The gearbox swap begins.

As summer gave way to autumn and the temperatures died down to more sensible levels, I decided to take a few weeks off of work to spend some quality time with the newest member of our family. I also agreed with the missus that I would be able to spend a few hours in the garage here and there in order to try to get the Beast up and running in time for the McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic Run (spoiler alert: I missed it – but that didn’t stop me from trying).

The existing gearbox in the car had two problems: 1) it was only the four speed non-OD and 2) it whined horribly in all but 4th gear suggesting the layshaft bearings had probably seen better days. I’d managed to source a rebuilt OD gearbox from across the Tasman which had been sitting in my garage patiently waiting to be fitted for several months – finally its time had come…

As I am not fortunate enough to own a car lift, the first step was getting the car high enough off of the ground to comfortably remove the ‘box from underneath. I have a nice set of 1000kg Stanfred ramps but raising the car on these alone would have provided, at best, the very minimum amount of space required to perform the job. To get the car up a little higher I made some improvised bases for the ramps out of landscaping sleepers and angle iron – this gave me an extra 100mm or so of space under the car which makes accessing the underside of the car a lot more comfortable.

Plenty of room underneath


I also knocked up some small platforms for the rear wheels to sit on to give me a bit more space at the rear of the car to remove the exhaust etc.

Platforms to provide extra height at the rear


It took a couple of attempts to drive the car up onto this arrangement of supports but it’s up there and it’s solid so I’m happy. It’s lovely having this amount of room to work underneath the car so once this job’s over I’ll keep my timber extension pieces for any similar tasks that come up in future.


Angle iron prevents the ramps sliding backwards or sideways


Once the car was raised to a suitable height, the job of removing the old gearbox could begin. The first step was to drain the ‘box of its fluid via the drain plug on the underside and to remove the gearlever assembly from inside the car. Next, the wiring was unplugged from the reversing light switch on the selector mechanism housing and the speedo cable removed from the side of the gearbox casing. The clevis pin holding the slave cylinder piston to the clutch release fork was removed to separate the two, the middle exhaust mounting undone and removed from the brackets attached to the gearbox and the four bolts holding the output flange to the propshaft were removed before gently lowering the prop towards the ground. At this point, to give myself more room I opted to remove the entire exhaust system from the car – a couple of the rubber mounts need replacing and the flange to manifold gasket is missing so I’ll address those when reassembly time comes. Other than that the system looks to be in great shape and is quite possibly original (the Aussie climate is great for classic cars).

Clutch slave cylinder clevis pin


Once freed from all of the ancillary parts, the next step was to lower the gearbox to gain access to the bolts attaching the bell-housing to the engine back plate. According to the workshop manual, this can be done with a trolley jack placed under the engine sump, using a block of wood to distribute the weight. As I had not undertaken this task before I opted for a belt and braces approach of using use two trolley jacks – one under the sump as per the manual and then a second underneath the rear gearbox cross-member (to be honest this wasn’t necessary and if I did the job again I would use just a single jack as per the factory recommendations).

My belt and braces lowering approach – the central axle stand was a temporary measure whilst the job was paused for lunch


After supporting the ‘box with the jacks I undid the four nuts holding the rear gearbox cross-member to the car floor pan and dropped the ‘box in stages – lowering the rear jack by about an inch first, then using the sump jack to lower the unit down onto the rear jack until the cylinder head was resting against the bulkhead.

Rear GBox Mount
Rear gearbox cross-member – attached via four nuts/bolts


After the unit had been lowered and was self-supporting against the bulkhead I completely removed the cross-member from the gearbox (actually it fell off as the rear mount had disintegrated – luckily I have a good Mackay replacement from Chris Witor) and set about removing the various bolts which secured the gearbox to the engine backplate. Most of these are relatively easy to remove, although the top three or four require the use of one or more long socket extensions and a universal joint due to their difficult-to-access positions. In all removing the bolts was probably a half-hour job. The final four bolts to be removed were the two holding the clutch slave cylinder and the starter motor to the backplate. Be prepared for the weight of the starter motor when you remove its bolts as it is a surprisingly heavy beast and your head is likely to be somewhere beneath it!

