Ordered the gauges the gauges from Pilgrim on Monday and they arrived Wednesday, couldn't believe it !, now I had the sender's I needed to fill the remaining 'holes' in the engine, and the gauges required to monitor everything when the engine is started.

The gauges are from ETB and fully SVA compliant, (rounded bezels). The instructions are very good and all the required senders and fittings are included. The speedo is fully programmable and came with a 'daisy wheel' to fit between the prop and the diff flange. The pick unit then see's the gaps between each petal and records this as a pulse. You can work out the required amount of pulses by measuring the wheel dia, diff ratio etc, or measure a mile then set the speedo in calibration mode at the start , drive the mile then press the button again and the speedo is calibrated. You can also use the original sender from the Rover gearbox. Finally you also have an adjustment mode where once on the rolling road you can manually adjust the needle to read correct.

My horns also arrived, a pair of chrome high/low units.

As the gauges had arrived I decided to fit the fuel gauge sender unit. First problem the sender has a six hole fitting whilst the tank is drilled for a 5 hole fitting!.

It would seem the best idea would be to re-drill the tank, using the gasket as a template, I was worried about swarf getting into the tank, so borrowed my daughters horseshoe magnet. This worked fine ensuring al the swarf stuck to the magnet, I also stuffed a big rag into the tank as well.

Now the hole were drilled the only way I could think of fitting the sender was to push a bolt up though from the inside, twist a bit of wire around the screw to stop it falling in, place the gasket on top , sender unit and then put the nut on, then pull out the wire and tighten up the bolts.

Well the theory was sound but I did not twist the wire tight enough on a couple of the screws which fell down into the tank !!, bu**er. A long rod with a bit of stick tape inside out on the end picked up the screws and all was well.

Just as a precaution I also gaffer taped a length of hose to the wife’s Hoover and gave the inside of the tank a good clean out, just in case..

I rang Vehicle Wiring Products to enquire about a battery cable, and the next day I was holding a nice 1.1 metre cable complete with the correct ends, only took 2 mins to fit , fitted the coil next and the ballast resistor, now to fit the loom...

The loom comes with good instructions and plenty of connectors as you have to re-use the ford connector blocks on the steering column, ie a lot of cutting an re-joining, but Pilgrim do give you the corresponding Ford/Pligrim wire colour.

So I laid the loom out over the chassis as instructed , feeding the front loom through a hole in the bulkhead. With the bulkhead between the brake switch and brake fluid warning wires everything seemed to be in the correct place. The loom continues to run around the front chassis to the nearside bulkhead. Most of the wires end up in the vicinity of the required connection. Al the wire are over length to allow for different engines.

The supplied relay's and fuse boxes are mounted up in the offside bulkhead out of the way.

The back part of the loom travels along the offside sill and round the back , once again the wire appear to be in right area. Next , starting from the back I labeled up all the wires I could identify, there are a couple I have been unable to trace but most worryingly, the Ford Indicator wires colours as indicated by Pilgrim do not match mine, although all the other steering column wires match okay. Hmm... have to sort that one last unless anyone can help ?,.

Last job of the day was to make up the thick return lead from the alternator to the battery, a bit of a pain as my alternator had the spade type connectors, whereas the Pilgrim loom has the 'eye' type. The coil/distributor and ballast resistor are different than the Pilgrim loom, so I referred to the Haynes manual to connect in the ballast resistor, coil and distributor wires.


I need to get enough of the loom installed to try and start the engine, the main battery leads were now in place, time to look at the ignition electrics.

I am keeping the original Rover 35DE8 dizzy and ballast resistor, at least to get it started then maybe change. I wired the ballast resistor and dizzy as per the Haynes Manual along with a new coil. Connected up the ignition switch next and while I was at it, laid in the missing n/s indicator circuit, next came the horns and fuel pump. At this point I also connected up the Oil pressure, Oil light and Rev counter ready for when the engine hopefully starts.

The entire front loom was then covered with split convoluted tubing, looks nice and tidy now.

I had forgotten the grommet for the hole in the bulkhead, so cut one in half, placed it over the loom then super glued it back together .

Right lets check if anything works, turned the key and heard the fuel pump working, good sign, turned a little further and the starter motor engaged and turned the engine over, good now check for a spark.

Nothing, not a bl**dy thing no spark at all , even at the HT lead from the Coil. Opened up the distributor, removed the rotor arm, and then the pickup unit, ahh noticed part of the PCB board was broken off.

Luckily I had a spare dizzy which had another good pickup unit inside. After about half an hour managed to swap over the required bits, tried turning over the engine again, and we now had a spark at the HT lead, but.. it looked very weak to me.. anyway tried one of the plugs.. nothing.. oh bu**er.

Replaced the Dizzy cap and Rotor arm, still no good, and now , once again no spark at the HT lead. It seems the words of wisdom I chose to ignore concerning the ‘flaky’ 35DE8 electronic ignition were well based. Totally fed up now I ordered an Optical replacement kit with separate amp module, which I am told will solve all my problems.

Until the replacement parts arrive I thought I would fill the engine with water, true to form I had a couple of leaks to fix, but eventually had a full engine with hopefully no air locks. I had kept the heater hoses open until water flowed to help dispel the air as the engine filled up.

Right, might as well fill up with oil and prime the pump, trotted off to Halfords and bought 5 litres of Oil, only to get home and find the engine holds 5.5 litres !!. Got some more oil then filled the engine, no leaks there anyway..

