Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pre-Christmas update

I was able to procure some of the parts I needed to start tacking the niggles on Margaret. There was an Acclaim in Derbyshire that I was able to liberate the bits I needed and better still it was free (apart from the cost of the petrol but was worth it) I got the front door glasses with the all-important holders, the front grille, the lower trim strips off the front doors, the front grille, the headlight surrounds, two steel wheels, and the door panel for the passenger side rear door. I was able to fit the door panel without any problems but in the process I found out that MK1 & MK2 interior rear door handles are different. Well, they're not actually different. They were swapped over. The driver's door glass went in without any trouble so I can now wind the window up and down. The front passenger side wasn't as easy because half of the holder had rusted away so I tried to bolt the remaining half to the winder mechanism but it wouldn't work and I ended up bending the winding mechanism. Fortunately, I've been offered bits of another Acclaim that's in Leeds (from one of my Triumph friends) but he's woring in Egypt until mid-January. I'm not desparate so I can wait. I tested the heating elelments in my spare rear glass with my multimeter and I'm getting a resistance reading so I'm confident the heated rear window will work. If it hadn't been for this snow I'd have had the glass fitted. Ideally, I'd have liked to do the job in the garage but Brown is in there with Blue parked outside the garage and both of those cars are refusing to start. Brown is turning over but there's no spark so I'll have to set the points and that means a "distributor out" job. If I mark the position of the dizzy & and the rotor arm everything should be tickety boo. With Blue I replaced the fuel filter but fuel doesn't seem to be getting to the carbs. To get to the fuel filter the left rear wheel has to come off so while that was off I gave the wheel a coat of silver Hammerite smooth and it looks a LOT better. One down, three to go.

Margaret has been giving good service but I suspect that the battery could be on the way out as it is difficult to turn the starter over of a morning. I've topped up the cells and I'm getting 14volts across the terminals when she's running. I need to get the battery tested before I splash out on a replacement. I have considered fitting Blue's as that is a known good battery and has plenty of life left in it.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


Margaret is now taxed and in daily use. After more than a year of autos I'm running something with a manual gearbox. I don't mind autos but cog-swapping is a better driving experience and I've had no problems with swapping back from autos. There's just a few niggles to sort out but I should be able toget hold of the parts I'll need. (more of that later on)

With Blue being relegated to the backup car I can now tackle a few issues that I've been putting off. The wheels will be taken off and given a coat of silver Hammerite to smarten them up. There's the fuel filler vent to sort out. The radio aerial needs replacing. There's an Acclaim in Derbyshire that's being broken and the owner is offering parts for free so I'm hoping to go down to liberate the parts I need for both Blue and Margaret.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

She passed!

Margaret now has an MoT. I picked her up today £215 lighter but I now have that all-important piece of paper. Just the tax disc and then I'm road legal with this car. The quality of the welding is good. The sill has had an invisible repair done and once it has had the topcoat it will look like it was never welded. All in all I'm quite pleased.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A run out to Berkshire

This week on my week off from work I went down to deepest Berkshire in Blue. I'd recently fitted a new fuel filter and when I filled up before setting off I put some STP fuel treatment in the tank. The journey down went without a single hitch and when I filled up again at the Sainsbury's in Newbury I was pleased to find out that I'd averaged 40.9 mpg. I'm back and I clocked up a total of 600 trouble-free miles. I've got a couple of jobs to do on Blue. I need to top up the engine oil and sort out the windscreen washers.

Margaret is still not ready. Good thing I'm not in a rush.

I've managed to revive Brown. I put her in the garage before going away. I'll probably have to jump start the car so I reversed into the garage to make it possible.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A few issues to sort out.

I've been having a few problems with Blue's fuel system so it is time I addressed these. Since I changed the fuel tank I've had problems when filling up. If I fill up too fast the petrol filler neck overflows. According to the Guru this is due to a blocked vent pipe. Also, Blue sometimes runs like a bag of spanners. I'm sure that this is due to rust & sediment in the fuel lines. When Margaret is on the road I'll be able to deal with these problems. The windscreen washer pump has packed up so I'll have to rob the one from Becky.

I'm going to do some prep work on Margaret before I take her in for the repairs & retest to make life a bit easier for the garage and (hopefully) to save myself a few quid.

Monday, November 09, 2009

It failed...

...which wasn't much of a surprise. Fortunately it was only minor things. A brake pipe and a few small bits of welding so I'm going to bite the bullet and get the testing station to do it all so Margaret is booked on for next Monday (the 16th) for the repairs and retest which is convenient for me as I can't afford to tax the car until my next payday in December.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Getting ready for MoT

Margaret has been booked in for the MoT for Friday so I was in the garage sorting out the last few jobs. First up was to finish welding the sill. I got it done and primed as you can see below.
The nearside front suspension turret had another coat of the primer.
The nearside wiper spindle had another small piece of steel wedged in to stop the wobbling and after moving the car out of the garage I tested the wipers (it was raining) and it seems to be fine. The nearside windscreen washer jet was blocked so I cleared it out and the windscreen washers now work perfectly. After I'd finished I washed the car so it is now ready to be tested on the big day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

MoT fail sheet

When I went to Barry's to pick up the replacement quarterlight for Becky he gave me the fail sheet from when he'd put Maragret through the MoT back in June. She failed on 6 things:

1. "Offside headlamp not working on dipped beam." When I first checked the lights the offside headlight was indeed not working. I removed the plug, sprayed some Plus Gas and put the plug back in and it has been working since.

2. "Nearside windscreen wiper doesn not clear windscreen effectively." I've already dealt with this one and it works exactly as it should.

3. "Offside rear fog lamp not in good working order (not working)" When I'd checked the lights as previously mentioned the fog lights were working. I've rechecked them and they're still working.

4. "Nearside front brake pipe excessively corroded." I had a look today and I wouldn't describe it as "excessively corroded". I wirebrushed it and coated it with some grease. My local tester wouldn't just fail it if it neede cleaning. He did the same with Blue.

5. "Offside rear suspension component mounting prescribed area is excessively corroded." I wonder if the tester was referring to the holes in the offside sill as they're within 12 inches of the suspension mounting. I might take a closer look to see if there's any corrosion that I've missed. It'll probably be surface rust that can be wirebrushed & primed.

6. "Nearside front suspension mounting precribe area is excessively corroded." There's some rust on the turret but after wirebrushing and priming it should now be taken care of.

I wouldn't describe the rusty areas as "exessively corroded". The testing station are in the business of selling modern cars and most of the cars they test are the ones they sell. They're certainly not a classic friendly testing station. My trusty MoT tester would not fail the corrosion and would have mentioned it as an advisory so I'm quite sure that Margaret would pass without oo much trouble. Oh, and I've also changed the oil. She should run a bit better now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Nearly ready for MoT

The welding is nearly finished on Margaret. I cut out the thin steel on the other hole and welded a plate over it reusing the remains of Becky's old OS sill. The welding is nearly done now.
I managed to get the wipers working as they should. Just the glass for the driver's door mirror (on order from Champion) and Margaret will be fit for the MoT. The registration document (V5C) came in the post (despite the postal strike) so I was able to declare SORN. I took the car for a quick spin round the back roads to keep things free and once the car was back in the garage I decided to align the steering wheel so it is now straight.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ups & downs

Starting with the down I noticed that when I was setting off to take Anita to work Becky's driver's window was open. I took a look and found out that she'd been broken into but fortunately, nothing was taken (there was nothing worth stealing) and the ignition barrel was intact. I don't know why the aireheads would want to steal this car as she looks like a shed at the moment and the interior is a tip. I suspect that hotwiring is becoming a lost art and even so, Becky's battery is flat (needs replacing anyway) and needs a jump start every time. I rang the guru and he has one in stock so I can get it replaced. The first night Becky's out of the garage and this happens! As soon as I've finished the welding on Margaret Becky's going back in the garage.

On a slightly more posititve note I made a start in welding Margaret's sill. After a couple of minutes with the grinder it looked like this.
I welded a plate on the rearmost hole but I was blowing holes in the sill even with the voltage settings on the lowest. I think the remaining steel where I've ground off the rust is too thin so blowing holes can't be avoided. Maybe I should've cut a section out. I'll look at doing that on the other section. At least it is a step in the right direction as you can see.
I took off the wiper arms and I've found out why they were loose. The part where the spindle fits in has worn away. When I was on the phone to the Acclaim guru he said the cause was lack of regular lubrication. Becky & Blue are fine so I need to lubricate them both as soon as I can. As a fix I'm going to try to build up some weld to replace what has worn away as the entire spindle assembly is rusty.
There's a guy (I'll call him Craig) who's local who has bought an Acclaim. His car is a beauty and he came round today to see my own collection. I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a photos of all 4 of our Acclaims. This must be the biggest collection of Acclaims in one place that don't belong to the guru. (even though I bought Margaret from him) Craig's car had a new exhaust as the old one was blowing and as a result of this the exhaust bracket was surplus as he'd had a later type exhaust fitted so he gave me the bracket which will go on Margaret as she has an early type exhaust. I gave him a spare parts catalogue on CD-ROM which came from the parts I got from Nick. I'm going to give him one of my spare handbooks as soon as I can find them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today I have mostly been...

