The brakes broke.

Well, all was going swimmingly for a few months but whilst out on a quick run to check the carb setup progress got slower and slower until eventually the car would barely move under its own steam. The unmistakable smell of hot brakes from all four corners of the car suggested that there was a problem with the master cylinder – hardly surprising really for a car that had been pressed into service after many years sleeping.

Luckily for me, the problem came to a head when I was only 20 metres or so from the end of my driveway so, with the seemingly unbridled power of my newly-tuned engine, I was able to gently coerce the beast back into its garage where I must admit it sat for a couple of months whilst I ordered in some parts from the UK. On a side note: it’s generally much cheaper to import parts from the UK than it is to buy them in Australia from the few Triumph parts suppliers that exist here – even when the expensive international freight is taken into account.

Whilst the fact that the problem affected all four wheels at the same time strongly pointed towards the master cylinder as culprit, I did bear in mind other causes like the servo (or booster as they call it here), collapsed hoses, seized pistons etc. To save time and parts shipping delays/costs if I only addressed one issue I decided it was worthwhile giving the whole braking system a bit of an overhaul. To be honest it had been playing on my mind for a while due to the length of time that the car had been laid up so this was as good an excuse as any to get stuck in. My shopping list therefore included a brand new TRW master cylinder, flexi hoses, front pads, rear shoes, rear cylinders and an assortment of little bits and pieces needed for other jobs that had cropped up. Rimmer Brothers provided everything I needed and their international shipping isn’t exorbitantly priced and it’s fast. I know they are not always everyone’s first choice of supplier back in the UK but for overseas orders their comprehensive website and fast shipping makes things so easy. It’s probably the third order I have placed from overseas and haven’t had any problems to date with quality or incorrect parts.

New master cylinder vs old

The first job was to replace the master cylinder which was fairly easy in the grand scheme of things. Prior to removal I wanted to empty the reservoir of brake fluid to minimise spills – due to the lack of any suitable suction or siphoning device I decided to bleed this out with the help of the missus on the brake pedal. Whilst the front brakes bled easily thus emptying one half of the dual-circuit reservoir, the rears would not bleed at all – presumably due to a dodgy or stuck seal somewhere in the cylinder. On the plus side at least this confirmed that this was most likely the cause of the stuck brakes. In the end I opted to just remove the cylinder with the reservoir half full with some carefully placed polythene used to protect my (albeit rather dodgy) paintwork from any spills.

Just two bolts hold the cylinder to the booster, once these and the two hydraulic pipes are undone then the cylinder can simply be pulled away. The cylinder piston and inside of the booster looked nice and dry which means the faulty seals at least did not allow fluid to escape from the system entirely and ruin the booster.

Cylinder out
Master cylinder out, drip tray and sheeting to protect paintwork

Fitting the new cylinder is pretty much just the reverse of the removal procedure – I put a blob of grease on the end of the pushrod first to prevent any wear as the years pass. Hydraulic unions were tightened carefully – I worked by the rule of tightening until there was resistance and then nipping up another 1/8 to 1/4 turn. I haven’t had any problems to date with other cars on which I’ve worked so I used the same method here.

Cylinder in
Clean, shiny and hopefully functional

Whilst I was pretty sure the new cylinder would solve the problem I set about taking a look at the rest of the system to ensure everything else was in order. The flexi hoses, whilst not obviously perished from a quick glance, looked old enough to be original so I swapped those out for a new set. My preference would have been to fit a set of steel braided hoses but my budget would only stretch to replacement rubber ones – time will tell how the quality compares to the old ones. Removing the hoses was fairly easy – one benefit of such a dry climate is that there are far fewer seized fixings to deal with than I had been used to in the UK.

Old Hose Front
Old vs new hoses. Just in case you’re wondering – yes, I was using axle stands…

The other benefit of a dry climate is that the brake pipes themselves were in good condition with no signs of corrosion or seeping so were left in place. On close inspection a couple of the old rubber hoses showed signs of perishing when bent so it was well worth swapping them out now.

