Keeping on keeping on…

I’m not sure if there is something in the water at the moment or perhaps at the ripe old age of 38 I have finally attained peak physical and mental efficiency but unusually I have been on a bit of a roll in terms of ticking Triumph-related jobs off of the to-do list. Speaking of the to-do list by the way, I have actually committed the must-finish jobs to a whiteboard now, so they absolutely have to be done and then neatly crossed-off. That’s the rule with whiteboard lists…

The whiteboard makes it official.

Some of the jobs are quick and easy fixes, others will take a little while longer and involve me getting dirty and sweaty. Obviously I’m the type of person to pick off the easy stuff first in order to to give myself an over-inflated sense of achievement and worth (hence the optimistic opening sentence to this post).

One of the easiest yet also most satisfying jobs on the list is to swap the interior over from the parts car – as a reminder, here is the current state of the white car’s passenger decks:

The previous owner obviously liked to travel in style.

Whilst it has good elements it’s not exactly in tip-top condition. I love the red seats and door cards, and they seem to be quite rare on the 2500S – but the driver’s seat is in poor condition, with the squab ripped and collapsed, and a split seam on the backrest. I believe the original interior was bone velour – so it sports light brown vinyl trim around the gear stick and on the B and C pillars as well as on the parcel shelf, whilst the carpet is also brown. Not really a classic combo with the red seats. Speaking of carpets, the one in the white car has seen much better days and is ripped, worn and stained throughout. The wood door cappings in the white car are all deteriorated to various degrees – all have peeling lacquer, a couple have peeling or missing veneer and are not really salvageable

I had toyed with the idea of keeping the red interior – but this would have involved either sourcing a replacement driver’s seat, or getting the existing one re trimmed and also replacing the carpet with either red or black to complement the red seats. This would take time and $$$ that I don’t have, so in the end I decided to opt for the quick and free decision of swapping the very good brown interior from the parts car into the white car and to put the red seats and door cards up for sale.

The first job was to remove the interior from the white car and store it away for safe keeping until it is sold (crusty old carpets excepted – they will be dropped at arms length into the nearest bin). Four bolts hold each of the two front seats in place and, once removed, they can be lifted straight out of the car – taking care not to scrape the vinyl against any sharp objects (I learned a hard lesson about this through a previous car). It’s worth noting that there is a spacer at each of the four mounting points which should be collected and set aside. The rear seats come out in two parts – the base is held in place by two screws at the bottom of its front panel, whilst the rear section has two screws along its bottom edge, which can be accessed only when the base section has been pulled out.

Interior Stripped
This is already an improvement.

Door card removal is equally as easy – the two large screws holding the door handles to the door must be removed, as should the window winder handle. The latter is held in place by a retaining pin – to access this the black trim piece should be gently levered towards the door, at which point the pin can be pushed out of its hole with a thin rod (be careful with these as they’re small and easy to lose). With the window winder removed, the clips holding the door card to the door can be carefully levered out. To avoid damaging the delicate door cards it is best to use a proper trim-prying tool for this:

Save yourself the pain of damaged trim with one of these.

In my case the door cards had aftermarket speakers fitted, which involved the removal of a small amount of wiring from the door, but this is likely not the case in most cars.

The carpets come out in several pieces – the floor mats in the driver’s and passenger’s footwells are individual sections, each with its own rubber and foam insulating pad – which I retained as they were in good condition. The main section of carpet covers the rear footwells and the floorpan beneath the front seats – with the seats and rear floor-level air vent trim pieces removed this can just be pulled out, although it needs to be fed over the handbrake lever mid-journey. The sections covering the sills and the base of the rear seats is stuck on with contact adhesive, although in my case this was old and crusty and did not put up much of a fight. Your experience may vary.

Floorpans and sills are in great condition, if a little dusty.

I decided to leave the centre section of carpet (the bit which covers the gearbox tunnel) in place, as to replace it would require the removal of the centre console and possibly some under-dash gubbins relating to the heater controls etc. As it is the same colour as the carpet which will be transplanted into the car, and in a similar (if not slightly better) condition, it was not worth the hassle removing it. I just gave it a quick once over with upholstery cleaner and it came up a treat. Who says I’m an inefficient time waster? In your face multiple bosses!

Whilst the carpet was out I noticed that the wire to the handbrake warning light switch had broken off at the plug – it looked like it had possibly been repaired before and was subsequently now slightly too short so I cut a length from the parts car and soldered it into the white car, using a bit of heat-shrink to insulate the finished join. A quick test showed the previously non-working handbrake warning light was now functional once again, so that’s another item ticked off of the to-do list.

Handbrake wiring.jpg
A quick fix to the handbrake warning light wiring.

