The 'Oily rag' restoration of a P5b rover,running,repairs and a bit of welding.

Considered by some enthusiasts the last of the 'real' rovers and often called the poor mans Roller . Do the Rover 3 litre P5s and their 3.5 litre V8 successors the P5b really deserve to be called classic cars or are they all just rust and reputation?.

Blocked up carbs on a P5b are difficult to work on.

The Rover P5b and P5 were made as saloons or coupes. The P5 were the original, made in Mk1,2 and 3 versions fitted with a classic rover engine dsign a six cylinder with side exhaust and overhead inlet valves.The later P5b differed with Rostyle wheels,built in fog and spot lights and the Buick designed alloy V8 engine. Even when outdated they remained popular for their essentially old fashioned British character and today attract quite high prices with a dedicated band of enthusiastic owners.The essential character of these cars,which they share with the earlier P4 series is that of a heavy,solid and well put together vehicle,they are in parts over engineered and complex and when new were assembled largely by hand. They were an expensive,quality car but even their most ardent admirers will admit that they also show a capacity to rust especially in areas normally unseen.

I bought my P5b in running condition,rather than simply throw a cheque book at it I decided to keep as much of its forty year old patina as possible. Few new parts were fitted,where possible the original parts (or second hand replacements) were repaired and refurbished, the whole car is pretty much original,some alterations have been carried out to increase reliability but most are hard to spot.All repairs I have carried out myself,in a drive beside the house.

Gearbox.

Engine

Welding

Doors

Glass

Repairing leather

Interior.

 Suspension.

More paint repairs here.

Rear spring mounting rot.

A weak point on these cars is the section around the rear 'Y' mounts..This corrosion was localised and hidden by the original factory applied sealer which was thick and very hard.By removing the exhaust (which was relatively new and easy to remove) and the spare wheel carrier for access to the chassis section was eased and a new section was welded in place.

Rover P5 rear spring shackle is a common place for corrosion.

Inner sill rust on P5B.

The front and rear inner wings where serious rot is often a problem on the P5 series were sound,it seems the outer wings had been removed and replaced at some time and the inners repaired to a good standard.

There were some pin holes and some minor corrosion in the inner sills and door posts at the front on both sides hidden under the stainless steel trims, MOT testers are not allowed to dismantle or remove parts so this rust would not normally be noticed..The vehicle had new outer sills fitted at some time but these holes hadn't been attended to.

The finished repair plate was covered by the stainless steel sill covers but water now couldn't get into the sills from inside. (Below right)

A cardboard pattern was used to make a small welded and shaped section to replace the corroded area The floor was quite good,mainly still showing the original paint with only slight surface rust in a few places

The plate was welded in place then painted and Eureka fluid film sprayed into the sill space.

 

 

Water leaks and unobtainable hoses.

The heater hoses under the bonnet are short,right angled and seemingly difficult to obtain. I used 5/8 heater hose and inserted 15mm domestic hot water plastic pipe cut as above that stops the hose kinking when bent sharply.

 

 

The hose can be bent without collapsing.other people have made the same hoses using standard plumbers bends in copper with short connecting pipes. I found filling the cooling system via these pipes goes a long way to curing air locks.

 

The downshift cable on a P5b has to be accurately adjusted to prevcent lumpy shifting.

Borg Warner type 35 kickdown cable adjustment for a smooth stop.

The linkage between the twin SU carbs and the kick down cable for the BW35  autobox has been altered,possibly as a result of the engine and/or gearbox being changed in the past.The change down when coming to rest was rather harsh and made a distinct thud.A lumpy downchange is common on many vehicles fitted with the Borg Warner type BW35 but can be lessened by adjustment to the kick down cable and to the tick over speed.The cross linkage needed altering to allow the kick down to operate and still allow the box to change down smoothly on coming to a stop.The kick down cable has a crimped stop on it,I found it necessary to move this stop a couple of mm to obtain a smooth down change when coming to a halt.

The earler P5 series had a different gearbox to the V8 versions.

The SU HIF6 starter valve,getting a steady idle.

The carburettors on the V8 engine are twin SU type HiF6. These have a starter valve,in effect a miniature tap, which provides a rich mixture for cold starting,when these valves are worn they allow too much fuel to flow into the engine at tickover. The valves are sealed into the carburettor with an O ring at the base and this had disintegrated replacing the O ring stopped the excessive fuel and returned the mixture at idle to the correct level.