I had made the decision a little while ago to replace the front pads and rear shoes on the car, despite neither being worn to the point that they really needed to be replaced. This will probably divide opinion given the strong affiliation towards NOS items among the Triumph community but I really do not like the thought of asbestos dust being constantly generated and deposited on my garage floor and accumulating on components which I will be fiddling with for years to come. I’m aware the risks of low-level infrequent exposure are minimal but I would rather remove the risk entirely than live with a small risk indefinitely. I wore a P2 mask during any work around the friction material and kept everything dampened with a water spray to minimise dust becoming airborne and to remove built up dust from components (yep, I’m weirdly paranoid about this stuff). It will be interesting to see how the new brakes compare with the old brakes, which were really rather good – until they seized.

The front pads were addressed first. These are easy to remove – the two guide pins are pulled out (with the split ends being closed up first) and then the pads can just be pulled out of the caliper. Interestingly, whilst most UK cars have Lockheed calipers, mine and many other AU/NZ cars use Girlock ones. Apparently the Girlock brand was born from a joint venture between Lockheed and Girling required to meet regulations that required a certain percentage of locally manufactured parts to be used on AU/NZ assembled cars. The calipers are entirely different so it is important that the correct parts are used – I had to obtain the front pads locally as Rimmer Bros did not stock them (although Chris Wittor does).

Old Pads Front
Old front brake pads – approx 5mm friction material left

At this point I decided to pull the calipers off the car (much easier if the bolts holding the suspension upright to the hub are also loosened) and take a quick peek at the pistons under the dust cover to check their condition and renew if necessary. However, this showed there was no fluid leaking past the seals and no corrosion to the pistons so I chose keep the originals in place to save a bit of time and money – I can revisit this at a later date if needed. Fitting the new pads was straightforward – the caliper pistons were compressed with a clamp (and proved to be un-seized) and the new pads installed in place of the old. Ideally I would have fitted new guide pins but I forgot to order these so reused the old ones. Corrosion was minimal so hopefully this won’t cause any problems. The existing discs are in good order with very minimal scoring so these remained in place.

New Pads Front
New pads fitted – note Aussie Girlock caliper

I had originally planned to use mid-range Bendix branded pads but due to a mix-up with the order I ended up with TransGold ones instead. I was going to return them but some googling indicated they actually seem to have a good reputation for a budget kevlar pad among the Holden community so I’m going to give them a go. They’re easy to swap out again if they prove to be dud.

The rear brakes were next. Popping off the drums showed that they had obviously received some attention shortly before the car was taken off the road as the shoes were virtually new but due to aforementioned reasons I decided to replace them anyway (I have kept them as spares in case I change my mind). This recent brake work meant the drums were easy enough to remove – although the nearside one required a little bit of persuasion due to what turned out to be a seized wheel cylinder holding one of the shoes in place (releasing the self-adjusting mechanism did not help here).

After unclipping the handbrake cable from its lever I stripped the brakes down, making a careful note of the location of the springs (the top one goes behind the shoes) and gave everything a good clean with some brake cleaner. I removed the cylinders and, as mentioned above, the nearside one had a seized piston which I could not work free, so were due to be replaced anyway. They most likely had seen minimal mileage but sadly the long time spend off the road had not agreed with them. Fitting the new cylinders is a mixed bag – offering the unit up to the car is the easy bit, but installing the funny little dished e-clips to hold them securely against the backplate (without breaking the clip) is annoyingly fiddly. As luck would have it, these clips are the same as used on Minis and a tool exists to fit them. Even luckier, whilst there are no Triumph parts suppliers in close range, there is a very good Mini spares company in Adelaide (Minisport) who had the tool in stock and do next day delivery for local orders. I therefore bit the bullet and ordered the tool online to make my life easier.

