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Rolls silver spirit/Bentley mulsanne

Published: 4th Jul 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Rolls silver spirit/Bentley mulsanne
Rolls silver spirit/Bentley mulsanne
Rolls silver spirit/Bentley mulsanne
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The Silver Spirit/Bentley Mulsanne was pretty sophisticated in its day – but that was 30 years ago. However don’t underestimate the car say specialists.


All overhead valve, V8 units (aluminium alloy with ‘wet’ liners), 6750cc


NOTE THAT THE CAR’S BRAKE SYSTEM IS COMPLEX AND THAT MAJOR OPERATIONS ON THE REAR BRAKES IN PARTICULAR ARE NOT FOR THE FAINT-HEARTED. IF IN ANY DOUBT WHATSOEVER, IT IS WISE TO ENTRUST TO SPECIALISTS At least every 3000 miles or annually: Check security of all components (note that there are twin calipers for each front wheel, and a single caliper for each rear wheel. Examine the front and rear brake pads and discs (ensure also that the calipers are leak-free, and that the pistons move easily). The main (footbrake) pads should be replaced when the depth is approaching 1/8in/3.2mm; the separate handbrake pads should be renewed when the remaining depth of friction material is approaching 1/16in. (1.6mm.). When changing brake pads, check and if necessary renew the dust excluders on the calipers. AVOID INHALING DUST FROM THE PADS. Examine pipes and flexible hoses, plus the master cylinder (check for fluid leaks). If the fluid appears to be dirty or cloudy, or if the level is low, the system needs to be dismantled and overhauled. Note that there are three separate brake systems; two power brake circuits and a master cylindercircuit. Check/re-lubricate the handbrake operating mechanism (clevis pins, fulcrum pins and front inner handbrake cable, where is runs over the pulleys). Note: For inner handbrake cables passing through Bowflon outer cables, Rolls- Royce advised that Midlands Silicones M.S. 44 grease (and no other) should be used. The handbrak can be adjusted – consult handbook for full details. At least every two years or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first), change the brake fluid and flush system. These models rely on mineral oil instead of brake fluid (seven pints/ four litres so don’t put the wrong stuff in by as serious damage to the system’s seals can occur.


Spark plugs: Champion N14Y, or RN14YC (or superior platinum type 3405) or the equivalent modern grades. Gap: 0.040in. (1.016mm.) Check/clean every 6000 miles or annually (whichever comes first); renew regardless every 12,000 miles. Experience suggests that using a socket type plug spanner driven by a ratchet drive/extension bar is preferable to using the plug spanner provided in the car’s toolkit. Patience is a virtue; access is ‘difficult’ – especially to plugs in left hand cylinder bank and often neglected. Distributor: The engine is equipped with electronic ignition so has no c.b. points to maintain. The original set up was Lucus Opus which can be unreliable and worth replacing with a modern alternative (may have already been done). Re-check ignition timing – two degrees before top dead centre In each case, every 6000 miles: Inspect the cap, rotor arm and contact points (where fitted), the coil, also the low and high tension leads. Apply a smear of grease (originalrecommendation, Midland Silicones No.4 grease)to the distributor cam. Remove the rotor arm and apply a few drops of fresh engine oil to the main spindle. Run a fe drops of thin machine oil through the base plate to lubricate the mechanical advance/retard mechanism. NB. Any running problems may be ECU related and require the expertise of a specialist to cure; but do check the obvious such wiring and terminal connections, first.

Cooling system

At each service check the condition of the hoses and their securing clips, the radiator, the water pump and all other components in the system. Annually: Drain, flush and re-fill the cooling system with fresh anti-freeze mixture (containing corrosion inhibitors); maintain the anti-freeze mixture at full strength all year round. The system’s capacity is approximately 28.5 pints (16 litres).


Every 3000 miles, or annually (whichever comes first)...  Check the five drive belts for condition/tension. As an APPROXIMATE ‘rule of thumb’method of assessing whether the belt tension is correct, each belt should show a deflection of approximately 3/8in. under firm hand pressure. Check the cleanliness and security of all electrical connections, and assess the wiring. Assess the condition and security of all running gear components and suspension/sub-frame mountings; include in your examination the springs, shock absorbers and steering unit/rack mounts. Examine exhaust for corrosion/damage; pay attention to the mountings which can cause rattles as they age. Check the steering and rear driveshaft gaiters. Check/re-tighten as required all underbody nuts and bolts (including the propeller shaft coupling bolts),  also engine/ancillary fasteners (especially those securing the valve covers and manifolds). Every few years have the air conditioning system checked/serviced by specialists as it’s a highly specialist bit of kit (in the meantime, operate the system on a regular basis, all year round).Every 24,000 miles/two years (whichever comes first), clean the plug in the choke butterfly housing, and remove/clean flame traps in the crankcase breather tube on carb-fed models.

Fuel system

Every 6000 miles or annually (whichever comes first): Inspect all fuel system pipework and connections for ageing and security. Remove the carburettor dashpots and clean the pistons/dashpots. Clean the carburettor air valves. Check/top up the oil in the carburetor damper reservoirs (SAE20 oil); the correct level is 1/2in. (13mm.) below the top of the piston rod. Ensure that the carburettors are balanced/ correctly adjusted/ Check the operation of the choke/fast idle cam systems. Assess the operation of the fuel pumps (disconnect the leads in turn, and check each pump independently). If paper filter elements are fitted, every 12,000 miles renew the elements, after dismantling air filter housing trunking (which should be cleaned out at the same time). Every 24,000 miles, renew the tiny filters located in the carburetor inlet pipework, also the main in-line fuel filter (and clean the filter bowl while you’re at it). On EFI equipped cars, check the high pressure fuel lines and unions for deterioration and security. A quality fuel injector cleaner is worth using in the tank to clean them or they can be professionally cleaned if desired. Any problems relating to the fuel injection system is best left to R-R specialists. Carb-fed models can be troublesome to start when hot.


