Cool runnings.

Well, another few weeks have passed and against all odds another few jobs have been ticked off of the to do list – the main focus this time round being the rather grotty cooling system which seemingly last saw anything that could be described as a ‘better day’ back in the late 1990s. The hoses were perished and swollen, the coolant a very dubious shade of brown and the fan belt, well actually the fan belt wasn’t too bad, but you get the gist of things.

Some replacement hoses were definitely the order of the day – luckily before its final journey to the scrap man the blue car generously donated the new top and bottom hoses which the previous owner had put on just before it came into my ownership. The remaining assortment of smaller hoses were sourced from Rimmer Brothers in the UK, as was a new thermostat and gasket.

Before fitting the hoses however, the system needed a thorough flush to remove the existing coolant and any associated sludge that had built up over the last 30-odd years. The system was drained by removing the bottom hose and both the radiator and block flushed and back-flushed several times until only clean water emerged. After removing the heater hoses and moving the heater controls to hot, the heater core had the same treatment (this yielded a particularly appetising pan of brown silty goo), as did the small diameter pipe that runs behind the carbs. I would have done the same with the steel water return pipe which runs behind the exhaust manifold but somewhat annoyingly this disintegrated in my hand when I removed the heater hose from its T junction.

Old Pipe Broken
There is supposed to be a pipe teeing off at this bend. Also note the silt.

Being a mild steel pipe, corrosion here is a common problem which many owners choose to rectify with a stainless steel replacement from Chris Witor. Given the fact that at this stage I was already cutting it fine in respect to my deadline of the 10th February All British Day, waiting a couple of weeks for a part to ship from the UK was a bit of an gamble so I decided to inspect the engine I had removed from the parts car just to see if its water pipe was at least serviceable enough to use as a stop-gap measure in the short term.

To my surprise, not only was the spare pipe in great condition but it was also copper rather than mild steel and therefore completely free from corrosion. I’m not sure if this is a bespoke item made by a previous owner or their garage (or their plumber) or whether these were readily available at some point. Either way it saved me a lot of time and worry (and money – the stainless item weighing in at around $80 including postage).

New Pipe
Once again the spares car saves the day!

Whilst I’d had some luck finding a replacement pipe, replacing it wasn’t quite as straight forward as I had hoped. The pipe is easily freed from the block – is is held on by a single bracket at the rearmost exhaust manifold stud, two heater hoses and a compression fitting at the water pump end (I’ve heard these compression fittings can be a pain to undo but mine didn’t put up a fight). Getting it out is less easy – certainly on the S model – as the power steering pump and bracket preclude it from being pulled straight off of the car.

After much wriggling around, trying to find that one sweet angle at which it would clear both the exhaust manifold, the power steering pump and the radiator, I gave up and decided the easiest option was to remove the manifolds to give myself a bit more room. Although not a task I had planned to do, it’s not the trickiest job in the world (providing you don’t encounter any non-compliant studs) and it gives great access to the coolant hoses at the rear of the block, thus making replacement a lot easier. Removal of the inlet manifold (complete with carbs) just requires the disconnection of the throttle and choke cables, a few fuel, vacuum and PCV hoses and nine nuts (six of which also hold the bottom of the exhaust manifold in place). Removal of a further 4 nuts frees the top of the exhaust manifold, which can then be pulled gently away from the head.

Manifolds Off
Access to various nooks and crannies drastically improved.

With the exhaust still attached, the manifold is only free to move about an inch or so – but luckily this was all that was required to free the water pipe from its small and rather toasty prison. The old one was removed (and promptly chucked in the bin) and the new copper replacement fed in to take its place. I used a little bit of PTFE tape around the compression fitting to ensure it was watertight but other than that the fitting was a thoroughly unremarkable event.

Whilst the manifolds were off I replaced the various heater and other hoses at the rear of the block burning through my stockpile of new (well, newish) jubilee clips. I used the proper, correctly shaped hoses rather than just lengths of generic half inch heater hose as a) they look neater, b) it reduces the risk of kinking and suppressed coolant flow and c) they’re really not that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

Heater Pipes New
New heater hoses fitted.

With the hoses replaced, the manifolds were reattached to the head using the original gasket which looked to be in good condition. I was careful when tightening the manifold nuts not to go overboard with my crazy Popeye-esque strength just to avoid any sheared studs and heartache. I came away unscathed in this respect.

