Monday, December 26, 2011

Not a good week.

Last week wasn't a particularly good week for me.

Having revived Brown after being stood for a couple of months I decided to go to work in it and the car died on me. The recovery guy diagnosed a faulty coil but the electronic ignition is also a suspect. The result was that I was and hour and half late for work. I took the battery off and recharged it and I ran a few tests and it is pointing to the ignition unit being the cause. To prove this I will fit the points and condensor to my spare distibutor (good thing I kept all the bits) so we shall see...

On the Thursday when I was out and about in Becky II (the other half was getting her hair done at her daughter's salon) I heard a strange sound coming from the NRS wheel. Fearing the worst I stopped the car to find that the tyre was flat. I tried to inflate it but it wasn't holding any pressure. There was a screw lodged in the tread. It is reapirable but because the tyre is worn almost down the the tread wear indicators it would be best to get it replaced. The rear tyres have been on the car for nearly 2 years and done about 30,000 miles so I've done quite well with them. I put the spare wheel on to get me going and one of my New Year resolutions will be to replace the rear tyres on Becky II. I'll probably fit 155s instead of the 175s that are on the rear wheels. This will help when the snow comes next year.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Exhaust fixed.

I was able to get a replacment exhaust for Becky II which came today. Fitting it didn't present any problems and it is totally leak free so that is something I don't have to worry about any more. The exhaust that came off should be repairable so I'll have a spare should I need it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More exhausting

Becky II's exhaust is now blowing near the manifold/downpipe joint. I jacked up the front of the car and supported her on axle stands. Once I removed the nuts and separated the exhaust from the manifold I found out what the problem was. The flange had broken off. The worst case scenario is a replacement exhaust but lack of money means that isn't an option. It could be welded but my welding skills (or lack of them) rules that out. As a temporary fix I've put some exhaust putty in to seal the gap but it only seems to have been partially successful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Handbrake woes

Becky II's handbrake has been virtually non-existent so I took a look at it. This means removing the rear brake rum and the rear barke shoes. I wasn't the least bit surprised to find that the part of the handbrake linkage that's inside the drum was siezed. I'd freed it off back in February for the last MoT and the car's been in regualr use so it is just something I'm going to have to check regularly. Once it was freed off and given plenty of PlusGas I cleaned everything up and put it all back together. It was also an opportunity to regrease the wheel bearings. I'm glad to report that the handbrake is now working better than before and it holds when parked on the drive.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I have finally managed to resolve Brown's exhaust issues. I searched high and low for an exhaust clamp and ended up ordering one from T.D. Fitchett. I also ordered the nut, and washers. I already had the original style clamp so that has saved me a few quid. The part came in the post today so I got it fitted. It needed some fettling because Brown is a mixture of early and late Dolomite 1850 but I got there in the end and it has made such a huge difference to the driving experience. No more knocking! I refitted my previous set of carbs after I'd given them a good clean and I'm still having minor issues. I'll experiment with the ignition timing and see if that makes any difference. I'd like to fit solid carb mounts to eliminate any problems there but that will have to wait until my finances have improved. As it is, I can start to enjoy this car.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A few issues with Brown

In my last post I mentioned that the exhaust was knocking on the autobox crossmember. Also, I noticed that the engine seemed to be rocking more than it should. I've started to eliminate possible causes. First, I finally fitted electronic ignition. A secondhand Newtronic unit was bought from S&S Preparations and once that was fitted I managed to get it working and it has made a huge difference to how the car drives. I wished I'd done it sooner. I also noticed that one of the engine mounts had seen better days so a replacement was ordered and was fitted. This has also made a difference but the knocking is still there so the next thing wil be to fit the original type exhaust clamp and autobox bracket. I found what looks to be the correct type clamp among my collection of parts so I'm still on the hunt for the bracket. There's also the problem of the tickover which seems to be too high. I might have to fit my other carbs.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Brown is back together