Clip Tool
The brake cylinder clip tool that will save your sanity and knuckles

The tool is really easy to use – it threads into the hydraulic inlet of the cylinder and a new clip is inserted over the top of the tapered section of the tool. As the nut is tightened, the outer section pushes the clip downwards over the tapered section, spreading it gently as it moves. As the outer section of the tool hits the backplate the clip can be heard to click into place with all three tabs neatly located in the groove around the cylinder inlet. This tool saved much swearing and means I’ll never have to worry about whether the clips are doing their job or not.

After the cylinders are fitted, building up the rear brakes is a simple reversal of the removal process – although getting the springs in place can be a little frustrating. Before the drums were refitted I made sure the self-adjusting mechanisms were completely retracted.

Rear Brakes Done
Rear brakes completed (minus shoe retaining pins and springs)

All that was left to do after this was to refit the wheels and bleed the system through. I used DOT 3 fluid and a Gunson Eezlibleed fed from a bike tyre inflated to about 10psi – I wanted to use a pressure-bleeding method rather than pumping the new cylinder as I didn’t really like the idea of un-lubricated piston seals moving in the cylinder bore during those first few pumps before brake fluid made its way completely through the system. I sacrificed the old master cylinder lid for use with the Eezlibleed which made for an airtight seal on the first attempt.

After the bleeding was complete, the brake pedal proved to be nice and firm and the rear brake self adjusters could be heard ratcheting into place on both sides – I have read that this is best done before the handbrake cable is reconnected.

All in all the system appears to have been successfully overhauled. The car is currently out of rego as I await the changed to the South Australian historic rego scheme to kick into place on 1st July but as soon as she’s legal again I’ll bed-in the brakes and report back.

Next job – finish the tuning that was rudely interrupted by the brake problem.


An inferior interior…

I’ve managed so source a few spare parts from Tassie thanks to a Triumph 2000 Register forum contributor – I was lucky enough to get a great set of front seats in the right colour vinyl which I can just bolt right in. I need to pick up a couple of new diaphragms from Chris Wittor first as the driver’s one’s gone and the passenger one is following close behind but other than that and a tiny bit of wear to the piping on the driver’s seat bolster they’re perfect. Have got them sitting loosely in place at the moment and the difference is remarkable.


Someone seems to have had fun on these

vs New:

New rip-less front seats

I have also decided that as the car’s now technically an S then it should look like one. I have sourced an S front grille and steering wheel from Tassie and have built up a great S dash using a load of spare dash parts that the guy I bought the car from included in the sale.

The new dash in place, fully functional and looking good

Building the dash was pretty simple but, although both the original dash and the spare S dash I used as a base to build the new one were both from facelift cars, it wasn’t quite as plug and play as I would have hoped. Whilst all of the wiring was identical between models and the same style rubber connection plugs were used, the rubber plugs were laid out in completely different configurations between the dashes. In the end I cut the plugs off of the old TC dash and soldered onto the new S dash loom. Luckily the wiring for the tacho was already present in the car’s main loom so no extra wiring was needed here – I carefully cut a notch in the respective rubber plug to allow me to plug the bullet connector from the dash loom straight into the main loom to avoid having to do any soldering on the under-dash wiring.

My limited soldering skills were unexpectedly called into action

The new dash looks much better and the tacho’s a great asset. Now I just need to either source the S centre panel for the clock, or carefully drill the one I have. The radio panel looks to be a bit of a homemade plywood bodge so that’s on the cards to be replaced too…


Oh, I also played around with the warning cluster thingy as a couple of the colours didn’t seem logical – I changed the oil warning light from green to red as it’s far more noticeable in the daylight, I also changed the fuel warning light from red to yellow and the same with the handbrake light. I know the handbrake light should technically be red but yellow sits better with me as it’s more of an advisory light than an urgent warning in my opinion. I love these clusters – one of my earliest childhood memories was sitting in my grandparent’s Dolomite, being utterly fascinated by the colourful dashboard light display. The other Dolomite-related memory of poking my finger into the glowing orange dashboard light wasn’t so fun. Turns out it was the cigarette lighter which I’d been playing with whilst being left unattended in the car on a holiday to the Isle of Wight. Parents in the 80s were much less health and safety conscious obviously.