Next I turned my attention to the larger hoses – both of which needed some Stanley knife-based ‘adjustment’ (this does not usually bode well for the integrity of my fingertips). The car has two electric cooling fans fitted at the front of the radiator which I presume used to be controlled by a long-defunct thermo switch which was mounted on the front slam panel. When this failed the previous owner ran a bypass circuit into the car where a small toggle switch could be used to control the fans manually. This was seemingly never actually fixed to anything and was just floating around beneath the dashboard. This, coupled with the fact that all electrical connections had been made using insulating tape, spurred me on to rectify the situation.

A while ago I had purchased a Davis Craig thermal fan switch together with a adaptor kit to enable the probe to be fitted properly into the top hose, instead of hanging out one end of it which looks untidy and, from experience, invariably leaks. Fitting was fairly simple, 17mm of hose is cut out and the adaptor is fitted in its place. The temperature probe fits into the adaptor and runs out to the thermo switch – which I mounted on the slam panel using the same holes which held the bracket for the old switch.

New Top Hose
Top hose with adaptor for temperature probe.

Two short lengths of wire were then cut and used to join the thermo switch back to the original fan wiring loom, the result being functional, although not exactly factory (I’ve never really been a fan of these aftermarket thermo switches with their very obvious and messy probe cable) .

Termo Switch.jpg
Fan thermo switch.

For extra control and as a backup I also ran a bypass circuit into the car – although unlike the previous owner I went the whole hog and terminated in a proper automotive toggle switch which was mounted to the lower edge of the dashboard. Hopefully I’ll never need to use it but it’s reassuring to know it’s there just in case.

Toggle Switch.jpg
Emergency fan override/something to play with in traffic jams.

The bottom hose also required some surgery as it originated from the parts car which lacked power steering. The S models did not use the same single-piece bottom hose but instead used two shorter hoses connected by a metal pipe which is of small enough diameter to pass between the power steering pump and its pulley without being chafed. Cutting the middle section out of the bottom hose and just using its two ends did the trick.

New Bottom Hose and Belt.jpg
Bottom hose and new fan belt.

The connecting pipe for the two bottom hoses is also mild steel and mine was quite badly corroded at one end – although in this case enough metal remains for it to be used quite safely in the short term. A stainless steel replacement has been ordered from Chris Witor but in the meantime I used some JB Weld epoxy to fill some of the depressions left by corrosion just to help the bottom hose seal as well as possible and to prevent leakage.

When the replacement pipe for the lower hose arrives I plan to run a coolant flushing product through the system before I drain and re-flush the radiator, heater core and block. That should hopefully shift any remaining gunk and ensure the keeps its cool at least for the next few years.

So that’s the cooling system dealt with for now – there are just a couple of minor jobs to  complete at this stage and she’ll be good to go. I’m looking forward to getting out and about and exploring some of SA’s beautiful countryside in the old girl.

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The beast emerges.

It has been quite a climatic end to 2018 for the Rusty household as, a mere seven months after being delivered on the back of a low loader and limping into my garage on three cylinders, the Beast has finally emerged from the shadows and has once again been able to enjoy the slightly prickly feeling of the South Australian sun on its back, dulling its paintwork and crisping up its vinyl components.

This means that I’m finally able to share some photos with my hoards of over-excited readers which haven’t been taken in the 3 foot gap between the car and my garage wall.

So, without further ado – behold the white car:

Trumpy3
Such a pretty face (for a forty year old).

The car was surprisingly dusty considering it had been tucked up in a sealed garage so it was treated to a wash and hose down – the water from which remaining largely on the outside of the car (a nice little bonus). I think it looks pretty good for a 40 year old car which was picked up from a scrap dealer.

Trumpy1
Nice rear end.

Yes, there are a few little bodywork issues which will eventually need to be addressed – there’s a small amount of bubbling around the right hand end of the rear panel seam, a small hole in the rear valance and a suspect bottom lip at the front end of the driver’s side sill – but ultimately it scrubbed up very well and has proven to be more presentable than I remember from when I bought it and quickly ensconced it safely in the garage/hid it from the wife.

Thar she blows.
Thar she blows!