At this stage the gearbox is free to be dropped from the car. To do this I removed the cup from my large trolley jack and positioned it underneath the gearbox so that the sump plug of the ‘box was located in the resulting hole. Using the long  trolley jack handle from the front of the car I gently eased the ‘box backwards until it was free from the engine and lowered it to the ground. Due to the height of the car from the ground and as I may one day need to rebuild this box I placed some timber and polystyrene beneath the ‘box in case the worst happened and it fell from the jack. This came in handy as due to the imbalance of the ‘box on the jack it became easier to roll the ‘box from the jack and gradually remove timber until it was resting on the ground.

My patent-pending timber and polystyrene gearbox catcher


And just like that the first stage of the gearbox replacement was complete. The garage was locked up and I went indoors to enjoy a cup of tea and a shower whilst musing the prospect that I would not have the wonders of gravity to assist me when using my less-than-muscular arms to fit the new, even heavier overdrive gearbox…


An inferior interior – Part 2.

Whilst mechanical work is being undertaken to make the car more driveable (further posts to follow shortly), I’m also continuing with some less messy tasks to make the interior a nicer place to be. Whilst it’s not the worst car I’ve ever sat in, there are a few glaring issues which would ideally be fixed before the car is pushed into regular use – namely the very cracked dashboard, the ripped headlining, the sagging front seats and a lingering less-than-fresh odour which seems to be emanating from the carpets.

Whilst I am still exploring options regarding the first two tasks (including the seemingly herculean task of replacing the headlining), I was however in a position to do something about the latter two – the seats and carpets.

For those with a keen memory (or at least the ability to scroll), you will be aware that I replaced the original ripped and mismatched front seats a few months ago with a much better pair I sourced from a guy in Tasmania. Whilst the vinyl is in great condition, the rubber diaphragms which sit underneath the foam seat squabs had perished meaning that much of the support that British Leyland had originally engineered into this fine piece of in-car furniture had been lost.

The picture below shows the better of the two original diaphragms (I was a bit hasty about removing and disposing of the worst one before thinking of taking a photo) and how it has perished and split in many of the places where it is attached to the seat frame. The diaphragm from the driver’s side, which was the worst of the two, had split along the entire length of its rear edge leaving virtually no support between the seat foam and the car floor.

Split diaphragm
Perished original seat diaphragm


Until relatively recently these diaphragms had been unavailable to buy new and, in lieu of finding un-perished NOS replacements, I have read quite a few stories of innovative owners piling books, pieces of timber or even bricks beneath the seats to restore some of the lost support. Luckily, a few years back, Chris Witor had managed to get these re-manufactured in high quality rubber so this is no longer the issue it once was – I duly purchased a pair and set about fitting them to my existing seats.

The diaphragms are held onto the seat base by 12 metal clips which, once the diaphragm is perished and slack, are pretty easy to remove with a pair of long-nose pliers. It’s worth bearing in mind that some of these might be missing – especially if your existing diaphragms are perished to the point of splitting – so you might want to source a few more in advance if this is the case with yours.

Old diaphragm
One old, split and largely unserviceable diaphragm – the other one was worse


Whilst removing the metal clips is simple enough, using them to fit new, un-perished diaphragms is a little trickier as in order to provide proper support for the seat base, the diaphragm needs to be stretched taut across the seat frame – securing the first few clips is easy, but to get the final clips in place the diaphragm needs to both be stretched laterally and pushed inwards towards the seat foam at the same time as inserting the clip into the hole in the seat frame. This task gets progressively more difficult as more clips are inserted and things tighten up.

A second pair of hands would definitely have helped with this task but as my better half was not available at the time I found that heating the new diaphragms with a hair drier prior to fitting helped me to stretch and contort them just enough to finish the job – although getting the final couple of clips in place prompted the use of some choice language and left my fingers feeling a little on the bruised side for a while afterwards.

The new diaphragms transform the seats completely – they’re nice and firm as BL intended and offer a noticeable amount more support than they did with the perished ones. The new diaphragms also feel equally as good quality, if not better, than the originals so will hopefully last a good few years.

New diaphragm
New diaphragm fitted, support restored!


With the seats removed from the car, it was disturbingly obvious that the carpets were in a bit of a state – once an opulent shade of coppery-brown that personified everything that was good/bad* about the 1970s (*delete as applicable), they had taken on a distinctly murky grey tint and exuded the odour of 40 years worth of stale cigarette smoke and general filth. Running a hand over the pile (albeit probably unwisely) left a surprisingly greasy film – I’m not sure if this was from past maintenance or the result of several decades of engine and gearbox fumes seeping into the cabin. Either way something had to be done.