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The wheels on the P5b series are Rostyle chromed wheels similar to those fitted to some sporty Fords and other vehicles.The car came with a spare set of wheels and tyres,the tyres were C rated (commercial) and of no real use to the car but the wheels were in very good condition. The only really bad one was the spare which had languished under the boot floor and was pitted in a few places with rust.

Changing the wheels was quite simple. The tyres themselves were tubed type with inner tubes. The beads were reasonably easy to break and the tyres,heavily lubricated with a tyre fitting wax slid off the rims with little effort by hand. Two tubes had very slight leaks and were replaced with new,the tyres and tubes being coated with talcum powder to lubricate so they could slide into position as they were inflated.

 Fuse box and pitting and corrosion on Mazak castings.

The fuse box on the late P5 series cars is a long black plastic Lucas unit with the connections from wires to each end of the fuses rivetted through the plastic.These eventually become loose and result in bad connections and unreliable electrics.The plastic is held by a single screw at each end and can crack when tightened.I bonded the cracked fuse box onto a sheet of fibre glass and re soldered the connections.

Changing a bulb in a front indicator revealed both lamps were badly corroded.Many cars of the 60s and 70s have fittings made out of this mazak like material which corrodes rapidly and is vitually impossible to repair.

Corroded Rover sidelight Mazak metal crumbles away quickly

Corrosion on the indicator of a rover p5b

 

Because the corrosion had rotted out the fixing bolts,the front indicators had been stuck ,complete with the grotty remains of the rubber covers straight to the body with evostick.The indicator lamps were removed and repaired temporarily with a two pack epoxy,later I was able to buy some better replacements.Even corroded lamps are worth keeping as spares,as little is available new now for these big cars

 

The rubber covers and gaskets for the indicator lamps are sometimes available but are in my opinion overpriced.From some thick rubber industrial floor covering and a thick inner tube I made a pair of covers.

I used an industrial glue and sealer and the finished articles are very strong and seal the back of the lamps against water getting in.

Stopping draughts round the door seals.

 

The door seal around the sliding window was hard and eventually broke up totally when on a hot day it stuck to the door aperture.The remains of the old seal are below a new length of rubber which although a different shape would seal and locate in the door fram in the same way as the original.The new seal was cut and its ends cut at an angle to meet in a mitre on the corners.

The new rubbers were glued together with a strong contact glue. They provide a nice tight seal all round the window frame without making the door hard to close.

A new door seal was made for the trailing part on the drivers door.The original had perished although the rest seem in reasonable order.

The replacement seal was made by bonding two commercially available sections together (as at bottom of picture) to achieve the required shape.It seems the secret to gluing rubber door seals etc is to roughen then slightly with sandpaper and then clean them with thinners and use a decent contact adhesive.

Rover door seals.These harden with age.

The new seal seems to fit well over the door lock aperture and the door closes with a satisfying thud.

Handmade door seals on the front door of a P5b.

 The door cards are hardboard and over the years damp and water had distorted them. the passenger side was warped on the top corner.

When fitted there was an obvious gap and laid flat the curve in the old hardboard was apparent.

Care fully unpicking the staples and rolling back the vinyl (after soaking with WD40 to soften it) the door car was opened, The seperate top section of hardboard under the foam was still intact but badly warped,it was stapled to the main piece and these were removed and the warped section cut out.

A thin piece of ply replaced the warped piece removed and this was glued and stapled to the backing. The foam and leathercloth were re attached and the completed door card now fits flat to the door.

 

Like many older cars the rover has a plush covered trim round the doors. Made by wrapping a cloth around a soft rubber tube this is called furflex. On the rover the trim is secured by tacks or staples to a medium hard rubber insert that is clipped around the door frame.Taking off the centre pillar trim enables the old trim to be removed along with the staples fxing it. If the trim is fitted carefully it gives a neat finish between the doors and the fixed vinyl trim and presumably helps lessen draughts.

The furflex around the frony edge of the front doors requires extra trim and the wooden ends of the dash panel to be rmoved (pictures further down).