...servicing a Fiesta. Anita's oldest daughter's Fiesta was in need of a service. It hasn't had any servicing done since she got the car. She got some engine oil and I went to the local motor factor to get the filters and plugs. It all went well. The last person who had replaced the air filter had written the date and mileage on it so I did the same. The car runs a lot better now.
Having to service this car meant that I had to juggle the Acclaims around in order to free up the garage to get the Fiesta in. Becky needed some fresh petrol and a tow out of the garage. (the drive slopes down to the garage) before I could jump start her. Maggie is now in the garage so I can now start plating the grot on the sill. The wipers need sorting out as they're loose. I hope the guru has some replacement parts in his extensive collection. Just lately I feel I've been losing my "mojo" but doing the Fiesta as spurred me back into action especially with Maggie in the garage where I can get some work done on her.

Blue's alternator belt had been squealing so I got a replacement for £3.50 from the local motor factor and once fitted and tensioned it was "job done" and no more squealing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

An addition to the fleet

Maragret is now mine. I bought her last Friday when I got paid. It only cost me £26 to add her to my insurance. I drover her across to the garage and she didn't miss a beat so I declare her to be mechnichally sound.
I've had a quick look around and the only grot I've found are these holes in the driver's side outer sill. An easy enough job to patch even with my welding abilities.
There's not much else that's needed to pass the MoT. It'll certainly need less work than Becky! The car came with some service history going back to 1983 including a recent receipt for some rustproofing work which came to an eye-watering £850! No wonder that the bodywork is as good as it is. I've been going through the receipts and it appears that this car was maintained regardless of expense if the rustproofing receipt is anything to go by.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

This week's update

Blue wasn't warming up properly so I replaced the thermostat which cost me just short of a fiver from Champion. The head gasket set had a sealing ring for the thermostat so I was able to use that when I fitted the new thermostat. On reassembly I copper greased the bolt threads and tightened up the bolts carefully as the thermostat housing can break if the bolts are overtightened (been there and had the t-shirt) so it was torqued as per the manual. Blue now warms up as it should.

I bought a set of brake shoes for Becky (£2.99 on eBay) and when they arrived I started to fit them. While I was at it I noticed some more grot as you can see in the photo.
It has since been cleaned up with the trusty angle grinder and plates will be welded on. Why do I keep on finding more corrosion? It would've cost me an absolute fortune to pay for it to be welded. Going back to the brakes I had difficulty getting the drums back on. I found out that the handbrake linkage (which incorporates the self-adjusting mechanism) had seized solid at one end where it is supposed to pivot. Once I'd freed it off (it was the same on both sides) I was able to refit the drums and now the handbrake feels a lot better. It needs adjustment because I'd been turning the adjusting nut all the way in and it was never going to hold the way it was before I'd freed off the linkage so I need to undo the nut. As it is I can only just pull the handbrake on to the first click of the ratchet so it is too tight. I don't want to stretch or break the cables because replacing them means dropping the petrol tank to get at them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I've now made a start on welding the outer sill and already it is looking better than it has done for a few years. Once that is finished then I'm over the worst. There's just the rear floorpan to strengthen and then I can move on to the nearside. Last Wednesday I got something in my left eye and ended up going to the local A&E the day after. I've now made a full recovery but I have hardly done any spannering since.

Blue wasn't warming up properly so I suspected the thermostat. I bough one from Champion costing me just short of a fiver and I fitted it tonight. There was a sealing ring in the head gasket set I'd bought so I was able to use that and on reassembly I copper greased the bolts and torqued them up as per the specs in the factory workshop manual as the thermostat housing can be broken too easily by overtightening. (been there before and got the t-shirt!) I took Blue for some roadtesting and the temperature was reading where it should be so I'm confident I've solved it.

I mentioned that I'll be getting another Acclaim. I paid a visit to Barry the Acclaim guru and took some photos of Margaret (or Maggie as I call her. She was registered just before the Falklands War so I think of a certain Prime Minister!) and she is quite solid in the usual Acclaim rot spots apart from a small hole in the OS outer sill which is an easy enough repair even with my welding abilities!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Latest progress

I got Brown's lower wishbone bushe fitted when I went to Brian's. With his vice we got the job done in 5 minutes. The upper wishbone bushes came in the post so I was able to rebuild the front suspension and it has has transformed the front end. New pads & shoe have been fitted and the handbrake has been adjusted. There is some improvement but I'm still not happy with it. I'll try again once the shoes have bedded in.

Becky's rear arch repairs have been completed and undersealed. A couple of plates have been welded on the rear floorpan. The remains of the offside outer sill have been cut off and repairs to the inner sill have been done. I can now complete the repairs to the rear floorpan now I've got something to weld to and once I've trimned a bit more off the old outer sill I can fit the replacement outer sill which I got from the Acclaim guru for only £20. Once that is all complete I can turn my attention to the nearside which is nowhere near as bad.

There's going to be a new arrival. I've been offered an early beige Acclaim HL which is in better condition then Becky. At £50 it is well worth a punt. There's a couple of places that need welding, the wipers need attention and the driver's door mirror is missing. This shouldn't take much to get through the MoT. I won't be getting it until my next pay day and this car has sidetracked me from getting Brown back on the road. As a cheap and easy project it was too good to miss and it is one of the oldest surviving Acclaims.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The weldathon continues...

The offside inner rear arch welding is nearly complete. There's just a small patch to do. A simple enough patch but in an awkward place. I can hardly get the grinder in to clean up the area. I could do with a Dremmel. The alternative would be to drop the rear suspension which I'm a bit loath to do. The other biggies are the offside outer sill and the rear offside floorpan which split when I jacked the car up by the jacking point. I've put some weld on it but I'll weld a patch to give it enough strength. I got an estimate for having the outer sill fitted which was about £60-70 so I'll have a go at it myself. My welding skills are slowly improving so I'm confident that I can fit it when I get round to doing it.

The lower wishbone bushes for Brown arrived but my vice isn't up to the job so I'll get Brian to do it as he's got a bigger vice than me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bushes ordered

It is payday today so I'm spending my allocated budget on the parts I'd planned to buy for this month. Superflex lower wishbone bushes have been ordered from Chris Witor and I've ordered brand new rubber uppers from ANG Triumph. The reason I ordered the upper wishbone bushes in rubber was because my payday was a bit short due to having a day off sick which has put a small dent in my budget. For the same reason I'll be skipping the front wheel bearings as I'm sure I can make up a decent set front the two I have, clean them up and regrease. New pads & shoes will be ordered but I might try the discs from the spare Sprint suspension. (one of them is already on Brown) Once I've got all the bits I can then crack on with fitting them on the car.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The welding begins

I had to buy some protective equipment from a local welding supplies shop before I could begin welding. When I was ready I used my angle grinder to clean up the area. There was too much to do in one go so I decided to plate it with several plates.
This is the first plate and the card template I made as a guide.

First plate welded on.

Second plate welded on.

Third & fourth plates welded on.

Fifth and final plate welded on.
My welds aren't the prettiest but I'm sure they'll be passable and I'll get better as time goes by. I wouldn't like to think how much a garage would charge for that little lot. I've run out of CO2 so I'll get some more on Friday when I get paid. I've got an entire OS sill to replace so I might get a price to have it done unless I feel confident enough in my own skills.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Work on Becky begins

The first thing I did was to sort out the blowing exhaust. It turned out that the manifold joint isn't blowing. The downpipe is starting to split. I've put some exhaust putty on for now but the only cure is to weld it. Becky needs the later type exhaust (like Blue) where there is a degree of movement which avoids the downpipe splitting. The exhaust clamp is now fitted so that might help as well. Next was to adjust the brake shoes. While the rear wheels were off I had a poke around the arches and I found a lot of filler in the offside arch. I've wirebrushed it and painted the remaining metal with the rust killing primer. Quite a bit of fresh metal will need to be welded. I'm really gonna have to learn how to weld. If I could get hold of some sheet steel then I could have a go. Getting back to the brakes, I adjusted the shoes but the handbrake still isn't holding. I'll need to adjust the handbrake but I didn't think of that until after I'd locked up the garage. While I had the primer out I did other areas of the car where there was rust. I'm hoping I've stoppped Becky getting any worse and once new metal replaces rust I can think about putting her through the MoT.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

SHE LIVES!!!!!!!!!!

