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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 as well as the housing for the oil pressure relief valve and the oil pressure switch severely limited mounting options and 2) Whilst I could have amended the routing of the clutch hydraulic hose to allow a vertical mounting, the fact that I was using a long oil filter worried me that a wayward piece of road debris could smash off the exposed filter leading to disastrous consequences. I therefore went with a near-horizontal mounting of the filter as shown in the picture below.
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)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Witor does).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Witor 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Rebuilt and looking snazzy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Door cards are in good nick
Front seats are a mess
Rear seats look unused
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.
Is it grey? Is it blue? It’s certainly shit.
Lip of boot lid is rusted through
Surprisingly solid bodywork
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.