Priorities, deadlines and minor achievements.

Having had some time to give the white car a jolly good poking I am now in a better position to quantify the work which will need to be done to a) get it roadworthy and b) bring it up to a really nice standard. The former is the short-term goal, the latter is likely to take several years. I always think it’s healthy to throw a deadline or two into the mix – granted, it didn’t quite work out for the blue car but it did spur me on to do a bit of work when a lot of the time I would have probably rather been sitting in my pants in front of the TV eating Cheesy Wotsits. Not that I’ve let myself go since getting married or anything…

In terms of deadlines, they range from the realistic to the less-realistic. In the latter bucket there is the Triumph Sports Owners Association of South Australia Day of Triumph at Glenelg on the 20th October. I rate my chances of attending in the Triumph as slim at best, although I’ll definitely head down for a look. More realistically, there’s the All British Day on the 10th of February – it’s held in Echunga in the beautiful Adelaide Hills and normally incorporates around 800 British vehicles so it should be a great day out.

So in terms of getting the beast roadworthy by February, the to-do list stands as follows:

  • Rebuild the carbs – the HS6s had noticeable wear on the throttle spindles, the rubber jet hoses were perished and by eye the jet orifices looked a bit oval and worn
  • Drain the 7+ year old fuel from the tank, clean sediment from fuel pump, install new in-line filter and replace all fuel hoses
  • Replace the ballasted wire on the ignition circuit due to common problem of melted insulation. The options here are to replace like-for-like with a suitable length of ballasted wire, replace the ballasted wire with normal wire and a ballast resistor or swap the coil out for a 12v and do away with a ballasted circuit completely
  • Rebuild the brakes – master cylinder is likely shot given the pedal sinking to the floor, flexi hoses look old and front brake pads are worn. I have all-new stuff on the blue car so it makes sense to swap it over and give the system a complete overhaul
  • Change the oil and filter, fit spin-on conversion from the blue car
  • Fit reconditioned distributor from blue car, set valve clearances
  • Replace perished fan belt
  • Tune carbs and set ignition timing
  • Flush cooling system and replace all hoses – the existing ones are very perished
  • Check wheel bearings, replace if required
  • Check and change/top up gearbox and diff oil. Carry out scheduled lubrication elsewhere
  • Swap new tyres from blue car onto the better alloys from the white car
  • Re-align driver’s door and sort out dodgy interior (neither are exactly roadworthiness issues but are not a good look)
  • Sort out registration and insurance

At first glance that seems like a very achievable to-do list for a four and a half month period, but throw a demanding little baby into the mix and quality garage time starts looking a bit tight. I am determined, however, to make this deadline mainly because the All British Day looks fantastic.

I’ve already started to tick a couple of items off of the list – the first being the carb rebuild. I did toy with the idea of swapping over the rebuilt units from the blue car but I never went as far as having the throttle spindle bushes replaced and there was still some slight wear noticeable after the new spindles had been fitted. In addition, the blue car’s carbs had the arguably less-desirable waxstat jets.

Carbs before.jpg
One of the white car’s carbs before rebuilding – not in the cleanest of states

I won’t bore you with the details of yet another carb rebuild but in summary I stripped down and cleaned the carb bodies and sent them off to SU Midel in New South Wales who did an excellent job of drilling out and replacing the throttle bushes for a very reasonable $90. To save costs I built up the units with the new spindles, butterflies, needles, float valves and gaskets salvaged from the blue car’s set, only needing to buy new non-waxstat jets and butterfly screws to complete them. I think the finished articles look great – I’m not a fan of the polished dashpot look, clean and tidy is more my thing:

Carbs after.jpg
SU HS6 carbs rebuilt with salvaged new parts

One change I did make to the carbs was to swap over the pistons and dashpots from the blue car’s carbs as they have the more advanced HIF-style twin track ball roller bearing arrangement which reduces friction in the piston/damper rod assembly and eliminates the possibility of the piston sticking. I know that swapping of moving parts between carbs is usually considered a bad idea but the general consensus among the online Triumph community was that as long as the pistons and dashpots were transferred in matching pairs then it should be OK.

