Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tally ho!

That's it, I pronounce the car ready and packed, sleep tonight then load up and off to the Isle of Wight for beer and sunshine, OK well beer anyway :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

...still being tested!

Well that was a fun evening's work. I went digging for spares, yup I have alternators. 4 of them to be precise including a new 45amp ACR.
That's good I thought, all I need to do now is get the pulley off. Err, that's not so easy, would the damn thing come off? No, it would not, no matter what I did - I didn't want to start pounding on it as it's cast so I went away to have a cup of tea and a think. Now it wasn't exactly how I planned it but I got rid of the problem by fumbling the alternator, dropping it and cracking the pulley - don't need to get it off now!
OK, I have a spare one - somewhere! I knew I had one and a fan, it was painted with blue hammerite, I could picture it but could I bloody find it? Could I bollocks. I turned the garage upside down but still no sign of it. The changes of finding another were slim. Another cup of tea and a moan to my wife then a revelation, I hated it being blue and had thrown it in the sandblaster ages ago along with the fan.
Great, I have all the bots, I whacked them all on and guess what? No charge!!! No ignition light either - weird!
A curl up in the corner and rock gently to and fro moment - I was close to giving up, very close. Then I reverted to type and started wiggling wires and swearing, Olympic class swearing. Then it happened, a loose wire - I was tracing the wires from the alternator - the power wire was OK, so the feed to the alternator to "excite" it was OK, the thick permanent live was OK but the other wire went into the loom and round the otherside of the engine bay. It comes out at a dodgy plastic crimped connector, a favourite of the previous owner and I hate them. Yup, sure enough it was loose, so loose that it came apart on my hand.
So out with my electrical tools and a new Luca connection made (I actually like these now I have the right kit to make them). I even remade the other dodgy crimped connector and made a resolution to replace these where ever and when ever I see them!
So that was that, the car started up OK and shows a healthy charge at the battery. I now doubt that the original alternator was suspect but what the hell! All it cost me was a pulley (which I must replace, don't like to be down to the last of anything!).
OK so now I must use the car tomorrow and see what the last tests of the Gods are!

The Gods are testing me

After yesterday's triumphant MOT pass I took the car for an extended test drive, out through the countryside and, purely by accident, through Buckleberry. I saw a few cameras and even passed a small film crew (so if you see a white PI on TV, it's me :-)

The car went well, stopped well, in fact I was very happy, so happy that I thought I'd go and pick up my wife from work when she finished. All was fine except the odd hiccup and the engine started to feel a little strange - like I was in too high a gear all the time. Must be the timing I thought, until we almost got home, then the car spluttered and died. It was not in the best of places for roadside fettling and although it turned over and tried to fire the battery went dead pretty quickly - I dispatched the perplexed wife to go fetch the modern car and she towed me home.

I had to go back to work so just put the battery on charge and left it. I returned later, turned the key and she sprang into life! A brief check this morning reveals the alternator isn't charging :-(

I don't recall any warning lights coming on and I don't recall looking at the ammeter and seeing anything amiss. Today the dash lights behave normally, the ammeter shows a slight discharge but then it's so slight and I'm so unfamiliar with this gauge (it's usefulness or accuracy) that none of this is especially useful to me. Maybe a bit of under dash investigation is needed to make sure everything is well connected?

Now the alternator is not an old unit, I think it's the one that was on my Vitesse that makes it a recon one that's now done about 6000 miles at the most.

I'm going to dig out my spares and see what I have but I'm more suspicious of the wiring than the alternator. I've had other wiring issues with the front of this car and yesterday's attempts to start the car resulted in that hot wiring smell we all fear.

Investigation into the smell revealed a rather crusty connector to the starter relay (it's a high torque one) so I replaced the whole wire and connectors right back to the loom but I can't think that was anything to do with the car dying on me.

So a little more paying work then it's out with the tester and see what the alternator circuit's like, if that's OK then a quick alternator change and back out for an extended test drive, again!

