Thursday, February 13, 2014

Its been a year, here are a few interesting maintenance items...

The car has been running great, I have over 1500 miles on the rebuild and no problems, barely any oil leaks.  
About 6 months ago things got a little scary when the car started shaking badly whenever I made a right turn, even the slightest of turns.  I managed to get it to the shop before anything serious happened but just barely.  As you may know the GT6 has the rotoflex configuration which was somewhat state of the art at the time, this was certainly better than straight axle for handling.  The rotoflex is essentially a very large heavy duty rubber donut that transfers the power while allowing flex in the suspension.   It seems the source of the vibration and shaking was my right rotoflex, it had failed and now had a break in the rubber. 


This job was too much for me to handle but fortunately Dave at British Motorsports in Campbell CA was able to get the axle off (no easy task given the age of the bolts).  Once on the bench it was pretty obvious where the break happened.  Fortunately rotoflex replacements are easy to find.

 Here is the completed right axle unit, freshly painted and ready to be re-installed.  I had new brakes put on as well, there was a minor leak and the shoe's were a little wet.



 Back on the car now.  I should not that I had the leaf spring replaced as well which greatly increased the stiffness and added an inch or two to the right height in the back.

A side note, it turns out that my bushings had essentially disintegrated and I was riding on metal to metal in the back.  Quality bushings are very hard to come by as many aftermarket parts are not of NOS quality.


And of course I did the other side too just in case.




The second major problem happened about 2 months ago when I was backing my car out of the garage down a ramp and went to put on the brakes, nothing...nada.  Complete brake failure.   I knew i had a slow leak from the master cylinder but once the level got too low the system filled with air and that was it.  I planned to get a rebuild kit but decided it much easier to just get a new master.  The change was pretty simple, it was the preparation that was most of the work.  Brake fluid eats through paint so the main task was to strip, sand, primer and paint under the master where the paint had been ruined

Here is what it looked like when I took out the old master.  Some of you may be wondering why the brake safety valve wasn't working,  Brake systems of this era had a dual reservoir system so that if the front went the back would still work.  There is also a switching mechanism in the silver brake line splitter (see at the top of this photo).  A prior owner had the switch removed and just a bleed valve installed.  That explains why it all failed at once.

I used some paint stripper to get most of this out.  There was some surface rust but nothing serious.  I was not going for a concours quality repair, this is a nice driver but someday I'll have to reshoot the whole engine compartment.


Primed and masked off, ready for paint.



And after two coats it was looking pretty good.  I was fortunate to find my exact paint color in a spray can from TouchupDirect.com, this is color code 54, Saffron yellow. 





Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Back on the road again...

After nearly 4 months the car is back on the road and doing well.  

The engine starts quickly and runs fine, still in the break in period so not pushing it too hard.  Managed to find a proper two cable choke so that problem is solved.  Steering is a bit sloppy so will have to do some tightening up of that at some point.  Had a chance to put this up on a lift and found out that the muffler has a few holes.   Sounds ok but will also have to be replaced at some point.  


Here is a few photos of the first test drive after engine assembly.  Ran a bit rough which is understandable.  No hood as you can see.  The engine ran much better after Dave (from British Motor Sports in Campbell) pointed out that the vacuum advance hose was incorrectly attached to the vacuum retard.  He also pointed out that the vacuum advance module was not working at all.   Runs much better with the new module and proper attachment. 



The link below is a short video of the first drive, notice that the transmission cover is not installed as well. This made it easier to check the drive shaft bolts and top off the gear box oil.



Interior is basically done as well, just have to install the radio and speaker and put in the final piece of carpet over the transmission tunnel.  The temp gauge is now working fine, the ground wire was not connected so that is why it read high all the time.  Like many GT6's the heater unit is installed by the water hoses are not connected.  Behind the dash is pretty messy, at some point I will have to pull everything out and re-install the heater, wiring etc,  but not any time soon.



