Thursday, November 26, 2009

Seat Straps

I carried on working on the seats this week. One of the first jobs has been to tackle the sagging rubbery seat straps that run across the seat back. These are basically a length of rubbery webbing that is folded over onto itself at each end to trap the seat clip and then stapled into itself with a couple of small plates to dissipate the load. I thought these would be pretty cheap so imagine my surprise when I found out a strap kit was nearly £40! That's for one side too, so £80 to do both seats!

Clearly that was ridiculous, so I set about trying to find a cheaper way. After a bit of research, it turns out that the rubber strapping stuff is called 'Pirelli webbing'. This is available by the metre from upholstery suppliers and is very cheap. I bought mine from a company called 'Skiddaw Upholstery' and it arrived pretty much next day. The stuff they sent was a bit thicker and looked better quality than the original Triumph issue. It was a different colour but then who really cares when it's inside a seat!

The staples and plates can easily be bent out and removed from the old straps and fitted to the new ones. It's really easy and quick and the results are very good. Just remember that the old straps will have stretched a bit, so make the replacements a bit shorter. And that's it - dead easy! About 5m should do both seats and will cost a much more reasonable £11.25 + postage!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

That's the question I was asking myself. The answer was a resounding 'no'! One of the things I learnt from the Historic Counties Run was that the passenger seat is infinitely more comfortable than the drivers seat! Hardly surprising really - Collapsed foam and ripped vinyl crudely 'retrimmed' in gaffer tape are not the last word in comfort!

I have entered the Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run next year and I really wanted to get the seats sorted before then so I got started! My initial thought was to get another set of seats in better condition and swap the drivers side seat base with my knackered one. Taking a closer look at my seats quickly changed my mind. Even the passenger side was completely knackered. Just moving them produced copious amounts of foam breadcrumbs! Even the metal parts of the base were thin and seriously rusted.

I decided the best thing to do would be to get some more seats from eBay and use their guts! Fortunately eBay came up trumps with a set of seats (already partly dismantled!) in Derby. I set off after work on Thursday to pick them up. They guy selling them was building a Rover V8 powered Spitfire which looked like quite a piece of engineering. I had a look at the seats in it too. They were leather and very nice. I had a look at the seats he was selling and, whilst they weren't as nice as the ones he wasn't selling, they were much better condition than mine!

So now I had something to work with I set about stripping down the drivers side seat. The backrest had already been stripped down so all I had to do was strip down the seat base. I found it quite interesting how the seat is constructed. Basically there is a very basic steel seat frame. On top of this goes a steel 'basket' which is constructed in a similar way to a shopping trolley. At the bottom of the basket is a piece of 'millboard' to stop the foam sticking through the bottom of the basket. Attached to the millboard is the sensor for the seat belt warning light. This is then covered with two big lumps of foam. The vinyl then goes over the whole lot and attaches using 'hog rings' to the wire basket. To the uninitiated ' hog rings' are basically a C shaped bit of metal that pierces the vinyl and is then closed with a pair of pliers.

I stripped the seats down and started cleaning up the metal parts. I've recently invested in a new Black and Decker angle grinder (to replace my ancient Clarke model) so I set about the frame and 'basket' with the knotted wire cup brush. Once I'd cleaned them up I set about painting them with POR15. Before painting you need to go over all the parts with 'Marine Clean' to degrease them. I did this in the garden to save getting the workshop too wet! The metal then needs to be coated in 'Metal Ready'. This seems to etch the metal and leaves it covered in zinc and makes it ready for paint. I then painted it with the POR15. This is nasty stuff and I always use gloves and very cheap B&Q brushes because you can't clean this stuff off!

The seat frame just needs another painting session and it's good to go. Unfortunately the 'basket' from the donor seat has come unwelded at one of the joins so this needs to be corrected before I can paint it. My plans for the future involve new straps, new foam and LEATHER! Watch this space!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oil Seals and Engine Valances

I've been pretty busy at work recently and haven't actually had much time to do anything with the Spitfire. It's spent most of the year stuck in the garage waiting for me to sort out the oil seal problem that became apparent during the HCR!