Refitting the interior was, as usual, the reverse of removal – the carpet sections salvaged from the parts car were carefully glued down with spray-on contact adhesive, whilst the wood door cappings and door cards were swapped over and clipped/screwed into place. The last and heaviest pieces of the jigsaw puzzle were the front and rear seats – each taking up its respective place within the car. And what a transformation…

Interior front
So much nicer in here…

The new interior completely changes the feel of the car from a down-at-heel wreck to a comfy and usable classic. As per previous blog posts, I had recently spent some time cleaning the brown interior so it still felt and smelled as fresh as a daisy. The new diaphragms which I had fitted to the seats made them comfortable and supportive, quite a change from the saggy, cushion-filled driver’s seat the car had been sporting since I brought it home.

Interior rear2.jpg
…and the smell’s gone.

The more eagle-eyed of you will have noticed that I have kept the bone-coloured vinyl on the B and C pillars, as well as on the rear parcel shelf. I had planned to re-trim this with new brown vinyl but it is so much less obvious with a brown interior fitted than it was with the red one that I don’t really think it looks that out of place any more. If this turns out to really bug me then I can revisit it down the line – but at the moment there are higher priorities than this.

Whilst the interior was out I did take the opportunity to replace the front seat belts with new Securon items, purchased a few months ago from Rimmers. The belts in my car were showing signs of fraying and did no longer feel as supple as seatbelts usually do. Plus with 40 years of exposure to the high UV levels here in Oz, and the unknown history of the car in terms of accidents etc, I can see no argument for not changing them. The 500/15 model of belt costs about $60 (£35) per side and is a direct replacement for the existing belts in the 2500 – well worth it for peace of mind.

Seatbelt box
Better safe than sorry.

Rimmers had a couple of options listed for the 2500 – including ones with longer stalks and also ones with the electrical connections for the seatbelt warning sensors – but my car does not have these fitted so I chose the slightly cheaper ones with the 15cm flat metal stalks.

Seatbelt old
Would you trust this 40 year old belt with your life?

Fitting was really easy – the inertia unit and belt swivel brackets are attached to the inner sill and B pillar respectively by single bolts (19mm from memory). The new unit can be attached into exactly the same fittings – I reused the same bolts to ensure they were fully compatible with the captive threads in the car. The new clasps also use the same fitting as the original ones, although I had to use a couple of (supplied) brackets to get the spacing and orientation right.

Seatbelt clasps.jpg
New clasps shown pre-tightening – hence weird angle.

All in all I’ve very happy with the fit and operation of the new belts – and I know they are strong and safe, unlike the unknown quantity that was the old ones. In a car with next to no crash protection in comparison to a modern vehicle, this is literally the least I can do to improve safety in the event of a collision.

Seatbelt new
Clunk-click every trip.

I haven’t yet tackled the rear belts – mainly due to budget. I don’t plan on carrying any rear seat passengers in the near future so this doesn’t concern me too much at this stage.

A couple of other jobs ticked off the to-do list in the last couple of weeks were tackling the inoperative brakes – I have swapped over the new master cylinder from the parts car to replace the non-functioning unit in the white car and also swapped over the front calipers from the parts car which had new hoses and pads (it was easier just to swap the entire units than to faff around with rebuilding the ones in the white car and having to contend with possible stuck pistons, degraded seals etc). The horrible green brake fluid was replaced with new DOT 3 and bled through the system. At this stage I have not swapped the new slave cylinders and shoes over from the parts car as a) I need to keep the parts car’s handbrake operational, b) the white car’s rear brakes are functioning well so c) I can’t be arsed with so much else to do. I will keep a good eye out for leaking cylinders etc and the rear brakes will be addressed in the near future.

Brake mcyl.jpg
New master cylinder in place on the white car.

I’ll save you the write-up of the brake work as I covered this in a recent blog post for the blue car – just before it was officially downgraded to the parts car.

Another quick job was to replace the cracked radiator expansion bottle with the one from the parts car – they were of slightly different styles with different brackets, so this involved some drilling and re-riveting on my part. The new one is not the prettiest but fits nicely and is at least watertight. I even treated it to a new length of hose to replace the hard brown stuff that the car came with.

Expansion btl
Not sexy, but functional.

Next on the list is to get the engine up and running – if it does run that is. If not, I’ll need to swap over the known good unit from the parts car. Keeping my fingers crossed for the easy option here…

Tanks for the memories.

A couple of months have passed since my last update on the white car and, somewhat surprisingly, plenty has been done in that time. Of course, along the way more issues requiring attention have been unearthed and added to the jobs list, but that’s pretty much par for the course when dealing with 40 year old British automotive technology.

The last post ended with one of those ‘what the hell will I find in my crusty old fuel tank’ cliffhangers. Teased almost to breaking point by the suspense I set about removing it so that I could have a good peer inside. The tank is surprisingly simple to access and subsequently remove – the boot trim needs to be removed (mine was held in place by an interesting assortment of self-tapping screws) after which the tank appears in all its glory nestled just behind the rear seat.

Behold the beauty.