Just mumbling under my breath now "I'm going to the Isle of Wight in it if it kills me!"

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Check lists and ticks

Find brake problem - tick
Get parts - tick, cross, tick
Fix brakes - tick
Get MOT - tick (v pleased)
Pack for Isle of Wight - later....

Well it started off as a bit of a mission, wrong parts turned up for the master cylinder, panic to get the right ones, supplier didn't post them on time, second MOT cancelled but eventually I got the right ones and rebuilt the master cylinder. Got it all back together and of course was now out of MOT so couldn't really take it for an extended test drive. It "should" be OK and thankfully is was.

MOT passed with no adviseries, brakes feel good, car feels much better - I may even get to the Isle of Wight and back without any dramas this year :-)

I will of course be taking many, many spares but that's for another day (there aren't many left). However, at the moment I am a happy bunny and have treated the car to a tank for of the good stuff, which after taking the very long way home from the MOT station, it seems to like.

Next stop, the Isle of Wight.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Broken brakes diagnosed

I think I've got to the core of these dodgy brakes - in my previous blog entry I described how they would come on and stay on almost at random.

Well it wasn't a pipe too close to the exhaust, it wasn't the servo, it wasn't the pedal return spring or the pivot pin seized, it was the master cylinder - or at least I think it is.

I went through the "non-invasive" ideas that I gathered from the Club Triumph Forum and from responses to this blog - thanks readers :-)

I was away this week so I ordered parts for a master cylinder rebuild, unfortunately the wrong ones turned up and I didn't know enough to see they were wrong until I had stripped it down. Apparently there are 2 single circuit versions, 13/16th bore and 3/4 bore. Anyway, I have ordered the right parts (and cancelled today's MOT) I'll have to sort it out in the week, I think I am on the road for work only once and that's a day trip into the city so it should all be OK to meet the new MOT deadline of Thursday.

Annoying as I had plans for the car this weekend but it can't be helped.

The master cylinder was deceptive, it looked fine, fluid was clear and it seemed to function OK. However, when I came to drain it fully all manner of filth and nastiness came out - I really thought it would be ruined inside but the bore is clean as a whistle and the piston fine. It looks like one of the the seals has gone back to nature, the cup seal is really more akin to fruit pastel than a seal. I've cleaned it all out ready for new rubbers.

I've also bought and fitted some stainless anti-vibration straps for the rear subframe mounts. I noticed one was broken and when I changed the other it was very thin and showing signs of fracture too. I didn't especially want stainless but it's not a bad idea as they do sit in the firing line of all the road crap there.

The last few jobs were to clean and lubricate the brake pedal pivot and now I've come in to order the correct colour wire for my newly relayed pump - it's got some cobbled together "see if this works" temporary wiring in there at the moment. As I need a long length I may as well get the right colour and spec. I think I will also treat myself to a new crimper, might get a nice professional one as the one I have is pretty old and crap - the professional one I have for Lucas bullets is really good.

So, to finish off, I am feeling very much happier with the car although I still haven't actually fixed it yet and I still haven't been able to get out and drive it yet -I have patience :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The next conundrum!

OK so the rough running is largely sorted, at least I can start tuning from a position of normality! Now the next weird issue - brakes.

For a while I have had an intermittent braking problem, the brakes come on and stay on, at first it felt like one front caliper was to blame. I'd had issues with it throwing it's fluid out of the seals a while ago, I;d renewed the seals and then it happened again so I replaced the while unit with a recon one and all was OK for a while.

Then it started again, you're driving along and the car feel sluggish, you change gear and realise that the car slows down a lot between the change, the brakes are on! You try and drive through it and it just gets worse, pull over and you have very hot brakes, all brakes not just the fronts.

OK so I think this is weird, must be a collapsing flexible hose acting like a one way valve, so I replace all 4 and bleed the brakes. Tonight whilst giving the car a good spanking to see if the rough running is cured, I get the same issue, brakes on.

