There's a chap on the Club Triumph forums who's been writing about his GT6 restoration. Recently, he's done the handbrake cable, like I've recently done Toby's. However, this chap bought a nickel/zinc plating kit and treated all his bits with it. The results look good so I bought one myself...
After a quick practice on some scrap, I started with the handbrake lever. I'd had the body of it powder coated but the ratchet mechanism was all as it came off.
I cleaned them up in the blast cabinet, then with some sandpaper. I probably should have used the Scotchbrite wheel on the drill but they weren't to hand. Then I plated them, and clear/blue passivated.
I'm quite happy with the results.
Next, I started to assemble the mechanism, as a trial. It's not possible to assemble it off the car, like this:
You have to build it up in situ. Which can be a pain, especially as the cable bracket clevis pin is inaccessible once in place. Still, got it all together and it looks good.
Then I turned my attention to some other bits. The windscreen vents from the heater system needed a clean-up
so I blast cleaned and primed them.
Once that's dried properly I'll give them a couple of coats of satin black.
While I was at it, the end stops for the door drop glass looked a bit sorry.
First, the felt pads had to come off. This revealed a fair bit of rust
So they went into the blast cabinet and got a good going over
In the past I would have then painted them but I thought I'd give plating a go. A decent layer of electro-plating ought to be more resilient than paint, after all. Of course, with all that pitting they're never going to shine but they can be plated. For these, as they're not visible, I chose the yellow passivate. I think I may have over-done that...
I may still end up painting them, too, but it may be overkill. Mind you, they do seem to rust more than most of the bits inside the doors, so maybe not.
Some while back, when Tessa was back running and driveable, I decided it was time to put the roof up for the winter. Naturally I went to wind the windows up. The passenger one was stuck, unwilling to move. I applied a bit more effort to the handle... there was a crack and the handle went loose.
Having dismantled the door and pushed the window up (where it stayed quite happily all by itself because the glass was jammed in the runner), this was what I found:
The regulator control arm is held on the winder sector by a rivet, which had snapped. This should be quite easily repairable, or bodgable with a dab of weld. However...
... I had a spare regulator mechanism. This was among the box of bits that came with Tessa, along with a left-hand door shell, so presumably there was a whole spare door that had been acquired some time. Coincidentally, Toby also had a spare left hand door.
Today, having replaced the offending felt bit in the front runner, and confirmed that this made the glass slide freely, I set about reassembling the door. What a pig of a job! The regulator can't be inserted through the tiny narrow gaps unless the quarter-light frame is unbolted and moved, but then you have to re-fit that and readjust it, which involves fitting a bolt through a "tie-rod" and bracket into a captive nut that isn't where you want it, through a one inch hole into a space you can't get your hands into unless you're built like a ten-year-old, and which you can't see into at all, all the while fighting gravity which wants to chop your arm off with the glass.
However, I managed it.
The glass is now correctly sliding up and down in response to the winder.
In amongst the hubbub of the Christmas season, I managed a couple of days in the garage working on Toby and Tessa.
Toby had returned from the painter without a handbrake cable. This was mostly my fault for not having the correct one in stock (I had two; one for a Herald and one for a 2500). Which was especially silly given that I'd assembled all the suspension with the body off, and that would have been the right time to fit the cable, as I discovered...
First I cleaned up the compensator sector. This is the bit that the rear cable runs through so that the intermediate lever can pull on it when the driver pulls the handbrake on. Sadly I don't have a 'before' photo - it was caked in grime.
I painted it in matt black, with a brush, because the can of satin black was hiding.
The next task was to fit the rear handbrake cable. As I mentioned, I really should have done this much earlier, because it needs to be fed through the guides on the chassis:
This doesn't look too hard to a casual observer, but the ends of the cable have a solid, threaded bit, about three inches long, which is somewhat longer than the radius of that guide. It is impossible to feed this through in one go. You need to feed it through one hole, pull plenty of cable into a loop, feed the end through the other hole, then pull it so that the loop of cable un-loops. On a bare chassis, that's mildly awkward. With a diff in place it's much harder, especially on the side not shown in this picture, where the body of the diff is right up close. With the half-shafts and UJs already fitted, working from underneath... it's impossible. I had to undo the right-hand UJ flange and pull the half-shaft out of the way. Even then I really struggled. But I managed in the end.
The other thing that would have been far easier while it was a bare (or, in this case, rolling) chassis... was attaching the cable ends to the levers on the brake drums. As you can see from this photo, the body and radius arm really get in the way. Actually, I hadn't completely fitted the radius arm until after the cable, so that wasn't too bad. The problem I did have, and haven't yet sorted, is that the clevis pin doesn't quite fit through the brake lever. The pin is new and, I believe, correct. The lever is old but had been blast cleaned and painted some years back when I built the rear axle up. Again, if I'd done the handbrake cable then, I could have drilled out that hole far more easily.
