Monday, February 26, 2007


I'm on a bit of an epic journey this week. Reading to Newcastle then on to Dundee and back to Reading - leg one to Newcastle was easy and I'm now enjoying a pint in the bar waiting for my dinner to arrive.
I stopped off at Canley Classics for a chat with Dave and to see if he had a single pipe, single back box exhaust system in stock. As it happened he did and so it's now in the Toyota. Although I had a twin system on my first Vitesse I don't really liked the look of them. The system that was on my present Vitesse was only recently fitted and it's a bit of a shame but I decided that I would go with the 2" version Canleys offer.
There are a number of other reasons apart from aesthetics - the PI pump sits in the spare wheel well, it's susceptible to heat. The twin exhaust boxes sit directly under the spare wheel well and so pump and exhaust are really in the worst position possible. Also, the twin system "Y" piece hangs quite low under the diff, whilst it's not usually a problem on a standard ride height car, it's pretty vulnerable on mine. With a lower swing spring and lower front springs the car does sit pretty low and I'm plagued with bloody speed bumps around where I live so I wanted to try and increase ground clearance whilst maintaining the ride height - the car handles well as it is. I always think the twin system is heavy too and finally, when the PI spits flame it'll be a much bigger one out of a single pipe :-)
As I've kept the mild steel 6>3>1 manifold the new stainless 2" system should bolt straight on. The manifold is a Gareth Thomas designed one, said to be the dogs danglies - it's pretty well used (see previous comments about the collector) but it works well and I'm not going to change it unless I can find a stainless copy for not a lot of money. I'm not taking the tubular manifold off again now! Not after the weekends fun and games :-)
So if you want a twin box system in stainless look out for it on eBay soon -I will have to dig out the invoices form the history file and see what it cost new and how old it is as I don't really know what it's worth. Collection only from Reading I think.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A weekend's work

Well not quite a whole weekend, really just a Saturday but at least a day at the car. I had high hopes but it was not to be my most successful stint at it! First issue, the missing studs- I still couldn't find them and that bothered me, still does! I had some replacement new studs from Canleys but you know how it is, I still wanted to find the originals. So that was 20 mins wasted.

Then I started on the jobs that would be easier with some of the ancillaries out of the way - the main electrical feed to the starter, the clutch master cylinder to slave pipe and getting the tubular manifold and collector fitted right and sorted - these three jobs should have been a couple of minutes work each. Well that was easier said than done.

First job, the clutch pipe, yeah no problem, make up an Aeroquipe pipe with the right ends on and fit it - easy job done. Quick test, yup works - hang on, what's that - a leak! Damn, tighten it up, try again, still leaking - there then follows a couple of hours of messing about trying to get it to seal properly. In the end I took it all off and started again, remade the ends and refitted, looks OK. Works OK, will it stay sealed!!?? Bled the air out of it and left it, I'll take another look later and get something else done. I'm not convinced that I have the right ends as the originals have a taper seal and the new ones are using banjo bolts and a copper washers - there's no taper on the banjo bolts- should there be??

Right, exhaust manifold then - fitted onto new studs but would the collector fit would it bollocks! Anyway, I cleaned it all up, polished the matingsurfaces and got it sliding in and out great. I then needed to accommodate the knackered clamping mechanism on the collector - eventually I cobbled together a bracket that clamps the pipe to the bell housing and pulls it towards the front of the car - ie pulling it together with the manifold. Some fire gum to seal and it looks fine. I had wanted to use some high temp silicon but I only had firegum, at this point I just wanted to get something finished. All the fitting and refitting was done in the garage as it was by now raining heavily - I do hate crawling under cars in confined spaces.

OK so that was done, now lets get wiring sorted - when I got the car it had a TR6 pre-engaged starter in it, a great starter. However it was wired in via the original solenoid, unnecessary as the starter has an integral solenoid. I had some of the right gauge wire and so I made up a new battery lead with it and tidied it all up - pretty good job done. I wonder if it'll work??

During all this I also fitted up the PI throttle bodies using the correct alignment jig - it amazes me how sloppy the throttle bodies are when you bolt them up. Without using the jig it would be hard to get them lined up right. I reconnected the water pump and heater pipes too. On the other side of the engine I refitted the oil pressure switch and gauge. I haven't yet refitted the metering unit.