I’ve also started on the rest of the fuel system, finding time to drain the tank of the whopping 5 litres of stale fuel that it contained. This was pretty easy, although had the potentially to get dangerously messy – luckily I was well prepared with containers and a length of hose so my house and eyebrows remain unsinged. The outlet to the tank is very accessible from beneath the car, just to the side of the diff – the rubber fuel hose is simply attached to this with a jubilee clip. Removing the clip and hose, and very quickly sliding on a longer length allowed me to drain the fuel into a suitable container for storage and potential use in my long-suffering mower.

fuel-tank-draining.jpg
Fuel draining is an easy task but make sure you’re prepared before removing the hose

Tank drained, I moved forward in the fuel system to the mechanical pump – located on the side of the engine block. It is a typical classic British car arrangement incorporating a glass bowl which can be removed to access a filter gauze and sediment trap. Mine is very dirty as per the photo below:

Fuel pump sediment
Fuel pump glass bowl removed revealing lots of sediment

The filthy nature of the pump means it will need to be removed and possibly dismantled for cleaning – a job which I’ll get on to next time I get half an hour or so in the garage. It also raises questions of the internal state of the fuel tank which ideally should be at the very least removed and cleaned. Nuclear options involve rust-treating and sealing the inside of the tank with one of various different products marketed for such a task, but I’ll take a look first and see how bad it looks. Hopefully a good swilling out should do the trick.

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A change of plan.

As a loyal reader you’re probably wondering why there has been no update to this blog in the last few months. Perhaps you’ve been experiencing sleepless nights because of the unbearable anticipation of the next post, or have simply adopted a life of petty crime in an attempt to suppress that hollow feeling inside? Well, put down your crowbar and settle down with a nice cup of tea, for here is the update on what has been going on in Rustyland since April.

The last post ended with me mid-clutch replacement, awaiting a new release bearing carrier to be shipped from the UK. Parts from the motherland generally take a couple of weeks to wind their merry way down under and unfortunately my attention span sits at around the week and a half mark. My fingers began to wander and before long I was casually checking out classic car offerings on Gumtree. As my wife knows only too well, this has rarely ended without another ‘bargain’ littering/adorning our property.

Enter Project 27.1b:

Front
The white car

Project 27.1b, or ‘the white car’ as it shall be known for the foreseeable future, was advertised for sale by a local breakers yard. The scrappage rules are different over here – yards are free to either break or sell cars that they buy, there is no compulsory destruction as there is in the UK which has led to many a savable classic being needlessly introduced to the jaws of the crusher. Apparently an old boy drove the thing into the yard early one morning, despite it having no brakes whatsoever, and just wanted shot of it from his garage. The yard owner thought it was too good to crush and advertised it on Gumtree for $1500. Unfortunately for my wife, and for the blue car (more on this later), that’s exactly when I decided to partake in some casual and innocent window shopping.

The advert looked tempting but it was difficult to tell from the couple of grainy photos accompanying it what the overall condition of the car was. I ignored it for a couple of days. In my defence I even posted the ad to the pages of a couple of Australian Triumph-related Facebook groups I follow. By the end of the week the ad was still showing and I could resist no more. I spoke to the breakers yard by phone and they confirmed the car was ultimately solid. I was there at 8am sharp the next morning – just to take a harmless look obviously…

Breakers front
As found in the breakers yard

I gave the car a fairly good once over at the yard, with the help of my trusty fridge magnet, torch and Mr Pokey Screwdriver. It was scruffy but solid. Best still, it was not metallic blue. I started doing the sums in my head, weighing up the additional purchase cost of this car plus the jobs it needed doing, against the cost of ultimately having to undertake a full-body bare metal respray on the blue car. The white car won and a couple of hours later the breakers yard had very kindly delivered it free of charge.

Breakers left side
Passenger’s side

The car was a genuine 2500S, which gave it more of a pedigree than the blue car which was a TC with an S engine – and registered as the latter (possibly erroneously) by SA’s boys in blue. It also had a very nice set of genuine S alloys (including an unused spare), power steering and even an original 1970s AC system. The headlining was virtually unmarked, and the dashboard in great shape other than one small crack – neither of which were jobs I relished the thought of doing on the blue car. The rego label in the windscreen shows 2011 – it has presumably been sitting since at least then, I suspect it may have been longer.

Breakers right side
From the rear

The downsides over the blue car were the mismatched interior – judging by the vinyl on the parcel shelf and pillars, it looks like the car originally sported bone-coloured velour with the seats and door cards having been replaced at some point with a red vinyl set (the driver’s seat of which was in very bad shape). The wood cappings of the doors were also in a bit of a state with peeling lacquer and, in some places, veneer.

