Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Moving forward

Since my last post I decided "sod it!" I'm not going to let my personal problems get in the way. It'll take more than unemployment to stop me.

One of the first things I did was to tidy up the garage and it is now a much better place to be. It is certainly a good way of giving my "mojo" a boost. During my tidy up I came across an Acclaim cambelt which I'd originally bought for Blue. Becky II has done nearly 71,000 miles and will need a cambelt change during the next oil change at 72,000 miles so that'll save me some money. I also tidied up the interior of Brown. If I'm to get this car back on the road I'll need to get in the mindset of the car being in use which means a tidy interior. One of my pet hates is a car interior which looks like a bin on wheels. I was fixing a Fiesta last week and the interior was a mess so when I'd done my spannering I cleaned the car inside and out. Anyway, getting back to Brown. I charged the battery but I think it is past it as there's a label dated 2003 which puts the battery as at least 7 years old which in my book is past the useful lifespan of a car battery. With a duff battery I'm just using the nearest car (a Citroen AX) to jump start Brown. When I had this car on the road I've been having no end of trouble with the points. I bought an ignition booster kit from Maplin a couple of years ago which I'd assembled so I wired it up so that it was operational and jump started the car and it ran so the ignition booster works. I just need a permanent home for this booster and I think somewhere under the dashboard will be the best place. The reason I'm going to get Brown back on the road first is that the only money I have to spend will be getting the MoT certificate. The road tax is free. The other jobs I know will need doing will be:

New front tyres (the last pair I fitted have worn on the edges due to the tired front suspension prior to rebuilding and rebushing it)
Replace the scratched windscreen and the rubber.
Replace the battery
Finish fitting the handbrake cables (I only did one side. I unearthed the other new handbrake cable during my tidy up) and adjust the handbrake.
Replace the brake fluid.
Change the engine oil and filter.
Change the transmission fluid.

I've also got a list of jobs to do on Blue as and when money permits.

Change the transmission fluid.
Check the brake shoes and the handbrake mechanism.
Sort out the rust on the sills and front valence.
Clean/replace the fuel line
Fit a battery
Repair the aerial socket on the radio/cassette
Clean and repaint the front wheels

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

There will be no futher posts...

...for the forseeable future. Don't worry, I won't be closing this Blog. Due to my continued unemployment with the associated lack of funds (I've had my benefit stopped so my income is zero) I won't have anything to write about so I shan't be posting any updates unless my circumstances improve. Becky II is still my daily driver but if things stay as they are until next February then I'll be forced off the road as I won't be able to afford the insurance is it'll be due then along with the tax & MoT.

That's all folks! (for now)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A minor breakdown

I was on my way back this morning when I drove through a puddle and the Becky II lost power and then died on me. She wouldn't start again so I had to abandon the car. The ignition had got wet and the only thing to do was to leave it to dry out. Fortunately, I wasn't far from home so I walked the rest of the way. I'd just bought the current edition of Practical Classics so I had a read of that. An hour and half later I returned to Becky II and she fired up on the button. I wish they could all be that easy!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Not much to report...

I've not really had anything to report of note recently. I had to replace the brake pads & shoes on Becky II in late May/early June, Blue's tax ran out so that's on SORN, Brown's tax is also due so that'll be SORNd as well and Becky's SORN is due for renewal. Becky II will be due an oil change soon but fortunately, it isn't an expensive or difficult job. Just messy! The last few oil changes I've done (not on any of my cars) seem to have got more oil on the drive than anywhere else!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Cosmetic work on Brown

Having got Brown running again I decided to do some cosmetics on the car. First I repainted the rocker cover with silver Hammerite smooth and then I refurbed the alloy wheels with some wet & dry and repainted the segments with black Hammerite smooth. The beauty of these jobs were that I didn't have to spend any more money because I already had everything I needed to do both jobs.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Handling things

The driver's door handle on Becky II broke last night when I was at the local Sainsburys. I knew it was on it's way but I didn't expect it to let go so soon. Like I did on the passenger side before the MoT I robbed a door handle from Becky to replace the broken one. Apart from trying to undo a screw with the wrong size screwdriver everything went perfectly. Becky II now has MK1 door handles on the rear doors and MK2 door handles on the front doors. Not ideal but 100% functional.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Servicing on Becky II

