Wednesday, 7 July 2021

July 3rd & 4th. Overnight Road Trip!

Due to the lack of car events this year, a few of us decided to organise our own weekend overnight drive to try and get back into the habit of things and also to give the cars a good shakedown before this year’s RBRR. The plan was to re-trace last Octobers South Coast run, which we did with a few alterations. Unfortunately my intended car (Gertie2) decided to drop oil pressure a few weeks back, so my Mk1 Pi was called into action.

Richard Warr arrived at my house on the Friday morning and we wasted no time in carrying out some outstanding jobs on his car. The rear springs were changed first of all then the fitting of a 16 pre-set 123 distributor was attended to. We also moved the distributor drive cog as well as this hadn’t been fitted correctly. 

Dave Harvey arrived while we were fitting the distributor and after a few cups of tea and a chat it was now later afternoon, so we headed out for a few beers and a Chinese.

Saturday morning saw a bit more fine tuning to the cars and just generally checking them over and loading up the tools and spares. Richards’s co-driver Colin Wake arrived at around 1.30pm and by 3pm we were tucking into a Toby Carvery with the hope that it would see us through until Sunday morning.

After enjoying a good meal and filling up with petrol we set out for our first stop at Joss bay in Kent. This is the most Easterly point in the South of England and is also quite a nice setting with a beautiful beach.

After a quick photoshoot, we then set off for our next stop at Dungeness lighthouse. Things were already better than last October as it was still daylight and it was quite a bit warmer as well. The plan here was to make a cuppa with Richard’s portable stove, but it was at this point that we realised that we had forgotten to pack the water for the kettle. And the milk. And the spoons. And the cups!

Undeterred we motored on and purchased milk and water at a fuel stop at Bexhill in East Sussex. Our next port of call was Brighton Sea Front which turned out to be really busy with revellers, so we only stopped for a quick pic, and then carried onto Rownham’s Services on the M27 near Southampton. This time we did stop and get the cooker out and Richard made a great cuppa and Colin and Dave supplied the biscuits.

By now we were in the small hours, so we pressed on through Hampshire and Somerset and made our way to our next stop at Oakhampton in Devon. (Also a checkpoint on the RBRR)  I hadn’t put any fuel in since Bexhill, so my car took on a wallet damaging £74.26 in petrol. Ouch!

More coffee and snacks followed and we also had a debate regarding the apparent forthcoming atrocious rain storms in the South west and whether (Pardon the pun) to abandon the trip or take a chance and battle on with it. We decided to carry on with it. On arrival in Cornwall, the rain started in earnest and seemed to be here for the day. (Although it did finally stop early afternoon)

We decided to skip the next stopping point at Lands’ End (Because we’ve all been there several times before and will be going there in October anyway) and head to Lizard Point, the most southerly place in England. It was while we were here that the rain really started hammering down, so we headed for our breakfast stop at Plymouth. The rain was still hammering down as we paid our £2.00 toll and crossed from Cornwall into Devon via the famous Tamar bridge at Saltash, but at this point, we were still making good time. 

The rain didn’t stop while we were enjoying breakfast as we’d hoped it would, so we cracked on despite the weather conditions, but shortly after leaving had a few minor issues. Richards car hit a rather large puddle (more like a lake!) and just suddenly cut out, (He soon got it started again though) but both cars were suffering exhaust noise and vibration problems. Both cars have Chris Witor stainless steel systems on them which can be prone to distorting and moving when suddenly having excessive cold water splashed onto them from massive puddles. This is because the oversize exhausts sit very close to the propshaft and when they distort they come into contact with it.

Luckily we managed to find a hand car wash that was closed, but more importantly had a canopy. (For shelter from the now torrential rain that was pouring down) Richard had a small trolley jack, so with a bit of levering with a pry bar, both exhausts were ‘adjusted’ so that they were clear of the propshaft. By now it was around 10.30am and we still had many miles to do and the weather was probably the worst I’ve experienced since……..well, since we did this same run last October actually!

The traffic was awful as well and we only had one more coffee stop not far from Stonehenge. Our journey across the A303 was mostly stop, start, stop, start, but we did have a good run up the M3 before losing a further 40 minutes to an accident near the M25.

We finally pulled up outside my house at 18.40 that evening. If you take away the stops, it had a taken us over EIGHT HOURS to get home from Plymouth. A run that should normally take about four and a half. We then went out for an Indian meal and some alcohol to celebrate our successful run.

Despite the awful weather and traffic on the Sunday, it has still been a great weekend and one that I wouldn’t have missed for the world. Both cars had covered the 889 miles really well and passed through the counties of Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire, Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Surrey. Annoyingly, it was only really the weather that caused the mechanical issues we had.

Sunday, 27 June 2021

Another purchase!

 Sitting at home one Saturday night minding my own business, I received a text from Dave Maton saying 'Facebook-cheap car - near you - might be worth a look.' So, after viewing said car on FB, I decided it was indeed worth a look and sent the seller a message. By the Sunday afternoon, I'd still had no reply from the seller, plus the ad on FB had been removed, so I assumed it was sold and thought no more of it. I then received a phone call in the evening from Mr Maton saying 'that car's back on facebook again!' So I sent another message and this time I did receive a reply. Address details were quickly obtained and I arrived at the sellers house at around 8pm. 