 Out for a drive on Christmas eve, perfect kind of road for this car!


The car even made its way into the family Christmas card this year!  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Part 3 - re-installation and problem solving

After several long weeks all the parts are ready for assembly and re-installing in the Triumph  GT6.



First step was to rent another engine hoist, cheap but very heavy, around $40/day.  Fortunately the $20 engine stand held up, I really thought it would collapse under the weight of this cast iron beast, my guess is it weighed 500lbs.   I am sure it would have if we put on the head and manifolds first, it would have collapsed,   but we decided to wait until the engine was in the car.

Once the engine was hoisted we could install the clutch and pressure plate.  Didn't have the $5 clutch alignment tool but did have the old main shaft from the gearbox that had to be replaced.  The old clutch looked fine but as they say with consumables "if you are looking at it - you should replace it" so we did.  


The gear box had to be rebuilt due to rust and other bearing issues.  The car sat for more than 10 years and the moisture in the gearbox caused severe rust.  Fortunately Dave at British Motorsports  in Campbell CA (shameless plug) had enough donor gear boxes to create a new one for me, many thanks Dave!



The shifter unit was also pretty rusty but fortunately there is a Triumph rebuild kit for it, and even more fortunately Dave had a donor shifter unit that was in much better shape. Thanks again Dave! (shameless plug)



The rebuilt gear box mounted easily and here is Scott test fitting to make sure the shifter fits.  We left this off for now, will install once it is in the car.



Here is the engine and gear box about to be installed, was a tight fit but with some tipping and shoving it worked out.



Time to assemble the cylinder head.  The new valves, springs and valve guides were already installed at the machine shop so just had to attach the intake manifold (silver) and exhaust manifold (black) then ready to go.   As I mentioned, we converted this to unleaded so no more lead additive for each tank of gas.



Head gasket installed with some head gasket copper spray to make sure it is a tight fit.  Then time to put it all together.   Cast iron head unit with manifolds is pretty heavy but worked out fine.


Torquing the head bolts is critical, have to have the right sequence and the right torque amount.  After this we installed the rocker arm assembly and reset the gaps, .010 in, pretty tight but has to be right or else.  You may note the rubber hammer, that was needed to get the head unit to seat right.


And finally the installed unit all together.


But there was a problem, the first of several.  After installing the engine and gearbox, the drive shaft was about 1/2 inch off from connecting, what was up with that?  After a spot of tea, and some pondering, I figured out that the motor mounts were trapezoidal and on the wrong side.   Note that there is a long side and a short side on the motor mount flange below.


After switching left and right motor mounts the engine was back in the right position for the drive shaft and all was well.   Rather than rent the engine hoist again for a 10 min task I took a chance and used my floor jack with a 4x4 to lift the engine a bit and quickly switch the mounts.  Worked out fine.   Whew...



Some final installations like the radiator and hoses, emission controls, etc.



So time to try to start this puppy...but wait...what's this?  The starter is bad!!  Arghhhh....  Amazingly I was able to find an original Lucas unit at O'Reiley's in San Jose on a Sunday no less, and for $45.  Yes it was covered in dust and had been there for 20 years. The store manager had never seen a starter like this and didn't know he even had one until his computer said he did.  I kept the original 40 year old Lucas starter for posterity.



But there was another problem, the choke cables.  This car has two carb's so two chokes.   That requires a single pull - headed two cable choke.  The one on the car was already broken, only one cable, so I ordered another from a site in England which arrived in a week or so.  But there was an issue, each of the choke cables was short by about 8 inches.

After some deliberation and a spot of tea I figured out that these cables were meant for a UK version of this car with the steering on the right....hence the choke handle was on the right....further hence the cables were shorter to the carbs then on a left hand drive car.

So now what to do.  I called around to various parts houses, no luck, too rare.  There were plenty of TR6 dual choke cables but they were also too short.

