Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The quest for Insurance concluded

With the help of the TSSC I got to the right guy in Footman James and then with a little reminding he came up with a solution. £41.25 and a £300 excess when Joe drives sounded OK to me, well Joe's paying so I hope it sounds OK to him :-) Seems that Footman James' admin isn't really that slick so it's as wise to not accept the first (or second) answer and persevere. I've kept Mike Crewes at the TSSC informed and this should help him tackle these admin glitches with FJ. The scheme is good, the cover wide, the benefits extensive but the admin and the feeling that it's all a bit slap dash is overwhelming. Having said that it is worth persevering with, I couldn't get close enough to the FJ quote for my "normal" business although I did not try everyone. Insurance is one of those grudge purchases that really should be supported by seriously good customer service to win over the customer, FJ have a way to go. I hope they crack it as it can only be a good thing for us classic car owners.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The quest for insurance continues

I took the advice fo a few people who'd emailled me about this and enlisted the help of the Club, the TSSC have a long standing good relationship with Footman James.
Well on the advice of the Club I spoke to a guy in Footman James, Trevor Keefe, nice chap, knew what I was driving and actually appreciated what I was saying about it being a TR6 engined Vitesse etc. He explained that they basically issue 2 types of policy, a "mature" driver policy designed for over 25s and a "young" driver policy designed for under 25s - both are ratehr accordingly. In essence as I have the mature policy I cannot add an inder 25 to it, however there is some flexibility as it's purely an administrative barrier that can be sorted. He said that yes Footman James would be able to cover my co-driver, especially as it's only for a week, and that he would undertake to get me a firm price/terms asap.
Later today there was a weird exchange of emails and another call from Trevor - suffice to say that the admin in FJ can be improved but the product is OK, if only the admin knew more about the product :-) Although the quest is not over and the saga continues it does seem that a resolution is in sight. Thanks to Mike Crewes of the TSSC and Trevor Keefe of Footman James for their time so far.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rally ho!

Well that was fun!

A few guys from Club Triumph popped over to Holland on the weekend to do the Dutch night rally. I co-drove with Tim Bancroft in his car, the Dreadnought aka Lurch aka The Grey Thing - a MkI 2500 PI running on carbs. Several hundred miles covered to get there and back plus some nifty Dutch Tulip navigation, a broken throttle cable fixed in the dark in the middle of nowhere and nursing a fellow crews dodgy dynamo - all in a weekends work really :-) We didn't finish, it didn't matter, the beer at the end was just as good, as was the company!
So thanks to all those involved, especially Theo our back seat driver and Roger our battery donor (poor James' Spit needed the juice as it's grumbly dynamo just couldn't take the pace). Special thanks to Tim for inviting me. It was good to meet a few old faces and some new ones too, despite never having used Tulips to navigate with before (I've used them to appologise with) I was getting used to them and quickly got to enjoying the navigating. To be honest I enjoyed fixing the car at the side of the road too and the drive there and back was pretty good - all in all a great weekend!

The quest for Insurance

I'm on a quest for insurance cover for the Vitesse and Sixfire as I need to find cover that allows the addtion of my 23 year old co-driver on the 10CR. I don't want to split the cars up onto different policies although I will if I have to. The cars are both modified, effectively I have a 2 litre Spitfire and a TR6 engined Vitesse. I don't want a limited mileage policy on the Vitesse as I intend to use it often, the Sixfire doesn't do that many miles a year and could probably stand a limited policy. I want breakdown cover and I want to be able to add in drivers without too much admin and cost.

So far
  • Footman James, current insurer through the TSSC - premium's £200 but you need to add membership and valuation fees (per car) so the true cost is nearer £250 BUT they will not add on any drivers under 25. This is by far the best value for money but doesn't help me out of this issue. This includes European breakdown insurance and unlimited mileage.
  • Norwich Union Classic car - a limited mileage option and the price varies a lot as you increase the mileage, it is possible to get both cars insured for under £200. It includes UK RAC Cover but they don't insure under 25s
  • Glynn Wood brokers tel 01543 675163 - as recommended by a CT member. £240 for both cars but would not insure a 23 year old on a short terms basis instead they could add him to the annual policy but that would double the premium on that car.
  • www.dayinsure.com part of Norwich Union, a great idea and one that started to look hopeful - £40 to insure Joe for a week BUT they don't like modified vehicles! So there we have NU on the one hand saying yes to the car but no to the driver, then saying yes to the driver but no to the car. I need to get deeper into that one I think. NU came up with the goods a few years ago when I needed to insure an American friend on a prototype V8