I’m no particular stranger to filthy cars – I have bought my fair share of bargain basement runabouts in the past and have always managed to bring even the shittiest of cabins up to a level of cleanliness that approaches acceptable. My product of choice for this task is Autoglym’s Interior Shampoo which is now available in Australia (about $16 from Supercheap Auto).

Revives even the shittiest of car interiors


It’s easy to use – simply spray lightly over the area to be cleaned, scrub with a clean, damp cloth and repeat if required – and can be used on carpets, upholstery, plastics, headlinings etc. It works wonders (the evidence of which will be present in your bucket of water) and leaves a pleasant yet subtle new-car (ish) fragrance.

Whilst my well-used carpets were never going to be returned to their factory-fresh state, this stuff lived up to my expectations and significantly improved the look and smell of the soft finishes inside my car. The photo below shows a before/after shot taken mid-treatment. The passenger side of the car closest to the camera together with the gearbox tunnel had been cleaned, the slightly depressing greyer area furthest from the camera (complete with somewhat concerning blood-type stain) had not.

Before and after
Before and after – quite a difference


In total the cleaning produced six buckets of filthy and rather greasy water from the carpets.

About a sixth of the carpet filth/patina – notice greasy tide mark


After being left to dry overnight and given a quick vacuum to restore the pile, I was very happy with the result. It looks ten times better, the interior smells much fresher than it did before and, best of all, there’s not even the slightest trace of blood left. Just the dash and headlining to sort now and it’ll be 100%. Well, 75% – but that’s probably the best I can hope for given my starting point.

Clean carpets
The finished article – you could eat your dinner off of it (although I wouldn’t recommend it)


I’ll leave the seats out for now until I have finished the gearbox swap as I feel they are safer inside the house than in the car whilst I’m fiddling around with it. It’s very spacious in there without them though and I must admit to having a cheeky beer in the back seat the other day whilst planning out the next few jobs to do. It was like being in a limousine. A terrifying, driverless limousine with blood-stained carpets…

A wheely good upgrade.

The previous owner fitted two new front tyres to my car just before I bought it but whilst my rear tyres still had most of the tread they left the factory with, according to their date stamps they were manufactured in 1997 and therefore were well overdue to be replaced – I don’t like the idea of driving around on 20 year old rubber, regardless whether it looks OK or not. New tyres were therefore on the cards.

Wheels - old
Old steel wheels with dented hubcaps

A few months previously I procured a decent set of 14” Stag/S alloys so I decided it was time to put them into service on the car, although it meant buying four new tyres instead of two. Luckily the local Tyreright was running a ‘4 for the price of 3’ special on BF Goodrich Advantage TA tyres so I decided to go with those.

Whilst I’m aware of the classic BF Goodrich all-terrain tyre with the white writing on the sidewalls, I’ve not really heard much about their range for passenger vehicles. Still, being a fairly major brand of tyre, I felt happier going with those than the unknown budget alternatives like Goodride, Winrun etc that I could have picked up for the same price. Plus, four branded tyres supplied, balanced and fitted for under $300 was too good a deal to turn down.

Wheels - new
The end result – what a transformation

First impressions are they’re nice tyres – although if I’m honest I’m not sure how well the fairly funky tread pattern suits a classic car. It’s not really a major concern to at this stage though as I have bigger things to worry about on the appearances front, like the shocking paintwork.

Wheels - tread
Funky tread pattern would perhaps suit moderns better

Based on what I have read about the most suitable tyres for these rims, I decided to go with 185/70/R14s as fitted to the Stag, the other option being the slightly narrower 175/70/R14s which would have been closer to what was originally fitted on the 2500S with these wheels. In the end I decided I preferred the slightly chunkier look of the 185s, although opinion seems to be divided as to which profile will offer the better grip.

Wheels - close
A bit of peeling lacquer here and there – I’ll sort that out at some point

The rims need a bit of a refurb, which I will get round to when all of the more important jobs have been done, but all in all I’m really happy with the transformation – the wheels maketh the car, or so they say.

A deadline has been set.

