1968 2000 TC Restoration Project

#1
I decided that it was time to take on the restoration of my 1968 2000 TC (Canadian, LHD). This is a bit of a retrospective as I began the work back late in the late summer of 2017 but hopefully folks will find some useful information here. Unlike many projects described in this forum, I know this car well. I purchased it from my Grandfather in May of 1978. He had driven the car “hard” for a few years then parked it outdoors for a couple of years before I purchased it. They lived in a rural location in the mountains and he commuted to work daily approximately 55 kms each way on windy mountain roads. I remember driving with him and if the tyres weren’t squealing around the curves in the road, he wasn’t satisfied. The throttle was always fully on or fully off. The car was never stored under cover. Between the road salt, the outdoor storage period and the hard driving, I knew I was in for a lot of work but his love for Rovers in general and the P6 had rubbed off on me and I was committed to the purchase. At the time, I was just starting University and did not have a lot of spare cash so many of the fixes I made after acquiring the car were “minimalistic”. The engine was burning oil, so an engine rebuild was required right away. I found three original bore 10:1 CR pistons and one original bore 9:1 CR piston in the engine. It turned out that my Grandfather had collapsed a piston along the way and the mechanic who did the repair apparently didn't know that different compression ratio pistons were possible. The exhaust valves were badly burnt and the clutch completely worn. An engine re-bore with 30 thou oversize 10:1 CR pistons, bearings, valves, clutch and pressure plate, distributor, etc. and the engine was sorted. The bright spot was the gearbox which he had recently had rebuilt. The final drive failed a year later (broken pinions and follow on damage). I was able to make the repair with parts from a used final drive I found locally. I also knew there was a rust problem in the sills, the driver side floor and the boot floor. Given the lack of spare cash, the rust repairs involved a lot of hand bent galvanized sheet metal, pop rivets and lots of rubberized asphalt sealer/undercoating.
The good news is that I drove the car 80,000 miles over the next 8 years with few problems, other than some brake work. I also picked up a 1965 2000 SC in 1980 that I drove in the winters, sparing the ’68 from some of the damage from the road salt and gravel used here. In late 1986, the two Rovers became my hobby cars. The ‘65 went into long term outdoor storage. I was now my “parts car”. The ’68 was stored indoors and was maintained but was used less and less. At one point, it sat for four years without being started. I kept on planning to get to the restoration project but a job that entailed long hours and constant travel made starting it impossible. That changed in June of 2016 when I retired from my job and now had time for my hobby.
Having owned the car for so long, I thought I had a fair idea what was required to complete the work and what parts I would need. The next year was spent researching and acquiring the parts I knew I would need. The base unit rust repair would be the most significant work. All of the rubber parts needed replacing. The carpet was shot. The stitching in the seats had rotted in the sun and some of the leather was ripped. There were several tears in the vinyl parts of the upholstery. The engine, gearbox and final drives all leaked oil. The brakes were under performing. I bundled my orders as much as possible to reduce shipping costs. Of course, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy” and many additional parts were sourced along the way, but that is something I will cover later.
Here are some photos of what I started with.
 

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#2
I wanted to do a complete repair of the rust in the car. I knew that the sills were bad. Previous attempted use of the jacking points had proven that there was no structural integrity at any of those points. The driver side floor and the boot floor had significant holes in them and there were some holes in the passenger side floor. There was also some holes appearing in the wheel arch area visible when the passenger side rear door was opened, suggesting some D post issues. There were also some issues on the front left corner of the car from some poorly repaired collision damage. I decided to use a professional restoration shop to do the welding and forming work as I really did not have the equipment to do a good forming the necessary replacement parts. I picked up some repair panels from JRW and Wins to hopefully expedite the work. The next few weeks were spent stripping the car as much as possible. Everything that could be stripped was removed except for the roof and enough of the front and rear suspension to allow the car to be rolled from place to place.
The first job at the restoration shop was to sandblast the car from top to bottom. Then the extent of the rust becomes easier to see.
 

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#3
Some rust damage only becomes apparent after cutting starts. The good news was that there were no issues in the bulkhead or suspension attachment areas.
 

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Phil Robson

Well-Known Member
#4
I admire your commitment & thorough work so far :)

What a nice project, given your history with the car. I'll be interested to see how you get on.
 
#5
Repair of the boot took a fair bit of work. I tried to source a good quality used boot floor but was unsuccessful. One had to be made. I was happy with the result. The main corrosion I knew about before starting was along the leading edge of the boot floor. The low spot where the water would sit. I had no idea that there was corrosion at the wheel arch seams. Another surprise was the corrosion on the boot lid seal mating flange that runs parallel to the bumper. My car has the seal on the boot lid only and a basic T-flange that runs around the perimeter of the boot opening. The vertical portion of the T-flange along the rear bumper was close to 50% gone. I looked for any holes along the deck area behind the rear screen where water could have been leaking into the boot but that area was in great shape. It is possible that the water came through as the boot floor rotted from the outside. Here are some photos of the repair work.
 