With another journey "down south" and with Becky II coming up to 60,000 miles I decided to do a service. First was the engine oil and filter change costing me less than £10 because I still had an oil filter among my spares. The spark plugs cost me £15 for a set of four. I thought that it was a bit steep but I'm sure that not all NGK spark plugs are created equal. There's the ones made in Japan and ones made in Brazil (or somewhere in South America) but the Japanese ones are supposed to be better quality. My £15 plugs were the Japanese ones so I'm not so worried about the price. Due to the Easter holidays I'm unable to get hold of an air filter until next Tuesday. I still had Margaret's old air filter and that was in better condition than the one that was in Becky II so I swapped the air filter. I'll do until I can get a new one. All this has made the car more responsive and hopefully I'll get even better fuel economy on my long distance run.
While I was at it I decided to tacke some minor niggles before they got any worse. One of the windcscreen washed jets was blocked so I removed the vent panel to get the jet out to unblock it. I noticed the there was a patch of rust on the bulkhead (a common rot spot that often gets missed) so I wirebrushed it to get rid of the loose rust and paint and painted it with some Hammerite.
The handbrake seemed to have quite a bit of travel and wasn't quite holding on so it was adjusted and is much better.
The front bumper had been bent so I had a try a straightening it out. The best way would have been to remove the bumper but I didn't want to fight lots of rusty bolts so I removed the nearside front corner. The bolts came out surprisingly easy so I coated the threads with copper grease to avoid any future problems. Using a steel bar I was able to straighten the bumper. It still isn't 100% perfect but it is now much better. Maybe a visit to the Guru might be the answer. I had a bit of difficulty lining up the bolt holes for the bumper corner but with the help of my persuaders (2lb lump hammer and a jack handle) I was able to get the bolts back in.
I washed the car, vaccuumed the interior ,used my upholstery cleaner on the seats and blacked the tyres.
I touched up the bootlid badges with some silver Hammerite and this has made a big difference to the look of the car.
While I had the Hammerite out I also touched up the wheels where spots of rust had appeared.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Brown lives!

Brown is now running again. During a search for a Windows XP installation disc (this PC went down so I ended up reinstalling Windows. I turned the house and garage upside down to find it) I came across the print outs from the BL workshop manual for the Dolomite 1850 distributor. Today was a glorious day so I decided to open the garage doors and drag Brown partly out to do some spannering. Following BL's words of wisdom to the letter I removed then replaced the distributor and set it up. Hooking up some jump leads from Becky II I was rewarded with Brown's engine coming back to life. I set the timing with a stobe light and gave the car a short run. The car isn't quite running right but I think this is most;y due to lack of use, stale petrol and the need for some fine tuning. I've noticed that the front carb is overflowing but whatever the problem is it can be easily fixed as I have some spare carbs. It is either a sliver of rubber stopping the float valve from closing, a sticking float valve or a leaky float. I treated Brown to a wash afterwards. This is a big boost for me so I can now move forward.

Blue has had the replacement fuel tank fitted and the car is now running again. There is a fuel filter in the engine bay just before the fuel pump to catch the rust that's in the fuel line. Ideally, I'd like to replace the fuel line but because it runs along the interior of the car I'll have to remove the seats and carpet to get at the fuel line. I had the chance of a decent fuel line when I helped break the Acclaim at Paul Darbyshire's on the 31st of January. I wish I'd liberated it at the time. I can either rob Becky's or see if Barry McGrath has one in his collection of spares. Once a replacement fuel line is fitted Blue's fuel problems should be gone for good.

Becky II just keeps on going. I liberated the CD player from Brown and fitted it and got it working on all 4 of the speakers so I now have a decent sound system and FM radio which is better than the MW/LW radio that I had before.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Yessss!!!!!!! Blue is running again. The weather improved enough for me to be able to fit the replacement fuel tank in Blue. The whole job went without a hitch apart from one of the fuel tank bolts shearing off. Fortunaterly, I had some spare bolts from when I'd helped dismantle the donor car. To avoid a repeat performance (not that I'm planning to drop the fuel tank again soon) I coated the threads with copper grease. I had problems getting the car running again but once I'd got petrol to the carbs to prime them the car ran without any trouble. I road tested Blue and she performed faultlessly so I'm sure the fuel problems are banisahed for good. To be sure I've fitted a filter just before the fuel pump to catch any crud that's still in the fuel line (even though I flushed it out) as the replacement tank has it's original fuel filter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Taxing times