Not too much has been happening in the garage in recent months – this is due to the arrival of a new, miniature, member of the household who somehow requires even more love, care, attention and constant fettling than a 40 year old Triumph. Things have finally started to settle down a little bit so I’ve been finding odd moments to sneak out into the garage whilst I think the wife is otherwise preoccupied.

I’ve decided to set myself a target date for getting the beast up and running to an extent where it can be used for longer runs. As an incentive to complete the long ‘to-do’ list I’ve registered myself and the car for the forthcoming McLaren Vale Vintage and Classic car event in April. In case you’ve not heard of it, the event is a day-long classic and vintage car festival held in the McLaren Vale wine region in South Australia (about a 45 minute drive south of Adelaide). The day starts on the main street of McLaren Vale with a parade of over 500 cars which then gather at different wineries around local area, grouped by marque. The public can then tour the participating wineries and enjoy some wine, food and live music whilst indulging in a little classic car ogling. I have attended before as a spectator and it’s a great day out in a stunning part of South Australia.

Whilst I’m pretty certain that mine will be one of the least outwardly presentable vehicles in the parade, I’m determined it will at least be able to hold its own at a basic mechanical level. Therefore the list of jobs needing to be completed over the next ten and a half weeks currently stands as follows:

  • Re-register car under the new South Australian historic rego scheme
  • Fit spin-on oil filter kit and change oil
  • Check oil level in diff and undertake other routine lubrication as per schedule
  • Bed in new brakes
  • Buy and fit four news tyres for stag alloys
  • Fit new overdrive gearbox to replace existing, noisy non-OD box
  • Replace clutch whilst the ‘box is out
  • Wire up the overdrive
  • Fix non-working hazard lights
  • Stop coolant leak around thermostat housing
  • Fit new door seal on rear offside
  • Refit dashboard timber

So, having found a cheeky hour to spend in the garage I decided to tick off one of the simpler jobs on the list – the fitting of the spin-on oil filter conversion kit.

I’d already picked up the kit a few months previously as part of a larger parts order from Chris Witor in the UK. It is comprised of a cast alloy adaptor which screws to the engine block and two O-rings, the larger outer ring which is the same as that used on the existing canister and a smaller inner ring which seals the incoming unfiltered oil from the outgoing filtered oil.

The new Chris Witor-supplied kit

The kit replaces the older canister and paper filter arrangement which, whilst just as effective at filtering, can be a messy and fiddly affair to change and does not have a non-return valve so therefore allows the oil within the canister to drain back into the sump leading to a delay in building up oil pressure on cold starts. Another bonus for me being outside of the UK is that I can buy compatible spin-on filters at my local motor spares place, rather than either shipping from the UK or paying through the nose locally for the old-style inserts.

The old and fiddly cannister filtration system

Fitting the adaptor was relatively easy – the first step is to remove the existing canister filter. Technically the sump does not need to be drained for this process but I was due an oil change anyway so away it went. Once the oil was drained I cleaned up the mating surfaces of the block and also removed the existing outer O-ring from its channel. This is a step which is apparently often overlooked – leaving the existing O-ring in place will not allow the adaptor to seal properly so worth ensuring it is done before you waste good oil on redoing the job. I applied a smear of new oil to both the new inner and outer O-rings and fitted to their respective channels in the adaptor and block respectively (the smear of oil also helps the inner O-ring to stay in place whilst the adaptor is being fitted).

The block oil filter mounting surface – note groove for O-ring

Once the O-rings are in place, and taking care to ensure that the inner ring does not fall out, the adaptor is simply screwed into the block using the hole which was previously used for the canister bolt. Once in place but not tight, the adaptor can be turned to the required orientation for the screw-in filter. Ideally this should be mounted vertically so that gravity holds any oil within the filter whilst the car is not in use but I had two problems with this approach: 1) The hydraulic hose protruding from the clutch slave cylinder and 2) the housings for the oil pressure relief valve and the oil pressure switch – both severely limited mounting options. I therefore went with a temporary near-horizontal mounting of the filter as shown in the picture below – this will be rectified when I’ve got the clutch slave cylinder out for the forthcoming gearbox change.

New adaptor and oil filter mounted nearly horizontally – temporarily

Once in the required position the adaptor can be tightened onto the block surface via the central bolt. The manufacturer did not provide a tightening torque for this bolt but being an alloy casting I wouldn’t go too crazy with the spanners. Tight enough to hold it in place and seal against leaks without risking cracking the casting or, worse, stripping the thread from the block.

