left me with a wide, but not too tall opening into the boot.

Through which I could see both the boot latch, and the large spider guarding it. I killed the spider, and used my phone to record a video of me pulling the cable, just so I could see how it worked. It was doing as it should, but the lever that should release the catch just wasn’t working.

I ended up climbing through that gap, into the boot and undoing the three 8mm bolts that attach the latch to the boot lid, and eventually this released enough tension on the catch to unbind it and the boot could be opened. You wouldn’t want to be much fatter than I am for this job, I barely squeezed through as it was.

By golly that boot lid is heavy though!

I used a pair of vice grips and a rag on one of the gas struts just to ensure the boot lid didn’t choose to brain me whilst working inside the boot. Might need new struts.

After removing the latch it was somewhat obvious why it didn’t want to play the game.

I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t be twisted like that, and the Lh side should meet the orange line I drew. A quick trip to the vice, a few smacks with the BFH, and twist be gone.

Refitting and adjusting the latch means the boot now opens and closes, albeit it does need to be slammed to latch. That’s fine, as long as it opens and works, I’m happy.

Unfortunately, I did find the Tomcat swimming pool though. The spare wheel well was under a bit of water, and the weight on the soggy boot board meant that it has deformed and fallen into the water, thoroughly soaking it.

I removed that board, and the carpet on top, and I’m trying to dry them out. The board is probably a write-off, and a new MDF one will probably be on the cards, but the carpet should be saveable.

Waste oil containers coming in handy to flatten the board

For some strange reason there are no drain plugs in the bottom of the boot, so I had to drill a small hole to drain it. There was a good litre or so sitting in there.

So, now that I can open and close the boot, I probably won’t use it anyway. The opening is stupidly shallow. Can probably get some shopping bags in there, but anything bigger would be a battle. The parcel shelf also hangs really low (part of the coupe/convertible platform sharing I suspect).

It’s a good first fix, and I’m glad that I can dry it out now too.

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