Becky II's tax disc runs out at the end of this month and because I still had enough money from the sale of Margaret I bought a 12 month tax disc so I'm road legal on this car until next year. I wish the weather would get a bit wamer and drier. I woke up to yet another dusting of snow. Things aren't much better in the garage. The replacement fuel tank for Blue is getting under my feet and because it is so cold I don't particularly fancy doing any spannering on Brown. Once I'm earning a decent income I can lavish some money on getting this car back on the road again. Getting her running again would be a big boost for my "mojo" but it probably won't happen without some spending of money.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It passed!

Becky II has passed the MoT without even having any advisories so I'm pleased about that. I was quite confident that she would pass but not having had a good look underneath was the only worry I had. Barry had a good look on Friday at the Club Triumph Pendle & Pennine meeting and he identified a future problem. It'll give more something to do when the summer comes. Brown will be next for MoT when I can get that car running again.

Time for MoT

I've booked Becky II in for MoT for 10.30 this morning. I can't see her failing on anything major but there was one thing I had to attend to. The front passenger door handle had broken off (before I bought the car) so to get by I took a door handle from Becky and fitted that. Becky is a MK2 car but Becky II is a MK1 so the door handle is different to the others but it will suffice until I can get a MK1 door handle from the Guru. According to the current certificate there were no advisories on the last test and the car's done about 7,000 miles since so that bodes well.

Wish me luck...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Getting tanked up.

Among the haul of parts I got from the stripping down of the Acclaim last weekend was a petrol tank and filler neck. The tank that's in Blue has a ropey filler neck so rather than messing around with rusty fixings it is easier to drop the whole lot and fit a replacement. I had to leave the tank in Paul's garage becasuse I didn't have enough room to take it with me. I collected the tank this morning from Paul and on the way back I called in at the local Bodge-it (B&Q) and bought some black Hammerite smooth and some thinners. When I got back I made a start on painting the tank. I wirebrushed the top half by hand to remove the muck and loose rust then I brush painted it and it already looks better. Once it has dried I'll do the bottom half and when the weather gets a bit drier or if I can free up the garage I'll fit the tank to Blue. I'll flush out the fuel line and hopefully the fuel system will be finally sorted. I've been having problems with it since I bought the car nearly three years ago.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

The key to it all...

Becky II's key had snapped and as it was the only one I had a solution had to be found. Margaret's original Triumph key opened the driver's door and worked on the ignition so that gave me some time to get a replacement key cut. I'd tried a couple of branches of Timpson to no avail but at last night's Club Triumph Pendle & Pennine meeting one of Barry McGrath's mates (Dan) was having problems with his Acclaim. It was due for the MoT and the nearside rear wheel arch was rotten and with no chance of getting through the MoT in time a replacement Acclaim was needed and Barry asked me if any of my Acclaims were suitable for Dan. Becky was ruled out as she's in worse condition than his car (Boo). Becky II was ruled out because Dan hated the colour (Opaline Green), Blue was also ruled out because she's a Troimatic and Dan doesn't like Troimatics. Besides, Blue has 46,000 miles and she's too nice to have the miles put on. That left Margaret which is the same colour as Boo and like Boo is a MK1 Acclaim. She was sold for £325 and I left the remainder of the tax. Dan has a solid base on which to improve the car. I'd sorted out most of the faults and the car has left me in better condition than when I bought her. I'm glad she's going to a good home and I can use the money to get Becky II through the MoT and I can re-tax the car at the end of the month.

Anyway back to the story, because of the sale of Margaret I had to get a key cut for Becky II. I tried one more branch of Timpson without success but the answer came in the shape of a market stall that does shoe repairs and key cutting. The stallholder had a box full of older key blanks and he came up with one that was perfect. £5.50 lighter I had a key for Becky II which works.