Becky is back in the land of the living. I fitted the charged battery, the fuel pump, the carbs, put in £5 worth of petrol, squirted some Easystart into the carb intakes and Becky started up without any problems. She was ticking over at about 2000 rpm but other than that she was running fine. I drove her round the block and all was well. The brakes still work (the fluid will need changing) but the handbrake was as bad as ever. I think the battery is past it's best (it was on the car when I bought her 4 years ago) but once started I'll be able to drive her across to my garage where I can work on getting her ready for the MoT. The biggest hurdle will be getting the welding done. The offside outer sill needs replacing but the Guru has some sills so I'll need to get one from him. The other jobs I can see that need doing are to adjust the brake shoes, change the engine oil, change the oil filter, change the air filter, sort out the blowing exhaust manifold/downpipe joint and to fit the exhaust brakcet to prevent this reocurring. The rust I'd ground off a few months ago has started to come back but I can deal with that easily enough.

Blue has had an oil and filter change. I had a couple of oil filters in stock so that saved me a few quid. The cheap oil I'd put in when I did the head gasket had only done less than 1000 miles but it looked like it had done 6000 so it has done the job of flushing out the engine as I'd intended. I'm now back on decent oil. Instead of Duckhams I used Miller's 15W/40 from Champion. (paid for by the refund on the head gasket set) It is the right oil for the Acclaim and at just shy of £12 I know it is decent quailty. I've also ordered an air filter. The old one doesn't look too bad so I'll put it on Becky now she's running again.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The revival of Becky.

I'll be trying to get Becky running in the morning. The battery is fully charged and I've got a fuel pump and the carbs ready to fit so I'll be going over to my parents' house to fit the bits and once I've put some petrol in I can see if the car will run. I can get a refund on that head gasket set I got from Champion which will give me some much needed cash.

Tonight I was messing around in the garage with the spare front hub assembly which was a dry run for replacing Brown's front wheel bearings. When I fit the new bearings it'll be a strightforward job as I can avoid the pitfalls I've discovered. I'm also toying with the idea of using new rubber bushes on the upper wishbones which will save me a few quid (£1.50 from ANG Triumph against £7.47 for the Superflex ones is quite tempting...) but this month's planned expenditure will be just over £150 with Superflex front bushes factored in so I might not bother with rubber bushes and I'm not sure a mix of new rubber and Superflex is ideal as I've already started going down the Superflex path with the tie bar bushes...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Acclaim bits

I was given some Acclaim parts by somebody local I knew who had an Acclaim. (he sold it to the Guru) He came across them when he was packing up for a house move. The parts were a complete cylinder head, two oil filters (handy for the next service), a brand new coil and a pair of carburettors. This has prompted me to start reviving Becky. I've got a replacement fuel pump from the Guru after I'd liberated Becky's for Blue when Blue's fuel pump died on me. The battery has been liberated and is on charge. Once I've fitted all the bits and got some petrol in Becky should be ready to fire up and all being well should move under her own power. The brakes will need overhauling (like I did with Blue) and once the welding is done she should be somewhere near fit to put through an MoT. The carbs had been separated but it was a simple enough to put them back together and they're now ready to go back on.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Time for some budgeting and planning

I seem to have gone a bit mad with the expenditure on repairs. This is what I've spent since the last payday:

Welding on Brown's floorpan - £45
Front suspension bolt set for Brown - £20 (eBay purchase including postage)
Fuel filter for Blue - £4.39
Brake pads & shoes for Blue - £28
Two new tyres for Blue - £70
MoT test fee for Blue - £40
Pair of new track rod ends for Blue - £10
Temperature sender for Blue - £12
RH bottom balljoint for Brown - £30 (another eBay purchase which also included postage)
LH bottom balljoint for Brown - £28 (bought from a TDC member in Holland which again included postage)
Lower wishbone bush seals (£8 from Rimmer Bros)

This comes to a grand total of £295.39 which is a fair chunk of my income. Clearly this cannot be sustained so like Baldrick in Blackadder I have a cunning plan. I'm going to budget for only a few items and that way I won't be overspending like I've just done. Also, as Blue now has an MoT there won't be as much money spent on that car as before. Here is my plan of action:

Brake discs, pads & shoes for Brown (priced at approx £100 including postage from Rimmer Bros)
Front suspension bushes for Brown (priced at about £50 from Chris Witor)
Front wheel bearings for Brown (£20 for both sides from ANG Triumph)
Zircon blue paint for Blue (unknown as yet. I might try Halfords)

Exhaust for Brown (£200 from the TDC)
Track rod ends for Brown (the gaiters have split despite being recently fitted. Probably £5 each from Champion Motor Spares)

New front tyres for Brown (£30-40 each depending on where I go)
Front wheel tracking (probably about £15)
MoT test for Brown (£40 if I use the same testing station again)

If I follow this plan I hope to avoid any overspending.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Suspension progress

I've got the lower wishbones back from Brian which have now had their bushes separated. I've got the bottom balljoints and a set of seals for the lower wishbone bushes which I'd ordered from Rimmer Bros. I just need the bushes and then I can start to fit my refubished suspension to Brown. My plan is to get Superflex bushes from Chris Witor.

Blue is now running like a dream. The fuel problem has now all but disappeared. I took the car for a run out to Scarborough and it didn't miss a beat. I think a good run was what it needed. I've also dealt with one of the advisories on the MoT. I wirebrushed the sills and gave them a couple of coats of rust killing primer. I'll leave it a couple of weeks then I'll rub it down and give it a topcoat (if I can find Zircon blue. Most motor factors won't stock it.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

It passed

I picked up the track rod ends and fitted them last night. This morning after work I went back to the testing station for the retest where Blue got that elusive green piece of paper (MoT certificate) so now Blue is road legal once again.

Turning my attention to Brown, I've dropped off the repainted lower wishbones at Brian's to get the old bushes out. Once I've got new bushes I can then do my suspension rebuild.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It failed...

...on a track rod end! There were a few advisories as well.

The OSF brake disc was slightly pitted
OSR brake pipe slightly corroded (cleaned up by the tester and is OK)
Both outer sills corroded but not excessive
The front brakes imbalanced but just within the limit (caused by the pitted disc according to the tester)

I've ordered a pair of track rod ends from Champion and I'll be able to deal with the advisories. The sills will be wirebrushed, rust treated (got some rust killing primer), and then topcoated. I'll waxoyl the sills to stop the rust in it's tracks. A pair of new brake discs will be fitted to deal with the brakes. A nice easy winter project. Before I took Blue in for the MoT I replaced the rear tyres as they were on the car when I got it and due to the 13 year lay-up they must have been at least 15 years old and therefore overdue for replacment. One of them looked like it had been on since the car rolled off the production line and the tread looked like it was worn to the limit. £70 for the pair is a small price to pay for total piece of mind and was one thing less to fail the MoT on. I forgot to mention that I'd fitted a replacement front bumper yesterday. The Acclaim Guru (Barry) had kept it for me and when I was fitting it I decided to clean up the front valence and gave it a couple of coats of rust killing primer. Once the primer has hardened I can topcoat it. I'll be doing the same thing with the outer sills. The only problem was when I came to remove the headlamp washer jets from the old bumper the threads had sheared. The Guru has a couple in stock but he's on holiday at the moment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Final prep

I adjusted the handbrake and jetwashed Blue and the car is now ready for tomorrow's MoT. I discovered that I'd refitted the fuel pump wrongly which could be the cause of the poor running. I've topped up the radiator with the last of my antifreeze. I'd like to get the temperature gauge working again to see if Blue's overheating.

Monday, August 17, 2009

MoT preparation on Blue

I've been working on the brakes. New pads, shoes and the fluid has been replaced and the brakes seem better. Just need to put some more miles on the car. I'm still having problems with it running but I've replaced the fuel filter and I've been spraying carb cleaner in the carbs. Maybe a bit more fresh petrol might help things. I'm still waiting for the temperature sender to arrive but I'll stick with the motor factor I've orderedit from as they're moving Heaven and Earth to get one and it is local to where I am these days.