After fitting the new adaptor and filter, I refilled with approximately 5 litres of Castrol’s finest. As the new filter would take a little time to fill and therefore for oil pressure to build up, I removed the king lead from the dizzy and cranked the engine until the oil light was extinguished. I then fired the car up briefly and all was good – no weird noises or gushing lubricant. Checking the garage floor the next day showed no drips but the true test will be after the car’s been on a long run and the oil’s hot and thin. Watch this space (or the garage floor)…

Castrol GTX 20W-50

The brakes broke.

Well, all was going swimmingly for a few months but whilst out on a quick run to check the carb setup progress got slower and slower until eventually the car would barely move under its own steam. The unmistakable smell of hot brakes from all four corners of the car suggested that there was a problem with the master cylinder – hardly surprising really for a car that had been pressed into service after many years sleeping.

Luckily for me, the problem came to a head when I was only 20 metres or so from the end of my driveway so, with the seemingly unbridled power of my newly-tuned engine, I was able to gently coerce the beast back into its garage where I must admit it sat for a couple of months whilst I ordered in some parts from the UK. On a side note: it’s generally much cheaper to import parts from the UK than it is to buy them in Australia from the few Triumph parts suppliers that exist here – even when the expensive international freight is taken into account.

Whilst the fact that the problem affected all four wheels at the same time strongly pointed towards the master cylinder as culprit, I did bear in mind other causes like the servo (or booster as they call it here), collapsed hoses, seized pistons etc. To save time and parts shipping delays/costs if I only addressed one issue I decided it was worthwhile giving the whole braking system a bit of an overhaul. To be honest it had been playing on my mind for a while due to the length of time that the car had been laid up so this was as good an excuse as any to get stuck in. My shopping list therefore included a brand new TRW master cylinder, flexi hoses, front pads, rear shoes, rear cylinders and an assortment of little bits and pieces needed for other jobs that had cropped up. Rimmer Brothers provided everything I needed and their international shipping isn’t exorbitantly priced and it’s fast. I know they are not always everyone’s first choice of supplier back in the UK but for overseas orders their comprehensive website and fast shipping makes things so easy. It’s probably the third order I have placed from overseas and haven’t had any problems to date with quality or incorrect parts.

New master cylinder vs old

The first job was to replace the master cylinder which was fairly easy in the grand scheme of things. Prior to removal I wanted to empty the reservoir of brake fluid to minimise spills – due to the lack of any suitable suction or siphoning device I decided to bleed this out with the help of the missus on the brake pedal. Whilst the front brakes bled easily thus emptying one half of the dual-circuit reservoir, the rears would not bleed at all – presumably due to a dodgy or stuck seal somewhere in the cylinder. On the plus side at least this confirmed that this was most likely the cause of the stuck brakes. In the end I opted to just remove the cylinder with the reservoir half full with some carefully placed polythene used to protect my (albeit rather dodgy) paintwork from any spills.

Just two bolts hold the cylinder to the booster, once these and the two hydraulic pipes are undone then the cylinder can simply be pulled away. The cylinder piston and inside of the booster looked nice and dry which means the faulty seals at least did not allow fluid to escape from the system entirely and ruin the booster.

Cylinder out
Master cylinder out, drip tray and sheeting to protect paintwork

Fitting the new cylinder is pretty much just the reverse of the removal procedure – I put a blob of grease on the end of the pushrod first to prevent any wear as the years pass. Hydraulic unions were tightened carefully – I worked by the rule of tightening until there was resistance and then nipping up another 1/8 to 1/4 turn. I haven’t had any problems to date with other cars on which I’ve worked so I used the same method here.

Cylinder in
Clean, shiny and hopefully functional

Whilst I was pretty sure the new cylinder would solve the problem I set about taking a look at the rest of the system to ensure everything else was in order. The flexi hoses, whilst not obviously perished from a quick glance, looked old enough to be original so I swapped those out for a new set. My preference would have been to fit a set of steel braided hoses but my budget would only stretch to replacement rubber ones – time will tell how the quality compares to the old ones. Removing the hoses was fairly easy – one benefit of such a dry climate is that there are far fewer seized fixings to deal with than I had been used to in the UK.