Thursday, March 15, 2007

First drive with a new heart and a look back

For the first time in ages I've seen another Triumph in Reading and it was a Vitesse complete with hardtop like mine :-) I didn't have much time to get the phone and take a picture as I drove by with traffic behind me I couldn't really stop. I was at this point in the Toyota.
The test drive however was far more fun, it was only a short test run, just to make sure everything was working. It was really good to get out in the Vitesse again, I could only run up and down my local private road due to the fact that the MOT expired whilst the car was in pieces although I was able to tax it (free of course) before the original MOT expired.
So what have I done over the past 5 months? It's probably easier to say that the the engine block, cylinder head casting and gearbox casing have been retained but everything else renewed :-)
  • The blocks been stripped cleaned and honed, the bores were not excellent but acceptable

  • New County +.60 pistons, new rings, gapped and carefully installed

  • Cross drilled late 2.5 PI crank, reground new bearings, new thrusts

  • New duplex timing gear and chain

  • New oil pump, toleranced - oil pressure is as good as before, maybe even better

  • All rotating components fully balanced

  • Light (for a PI) flywheel with new ring gear - it's just a Vitesse flywheel really

  • Kent TH2 "Sports R" profile cam as original, I really like this cam, a good symetrical design

  • New followers and the correct 2.5 pushrods

  • Selected Mk2 rockers on new shaft with Mk2 pedestals and adjusters that work

  • New valves with proper caps, head inserted for unleaded

  • All new hardware, nuts, bolts, washers, tabs and gaskets etc

  • Gearbox reworked, still a J type overdrive with a mix of Dolly/TR7 internals, refreshed with new bearings, synchros reworked, selector forks renewed and hubs re-sprung
The cars currently back on points and I'll put the Aldon Ignitor system back on. The Magnecor leads and Iridium spark plugs (thanks Bill) should help.
I'm running it in on Penrite running in oil, that'll do for 500 miles then I'll change that and put some cheapo dinosaur juice and a new filter in for maybe a 1000 miles or more. Then I fancy going fully synthetic.
As for gearbox oil, I've thrown in some cheapo EP90 just to get mobile but my mate in the States is sending me over some Red Line MT90 (thanks Jerry). Its a fully synthetic oil and said to be very good, basically I took a few bits of advice and was compelled by this article on the Austin Healey transmission
The injection seems to be OK, just need to synchronise the butterflies as they aren't all closed at idle (you should be able to stall the engine by putting your thumb over the air bleed, my engine won't do that now). My fuel tank modifications are a little supect as the boot smells of petrol and I suspect a leaky tank so I may do what I always wanted to and get a bespoke or TR6 tank. There's lots of chat about fitting swirl pots and helper pumps but I'd like to stay with a single pump. I would also like to get the plumbing tidy so I can use the boot properly - the car does occassionally have to carry some luggage.
I'd really like to do some more reading on how to make the most of the PI system and improve my knowledge. I've amassed quite a lot of technical stuff now. Seems that two PRVs and an engine drive pump are high on the list of modifications.
The next thing to break will be the diff, it's not the quietest of diffs and leaks a bit so I'm thinking in the summer I'll swap it out for my rebuilt spare - one I bought from Kipping about 20 years ago, it's never seen the road! Must check the ratio.

In the meantime it's refit the gearbox tunnel, carpet and passenger seat - an hours work tops. Then get that MOT and drive - running it could be a trip up to Canleys on the A roads one day.

The car still wears one of it's RBRR stickers and whilst it's somewhat inappropriate as it didn't actually start the run, I'm going to leave it on.

I was so impressed that I washed the old Monster, it was looking a bit sad covered in garage dust and oily fingerprints. Whilst it was outside I also painted the garage floor as I was fed up with the dust from the concrete - I need to finish this job properly.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It's still Alive!!!

No Jim there is no truth in the rumour that the dizzy was sat on the bench the whole time!
Although I have just spent 10 mins wondering why it was running so rich until I realised I hadn't reconnected the vacuum pipe to the metering unit

So everything's back on in the engine bay now, I've set the timing with a timing light and she ticks over lovely. Filled the garage with fumes so I drove her out, turned round and drove back in so the exhaust doesn't fill the garage with fumes! There were lots of oily finger prints to burn off and the high temp paint on the manifold smoked awfully, I couldn't stay in the garage. It didn't last long and seems OK now - doubtless it'll fall off later!

I fitted the new exhaust, I didn't seem to need to buzz off that other mounting, the silencer fits fine in the gap between the two, tail pipe seems to stick out a bit but looks OK.

The MOT expired whilst the car was in pieces so I need to get a new one before I can do any serious test driving - I'll use my private road in the meantime ;-)

Jobs left to do

  • Rewire the overdrive
  • Fix the broken contact on the wiper motor or replace it with the spare
  • Refit the tunnel cover
  • Refit carpets
  • Refit passenger seat
  • Run it in
  • Get it on the rolling road - just need to find either an operator who knows his stuff or a guru I can take with me!
  • Drive it like you stole it again :-)

Oh and a public THANK YOU to the guys on the Club Triumph forum for help. A special "I owe you a pint or two" thank you to Dave "Yoda" Pearson - the force is strong in you :-)

It's Alive!