Engine oil: Ideally change the oil and filter at least every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first). Use high quality SAE10W30, 10W40, 15W50, 20W50 0r a 20W 60 oil on high mileage units burning oil. Dispose of the old lubricant in an environmentally friendly manner – local councils provide waste oil collection points. The sump plug is removed using the special hexagonal key provided in the car’s tool kit. Fit a new plug sealing washer on re-assembly. Oil capacity, including filter, approx. 16.5 pints (9.4 litres). Automatic transmission fluid: At least every 3000 miles or every three months (whichever comes first), check/top up the transmission fluid level; the dipstick is located close to the bulkhead, on the right hand side of the engine bay. The level should be checked with the engine running and the transmission fluid at its normal operating temperature (which is around 170 degrees F or 77 degrees C). Approximately every 12,000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), drain the transmission fluid and in addition, every 24,000 miles/two years (whichever comes first), renew the intake strainer. Note: To drain the gearbox, the fluid supply pipe union can be loosened and the fluid allowed to drain for several hours (if you completely unscrew the pipe, it can be difficult to re-attach!). The refill capacity of the transmission is: Transmission and torque converter (‘dry’), approximately 18.67 pints (10.6 litres). Fluid change in bottom pan only, approximately 4.13 pints (2.4 litres). Fluid change in bottom pan and renewing intake strainer. approximately six pints (3.4 litres). Use Dexron automatic transmission fluid. Final drive unit: At least every 3000 miles or three months, check the oil level in the final drive unit. The filler plug can be released using the same spanner as used for the sump plug; fit a new sealing washer on re-installation. Every 24,000 miles, drain the unit after a long run, and re-fill with fresh oil. Use SAE90 EP oil; the capacity of the unit is approximately 4.5 pints (2.5 litres). Running gear: Re-grease (use multi-purpose grease) propeller shaft (two nipples) and driveshafts (two nipples), also the six nipples on the track rod and steering lever ball joints At every service, re-grease the spare wheel platform. Every 12,000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), re-grease the ball joints on the height control system operating rods (consult handbook for details); check/operate on completion. Every 6000 miles/six months (whichever comes first), check/top up oil levels in driveshaft ball and trunnion joints (SAE90 EP oil). Investigate and fix any leaks. Control linkages: Every 6000 miles or six months, apply a few drops of oil to the throttle linkages (but not the fast idle cam on carb engines) and the gear range selector control linkages. Steering: Once a week, check the level of fluid in the system, with the fluid at normal operating temperature and the engine stopped. Check for leaks and top up with Dexron automatic transmission fluid or an transmission additive if the unit is becoming ‘lazy’ to shift into top ratio to the ‘full’ mark on the dipstick. Every 12,000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), check the fluid level in the steering idler box damper; if necessary top up to edge of filler aperture with Dexron transmission fluid.

Top Tips

  • The Silver Spirit/Bentley Mulsanne was pretty sophisticated in its day – but that was 30 years ago. However don’t underestimate the car say specialists. Routine stuff is straightforward enough (although it’s not a particularly easy car to work on) but more complex work, especially to the hydraulics and electronics for example, is still best left to experts.
  • A lot of the inherent problems can be blamed on the infrequent use these cars usually get these days, allowing parts to seize and seals to dry out. Really one of the best tonic you can give the car is to flex the Roller’s muscles often.
  • The greatest threat to the V8’s lifespan is a lack of coolant changes; it has to be done annually using the correct fluid from a main dealer. If this isn’t done, the cylinder liners contract through corrosion, squeezing the piston and causing a knocking sound. This malady can occur at any time with no warning.
  • Expect to see evidence of oil leaks; key culprits are usually the rocker covers and sump, along with the rear main bearing scroll seal. In the case of the latter, the oil will end up underneath the gearbox. On the subject of engine oil, many recommend a good full bodied 20W/50 but on harder used examples or the Turbo a semi-syn 10W/40 is the minimum you should use.
  • All cars are automatics, linked into the engine’s cooling system. The pipes that carry the transmission fluid to the rad for cooling run alongside the gearbox; you need to ensure there’s no corrosion. If the pipe bursts, the ‘box will lose its fluid within seconds.
  • The suspension and brakes incorporate a hydraulic self-levelling system which works well as long as its fluid is renewed every four years. Despite its complexity,the system gives few problems if properly maintained, so check the sight glass on the hydraulic reservoir (on the nearside of the engine bay) for fluid level and condition. Also check for perished hoses and corroded pipes; once these give way, things can get very costly.
  • Aside from the self-levelling mechanism, the suspension gives few problems. The main one is the likelihood of the rear spring pans rotting away, allowing the springs to fall out. However, you also need to check the condition of the subframe mounting bushes, which perish. Called ‘brillo pads’, replacement can be a real pain.
  • The braking system has a hard time because of the car’s weight (these old cruisers typically weigh a couple of tons) and the biggest maintenance point say specialists. Pads can wear out in less than 10,000 miles depending on how the car is driven. Rear brake maintenance is a pain, drum replacement needing specialist attention to remove the hubs.
  • The Rolls/bentley braking system is maintained at high pressure as long as the engine is running. There are two pumps to maintain the pressure. Because the hydraulics are in action all the time, the various hoses and seals are placed under a tremendous strain. That’s why they have to be replaced every 96,000 miles, even if they look fine.
  • Tyres for these cars are very costly as they’re 235/70 HR15 on even the base models and a lot fatter on the faster Bentleys so it’s imperative that only good brands are used, especially on the Turbos otherwise grip and ride quality will be severely compromised.

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