Old Hose Front
Old vs new hoses. Just in case you’re wondering – yes, I was using axle stands…

The other benefit of a dry climate is that the brake pipes themselves were in good condition with no signs of corrosion or seeping so were left in place. On close inspection a couple of the old rubber hoses showed signs of perishing when bent so it was well worth swapping them out now.

I had made the decision a little while ago to replace the front pads and rear shoes on the car, despite neither being worn to the point that they really needed to be replaced. This will probably divide opinion given the strong affiliation towards NOS items among the Triumph community but I really do not like the thought of asbestos dust being constantly generated and deposited on my garage floor and accumulating on components which I will be fiddling with for years to come. I’m aware the risks of low-level infrequent exposure are minimal but I would rather remove the risk entirely than live with a small risk indefinitely. I wore a P2 mask during any work around the friction material and kept everything dampened with a water spray to minimise dust becoming airborne and to remove built up dust from components (yep, I’m weirdly paranoid about this stuff). It will be interesting to see how the new brakes compare with the old brakes, which were really rather good – until they seized.

The front pads were addressed first. These are easy to remove – the two guide pins are pulled out (with the split ends being closed up first) and then the pads can just be pulled out of the caliper. Interestingly, whilst most UK cars have Lockheed calipers, mine and many other AU/NZ cars use Girlock ones. Apparently the Girlock brand was born from a joint venture between Lockheed and Girling required to meet regulations that required a certain percentage of locally manufactured parts to be used on AU/NZ assembled cars. The calipers are entirely different so it is important that the correct parts are used – I had to obtain the front pads locally as Rimmer Bros did not stock them (although Chris Witor does).

Old Pads Front
Old front brake pads – approx 5mm friction material left

At this point I decided to pull the calipers off the car (much easier if the bolts holding the suspension upright to the hub are also loosened) and take a quick peek at the pistons under the dust cover to check their condition and renew if necessary. However, this showed there was no fluid leaking past the seals and no corrosion to the pistons so I chose keep the originals in place to save a bit of time and money – I can revisit this at a later date if needed. Fitting the new pads was straightforward – the caliper pistons were compressed with a clamp (and proved to be un-seized) and the new pads installed in place of the old. Ideally I would have fitted new guide pins but I forgot to order these so reused the old ones. Corrosion was minimal so hopefully this won’t cause any problems. The existing discs are in good order with very minimal scoring so these remained in place.

New Pads Front
New pads fitted – note Aussie Girlock caliper

I had originally planned to use mid-range Bendix branded pads but due to a mix-up with the order I ended up with TransGold ones instead. I was going to return them but some googling indicated they actually seem to have a good reputation for a budget kevlar pad among the Holden community so I’m going to give them a go. They’re easy to swap out again if they prove to be dud.

The rear brakes were next. Popping off the drums showed that they had obviously received some attention shortly before the car was taken off the road as the shoes were virtually new but due to aforementioned reasons I decided to replace them anyway (I have kept them as spares in case I change my mind). This recent brake work meant the drums were easy enough to remove – although the nearside one required a little bit of persuasion due to what turned out to be a seized wheel cylinder holding one of the shoes in place (releasing the self-adjusting mechanism did not help here).

After unclipping the handbrake cable from its lever I stripped the brakes down, making a careful note of the location of the springs (the top one goes behind the shoes) and gave everything a good clean with some brake cleaner. I removed the cylinders and, as mentioned above, the nearside one had a seized piston which I could not work free, so were due to be replaced anyway. They most likely had seen minimal mileage but sadly the long time spend off the road had not agreed with them. Fitting the new cylinders is a mixed bag – offering the unit up to the car is the easy bit, but installing the funny little dished e-clips to hold them securely against the backplate (without breaking the clip) is annoyingly fiddly. As luck would have it, these clips are the same as used on Minis and a tool exists to fit them. Even luckier, whilst there are no Triumph parts suppliers in close range, there is a very good Mini spares company in Adelaide (Minisport) who had the tool in stock and do next day delivery for local orders. I therefore bit the bullet and ordered the tool online to make my life easier.