Interior 1
Mismatched and damaged interior
Interior 2
The rear seats have held up better

Whereas the panel fit on the blue car was actually very good, the driver’s door on the white car has at some point been swapped – the replacement a very subtly different shade of white, lacking the sexy gold pin strip and very badly aligned, with the latch end having dropped by several millimeters meaning the door had to be lifted when closing to avoid it merely bouncing off the striker plate.

Driver's door drop.jpg
Replaced and sagging driver’s door

The biggest job needing doing on the white car which I would not have had to have worried about on the blue car is the crusty front end of the driver’s sill – the jacking point of which promptly chose to relocate itself about 5-10 mm skywards when I first tried to put the car on axle stands. The inner skin looks solid but I presume the middle and outer skins need replacing. At some point a previous owner or one of their agents has lovingly given the sill a dose of filler and a bit of paint to hide the problem – but I know it’s there and waiting for me. Lloyd Reed can expect a phone call at some point…

Driver Sill Rust.jpg
Front end of the driver’s side sill – here be monsters…

The only other rust I can find on the car is at the bottom corner of the rear valance panel – it’s going a bit crusty in one spot but it’s not particularly widespread.

Rear panel rust
Rear valance rust spot

The underside of the car looks in great shape and all of the factory warning labels are present under the bonnet, which is a nice touch of originality.

Slam panel
Slam panel with original labels intact
Under Bonnet labels
Under-bonnet timing and air-con labels

So, what of the blue car you ask? Well, I am still in two minds about its precise fate. It is a very tempting source of spare parts for the white car – the brown tan interior (seats, carpet, door cards, door cappings), for example, can be transplanted over to the white car, thus ticking off a big item on the ‘what makes this car look a bit shitty’ list. Likewise, all of the coolant system hoses are brand new, the ones on the white car are very perished, soft and swollen. The white car was driven into the breakers yard (and subsequently from the tow truck into my garage) with no brakes – the pedal just sinks to the floor with little or no stopping power. The brakes on the blue car have been completely overhauled from master cylinder to hoses to slave cylinders to friction material. The tyres on the white car are worn and old, the ones on the blue car are brand new. The engine in the white car is an unknown quantity, the engine in the blue car has proven to be very good and would make a good substitute if needed. I also still have the newly-rebuilt OD gearbox originally destined for the blue car if the need ever arose. There are also multiple niggly little items – the boot lid catch, the evaporative control system (missing on the white car with hoses capped and left dangling), the centre console, boot lining etc – all good on the blue car and not so good on the white car.

Engine
Engine looks clean, has no detectable crankshaft end-float but is an unknown quantity

The reality therefore is, that the blue car will be (well, already is being) used as a parts car for the white one. It is annoying to have to undo and the redo the work that has already been done – the brakes for example, no-one likes doing brakes, let alone thrice – but it will save a fortune over buying and shipping new parts again.

At the end of it I’ll have a decision to make – do I spend the time away from my family fitting all of the less-than-great stuff I remove from the white car into the shell of the blue car and try to sell it on as a project, or do I take the easy option and bundle everything I don’t want inside, strip anything else that I might need in the future, ring the same breakers yard from which I bought the white car and pocket an easy and quick $250. Not a good investment when you consider the original cost of the car but very tempting in terms of recouped man hours. Plus, let’s face it, the blue one is not pretty, is not a great spec and will definitely need a full respray to look remotely presentable. That in itself would cost more than the price of a similar example with already decent paint and would presumably put off all but the most determined of Triumph saviours.

The wife says I can’t keep it on the driveway outside the kitchen window so I’ll need to decide soon. All opinions welcome…

Clutching at deadlines.

With two weeks to go before the self-imposed deadline of getting the car back on the road for the 2018 McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic event, things were looking relatively peachy. I had the gearbox out, I had a clutch kit ready to install as well as all of the other bits and pieces I thought I might need during the process.  Surely nothing could go wrong? More on that later…

The first step was to remove the existing clutch from the car and inspect the flywheel for any scoring, rust or other damage. The clutch, a Borg & Beck style AP Driveline one, was actually in great condition and the friction plate was showing very little wear indeed. There was a little bit of scoring on the ends of the diaphragm spring fingers caused by the release bearing but nothing major. However, I had a brand new replacement waiting so I decided to keep this old one as a good spare and fit the new one anyway (if it had been a Laycock kit in equally good condition I may have chosen otherwise).

Old Clutch
Existing Borg & Beck style clutch

On removal of the clutch, the flywheel also looked to be in good condition with no significant scoring or corrosion to speak of.

