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...
There's something missing from Tessa at the moment. See if you can spot it:
OK, that was a bit easy. As mentioned previously, her existing block is cracked in a couple of places, and her head gasket has blown yet again, possibly due to overheating as a result of not keeping the coolant in. So the replacement block I bought off eBay is at Ivor Searle being cleaned and machined. It had a little rust on the bores so needed a rebore, but since the pistons in the existing engine are +.020 I would have had to get it bored anyway.
So, while I wait for the "new" block to be ready...
I've removed the old short engine from the car and put it on the bench. I like my workshop. I will miss it when I move (at least until I get another one built).
Apart from the cracks and head gaskets, there's very little wrong with this engine. The clutch driven plate even has life left on it. Of course the real test, once it's dismantled...
... is to check the bearings. The oil pump looks good and fairly clean, so I whipped some of the bearing caps off...
OK, the photo actually looks a bit worse than the "flesh". There's a tiny bit of scoring but the bearing surface is clean and smooth. It probably hasn't been in there all that long. Except that I know they haven't been done in the 12 years I've owned her.
... the bits I've removed have to go somewhere, so the boot is getting a bit full.
When Douglas Adams published "Mostly Harmless", the cover included a note declaring it to be "The fifth book of the increasingly inaccurately named Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy". Today, I'm feeling similarly numerically challenged.
Of course, I've been suffering an out-by-one error for quite some time, since I sold the Stag. But now I'm out by two. Six-old-cars now only owns four old cars.
Harry the PI estate joined my fleet in November 2005, when I needed something big enough to transport a computer monitor (albeit a complete beast of a 22" CRT one). Later, his tow hook came in very handy for retrieving Toby the Spitfire, and even for moving more than a car's worth of equipment to LiveWires one year. Being a fuel injected 2.5 litre of 1960s design, he was never economical but he was very comfortable on long journeys.
Sadly, 18 months ago, he was too rusty to get an MOT. I set out to fix that, repairing the driver's footwell, the sill and crossmember, the wheelarch, even starting on the passenger side. But with Toby still a major project, and Spike the Toledo dying, and even Tessa having a crisis, I was never going to be able to fix them all. So one of them had to go. Since I now also own a boring, reliable, modern car which is big, comfortable, ideal for long journeys and has a tow hook, and because Harry needed panels that are hard to come by, he was the one that had to go.
I had owned Harry for exactly nine years and nine days. Now he's off to Manvers Triumph, to be rebuilt for a customer who's keen to own a genuine, still injected, PI estate with original Lucas bits. Harry is such a car, so I wish him a long and happy life with his new owner.
With all the Round Britain stuff now properly out of the way, and before the start of the writing madness in November, I took the chance this week to make a bit more progress on Toby. When last I did any work on him it was the nearside wing being fitted to the bonnet, and there were a couple of issues with fit.
On the driver's side I took a different approach to the order of fitting up. I tried to clamp all the panels in place before welding any, but that's not practical. However, I fitted the sidelight panel and D-plate before the wheel arch and wing.
That did mean that I got the fit of the sidelight panel and the front edge of the wing quite a lot better. It's not perfect but it's very acceptable.
Then the wing to wheel arch was the last bit of that structure to be committed to, followed by the rear bracing strap. The fit of this is no better than the other side, partly because they're not right - they're actually Mk4 parts, which is close enough for rock and roll, but certainly not for concourse!
The final step on the wing is the support panel for the headlight bowl. This might have been easier if the wing was the same length as the bonnet top! In this case, the new wing may actually be the one that's right, as the right side of the bonnet top turns out to be in fairly poor state under the filler. Probably accident damage in the dim distant past.
In the weeks since its third successful Round Britain Run, the GT6 has had more than its usual share of attention. The first thing was that its MOT runs to mid-November, so a fortnight after RBRR was the earliest convenient date. Clearly the dodgy indicators needed fixing... or at least coaxing into temporary life while I wait for the replacement flasher to arrive. I made the mistake of ordering a couple of other things at the same time, one of which is not a stock item, and the Coventry-based supplier are holding the order back to be sent in one parcel.
Never mind. The flasher worked for the test - just - and the MOT man was satisfied that I will sort it properly fairly soon. He had a similar attitude to the three questionable wheel bearings, including some quite bad play in the offside rear. That definitely does need sorting, and being a Rotoflex car it's a bit of a pain. It's also going to involve dismantling the axle, so I plan to replace the incorrect diff while I'm at it, albeit probably for another incorrect one, but the other way.
While looking for the flasher unit, however, I'd rediscovered the empty bulb holder dangling under the dash. A bit of reading up revealed that this is supposed to illuminate the ignition switch (which is way down in the footwell) when the courtesy light is on. Given that both door switches were dead, and the tailgate switch appears now to have joined them, this hadn't really mattered, but I decided to make up a bracket for it anyway. I also bought some replacement door switches (the wrong type but they fit fine) off eBay. In the process I discovered that the roof light wasn't working any more. Even worse, with the doors closed the bulb in the footwell light glowed very dimly.
The bulb in the roof light was good, and removing it stopped the dim glow. That gave me a hint, and a quick test confirmed that the purple wire (fused permanent positive) in the roof light was actually at ground potential, intermittently connected to ground.
I had a strong hunch about what had happened. When I removed the boot floor and side trim, my hunch was proved right.
The three wires here are the courtesy light switched ground (intact but missing some insulation), the rear screen demister feed (missing most of its insulation) and the fused positive (completely stripped, broken, in two pieces). What the photo doesn't show is that they were buried in leaves and scraps of trim - a mouse nest.
To replace that section of the loom properly would need the roof lining to be removed, and I'm definitely not going there. Fortunately I was able to get in there enough to repair all three wires without shortening them too much. So now, for the first time in the twenty years I've owned it, the GT6 has a working courtesy light.