With the rear cable in place, it was time to fit the compensator sector. Unlike the chassis guides, this will slip over the middle of the cable, then over the intermediate lever, ready for the clevis pin to drop in. Yeah, likely story.
Actually the pin did drop in reasonably easily, as long as I simultaneously applied enough tension on the rear cable to line it up, while working with hands poking through the tiny gap between chassis and propshaft and entirely by feel because the pin goes in from above. In this case, though, I can't say it would have been easier on a rolling chassis, because the lever attaches to the body tub.
With the handbrake cable done, I fitted the radius arms that transmit acceleration and braking force from the rear wheels to the body. The brackets on the body tub should have shims behind them to set the toe angle. I have those somewhere but they need cleaning and/or renewing. Also, the final assembly with the correct number of shims will need to be re-done after measuring the tracking, to get it right.
That was enough down-in-the-pit time, so...
I then fitted up the door latch mechanisms. I'd already fitted the external door handles and lock barrels but I actually had to remove both handles because they had been supplied (new, from a supplier on the bay of E) wrongly assembled. The push button has two bolts fitted, one to hold it in place and one with a lock nut to press on the door release pad on the latch. These had been swapped over. That's fairly easy to fix but it did seem they were ever so slightly different threads and weren't all that happy going in the right holes. Hmm...
I didn't manage much on the cars this weekend, mostly because of I's birthday. However, Tessa got her MOT on Friday, despite suffering a total electrical failure mid-test (fixed by waggling connectors) and then deciding to pour petrol out of the air filter on the way home.
Toby only got a bit of making way. When he came back from the painter, he had been stuffed full of the bits and pieces I'd sent down with him. As the photo shows, this was quite a lot. The seats and door innards were included because I'd (rashly) thought the trimming might get done at the same time. That wasn't sensible because, as the trimmer pointed out, I will need to assemble the mechanical bits far enough to get an MOT before the interior is done, otherwise things will have to come out again.
All of those boxes of bits got taken out and put on the side, waiting to be tidied away somewhere. In among them, as you may be able to see, is the front valance (painted and wrapped in bubble wrap for protection), which will need to be fitted using the brand new brackets that are also among the pile (but annoyingly didn't get painted).
I've also removed the boot lid. This is a new panel that got dented in transit and had to be rectified because the supplier wouldn't accept a delivery condition complaint more than one day after the delivery. The painter hadn't opened the box for several weeks. Oh well. He'd fitted it for transport using the original hinges but not the reinforcing frame because he realised after painting that there's "a problem". Well, the first problem I noticed was that he'd swapped the hinges - yes, they ARE handed - so that it wouldn't hinge open. Having unbolted it I checked the frame fit and the only problem I can see is that one of the attachment holes hasn't been drilled in the boot lid. I think that may have been a change in production - very early cars only had four of the five attachment points.
It's been a long road to this point. I'm hoping I can make better progress from now on.
After a long gap with no updates... there's a reasonable bit to report on the cars front.
The GT6 has been doing sterling service as our chariot for 12-car navigational rallies, and as second reserve for the Round Britain Reliability Run, which meant it's done it four times now. The only glitch this year was the windscreen wiper cable snapping, leaving the passenger side wiper non-functional. As the weather was mostly lovely, this didn't matter too much.
Tessa got evicted from her damp and dismal garage so that it could be demolished. She had to live under a friend's carport, unattended and undriven. It didn't help that she had persistently exhibited a hot fuel problem that left me stranded a couple of times. I traced that to heat in the fuel pump and fitted a cheap electric pump. That caused the front carburettor float valve to leak, resulting in fuel pouring out of the air filters. Trying to fix that caused her to run on only three cylinders and I didn't have a chance to dig deeper until I could get her home.
That brings me to the reason for demolishing that horrible garage (apart from its general crapness). The long process of sorting out a new garage finally reached the point where the builders started work. That was in late July. By the middle of November it was finally... almost finished. Close enough that Tessa and Toby could both finally come home. Toby should have been first but the chap who was doing the work got even slower when it came to painting. Still, on Friday he finally finished and Toby was brought to his new home, where I can start the process of reassembly.
I've managed a bit of time on Tessa again this weekend. I'm still in the process of sorting out the brakes (didn't post about the new wheel cylinders and calipers but she's had them, just need to persuade the stupid thing to bleed properly). In the mean time, though...
When I built the new engine, I removed the rather horrid capillary temperature sender, and put back the original spec. electrical one that actually fits. Unfortunately, that meant replacing the gauge, which was a dual water temperature and oil pressure job. And that meant I'd lose the oil pressure gauge (she already doesn't have a lamp). So, an extra gauge is needed.