The replacement flex plate arrived and I was able to put everything back together and reinstall the engine. The only problem was that one of the engine mounts wouldn't go on but I got there in the end and Brown is now up and running again. The main problem I have is that the exhaust is knocking on the rear crossmember. I suspect that the engine mounts need replacing. I've also noticed that the engine seems to vibrate quite a bit. I wonder if a good tune-up is needed. I'd like to fit electronic ignition which should help but the cost is a bit prohibitive now that I'm back out of work.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plenty of work done on Brown

I managed to get hold of an engine crane. The guy who brought it down also gave me a hand with getting Brown's engine out. The only thing that needed to be done was to unbolt the exhaust manifold and once that was done the engine came out.
The autobox was easy to separate apart from the torque converter bolts which were a pig to undo but we got there in the end.

It soon became obvious what the actual problem was. The flex plate (which takes place of the flywheel) had broken in the middle. This explains the noises I heard and the loss of drive in all gears because the torque converter wasn't being driven by the engine. This means that the original autobox can go back in (once I've cleaned it and changed the fluid).

I've put in an appeal for an replacement flex plate and there will be one on they way to me next week. In a way this is good because I can get everything cleaned and painted at my leisure. They guy who fetched the engine crane down has let me keep it so I can refit the engine once I've got the flex plate fitted. I've already cleaned up the engine bay and beneath all the grime is a half decent subframe.

I'd already got the replacement autobox but it is now surplus to requirements and is now for sale.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another disaster!

First Brown and now Becky II decides to break down.

I had sourced a replacement autobox for Brown. On my way to collect it Becky II's timing belt decides to let go when I'm dong 70 mph on the M62. Ironically, it was the same stretch between junctions 11 & 12 and even more ironic was that it was the same recovery driver who rescued me as before. Diagnosing the problem took some time as at first I thought it was ignition related. I was swapping various ignition bits from both Becky & Blue to no avail. I even checked for fuel delivery but the penny finally dropped when I was wondering why the engine seemed to turn quite easily when I operated the starter. Once I got to the timing belt it was obvious that it had snapped. Normally, this would mean the end for the engine as on most cars the valves would hit the pistons. I've read about other Acclaim owners whose timing belts has snapped and were fine again after replacing the belt. I had a belt in the garage so I set to work. Aside from the crankshaft pulley bolt it went well. Once I'd finished the car ran like a bag of spanners which turned out to be the No. 2 & 3 HT leads the wrong way round. After that was rectified the car ran perfectly and some road testing followed and I can say that Becky II is none the worse for the timing belt letting go. I will now be able to make the next local TSSC meeting.

Brown's engine/autobox is new ready to come out. The car is now back on all four wheels and I've even painted the radiator with some black Hammerite smooth. The engine bay will look better once I've fitted the replacment autobox.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Getting things fixed.

I put the spare radiator in Becky II and that has cured the overheating problem. I can now get the original rad repaired at my leisure. An oil change is overdue so I'm planning on doing that tomorrow.

Brown's engine is nearly ready to come out. I need to remove the centre exhaust section, remove the autobox crossmember and undo the speedo cable and it will be ready to lift out. I also need an engine crane or a few hefty blokes with a scaffolding pole. Can anybody help me? I've got a replacement box lined up and I'll go pick it up once I've done the oil change on Becky II.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


This morning on the way to a show Brown's autobox decided to let go on me leaving the car immobile. Brown is now back in the garage and I've already begun to prepare to remove the engine/autobox. I've already been offered a replacement auto very cheaply so I'll end up taking the offer up. While the engine is out I can sort out the exhaust and the engine mounts. The radiator will have to come out so I can renew the coolant at the same time.

Having aborted my visit to this show (the TDCIR, the Triumph Dolomite Club's annual get-together) I ended up going over to Ripon in Becky II. On the way over the temperature gauge started going towards the red. I topped up the radiator but on the way back it did the same again so the problem needed addressing. Fortunately, I had a spare radiator that was known to be leak free (it was Blue's original radiator which I had repaired) so that was put in. I filled up with plain water and gave it a road test. I managed to get a couple of litres of ready mixed coolant from the local Esso/Tesco Express for £5 so I'll put that in and top up with plain water. It'll do until I get the original radiator reapired and refitted.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Brown's turn for some attention

It's been a while since I posted any photos so I thought I'd get a couple up. I've started making a list of post-MoT jobs for Brown and I got a couple of them done already. The first job was to top up the autobox. I bought a litre and it all went in. I think it might still need a bit more. I also managed to fit a replacement windscreen trip. This only cost me £7 from Rarebits4classics down at this year's TSSC International. Below are the photos before and after and it has made a difference to how the car looks.