The grille and front bumper were reasonable,but some better ones turned up later on ebay and by swapping over the best bits the front looks quite presentable.The front bumper is actually three seperate sections and the grill surrounds and the centre slats can be dismantled like a sort of meccano set.Some of the rivets holding the grille together had corroded and were renewed.The grilles on P5 and later P5b are interchangeable but the earlier cars have a hole for a starting handle at the base.

You can just see that the bonnet was not a good fit.

Bonnet gaps 

After adjusting the bonnet hinges many times with no real success I finally loosened the bolts holding the wings and by jacking the wings upwards and persuading the wings to align closer to the bonnet with a very heavy rubber mallet the gaps became more acceptable.Apparently the replacement wings for these cars are not exactly the same shape as the originals,but I also understand that when these cars were made it wasn't unusual for the doors,bonnets and boots to be fettled by hand to obtain decent panel gaps.

The anti roll bar bushes were worn and swelled,oil had soaked in over the years and softened them. New ones are available but I was quoted over 25 for what are only a couple of small bits of rubber. After some searching I found some for a modern vehicle (Land Rover) that are heavy duty and fit after a bit of modification. They seem to work as well,if anything better than the originals and only cost 3. The original parts could still be retro fitted if required.

The boots for two of the ball joints /track rod ends had split. The joints were OK apart from one where the grease had dried out. I replaced all the rubber boots and gaiters. The dried out joint was compressed in the vice and grease pushed in the gaps,moving the joint round left it feeling much easier and smoother.Some of the joints (presumably the older ones) had grease nipples and these got a couple of pumps from the grease gun..

With the anti roll bar cleaned up and new mounts fitted plus the new boots on cleaned up track rod ends the underneath is looking a bit better. Most of the chassis and underbody will be cleaned and painted with a matt black and waxoyl or fluid film to keep rust at bay for a while.I coated the underside where the original underseal was still sound with thinned waxoyl hoping it will seal any hairline cracks.

Changing the anti roll bar links rubbers which had gone hard and were cracked revealed there was wear on the metal links themselves. The rubbers were replaced by a set intended for a Rover P4.

The anti roll bar link components of a rover p5

The ends of the links were ground and filed down to remove the wear and rust marks.

A sleeve of steel tubing was slid over and made a tight fit on the worn section of the links,the edges tapered off and it was welded to the pins and the UNF thread on the ends cleaned up.

The pins were cleaned up and coated with an anti rust treatment,using brake fluid as a lubricant the bottom bushes were fitted and the link pins assembled back on the car

A common problem on the P5 and P5b Rovers is water coming in from the front screen and rotting the wood ends (fillets) of the dashboard. The varnish goes white and the wood softens. The furflex trim was renewed and is attached by tacks to the hard rubber strip inside the door frame. To fit it the drivers side wood panel was removed and apart from from some minor corrosion treated with Fluid film it seems OK. The screws are well hidden and one securing nut behind the dash is very awkward to remove.

The plywood fillet had delaminated and was weak A thin piece of ply was glued to the rear of the damaged part after peeling off the damaged outer layers.The brackets were refitted with new screws and glue.

Behind the panel the soundproofing was reglued after treating the metal to discourage further rusting..

Rover P5B door card repair.

The interior was tatty but nothing was missing and new carpets had been fitted.The door cards were poor,like most old cars they'd been affected by damp but they were repairable,the seats were cracked and the stitching had come away.Some of the seams had opened but the seats were still repairable,considering the cars age they had survived quite well.

Rover v8 front seat.These are expensive to restore or recover

The foam in the drivers seat had disintegrated.The leather was wrinkled and seams were splitting.Considering their age and the length of time the car had been stored they had survived reasonably well.

 

Seat foam disintegrating

The vehicle came with some rough spare seats and some odd trim parts and I bought two more front seats from Ebay.These were dismantled and some of the leather panels swapped over.The seats are suprisingly heavy

 

Repairing reclining seats..

The reclining mechanism in the seats from Ebay was broken and the seats had been welded in a fixed position.The reclining mechanism was repaired using parts from yet another scrap seat.The leather seat covers are held by small metal clips and small pointed tags formed by cut outs in the metal seat frames.

 

Rover p5b interior finished.

The seat had a few odd creases but is more comfortable than before.It still needed the leather softening and feeding and the cracks in the leather filling.The carpets didn't fit well and I retrimmed and edged them a couple of times.