Flywheel
Flywheel is in good enough shape

 

One item I had unfortunately forgotten to order was the spigot bushing which sits in the flywheel on the mk2 2500 (and in the end of the crank on the mk1) – this was noticeably worn and was a little loose so after a couple of futile phonecalls to Aussie-based suppliers, a replacement was ordered from the UK on express delivery. The bushing provides some support to the gearbox input shaft and is crucial to preventing wear in the gearbox bearings. The replacement bushing arrived a week later and when compared to the old bushing, its replacement was clearly well-overdue as the central aperture was not only heavily scored but also oval rather than round.

Bushes Old vs New
Old bushing on the right, new on the left

 

The spigot bushing is made from a porous bronze and needs to be soaked in engine oil overnight to provide ongoing lubrication to the end of the gearbox input shaft.  Its removal and refitting is relatively easy – I drifted the old bushing out of the flywheel with a suitably-sized socket and then used the old bushing to drift the new one in. The new bushing fits very well in the flywheel with no detectable movement at all, whilst the gearbox input shaft fits snugly but not tightly into the central aperture. It was the right call to delay installation of the new ‘box by a week to fit a new one.

Bushing Out
Old bushing removed from the flywheel

 

The next step was to take a look at the clutch release mechanism and to swap it over to the new ‘box. The clutch release bearing is pressed onto a bearing carrier which slides over the splined gearbox input shaft when being actuated by a fork attached to the clutch operating shaft. When the clutch pedal is depressed the operating shaft rotates causing the clutch fork to rotate and push the release bearing forward against the clutch pressure plate which, in turn, releases the pressure holding the clutch friction plate against the flywheel and therefore breaks drive from the engine.

The first obvious problem with the existing release mechanism in the old gearbox was that the two bronze slipper pads which act as a bearing surface between the clutch fork pins and the bearing carrier were missing – instead the pins were acting directly against the surface of the bearing carrier. Luckily, I had ordered the slipper pads assuming they would need to be replaced so this in itself did not cause any undue setbacks.

Missing Slipper Pads
There should be a square slipper pad on the end of this fork pin

 

The clutch release bearing carrier was removed from the gearbox (it can simply be pulled away from the input shaft when the clutch operating shaft is turned beyond the range that it would experience in normal use) and the taper pin holding the fork to the shaft was removed (along with its retaining wire). These pins are apparently prone to breaking which is a gearbox out job to replace, so I obtained a high-strength one from Chris Witor. The below picture shows the new pin holding the fork to the release shaft – to prevent undue stress on the pin it is preferable that the thread does not bottom out in the thread in the fork, mine was looking good in this respect.

Pin in Fork
The new pin does not bottom out in the thread in the fork, which is good news

 

Unfortunately this is where my luck ran out. On closer inspection of the release bearing carrier I noticed that opposite sides of its rear face showed C-shaped hairline fracturing – possibly due to fatigue from where the release fork pins had been acting against the surface without slipper pads or, perhaps more likely, just due to a previous ham-fisted approach to pressing the bearing onto the carrier. Either way it was very close to failure and a replacement was needed. I could not locate a replacement in Australia so yet another order was placed from the UK which will take a week or so to arrive. This sadly put me out of the running to attend the Vintage and Classic event in the Triumph but I’d rather miss out on this and know that I have not put sub-standard parts back into the car. I don’t really want to be dropping the gearbox again in the near future.

Fractured Carrier
Fractured release bearing carrier

 
So with work on the release mechanism halted, all that was left for me to do was to re-attach the flywheel (torquing the bolts up to the correct 50 lbf ft) and fit the new clutch kit. This went nice and smoothly and I know it’s properly aligned as I used some of the time spent waiting for international deliveries to strip down the old gearbox so I could remove and cut down the input shaft to use as a handy alignment tool. Hopefully this means the new ‘box should slide straight in without any issues.

Input Shaft Tool
New clutch perfectly aligned with help of a cut-off input shaft

 

Fitting the clutch was easy – the clutch plate is centralised against the flywheel with the help of the input shaft and the pressure plate located over the three dowels in the flywheel face. The plate is attached to the flywheel via six bolts, which were torqued up incrementally.

Now I am just waiting for Australia Post to deliver my parts so that I can move on to the next step in assembling the clutch release mechanism onto the new gearbox and lifting the new ‘box onto the car.

The gearbox swap begins.