Clip Tool
The brake cylinder clip tool that will save your sanity and knuckles

The tool is really easy to use – it threads into the hydraulic inlet of the cylinder and a new clip is inserted over the top of the tapered section of the tool. As the nut is tightened, the outer section pushes the clip downwards over the tapered section, spreading it gently as it moves. As the outer section of the tool hits the backplate the clip can be heard to click into place with all three tabs neatly located in the groove around the cylinder inlet. This tool saved much swearing and means I’ll never have to worry about whether the clips are doing their job or not.

After the cylinders are fitted, building up the rear brakes is a simple reversal of the removal process – although getting the springs in place can be a little frustrating. Before the drums were refitted I made sure the self-adjusting mechanisms were completely retracted.

Rear Brakes Done
Rear brakes completed (minus shoe retaining pins and springs)

All that was left to do after this was to refit the wheels and bleed the system through. I used DOT 3 fluid and a Gunson Eezlibleed fed from a bike tyre inflated to about 10psi – I wanted to use a pressure-bleeding method rather than pumping the new cylinder as I didn’t really like the idea of un-lubricated piston seals moving in the cylinder bore during those first few pumps before brake fluid made its way completely through the system. I sacrificed the old master cylinder lid for use with the Eezlibleed which made for an airtight seal on the first attempt.

After the bleeding was complete, the brake pedal proved to be nice and firm and the rear brake self adjusters could be heard ratcheting into place on both sides – I have read that this is best done before the handbrake cable is reconnected.

All in all the system appears to have been successfully overhauled. The car is currently out of rego as I await the changed to the South Australian historic rego scheme to kick into place on 1st July but as soon as she’s legal again I’ll bed-in the brakes and report back.

Next job – finish the tuning that was rudely interrupted by the brake problem.

An inferior interior…

I’ve managed so source a few spare parts from Tassie thanks to a Triumph 2000 Register forum contributor – I was lucky enough to get a great set of front seats in the right colour vinyl which I can just bolt right in. I need to pick up a couple of new diaphragms from Chris Witor first as the driver’s one’s gone and the passenger one is following close behind but other than that and a tiny bit of wear to the piping on the driver’s seat bolster they’re perfect. Have got them sitting loosely in place at the moment and the difference is remarkable.


Someone seems to have had fun on these

vs New:

New rip-less front seats

I have also decided that as the car’s now technically an S then it should look like one. I have sourced an S front grille and steering wheel from Tassie and have built up a great S dash using a load of spare dash parts that the guy I bought the car from included in the sale.

The new dash in place, fully functional and looking good

Building the dash was pretty simple but, although both the original dash and the spare S dash I used as a base to build the new one were both from facelift cars, it wasn’t quite as plug and play as I would have hoped. Whilst all of the wiring was identical between models and the same style rubber connection plugs were used, the rubber plugs were laid out in completely different configurations between the dashes. In the end I cut the plugs off of the old TC dash and soldered onto the new S dash loom. Luckily the wiring for the tacho was already present in the car’s main loom so no extra wiring was needed here – I carefully cut a notch in the respective rubber plug to allow me to plug the bullet connector from the dash loom straight into the main loom to avoid having to do any soldering on the under-dash wiring.

My limited soldering skills were unexpectedly called into action

The new dash looks much better and the tacho’s a great asset. Now I just need to either source the S centre panel for the clock, or carefully drill the one I have. The radio panel looks to be a bit of a homemade plywood bodge so that’s on the cards to be replaced too…


Oh, I also played around with the warning cluster thingy as a couple of the colours didn’t seem logical – I changed the oil warning light from green to red as it’s far more noticeable in the daylight, I also changed the fuel warning light from red to yellow and the same with the handbrake light. I know the handbrake light should technically be red but yellow sits better with me as it’s more of an advisory light than an urgent warning in my opinion. I love these clusters – one of my earliest childhood memories was sitting in my grandparent’s Dolomite, being utterly fascinated by the colourful dashboard light display. The other Dolomite-related memory of poking my finger into the glowing orange dashboard light wasn’t so fun. Turns out it was the cigarette lighter which I’d been playing with whilst being left unattended in the car on a holiday to the Isle of Wight. Parents in the 80s were much less health and safety conscious obviously.

Anyway, I digress.

Other jobs to do in the short term are to sort out the worn front strut top mount, and do something about the mess of a headlining:


I’m not particularly looking forward to that particular job. I will probably leave it until the eventual respray as to replace it properly I think the front and rear screens will have to come out which I would like to do to avoid that dodgy paint on rubber look. Sourcing a replacement will be interesting.