 

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I replaced the carpet on the console which fitted badly and repaired the switches,the soundproofing over the transmission tunnel was replaced and the vinyl cleaned up.The gear lever brush type draught excluder was also replaced with a cut down domestic door seal.The passengers seat stitching broke as can be seen in the corner.

 

The seats had been painted which sealed them and this was removed with thinners. They also had some damage which after cleaning off the paint and old polish was filled with a water based putty.The same putty was rubbed in any deep cracks.The seats were then dyed using very light coats built up over a period of some days.I used a kit from Woolies which is water based.

The results are on the right,this is the same seat as the first picture.

I wanted to avoid the freshly painted or PVC look.

I removed the leather seat pad which was in good condition from the new passengers seat  and repaired the sewing by turning the cover upside down and sewing with a very srong needle but using the original holes.I replaced the foam although with hind sight wadding and stuffing would have made a better job.

 

Rover P5b under bonnet blanket

The underbonnet blanket was missing and ones on ebay seem to fetch a considerable price.I made a new one from coated and treated insulation felt.Although the under bonnet blankets must dampen noise,apparently the primary function is to inslate the bonnet so that heat from the engine doesn't crack the paint.

 Morris Golden Film 20W/50 replaced the old engine oil.It gave a slightly higher reading on the oil pressure gauge,these engines can have a low oil pressure at tickover with the oil light sometimes flickering especially if the engine is hot.It isn't considered a fault as long as the light goes out when driving.The oil gauges are electrically operated and not known for accuracy.

 

V8 engine in Rover P5B.

The twin SU carb set up has a manual choke conversion already fitted.The brake fluid level light stayed on,it uses a cork float that after fourty odd years had soaked up enough brake fluid so that it only just floated.It was replaced with the cork from a champagne bottle. Later I found a cap and switch from a Datsun that fitted and works.

Later the air filter,intakes and rocker covers were painted .A small catch tank was added to the radiator overflow.

I took the rover to a small car show and meeting in Yarmouth.The taxi came along as back up but wasn't needed.I'm suprised at the interest in the old rover a lot of people seem to genuinely have some sort of affection for them.

Front suspension swivels,adjust and grease.

The suspension top swivels on a P5 or P5b are now long obsolete and virtually irreplaceable.Early ones had grease nipples,the later models are 'sealed for life'.The grease inside can dry out or be lost if the rubber boot is damaged.

If the joint has no play dismantling starts by releasing the peined over (staked) areas of the brass plug with a fine punch and removing the brass plug (3/4 inch AF socket).The brass is easily damaged,a six point impact type socket is less likely to round off the corners.

Under the brass plug is a washer and plastic bush.These should be checked for wear or damage,if they are the joint must be replaced or refurbished.The joint can have fresh grease smeared on the ball and plastic washer and the plug replaced in the same position as before.If the joint has some play but is undamaged it should be removed from the stub axle and the brass plug tightened to just preload the assembly before it is staked back in place.

Repair Rover P5 back bumper corrosion.

The original rear bumper was rotten and although I found a better one I decided to see if the original could be repaired.The dents were knocked out but parts had rusted through completely.The holed and thin metal was cut out and a metal plate accurately cut to fill the hole.The chrome was removed round the edges and the plate welded in place.The bumper supports had rusted out and new ones were made from steel plate with captive nuts welded on these were welded on the back of the bumper.

There are some pictures of this here

Sediment inside the thermostat housing on Rover V8.

The water pump had a slight leak from the gland,and the engine ran cold.The thermostat housing was full of jelly like corrosion,only to be expected in a car with so many aluminium castings that had sat for a long time.

Filling the cooling system on these cars has to be done with the engine hot and ticking over at a reasonably fast speed.Otherwise air locks can cause overheating through poor coolant circulation.The radiator should be filled and on cooling will have dropped down the filler neck by a couple of inches.The system must have antifreeze in it at all times to prevent corrosion of the alloy parts.

Removing broken water pump stud with grips.