The slightly mismatched driver’s door (presumably replaced at some point in the past) looks ten times better now that I have added pin stripes – sourced from eBay and a very good match to the stripes on the rest of the car in terms of width, although they are a subtly different shade of gold so I will most likely re-do the whole of the driver’s side when I get a spare hour or two. The door also sits a little too far forward (i.e. the gap between the door and the front wing is smaller than the gap at the B pillar) – but I have some laser-cut hinge spacers which should sort this out. I replaced both the upper and lower hinge pins a while ago and this has levelled the door up quite nicely so it no longer drops at the latch end. The old pins were quite worn, especially the top one, so replacement was long overdue.

hinge pin 2.jpg
Old worn hinge pin from driver’s door.

Replacing the hinge pins is relatively easy – with the door removed they can be driven out of the hinges with a punch, although they have one knurled end of a slightly bigger diameter which cannot be driven through the hinge so it has to be determined which end of the pin is knurled before it can be driven out successfully in that direction. If it’s not coming out fairly easily then you’re probably going the wrong way. In my case both pins were fitted with the knurled end upwards, although on my parts car one needed to be driven out downwards so your experience may vary. It is also worth replacing the two washers which sit either side of the door portion of the hinge – these wear with age and will cause further door drop if not replaced. I used some relatively unworn washers taken from a rear door of the parts car but obtained some new hardened hinge pins via Chris Witor.

hinge pin 1.jpg
Driving out hinge pin with punch.

Buoyed by the overall internal and external presentability of the car, the next logical step was to make it actually work. With some fresh 98 RON petrol in the tank and new 20W50 oil in the sump (along with the spin-on filter and adapter from the blue car), the rebuilt carbs at their base setting (jets wound down 12 flats from being level with the bridge), the static timing set at 10 degrees and the valve clearances, points gap and spark plug gaps all set as per the manual, the engine fired up quickly and ran smoothly, with the oil light extinguishing almost immediately – a promising start and at least confirms that I wired the coil correctly. There is a little bit of tappetty noise from the top end but at this stage I am putting this down to the engine having not been run for several years and am hoping it will quieten down once the oil gets flowing through some regular use.

However, before I could proceed with setting up the carbs and timing properly, it was obvious that there was a significant exhaust leak which would need to be addressed. Looking at the sooty deposits on the existing exhaust, it was easy to see where it was leaking from – the front silencer on the middle section was in the process of parting ways with the adjoining pipe, with a big split between the two.

exhaust split.jpg
That’ll be the source of the leak then.

Furthermore, the rear section’s silencer had a small rust hole in one of its ends, and the horizontal part of the front section was more oval than round – presumably due to contact with something hard at some point in its life. The system was essentially scrap. This is where having a parts car becomes an absolutely godsend, saving time and money in procuring new parts. Whilst the exhaust from the parts car was not shiny and new, it was very solid and dent-free. It seemed like a sensible choice to swap them over.

scrape.jpg
The old exhaust had clearly made contact with a ground-based object at some point.

As a rule I don’t like removing or fitting exhausts. It’s dirty, fiddly and rather boring. However, I didn’t really want the hassle of finding a garage or fast fit place that would touch a used exhaust, plus I’m a tightwad. I therefore spent a not particularly enjoyable couple of hours on my back doing it myself.

exhaust new
Replacement exhaust – not pretty, but functional. Just like me.

Removing the old exhaust from the car wasn’t too difficult – the rear section is removed first, and is supported by two rubber mounts, one near each end of the section. A bit of wiggling, pulling and persuading with a mallet saw this separated from the middle section without too much drama. Removing the middle section from the front section was less successful, partially due to the limited room to apply a decent amount of leverage. I instead opted to unbolt the front section from the manifold and, with the gearbox supported on a trolley jack and axle stand, remove the front and middle sections together by dropping the gearbox mount and cross-member.

Seeing as I had gone to the trouble of removing them from the car, I thought it was a good idea to replace the gear box mount and the cross-member bushes with the new items I had previously bought for the blue car – a genuine Australian-made Mackay rubber mount (the only ones worth buying by all accounts) and a set of SuperFlex polybushes for the cross-member fittings. To be honest, despite being covered in oil, the old ones on the car didn’t actually seem to be in too bad a condition – the rubber and metal portions of the gearbox mount had not separated and the cross-member already sported polybushes, albeit squashed and tired ones. I replaced them anyway as a precaution.

Gearbox mounts.jpg
Gearbox mounting hardware rebuilt.