Removed the dizzy to get at the drive for the oil pump and clamped the special tool, (a bar with a slot at the end), in my drill. I had been told that the pump had already been filled with Vasaline and should prime okay. So turned on the drill while watching the rockers for signs of oil flow.. guess what nothing… then a very small dribble, this can’t be right, what’s gone wrong now for Christ’s sake, (getting a bit fed up by now). Now matter how long I continued to use the drill, (which was getting very hot and smelly by now), no substantial flow at all.

Only one thing for it, the pump will have to come off for a look see.

The pump is held on with little ‘star’ headed screws, guess what, no socket to fit the screws !!, off to Halfords again, (they know me quite well now). Finally got the pump off and at first could see nothing wrong, now starting to feel depressed… then I noticed that the pressure relief valve was not fully home in its seat, in fact I could even see the end face which is supposed to be seated down in the bore. I just touched the valve with my screwdriver and it shot down into the bore as it should be, it couldn’t have been assembled correctly in the first place.

Hopefully that’s the reason for the lack of pressure, relief valve more than fully open.

Now I have no more Vaseline left,, have to wait until tomorrow. Good weekend I suppose, No Spark, Water leaks and No oil pressure !


Right re-packed the pump , re-fitted and tried again… success ! Oil light goes out and the gauge measures around 45 psi with my now knackered drill. Replaced the dizzy, re-checked the timing and turned the engine over on the starter, Oil light goes out , pressure gauges gives good reading, at last sorted.

The optronic electronic ignition kit has arrived, from S & S Preparations, so next job is to fit it and try to start the beast.


The optronic kit from S & S Preparations is made by www.newtronic.co.uk and is a very simple set-up indeed. Simply take all the guts out of the dizzy, fit the new simple flat base plate complete with it’s ‘lamp’ fitted. An 8 bladed plastic rotor slips over the dizzy shaft replacing the magnetic one, the blade passes between the beam of the lamp, triggering an external amp. The external amp is mounted in a convenient place on the chassis. The instructions are very simple and even take into account the ballast resistor connections.

Right all connected up and double checked, now lets see what happens… turn the engine over with the ‘king lead’ held near earth…nothing no spark at all, now what !, re-checked the connections , tried again nothing and noticed the external amp was starting to smoke !!!, bl**y hell switch off quick.

I double checked the connections and hoped the amp was okay, all the connections were correct, but as soon as I applied power to the amp it started to overheat. As I was using the ballast resistor and this was the only thing not replaced now, I checked the connections one by one, all volts at all points were as they should be, the only connection with no volts is the ‘piggy back’ one for connecting power to the ‘+’ coil and the amp. On further investigation I found this connection was a dead short to earth, no wonder the amp was not happy..

The only thing was to remove the ballast resistor from the circuit, but that would mean 12 Volts would be going to the 6Volt coil , but at least I would be able to see if this was the problem. It was not too difficult to re-arrange the wiring excluding the ballast resistor and find home for the six wires, (my electrical knowledge was increasing fast).

I took this opportunity to test the coil and switching amp as per the instructions in the kit, all tested okay, so I had not damaged the amp, phew !!!.

With everything connected up , I turned on the ignition and this time no smoking from the amp, looking good so far, then turned the engine over, and YES a nice spark from the HT King lead.

Plugged the HT lead in, put the petrol pickup in a petrol can and tried to start the engine, turned over for about 30 sec,,, nothing, nowt, not a pop. Hmmm advanced the dizzy slightly tried again, still nothing… waited a bit and tried again, this time a little pop from one of the cylinders , then a little more art least a couple of cylinders were trying to catch,,, then ROOAAARRR all eight came to life , I revved it a bit then she spluttered and stopped, tried again but the battery was now nearly dead, but at least it was still trying to catch..

Well at least the beast has roared, will try again tomorrow with new 12Volt coil and charged battery.


Still having problems with the ignition system, getting quite depressing now..

However I do think I am getting closer to solving the problem, it always seems strange to me that the engine will only fire up, (eventually), with the timing way to advanced.

So I put the timing light on cylinder No1 and watched whilst cranking over the engine, basically to check I had a constant spark. Yep a good bright ‘flash’ on the timing light, but… as I moved the dizzy round into the correct position, the timing light ‘flash’ got weaker and weaker indicating a very weak spark.

So no wonder the engine would not fire up and run with the dizzy in the correct position (8 degrees BTDC), there was little or no spark, but move the dizzy round to about 40 degrees advanced and we had a nice fat spark.

Something was fundamentally wrong with the dizzy and or electronics. My first reaction was to chuck it all away and buy a Mallory Unitlite dizzy with coil and ballast resistor, but before shelling all that dosh, I wanted to try another dizzy first . Luckily a member in the Cobra Club offered to sell me Two Lucas dizzy’s complete and with a ballast resistor for £40. I have arranged to pick up the dizzy’s during the week, so we will have to wait and see.

Meanwhile a bit of good news the body has arrived !!, and very nice it looks too.

I ordered the body kit, all hinges and full lighting set, along with the GRP dashboard and roll bar. Guess what not all the parts arrived, the dashboard and roll bar were missing, still I have plenty to be getting on with.

The body finish is very good with minimal flash lines, the flash lines are covered in bits of white putty, (apparently used to touch up the mould), and this can be removed with soapy water. The doors boot and bonnet need quite a bit of trimming to fit but again are very good quality.

To trial fit the body all that was needed was to trim a small section at the rear of the sills to clear the swinging are bolts. It can be lifted on and off quite easily by myself and the wife. The first trial fit also highlighted the fact that my radiator was too low, no problem, just moved it up and back a bit. It is quite surprising how difficult it is to get to things with the body on. Luckily everything else seems to clear okay, if I had put the header thank another inch to the right and I would not have been able to get the cap off.

I could now see that the steering wheel had to be moved back about 3 “, (otherwise the stalks would be behind the dashboard