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#6
Next up is the repair of the D Post area. As many folks have noted, this is a complex area to repair. Until you open it up, it is hard to understand the amount of structure in this area.
 

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#7
The bottom of the A Post and associated jacking tube is also interesting to repair. The cover has a special shape and the position of the attachment point for the door strap needs to be maintained. The splash panel immediately in front of this area was also badly corroded.
 

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#9
I am in awe of your commitment to save your car. That's a very deep reconstruction, and it's fascinating to see what lies beyond the parts we normally see. Worrying, too… I thought I'd rustproofed my car quite thoroughly, but you've revealed plenty of places where the wax injection almost certainly hasn't reached.

John
 
#10
Thanks for the positive comments Phil.

Next up is the floor panels. The drivers side was very badly corroded and we decided to replace the entire panel. The passenger side was in much better condition and only the corner needed to be replaced. There was an interesting dent in the side of the tunnel just before it meets the bulkhead. A bit of a mystery as to what could have caused that. We removed it as well as a large smoother dent that was under the passenger side front seat. The car must have been hung up on something at some point in time.
 

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#11
Next up were the sills. I purchased Base Unit Side & Bottom repair panels, Inner Sills and Door Treads (front and rear) from JRW. You can recognize the JRW parts in the photos as most of them have a matte finish. In the end, I did not use the inner sills as they did not include enough of the top of the sill and I had significant corrosion in that area. It was easier to fabricate alternate panels that included this area rather than add to the JRW panels. The panels appear in one of the photos below. I used a number of other panels from JRW including a Centre B/C Post kit, D Post Full, D Post Inner, D Post internal stiffener and jacking tube assemblies. For the most part, the purchased panels reduced the time involved in the work even though the shop I was using had significant capabilities for repair panel fabrication. A lot of temporary bracing was used to maintain the correct dimensions of the Base Unit while the sills were cut out and replaced. This worked well and the correct dimensions were maintained. I have broken my description of the repairs along the sides of the car into separate posts but you can see from the photos that the sill work and Post work occurred in parallel.
 

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#12
Seeing the car with all of the panels removed is a bit frightening. It was good to see it all come back together again. The welding and paint shops both used rotisseries to help manage the car during blasting, welding and painting. If it were only possible to use one for all of the work on our cars ;). There were plenty of other small areas of corrosion that were also repaired. The only other two I will mention here were some cracks in the underside of the front cross member and corrosion that occurred due to a shoddy collision repair on the front left corner.
Off the the Pain Shop next.
 

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Demetris

Well-Known Member
#13
There was an interesting dent in the side of the tunnel just before it meets the bulkhead. A bit of a mystery as to what could have caused that. We removed it as well as a large smoother dent that was under the passenger side front seat. The car must have been hung up on something at some point in time.
The dent that you mention was probably due to a previous attempt to remove the gearbox from underneath, from someone that did not had the required patience.
I must admit the repair work looks excellent despite the extend of the damage.
 
#14
I was thinking that the dent was probably made to create some extra work space but I can't see how it would have helped much. Although I understand that it can be done, I am a firm believer in removing the engine and gearbox if gearbox work is required.
 
#15
The Base unit and the body panels were brought back together in the paint shop. We stripped the paint from the outer panels using a paint stripper. All of the panels were reassembled on the car and checked for fit. Just in case any dimensions had changed during welding. Although no dimension changes had occurred, some of the larger gaps were tightened up by adding a weld bead on the panel edges. The panels and "showing" portions of the Base Unit were painted the original Zircon Blue (as close as we could get). The remaining base unit was painted with a semi-gloss Tremclad Rust Paint. Once back in my shop, I spent many hours using a automotive adhesive/sealer on all of the seams. I sprayed inside the voids as best I could with an asphalt corrosion inhibiter. The underside of the car and the inner side of the body panels was all coated with a rubberised asphalt undercoating. This should provide some sound dampening, abrasion protection and act as a corrosion inhibiter.
I read online a tip for applying the seam sealer that worked well. The sealant comes in a caulking tube. You apply from the tube but then brush it out with a 1 inch paint brush that has had the bristles cut down to approximately 1 inch. This gives the brush the stiffness necessary to spread the sealer. The sealer is black and indistinguishable from the black Tremclad paint and the black undercoating.
 

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#16
In parallel with the work on the base unit, I was working on all of the other parts. I kept a spreadsheet of the parts and subassemblies and their status in the restoration process. I was originally storing the parts in the basement of our house but my wife soon put an end to that plan. I ended up renting a 10 x 12 ft. storage locker for the parts. It was interesting how much more room a disassembled car takes up than one that is all together. All of the small painted parts were cleaned, sand blasted and repainted. The small plated parts were re plated. I was fortunate to find a local company that will carry out silver zinc, green zinc and cad plating work for automobile restoration projects at a very reasonable price. The owner is well known by the local vintage car crowd. I had the parts that were in regular contact with water (think lower windscreen seal channels, etc.) cad plated. Other parts such as the bonnet and boot lid hinges were silver zinc plated. I also re plated all of the odd size bolts, washers, U-nuts, J-nuts and any other hard to replace small fasteners. I had a few of the brake components re plated in green zinc to match their original finish. Another company took on the chrome. All of the chrome pieces were straightened, filled and re plated. The Stainless steel was polished. I wanted to have all of the parts ready for the reassembly work.
 