Fitting the replacement exhaust was undertaken in the the reverse order of the removal process – although the front and middle sections could be fitted individually as they had already been separated. As well as a new downpipe to manifold gasket, I used some exhaust gum on the joints to ensure they were gas-tight. Annoyingly I did manage to shear off one manifold to downpipe stud upon reassembly, but luckily enough remained protruding for me to remove the remains with a pair of mole grips and I had a spare on hand from the parts car. A 30 minute diversion from the task in hand, but it could have been a lot worse.

To finish the job, the perished rubber mounts for the rear section of the exhaust were replaced with some new ones which I had in my stockpile and the rebuilt gearbox mounting hardware was returned whence it came.

gearbox mount.jpg
New gearbox mounts ready for service.

Firing up the car again produced an exhaust note much nicer than the chuffing previously emitted, confirming that the replacement had been a success and that I could finally get round to tuning and hopefully even driving the car. But, as excited as I was to get out on the open road, whilst the car was up on ramps it made sense to address the gearbox and diff oil levels in order to cross another couple of items off from the whiteboard list.

The gearbox has both a drain plug and a filling plug – the latter of the two on mine proving particularly difficult to remove. It is located on the side of the ‘box and access is fairly limited due to its proximity to both the side of the gearbox tunnel and a lip in the cast gearbox casing. It was also one of the square head variety of plugs, meaning that I was limited in terms of tools I could use to remove it. Naturally, after draining the gearbox of its oil, I found the filler plug was stuck tight and my repeated attempts at removal with an open-ended spanner were fast rounding off the corners. Luckily, my trusty mole grips came to the rescue and I was able to remove the plug, albeit at this stage in a rather mangled condition.

plugs
Drain plug at the bottom, (new) filler plug half way up the side.

Whilst I do have a couple of new square headed plugs lying around my garage, I wasn’t hugely keen to fit a part which would likely be equally as difficult to remove in future. Luckily, the broken gearbox which I had previously removed from the parts car had a brass plug with a more sensible hex head. I fished it out of the pile of bits and pieces strewn around the interior of the parts car and fitted it to the white car’s ‘box.

Filling the gearbox with EP80 oil was a fairly slow affair – it needs to be filled via the aforementioned hard-to-reach filler hole until the oil reaches the level of the hole (i.e. it spills back out down your arm). I used a large plastic syringe with a length of rubber tubing to do this as it made the job a bit cleaner – but also slower given that I could only add 100ml of the viscous, slow flowing fluid at a time.

syringe.jpg
Mmmm – squirty.

Technically, I could have drained the litre or so of old oil from the overdrive unit by dropping its sump – but seeing as the drained oil was fairly clean and as I did not have a replacement sump gasket to hand I decided to forego this step. I can always come back to it later if required.

Filling the diff was less eventful – the drain plug, although square headed, was easy to remove and the unit only required the smallest of top ups of EP80 to bring the level back to where it should have been. The diff on the white car has certainly not been anywhere near as leaky as the one on the parts car – hopefully it will stay that way as my garage floor can barely absorb any more oily fluids…

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…

list
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:

interior1
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:

Draper-Door-Panel-Removal-Tool-1.jpg
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.

floorpan
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.

tank1
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).

Nozzle
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-vs-old-floats.jpg
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.

carbs.jpg
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.

wire.jpg
Melty.

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.

resistor
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.

wiring-e1544489524468.jpg
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…

 

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-tank-draining.jpg
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:

Front
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
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…

Clutching at deadlines.

With two weeks to go before the self-imposed deadline of getting the car back on the road for the 2018 McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic event, things were looking relatively peachy. I had the gearbox out, I had a clutch kit ready to install as well as all of the other bits and pieces I thought I might need during the process.  Surely nothing could go wrong? More on that later…

The first step was to remove the existing clutch from the car and inspect the flywheel for any scoring, rust or other damage. The clutch, a Borg & Beck style AP Driveline one, was actually in great condition and the friction plate was showing very little wear indeed. There was a little bit of scoring on the ends of the diaphragm spring fingers caused by the release bearing but nothing major. However, I had a brand new replacement waiting so I decided to keep this old one as a good spare and fit the new one anyway (if it had been a Laycock kit in equally good condition I may have chosen otherwise).

Old Clutch
Existing Borg & Beck style clutch

On removal of the clutch, the flywheel also looked to be in good condition with no significant scoring or corrosion to speak of.