First, the very thin copper pipe, which turned out to have different fittings from the new (second-hand off eBay) gauge, had to be replaced with the stuff I'd bought (off eBay) just in case. This was a kit for a Mini, but most BL cars used similar bits.
Then I had to make up a panel for the gauge to fit in. Pods that hang under the dash are available, in nasty black plastic and at non-trivial cost. All the ones I found were ugly. So I got my box of scrap materials out. I had an off-cut of plywood, a bit of thin steel sheet, a section of vinyl cut from the back of a pair of Spitfire seats that needed re-covering and some tools. Cut the wood, make a hole in it, apply some varnish. Then cut a strip of steel, drill a few small holes and bend to shape. Glue the vinyl to the edge of the wood, add a layer of padding foam and tack the steel around it with a few nails. Then fold the foam and vinyl out over the steel and round the back. Staple in place and voila!
The position I chose gives decent visibility from the driver's seat when steering straight ahead. It also clears my knees OK. Which is useful.
Hmm... seems it's a good while since I posted what should have been the penultimate episode of Tessa's engine build. Life got in the way a bit, what with moving house (and losing the lovely workshop) and everything.
Tessa's engine went back in, eventually. The flywheel had to be changed because the bolts are bigger on the later crank. And then the fuel pump had to be replaced because it's moved (as I hinted at back in April). I've written a bit more about that for Club Torque so I won't repeat it here. Once assembled, though, she wouldn't start and it was less than a week before moving day. The plan of driving her up the road was scuppered. I borrowed a trailer from a work colleague (very decent chap) and a friend from church towed her up the hill.
Meanwhile, Toby was trailered to a little garage in Chesterton where he's getting the next few bits of his rebuild done. It was supposed to be just the painting and trimming but fitting up the doors has shown some anomalous profiles.
Once things began to settle down, I had a poke around. Tessa's inability to start turned out just to be a weak battery. Given a full charge she fired up first time. She then passed her MOT too.
That was in late August. Since then, the GT6 has done another navigational rally (in Essex) which was good fun. And I treated it to a more sensible ratio diff (the old one was a Herald 4.11 instead of the correct 3.89 but I opted for a late Spitfire 3.63 for better cruising).
And then everything went down the tubes. Tessa's garage is damp so I put her hood up and tried to close both windows. The passenger side one was stuck and my efforts actually broke the winder gear. I had to strip the door and partially remove the quarter light frame just to move the glass up to the closed position. The winder mechanism is dangling loose because in that state it's nigh on impossible to even detach it. But at least with the windows up she's drivable. Except that when I set out to pop into Cottenham for some shopping, I discovered she had no brakes. All the fluid had leaked out.
A week later, when the GT6 was going in for its second change of diff (the first having proved unbearably noisy), it too had nasty spongy brakes... because it too had leaked most of its fluid.
And then the other day, having topped up the brake fluid, we took the GT6 out for a Christmas card delivery round, and the garage door broke. The last time that happened (and in my experience it always happens - up-and-over garage doors just always fail) I replaced the broken one with a pair of side-hinged wooden doors. That's not an option here, though, because the drive slopes down toward the garage so there's no clearance for outward opening. Grrr...
No, it's not a rebuild any more. With so little of the original engine left it's a new build!
Anyway, with the crankshaft, con-rods and pistons installed, the oil pump went in. It was tight. That surprised me because the bush the top end of the shaft sits in was transferred from the old block. I think it just got very slightly distorted in the process of removal (needed to be drifted out). A bit of rubbing down and deburring (which is hard in situ but easier than drifting it out again) sorted that. So next up was the engine front plate.
When I got the gasket set I noticed there were two front plate gaskets. Initially I'd wondered if this was a mistake but on closer inspection:
This being a blog, not a puzzle book, I've marked up the answers to the "spot the difference" challenge. The one on the left is the early type, to suit my old engine. The one on the right is the late one.
In fact, the two extra holes along the bottom are for additional mounting bolts that fit the late version of an aluminium filler piece. I was re-using the old one, so my early type front plate is correct there. And the squashed D-shape of the big hole is OK too - making it circular was a simplification. The problem is the much less obvious difference in clearance between that big hole and the bolt hole above it. This is where it fits :
Actually, that photo was taken after I'd fixed the problem. The early front plate is machined to clear the early crank journals. With the later, larger crank it would foul. So I had to modify it :
Having ground off a few millimetres it then cleared the crank :
From there it was a simple reassembly. Surely?
Well, the timing gear went on fine :
I timed it up by the "valves at rock" method - set the crank at TDC and turn the cam until the valves for that cylinder are on overlap, which happens as the exhaust closes and the inlet opens, so the tappets are both slightly lifted. I then confirmed that the larger timing gear had a spot mark correctly aligned. The small one doesn't seem to have a mark.