I'm gradually getting the bits I need to bring Brown back up to MoT standard. The floorpan was welded last Friday costing me £45. I've got a nut and bolt set for the front suspension for just shy of £15 via eBay. Another eBay bargain was a bottom RH balljoint for £20 and I've been offered a LH one for the same price. The suspension refurb is coming along slowly. I've cleaned up the upper wishbones and I've even managed to remove all but one of the bushes. I'll be fitting new bushes and I'll probably get Superflex ones like I did for the tie bars. Blue will be taking prioroty but I'll get things if the opportunity arises.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Yes, Blue is up and running again. I've changed the engine oil and bled the brakes as the fluid had seen better days. I went to get some petrol and the brake fluid level went down. (the warning light came on) Shortly after putting some petrol in the car started running like a bag of spanners. I don't know why but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'll try some carb cleaner then. I'll also see if that temperature sender has arrived. I hope Blue isn't overheating like before.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I've ordered a new timing belt and I'm waiting for it along with the temperature sender for Blue. I'm also waiting for Brian to finish the head so I can reunite it with the block and time is running out. I'm going to end up without transport at this rate as Brown's MoT runs out very soon. I can see myself walking to work. Night shifts & public transport don't mix. I've enquired about parts at my trusty local motor factor for Brown for when it comes off the road. It might be worth getting them from there if it works out cheaper than getting them from Fitchett's or Rimmer Bros.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Getting there with Blue

No joy with Drake's. They couldn't get the valve stem oil seals so I ended up getting another head set from Bradford Grinders with the correct seals for a tenner. I dropped it in at Brian's so the head will be ready soon. I'm sure I had a spare timing belt (bought for Becky) but I can't find it anywhere. I'll probably leave it until after the MoT when I can get an air wrench on the crankshaft pulley bolt to loosen it. All the old head gasket has been cleaned off the block and it is now ready to recieve the head. I've also cleaned the mating faces on both the inlet & exhaust manifold. While I was working on the inlet manifold I noticed that the temperature sender had the terminal snapped off. I wonder if I've been getting a wrong reading on the gauge or I might have damaged it when I was removing the head. It certainly had seen better days. The outlet at the bottom looked like it had blocked up so that might have been causing cooling problems. It will be all flushed out when I put the car back together. At least I know the radiator's fine. I bought a set of NGK spark plugs & once the car's running again I'll be changing the engine oil with some cheap stuff and I'll change the oil and filter after a few hundred miles to flush out any crap. I'll be doing the same with the cooling system.

I checked into running a newer car and it is going to be too costly because I'd have to insure it separately. I was quoted just over £1500 for a 1995 Vauxhall Astra 1.4LS by Footman James so my best course of action is to get Blue through the MoT once the car is up and running again. I went to the garage where I had the brake pipe made and the guy reckons that the floorpan damage I sustained least year can be repaired for about £25-£30 and at worst it would be double that so I'll get that done on Brown before it comes off the road. The other work that I know will be required for an MoT I can do myself. I'm not much good with a MIG. The same guy knows a classic friendly place for MoT testing so I'll be looking into that.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Progress on Blue

I rang a couple of local engine builders and Drake's (who rebuilt a Pinto engine for Practical Classics a few years ago) have ended up getting my business. I called in with a sample and they'll be ordering it in so it should be in on Monday. I bought a gasket scraper and set to work on getting the rest of the gasket off the engine block. I'm also going to change the timing belt which means that the crankshaft pulley has to come off so that the bottom half of the timing belt cover can be removed. It is just a matter of removing the crankshaft pulley bolt but it is fighting me. If only I had an air wrench. It would be off in seconds so it looks like I'm going to have to remove the starter motor (easy to get to with the head off) and jam the flywheel as per the Haynes manual.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Blue's cylinder head

Brian rang me earlier tonight to tell me that the replacement valve stem oil seals were too big because they foul the inner valve springs so I went over to his place to pick up a couple of the old ones as samples so I can order replacements. I'm going to try one of the local engine building places in the morning as I need Blue back up and running as soon as possible to be able to put it back on the road. The valves needed doing and the head needed decoking which is most likely due to the low mileage (22,600) clocked up from new until the car was laid up in 1993. I consulted the Guru and all he could tell me was that he's never had this problem.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Time for an update

I've done quite a few things since the last update. Brown as had a new tax disc as it was due. The suspension problem turned out to be seriously worn bottom balljoints. I fitted the ones that were on the Sprint front suspension I had but the left one wasn't much better. I'm going to rebuild the spare suspension so it'll have new balljoints when it is done. I stripped the vertical link on the left and regreased the front hub. The handbrake stopped working so I ordered new brake shoes and fitted them. Then the rear left wheel cylinder started to leak so a new one was ordered. When I triedto fit it the union rounded off. I was eventually able to remove the wheel cylinder with the pipe still attached and separated them. I ended up getting a new section of brake pipe costing me £5 and after when I fitted it the unions were leaking. It turned out that the unions were metric so I got some replacements and when the pipe was refitted it was leak free and it is still holding up. I think I'll have to replace the rear shoes because the linings are contaminated with brake fluid. The MoT runs out on the 14th so Brown will be coming off the road to have everything done properly for the MoT including the previously mentioned front suspension refurb which I've already started.

Blue has already had some attention too. I've taken the cylinder head off and I found out where it had failed because No. 4 cylinder was clean but the others were coked up. (probably didn't help with running) Water was getting in the cylinder and it had the effect of steam clening it. The head has gone down to Brian's to have the valves reground and the new valve stem oil seals fitted. (they cam with the head set I bought) When that is done the head can go back on by which time Blue should be ready for the dreaded MoT but Blue has a better chance of passing than Brown. I've wirebrushed the tops of the pistons and the only thing left to do before the head goes back on is to remove the remains of the head gasket.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A little incident

On my way to work last night I was behind a Ford Transit at some traffic lights when it rolled back into Brown. The only damage was to the nearside indicator/sidelight lens and a broken sidelight bulb. The driver got out and because there was no damage to his van I told him to get on his way. At the soonest opportunity I went to my storage unit and found a pair of early type indicator/sidelight lenses (Brown has the later type) and I was able to fit them. A replacement sidelight bulb was only £1 so it was a very cheap repair.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Suspension problems

At last! Sonething that needed doing. Somebody I know who was driving behind me said the Brown's right front wheel was wobbling when I was driving so I investigated at the soonest possible opportunity. At first I thought that the front tie bar nuts needed nipping up. Because nuts and bolts have to be tightened up with the weight of the car on the suspension I had to use my wheel ramps. The nuts did need nipping up but only a little. I did the same with the top nuts on the front shock absorbers. I then checked the front wheel camber and it seemed fine and then I found it. The bottom nut and bolt where the suspension is bolted on to the subframe was loose so I got my spanners and sockets and tightened it up anf hopefully it has cured the problem.

Blue's MoT has now run out. I can't do anything until the head gasket has been sorted out so the first thing I'll be doing once I've moved into my garage will be to get Blue's cylinder head off and down to Brian so he can work his magic. He's having some building work done so he hasn't room at the moment to fetch the car down.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Replacment parts bought.

Brown had been running like a bag of spanners. No. 3 cylinder wasn't sparking so the first thing I did was swap the HT leads (I had a spare set) next I thought the distributor cap was faulty and when that didn't cure the problem I replaced the rotor arm. That didn't work either so I removed the distributor and lo and behold the points gap had closed up. I set the points gap, put everything back together and it has cured the problem. I'll need to do some road testing to make sure I've cured it.

On another positive note I ordered a head gasket set for Blue from Champion and I picked it up today costing me £18. I just need to get Brian to fit it as soon as he can do it. Blue's tax disc has run out so I decided to renew the tax. £125 a year is ridiculous for a 26 year old car but it is better to stay legal. The MoT is also due so Brian can do a pre-MoT check at the same time and hopefully, Blue will pass.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Exhaust finally sorted

The exhaust was still blowing at the mainfold/downpipe joint and rather than using exhaust putty I decided to sort it out properly by tightening up the nuts. For this I needed a deep 9/16" socket which I didn't have. After trying a couple of branches of Halfords and a couple of motor factors I ended up buying a set of Imperial deep sockets from my local Machine Mart for just over a tenner. When I got home I got Brown up on wheel ramps and left the exhaust to cool down while I read the new edition of Practical Classics. When I had done I got back to the car and did up the nuts curing the blowing. I smeared some exhaust putty on the next joint down and gave the car a road test and so far it is still holding up. The clock is still keeping good time so I am now set for the show at Harewood House tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seats & suspension

I replaced the seats and front shock absorbers on Brown. This involved a trip to the North East to collect said items. I'd filled up the day before the trip and when I got back I filled up again. I'd covered 335 miles and averaged just over 30 mpg which is my best figure yet. Fitting the shock absorbers was quite easy and it has raised the height of the front end so no more cringing when I hit speed bumps and potholes. The replacement seats have made the interior a much nicer place to be helped no doubt by the fact that I'd vacuumed the carpets while the seats were out. I've also replace the slightly slow clock and the inaccurate voltmeter. The replacement voltmeter is a lot better than the old one. The clock? Time will tell... (pun intended!)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brake pads replaced

