Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Polishing (shock! horror!)

The race car is now running. MOT booked for first thing tomorrow. I've checked everything I can think of and I can't see any reason it wouldn't pass except possibly emissions as it's set up for the track and runs a bit rich at idle. That can be easily sorted if it turns out to be a problem.

I even found the time to give the car a wash and polish. Yeah, I know, polishing is a dirty word in some circles but it's kind of an annual event with this car and it at least allowed me to remove all the marks from last season. Soft sticky race tyres tend to fire bits of rubber at the bodywork all the time and the car ends up covered in small black marks.

Anyway, if the MOT is OK, it's down to some road testing and putting in some running-in miles.

Monday, 28 April 2008


On Saturday, with the help of my Dad, the rebuilt engine went back into the car. We fully expected that rain would stop play and we wouldn't get much done but it turned out to be a great day and the whole thing was back together by the time it got dark.

The hardest part turned out to be tying to fit the new shiny polished stainless exhaust manifold I'd bought from Moss. After struggling with it for a while I realised it was just not made correctly. It has several problems that cause it to not even come close to fitting so that will be going back tomorrow. I still had the old one around so that's been refitted now. I now know why the old exhaust kept blowing at the manifold joint, the flange isn't flat so it won't seal correctly. Apparently that one wasn't made right either although it's better than the new one. Ten out of ten for bling but zero for engineering I'm afraid.

I haven't finished making the new airbox for the racecar but it's well on the way. I've fitted my old K&N bolt-on filters for now to get the car running. I managed to get the engine started earlier today but for some reason it's not getting any oil up to the cylinder head and rocker shaft. There's plenty of pressure at the bottom end but no oil at all at the top. I even removed the blanking bolt from the end of the oilway in the head with the engine running (and the rockers lubricated manually) and there's no oil at all. No idea what's going on there. The cylinder head was stripped down and cleaned as part of the rebuild so there shouldn't be anything lurking around in the oil passages to cause a blockage.

Anyway, that's the story so far. I have some time off work this week so I'm still hopeful of being able to sort this one out in time to get an MOT and do some running-in miles before the track day next week. Time is passing rather too quickly though. Oh, and we have lots of rain forecast for the rest of the week which may make it rather difficult to be working outside.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Tip of the day

Todays candidate for "best thing I bought for the car" is a micron oil filter from Moss. It's a direct replacement for the standard GFE150 part but has part number GFE24 instead (and is twice the cost)

I had one of these fitted to the race engine last season due to the normal part being out of stock at the time and today I've just visited the engine builder who has pulled the engine apart after a seasons racing. The oil is very clean, almost new looking and the big end bearings are hardly worn. I know I don't do many actual miles in this car but those I do are on the circuit and the engine gets thrashed. Triumph 1500cc engines aren't supposed to rev regularly to over 6000rpm (getting on for 7000 on occasion) and I'm very impressed with the complete lack of gritty stuff in the sump. Chris the engine builder remarked on it too.

So I've just ordered two more of these for this season (one for running in and another for running after that). They seem to "do exactly what it says on the tin" and keep the crud in the filter and not circulating round the engine.

On a related note, when I originally drained the oil before removing the engine from the car, there was the remains of a broken split pin attached to the magnetic sump plug. It turns out that it came from the front of the rocker shaft and must have broken off and dropped out at some point. There's a bit of the casting broken from the rear rocker pedestal too so it looks like the rocker assembly has had a hard time. Both problems are easily fixed though fortunately.

The van came back from the local garage today with a nice shiny new exhaust fitted. In the end it proved too difficult to make up the necessary custom pipe so the garage have removed the internals from the old damaged catalytic converter and just put the empty casing back in place to join up the system. Seems to work well and it might be just my imagination but it felt more lively on the way back from the garage as though the old exhaust was perhaps partially blocked. That's not too unlikely in fact as the cat was damaged and the rest of the system was rusty and full of soot from the old engine burning huge amounts of oil before I took it off the road.

It's hard to properly see any improvement on the 1 mile drive from the garage in traffic though! If I can sort out this gearbox fluid leak I'll give it a proper test sometime.