I finally got around to draining the coolant and getting the timing cover off to see what the problem was last weekend. There wasn't anything too obviously wrong which was a bit annoying but the spring on the seal was a bit mangled and the timing cover was slightly bent. I flattened the cover and sanded it flat. I also stripped the paint of it and gave it a coat of VHT wrinkle paint. I fitted a new seal but I haven't got around to filling it back onto the car yet. With a bit of luck I should have a car that doesn't leak at much oil as a sinking supertanker.

I've also finally got around to finalising my engine valances. I put a lot of effort into making sure these fit perfectly and all that remains is to finish the edges, drill them for brackets and get them powdercoated. I'll try and get that done later in the week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

HCR '09

We did it! My brother and I actually completed the Historic Counties Run! As might have been obvious from my last post's lack of words, things got a bit hectic heading towards the weekend. There was a seemingly endless list of small jobs to be done. This list included replacing a leaky caliper seal, replacing the brake light switch, an oil change, replacing the entire clutch hydraulic system, replacing the throttle cable, adjusting the timing, removing the old starter solenoid, fitting the Nippon Denso starter, fitting 12v sports coil, replacing ballast wire, balancing carbs and refitting the parcel shelf!

I set out from Walsall on the Saturday, planning to meet my brother in Cambridge on the way. I put the hood down and got to Cambridge station about an hour and a half later! With my brother, Henry, on board we headed down to Southwold. It was at this point that that Henry pointed out that he'd never actually driven my car before, so we swapped seats and he got his first experience of classic motoring! We got to Southwold a couple of hours before the 'off' and had a fish and chips on the pier.

The first half of the run was relatively straightforward for us. The only minor hitches were our failure to brim the tanks and pump up the tyres so we had to stop off and do that. We also had a bit of scare when the temperature gauge went off the scale. The engine didn't look or feel hot and the 'tell tales' on the cylinder head and radiator were normal. When I noticed the fuel gauge was also a bit dodgy and the speedo illumination had failed I stopped worrying about it which was just as well because it fixed itself a few hours later!
The second half was more intense. Henry did the graveyard shift while I navigated. Thanks to a sat nav cock up we ended up wasting about half an hour in Hampshire and thanks to a cock up on my part we nearly ended up missing out Shropshire! For me, the Welsh roads were the best part of the whole event. We had a great time keeping up with Phil in the magenta GT6. Annoyingly though we'd developed an leak from the front oil seal which was dripping Duckhams finest all over the front pulley. Unfortunately the pulley was flicking it all over the drivers side brakes. I can now categorically confirm that oiled brakes don't work very well! Fortunately the were still just about good enough to finish the event on and we made it to Newport only a couple of hours late!
The trip back would've been a bit much with the dodgy brakes, so I had to call the AA in the end and we made the journey back on a flatbed. In all honesty I wasn't even sure it'd make the start line so I was absolutely chuffed that we finished the event. We had a great time, drove on some great roads, met some cool people and ended up completely knackered. Next time I'm going to book some time of work afterwards!
More pics on my facebook album here!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stoneleigh etc!

I had a busy weekend last week! I still managed to fit in the spares day at Stoneleigh though. It was literally a drive there, quick look around, go home event for me this year. My grandma was taken into hospital on the Friday so I had to be back to visit her along with various other things. It was still quite a successful trip though. I picked up a new set of carburettors from Andrew Turner and bought various nuts and bolts. The carbs are awesome and a huge improvement over my last set - Andy had a look at those and pronounced them knackered! The new ones are not only better (fitted with seals around the throttle spindles) but shinier too! I'll post some pics of them at a later date.

