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 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.

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:

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 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…