As summer gave way to autumn and the temperatures died down to more sensible levels, I decided to take a few weeks off of work to spend some quality time with the newest member of our family. I also agreed with the missus that I would be able to spend a few hours in the garage here and there in order to try to get the Beast up and running in time for the McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic Run (spoiler alert: I missed it – but that didn’t stop me from trying).

The existing gearbox in the car had two problems: 1) it was only the four speed non-OD and 2) it whined horribly in all but 4th gear suggesting the layshaft bearings had probably seen better days. I’d managed to source a rebuilt OD gearbox from across the Tasman which had been sitting in my garage patiently waiting to be fitted for several months – finally its time had come…

As I am not fortunate enough to own a car lift, the first step was getting the car high enough off of the ground to comfortably remove the ‘box from underneath. I have a nice set of 1000kg Stanfred ramps but raising the car on these alone would have provided, at best, the very minimum amount of space required to perform the job. To get the car up a little higher I made some improvised bases for the ramps out of landscaping sleepers and angle iron – this gave me an extra 100mm or so of space under the car which makes accessing the underside of the car a lot more comfortable.

Ramps
Plenty of room underneath

 

I also knocked up some small platforms for the rear wheels to sit on to give me a bit more space at the rear of the car to remove the exhaust etc.

Ramps3
Platforms to provide extra height at the rear

 

It took a couple of attempts to drive the car up onto this arrangement of supports but it’s up there and it’s solid so I’m happy. It’s lovely having this amount of room to work underneath the car so once this job’s over I’ll keep my timber extension pieces for any similar tasks that come up in future.

 

ramps2.jpg
Angle iron prevents the ramps sliding backwards or sideways

 

Once the car was raised to a suitable height, the job of removing the old gearbox could begin. The first step was to drain the ‘box of its fluid via the drain plug on the underside and to remove the gearlever assembly from inside the car. Next, the wiring was unplugged from the reversing light switch on the selector mechanism housing and the speedo cable removed from the side of the gearbox casing. The clevis pin holding the slave cylinder piston to the clutch release fork was removed to separate the two, the middle exhaust mounting undone and removed from the brackets attached to the gearbox and the four bolts holding the output flange to the propshaft were removed before gently lowering the prop towards the ground. At this point, to give myself more room I opted to remove the entire exhaust system from the car – a couple of the rubber mounts need replacing and the flange to manifold gasket is missing so I’ll address those when reassembly time comes. Other than that the system looks to be in great shape and is quite possibly original (the Aussie climate is great for classic cars).

Clevis
Clutch slave cylinder clevis pin

 

Once freed from all of the ancillary parts, the next step was to lower the gearbox to gain access to the bolts attaching the bell-housing to the engine back plate. According to the workshop manual, this can be done with a trolley jack placed under the engine sump, using a block of wood to distribute the weight. As I had not undertaken this task before I opted for a belt and braces approach of using use two trolley jacks – one under the sump as per the manual and then a second underneath the rear gearbox cross-member (to be honest this wasn’t necessary and if I did the job again I would use just a single jack as per the factory recommendations).

Lowering
My belt and braces lowering approach – the central axle stand was a temporary measure whilst the job was paused for lunch

 

After supporting the ‘box with the jacks I undid the four nuts holding the rear gearbox cross-member to the car floor pan and dropped the ‘box in stages – lowering the rear jack by about an inch first, then using the sump jack to lower the unit down onto the rear jack until the cylinder head was resting against the bulkhead.

Rear GBox Mount
Rear gearbox cross-member – attached via four nuts/bolts

 

After the unit had been lowered and was self-supporting against the bulkhead I completely removed the cross-member from the gearbox (actually it fell off as the rear mount had disintegrated – luckily I have a good Mackay replacement from Chris Witor) and set about removing the various bolts which secured the gearbox to the engine backplate. Most of these are relatively easy to remove, although the top three or four require the use of one or more long socket extensions and a universal joint due to their difficult-to-access positions. In all removing the bolts was probably a half-hour job. The final four bolts to be removed were the two holding the clutch slave cylinder and the starter motor to the backplate. Be prepared for the weight of the starter motor when you remove its bolts as it is a surprisingly heavy beast and your head is likely to be somewhere beneath it!

At this stage the gearbox is free to be dropped from the car. To do this I removed the cup from my large trolley jack and positioned it underneath the gearbox so that the sump plug of the ‘box was located in the resulting hole. Using the long  trolley jack handle from the front of the car I gently eased the ‘box backwards until it was free from the engine and lowered it to the ground. Due to the height of the car from the ground and as I may one day need to rebuild this box I placed some timber and polystyrene beneath the ‘box in case the worst happened and it fell from the jack. This came in handy as due to the imbalance of the ‘box on the jack it became easier to roll the ‘box from the jack and gradually remove timber until it was resting on the ground.