I also got on with the heater box this week. Painting it was my first experience with POR15 and I've got to say I'm pretty impressed. It's not the easiest to use because you have to clean the part in various solutions first and then you've got to transfer some of the paint to another container and seal the can with cling film. You also need to wear gloves or everyone at work will be asking you why your hands are black! The results were pretty variable. The first parts I painted ended up covered in brushstrokes whilst some of the later parts look similar to powdercoat. It's certainly interesting stuff!

I also got around to sorting out the hose that runs from the inlet manifold to the heater valve. This is usually a shaped piece of rubber hose but I wanted to replace it with silicone to match my other hoses. Having a custom hose made would've cost a fortune so I decided to use two 90 degree bends and a piece of alloy tube that I bent to shape. This looks good and gets the job done on time and under budget!

I'm sure there are people reading this that are going to be thinking that I should have used a flexible hose because of the movement of the engine. I have checked this out and it all seems fine. My engine is fitted with new mounts and doesn't vibrate around all over the place! There is also a load of flexibility in the silicone parts so I don't think it's going to be a problem!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Heater Box Issues

A while back I mentioned that I was looking for a heater box to replace the rusty one with a broken linkage that came off my car. I did eventually manage to track one down on Ebay nut when it arrived I realised it wasn't going to be as simple as just chucking it in the car!

It was advertised as a 'Mk4 and 1500' heater box so, naturally, I thought it'd be the same as the one I had. It was, however, slightly different internally, with a different resistor and motor wiring! After carefully studying the two designs I decided the best course of action would be to drill out the rivets holding the internals in the original box and remount them in the new one. In order to do this I had to cut out the different brackets in the Ebay box. This then left a couple of small holes close to each other.
Obviously it's not great having holes in a heater box, so I decided the best thing to do would be to drill them out into one big hole and fit a grommet. This seems to be working out okay so far and I'm just waiting for some POR15 to arrive so I can paint it.
I've finally got around to cutting out the passenger side engine valance. These are coming on slowly and just need a bit more fettling to fit. Then I can make some brackets for them and maybe finally get them powdercoated!

I really want some parts to arrive this week. The HCR is getting nearer and I'm still waiting on a list of parts as long as my arm. Moss said my alloy bellhousing would take two weeks and that was just over two weeks ago so hopefully that'll be arriving soon. I'm also still waiting on my alloy water pump housing. I was told at the end of Jan that it'd take a week and it's still not here!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heater Valve Fun!

I haven't actually managed to achieve much this week because I've been off on a holiday with my other half in the lake district, but I have made some steady progress on a number of fronts!

One of my biggest achievements this week has been removing part of the heater valve. I bought a new heater valve a few weeks back and when it arrived I found out that they don't come with the brass part where the heater hose attaches. Fortunately this was still attached to my old one. Unfortunately it was solidly attached by a bolt with a snapped off head and mangled threads and, even worse, a scan of the parts catalogues revealed it was NLA!

I attempted the usual methods of removing it. Firstly I tried mole grips but they didn't work. Then I tried hacksawing a groove in the top and using an offset screwdriver. That didn't work either so more drastic measures were called for! I set about drilling the valve out around the thread and eventually I managed to get it turning with the mole grips. With that done I dropped the part in some white vinegar and wire brushed it a few hours later. Good as new!
When I was drilling the old heater valve out to free the threads something very strange happened. The top hose pulled away from the top of the valve body taking the top part of the valve with it. This revealed a strange powdery but also jelly like substance that was completely blocking the pipe. It was a bit green and coppery but also a little like the jelly in pork pies in places! I tried to get some pictures but it didn't show up too well. Weird stuff!

I had a package waiting for me when I got back from my holiday - a nice Nippon Denso starter motor that I bought off ebay. I is supposed to be for a Toyota Supra but I'm planning to use it on my triumph with the kit from Canleys. Watch this space!

I've also finally got some small parts storage. This is going to speed things up in the garage a lot! No more fumbling through numerous boxes for me!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Degrease and Deoil!