The brake pads needed replacing again. They were done less than 2 months ago. At first I suspected the nearside caliper pistons were still sticking so I did that side first. I pushed the pistons in and put my foot on the brake pedal and repeated the process several times just to make sure the pistons had freed up. I did the same thing on the offside and to my surprise the wear on all the pads were quite even. I then realised that it must have been my use of the brakes going down steep hills must have caused the pads to wear so quickly. I also suspect that I might not have bedded the pads in properly. I will endeavour to bed the pads in preoperly this time. After the last pad changed I noticed a squealing sound. There are shims fitted but the don't seem to help. When I fitted the new pads I sprayed some copper grease on the back of the pads and this has prevented any squealing. I filled up with petrol this morning after I finished work and I've averaged just over 25 mpg. I've been montoring fuel consumption and I've been getting mid-20s mpg. Brown has been drinking supermarket 95 RON unleaded. (I did try a tank of Esso 95 RON unleaded but I don't think there was any difference) The last thing I did was to wash Brown and when I've finished updating this Blog I'll be getting some sleep by which time the exhaust manifold will have cooled down enought for me to be able to cure the blowing that is still there.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A stroke of luck

Last night I went to the TSSC meeting in South Yorkshire which was the perfect opportunity to put some motorway miles on Brown. The area organiser, Tony has a TR7 engined Dolomite Sprint and he offered me some of his surplus parts (he had a donor Sprint which he'd broken) so after the meeting I went to his place and came away with a complete front suspension, a set of Goodridge front brake hoses and enough shock absorber bottom bushes for 2 cars. I'd have taken more stuff if he could've found more of what I needed. I've offered to help him sell his parts through the Triumph Dolomite Club and he's offered me half of whatever I can help him sell. Brown didn't miss a beat last night but the car is still a bit twitchy at the front so I'm hoping this replacement suspension will sort it all out. Time will tell...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More work done

I got 2 more jobs crossed off my list. They were the engine oil and filter change. Unfortunately, I suffered a disaster. After completing the job I started the car and when the oil light didn't go out I stopped the engine and to my horror there was a large puddle of engine oil beneath the car. It turned out that I hadn't fitted the filter housing on straight so oil was just leaking out. I refitted the filter housing and refilled with oil. (after having to buy some more engine oil) This time there were no leaks and Brown is none the worse for the loss of oil. I use some cheap cat litter (£1.16 for a 10kg bag) from my local Morrisons to soak up the oil slick. I've just put down a 2nd bag as the first one didn't soak it all up. I've also tuned the car again. I checked the timing and it was on TDC so I have adjusted it and set it by ear rather than follow the figures. I synchronized the mixture by ajusting the jets until they were level with the carburettor bridge and then turned the nuts down 12 flats to get an initial setting, adjusted the tickover, balanced the carbs by ear with the rubber hose, weakened the mixture by a couple of flats and then checked the tickover and there seems to be more power. The exhaust is still bowing at the manifold so I'm gonna get ETC to sort out the manifold. They did the same job with Becky so my exhaust problems should be sorted once and for all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For the first time in ages...

...I worked on Becky. I had dug out my angle grinder so I took the opportunity to grind as much rust off her. I'd washed the car a couple of days previously. Most of the offside sill had dissolved so I'll have to replace the entire outer sill. I took a look inside and it seems that the inner sill is fine. Looks like some of Austin Rover's protection did work after all. I'm sure the car is saveable as outer sills are now available from the Acclaim Guru for only £20 each. I just need to master the art of welding...

I bought an oil filter and some engine oil for Brown's oil and filter change. I decided to use some decent classic engine oil so I went for the Duckhams mineral 20W/50. I just need some dry weather to do the oil change.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Parts to get

Started to buy some more parts for Brown. I got a choke cable on eBay for £5 that has the connection for the choke light. Brown has an aftermarket choke cable so it has never had the choke light working. Once that's fitted I can set the carbs up properly. I'll get an oil filter ordered then I can do the oil and filter change. I might even change the tranmission fluid as well. It won't do any harm to do so.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A bit of spannering done today

It all started with the storage unit that I'm renting. I've decided to give it up and in the process of removing stuff I came across an exhaust mounting bracket that I'd bought from Rimmer Bros in error last year. It was an exact match for the one that is missing off Brown so I fitted it and now the exhaust is on all it's mountings. I picked up the brake pads I'd ordered from Champion and asked about an oil filter on the off chance. Due to the Bank Holiday it'll be Tuesday before I can get one so I'll have to leave it until then.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A little tune-up

Brown seemed to be thirsty (a sooty tailpipe and a full tank not lasting far enough were the warning signs) so after filling up with petrol (pay day today) I got my tools out. I'd already read up the procedure in the BL workshop manual as the Haynes doesn't cover SU-carbed 1850s. The first thing I did was to remove No. 2 spark plug and sure enough it was covered in soot meaning the replacement carbs I'd fitted were running too rich. I balanced the carbs, (the front one was getting less airflow) adjusted the idle and then I turned the mixture nuts up until the revs started to drop and turned them back down till the revs just started to rise again so hopefully, I should get better fuel economy.

I've noticed that petrol prices have started rising again (96.9p a litre at my local Morrisons) so I'm going to do something a bit radical in order to improve my mileage. So far my best average has been 28mpg. I don't want to say too much at this stage as it will be experimental. If it works then I'll reveal all in due course.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another small job done

Got a small job crossed off the list. I fitted the driver's side door mirror that I've had in the boot. Using my electric drill made the job very easy. I must have had it finished in 10 minutes and it all went without a single hitch. If I come across a passenger side door mirror I'll get it. Amazing how quick and easy the job is with power tools.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Getting Blue repaired

As you may know Blue's been out of action due to a suspected head gasket failure. I was given the name and phone number of someone who skims cylinder heads and I was quoted a price of £20 so I'll be going for it as soon as funds allow. I'll be replacing the timing belt at the same time as it is an unknown quantity. All I need to do is to get Blue to somewhere where I can remove the head. I'll order the head gasket set and timing belt from Champion as well. The guy who reommended the engineering place builds replica bodies of the Triumph Spitfire Le Mans in fibreglass and was recently featured in a recent edition of Triumph World.

Brown needs a replacement choke cable, an exhaust bracket for the intermediate section, (the bit between the 2 silencers just ahead of the rear axle) new steering rack bushes and the gaskets for the exhaust manifold. These are the more immediate jobs.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Some light spannering

I filled up today and consumption has averaged out at just over 23mpg. Not as good as before but still not too bad. I'll get a better idea at the next fill up as I've swapped the carbs since the previous fill up. Brown's running like a dream and is better than before when cold so I can cross the carb job off my list. I also took the opportunity to jet wash the car as I'm going to a classic car show tomorrow at the White Rose Centre in Leeds. After the jet wash I balanced the carbs and they weren't that much out. I adjusted the tickover and I'm now happy with the way Brown is running. The show will give me an opportunity to give Brown a blast along the M62 as the White Rose Centre is just off junction 28 so I'll see what it's like at motorway speeds. Money's getting a bit tight again so no more spending till the next pay day.

Friday, May 01, 2009

More ups and downs

Starting with the ups. I managed to sort out the exhaust. One of the joints had to be sleeved to make a gas tight seal and with the help of my neighbour I got it done. While the exhaust itself isn't blowing there is a blow where the manifold is bolted on to the cylinder head. I've fitted the carbs and it has improved performance.

Moving on to the downs. As soon as I'd got Brown running after the carb swap a squealing noise has appeared which only disappears when I'm accelerating under load. This has marred an otherwise great day of achievements.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The trip to Birmingham

I went down to Birmingham today to get the bits from my Dolomite friend. I didn't get all the parts I wanted but I got enough parts had I had to pay for them would cost more than the petrol I used. I got the 2 middle sections of stainless steel exhaust, the horns, the carbs and the fuel pump which looked like it was fairly new. I filled up at a local Asda and I've calculated that since the previous fill up I've averaged 28mpg which is an improvement. The replacement carbs look like they're better then the ones on Brown so fuel consumption should be better still once they're fitted. When I got home I fitted the horns so I now have opriginal spec horns that work. I fitted one of the sections of exhaust but I didn't have time to fit any more parts as it was getting late and I'm back at work tonight. There's always tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Steering column bush

I got it fitted today. It was a bit easier than before but I was struggling with getting the steering column back into the coupling. The end of the column is splined and there's a groove where the pinch bolt fits to stop the column from coming out of the coupling and this needs to be lined up to be able to get the bolt back in. I ended up getting my next door neighbour to give me a hand and with his help we got it sorted out very quickly. This has improved the steering and eliminated the free play which would be another MoT failure item. I hope that come MoT time this car will pass or the failure list will be very small. Another job crossed off the list. Next up will be a trip down to one of my Dolomite friends down in Birmingham who has offered any parts I need off a Dolomite that he's breaking. In return I'm delivering him a compressor pump that he bought from the guy who I'd sold the sports exhaust to. (I'd picked the pump up when I delivered the exhaust) I filled up this monring and I've worked out that I've averaged just over 24mpg since the last fill up and that was "round town" driving so I reckon Brown can do better on a long run. I'll find out tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rebushing the front suspension