Yup, she runs! It was my misunderstanding of setting up the timing that was at fault, I knew it was timing, Dave confirmed it was timing but I couldn't figure out how I'd got it wrong. My lack of recent practical experience got in the way oh, and a stubborn refusal to actually read the manual properly :-)
Thanks to all those who chipped with comments and ideas - I knew I'd get there but when you're in the garage on your own and it's not going to plan you do get disheartened. Getting enough time at the thing has been a challenge too, it's not easy to do it in 1 or 2 hour segments. So what's left to do?
Fit the new exhaust - this is a Mk1 chassis so I need to give it a little gentle teasing with the angle grinder to buzz off the lower mount on the outrigger so I can fit the single back box. Everything else should be OK.
I've got to get the engine timed up properly with the timing light, it's back on points at the moment (so I could see what the hell was going on) so I'll return the Aldon to the dizzy before I go any further.
The induction pipework has to go back on.
I need to wire in the overdrive and inhibitors, there seems to be a few stray wires in there, hope I can remember how they go!
The tunnel, passenger seat and carpets need to go back in, I've added some sound/heat insulation to the tunnel as there was none previously.
After that I think we're ready for an MOT!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Another frustrating evening spent in the garage and still no fire up although I can now get some nice flames out the inlets and I am a dab hand at taking it all araprt and putting it all back together!

I spoke to Dave Pearson's technical support line and, armed with the knowledge I went into the garage for "20 minutes work" to get it running, timing is still the considered cause of the problem.

3 hours later I'm out again and drinking beer. I've had the thing apart again 3 times tonight, swapped the leccy ignition for points and put it all back together thrice.

The problem is that the drive shaft seems to be all over the place, if I can get it slotted into the oil pump then the dizzy is all over the place, it doesn't matter where the dizzy is but there are certain orientations that you can't get at the spark plugs of the tacho drive can't be connected! I understand that the dizzy drive gear can be anywhere depending upon where the oil pump happens to be and that the orientation of the dizzy is unimportant as long as the rotor arm is pointing at No1 lead with No1 piston at TDC but can I get the damn thing set up right? Can I bollocks.

I've even had the metering unit off and the drive out again to ensure it's all meshing properly. Timing up the metering unit and putting it all back together takes ages before I then try and fire it up and guess what? It doesn't damn fire up!!

Time to sleep on it

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Start you b*&t£%d!!

Yes, I've started swearing at it an dit still won't start.
I sprayed a load of Easy Start in and I still got no hint of firing so I was pretty sure the timing was out. So I checked that No1 was at TDC and that the rotor arm was pointing at No1 - that was fine. The plug leads are all in the right order (I haven't disturbed them from the original working set up).
I've always been aware of tales of getting the dizzy 180 degrees out but looking at it and trying to get it in another orientation I couldn't see how you can get it wrong. What I'm not so sure of is could I have got the drive underneath fitted wrongly?
I've got fuel, I've got spark, I've got air but are they all in the right place at the right time????

OK, I've tried most things I know - HELP!

She won't start. For anyone who doesn't know this is a fuly rebuilt 2.5 PI engine. All the ancilliaries have gone back on, they were all fine when they came off
  • There's fuel in the tank
  • Fuel pressure is 107 PSI at the metering unit inlet
  • Each injector is spraying a fine mist, no dribbling
  • There's a spark at the king lead from the coil
  • There's a spark at each plug - I've pulled them all out and seen each one sparking.
  • The cold start lever is connected and working fine, pulled all the way out
  • I'm running with no filter or plenum so there's plenty of air
  • Compression seems fine although I have not yet put the gauge on any cylinders
  • The dizzy is about where it was when I removed it
  • Ignition is Aldon/Petronix - what's the easiest way to detect when it opens??

She turns over fine and I occassionally get a "phut" and a "pop" or a "bang" or two but nothing I'd really call "firing".

The only thing I can think of is bad fuel but it's only been in the tank for 4 months, could it have gone that bad so as to not start at all? Seems unlikely.

Give me some more ideas.

Bleeding injection

Just come in for a "comfort break" having been playing bleed the injectors - weirdly I couldn't get real flow at the injectors, seemed also that I wasn't getting any spill back from the metering unit - a quick fiddle about fitting the pressure gauge at the metering unit showed there wasn't a pump problem. I opulled the cold start overfuel lever a bit more and tried again, there we go, a good spray from all injectors! Right, lets go see if we can find a spark - yes there's a spark so now with a rough approximation of where the dizzy should be to get close to a sensible timing I whacked the plugs and injectors back in and gave it a go.
It's struggling to go, some lovely popping and the odd loud bang but it's not firing. I've left it with the battery still charging for an hour whilst I have a break, take some pills for the headache the fumes have given me (both garage doors are open) etc. I also need to give the history homework help I promised No 1 daughter.
The headache isn't connected to the Club Triumph dinner last night, OK maybe it is :-) Good times with old friends, a most enjoyable evening.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Need more power!