Dropped
My patent-pending timber and polystyrene gearbox catcher

 

And just like that the first stage of the gearbox replacement was complete. The garage was locked up and I went indoors to enjoy a cup of tea and a shower whilst musing the prospect that I would not have the wonders of gravity to assist me when using my less-than-muscular arms to fit the new, even heavier overdrive gearbox…

An inferior interior – Part 2.

Whilst mechanical work is being undertaken to make the car more driveable (further posts to follow shortly), I’m also continuing with some less messy tasks to make the interior a nicer place to be. Whilst it’s not the worst car I’ve ever sat in, there are a few glaring issues which would ideally be fixed before the car is pushed into regular use – namely the very cracked dashboard, the ripped headlining, the sagging front seats and a lingering less-than-fresh odour which seems to be emanating from the carpets.

Whilst I am still exploring options regarding the first two tasks (including the seemingly herculean task of replacing the headlining), I was however in a position to do something about the latter two – the seats and carpets.

For those with a keen memory (or at least the ability to scroll), you will be aware that I replaced the original ripped and mismatched front seats a few months ago with a much better pair I sourced from a guy in Tasmania. Whilst the vinyl is in great condition, the rubber diaphragms which sit underneath the foam seat squabs had perished meaning that much of the support that British Leyland had originally engineered into this fine piece of in-car furniture had been lost.

The picture below shows the better of the two original diaphragms (I was a bit hasty about removing and disposing of the worst one before thinking of taking a photo) and how it has perished and split in many of the places where it is attached to the seat frame. The diaphragm from the driver’s side, which was the worst of the two, had split along the entire length of its rear edge leaving virtually no support between the seat foam and the car floor.

Split diaphragm
Perished original seat diaphragm

 

Until relatively recently these diaphragms had been unavailable to buy new and, in lieu of finding un-perished NOS replacements, I have read quite a few stories of innovative owners piling books, pieces of timber or even bricks beneath the seats to restore some of the lost support. Luckily, a few years back, Chris Witor had managed to get these re-manufactured in high quality rubber so this is no longer the issue it once was – I duly purchased a pair and set about fitting them to my existing seats.

The diaphragms are held onto the seat base by 12 metal clips which, once the diaphragm is perished and slack, are pretty easy to remove with a pair of long-nose pliers. It’s worth bearing in mind that some of these might be missing – especially if your existing diaphragms are perished to the point of splitting – so you might want to source a few more in advance if this is the case with yours.

Old diaphragm
One old, split and largely unserviceable diaphragm – the other one was worse

 

Whilst removing the metal clips is simple enough, using them to fit new, un-perished diaphragms is a little trickier as in order to provide proper support for the seat base, the diaphragm needs to be stretched taut across the seat frame – securing the first few clips is easy, but to get the final clips in place the diaphragm needs to both be stretched laterally and pushed inwards towards the seat foam at the same time as inserting the clip into the hole in the seat frame. This task gets progressively more difficult as more clips are inserted and things tighten up.

A second pair of hands would definitely have helped with this task but as my better half was not available at the time I found that heating the new diaphragms with a hair drier prior to fitting helped me to stretch and contort them just enough to finish the job – although getting the final couple of clips in place prompted the use of some choice language and left my fingers feeling a little on the bruised side for a while afterwards.

The new diaphragms transform the seats completely – they’re nice and firm as BL intended and offer a noticeable amount more support than they did with the perished ones. The new diaphragms also feel equally as good quality, if not better, than the originals so will hopefully last a good few years.

New diaphragm
New diaphragm fitted, support restored!

 

With the seats removed from the car, it was disturbingly obvious that the carpets were in a bit of a state – once an opulent shade of coppery-brown that personified everything that was good/bad* about the 1970s (*delete as applicable), they had taken on a distinctly murky grey tint and exuded the odour of 40 years worth of stale cigarette smoke and general filth. Running a hand over the pile (albeit probably unwisely) left a surprisingly greasy film – I’m not sure if this was from past maintenance or the result of several decades of engine and gearbox fumes seeping into the cabin. Either way something had to be done.