The Super Flex bushes I'd ordered from Chris Witor arrived in the post today so they were fitted at the soonest opportunity. I was expecting the job to be difficult but it went better than I'd expected. One of the tie bars had started to wear where it had come into contact with the subframe but as the new bushes cover that part entirely (unlike the rubber ones) it won't be a problem. While it hasn't transformed that car it has made a noticable difference in that the knocking sound from the front suspension has been eliminated. I've yet to fit the steering column bulkhead bush so I might get an extra pair of hands as I had to do this job on Snowdrop. Fitting the bush itself is easy enough. The hard bit is disconnecting the column from the coupling and putting it back together especially if the splines are dirty and rusted up. I believe that this part of the job is easier on the adjustable steering columns. We shall see...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More ignition parts replaced

I picked up the cap, condensor and rotor arm from Champion this morning. While I was there I decided to get some spark plugs. The ignition parts were fitted. I replaced the front carb mount with my best spare one. I'd been swapping this one a few times so I now have the best ones on the car and I've ditched the rest. The plugs were gapped before I fitted them but the condensor was a pain to fit. I ended up taking the distributor out to fit it and I set the points gap at the same time. When I replaced it that's when the problems started. Brown wouldn't start and even backfired a few times. The first time was the worst because it sounded like a gun had gone off. The next door neighbour was crying with laughter but he came to my aid when I'd run the battery down because he lent me his battery charger to top up the battery. I refitted the old parts to no avail and ended up putting the new ones back in but I left the old consdenser as it so bloody fiddly because there's no room to work on it being next to the inlet manifold. After taking the distributor out a couple of more times it dawned on me that I'd been putting it back in slightly wrong. When I fitted it in the right position and set the static timing the car fired up straight away. The ignition timing was checked with the strobe light and adjusted. Performance on the road is even better. I was able to overtake a couple of cars (not at once!) and I left a brand new Toyota (it was on a 09 plate) for dead. Who needs a Sprint? The 1850 (even with an automatic) is certainly the next best thing. Today's grief has been worth it as I achieved what I set out to do and the car is so much better for it. The car will up to the job of Drive It Day on Sunday and the local TSSC group are having a run out to Eden Camp Museum so that'll be a nice run out. I might have my new tie bar bushes delivered & fitted by then. Anyway, the car's running fine now.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New HT leads fitted

...because that's all the Champion had on the shelf so the other's stuff's on order. When I replaced the points I'd bought a condensor but it didn't fit so I returned it when I was there and I've got a replacement on order as well and they should be ready tomorrow. I fitted the HD leads and straight away the car was running much better. There was a knocking sound which was when I tied up part of my exhaust with some cable ties so off they came and all was well once again. The bracket for that part is missing so another part to replace

Ignition problems

Brown's been idling erratically and hesitates when setting off. I traced the problem to a faulty HT lead and I found a spare HT lead. It has improved things but I'll need to replace them ASAP so I might as well replace the rotor arm and cap at the same time. It is just one thing after another...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Brake pads

I was unable to wait for the pads I'd ordered from Champion (they'll come in handy for the next brake pad change so I don't have to wait for them to be ordered) as there was a grinding sound whenever I applied the brakes so today I tried a motor factor in Halifax and they had them on the shelf costing me £15 not the cheapest but I needed them so I took them.

I jacked the car up, put axles stands underneath, removed the wheels, and this is what the pads looked like before I replaced them.

The nearside pads had worn more than the other side. When I pushed the pistons back in the caliper I applied the brakes and then I pushed the pistons back to make sure that they weren't sticking. The job was quite straightforward apart from getting the old pads out but with the help of some mole grips and my trusty lump hammer they eventually complied.

As you can see in the pic above the old pads had worn right down compared to the new ones. These were from the nearside. Soon I'll be able to order some much needed parts when I get paid on Friday.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A bit of messing about

Brown started to run like a bag of spanners and was backfiring so I checked the ignition timing at the soonest opportunity. It had slippped AGAIN! When it was adjusted the car ran better. I've also nipped up the exhaust manifold/downpipe joint nuts and tweaked the mixture on the carbs as fuel consumption is still poor. I've ordered some front brake pads from Champion as I can hear grinding noises from the NS front wheel. That worn pad must be down to the metal which isn't good. Worse still, it'll be Wednesday at the soonest before the pads will be ready to be picked up so I need to be gentle on the brakes until then.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bits & bats

Today I managed to nip up the nuts on the exhaust manifold/downpipe joint. I'm sure it still blows so a few more such sessions will be required. I've also adjusted the front passenger door gap and the wind noise is now much reduced. Only a week to go until my next pay day and then I can get some more jobs crossed off the list.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Repairs to Blue

As you should already know Blue has been out of action due to suspected head gasket failure. If this is the case then the head will have almost certainly have warped. I've had two people who have said this. One has had it happen to him 5 times and the other being the Acclaim Guru so I will gladly go along with this. Champion have quoted me £18 for a head gasket set but the real cost will be getting the head skimmed. I was at a local TSSC meeting last night and got talking to a guy in Huddersfield who builds replica Le Mans Spitifres (he was featured in a recent edition of Triumph World) who knows somebody who can skim the head for a resaonable price. It didn't sound too labour intensive so I might be able to get Blue sorted out without too much trouble. I'll need to plan this to minimise downtime especially if I get my mate Brian to fit the head gasket.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Today's work

I've managed to quieten the exhaust a bit more. I had to redo the rear two joints. I just undid them and reassembled them using some exhaust putty I'd bought from Halfords so my entire exhaust is now blow free execpt for somewhere at the manifold. I'm a bit puzzled becasuse I can't feel any blowing at the manifold/downpipe joint but I can defintiely hear it. Anyway, things are much improved. While the car was up on axle stands I decided to investigate a knocking that has been coming from the front suspension. When I took the front wheel off I found out what it was. The bushes for the front tie bars are worn (as you can see in the photos below) so new ones will be on my shopping list along with new front shock absorbers. Talking of which I also checked the front springs and they appear to be fine (they're in one piece) so I probably won't bother replacing them. I took a look ath the brake pads and the outer nearside one has more wear then the inner one which explains a slight pull the left when braking so yet another item on the shopping list. I'll also have to free that piston in the caliper when I do the brake pad replacement.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Ups and downs

I had the chance to test Brown on a long distance run to Reighton Sands yesterday. (between Filey and Bridlington on the east coast) The journey there passed without event and Brown hardly missed a best. On leaving the caravan site that insecure exhaust joint came back to haunt me as I caught it on a bump. Fortunately it had just come apart so I managed to get it back together but a few miles down the road it came out again. This time I sorted it out by using a clamp from the sports exhaust that was still in the boot and some exhauist paste and it has held. Brown started running like a bag of spanners again so I set the timing, set the points and tightened a nut on the coil. I noticed that the points were pitted so I spent this morning trailing round the motor factors in Bridlington to no avail. The car was still running so I was able to get back and I called in at Champion and ordered points and condensor as they didn't have them on the shelf. I came back to pick them up and found out that the condenser wouldn't fit. After fitting the points and setting the gap I took Brown for a short road test and the car died on me. I couldn't fix it there and then so I frewheeled back home as I was downhill all the way home. The problem was a broken wire from the points to the coil and once that was fixed Brown came back to life and is now running fine. I'll have to invest in electronic ignition in the future to avoid all this grief.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I've finally done it!

Brown is now running like a dream. I balanced the carbs, topped up the dashpots with ATF and I set the points and she is running perfectly. No backfiring and no hesitating on hills. I'm so pleased. I also managed to quieten the exhaust by nipping up some of the joints. There's one joint which will need a new clamp but that will have to wait until my next pay day.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

eBay time

I've decided to try and sell some of my surplus parts on eBay. I've listed the glass, the bootlids, the Toledo interior and the spare autobox. They're all on Buy It Now at £10.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

More work done

I got 2 more jobs crossed off the list. The "AUTOMATIC" bootlid badge arrived in the post from Mick Dolphin so that was fitted at the earliest opportunity as you can see in the pic. I was able to get hold of the exhaust mounting rubbers from Champion for £5 so I then swapped the exhaust. When I was removing the old one it was fighting me all the way. This was partly because I wanted to remove it intact as I am going to be selling it on. Fitting the standard exhaust was quite easy and it has transformed the car. It runs a LOT quieter now. The car had been running like a bag of spanners so I checked the ignition timing and it was way out. Once it was adjusted to the correct setting it was running fine. The car is a lot better now but the job is far from complete but the most important jobs have been done.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A mixed day

I picked up the exhaust and I got the tracking done but Brown is running like a bag of spanners. I cleaned some crap out of the fuel pump but it hasn't helped much. I'm having difficulty in sourcing the exhaust rubber mountings. Looks like I'll have to order them from Fitchett's or Rimmer's.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Further spannering

The track rod ends arrived so I got them fitted at the earliest opportunity. The job was done within 45 minutes. When the wheels were off I noticed that the tyres were worse that I'd thought so a trip to a local tyre fitter is next priority. Because I had plenty of time I ended up cleaning the carburettors. I've found another job to add to the list but fortunately it won't cost me any money. The steering column bush needs replacing but I know I have a decent one in my collection of spares so no money will have to be spent on that one. Doing it should be slightly easier than on Snowdop because the column is adjustable and will slide up to allow it to be fitted. Once I'm done for today I'll have made further progress.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Rear suspension

Brown was sitting a bit low on the rear so I replaced the shock absorbers and springs as a matter of urgency. I bought the parts from T.D. Fitchett costing me £86
Then they had to be fitted. I had to buy a coil spring comressor costing my just over £20. When I took the right rear wheel off I noticed that the spring had broken and the shock absorber was leaking as you can tell in the pics below.