Rover V8 water pump removal

Some of the smaller bolts holding the water pump sheared off.With the pump and the radiator top mounts removed access was easier and after warming the studs with a blow torch and a soak in Plus Gas the remains were unscrewed.The new bolts were fitted after coating them with copper based grease as an anti seize assembly compound.The threads on the four long bolts are coated with a non setting sealer.These Rovers use UNF and UNC nuts and bolts extensively so an imperial AF tool kit is essential.

The AC mechanical fuel pump on these engines are no longer made and the internals hard to find and expensive.I have managed to obtain a small supply of overhaul kits,diaphram,valves,seals and gaskets etc.

 The rear shock absorbers were Spax Gas adjustable types and after freeing the adjusters they were set to a soft setting which improved the ride,making it less jerky at the expense of a bit of extra roll on cornering,The brake pipes,one of which can be seen in front of the shock absorber were replaced with non corroding copper versions.

 

p5b rear screen rubber

Removing rusted rear screen clips on rover p5b..

Rover P5 front and back screen rubbers

Both front and rear screens on a P5B are renowned for leaking and the rubbers are a time consuming and difficult job to replace,there is some debate as to wether the new rubbers available fit correctly.Most people who have replaced them seem to use several tins of dumdum (now discontinued for some weird health and safety ruling) or similar to help seal them.The coupe and saloon have completely different screens,windows and door frames.

The front screen rubbers are reasonable but the chrome strip on the rear one was loose and the rubber in poor condition.Removing the strip revealed rusted out fixing clips but one was undamaged and served as a pattern to make up some new ones in stainless steel.The strip was then replaced on a bed of sealing compound.as a temporary repair the damaged rubber was covered with 'Liquid Rubber' a product more commonly used for roof repair.A leak into the nearside of the boot took some time to trace,front and rear screen leaks are a common problem on a lot of these big Rovers.This one was coming in on one side of the top chromed strip then running all round the inside before emerging under the filler cap and then into the boot.

The rear door cards were in pretty good order but taken off and dried out.A few clips were rusted and replaced and the interior of the doors sprayed with Eureka fluid film anti corrosion treatment.The doors had been repaired in the past but had only a couple of holes that had been filled,the window mechanism and locks were oiled and the trim cards refitted. Cellulose paint in the original colours Burnt Grey and Silver Birch was available and both proved reasonable matches for the paint already on it,the rear of the boot had some pin holes but the body is in good sound condition other than a few minor blemishes.

Rover p5b door with door card removed to repair lock.

Rover p5b coupe winder.

Window regulators.

Broken window winders on the P5 serias are a common fault,they aren't very strong and the gears wear quickly.The winder on the drivers door had been repaired with welds and pop rivets.It eventually broke again and the glass ended up in the bottom of the door.I repaired it with steel rivets and a blob of weld.The winder fitted is probably not the correct unit (probably from a rear door) as it fouled the door when the window was lowered,I cut off some of the teeth on the opposite to the window arm.Stocks of replacement front winders are hard to find in good condition,the rear units are used less often and are often fitted in front doors when the originals fail.

The window winding mechanism is a real tussle to get out of the doors even with the frame removed.

This is a front wheel bearing that overheated on a trip.The outer race has cracked,the picture doesn't show it but the race was very badly pitted.The race was hard to remove but a new replacement simply dropped in.The hub was damaged,a temporary repair was made with Loctite and using a punch to 'dimple' the bearing housing but the entire hub was later replaced.

The outer race and roller cage are of different makes and the sizing was different (the rollers being too wide) Prior to getting hot the bearing turned quietly and without play.Just goes to show that you can't be too carefull.

The underside of the rover and the box sections and sills etc were treated with the car up on some very heavy wooden ramps.

I used both the black Waxoyl and Fluid Film.The handbrake linkage was coated in grease and the rear springs were greased and then wrapped in a heavy black PVC secured with strong cable ties.

 

Rover on home made heavy duty ramps.

The rear spring Y mounts.

The rear springs are supported at the back end of these cars by a rubber Y shaped mount.This is unique to the Rover P5 series.These perish and crack and the spring can become detached at the rear if the car is jacked up with the rear wheels hanging free. I removed one mount to make a replacement using engine mountings but these proved too hard.

As the rear springs settle on a P5 they distort the rear mountings and subject them to shear forces. Although the rear springs had only settled slightly and still had positive camber they were forcing the Y mounts out of shape. I modified a new set of mounts with high tensile bolts and the original mounting holes elongated for adjustment. The bolts go through a plate that can slide inside the mount.