Then the mounting brackets and lifting eyes went on :
Finally it was time for the flywheel and pulleys, but that's another story. Oh dear.
I left off last time at the point where I was ready to move the crankshaft from my slightly cracked engine block, number HC932E, to the replacement block, number HC5616E. Both the same type, both quite low numbers, should be fine, yes?
Engines from number HC5000 onward are the later type. They have larger main bearings - 2.3 inch journals instead of 2.0 inch. Clearly that difference is way too much to cope with in bearings, so I had to source a replacement crankshaft, of the later type.
No luck on eBay this time (there was one in America but the shipping cost would be prohibitive) but TRGB were able to supply one from an engine in their dismantling yard. This wasn't a cheap option, as it was to be reground too. It also took a long time - four weeks in all - for that machining to happen, and then they were struggling to source the big-end bearings. I went to collect the crank and main bearings anyway, and realised they'd sourced early type bearings. This error was the cause of the sourcing trouble - they had a full set of the correct late bearings (albeit only the cheaper type) on the shelf.
Why this didn't ring alarm bells, I don't know, but it didn't.
So I got the crank home and fitted it. Compared to the early type :
the later one is quite a lot meatier :
And that's the problem I should have predicted. The big end journals may be the same diameter, but they're a different width. The early con-rods don't fit the later crank. I needed a whole new set of con-rods, too. Again, TRGB came through :
But something looked a bit off about those pistons. Here's the type of piston and con-rod from my old engine :
And here's a critical measurement :
Now here's that same ruler setting against the new con-rod :
Argh! It's wrong! Those are 2500 (probably TR6) pistons!
Well, yes, they are, but after a bit of research and some re-measuring, it's also clear that this isn't a problem. The whole reason Triumph arsed about with all this stuff in the first place was to simplify production stock levels, by commonizing parts. In this case, the crank can't be common between the short and long stroke engines, but the con-rods are. The 10mm difference in the journal's height at TDC is compensated by a 10mm difference in the position of the little-end gudgeon pin relative to the piston crown. Here's a comparison of the pistons :
And here's the two different con-rods together, from which you can see they're the same length :
And here, for reference, is the reason the early ones don't fit the late crankshaft. Early is on the left - note the extra width :
So that's good. All I had to do was remove the gudgeon pins (fortunately floating type so it's only circlip pliers I needed, not a hydraulic press) and swap the con-rods. And, of course, go back through all the hassle of fitting pistons into the block.
(Yes, this is backdated. I should have posted it in April but...)
Having dismantled Tessa's engine, I set about preparing all the bits to be installed in the replacement block.
First up was some blast cleaning and painting of the various ancillary brackets. She's had an alternator fitted, so has the big cast bracket for that (instead of the folded steel one used for dynamos). Then there's the fan belt tensioner bracket and the two lifting eyes, plus a blanking plate for the block breather.
The block and cylinder head had been off to Ivor Searle for cleaning up.
This also meant everything came out, including the core plugs and oil gallery plugs.
Before going any further I treated them both to a coat of matt black engine lacquer. It's a bit too matt, so I later gave them (and other bits) some satin.
At this point, I noticed a minor difference between the two blocks. The new one doesn't have the crank breather hole that needed a blanking plate on the old one.
I didn't immediately realise the significance of this, after all, the breather isn't used so who cares?
Next job was to fit new core plugs and other seals.
The core plugs were fine, but the oil gallery plugs - taper thread screws - were very reluctant. I had to re-tap some of the drillings, which wasn't easy because it's not obvious what the correct thread is. There are 3/8UNF, 7/16UNF, something that looks about 1/2" but turns out to be 1/4NPT, and a 3/4UNF. That last one is a problem because the plug is aluminium and the currently available ones aren't tapered. It may be they're not supposed to be, but in that case they'd need a head for the copper washer, and the one I got from TRGB definitely doesn't have a head.
Meanwhile, the sump pan and the front and back plates needed to be cleaned up, degreased and painted.
Since I was, by now, doing quite a lot of work and spending a lot of money, I decided to treat the inside of the block to a coat of "Glyptal". This is a non-porous paint that encourages the oil to run back into the sump rather than soaking into the casting. It's also red.
Similar treatment was given to the head.
Next, I removed all six pistons from the old block and put them in the new one.
It's essential to keep the bearing caps mated to the same con-rods, so I placed them in order as I went along. The pistons are +.020 because the old block had been rebored, so I'd had Ivor Searle rebore the replacement block the same. Fortunately it hadn't been done before, so this was more than enough to remove the surface rust on the bores.
And here's a view from below:
Next job is to transfer the crankshaft. At least, that's what I thought...
To be continued...