Annoyingly I managed to scratch the plenum that I'd lovingly restored when I originally fitted it - more work! Never mind I bought some satin blackplaint at Stoneleigh so it shouldn't be too much hassle.

Family matters took up the rest of the weekend and I'm off up to Newcastle & Dundee in the week, nevermind, I'll be back :-)

Friday, February 23, 2007

What a stud!

Well several studs actually.

You know how it is, you take something apart, you carefully put all the fastenings safe so that when you come to reassemble it all, you have everything to hand.

Well that's the theory, the fact is I couldn't find ANY of the studs that attach the manifolds to the head - I've got the little butterflys, some washers and the brass nuts but studs, nope! Now I know I took them all off the head before it went away for machining - been there before and learnt that you send a bare head and get a bare head back. Otherwise you send a head with studs etc and get a bare head back and sometimes a bigger bill!

Anyhooo - I decided that rather than keep turning the garage upside down I'd just get new ones, I like new fastenings, sad but true :-) I know that having done this I will find the old ones immediately.

This week I've been busy, no time to do anything apart from work, making up for a day out I guess. Still I'm listening to my Chief Exec drone on at the moment, love these phone in conferences.

Working at home has it's advantages but next week I'll be hammering the Toyota in it's last couple of weeks with me. It's taking me to Newcastle then on to Dundee and then back to Reading - should be about 1000 mile round trip. For a bland modern box it's been good, should just nudge 80,000 miles in three years. So good that I'm having another, the 2.2 litre "T180" version - it's got a huge name on the order form, mindless numbers and letters but basically it's 180 horse power diesel eurobox.

Anyway enough of such things, back to oily bits - I also borrowed a factory PI throttle body alignment tool, essential for properly aligning the PI inlets to the head - I'll be using this and my new studs on Saturday. I may even get to fire it up - maybe :-)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Farewell to Harry Webster

I attended Harry Webster's funeral today, to say farewell to the man who was instrumental in making the Herald and especially the Vitesse the good looking practical cars they are.
Harry was the guy who introduced Giovanni Michelotti to Standard Triumph and it was this Italian stylist who clothed the Herald and had a hand in so many of Triumph's offerings.
I "met" Harry once - many years ago I was introduced to him, shook his hand and thought "Who was that?" - I could only have been 19 at the time! 20+ years later I wish I'd sat down with him and had a good chat about his part in my favourite Triumph, the original Kenilworth Dragster - the Vitesse. He had a hand in so many thoug, including the TR range and the 2000/Stag range - prolific is a word that wprings to mind.
It was good to see so many Club representatives out today and a few Triumphs in the car park and a nice TR6 outside the main doors to the church.

For those who have little idea who I'm talking about then you can read up on Harry and his life here
Henry George Webster - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I just slipped it in, now I'm satisfied.

Yup, the gearbox is in, single handed and without drama. I came back from looking at bathroom fittings with the wife (that's the other major project going on at the moment) and decided to get into the garage and get stuck into the gearbox fitting.
I'd had a chat with Dave Pearson about how the hell I could get the gearbox in on my own - it was just too damn heavy, big, cumbersome, etc for me to get it in. Dave explained that what I needed was a pry bar to lever the gearbox - explaining his single handed technique as putting the bar under the gearbox drain and then levering it against the chassis rail, this would take the weight of the gearbox and allow me to push against the flange and slide it in. If you slip the gearbox into third you can rotate the flange and line up the splines with the clutch. The addition of a stud in the top hole on the back of the engine means that you can "hang" the gearbox on this stud as you push it in.
Well armed with this info it took me about 60 seconds, yes I get in there, using the jack handle for leverage (I haven't got any pry bars) it just slipped in with a satisfying thud.


I then struggled with the bell housing bolts, starter and the overdrive mountings but it's all in there now. I didn't have very much time to play with so I didn't actually get much else done but I'm quite happy with todays achievements - now all I need to do is find all the studs and nuts and bolts I took off the engine - can I find them?? Not a chance!