The damn battery's gone flat, grrrrr - on the plus side the oil pressur eis up and there's fuel getting to the injectors although I think I may just pull them out and bleed them off a bit to make sure they are working 100% - of course I need a charged battery for that.
I took the battery off the Sixfire but that's a dinky little thing and didn't really have the guts to power the pump and turn the engine - a PI pump takes some juice to keep going.
The boost starter wasn't much good either but I guess I should have topped all these things up days ago really.
Never mind, there's always tomorrow :-) Now I need to write my TSSC area news and get ready for the Club Triumph Dinner and apparently I have some history homework to sort out with No1 child - it's all go here!

Will she fire up?

Well this morning's been spend rebuilding the rocker gear and refitting, adjusting the tappets, refitting fan, radiator, alternator and injectors. I've managed to damage the wiper motor connections but I have a spare.
The car's filled up with fluids and I've whizzed her round on the starter to get the oil light out but the battery isn't that well charged - I knew I should have put it on charge yesterday - I can use my el cheapo batter booster or pull the battery of the Sixfire if neccessary.
Anyhow, it's all ready to go so now I've had my lunch I'm off back out to see if she'll run :-)

Thursday, March 08, 2007


New rocker shaft and some other little bits arrived today, I know I've said it before but I think I shoudl get the engine fired up this weekend. Gotta fit in parents evening for the eldest, some more DIY, the Club Triumph Dinner and a hangover though :-)

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I'm kicking myself that I never stripped and assessed my stock of rockers before now. Yup, you guessed it, what I have is shagged. This was on the car when I got it - a Mk1 set - I think from a 2000 as they have the short adjusters. The shaft had the unsupported ends with end caps and mills pins (not really sure of those, if they drop out they will do some serious damage in an engine).
The rockers have two oil holes, one directly on the top and the other in the familiar position just next to the adjuster. Having stripped it down it's not going back on. The shaft is scored badly and the surface is breaking up in parts. This was the best photo but not the worst wear point. I've seen worse but it is quite bad. It's clean and clear inside though - you can see through it and the oil holes are all unblocked. The rockers are OK, some are a bit worn but nothing awful.
I had a spare set of Mk2 gear from my spare 2.5 engine, some of the rockers aren't great but I had a few stray spares so I mad up a set. The thing is the rockers have only one oil hole next to adjuster - I didn't know there were more than one type - the twin oil hole ones seem lighter and thinner than the Mk2 ones.
Now for the trouble - the "spare" shaft is better but not great, it's also not an open tube like the other one - it's not blocked, it's hollow and still has the oil holes and little dishes in the shaft like the Mk1 shaft. So, I know Mk2 pedestals are the better ones as the end rockers are better supported BUT which rocker arms to use?
Also, if I use the 2 oil hole arms then I guess I need the matching totally hollow shaft to supply the right amount of oil. I don't think I should mix shafts.
Of course, both sets have been apart before, there seems no sense to the way they were put back together - springs washers and plain washers (and broken spring washers) and spacers all over the place! I've no reference to use to rebuild them (on a new shaft) so I've just figured out an order on the old Mk2 shaft.
All the pedestals look the same width (apart from the handed end caps only one of which has the oil hole) so where do the fat spacers go? Grrr - workshop manual shows no spacers at all but then I'm not 100% sure what I'm looking at! Any help with a photo or description would be appreciated, I'll get a new shaft ordered Monday.
As you can see below, I've got the injection back on and it's all timed up OK, wasn't as tricky as I thought it would be.
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I think I've sorted it

Well the clutch pipe modification seems to have stayed sealed - I'm not really 100% sure of it mind you! It seems to have held the fluid for a week and when I press the pedal it all works as it should with no leakage. There was no puddle on the floor so I'm tentatively pronouncing it a success - I have loads of the armoured pipe and may make up other lines in it one day but I'm not keen to trust my workmanship yet - brakes are afterall safety critical, the clutch isn't so much :-) Also visible is my nice new red battery lead, straight to the starter - must test that soon!
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Collector again

Here's an underneath view of the collector with it's mashed clamps - they have been beaten flat over the years. I tried unsuccessfully to reshape one pair but there was no way I was going to be able to use them as designed so I gave up.
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Getting there - again

Just posting this because I like the picture ;-)
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Collector views

One of a couple of pix for Dave Sideways - this is the only "clamp" that is serviceable - I've dropped a stainless nut and bolt in there and it seems to do the job.
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