The left hand side wasn't as bad but the shock absorber was leaking. The job of fitting the new parts was slow but I got there in the end and it has transformed the car. I no longer cringe whenever I hit a speed bump or a pothole (plenty of both in West Yorkshire) I won the track rod ends (just over a tenner including postage) I'd bid for on eBay so they should be arriving soon. One big job over with and something less to fail the MoT on.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Head gasket failure on Blue

I'm quite certain that Blue's head gasket has failed. I put some Bars Flush in the radiator to clean the cooling system out. After that Blue started running like a bag of spanners at low revs (below 2500 rpm) and clouds of steam are coming out of the exhaust. Today I drained the radiator, refilled with plain water to flush it out, went to Champion to get some fresh antifreeze & Bars Leaks, drained the radiator again, fitted the new thermostat and refilled with fresh coolant. It looks like I'll be ordering a head gasket set. I'll get Brian to do the job. The last time he did it for me on a Ford Sierra Sapphire which was 10 years ago. 2 years prior to that I had a head gasket done on another Ford Sierra so this is the third time for me. I'll get the timing belt changed at the same time as it is overdue and I've never done a timing belt change on any of my Acclaims. This means Brown will have to be put back into service. I hope I win some of my eBay items then I can get on with sorting out this car.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Blue's turn for some attention

I've now made a start on flushing Blue's cooling system. I went to my local MotoSave because it was closer to home. There was a choice between Holts Speedflush, Bars Flush and the Wynns. I chose the Bars Flush because (A) it was the joint cheapest at £2.99 and (B) it stays in the cooliong system the longest so it should clear out any crap that's in there. By the time I drain the cooling system tomorrow it should've had time to work it's magic.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A start on Brown

Got 2 jobs crossed off the list:
I picked up the air filters from Champion and fitted them. I've also replaced the OSR door locking button. Small jobs but a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, I've added another job to my list:
While at the lock-up I found a BL wing badge so I've decided to fit wing badges to Brown. A low priority cosmetic job.

On the other hand, the rear shock absorbers & springs will be a bit higher up in my priorities and will be the first parts of the suspension to be replaced. A full set are going to cost about £80 so I'll have to see if I can get them cheaper than that. I've also ordered an "automatic" bootlid badge from Mick Dolphin so I'll now have the correct 1972 badges on Brown.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Getting parts

I've bought a new thermostat for Blue from Champion Motor Spares costing me just under £5. I've been bidding on eBay for some parts for Brown. I'll report back if and when I do win them. I'll be back at Champion tomorrow for the air filters for Brown. Hopefully, I can get the thermostat fitted as well. I wish I knew why that car is running so hot. I hope it ain't the head gasket. I'll have to flush the cooling system to make sure there's no crap left in it. I can't think of any other explanation for the excess pressure being generated.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The current state of affairs...

Blue's still running hot. I can't see any leaks but the expansion bottle's always full. This means that there's pressure in the cooling system. There's no sign of head gasket failure but I haven't done a compression test so I can't rule it out yet. I'll try the easy stuff first which will be to flush out the cooling system (I wonder if the K-Seal has blocked any water passages) and fit a new thermostat.
Brown needs a bit more work. I've balanced the carbs, adjusted the mixture & adjusted the kickdown cable. Champion Motor Spares have now found air filters that fit. I get paid on Friday so I'll be picking them up then. This is my list of things I want to get done on Brown:

Fit new shock absorbers & springs.
Clean and repaint the suspension components
Replace the suspension bushes (probably a mixture of rubber and poly)
Replace the sports exhaust with a standard one (I'm not bothered about losing those extra few horses)
Replace the track rod ends & get the tracking adjusted
Replace the front tyres as they're starting to wear on the inside edges. I can't do this until the TREs have been replaced.
Rebuild or replace the carburettors
Change the engine oil, oil filter and air filters

Quite a big list and I'll have to prioritise these jobs. Looks like I'll be trawling eBay and the
TDC forum. A pity I don't have any of the things I need in my collection of spares.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


...but not forgotten. Snowdrop was taken away by Triumphland. I couldn't afford to get Snowdrop repaired and front panels when they're available sell for silly amounts of money so I cut my losses and got rid. I'm now down to 3 Triumphs and when finances improve I might do something with Becky. At least that car's in better condition.

Brown's exhaust is getting me down. I'm thinking about swapping it for a standard exhaust. It'll be quieter and I don't need the extra few horses. The TDC do them in stainless steel so I might just give it a go.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More spannering

First I changed the transmission fluid again. This was a: I'd overfilled it the last time and b: it looked mucky. Like the last time what came out was black so it needed changing despite being done a few days before. Well it can't do any harm. I was careful not to put too much in. I just filled it up the the cold level on the dipstick. I'll check it again when it is cold and top up if need be. I've also cured some wind noise which was caused by the driver's door which wasn't aligned. Once that it been done it cured the problem. The exhaust is quite noisy especially when cold. I checked for leaks but couldn't find any. It's a stainless one that came from Rimmer Bros (I've seen the sticker when I've been under that car) and it is touching the rear anti-roll bar so I might just change it for a normal exhaust. I've also weakened the mixture a bit on the carbs in order to improve fuel consumption. At least I don't have any leaks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More progress

The carb mounts arrived in the post this morning so I fitted them straight away. The old ones were still leakproof but it is definitely an improvement. Next job was to change the transmission fluid and it has transformed the car completly. Perfomance is much better even with a full load of passengers. I'd ordered some air filters from Champion Motor Spares and when I picked them up I tried to fit them but they were the wrong size. They're gonna get hold of the correct ones for me. I just can't get over how much better the car drives. Once Brian has worked his magic with the carbs Brown will be running fine. Next up will be the engine oil and filter change but I'll leave that for a few weeks as it isn't due yet.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More to do

The auto box swap isn't the end of it. When Brian had the car over the pit he noticed that the bottom ball joints and the track rod ends need replacing. When he showed them to me I had to agree. They've certainly seen better days. As the MoT isn't due until August I've plenty of time to source the parts and get them fitted. The track rod ends will be easy enough to get hold of but the ball joints won't be so easy unless I shell out for the ones Rimmer Bros do at £50-ish apiece. Also Brian wanted to clean the carbs but he noticed that the mounts were cracked so I've made that a priority and my appeal on the Triumph Dolomite Club forum ( has turned up a pair for £22. Once I've got the mounts I can get Brown back to Brian's for him to work his magic on the carbs.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Auto box swap

It has been done. I dropped Brown off at Brian's yesterday and when I came back this afternoon I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he'd almost finished. I'd expected him to be part way through the job so I helped him to finish off. There was just the radiator hoses to fit, the cooling system to fill with fresh coolant (I had plenty of antifreeze) and the bonnet to fit. He wasn't able to flush the cooling system properly and replace the themostat because one of the bolts for the thermostat housing wouldn't budge and he was loath to try to undo it for fear of shearing the bolt head. When it came to starting up the starter motor wouldn't spin. My previous bypassing of the inhibitor switch got the starter turning again and we ended up carrying over the inhibitor switch and wiring to the multiplug connector from the other automatic both of which were tested beforehand. Apart from adjusting the transmission lever there weren't any other problems. As suspected the auto box that was in the car was a Borg Warner 35 so Brown now has the correct automatic. (Borg Warner 65) The BW35s were used in the Triumph Stag so I suspect that a previous owner was only able to get a BW35 and was told it would fit as they're virtually identical. I want to put plenty of miles on to make sure it is fine and so far it is leak free. I'll be changing the transmisson fluid in the next couple of days. My other suspicion about the source of the leak was confirmed by Brian but it wasn't the torque converter. He said that it was the front seal because he said the torque converter was covered in fluid when he removed it so it'll be a fairly simple repair. I'll try to sell it on as it is the wrong auto box for Brown. Maybe one of my Stag owning friends might be interested as it is in working order.

Brian thanks a million. You're an absolute star!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

It's going to happen!