I've been to the dark side

I was looking for some Penrite or Millers running in oil and stumbled acrossBeech Hill Garage just over the motorway from me. Popped in there this morning, nice place, nice people and got what I needed. Stood and had a chat with the owner who explained that I should use the use for no more than 500 miles "If you find it hard to do that many miles you could just keep it in for 2 to 300 miles" he said - "not do 500? You're having a laugh" I said, "I'm a Club Triumph member and am signed up to do over 2000 in 10 Countries later in the year" - there then followed a chat about the RBRR and the 10CR, as we parted he said "That must be awesome, all those cars out on the road" and he's not wrong.
Surprisingly he had only the one head, no scales and wasn't eating small children - perhaps they are normal types these MG people? Must make a point of driving past when the Vitesse is up and running again - right off to the garage with me for more gearbox fitting attempts :-)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Harry Webster obituary on BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio Player - Audio on Demand fast forward to about 9 mins 35 seconds for the piece on Harry Webster. Only 6 mins but worth a listen.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Stoneleigh, the power of the Blog and the engine post mortem saga

Stoneleigh show was good, I spent the day helping out Dave Pearson on the Canley Classics stand, the stand that almost wasn't. You see Dave didn't book and tables and didn't bring any either so guess what? Yup, there were none available when he arrived with the van full of stock. A panic trip back to the workshop for Dave then ensured, I thought he was going to weld up a few Triumph wings and make some but he just threw everything off the shelves in the shop and brought those.
Meanwhile, my daughter spotted a guy loading up some tables back into his van so I went over and blagged them :-) We had a stand at last and, with the addition of a table made out of two cardboard boxes and piece of chipboard, were in business.
With such a dodgy start to the day I felt sure Dave would soil himself again with a bacon and egg roll - as he has done so many times in the past. But no!! He actually managed to eat it "clean" - our luck had turned :-)
The show went well, chatted to lots of people, sold a few things, saw a few cars. One thing that surprised me was the reaction I got when I cheerily said "Alright?" to an old friend - "No" was the answer and there then followed an uncomfortable exchange about the strip down of the engine with the broken crank. I shall not name names because, and I want to spell this out, I'm not trying to have a go at anyone, nor lay any blame for what happened. I post things up on my Blog because I like writing them, people like reading them and it's interesting. I'm happy with the situation, I have had a little misfortune and I'm dealing with it - shit happens and you deal with it.
So when I was told that the details of my engine strip down were "bullshit" and the guy refused to listen I walked away - I took photos as I stripped it down, I was careful to note what was where and how it came out. I laid out all the pieces as they came out. It is always possible that component s got mixed up but I cannot see how - I am careful but not perfect.
So here are a few photos of the strip down and I'll show you exactly what I mean.

So here's the first fact - the crank was broken. You can see where, I think it's self explanatory - it shouldn't look like this but it does!

and here's the other end of the crank, still broken, I think it fair to say that this is not bullshit.
The engine partially stripped. Here you can see the rods in situ complete with their rough lightening, done with an angle grinder I suspect, although that's my opinion, make up your own mind. These were done by Jigsaw's contractor, I have the bill from the documents that came with the car. I'll check through the photos as I go but I think you can see grinder marks on the big end bolts on some of the rods. More on those bolts later. The rods went in the scrap bin. Posted by Picasa

A better shot of those rods - you can clearly see the roughness of the balancing marks. Posted by Picasa

Here you can see how I disassemble an engine - each part laid out in the order in which it is removed from the engine. All nice and neat - I'm a bit anal like that. Bearing and big end caps in order - at this point the pistons and rods are still in the block (see above) Posted by Picasa
Yup, that's broken Posted by Picasa

Here you go, I knew there was a better photo in there - look at the big end bolts, there are different head markings on them - they are not all the same - these are how they came out of the engine. Look at the one on the right, it's got some grinding marks on it from the balancing process.
Also in this picture you can see the combustion chambers - look at the one on the left, No6 - compare it to the others - the piston has touched the head and cleaned it to a shiny surface, not black like the rest Posted by Picasa

This was a shot taken before the main bearing caps were removed - I thought it might show more but I can't see anything obvious here. I include it for the sake of completeness. Posted by Picasa

I haven't taken any proper photos of the stretched big end bolts, the soft aluminum spring caps, the worn Mk1 rocker gear or the peened over valve stems that won't fit into new valve guides so I will when I can figure out how to get the macro facility on my new camera. I've got some spare rockers that I can cannibalize to make up a new set - these are Mk2 ones but I'm note sure what state the shaft is in.

