Heater Core Replacement
Well if you are a regular reader you have heard of the dread head gasket problem and know that it caused my heater core to fail in 7:30am traffic on a very traffic congested bridge on my way to work in April 2005. That was not so much fun. The quick answer was to plug the heater supply hoses. Looping them as I originally planned to do, seriously reduced the cooling ability of the radiator. With a loop we estimated 30% of the coolant never goes through the radiator. So blocking each side was the ticket. I used a couple of huge bolts and some plumber's tape on the threads of the bolts and secured it with hose clamps.
So it finally came time to get it repaired as winter was peaking over the horizon on the heavily wind swept plains of Oklahoma. I would burst into a few lines of "OKLAHOMA" right now but it won't help you fix your heater core so I will refrain.
What I have learned with this repair is that the OEM heater core is that the tank and fittings are made of plastic. The replacement from British Pacific, which I was lucky enough to buy on one of Steve's Deals of the Day, is made of metal.
Now as you have probably read everywhere that this is a HUGE job. In retrospect it is a teadious and large scale project. But it wasn't anything compared to the engine replacement job so I though it was a moderate job. There are a lot of pieces to remove and a lot of wires to keep track of. But the good news is it is entirely possible for you to drive your Rover without any of this stuff while may be waiting for a part you happened to forget to order.
In my case I didn't order the gaskets for the heater box that are like the foam rubber you seal a door with. So I got to drive the BWB for two weeks while I sorted out all the parts I forgot. The first day I drove with out a speedometer was liberating. Liberating right up to the point when it dawned on me that the gas tank was perhaps low. Low and I was sitting in a nasty traffic jam in the far left hand lane of a very congested construction zone. The sudden sensation that I might run out of gas there cause me to nearly panic and made me worry that I might not make it home. Not cause I ran out of gasoline but because some of the drivers behind me might hang me from the nearest light pole if I were to conk out here. I stopped at the next station and filled up. And when I got home I fitted the instruments back on.
The first job is removing the dash and all the components. You will probably need to get a labeler as I did. That way anything you unplug electrically speaking you can label so you will be sure to get it back correctly. Be descriptive with the labels. Use more than one tape if necessary. I got my labeler at Walmart for less than twenty American dollars.
Now it is time to start pulling stuff. I had a garage floor to store thing on and I recommend you have a place setup for the items too. Loosing stuff will slow the reassembly.
Disconnect the battery first. You will be working with the fuse box eventually no reason to take risks.
Start with the vents. Simple procedure here using a screwdriver as a pry. This stuff is plastic so don't get too rambunctious. Remove the air guides. Then pry the plastic guides from the wood facia. Pry from the bottom. They snap in by fitting them from the top to the bottom. Under the plastic are some screws, more than likely two per vent. Under the wood facia are some screws as well. I stored all these screws in a large cigar box. You can choose the baggy label method if you prefer. After all the screws are removed the vent facia will be free except for the clock and the plugs there. Label them with your labeler. If you install these wrong on the reinstall you may not have lights on the clock.
Next remove the tips of the heater and fan controls. They just pull off. Remove this panel. Label the light connections if you wish.
Time to remove the instrument cluster. There could be 4 nuts here. I only had two and was thankful. Big hands in a small space. Three plugs and the instrument cluster is in your hands.
Go to the passenger side and remove the cubby box screws.
Remove the middle tray also. Label the Alarm LED while your here.
The top dash should be off by now.
You will now move to the underside and remove the Air Conditioning unit. It is entirely possible to tilt it out of the way. I used a few zip ties to secure it to the place where the cubby box used to be. There are some nuts under the dash that will be easy to see. Remove them and the center console part will come out and the A/C unit will "fall". You can just tilt it up by turning it carefully clockwise.
At this point the magic and mystery of the dash assembly will be revealed. I remember the feeling of realising how it all worked at this point. You should loose the intimidated feeling now. But don't worry you'll get it back when you reassemble.