I’m no particular stranger to filthy cars – I have bought my fair share of bargain basement runabouts in the past and have always managed to bring even the shittiest of cabins up to a level of cleanliness that approaches acceptable. My product of choice for this task is Autoglym’s Interior Shampoo which is now available in Australia (about $16 from Supercheap Auto).

cis500_interior_shampoo_base-min_1__2_1__1_.png
Revives even the shittiest of car interiors

 

It’s easy to use – simply spray lightly over the area to be cleaned, scrub with a clean, damp cloth and repeat if required – and can be used on carpets, upholstery, plastics, headlinings etc. It works wonders (the evidence of which will be present in your bucket of water) and leaves a pleasant yet subtle new-car (ish) fragrance.

Whilst my well-used carpets were never going to be returned to their factory-fresh state, this stuff lived up to my expectations and significantly improved the look and smell of the soft finishes inside my car. The photo below shows a before/after shot taken mid-treatment. The passenger side of the car closest to the camera together with the gearbox tunnel had been cleaned, the slightly depressing greyer area furthest from the camera (complete with somewhat concerning blood-type stain) had not.

Before and after
Before and after – quite a difference

 

In total the cleaning produced six buckets of filthy and rather greasy water from the carpets.

dirty-water.jpg
About a sixth of the carpet filth/patina – notice greasy tide mark

 

After being left to dry overnight and given a quick vacuum to restore the pile, I was very happy with the result. It looks ten times better, the interior smells much fresher than it did before and, best of all, there’s not even the slightest trace of blood left. Just the dash and headlining to sort now and it’ll be 100%. Well, 75% – but that’s probably the best I can hope for given my starting point.

Clean carpets
The finished article – you could eat your dinner off of it (although I wouldn’t recommend it)

 

I’ll leave the seats out for now until I have finished the gearbox swap as I feel they are safer inside the house than in the car whilst I’m fiddling around with it. It’s very spacious in there without them though and I must admit to having a cheeky beer in the back seat the other day whilst planning out the next few jobs to do. It was like being in a limousine. A terrifying, driverless limousine with blood-stained carpets…

A wheely good upgrade.

The previous owner fitted two new front tyres to my car just before I bought it but whilst my rear tyres still had most of the tread they left the factory with, according to their date stamps they were manufactured in 1997 and therefore were well overdue to be replaced – I don’t like the idea of driving around on 20 year old rubber, regardless whether it looks OK or not. New tyres were therefore on the cards.

Wheels - old
Old steel wheels with dented hubcaps

A few months previously I procured a decent set of 14” Stag/S alloys so I decided it was time to put them into service on the car, although it meant buying four new tyres instead of two. Luckily the local Tyreright was running a ‘4 for the price of 3’ special on BF Goodrich Advantage TA tyres so I decided to go with those.

Whilst I’m aware of the classic BF Goodrich all-terrain tyre with the white writing on the sidewalls, I’ve not really heard much about their range for passenger vehicles. Still, being a fairly major brand of tyre, I felt happier going with those than the unknown budget alternatives like Goodride, Winrun etc that I could have picked up for the same price. Plus, four branded tyres supplied, balanced and fitted for under $300 was too good a deal to turn down.

Wheels - new
The end result – what a transformation

First impressions are they’re nice tyres – although if I’m honest I’m not sure how well the fairly funky tread pattern suits a classic car. It’s not really a major concern to at this stage though as I have bigger things to worry about on the appearances front, like the shocking paintwork.

Wheels - tread
Funky tread pattern would perhaps suit moderns better

Based on what I have read about the most suitable tyres for these rims, I decided to go with 185/70/R14s as fitted to the Stag, the other option being the slightly narrower 175/70/R14s which would have been closer to what was originally fitted on the 2500S with these wheels. In the end I decided I preferred the slightly chunkier look of the 185s, although opinion seems to be divided as to which profile will offer the better grip.

Wheels - close
A bit of peeling lacquer here and there – I’ll sort that out at some point

The rims need a bit of a refurb, which I will get round to when all of the more important jobs have been done, but all in all I’m really happy with the transformation – the wheels maketh the car, or so they say.

A deadline has been set.

Not too much has been happening in the garage in recent months – this is due to the arrival of a new, miniature, member of the household who somehow requires even more love, care, attention and constant fettling than a 40 year old Triumph. Things have finally started to settle down a little bit so I’ve been finding odd moments to sneak out into the garage whilst I think the wife is otherwise preoccupied.

