In the Garage - Christmas Edition
Hi, welcome to the Christmas issue of our "In the Garage" newsletter. Thank you to those who gave me positive feedback on the first edition, it was very much appreciated, and a big thank you to those who have provided their stories for this second edition and of course, to Andrew for pulling it together. Please, keep the updates coming.
As I'm writing this, I can see that it's a bit cooler outside, so I guess only those of you who have a good heater are out there making progress, whilst the rest of us are more likely browsing eBay for that elusive original spare part – don't forget, you could always ask me to include a Wanted ad next time.
Anyway, here is this month's issue, enjoy. Thanks, Alan
Andrew Willmott – TR3a and TR4
The ongoing tidying up of the TR4 has continued throughout the summer and as usual each job crossed off the garage white board leads to at least one more being added.
There has been a persistent petrol smell in the car since well before I bought it and the source seemed to be in the area of the boot so the petrol tank became the prime suspect. Stripping the trim from the boot revealed staining down the back of the tank from the filler neck so the tank was removed. Close inspection revealed that a poorly brazed repair around the filler neck had filled the area between the neck and a vertical flange where the two halves of the tank are joined and was preventing the rubber filler neck from fully locating on the spigot. Half an hours fettling with a Dremel and needle file saw the problem solved.
Now that the tank was out seemed an ideal time to fit a "firewall" or a liquid barrier for the pedants among us so I set too making hardboard templates while waiting for the 1mm aluminium sheet to arrive. The Trade fit these from the front as it saves more than a few hours work by not draining and removing the tank. A neater job can be made by fitting the barrier from the boot side as there is a ready made frame for the main section to sit into and a flange can be fabricated to sit on the diff hump. Fitting the barrier on the boot side also saves encroaching on the already tight gap for the rear cockpit trim, which on a hardtop car squeezes between the H deck and a lip on the surrey backlight.
Two filler wings were required to fill the gaps over the wheel arches. Making templates, fabricating and fitting these took a lot longer than the main section but eventually with the addition of a tube of intumescent sealer the boot area was completely sealed.
A layer of Dynamat on the main panel and refitting the tank with new filler hose and closed cell foam seals around the drain and outlet ports completed the job.
The hydraulic brake light switch on early cars has always been problematic mainly due to its position on the offside chassis member close to the exhaust and especially when aftermarket exhaust manifolds are fitted. My TR4 was no exception in that its operation was intermittent at best and the MOT testing loomed!
A suitable (BMW) mechanical switch was sourced from eBay and an hour or so saw a stainless steel bracket fabricated and fitted to the pedal box utilizing one of the existing mounting studs. The existing loom was long enough to reach the new switch without modification. The new system is super reliable and the brake lights now illuminate with even the lightest touch on the brake pedal and unscheduled rear bodywork modifications are avoided.
The TR3 was feeling a bit neglected and was showing its displeasure by the odd intermittent miss-fire and on one occasion by refusing to continue home from a meeting at Willand until the points had been cleaned. Good quality points are getting more difficult to source so eBay was consulted and Paypal shelled out for an Accuspark pointless trigger kit.
The kit was assembled onto a spare distributor plate and fitted in place of the existing points, condenser and mounting plate so that the originals could be stored in a plastic bag in the boot "just in case."
The engine fired and idled straight away and only a small timing adjustment was required to achieve perfect running. The hall effect switch negates the effect of any distributor shaft or cam wear and although mine wasn't bad the new system has certainly improved things as the engine now picks up and runs more smoothly. Hopefully the replacement of moving parts will improve reliability.
A pair of Revington's 161lb Rally springs are now keeping the back end off the ground. The ride height has been restored to its standard level and the car certainly tracks a lot better than it did on the saggy original springs. A matching set of front springs will be fitted when I get around to it.
John has continued to uphold his reputation as builder and wrecker of engines!
Jennie and I were on our way to Exeter when we spotted a familiar TR4 stopped in a layby on the North Devon Link Road. As we waited to cross the traffic into the layby a text message from John was received passing on the sad tale of hot wet feet and another lost core plug. He still had the phone in his hand as we apologized for our tardy response to his call for aid……..about 30 seconds…….match that Green Flag!
Jennie's Tiguan made short work of towing the stricken car back to the TR hospital where having pondered the failure we concluded that it was unusual to lose a core plug and that to lose two in a row must point to an underlying problem. Given that the mechanical fits had been closely examined subsequent to the initial failure the evidence pointed toward excessive cooling system pressure and the radiator cap became the prime suspect.
The cap cracked under interrogation. It had a lever fitted to release pressure manually prior to removing the cap from a hot engine. Close inspection revealed that the lever needs to lift in order to relieve excess pressure and that it had been touching the underside of the bonnet preventing it from lifting and effectively sealing the system. John had only just topped up the water level as he had just prior to the previous core plug failure.
A few quick sums revealed that with little air gap and no relief valve the water pressure would have easily exceeded 60psi and exerted sufficient force to displace the core plug.
With engine problems cast aside (for the time being) DRK was treated to a couple of upgrades ready for the TRack Day at Castle Coombe. Vented discs picked up at the Lincoln International were fitted together with a supersized front ARB and a set of front springs matched to the 161lb Revington rear springs already fitted. The uprated rear springs have been keeping the tail off the ground for some time but not helping the understeer that caught out John's son Tristan at Blyton Park. The matched front springs should balance things out and see lap times reduced a bit.