Just spoken to Brian and he's gonna do the autobox swap on Sunday. He wants me to drop the car in the day before so it is stone cold when he starts the job. The cooling system will be flushed so it'll be refilled with fresh coolant and a new thermostat will be fitted. I've just checked with Champion Motor Spares and they have one on the shelf for just under a fiver. Brian reckons an electric fan will help but I believe that the original setup if maintained in good order will be fine. That was certainly the case with my Sprint.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Radiator replacement

I took my spare radiator to a local radiator repairer which was recommended by fellow Club Triumph member and fellow Blogger Michael Davis. It only cost me £25 to have it reconditioned. It was ready within a couple of hours of me dropping it off and despite the wet weather I fitted it at the soonest opportunity. Apart from one of the hose clips for the transmission fluid cooler shearing the bolt head necessitating replacments at £1 (I replaced both clips for the transmission fluid cooler) the job went quite well and I'm pleased to say that all seems well and leak-free. I'll be checking the coolant level before I use Blue next as there may still be some air in the system. The radiator that came off went in for repair at the same place costing me only £10 so I've now got a leak-free spare radiator for Blue. I was hoping to fit Brown's mounting bush for the rear exhaust silencer but I might leave it until I do the auto box replacement. I also had to buy another 5 litres of antifreeze because I had to use the 5 litres I'd bought recently for Blue which I'd originally bought for Brown's autobox swap as I'll be refilling with fresh coolant whenever I do that job.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Ups & downs

I'm gonna start with the downside. (to get it out of the way)

Blue is still losing coolant so I'm quite sure that the radiator is leaking somewhere. As Blue is an Acclaim with a Triomatic it has a slightly different radiator which has a cooler for the transmission fluid. It just so happened that I had a spare radiator for a Triomatic that had been bought for my first Acclaim back in July 2005, had been carried across to Becky and was replaced with the correct radiator some time later. A quick rummage in the shed soon turned up the radiator. I've stashed it in Becky's boot until I can get it tested to see if it can be used.
On to the upside:
I got the call from my local MotoSave. The bushes had arrived so when I went over I was offered them both (MotoSave had ordered 2) for £5. I think it is a good idea to have a spare one as they don't last forever. They are used on Minis (proper Minis, not the MINI made by Bimmer) so at least I'm raiding the BL parts bin. I haven't posted any photos for AGES so here we go with a pic of the bushes:

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A busy morning

First up was a visit to my lock up to put the spare automatic in. After I'd done someobdy pointed out that Brown's exhaust was a bit low. The mounting bush for the rear silenced had broken so I've got a replacement on order. In the meantime I've tied it up with some speaker wire I had in the boot. That'll be another job to do when I do the auto box swap. I went to my local Morrisons to put some more petrol in and I gave Brown a jetwash for the first time in ages so I've had quite a busy morning. No word from Brian. I hope his Rover sells. It is a good car and whoever comes to see it will definitely want to buy it. I would if I could.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Coolant problem solved.

In a recent post I said that Blue was losing coolant and was running a bit hot. I decided to try some K-Seal which is supposed to to be the best radiator sealer. I got some at Champion Motor Spares along with 5 litres of antifreeze (for Brown's autobox swap) I put it into Blue's radiator, topped up and it has improved things. The temperature gauge doesn't go much past halfway so I think I've cured it. I jetwashed Blue for the first time in a few weeks and gave the radiator a clean as well to make sure it was clear of any debris in the fins.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A bit more progress with getting Brown sorted out

Pay day today so I bought a litre of transmission fluid to to up the automatic on Brown for what I hope is the last time. I say "hope" because I've just come off the phone to my mate Brian and he should be able to to the auto box swap next week. This is dependent upon his 1970 Rover 2000TC being sold on eBay. (the auction ends on Sunday) It's a lovely car and is quite solid and whoever sees this car will buy it. If I had the money and space I could be tempted myself but if I did I'd be getting another Dolomite or sorting out Snowdrop. Fingers crossed that it sells...

I thought I'd solved it but...

...Brown's starter inhibitor switch problem came back to haunt me. I was at my local Morrisons (putting more petrol in) when the starter wouldn't turn (AGAIN!) I tried pulling the terminals from the inhibitor switch to no avail. I measured the voltage across the battery and it was losing voltage (back down to 10 volts) Being a bit closer to home I got one of my neighbours to give me a hand. After getting some boost I disconnected the multi plug before the inhibitor switch, bridged the terminals and got the starter spinning. Then I noticed that a couple of wires to the coil had come off. I got them reattached (with the help of the petrol station staff both of whom I knew) and I was on my way. When I got back the car wouldn't start but I was able to jump into Blue so I wasn't stuck. I tried again this morning and the car started without any problems so the battery must be fine now. I just need to use the car a bit more to keep the battery charged. I hope that when I finally get round to doing the autobox swap I can sort out the inhibitor switch problem rather than just having to bypass it. I need to fit proper connectors to the coil connections as I had to use electrical tape as a quick-fix measure. I got paid to day so I splash out a bit on these necessaries.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Back to life... the Soul II Soul song goes. (was it really 20 years since that sing went to No. 1 in the charts?) I removed the wires from the starter inhibitor switch on Brown, bridged them (I had to use my small scredrivers as I had nothing else to hand) and hey presto, the car turned over and started. I wiped the terminals on the inhibitor switch with my (gloved) fingers, replaced the wires and the starter worked so I've cured the problem. I suspect that the cause is the leaking fluid and that will be solved when I do the auto box change.

Blue seems to be running a bit hot and losing coolant. I suspect that the radiator is bast it's best so if anyone has a radiator for a Triomatic Acclaim (they're different to the ones with a manual gearbox as they have a cooler for the transmission fluid) for sale I'd be very interested. (I get paid on Friday)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hacked off

Brown (Dolomite 1850) hadn't been used for a while and needed moving to another part of the car park where it is parked so I decided to fire it up. I needed a jump start from Blue and as the petrol tank was nearly empty I decided to kill two birds with one stone and put some petrol in the tank as well as giving the car a bit of a run. I went to my local Sainsbury's and put £10 worth of unleaded in. When I got back on the car it wouldn't start. I managed to move the car on to the car park and after trying to clean up the terminals on the starter inhibitor switch it still wouldn't turn over. I measured the voltage across the battery terminals and got 10.35 volts so I assumed that there wasn't enough juice in the battery. I called out the breakdown recovery service and I ended up coming back on the back of a recovery vehicle. I now suspect the inhibitor switch and being hacked off (hence the title of this post) I'm gonna leave it until the morning to sort it out. At least I have something to write about this week.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Not much to say...

Apart from the fact that Blue has passed the 40,000 mile mark this week. I seem to be doing a lot of miles in this car recently and it hasn't missed a beat. I'd like to get the replacement auto for Brown fitted and then I can put it to the test. My mate Brian is going to help me with this (when he gets time) so I'm in his hands.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Upholstery disaster!

On Monday morning I was horrfiied to discover chewing gum on the back seat of Blue. I paid a visit to a local Tesco in the hope of finding something to remove the gum. I ended up buying some stain remover for just short of £3.50 and when I tried it out I was amazed to see the gum dissolve before my very eyes. The back seat of my Dolomite 1850 got a few grease marks when I was putting some of my parts into storage so I'll give it a go on in. The stain remover was well worth every penny.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Auto box

After some thought on how to get the auto box I'd been offered for Brown (AKA the Dolomite 1850) I took the plunge and decided to collect it in Blue. In order to protect the interior (no room in the boot) I put a sheet on the back seat and wrapped the auto box in bin bags. The journey to Coventry to collect the auto box was problem free and Blue was none the worse for having the auto on the back seat. Next up will be to fit it. My intention is to remove the engine/auto box as it is easier to do it with the engine out of the car. I'm hoping to change the engine oil and the filters at the same time.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Time for an update

It's been some time since my last post. This was because I haven't done any spannering on my cars so I've had nothing to write about. All that has changed. Blue was overdue an oil change and money's been a bit tight lately but it had to be done so I bought engine oil, oil filter, air filter and a fuel filter. I also needed a replacement glass for my nearside door mirror. The oil change went quite well this time as I hardly spilt any (unlike the last time) and it has made the car run better. One of the Dolly 1850's headlights wouldn't work on dipped beam so I immediately suspected a blown filament in the headlight unit. I bought a replacement but the problem remained. The problem seems to be a wiring problem but when I checked the wiring near the front lights I found it to be a bit brittle and two of the wires broke off. I've got some terminal blocks to reconnect the wires (not ideal but better that twisting the wires and wrapping insulation tape roiund them) but the cold, damp, foggy, snowy weather had put me off doing the job and the front spoiler doesn't help much. I've sourced a replacement automatic gearbox in Coventry for the Dolomite 1850 so I'm hoping to collect it. Got to be worth a punt at £25 from the TDC. Better that the club gets my money.