Anyway, I digress.

Other jobs to do in the short term are to sort out the worn front strut top mount, and do something about the mess of a headlining:


I’m not particularly looking forward to that particular job. I will probably leave it until the eventual respray as to replace it properly I think the front and rear screens will have to come out which I would like to do to avoid that dodgy paint on rubber look. Sourcing a replacement will be interesting.

Eventually I would like to complete the S conversion with the vinyl rear pillars (after the respray), the front cross member with anti-roll bar, power steering and the S front suspension (could do with a rebuild anyway). Oh and the windscreen washers need fixing. Although they’ve had a quick once-over and a bleed, I plan to give the brakes a proper look-over when I get round to fitting the set of 14′ S Alloys that I procured from, you guessed it, Tassie. This will be when I can afford tyres. I might swap out the 40-year old brake hoses for braided ones as a precaution.

The other big job will be the gearbox. It’s currently got the non-OD 4 speed but think I may have sourced a good replacement OD box.

Watch this space…

Six months later…

Well, to be honest, work on the 2500 has been relatively slow due to pesky house renovations getting in the way – however, a few small but significant areas of progress have been made.

My first priority was sorting out the rough running. I sent the dizzy off to Performance Ignition Services in Victoria for a full rebuild – it cost a couple of hundred bucks but I cannot fault the service. It was back within a week, looking great and as tight as a drum. I think the advance weights had probably been sticking prior to the rebuild as it was slow to return to idle rpm sometimes. Here’s the rebuilt unit in all its glory:

Meanwhile with the help of a CRK185 rebuild kit from SU Midel in NSW, I stripped rebuilt the carbs (SU HS6s). I have long suspected that either the jets or needles (or both) must have been significantly worn as I could not get the car to fire, let alone run, at the initial factory setting of winding the jets down by 2 full turns (12 flats) of their adjusting nuts from being level with the bridge of the carb. The only way I could get the car anything approaching tuned was at a setting where the jets were lowered only 1/6 of a turn (2 flats) down from the bridge. This to me would indicate worn needles or enlarged jets meaning that the carbs had to be set considerably leaner than usual to achieve an acceptable mixture. Whilst the car ran like this, based on the sooty plugs and accompanying misfiring it obviously wasn’t happy throughout the rev range so something had to be done. Also, the throttle spindles had quite a bit of play so a rebuild was on the cards anyway.

The rebuild was pretty straight-forward, I didn’t bother trying to tamper with the spindle bushes as I know that’s a specialist job – however, although it doesn’t look too bad in the picture below, the spindles did have a noticeable amount of wear so probably accounted for most of the play anyway.

Throttle spindle showing wear at bushing location

There’s still a tiny bit of play with the new spindles so it’ll need rebushing eventually but in the meantime this will have to do. I also replaced the needle valves, needles, jets and butterflies and checked the float heights etc. I haven’t gone all out with the polishing as you can see, but I think they look fine as they are for a car that certainly isn’t a show-winner.

A pair of successfully rebuilt HS6s

These HS6s have waxstat (or capstat as they’re known over here) jets – easily identified by their ‘top hat’ shape and lack of red plastic. The waxstat jets contain a little wax-filled copper cannister which, as the engine reaches operating temperature, is expanded by the heated wax whch lifts the jet slightly and thus leans out the mixture. Over time, it is thought that the properties of the wax changes which can result in an incorrect mixture. A kit does exist which can be used to convert the waxstat jets to the non-waxstat type but I have heard mixed things about the quality and ease of fitting. I therefore went for replacing the waxstat jets with new ones – If they start playing up then I’ll review the situation. There is another fix which involves removing the copper cannister from the jets and replacing with coins – this could be a cheap (4p to be exact) solution if required.