What are my motives for doing this Blog posting? Well I asked myself the same question - you see I'm perfectly happy with the car, I'm perfectly happy with what I bought and I'm not bitter or resentful of the failure of the crank. I'm interested in all the little bits and bobs of what went wrong, why it happened and how I can avoid it in the future. I wasn't thrashing the nuts off the car, I don't over-rev it, you can't really unless you try and break it! I've never topped it out, you get to 110 mph (GPS measured speed, that's about an indicated 125 mph on the speedo) and the front end lifts and goes waffly, I run out of talent before then.
Anyway, back to the engine, people make mistakes, I don't think I made one buying the car, I hope people can see that. My motive is I like the truth and I don't like anyone to think I'm colouring that truth (for what ends I don't know). I am not after compensation, apology, help, in fact I'm not after anything but acknowledgement of the facts and adult discussion. If my experience helps someone out then great - in fact that's what I love about this Blog, the people who tell me they enjoy reading it and get something out of it, help, advice, ideas.
The guy who wasn't "alright" will remain nameless and so will the other names around this - it's not about personal attacks, I'm not into that. About a year ago I made him an offer to drive the car when I'd got the injection sorted and the thing was generally shaken down, that offer still stands. I'm a nice guy, I don't fall out with people over opinions - we all have our own, it's what makes us interesting. The facts are there to be seen, debate them and offer opinions but don't deny them, turn your head away and refuse to acknowledge them or offer any alternative.
I counted him as a friend and I still do.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I hang my head in shame

I just realised that no matter how hard I try I'm not going to get the Vitesse together before the MOT is due but then the tax is due within a couple of weeks so there's nothing else for it other than to declare SORN, I feel dirty.
On the up side, I think I have everything major I need to put it back together apart from some time and a third hand! Nevermind, I have a plan for the third hand, might cost me some beer but what the hell, it'll be worth it. Time - hmmm, not got that one cracked yet.
Just went out into the garage to get the documents that were stashed in there for the RBRR in October, bloody hell it's cold!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow business like slow business

I've just attempted to get the wife to work, 200 yards from my front door there's the start of the 4 mile queue into town! It's not worth the effort of getting there and beck only to have to go out again to collect here! Of course I am working at home this week so can't blag a day off due to poor weather :-( Nevermind, my turn will come when I resume trips up North next week.
The bummer of it is I will be out when the new series of Life on Mars starts - 9pm BBC1 on Tuesday. Gotta watch it, ace 1970's themed show and has a few Triumphs in it including some of the Canley Classics fleet.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Dressed for success

There's a limit to what you can really add onto the engine before you fit it although I did nearly get carried away. In the end I kept it fairy bare to make sure I didn't snag it on the bodywork. It got cold so I moved inside for this bit on Saturday night. Sunday was sunny and really quite warm so I dropped it in outside. Posted by Picasa

Engine refit - some progress

Well I spent some time this wekend outside and in the garage refitting the engine. It didn't all go to plan but the engine is in and I'm making progress. Here's what I was faced with on Sat afternoon when I eventually got out there. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Happy as a pig in sh...

I dropped into Canley Classics on Thursday, I was on my way to Newcastle for a meeting the next day. As I pulled into the carpark, what did I see but the unmistakable outline of a Standard Atlas Van!

Dave has been after one for ages and he was as happy as a pig in sh1t. What a good un he's got too. These things are weird - forward control, 948 (this one has a 1200 in it) and transverse leaf spring front end

The driving poosition is interesting with your feet 1" from the front corner of the van and the gearlever at your elbow. The pictures are misleading as the seats are just resting in the cab, backwards and all over the place!

Below is the front, yes the front suspension - the weird air scoop think is a weird aid scoop thing for the shrouded radiator. The rod on the left is the steering linkage.

This is the rear suspension, with "convensional" cart springs.

It's really in quite remarkable condition considering it was last taxed in about 1978 if the tax disc is to be believed.

Well done Dave!

All the pictures are here for anyone THAT interested :-)