The ongoing saga of Keith Adams’ Rover 75’s K-Series engine looks set to be serialised into book form. Publishers are fighting over the rights to what promises to be a 100,000-word drama, with all the twists and turns of Forsyte combined with the epic landscape of War and Peace. When you last left us, the 75 had run through its MoT, passing its emissions easily thanks to a tappet rattle that mysteriously cured itself for the duration of the test – only to return as soon as it left the inspection bay…
To say that was frustrating for both Mike Humble (who sweated blood and tears during his rebuild and headgasket change) and Keith (who hardly enjoyed driving a car that sounded like a 1978 Chrysler Alpine) was something of an understatement. But after driving it back home from sunny Eastbourne, with the tappet tapping away, both Keith and Mike were resigned to the fact that the cam covers were going to have to come off.
So, a mere week after the 75 received its new MoT, and Mike’s pounding up the M1 to visit AROnline Towers in his Rover CDV Commerce, knackered K-Series cylinder head in the boot. He has a plan, you see – to take the tappets (which are fine in this donor cylinder head; the engine was cooked, mind) out of that one, and put them in Keith’s car. Of course, there’s the small matter of getting the cambelt off again, the camshafts out, and then getting the old tappets out.
In the end, once Mike was on the case, the stripdown didn’t take that long at all, and it provided a great opportunity to see how the engine was wearing following its previous stripdown, which really did save it from a fate worse than death. Given it had received two oil changes in quick succession in order to flush out the muck and goo that hadn’t settled in the sump, things weren’t looking too bad at all – but once the old tappets were out, it was clear there was some serious wear on them.
When the headgasket was replaced, Mike did take the old tappets out and place them in an oil bath for the duration of the job, but a closer inspection this time around reveals that at least one is heavily scored, and that it was beginning to look like at some point, the engine’s been run low on oil. It’s certainly not terminal, given the smoothness, pre-tapetty-tap, so Mike has no problem putting in the lightly used set he’s scrounged.
Unlike last time, getting the cam cover and carrier off, and the shafts out are child’s play, given it’s been assembled correctly and when putting it all back together, he ensures that a new gaskets go in – reaffirming the K’s oil-tight status. In all, the replacement took about three hours, punctuated by the inevitable stops for tea and light refreshments.
However, when the engine was fired up again, it tapped merrily away, and poor old Mike looked crestfallen. A bit of quick running at standstill, and a run round the block once it was all warmed up, and the damned thing quietened down – and the smile returned to Mike’s face. Clearly this is an engine that wants to give us as many column inches as it possibly can.
We’re cooking up a cunning test run for the car in the coming months – a true challenge in the AROnline spirit. Stay tuned!