Some suggested a bike shop for custom cables.   So I went to the best custom bike shop on the peninsula, the have cables but cannot fit this unit with a single pull.  They suggested a motorcycle shop on Fifth in Atherton.  Went there, they said no-can-do, but sent me to a custom cable shop in San Carlos.  But alas they said the same thing...no  can do.  So for now the choke is installed on the right hand side, hanging inelegantly below the glove box until I can find a better long term solution.

The second issue was connecting the dual cables to the carbs.   The new unit was a bit larger than the old so the standard carb clips wouldn't work.  I managed to get it working partially with two vice grips holding the cable housing to the carb mount, not ideal.  Eventually I found some Dorman clamps for 25c at Napa Auto (thanks!) that did the trick.  There wasn't a mounting screw so a pair of zip lock ties to hold the clamps in place and we are in business.

And now the moment of truth, would it start?  The engine fired up! Wasn't pretty at first I must say but did settle in after 30 seconds of smoke and billowing.

 A major victory though it did take two batteries to eventually get it going.   Turns out we had the distributor 180 off which was quickly rectified. And there is a small gas leak in the hose just below the fuel filter.   And we seemed to have lost the radiator drain plug.   All easily sourced so all is good.



And finally all reassembled, well - almost all.  New dash, new seats, all the instruments and lights work.  Car starts, even managed to drive it 100 ft. back in to the garage for tuning.  Still have to do the final timing, pressure check the cooling system, re install the transmission housing and carpets and a few minor interior items like the radio.

Next blog will be the final test drive....stay tuned....pcow


Monday, October 22, 2012

Update - interior and trim restoration

Update on the GT6 restoration project, this time on some interior and trim parts.


The car still had the original wood dash but it was looking pretty worn and cracked.  The car sat outside in Southern California for about 11 years so I'm guessing it had a lot of sunlight.  Fortunately there are several sources for a new dash made for this specific car.  Pretty straight forward except for all the wiring behind the instruments, and the very cramped space behind the dash.   The speedometer was broken so had that fixed as well.  Who knew that one of the best Speedo repair places is right here, Palo Alto Speedometer...when all you do is speedo's you must be good.
Before

After
The car did not have the dash radio holder or side padding so had to find them on my own.   Again, Ebay to the rescue.  Found these for $10, wrong color but had them recovered when I had the seats redone.  I also had a few of the dash pads recovered.  They can be purchased new but are really expensive.  The small black corner pad in the photo above is $95, cost about $15 to have them recovered.
Before

After
Now that I have a radio holder I need a radio.  Found an original Triumph AM radio in working condition on eBay.  Looks pretty good and old school push buttons.  

 I don't have a before picture for the bumpers but take my word for it, they were pitted, dented and warn.  New ones are well over $1000 but found a chrome shop in San Jose who did a fabulous job of not only re-chroming but also removing all the dents and scrapes for about half the cost of new.  These are show quality now.

After

The seat covers were pretty decent for 40 years but the foam inside was totally shot so had to be replaced.  The driver seat bottom was basically gone and the side bolsters on both seats had disintegrated.  There was also a small tear on the passenger seat as well.  New foam and covers are about $300-400 each via mail order, and you have to do the work yourself.  I got a tip from another restorer that some upholstery shops can do this for the same or maybe even less.  After some leg work I found a place that did both for $600 total, much improved.  (note: they may look a little odd in the middle but that shape is to accommodate the transmission hump and e-brake console)
Before

After

We just got the engine and gear box back in the car over the weekend, next post will be about that process....stay tuned

Monday, September 24, 2012

1971 Triumph GT6 Engine and Gearbox rebuild

Well, since we're doing that we might as well do this too....that's how it always starts...