I've still got the timing and the carbs to adjust. I could also do with a half decent stereo (the CD player went in Becky II) so I'll have a rummage round and see what I can come up with.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back on the road

Brown is finally road legal once again after 2 years. The failure points have now been rectified and the certificate was issued on Thursday. It only cost me £160 (excluding the test fee) which was a lot less than the last time. With free road tax it was worth doing. With a week to spare I can now shake this car down. There's the windscreen trim to fit, the tracking to do and the autobox fluid to check. I'll be trying to use Brown as much as I can.

I did some work on Blue this week. I had partially stripped the interior in readiness for removing the fuel line. I decided to refit everything and tried to revive the car. Really, Blue needs a new battery but this will have to wait until I have recovered financially from getting Brown back on the road. The brakes need overhauling, one of the sills needs welding, the transmission fluid needs topping up ate least and then there's the fuel problem. Somebody has suggested blowing through that fuel line with an air line to unblock it. This would save me from trying to replace it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

At last!

I managed to put Brown through the MoT and it failed. The failure points were:

Headlight aim too low.
Play in the front wheel bearings.
A twisted front brake hose.
Handbrake efficiency below standard.
Corrosion around one of the front subframe mounts.

Mostly minor things and not bad considering this car has been off the road for the last 2 years. It is really down the the hard work I've put in during these last 2 years. It will be ready by the weekend which means I've beaten my deadline by a week which gives me some time to shakedown this car before the TDCIR in September.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Handbrake day

Yes, today's spannering has a common theme.

Becky II's handbrake has been getting slowly worse (only scraped through the MoT back in February) so I had the rear wheels, the drums and the brake shoes off. I gave the lot a good clean and freed off the linkage. The result is a better handbrake. I'm not 100% happy but I'll give it change to all settle down. Definitely an improvment.

Brown needed some hadbrake adjustment too. I only had to do the nearside because that side had the cable replaced. I haven't done anything with the offside (if it ain't broke...). This job was much easier than on Becky II. And after testing it with the help of a Citroen AX I declared it much improved.

There's been a slight problem with arranging the MoT for Brown. My usual testing station doesn't open on Saturdays. That means I either have to take some time off work or I'll have to use another testing station.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Brown has had the front tyres replaced.

Due to cost and the use Brown will be put to (club meetings, shows and back up for Becky II) I decided to get some part worns. All the local tyre fitters were closed so I had to look a bit further afield and I found a place near to the centre of Bradford which had a pair for only £15 each. With the replacement rubber I am now one step closer to getting an MoT certificate. Just the handbrake to adjust, the exhaust manifold-downpipe nuts to nip up, and some basic checks to do (lights, fluids and suchlike) then I can book the MoT. I've been promising the tester that I'd bring Brown down and now I should be able to make good on that promise. To focus my attention I've decided to set myself a definite deadline. The Triumph Dolomite Club are having their annual get-together (the TDCIR) on the 4th September so this is my deadline for getting Brown road legal and this should be achivable.

Monday, July 04, 2011

SORNs all round

I had to SORN Blue last week before the end of June. Since then I've had the reminders for Becky & Brown which are due at the end of this month. They both came in the same envelope so the DVLA seems to be getting their act together. Unless I can get either of them MoTd they'll be getting SORNd at the end of the month.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Front wheel tracking.

After replacing the front tyres on Becky II I got the front wheels alinged. I rang round a few local tyre fitters and the prices ranged from £20-£45. The cheapest price was from the closest one who I'd used before when I replaced Blue's rear tyres on the morning of the MoT back in August 2009. As expected, the tracking was wayyyyy out so it was adjusted without any difficulty and the steering wheel was lined up as well. Well worth the money.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Time for an update.