STOP PRESS: Castle Coombe TRack day saw DRK retire early in the day due to low oil pressure and a quick examination revealed shiny metal particles in the oil. The car was trailered back to Barnstaple for further investigation.
To be continued……
Paul Gibson – TR6
Paul has been a bit short of time to work on his new engine over the summer period and having made a super accurate connecting rod balancing fixture he moved on to an ingenious modification to regain some lost time.
Paul's mower was a bit tentative so gears from a Mini Moto were grafted onto the drive system. He now jogs along keeping fit in the wake of the mower, saving the time spent in the gym. He now finishes mowing in half the time allowing an extra half hour in the garage…..a double win!
Paul's TR6 is now displaying a revised stance having been treated to some slightly lower springs, new adjustable shock absorbers and a bit of suspension fettling and adjustment using a home brewed laser alignment kit made with a few parts courtesy of eBay. A front brake overhaul with fancy new discs and pads bought at the Lincoln IWE ensure that the car now stops as it should. After a lift to Willand and back I can report that the car maintains its composure through the roundabouts and rides well too.
Charles Martin - TR4 V8 Project and TR4
Charles removed the body from the chassis on his Daimler V8 powered project in the summer and proved that he could fit three TRs in his garage even if one has to be on its side against the wall!
A major lightening program has taken place as Charles has scraped 7-8kg of detritus from the chassis before starting the full restoration with upgrades to match the weight and performance of new 140hp power unit.
Modifications include stiffening either side of centre box section to compensate for opening up front and rear holes to clear the twin big bore exhaust pipes which we're all looking forward to hearing next year.
The ex-USA body has been winging its way around the shire visiting sheet metal gurus North Devon Metalcraft with a side trips to the blasting specialists and paint shop. The steering shafts have beaten the exhaust headers in the race for space in the tight engine bay and the shafts, joints and mountings are now all in place.
NDM have been making lots modifications around the engine bay and bulkhead area to make room for the considerably larger than standard engine and gearbox together with all the normal panel work required were this a standard TR4 rebuild. New floors and boot floor were required together with a few small repairs to the generally sound inner body before work on fitting and gapping of the outer panels could begin in earnest. Blasting also revealed some 'accident' damage above and in front of left side rear wheel arch – it looks as if something heavy fell on it! This was dollied out and then left for final filling by the painter.
The bodywork is scheduled to be painted in early December while the chassis is treated to blasting, zinc spraying and powder coating.
Charles reports: "everything is going swimmingly apart from the bank balance, the checking of which brings on an attack of the vapours."
Frank Summers – TR4a and TR7
Frank has been beavering away throughout the summer and the TR7 has now been painted and is fast approaching the finishing line.
The TR4 has seen some fettling recently and is now sporting a lightweight alternator, narrow fan belt and electric fan.
An interesting fault cropped up while on the trip to Jersey in the summer. The car idled beautifully but was gradually losing power throughout the day and failing to pick up as expected when throttle was applied.
The assembled masses failed to spot the problem at a lunch stop but once left alone to quietly work the problem Frank spotted that the link between the two twin Delortos had been backing off to the point that he was getting full throttle on one carb but only half throttle (or less) on the second one! A quick fettle with a screwdriver saw performance returned together with Frank's smile.
Steve Williams – TR5
Steve has spent most of his time driving his car rather than working on it this summer showing the rest of us the way it should be. The TR5 can be seen in daily use around Barnstaple and certainly gets the North Devon prize for attending the most events this year. I spotted his TR5 recently displayed at the North Devon Classic Car Show at the end of November keeping the TR flag flying in the chilly weather.
Steve had a minor tyre wear problem and investigated with Pauls' help using Paul's home made laser alignment gear. A few small adjustments ensured that all the wheels were pointing in the correct direction. A new tyre was fitted and Steve will be keeping a close eye on the way it wears over the coming miles.
Barry Smith – TR3a
I've noticed when cold starting a tendency to what I consider to be "hydraulicing". The car is also using a lot of oil. I fitted a high inertia starter but the problem persisted. I'm hoping it's just worn valves guides. It's got to be sorted - head off, new valves and guides, crack testing and unleaded seats. Not a job I'm looking forward to when knocking on the door of 70 and working in a very tight unheated garage.
This replacement engine has apparently done about 56K miles although I'm not sure if it is the original head. This is the car that was laid up in 1986 and subsequently re-commissioned by me in 2008. I've only done maybe 500 miles in it.
It's at times like this that I could really do with my Father and Grandfather back. They were the Chief Test Driver and Engine Development Engineer throughout the Belgrove TR development years.
You – Your Car
What's happening in your garage?
Mail your notes and pictures to: email@example.com .
I am happy to hone rough notes before publication.
For Sale and Wanted:
Email your for sale and wanted adverts for inclusion in the next issue.
TR4 Rear bumper outriggers (the bits that fit between the chassis and the rear wing and bolt to the front of the bumper)
TR4 Rear over-rider stays (between the rear of the chassis and the rear over-rider)