You will notice that the heater unit and the A/C unit are truly separate. There were several times when I took pictures to show me how wires were ran or how they were hooked up. This pic shows the wires that go to the clock. They were wired through a hole in the A/C vent channel. This is a pic of a label I applied.
This pic shows the A/C unit tilted up and a wire connection that I don't want to forget. Getting good pics of the plug ends is a good idea. But for the most part each plug will only go to another that is similar. Meaning a different type/style of plug was used for each connection. Remember the education level of the installers, gotta make it simple.
A very long wire is stretched across and I wanted to note it's postion for reassembly.
The vacuum control unit has some wires running to it so don't forget to label them as well.
This is where I removed the fan switch and it's partner the Heat/AC/Vent switch. I don't think this was necessary.
After you have the console pieces removed you'll see the simplicity of the fuse box. Another angle of the A/C unit up and out of the way is in this pic too.
There is a fuzzy place on what I did next. But you should be able to tilt out the heater box once you remove the 4 bolts that hold it to the firewall and the hose clamps.
You will need to get on the engine side of the firewall and release the hose clamps for the heater box. I used a socket on a long extension. I also found it easier to remove the hood to reach this area. If you do this mark the hood and the hinges with line up marks so you can line this back up to prevent rubbing the paint and having a misalligned hood when you finish up the project. This is one of the "I learned that one the hard way" issues I have stumbled into so you won't.
Heater box removed. Again with some pulling and prying you should have the heater box out. It will be tight fit and you must be persistant. If you plan on operating your Rangie while this project is in progress you will need to block the fresh air vent if the weather is unpleasant. The amount of air that comes in this hole is impressive. And when it's 45 degrees outside it will test your manhood/womanhood to drive with that much cold air rushing in.
Okay once the heater box is out you will have to split it into the two parts. Here it is upside down on my garage floor. There are some clips and such to accomplish this. I used the "C" clip tool to show the bracket I found out I needed to remove. After some frustration and figuring out that the instructions I had in my manual didn't mention this bracket. I drilled out the rivets that held the it to the heater box. I only drilled out one side of the bracket. At this point I figured a rivet tool would come in handy. I don't own one. Also in this pic you can see the new heater core in place.
When you are disassembling the the heater box you will encounter some control levers on each side. Remember these when you are reassembling the heater box. In order for the heater box to work as desired the cables will need to be put back as they are. The instructions on my CD say to mark the cable position before removing. This is a good idea.
The reason for this is when you have the lever all the way to hot, it has the corresponding damper inside the heater box closed completely. I had camera malfunctions or I'd have better pics of this. Sorry. It's not rocket science just remember that when you close the foot/vent lever that the foot/vent damper is completely closed. When it's assembled you can tell when you hear it make contact. Don't fret this too much. I was worried a great deal about this until I played with it for a while. You can figure it out pretty quickly.
I will say getting the pins of the dampers in the guide holes was a trial and error procedure that took nearly an hour for me. I can't think of anything else to mention. The instructions on the CD were helpful but there were several missing tips. I have tried to include everything I can remember.
Assuring you have all the proper parts in place including the vent seals. Don't forget the vent seal on the heater core water lines. I did and had to reinstall that twice.
After you get the heater box back in and bolted down. The hoses hooked up. You can start to reassemble the interior. Put it back in the same order you took it apart. If you jump ahead to install the vents you will have to disassemble to get the controls on.
An install tip is for you to replace the back heater feed hoses while you're here. It is a huge hassle and you may as well save yourself a split hose later. They don't split when it's convienient so while you have it apart it's as convienient as it will get.
This took several weekends as I was waiting for parts. On the Difficulty Scale it rates as a 4. Mainly because of the length of time to disassemble and reassemble. With everything in place you could do it in one day, I believe. Considering the number of times I actually took this apart and put it back together its an almost certainty that it could be done in 6-8 hours.
Take pics and notes if you have to and you'll get it back together no problem.
Thanks for reading and happy Rovering.