Monday, February 01, 2010

A productive couple of days

Yesterday was the day I went over to fellow Triumph enthusiast Paul Darbyshire to liberate some bits from his Acclaim that he was scrapping. With the help of Acclaim Guru Barry McGrath we got the car stripped down to a rolling shell within 6 hours and I got all the parts I needed inlcuding parts I'd robbed from Becky. Most of the parts I've got were for Margaret most of which I've already fitted. Becky II needed a boot seal and a set of steel wheels. Blue needed a fuel pump, petrol tank and a radio aerial. I rescued the battery and put it on charge last night and it is now on Blue. The firstthing I did when I got back was to fit the steel wheels on Becky II and she looks more like and Acclaim. They have nearly new tyres (Paul found the receipt when we stripped the donor) so I'm quite pleased with the result. Today I fitted the fuel pump and got Blue running but I'm still having problems. The Guru said that the fuel line could be the problem so I'll have a go at flushing it out. This will be done when I fit the tank which is still in Paul's garage. Tonight I replaced the steering column stalks (wiper & indicator stalks) and the steering column shroud and everything is now working perfectly. The fact that it also looks better is a bonus. I've got the air cleaner to replace the existing one which looks a bit shabby. This is purely cosmetic but it gives the impression that the car is being looked after. I've also got the cables and levers for the boot and fuel filler flap releases. I thought that Becky II's fuel filler flap release wasn't working but it is fine. I might fit it on Margaret as she only as a boot release. This is a very easy job which just requires the cable to be fitted and the lever assembly to be swapped over. I've got a few bits for other Acclaim owners and they will be winging their way in their respective directions.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What have I done?

I've only gone and bought yet another Acclaim. At £100 with a short tax and test it was well worth a punt and I would say that it is between condition 1 & 2 which makes it worth a lot more that I paid. The car runs perfect and starts first time on the button. There are a few minor niggles that I will deal with but the car is usable as it is. The previous owner had a brand new exhaust fitted which cost more than what I paid for the car. The only thing that I'm not happy about is the 15 inch alloys but the tyres are good and I can sell the alloys later on. I have a few spare steel wheels which will need fresh rubber but I can use Becky's front wheels as the tyres are good. (I've already robbed the back wheels for Margaret) I'm sure that Becky II (as I've called the car on account of the plate) will pass another MoT without any major grief as the car is virtually rust free and is in better condition than Margaret.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Good news, bad news

The good news was that I was able to renew my insurnce with Footman James for only £291 which is well worth it for all 4 cars. (3 Acclaims and the Dolomite) The bad news was that I've 3 points on my licence and £60 lighter (ouch!) which isn't nice considering that I'm unemployed. The other good news is that it won't affect my insurance premium. It happened back in November when I went down south. It was on the trip to Bournemouth. As I was coming out of Sailsbury I'd been snapped by a mobile camera doing 37mph in a 30mph limit. I never saw the van and I thought I'd been following speed limits. The evidence was there to view online and the photo was a good one showing me and Anita who was in the front passenger seat.

Earlier on this week I towed Blue from in front of the garage to further up the drive and parked it in a position to where I could jump start it from Margaret. This has the added advantage of being able to jump start Brown of which more later on. I tried to jump start Blue and with the last of my EasyStart the car would fire up so ignition problems have been ruled out. I removed the fuel pipe where it goes into the carbs and cranked the engine. Nothing. The problem is with the fuel pump. This car is going through fuel pumps like nobody's business. I might end up replacing the fuel tank as well as the pump. The fuel line is fine as most of it runs through the interior of the car so it is well protected from the elements. The first thing I'm going to try is to remove the fuel pump and operated it by hand to see if it works before I condemn it.

Brown had new points and condensor costing me £8. They were fitted and the points gapped. With Blue out of the way I was able to attache jump leads from Margaret but Brown wouldn't fire up. I'm going to start again from scratch and use the "dizzy out" method to set the points gap. This has the advantage of being able to clamp the dizzy in the vice which makes it easier to se the points gap otherwise I'd need several pairs of hands to do the job.

My planned trip to liberate some Acclaim parts has been put back because the owner of the car has been delayed by work commitments so it has been arraged for Sunday which is better for me as I'm kept busy during the week as the family taxi.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Trying to get Brown running again...