Before removing the tank, the gubbins connecting it to the car need to be detached. In no particular order there is the filler hose, the breather hose, the outlet pipe and the fuel gauge sender unit. None of these gave too much trouble – although it’s worth noting that removing the rear seat provides much better access to the clamps holding the filler hose onto the tank inlet. The sender unit is held in place by a circular retaining ring – it is released by simply driving it anti-clockwise via a rubber mallet and a flat-headed screwdriver located carefully on its lugs until it can be pulled free (taking care to feed the float mechanism out through the hole without damaging it). The tank itself is held in place by four bolts – two at either end. Once removed, the tank can be carefully extracted from the car.

no tank
The easy route to greater luggage space.

Surprisingly, given the build up of sediment in my fuel filter, the tank appeared to be in pretty good condition. There was hardly any sediment in the bottom and very little in the way of surface rust, either inside or out. The tank did yield one surprise – a yellow plastic nozzle from a fuel can which must have fallen into its petrolly grave many moons ago. Given its potential to block the fuel outlet it was removed and added to my rapidly expanding ‘strange things I have found hidden in the white car’ collection (I’ll probably have enough to dedicate an entire blog post to this at a later date).

The car is gradually giving up its sordid little secrets.

Whilst the tank gained a fairly clean bill of health, the fuel gauge sender did not get away quite so squeaky clean – the float was half full of fuel so obviously had a hole in it somewhere. I checked the float in the parts car to see if it could be swapped over but unfortunately it was in the same sad condition so I ordered a new one online. Luckily floats for these Smiths sender units are fairly common between British cars of the era so I could buy one from my local Mini spares retailer instead of having to wait for international delivery.

New float vs old float (yes I did remove the attached fluff before fitting)

Once the float was replaced, I refitted the tank and its associated bits and bobs – having robbed the sender unit locking ring from the parts car to replace the rather mangled one on the white car. In hindsight I could have got away with not removing the tank at all but as least now I have the peace of mind of knowing that it’s not full of gunk or rust or plastic yellow nozzles.

With the tank replaced, I turned my attention to the rest of the fuel system – the first job being to clean up the mess that was my fuel pump. I carefully removed the worst of the sediment with a screwdriver before blasting away the remnants from the pump body with a tin of carb cleaner. The filter was gently cleaned in petrol to avoid damaging the gauze. I replaced all of the rubber fuel hoses with high-quality Gates Barricade R14 fuel hose (not forgetting the short length attached to the tank outlet). Australian unleaded does not presently contain ethanol like UK fuel does so problems associated with prematurely degrading fuel hoses don’t seem to be as rife here, but it pays to future-proof. To complete my rebuild of the fuel system the newly-rebuilt carbs were fitted, which look great – even if I do say so myself.

Mmmmm – minty fresh carbs.

Next in line for a good groping by my wandering hands was the ignition system, which you may remember from my previous ramblings had issues involving melted wire. Being a later 2500, the car is fitted with a ballast ignition system which means it runs a 6v coil instead of a 12v coil. During normal running a ballasted circuit feeds the coil with 6v, whilst a second un-ballasted circuit runs from the starter motor which feeds the coil with a full-fat 12v when cranking. The idea is to temporarily provide a bigger spark when starting the car, thus helping to overcome cold start issues. A good idea really.

Instead of an old-school ballast resistor, by the late 70s Triumph were using a length of ballasted wire to feed the coil – this made for a neater installation and, let’s face it, it was probably cheaper too. Sadly, 40 years of resisting the passage of electrons had rendered it a twisted mess of melted insulation and wire, most likely earthing out sporadically at various points along its length. The car can’t have been running well when it arrived at the breakers yard.


Luckily the rest of the engine bay loom had been spared from damage by the self-destructing ballast wire, so I had no further work to do other than deciding how best to reinstate this circuit. The options were to a) fit a new length of ballasted wire b) try to re-sleeve the existing ballasted wire c) fit a length of normal wire, do away with the ballast resistor and fit a 12v coil instead or d) fit a length of normal wire and a separate ballast resistor. Option A would involve sourcing a new length of wire of the right length and resistance, plus knowing that it might go all melty again and take out half the loom with it, Option B would require me to unwrap the loom both in the engine bay and behind the dashboard and Option C would potentially cause cold starting issues. I therefore chose sensible Option D and put in an order for a ballast resistor, which I mounted neatly next to the coil.

The ballast resistor in its new home.

The melted remnants of the ballasted wire were carefully chopped out of the loom and a new length of 15A white wire (in keeping with the BL wiring colour scheme of the day) was run from the ballast resistor back through the grommet in the nearside end of the bulkhead and down to the car’s fuse box. From there I piggybacked onto the fused white circuit, which is live whenever the ignition is switched on.

The shadowy origins of the coil ignition circuit.

All in all it looks pretty neat and cost less than $30 to fix. All that remains is to tidy up the engine bay wiring by re-wrapping with some loom tape but I’ll spare you the blog post on that one…