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#18
Now that the base Unit was back in my shop, it was time to work on the only components that had not been removed…. The suspension. I started with the rear suspension as removing the springs looked to be easier. I replaced all of the bushings, rebuilt the rear hubs and di Dion tube and cleaned and painted the suspension components. I inspected my suspension elbows for corrosion and there were no problems. I painted them inside and out with Tremclad paint. I checked the springs as they had served well for 175000 miles. They differed in un-sprung height by almost one inch. I decided at this point to source new front and rear springs. The rear springs were easy to install simply jacking the suspension back into place compressing the springs all while making sure the spring ends remained properly located in the cups. I also replace the drive and prop shaft U-joints and had the shafts rebalanced. You can see the work in the attached photos. The new bump stop is also in one of the photos. The old rubber bump stops and the nuts in the centre of the old fixing points had been lost on the road somewhere over time.

The front suspension work was made more difficult by the lightness of the car at this point. The shock absorber was at full compression and all that was holding the spring in compression, even with the car sitting on the tyre. I placed four 20 kg sand bags on the front cross member and rolled the car back and forth to try and get it to settle down enough to remove the shocks. No success. In the end, I had to use my spring compressors to be able to remove the shock absorbers. Even with the wings removed, working with those spring compressors in that space is difficult. One certainly does not want to see one of the spring compressors slip loose. I have 2 sets of spring compressors (one longer and one shorter) and ended up using them both to manage those front springs due to the amount of compression required to remove and install the springs and their overall length. I found that I had to partially compress the spring with one set of compressors and then grip the spring with the other set at further apart coils to finish the compression. I borrowed a very long compressor from a friend but it was heavier duty, bulky and just too difficult to use in the space available. The front springs measured slightly different in length when removed but close to the length specification in the workshop manual. I decided to replace them with the new ones I had purchased, even though the originals were probably still OK.
I took all the components apart and cleaned, blasted and painted them according to their original finish. The ball joints and bushings were all replaced. The ball joints were particular “fun” to remove. I built a lower ball joint extraction tool similar to the ones I have seen shared on-line. I thought it was sturdy enough for the job but you can see the bend in the “after” photo. Lots of tension, a bit of heat and lots of brute force were required to remove them. I am sure that they were replaced at some point in time, but it must have been over 30 years ago.
Reassembly work was straight forward. I had significant work to do on the steering box which I will describe later. I was unable to fit the shock absorbers until I had the engine installed and there was enough weight on the springs to open up the distance between the attachment points far enough.
At this point, I installed my newly rebuilt brake calipers and installed new discs. New rigid and flexible brake lines were also installed. My car only has a single brake system rather than the dual systems on many other NADA cars. Having the single system makes things somewhat simpler to work on but means I spent special attention to making sure all components were in good condition. New wheel bearings were also fitted.
 

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#19
I knew I had a leaky steering box but did not understand the extent of the leak or how dry it must have been at times. Normally the steering box is hidden behind those two large HD8 carbs on my LHD car. Once the engine was removed, the oil leaking in the engine compartment from the steering box was very apparent. Removing the left front wing also showed just how much oil had seeped through the seams in the base unit into the wheel space from the steering box. Two photos attached below. The steering box is not normally the easiest item to remove but with the engine and the body panels removed, it was much easier. I was able to split the ball joints on the side and track rods fairly easily. With the steering box out, it was apparent that the lower seal was almost completely missing. Sitting right above the exhaust, I can see where it takes a lot of abuse. The good news here is that the steering damper on the "cold" side of the car seemed to be in good condition. The steering box turned freely enough by hand but I noticed a bit of roughness. I disassembled the box and cleaned it up. Once apart, it was apparent that the bearing races on the steering box shaft were galled. I have attached some photos below. The bearings were still in good condition. I tried to source a NOS LHD Adwest box but had no luck. They seem to be exceedingly rare. I found a used box that was purported to be in good condition but it turned out that the shaft bearing races were even more galled than my original. I decided to machine down the bearing races and then increase the thickness of the shims at each end accordingly. I was worried that the steering shaft race was only surface hardened and that we would machine through the hardened material into softer material below. There was no indication of that happening based on the "feel" during the machining. Photos of the machined surfaces are included below. I reassembled the box with new seals and new gasket, set the backlash and checked to see that the zero backlash point was in the centre of motion as described in the workshop manual. Some photos are included below. I understand from more reading in the Forum that other folks have used this repair method.
 

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mrtask

Well-Known Member
#20
Excellent work. An impressively painstaking restoration. Keep the updates coming!
Is that grey foam sound insulating material you've added behind the steering box 'closed cell foam'? If not, I would worry that it might trap moisture and cause corrosion.
 
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