I had a fun time last weekend touring the Dales and sorting out some more of the route for the CT "Dales Bramble" along with Caroline and Paul. I think we have a more-or-less complete route now and it should be a good event later in the year. This weekend's job is still planned to be fitting the new race engine in the car, assuming it's back together in time. Currently it's expected to be finished on Friday in time for me to collect it.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Some real progress

I feel like I've made some significant progress this week.

I sorted out the spare wheel problem on the van by buying a new tyre of the correct size. Whilst it was apart I took the opportunity to get the wheel itself blast cleaned and powder coated. It looks like new now. I've just ordered a new spare wheel cover to fit the larger tyre so that should be one problem I don't have to worry about any more.

I also decided that the van exhaust replacement wasn't something I wanted to tackle on my own so I've dropped the van off at a local garage today to let them try and fabricate the odd shaped length of pipe that's needed to replace the cat and make it all join up.

Unfortunately it seems that the auto transmission on the van is leaking fluid from the rear of the housing. That's a job I was really hoping didn't need doing. I knew there was a slight weep from there but it looks like it's worse than I thought. I've read that the rear oil seal can be replaced without having to remove the entire gearbox so some further research is needed to see whether that is a feasible option.

Since the rain has held off today for the first time in what seems like weeks, I spent the day replacing all the brake pads and shoes on the race car (see the attached photo, maybe I should check them a bit sooner next time!). A new set of race tyres arrived last week so they are now fitted too. I also got the new exhaust system out of its box and worked out how that all fits together and changed the oil in the gearbox so I'm reasonably confident that once the engine comes back I'll have a complete kit of everything that's needed to put the car back together again. With any luck that is next weekend's task. I'll go catch up with the engine builder on Monday and see whether it looks like the simple job we were anticipating or whether he's found anything nasty. Here's hoping for that one to go to plan!

By the way, a blue Triumph Acclaim drove past whilst I was outside earlier. Was that you "Toledo Man" or is there another one in the area?

Tomorrow I'm meeting some people to try out a possible route for part of the CT "Dales Bramble" which takes place in June. That should make a change from all this mechanical stuff anyway.

EDIT: Hey, I finally managed to work out how to get my blog to work in UK time. The incorrect timestamps had been irritating me for ages!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Tram lines

Spent the day at Crich Tramway Village today. They were having a standard Triumph marque day in addition to their normal exhibits including the working trams. It was raining heavily when we set off from Bradford with a small convoy of Triumph cars (and one Citroen - Sorry about that!) but the weather cleared up by the time we got there and we all had quite a pleasant day. Here's a bunch of photographs of the goings-on.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

...and now for something completely different...

At the meeting on Friday I managed to get myself invited to "Uncle Jack's Run" today (Sunday). This turns out to be a gentle potter through some nice scenery with a few nice classic cars. Sadly I don't have a working classic car so I had to take the Citroen AX but it was still fun. We finished up at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. I took a couple of pictures so this blog now officially has illustrations to go with my ramblings. If this works, I'll try and take more pictures of stuff as I go along.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Running In

Some good news at last. I managed to pick up some ATF and putting that in the transmission seems to have sorted the gear selection problems. I took the van to the Pendle and Pennine CT meeting on Friday, stayed there overnight and then spent some time today driving around. I reckon I probably managed to do at least 60 miles and apart from the windscreen wipers stopping at a rather inconvenient time on Friday everything seems to be OK, so far at least. I've no idea what was wrong with the wipers but when I started the van again this morning they were working fine so I'll have to leave that puzzle for later.

I collected most of an exhaust system along with the ATF so I'll have to start looking into how to make that fit soon. I plan to remove the (damaged) catalytic converter so I need to work out how to join the standard front and back sections with something custom made in the middle. The rusted hole in the existing muffler isn't too serious yet so I have a little time to think this one through.

Hopefully I'll remember to order the new spare tyre during next week too. I'm also planning to go see the engine builder about my race engine and try and find out whether it will be ready for me to fit back in the car in time to get an entry in for the CT track day at Cadwell Park next month. Come to think of it I need to find out what's happened to the new fuel tank I ordered as well. That should have been here by now.