I've got a few little jobs done this weekend. Firstly I cleaned up the bulkhead. Parts of this were covered in decades of grease, dirt and dist. I used a mountain bike degreaser called 'Muc Off'. They do a whole range specifically for cars now but I've always used the mountain bike stuff on my car and it works really well. With the crud removed there was plenty of light surface rust revealed and even a little paint in places. The battery box is basically sound though, which is very good news!

The other job I got through this weekend was draining the oil from the diff. This was the first time I'd ever done this job on the triumph and I'm pleased to say it went okay! The main problem is that triumph were too penny pinching to fit a drain plug so you have to use a small tube through the filler plug to empty the old oil out. I used a small siphon style hand pump. I just stuck the pipe in the diff, pumped the oil through to get it going and then waited for it to slowly siphon out. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that nearly as much oil came out as should have been in there!

Now I just need to pump some new oil back in. Can anyone out there recommend a good oil for a hard working diff?

In other news this week - The Spitfire Graveyard got back to me saying they'd got a decent heater. Haven't had time to call them back yet, though! Also, I got onto Moss Europe about my alloy bellhousing and found out its going to be with me in a few weeks. That's something to look forward to! Then I can get on with getting the engine out and replacing the clutch.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Slow Progress

I can't understand what's going on with people selling car parts these days! We're heading towards the mother of all recessions and it seems like some people can't even be bothered to return an email to make a sale! My search for a heater box has been fruitless so far because of this kind of apathy. I've emailed 3 ebay sellers and one second hand parts company to make enquiries and only got one reply (from an ebayer) and that wasn't good news! I've just sent an email off to the Spitfire Graveyard so hopefully they'll be able to help me out.

I'm also still waiting on orders from Canley's and Moss. I suspect that the snow hasn't helped things this week but I'd really like some parts to arrive soon. There's a lot to do before the HCR and I'd like to get the big jobs out of the way as soon as possible!

In the meantime, I've been messing about with various other things. Inspired by Chris Marsh ( I have drilled out my heater controls. It's always good to lighten things up where you can and this is a really thick piece of metal which is perfect for this type of 'swiss cheesing'! Saved 20 grams on the stock weight.

I've also taken the heater valve bracket off. I was going to bid for a stainless one on ebay to replace it but I missed the end of the auction so I figured I'd bend the old one back into shape and lighten it. I didn't touch it around the top, where it's pretty flimsy but the base, side and front got a drilling. It's lighter by 15 grams and it looks pretty good! It just needs deburring and powdercoating to be perfect!

Tune in again next time for some much bigger and much more expensive weight savings!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Heaters and Carbs!

I've had quite a busy weekend. I removed a whole stack of stuff from my car. The carbs came off first. I took them off complete with the manifold so that they can be posted off to Andrew Turner later on in the week. I spoke to him on the phone earlier on in the week and we had a good chat. He's going to take a look at them for me and get back to me to let me know what needs doing!
I also got going on fixing the heater. The controls for the temperature were completely seized so I started tracking down the problem. The heater lever assembly and the cable were okay (but a bit stiff and grubby) so the problem had to be the water valve. It was beyond repair so I ordered another. Then I started looking at the 'heat distribution' lever. This is supposed to direct the heat either to the footwell or onto the windscreen. This was seized solid as well but I couldn't see exactly what the problem was without getting the heater box out of the car.

Getting the heater box out wasn't as hard as I was expecting. All you need to do it to get the passenger glove box out, disconnect the heater, undo the bolts and then slip it out. I immediately noticed why the lever wasn't working. The linkage at the bottom of the heater had snapped off where the cable attaches. It could do with a new heater box as it's gone a bit rusty around where the pipes enter but at least the heater matrix looks to be in pretty decent condition. The heater motor is in tip top condition too which is a relief!