Last night I had a try at getting Brown running again. Staring from scratch I set up the static timing and the points gap but the car refused to start. I removed the points and upon closer examination they've seen better days so I'm going to get replacement points and condesnsor. When I was in the garage I noticed the courtesy light switches that I'd salvaged from a scrap Acclaim and I decided to turn my attention to Margaret instead. The courtesy light switches for the rear doors were corroded and getting them out had proved difficult because the screws were also corroded. I was able to get the passenger side switch out and fit one of my spares. The driver's side was a bit more difficult because the screw just wouldn't budge but the courtesy light will now work on the rear passenger door so I've got one more thing working on Margaret.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clutch troubles

In my last entry I said that Margaret's clutch didn't feel right. After reading the Haynes and looking at Becky I realized that Margaret's clutch cable wasn't fitted correctly. Once that was rectified and the cable readjusted the clutch pedal feels a lot better. The road test has shown that all is well. The heated rear window does work so I'm on my way to eradicating all of Margaret's minor niggles.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A couple of more probems fixed

I've managed to fix a couple more of the niggles on Margaret. It all began when fellow Acclaim owner Craig was having problems with his car. He's now got a CityRover as a daily hack so the Acclaim as been out of use. I fetched some tools, jump leads and some EasyStart and we managed to get the car running. I took it out for a spin (he's swapped his insurance over to the CityRover so he's not covered) and lo and behold it ran perfectly. It even started up again on the button so all is well with this car. One thing I noticed that the clutch is light but Margaret's is stiff. I wonder if the cable's not been refitted correctly or is still maladjusted. He gave me the clock out of his Acclaim for Margaret so I now have a working clock! After I fitted the clock I decided to swap the rear glass. I didn't have any major problems but the finishing strip took AGES as you need to take your time to avoid any scratches as I was only using a screwdriver. Eventually, I got it in without mishap but I won't know if it has worked until the rear glass steams up next. The seal that came with the replacement glass was in better condtition than the one that came out so it is still an improvement. Paul has got in touch with me about the Acclaim that he'll be scrapping and I've arranged to go over next Friday to liberate the bits I need. Craig will be coming with me as he's after some bits as well.

Friday, January 15, 2010

New battery bought

I bought a new battery for Margaret and it has cured my starting problems. I can leave the car overnight safe in the knowledge that it'll start the next morning. I've even tried starting the car with the headlights on and it doesn't let me down. The instrument panel looks bright enough with the lights on so all is well. I need to get in touch with Paul who has an Acclaim which I can cannibalize for spares. He's been in Egypt on business since before Christmas and he said he would be back around this time so I need to give him a call soon. I can then sort out Margaret's remnaining niggles and have her 100% working.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Running again

I was able to get hold of a clutch kit for Margaret for £42 from Champion. Working outside in the sub-zero condtions I was able to get the gearbox off in just over three hours. While it was off I took the opportunity to clean it up with the wirebrush attachements for my drill and it looked a lot better. The release bearing was a absolute pig to remove and I ended up cutting the old one off with my angle grinder. Replacing the clutch was the easiest part but getting the gearbox back on was just as bad as removing the release bearing was. With the help of an extra pair of hands I got it back on and it was plain sailing from there. When the time came for starting the car it wouldn't even turn over. One of the terminal for the starter motor wasn't connected properly but once that was rectified Margaret fired up without any problems. I still wasn't able to get up the drive and I ended up getting towed out by a 4wd pickup truck which was being driven by the guy who helped me with the gearbox. He was a big help and I couldn't have done it without his help. Margaret's battery was put on charge when it was off the car and after letting it stand overnight after I'd finished charging it I checked the voltage and it had lost some charge so it defintely needs replacing. I've also noticed that if she stalls there's not enough power to start the car when I have the headlights on so I have to turn off all the electrics (heater, radio, etc) and sometimes that's not even enough. Fortunately, Margaet has a manual gearbox so I can bump start her. With all this cold weather I need to get a replacement battery sooner rather than later.

Monday, January 04, 2010


Last night when I was about to set off for work I couldn't get up the drive due to the icy conditions. To top it all the clutch has burnt itself out. I've had a look through the service history and there's no record of a clutch replacement so Margaret was probably on the original clutch and I've brought forward the inevitable. The clutch kit won't be too expensive but the hard work will be removing (and replacing) the gearbox. They weigh a ton and I haven't forgotten the time when I had to replace Becky's gearbox in May 2006. I'll have to do the work outside because Brown's in the garage, Blue's parked outside the garage doors with an immobilized Margaret in front of Blue but I'm no stranger to working outside in the fresh air.