It's been 2 months since my last post and Brown is getting closer to being MoT-worthy. The rest of the wheel nuts and the headlight surrounds have been painted. The engine oil and filter were changed (not without incident). I've removed the remains of the wing mirrors which put up a bit of a fight but as always, I prevailed. A brand new battery (£46 - ouch!), fresh petrol, new points and condensor saw the car running again. I swapped the voltmeter with a spare one I had which is more accurate. The exhaust manifold-to-downpipe nuts needed nipping up to make the exhaust leak-free. I still need to adjust the handbrake and replace the front tyres before I can put this car in for the dreaded MoT.

Staying on the subject of tyres, Becky II needed her front tyres replacing. Because I'm not driving to work any more (40 miles a day plus the cost of parking puts a dent in my meagre finances) I went for part worns at £25 each (ouch, again!) The old tyres were worn on the inside edges which is indicative of the front wheel tracking being out. The tyre fitters told me the same so I'll be getting the tracking done at the weekend.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Plenty of more work done on the Dolomite

I've repainted the back panel. I've repainted the bootlid. I've replaced the windscreen. I've replaced the exhaust. I've adjusted the nearside front bearings. I've sprayed the nearside wheel nuts. And that's just for starters. I've got a few more jobs to do before I put Brown in for an MoT. I've been promising my MoT man that I'd bring Brown down to test. With no road tax to pay for I can justifiy spending money on getting this car through the MoT.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

A small confession...

...I should have posted this a few days ago. I finally did a bit of work on Brown (Dolomite 1850). Somebody on the TDC forum was offering some parts for free. He was in Leeds so it was handy for me because I'm working there at the moment. I arrange to meet up with him and I ended up with a set of rear light units and a windscreen. These parts will be of use to me to get Brown back towards MoT-worthiness. Some time ago when taking the trolley jack out of Brown's boot I dropped it breaking one of the reversing light lensse. When I checked the price of a new one on the Rimmer Bros website I decided to live with it. With these spare rear light units I was juat able to swap the one that had the broken lens. The job went without a single problem. It may be a small thing but I don't want this car to fail the MoT on something small which brings me on to the windscreen. Brown's windscreen has some scratches and if that's an MoT failure I now have a decent one which I can put in if need be. I'm also thinking about improving some of the poor paintwork. My plan is to start on the back panel. A rub down and spray with some satin black should leave it looking like new. This means that I'll have to strip the back end to prep it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Service part 4

I got the coolant changed without any problems. I undid the bottom hose to drain the system, I then filled up with clean water and ran it up to working temperature. I then drained the system again and filled up with fresh coolant. I removed the overflow bottle and cleaned it and put some fresh coolant in after I'd refitted it. I put in two litres of antifreeze and then I topped up with clean water which should give approxiamtely a 50/50 mixture. I made a start on changing the timing belt but I couldn't undo the crankshaft pulley bolt so I've had to give up. If I had an air wrench it would have been an easy job. Oh, for a compressor!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Service part 3

I've managed to source an air filter from Champion Motor Spares so I stopped by on the way home from work to collect it. At £12.50 I felt it was reasonably priced. Just the coolant and the cambelt to replace and that's the service done. Next I can move on to Brown. The first thing I need is a new battery and some fresh fuel which will got a long way towards getting this car running again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Service part 2

I went to my local motor factor and the radiator cap was there so I took it leaving me £5 lighter. I decided to swap it there and then and I wasn't really surprised to fin that there was no pressure when I removed the old cap. It was obviously way overdue for replacement. When I got back I removed the cap to top up the radiator and there was some pressure in the cooling system so all seems to be well. I'll be still flushing the system out and refilling with fresh coolant. I've had no problems and I want to keep it that way!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Service part 2

The brake pads have now been fitted. I got the job done inside of 45 minutes from start to finish. The time included getting my tools out of the garage and putting them away. Changing the brake pads on the Acclaim must be one of the easiest pad change jobs and it all went without a single hitch.