Eventually I would like to complete the S conversion with the vinyl rear pillars (after the respray), the front cross member with anti-roll bar, power steering and the S front suspension (could do with a rebuild anyway). Oh and the windscreen washers need fixing. Although they’ve had a quick once-over and a bleed, I plan to give the brakes a proper look-over when I get round to fitting the set of 14′ S Alloys that I procured from, you guessed it, Tassie. This will be when I can afford tyres. I might swap out the 40-year old brake hoses for braided ones as a precaution.

The other big job will be the gearbox. It’s currently got the non-OD 4 speed but think I may have sourced a good replacement OD box.

Watch this space…

Six months later…

Well, to be honest, work on the 2500 has been relatively slow due to pesky house renovations getting in the way – however, a few small but significant areas of progress have been made.

My first priority was sorting out the rough running. I sent the dizzy off to Performance Ignition Services in Victoria for a full rebuild – it cost a couple of hundred bucks but I cannot fault the service. It was back within a week, looking great and as tight as a drum. I think the advance weights had probably been sticking prior to the rebuild as it was slow to return to idle rpm sometimes. Here’s the rebuilt unit in all its glory:

Meanwhile with the help of a CRK185 rebuild kit from SU Midel in NSW, I stripped rebuilt the carbs (SU HS6s). I have long suspected that either the jets or needles (or both) must have been significantly worn as I could not get the car to fire, let alone run, at the initial factory setting of winding the jets down by 2 full turns (12 flats) of their adjusting nuts from being level with the bridge of the carb. The only way I could get the car anything approaching tuned was at a setting where the jets were lowered only 1/6 of a turn (2 flats) down from the bridge. This to me would indicate worn needles or enlarged jets meaning that the carbs had to be set considerably leaner than usual to achieve an acceptable mixture. Whilst the car ran like this, based on the sooty plugs and accompanying misfiring it obviously wasn’t happy throughout the rev range so something had to be done. Also, the throttle spindles had quite a bit of play so a rebuild was on the cards anyway.

The rebuild was pretty straight-forward, I didn’t bother trying to tamper with the spindle bushes as I know that’s a specialist job – however, although it doesn’t look too bad in the picture below, the spindles did have a noticeable amount of wear so probably accounted for most of the play anyway.

Throttle spindle showing wear at bushing location

There’s still a tiny bit of play with the new spindles so it’ll need rebushing eventually but in the meantime this will have to do. I also replaced the needle valves, needles, jets and butterflies and checked the float heights etc. I haven’t gone all out with the polishing as you can see, but I think they look fine as they are for a car that certainly isn’t a show-winner.

A pair of successfully rebuilt HS6s

These HS6s have waxstat (or capstat as they’re known over here) jets – easily identified by their ‘top hat’ shape and lack of red plastic. The waxstat jets contain a little wax-filled copper cannister which, as the engine reaches operating temperature, is expanded by the heated wax whch lifts the jet slightly and thus leans out the mixture. Over time, it is thought that the properties of the wax changes which can result in an incorrect mixture. A kit does exist which can be used to convert the waxstat jets to the non-waxstat type but I have heard mixed things about the quality and ease of fitting. I therefore went for replacing the waxstat jets with new ones – If they start playing up then I’ll review the situation. There is another fix which involves removing the copper cannister from the jets and replacing with coins – this could be a cheap (4p to be exact) solution if required.

Waxstat on the left, non-waxstat on the right

I popped the rebuilt carbs back on the car and the difference is immense – have got it tuned much closer to the factory baseline setting (think the jets are adjusted about 14 flats down now as opposed to 2) and so far the plugs haven’t fouled again which is a good sign. It idles flat and lovely, the rebuilt dizzy is doing its job. I spent some time getting the linkages, choke and fast-idle settings right and it starts on the button now. Very pleased with progress in this area.

Am waiting on my old Colourtune to be posted over by family from the UK (as they’re surprisingly expensive to buy new) then will spend a little while longer getting the mixture just right (as I’ve never really got on 100% with the SU lifting pins). Will probably aim for a little bit of orange in the spark as this seems to be the general consensus. At the same time I’ll double check the timing (advance it until it pinks under load and then back off slightly) and valve clearances and then she should be sweet as a nut.

That’s the theory anyway.