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.

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.

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).

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.

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)…

Castrol GTX 20W-50