Next on the list will be the cambelt change, the air filter and the cooling system. The top hose appears to be fine when the cooling system is under presure so I might not have to replace it. The small amount of coolant lost must have caused a vacuum. In any case, I'll be flushing it and renewing the coolant.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Service Part 1

I have made a start on servicing Becky II

The engine oil, oil filter and spark plugs have all been changed. With the front end up on axle stands for the oil change I removed the front wheels to check the brake pads and they're in need of replacment soon so I've bought a new set. I'm still waiting for a new air filter which I can't get until next Tuesday. When I was changing the spark plugs I noticed the the top radiator hose had collspsed so I'll have to rob the on that's on Becky. I removed the radiator cap and found some sludge so I'll need to flush the cooling system and replace the coolant. This is turning into a major service. I think the cambelt will need replacing as well. I've also bled fresh brake fluid through the front calipers so they're fine.

I'll be fitting the new pads tomorrow.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Something sorted out

I was washing and vacuuming Becky II when I decided to take a look at the cig lighter socket as it has been loose. I had a spare so I canniblaised it for parts and put it all back together. WHile I was at it I decided to test my phone holder/charger as the charger wasn't charging my phone. After sorting out the socket I plugged in my phone holder and the charger is working so I'm pleased with my work. While I was in the garage I decided to make a list of jobs that are needed to get Brown roadworthy. These are:

Replace the battery.
Replace the front tyres.
Sort out the blowing exhaust or replace it.
Replace the ignition parts or fit electronic ignition.
Fit solid carb mounts.
Adjust the carburettors.
Change the engine oil and filter.
Replace the transmission fluid.
Adjust the handbrake.
Respray the car. The car has had a poor paint job at some point in the past.
The widscreen might need to be replaced because it is scratched. I'll need a new sealing rubber.

I've finally manged to get a job (albeit temporary) so all being well, I should be able to get Brown back on the road.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I overcame the final hurdle this morning when I got 12 months road tax for Becky II. I'm £125 lighter but the car stays road legal for the rest of the year. On another positive note, I've finally managed to get a job albeit temporary (until the end of March). If I can get Brown through an MoT then that car will also be back on the road. A bit unlikely but putting the car through would give me an idea if what is needed to pass. I keep on promising to take this car down to the testing station that I use. One day hopefully...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ups and downs

Yesterday (I'm writing this at twenty to one in the morning!) was an emotional roller coaster. Becky II went back to the garage for the welding and retest so I was without transport for the day. 5 o'clock came round and I hadn't heard anything so I made my way down and when I got there the welding had just been finished and the car was having the retest. Fortunately, she passed so I have that all-important piece of paper. All seemed well and on they way to get Anita from the local Sainsbury's where she works Becky II died on me and wouldn't start again. I ended up calling the breakdown service (included with my insurance) who couldn't get the car going again so they recovered the car back home. After some head scratching and component swapping (from Becky) I decided to consult my workshop manuals. To my surprise, it was the Haynes manual that provided the answer. I was getting a spark fron the coil but there was no spark at the plugs. According to Haynes, this is either a faulty distributor cap or rotor arm. Both these had been replaced recently with new parts. I knew better than to assume that the new parts were fine so after more part swapping the fault was traced to the rotor arm. I'd already swapped the HT leads earlier on and because they were in better condition I kept them. A short road test proved that all was well. In fact, Becky II seems to be running a bit better with Becky's HT leads. I'll be returning the rotor arm to get it exchanged. Lucky I kept the box it came in!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I think I've sorted it...

I took a look at the handbrake today. I removed the OS rear brake drum and I found out that the linkage had seized up so I freed it off, cleaned it, greased it and it has done the trick. The handbrake now works on both wheels and holds a lot better. I think I need to adjust it further to make sure it'll pass on Thursday's retest.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

More MoT work done

I've now crossed 3 items off the fail sheet. I've completed the lower suspension arm swap with the donor parts coming from Becky. She also had to donate the anti-roll bar after I was unable to liberate the nearside lower suspension arm. It is a lot better and even Anita has noticed the difference. No more rattles.