So, I think, well it can't be the flexible hoses, it must be the servo multifunctioning. Easy isolated, I disconnected the vaccum hose, plugged it up and went for a drive - bugger me if the same issue doesn't come back, just as bad as before. I had to pull over and wait for the smoke to drift off the brakes!

Now the car has a Mk2 bulkhead servo on it and I've never had this apart but I wonder if it's just in need of a rebuild? I hold fluid, feels OK, stops the car when asked, with or without the vac pipe attached.

So, what the hell is happening here??

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's been a long time.....

.... since I updated this blog. That's probably because not a great deal has been happening. You see after the the International Auto Ecosse last year I was somewhat disheartened with the car and my own ability to get it running right.

I'd been all through the injection and the ignition systems, twice. I was systematic and careful, or so I thought. It didn't seem to matter what I did or indeed what issues I found and fixed, the engine still would not pull strongly and didn't sound smooth. It wasn't quite a misfire but it wasn't right. Pulling plug leads off didn't isolate a real misfire but a chance piece of night driving revealed that full beam could make it worse. As would sounding the horn (air horns).

Now I have an electronic pressure gauge that doesn't really instil confidence - it seems to register 102 PSI no matter which pump or PRV goes on. I'm not sure it's ever been accurate despite being new and specified properly - it should register up to 150 psi. Anyway, full beam did seem the pressure drop to 100psi. The car will run down to about 85psi so I kind of thought it wasn't injection related. I know that's not good and never a long term prospect.

I've changed everything in the injection system from throttle bodies to metering unit to prv and pump.

So I then decided the problem was ignition based, wiring to the low tension side - you know how it is, you turn it over and over in your mind and you know it's the cause and you know how to test it and fix it. So you go out there and wire the coild directly to the battery and turn it over and ......

...she runs.....

...... but it's no bloody different! The rough running is still there.

So, back to square one. What else can it be - fuel pressure? It doesn't make any difference which pump of prv combination, I still see 102psi.

Now those you who know me well also know I am crap at electrickery - it's black magic as far as my small brain is concerned. I know I'm crap at it so I tend to avoid it but there was one modification that I hadn't done and that was to rewire the pump with a relay. You use the existing wiring to switch a relay and power the pump from a new chunky cable direct from the battery.

I'm indebted to Paul "Bodders" Bodiam who, after a chat at a club meeting last week, sent me an email with some test to do before I started re-wiring things. The tests showed me that there was a 2.1 volt loss in the original wiring. That is not good for the pump!

So, a quick re-wire (which revealed my less than adequate supply of wire!) and I still got 102psi on the gauge but it didn't drop. I did see 103 psi briefly but so briefly I'm not sure it was real!

Whilst the car was sticking over I did a stupid thing. I should have taken it for a test drive and tried to figure out if my modification had really made a difference before I did anything else. Of course I didn't!

I continued to fiddle.

In previous fiddlings I had managed to mangle the throttle return spring and found something I thought was suitable, nailed it on and created a totally crap throttle pedal, too hard. So I found some suitable replacement springs on eBay - E type Jag ones (apparently), perfect!

Whilst fiddling with return springs I started looking at the throttle butterflies and how t hey opened. It was then that I realised they were not exactly synchronised - blocking the air bleed didn't kill the engine. So, yet more fiddling and I got them synchronised, I can't quite figure out how they got out of whack as they were the first thing I checked (I've already changed the throttle bodies once).

So, having messed up my logical approach to problem solving, I took the car for a spin. It's better! I can't quite believe it, so I don't. I only got to give it a quick spin down the road and so I'm not going to pronounce it "fixed" just yet.

So, was it the power to the pump or was it the throttle butterflies? More work needed I think.

In the meantime, I have noticed one of the anti-vibration straps on the rear suspension is broken so I need to get a new pair. I've replaced all the flexible hoses and the pedal feels better, after the first pump - which means I need to bleed the brakes properly this time!

Right, there's lots more odds and sods been going on but I'll save them for another time - next mission is renew the MOT and get the car to the Isle of Wight at the end of the month :-)