I’ve decided to set myself a target date for getting the beast up and running to an extent where it can be used for longer runs. As an incentive to complete the long ‘to-do’ list I’ve registered myself and the car for the forthcoming McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic car event in April. In case you’ve not heard of it, the event is a day-long classic and vintage car festival held in the McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia (about a 45 minute drive south of Adelaide). The day starts on the main street of McLaren Vale with a parade of over 500 cars which then gather at different wineries around local area, grouped by marque. The public can then tour the participating wineries and enjoy some wine, food and live music whilst indulging in a little classic car ogling. I have attended before as a spectator and it’s a great day out in a stunning part of South Australia.

Whilst I’m pretty certain that mine will be one of the least outwardly presentable vehicles in the parade, I’m determined it will at least be able to hold its own at a basic mechanical level. Therefore the list of jobs needing to be completed over the next ten and a half weeks currently stands as follows:

  • Re-register car under the new South Australian historic rego scheme
  • Fit spin-on oil filter kit and change oil
  • Check oil level in diff and undertake other routine lubrication as per schedule
  • Bed in new brakes
  • Buy and fit four news tyres for stag alloys
  • Fit new overdrive gearbox to replace existing, noisy non-OD box
  • Replace clutch whilst the ‘box is out
  • Wire up the overdrive
  • Fix non-working hazard lights
  • Stop coolant leak around thermostat housing
  • Fit new door seal on rear offside
  • Refit dashboard timber

So, having found a cheeky hour to spend in the garage I decided to tick off one of the simpler jobs on the list – the fitting of the spin-on oil filter conversion kit.

I’d already picked up the kit a few months previously as part of a larger parts order from Chris Witor in the UK. It is comprised of a cast alloy adaptor which screws to the engine block and two O-rings, the larger outer ring which is the same as that used on the existing canister and a smaller inner ring which seals the incoming unfiltered oil from the outgoing filtered oil.

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The new Chris Witor-supplied kit

The kit replaces the older canister and paper filter arrangement which, whilst just as effective at filtering, can be a messy and fiddly affair to change and does not have a non-return valve so therefore allows the oil within the canister to drain back into the sump leading to a delay in building up oil pressure on cold starts. Another bonus for me being outside of the UK is that I can buy compatible spin-on filters at my local motor spares place, rather than either shipping from the UK or paying through the nose locally for the old-style inserts.

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The old and fiddly cannister filtration system

Fitting the adaptor was relatively easy – the first step is to remove the existing canister filter. Technically the sump does not need to be drained for this process but I was due an oil change anyway so away it went. Once the oil was drained I cleaned up the mating surfaces of the block and also removed the existing outer O-ring from its channel. This is a step which is apparently often overlooked – leaving the existing O-ring in place will not allow the adaptor to seal properly so worth ensuring it is done before you waste good oil on redoing the job. I applied a smear of new oil to both the new inner and outer O-rings and fitted to their respective channels in the adaptor and block respectively (the smear of oil also helps the inner O-ring to stay in place whilst the adaptor is being fitted).

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The block oil filter mounting surface – note groove for O-ring

Once the O-rings are in place, and taking care to ensure that the inner ring does not fall out, the adaptor is simply screwed into the block using the hole which was previously used for the canister bolt. Once in place but not tight, the adaptor can be turned to the required orientation for the screw-in filter. Ideally this should be mounted vertically so that gravity holds any oil within the filter whilst the car is not in use but I had two problems with this approach: 1) The hydraulic hose protruding from the clutch slave cylinder and 2) the housings for the oil pressure relief valve and the oil pressure switch – both severely limited mounting options. I therefore went with a temporary near-horizontal mounting of the filter as shown in the picture below – this will be rectified when I’ve got the clutch slave cylinder out for the forthcoming gearbox change.

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New adaptor and oil filter mounted nearly horizontally – temporarily

Once in the required position the adaptor can be tightened onto the block surface via the central bolt. The manufacturer did not provide a tightening torque for this bolt but being an alloy casting I wouldn’t go too crazy with the spanners. Tight enough to hold it in place and seal against leaks without risking cracking the casting or, worse, stripping the thread from the block.

After fitting the new adaptor and filter, I refilled with approximately 5 litres of Castrol’s finest. As the new filter would take a little time to fill and therefore for oil pressure to build up, I removed the king lead from the dizzy and cranked the engine until the oil light was extinguished. I then fired the car up briefly and all was good – no weird noises or gushing lubricant. Checking the garage floor the next day showed no drips but the true test will be after the car’s been on a long run and the oil’s hot and thin. Watch this space (or the garage floor)…

IMG_20180204_121115018_HDR
Castrol GTX 20W-50