Just the handbrake to do next...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Well well well... the words of Jeremy Kyle.

Becky II failed her MoT. I was expecting this so it isn't much of a surprise. This is what she failed on:

Offside rear tail light.
Offside front suspension mounting corroded.
Offside front floor pan corrosion.
Nearside rear outer sill corrosion.
Nearside rear inner wheel arch corroded. I found this when I was adjusting the handbrake and is the worst of the corrosion.
Nearside lower suspension arm bush loose.
Offside lower suspension arm bush deteriorated. This explains a knock which I've been ignoring.
Offside rear parking brake recording little or no effort.
Handbrake efficency below requirements.

I've arranged for the garage to do the necessary welding and got the car booked in to have it done the the car retested. I'll do the rest of the work myself. I've already fixed the tail light. I had a spare bulb which I've fitted so that's one item ticked off the list. To fix the handbrake, I'll just have to clean and regrease everything which should sort it out. I'll just swap the front lower suspension arms with Becky's as they should be fine.

Looks like I've got my work cut out for me...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

MoT time.

Becky II's MoT is due on the 21st so I've booked her in for Friday. That should give me enough time to sort out any failure points. The only thing I'm worried about is the handbrake efficiency so I'll adjust it before the test. I'm using the same testing station as last year so I know the job will be done properly.

Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


I've just had a scare.

As mentioned in an earlier post, my insurnace was due for renewal and I was able to make the payment so a cheque was posted. I hadn't heard anything since. Because today was the last day of my current policy, I was waiting for the postman with baited breath. Nothing arrived from Footman James (my insurers) so I gave them a call and I was told the the documents had been posted yesterday so that's a weight off my mind and the first hurlde overcome.

The next one is the MoT which is due on the 21st. I shall be getting the car tested before this date like I did last year and I shall use the same tester again as they're classic friendly. I was looking at the soon-to-expire current certificate this morning in the car and noticed that the mileage was just over 56,000 when I had the car tested last year. Becky II's mileage is now just over 76,200 at the time of writing so it now comes as no surprise that the front tyres were worn. The joruneys "down south" I've been doing have contributed to a fair percentage of the 20,000 miles I've done in the last 12 months. This will be coming to and end soon and the trips to Thatcham will be to Ripon so less mileage and wear-and-tear. Fortunately, I have unlimited mileage on my insurance so that's not an issue.

The third and final hurdle is the road tax. I might put 6 months on to avoid it coming due at the same time as the MoT and insurance. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I was checking the tyre pressures on front tyres of Becky II when I discovered that the front tyres were seriously worn. Because I don't have any money buying new tyres wasn't an option but I had other options. Because I have 3 Acclaims and a spare set of wheels in the garage, I can just swap wheels over which have better tyres. The only problem is that all 3 cars have different size tryes. Becky has 155s, Blue has 165s, Becky II has 175s (with a 155 on the spare) and the spare set has 155s. What I ended up doing was picking the best 3 out of the spare set along with Becky II's spare wheel. I preapred the wheels by inflated them to 30psi, blackening the sidewalls with my tyre dressing spray (97p from the local Wilkinsons) and fitting the best 2 to the car with the other going into the boot in the spare wheel well. After that I got my torque wrench out and after looking up the figure I toruqed the wheel nuts up to 59 lb/ft (80 nm) as per the workshop manual. I now heve 155s on the front and 175s on the rear. This is not illegal and it certainly won't fail the MoT (which is due in 5 weeks!) I've since put quite a few miles on which included a stretch of dual carriageway where I got up to 70mph and all is well.

That's what I call a result!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Insurance renewal...

I got a letter from Footman James today. My insurance renewal is due on the 3rd of February. If things stay as they are then I won't be able to renew my insurance and this will finally force me off the road and put an end to all this. It is something I've dreaded for the last 12 months. It's as bad as losing my licence. I feel like a part of me has died. Things can only get better as the song goes.