Flywheel
Flywheel is in good enough shape

 

One item I had unfortunately forgotten to order was the spigot bushing which sits in the flywheel on the mk2 2500 (and in the end of the crank on the mk1) – this was noticeably worn and was a little loose so after a couple of futile phonecalls to Aussie-based suppliers, a replacement was ordered from the UK on express delivery. The bushing provides some support to the gearbox input shaft and is crucial to preventing wear in the gearbox bearings. The replacement bushing arrived a week later and when compared to the old bushing, its replacement was clearly well-overdue as the central aperture was not only heavily scored but also oval rather than round.

Bushes Old vs New
Old bushing on the right, new on the left

 

The spigot bushing is made from a porous bronze and needs to be soaked in engine oil overnight to provide ongoing lubrication to the end of the gearbox input shaft.  Its removal and refitting is relatively easy – I drifted the old bushing out of the flywheel with a suitably-sized socket and then used the old bushing to drift the new one in. The new bushing fits very well in the flywheel with no detectable movement at all, whilst the gearbox input shaft fits snugly but not tightly into the central aperture. It was the right call to delay installation of the new ‘box by a week to fit a new one.

Bushing Out
Old bushing removed from the flywheel

 

The next step was to take a look at the clutch release mechanism and to swap it over to the new ‘box. The clutch release bearing is pressed onto a bearing carrier which slides over the splined gearbox input shaft when being actuated by a fork attached to the clutch operating shaft. When the clutch pedal is depressed the operating shaft rotates causing the clutch fork to rotate and push the release bearing forward against the clutch pressure plate which, in turn, releases the pressure holding the clutch friction plate against the flywheel and therefore breaks drive from the engine.

The first obvious problem with the existing release mechanism in the old gearbox was that the two bronze slipper pads which act as a bearing surface between the clutch fork pins and the bearing carrier were missing – instead the pins were acting directly against the surface of the bearing carrier. Luckily, I had ordered the slipper pads assuming they would need to be replaced so this in itself did not cause any undue setbacks.

Missing Slipper Pads
There should be a square slipper pad on the end of this fork pin

 

The clutch release bearing carrier was removed from the gearbox (it can simply be pulled away from the input shaft when the clutch operating shaft is turned beyond the range that it would experience in normal use) and the taper pin holding the fork to the shaft was removed (along with its retaining wire). These pins are apparently prone to breaking which is a gearbox out job to replace, so I obtained a high-strength one from Chris Witor. The below picture shows the new pin holding the fork to the release shaft – to prevent undue stress on the pin it is preferable that the thread does not bottom out in the thread in the fork, mine was looking good in this respect.

Pin in Fork
The new pin does not bottom out in the thread in the fork, which is good news

 

Unfortunately this is where my luck ran out. On closer inspection of the release bearing carrier I noticed that opposite sides of its rear face showed C-shaped hairline fracturing – possibly due to fatigue from where the release fork pins had been acting against the surface without slipper pads or, perhaps more likely, just due to a previous ham-fisted approach to pressing the bearing onto the carrier. Either way it was very close to failure and a replacement was needed. I could not locate a replacement in Australia so yet another order was placed from the UK which will take a week or so to arrive. This sadly put me out of the running to attend the Vintage and Classic event in the Triumph but I’d rather miss out on this and know that I have not put sub-standard parts back into the car. I don’t really want to be dropping the gearbox again in the near future.

Fractured Carrier
Fractured release bearing carrier

 
So with work on the release mechanism halted, all that was left for me to do was to re-attach the flywheel (torquing the bolts up to the correct 50 lbf ft) and fit the new clutch kit. This went nice and smoothly and I know it’s properly aligned as I used some of the time spent waiting for international deliveries to strip down the old gearbox so I could remove and cut down the input shaft to use as a handy alignment tool. Hopefully this means the new ‘box should slide straight in without any issues.

Input Shaft Tool
New clutch perfectly aligned with help of a cut-off input shaft

 

Fitting the clutch was easy – the clutch plate is centralised against the flywheel with the help of the input shaft and the pressure plate located over the three dowels in the flywheel face. The plate is attached to the flywheel via six bolts, which were torqued up incrementally.

Now I am just waiting for Australia Post to deliver my parts so that I can move on to the next step in assembling the clutch release mechanism onto the new gearbox and lifting the new ‘box onto the car.