Ok, after several requests I have made a blog to document the rebuild project for my '71 Triumph GT6 MkIII.   I acquired this car in mid March of this year.  Overall in pretty good shape however I have one very low cylinder (50lbs) and a pretty noisy gearbox in 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear, so decided to do the rebuild over the summer.   The car was partially restored after sitting for 11 years in a driveway in San Diego, abandoned.  Much work had been done to get it to this point.  No rust, no accident damage, traditional paint color for Triumph at the time (an acquired taste for some).

This is a straight 6, 2L engine, two Strombergs.  Pretty simple really, and very easy access under the hood.


The engine was pretty well restored already, kind of a shame to have to pull it out.

Started in early August, figured it would be done by the end of the month, or no later than 9/14 when my assistant, son Scott, went back to college.  How hard could it be?


Fortunately I have a flat parking pad in my side yard so started the project there.  Was able to rent an engine hoist, pulled out the engine and gearbox with out too much fanfare, made easier since removing the hood basically left it free and clear.


The gear box had to be unbolted from the inside so removed the seats and much of the carpets.   There was a transmission tunnel cover that was in very bad shape and not even bolted down, new one on the way.   The dash was dried and cracked so ordered a new one as well.  Seats covers were in pretty good shape however the foam was shot so having them rebuilt as well.  Somehow these projects all seem to escalate like this.
Out of the side yard and into the garage, fortunately had help from a mechanic friend Majid.   This thing is heavy, over 500 lbs I'd say, either cast iron or dark matter, not sure.


With the engine out there is not really that much left on the front end.   The bumpers were pitted and warn so off to have them re-chromed.


Manged to get the engine on the ground propped up by 4x4's.  This means the end of my parking spot for a few weeks.  At least that was the plan.  Note the red engine stand which unfortunately did not fit the narrow bolt pattern of the Triumph.  But we solved that problem later.

Rocker shaft and lifters came out easily, and looked in very good shape so wont have to replace them.  We were expecting damage to the valves #5 cyl which was low on compression but that was not the case.  Must be rings, yep...a broken ring on #5.   I should note that we are converting this to run unleaded so new hardened valves, seats and guides.  And while we're at it, new pistons as well.


Most everything on the engine came off pretty easy - except the head.  Lots of rust around the studs so took a lot of muscle and a "persuader" aka the large 1/2" breaker-bar wrench at the top of the photo.  Overall engine was in good shape for 40+ years and about 65k miles.


Had to improvise since we didn't have a working engine stand.  With the block on its side we were able to get the oil pan off.

More improvisation.  Used an old skateboard to transport the engine block.  Surprisingly it handled the weight.


The gear box is rather small but very heavy.  Looks like some damage to the gear surface from rust, probably from moisture in the case while it sat for over a decade.  Have to replace a few gears and maybe the lay shaft, lets hope that is all.   Scott demonstrates how the the gears shift for his grandfather, who was a mechanic in his younger days.  



Meanwhile back at the dash, lots of "filddly bits" as they say and a nest of wires and vent tubes behind the tight dash.  Took these pictures in hopes of making it easier to get it all back together.

After a few weeks we got the engine block back from the machine shop.  Looks great!  Water jackets were cleared out by soaking in rust dissolving solution.   Cylinders were in pretty good shape except for some minor scratches.  They are now .020 inches larger which is about 25cc increase in capacity (check Scott for the calculations).
 As I mentioned earlier, my garage became the shop, worked pretty well but will be glad to have my indoor spot back.
 Found an old engine stand on Craigs List for $20, just what we needed.  It was old and faded yellow so Scott cleaned it up and powder coated it to look like new.   Time to get busy reassembling the lower end.
 Main bearings are in, crankshaft next.
 Pistons went in without a hitch.
Freeze plugs in along with the crank, getting very heavy now, maybe too heavy for the engine stand, not the wood post holding up the end of the block.  
 Timing chain and front cover on now, getting very heavy, note the 4x4 holding it up now.
Front, real seals, thrust bearings, oil pan all on now.

Next step is to connect the transmission and put it back in the car, then put the head on along with the manifolds.

Stay tuned...