While I was mulling over what to do with the heater I removed the fuel pressure regulator. Hopefully this won't be needed when I get a new fuel pump that delivers the right pressure! I also spent some time ordering parts this week. A new heater valve showed up from Rimmer Bros on Thursday along with a thermostat, rear oil seal, gaskets and a kit that reduces gear lever 'rattle'. I also ordered an alloy water pump housing from Canley Classics that should be with me by the end of next week. I've decided not to go with an electric water pump on the grounds that I want to keep things simple so alloy will be the way forward for me!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Looks Like I'm Going To Be Busy...

I've decided to enter the Club Triumph 'Historic Counties Run'. This year it's a coast to coast event that starts by the sea in Surrey and finishes, 14 hours later, on the Welsh coast. Apparently this will be a minimum of 400 miles. Combined with the journey down from the Midlands and the journey back it's probably going to be a minimum of 700 miles.
In order to cope with that kind of distance my car's going to need to be a bit more reliable! I've got no doubt that my car's in good enough condition to make it but I would like to fix the niggling little problems that've been really bugging me over the last few months. Unfortunatly the list of problems is not a small one!
Firstly there's the fueling. The carbs are worn which is leading to a very high idle. This is not exactly good for fuel consumption and neither is the repro fuel pump which is overpowering the valves in the carbs, letting fuel spray out under the bonnet. Obviously economy and safety are pretty important to me so it's vital to get this sorted before the run. The carbs need to see an expert and they will be going to Andrew Turner to be rebushed. The fuel pump is likely to be replaced with a pump from a TR7. Apparently these fit and don't produce too much pressure like the standard repro Spitfire pumps - the only difference is the position of the inlet and outlet. If replacing the pump dosen't work, I'll go electric and get an SU fuel pump mounted in the boot.
Secondly there's the heating. Not having a working heater or temperature gauge has been pretty annoying over winter! I started on this today. The heater valve was seized solid and no amount of penetrating oil was going to free it off! That was taken off and a replacement ordered from Rimmer Bros. A pressure washer was taken to the cooling system and I soon had the silt cleared out of the heater matrix. There was plently of it! The other problem was the temperature guage not showing the right temperature. I tested the guage by earthing the wire to the temperature sender against the block. This caused the guage to move upwards, revealing the sender to be at fault, so ordered a new one.
The third problem is the clutch. This is one I've been putting off for ages. The engine needs to come out so I can replace a weeping rear oil seal so I might as well replace the clutch while I'm there. The hydraulics are also leaking so I'll do that whilst I'm at it. I'm a bit annoyed with the hydraulics, in all honesty. The hose, slave and master cylinder are all new and it looks like the leaking has been caused by swarf from one of them damaging the master cylinder seals.
Then there's all the little problems. I need to drain and replace the diff oil, give the car a service and I need to Rain-X the windows and fit better wipers. Another thing I need to do is to adjust the headlamps properly and make sure they're able to stay on full beam for a prolonged period of time. Last time I used full beam in anger it overheated a contact and left me with no headlights on a dark country lane. Not something I want to do again!
If I've still got time I'm going to fit some AVO's and a lowering block to the rear.
One things for sure. I've got my work cut out for the next few months...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Engine Valances - Part Three

This is turning into one of those projects that I wish I'd never started! Today I made my final design templates and started translating them into aluminium. There is finally light at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Engine Valances - Part Two

Much fettling of the drivers side valance has been going on this evening in order to improve the fit. I'm still a long way from happy with it and I haven't even got around to designing the heatshield for the carbs which I want to include, but things are coming along nicely at long last!

I took a pretty methodical approach and bolted the cardboard template in place. I was then able to use the fixing bracket as a datum point - this allowed me to combine the template of the valance with a profile template of the bulkhead that I made earlier. The result is that the template follows the profile of the bulkhead really nicely with only a 2-3mm gap between. The same is true with the cut outs for the air filters. Now I've got that sorted I'd really like to tighten up the gaps at the front and around the suspension and sort out what's going to happen at the lower edge.

And finally a picture of the brackets where these valance mount up. These take two bolts and are located 1 3/4 inches above and 1/8 of an inch inboard of the body mounting bracket.