Waxstat on the left, non-waxstat on the right

I popped the rebuilt carbs back on the car and the difference is immense – have got it tuned much closer to the factory baseline setting (think the jets are adjusted about 14 flats down now as opposed to 2) and so far the plugs haven’t fouled again which is a good sign. It idles flat and lovely, the rebuilt dizzy is doing its job. I spent some time getting the linkages, choke and fast-idle settings right and it starts on the button now. Very pleased with progress in this area.

Am waiting on my old Colourtune to be posted over by family from the UK (as they’re surprisingly expensive to buy new) then will spend a little while longer getting the mixture just right (as I’ve never really got on 100% with the SU lifting pins). Will probably aim for a little bit of orange in the spark as this seems to be the general consensus. At the same time I’ll double check the timing (advance it until it pinks under load and then back off slightly) and valve clearances and then she should be sweet as a nut.

That’s the theory anyway.

In the beginning…

Welcome, whoever you are, to A Triumph in Adelaide.

It is on these very (albeit virtual) pages that I will attempt to blog about the ups and downs of being a Triumph 2500 owner in the capital city of the driest state in the driest continent of the world – Adelaide. That’s here by the way for those unfamiliar with this part of the world:adelaide_map

I moved Down Under a few years back because of, you guessed it, a girl. Having been a Spitfire owner for 4-5 years back in the UK (which I converted to a Spit6 – tremendous fun and a long, winding story which probably requires its own blog) I had been on the lookout for another one since my arrival on Antipodean shores. Unfortunately the things fetch a bloody fortune over here so that plan was put on ice pending a series of lucrative money-making schemes being devised and put into action. That’s still pending by the way.

But, a few months ago I saw a Triumph 2500 advertised for sale relatively close to home so I popped out to have a look. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest out there but having been used to rusty and welded UK cars I couldn’t pass by such a solid and original body. The deal was done and within a couple of weeks this fine beast was sitting in my garage.

The Beast

She’s a 2500 in a murky and very poor-condition metallic silver. The Aussie models didn’t get the cool 70s colours that the UK cars did but instead were finished in less funky Toyota colours of the day. Hence the silver.

The car had been off the road for many years (possibly a decade or two) prior to my purchase – by all accounts due to engine failure. It was due to be stripped for spares when the guy who I bought it from saved it with the view of putting it back on the road. One replacement engine later and here we are.

Replacement 2500S engine installed recently

Whilst the body is that of a 2500 TC, the replacement engine is from a 2500 S. Due to the length of time the car’s been off the road the chassis number wasn’t on the police database so they have registered it with the details from the replacement engine which was still on file. I guess it’s therefore a re-shelled S as opposed to a re-engined TC.

Condition-wise when I got her she scored top marks for structural integrity but had a few issues. The gearbox layshaft bearing is going so it whines in 1, 2 and 3, the front seats were both ripped beyond repair, the headlining has been cut across its width above the front seats (apparently the work of vandals when it was laid-up), one of the front strut top mounts needs replacing, the dash is cracked to buggery thanks to the Aussie sun, the indicators work intermittently, the dizzy shaft had considerable play and, whilst it ran well when I got it, after a few longer runs the plugs fouled with soot and it started misfiring badly indicating a rich running problem.

Body-wise, the edge of the boot lid is rusted through but other than a one inch hole on one of the outriggers and a 5mm hole at the front of one of the sills (which I am sure will end up bigger after a bit of prodding) this seems to be the only perforating rust on the car. There is a fair bit of surface rust and the paint job is cracked and peeling so has reached the end of its life.

Plenty to be getting on with then, but that was the point – I didn’t want a finished car, I wanted a project. And now I’ve certainly got one. And a slightly annoyed wife.