The vacuum advance mechanism was faulty (a common fault) and the points burnt.I was quoted thirty pounds or more for a set of ignition points and around two hundred for a replacement distributor.Electronic ignition might be an alternative but the older type electronic rev counters are sometimes incompatible with some electronic systems.These Smiths electronic rev counters are now fourty odd years old and were not that accurate when new.I found mine to be even less accurate in hot weather,normally reading much higher than it should.The condition of the electrical connections and position of the single coiled white wire on the rear of the instrument are critical but probably old condensors changing in value with increased temperature are a reason for the false readings.

The points for a later distributor (the type with the concentric plate holding the points,the plate on the earlier dizzy is triangular) fitted if the locating pin is ground off and the adjustment slot enlarged),these cost six quid.

The advance retard unit can be removed,by straightening the turned over flange the two halves of the unit can be seperated and a new diaphram made from PVC,this has proved to work well.A dwell meter should be used to set the points and the timing set with a timing light,the initial point gap is 14 to 16 thou. The P5B v8 has low oil pressure compared to other engines which means the oil light can flicker with a hot engine at idle,as long as it goes out quickly as the revs are increased it is not considered a fault.

The alternator charge light is operated by a 3AW charging relay.These fail and are virtually irreplaceable,although some old stock is available at over thirty pounds.I replaced the unit with an American made solid state unit which cost less than half that.It tucks away beside the fuse box,almost out of sight.

The fettling of the car continues,I'm renewing much of the under carpet sound insulation felt and attending to missing and worn grommets in the bulkhead etc to reduce noise.I have other vehicles to attend to but I intend to keep this car for a long time to come.

I'm always interested in any parts or spares for rover p5 or p5b.Either to buy,swap or trade.Please contact me if you have anything.

Conclusion.

The poor mans Rolls?.I've never driven a Rolls to compare it with but in p5 or P5b version these Rovers are relaxed and reasonably quiet cars and the V8 P5b has a suprising turn of speed.The steering is very light and takes some getting used to (more so on the V8 with its lighter engine) but the brakes are very much up to the cars performance.Set correctly the automatic BW35 gearbox changes up and down without fuss,progress is smooth and the engine note seldom intrudes.The ride can be harsh,some bumps catch out the suspension but on major roads its fine.This is after all a very old design and a car built very differently to modern machine assembled ones.The doors close with a railway carriage thud,the smell of old leather and wood just can't be found in much else and people from pensioners to school boys stare at it driving past. So was it all worth it? Absolutely.

Over twenty five years ago this was me,realising the three litre rover P5 I'd bought was beyond my capabilities to repair,(but I wish now I'd salted some of its spares away).

The inner wings on this car were rotted both front and rear and the corrosion had spread well into the body structure,

I seem to remember the car cost me about fifty pounds,happy days! This was one of the early cars and driving it convinced me that one day I'd buy a half decent one. Other things got in the way and I had to wait over two decades.

The rover arrives at its new home.

Links to other sites connected with six cylinder Rover P5 and V8 P5B etc.

Rover P5 Forum.Discussions,advice and technical advice.A section for the 6 cylinder 3litre version (P5) also active.Essential info for any P5 or P5b owner.

Arononline History and development of the Rover P5 and P5b.From the early Mk1 saloon to the last of the V8 coupes.

Squidoo.Short article about rovers early days and the story behind the Rover P5.

Wikipedia Details the Rover Mk1,Mk2,Mk3 3 litres and the P5b 3.5 lire V8 vehicles.Dates and modifications etc.

RPI engineering Engine spares,tuning and modifications for all P5b,P6 V8 engines.Based near Norwich.UK.

Gaskets for cars. Gaskets,gasket making paper and materials for sealing leaks in gaskets and cylinder blocks etc.

Buying a Rover P5b as an investment an article in the Telegraph (UK).

Classic car portrait Picture and specifications of the Rover P5b.

New Zealand Rover Club. Online owners manuals,and much more of interest.

V8 tuner.Tuning gear and parts for all Rover v8 engines.

 

Links to other sections.

Baconsdozen Home.

AF spanners and sockets

Oils for classics.

Whitworth tools

A retired london taxi as a runaround