The car (Obviously a Mk1 Saloon) in question was a 1966 on a 'C' plate. In the beautiful colour of Gunmetal, (Not many around in this colour now) it looked a very original car with a very good interior. It will need some welding and attention to body work, but other than that it looked very presentable. 

The car was running very rich and also quite sick, so I persuaded the seller to follow me home in his large pick up in case I broke down and then give me a lift back to collect my car. A price was agreed and the deal was done. 
I did have a lot going on this week with a house sale, exchange and completion hoping to take place, so I only managed to get into the garage for one day. The first job was to perform a compression test and play with the carburettors. The compression test revealed that all was not well and that number 5 cylinder was  considerably lower than the rest. 
After what seemed a very long week, Saturday morning finally arrived and I finished putting the carbs back together, then removed the rocker box cover to set the valve clearances. While doing this, guess where I discovered a bent push rod? Correct, number 5 cylinder! That would explain the low compression then. With this changed and the carbs tuned the car was started and sounded a hell of a lot better than when I drove it home, so I was very happy with that. 

So, it's looking like this car could be a very good purchase. However, the welding required is out of my skill set and I'm not really sure if I want to get into another full restoration, so as of yet I'm still undecided what to do with it. There's still a few more jobs to do. The dashboard lights aren't working and neither is the speedometer. The exhaust is banging as well (Which is really annoying when driving!) and I discovered yesterday that the choke mechanism isn't returning when the choke cable is pushed home. The car does have a lot of plus points though. The interior is very good and it has a lot of original early features, so I will plod along with it for the time being and see how things go. 

Friday, 30 April 2021

April 18th. An event at last!

 With chief clown Johnson finally easing restrictions and letting people having their lives back, a Classic car breakfast meet had been organised for April the 18th at the Battlesbridge Antiques Centre in Essex. Apart from the occasional drive to work on the Fridays the Triumphs haven't see any action at all, so it was good to get out and meet old and new friends. 

Luckily, the 18th was a beautiful day with no rain threats, so Gertie2 was the car of choice for the day. (The Pi is awaiting workshop space to have some welding done.) I met fellow Triumph owner and good friend Gavin in a local pub car park so that we could drive in together. 

Once in the showground we met up with other Triumph enthusiasts Ivor, Anthony and Peter. The guy who works in local car shop was also there with a Vauxhall Viva that he had dragged out of a back garden only five doors away from where I live. A very nice gentleman took a shine to my car as he had bought one from nearly new in the sixties and in the same colour. He and his wife used to go everywhere in it including holidays. He asked if he could sit in it to bring back back memories to which I duly obliged. 

It was a good turn out although a bit too much modern stuff for me. (Anyone who has a Porsche, Ferrari or Yank thinks they are classic cars!) It was a good day though and nice to finally get out again. 

Monday, 25 January 2021

Mid November- Windscreen Rubber Replacement

Ever since I've had my Pi, water has leaked in around the windscreen whenever it rained. Road trips have been tainted by the constant dripping of water onto my trousers and socks and having to stuff towels onto the parcel shelves in a bid to stop the water reaching the floor pans and rotting them out. This is also the reason I have never had a carpet in the car. 

After taking the car to work one day and watching the floor get wetter and wetter as I drove, I decided I'd finally had enough and resolved to do something about it. So one Saturday afternoon, I cut into the windscreen rubber with a stanley knife and removed the windscreen. My worries about finding rot and holes underneath the rubber were unfounded as the aperture all looked good. 

I then cleaned up all the aperture and the windscreen I'd taken out and fitted the new rubber seal ready for it to go back in. The following Saturday my mate Gavin came round and between us we managed to fit the windscreen at the first attempt. The next hour or so was spent sealing all round the windscreen with Butyl gutter sealant to plug up all the gaps. It's a very messy job, but the excess sealant cleans off easily with white spirit. 

With the screen re-fitted and all the excess sealant cleaned off, a week later, the car was then tested under monsoon like conditions by taking a hosepipe to it and spraying the windscreen from all directions with gallons and gallons of water.  To my immense pleasure, I found that I had no leaks at all. Job done. With this task completed, the car was then taken to a specialist who re-fitted the chrome trim for me. This is a nightmare of a job and I didn't have the know how, or the correct tools to do it. So now the windscreen complete with new rubber is fitted, the chrome trim is back on and it's another job I can cross off my list. Happy. 

Sunday, 8 November 2020

More fuel issues!

 Thursday and Friday I decided to take the Blue car to work to test drive it. I had recently changed the differential. Again! The test drive showed that I had at last got rid of the awful vibration at 60mph that has been plaguing this car, although the replacement I fitted is still fairly noisy between 30 and 50mph, so I'm still on the look out for a nice quiet diff. 

After leaving work on Friday night, I didn't get very far before the car just cut out and died leaving me stranded halfway over a railway bridge. 

 All the symptoms pointed to loss of fuel even though the fuel gauge was reading just over quarter of a tank. I bounced the car up and down with the fuel cap open, but couldn't hear any fuel sloshing about. I then rang my work place and one of the guys there found a can and went and bought me some more petrol. While he was doing that, I decided to remove the fuel line and blow down it to see if there was an obstruction. Annoyingly one of the plastic nozzles on the Huco electric fuel pump snapped off while I was trying to remove the rubber fuel line. 

With no way of fixing it I had no choice but to ring my insurance company breakdown line who then had to arrange recovery. They sent a patrol van out first even though I had told them it was unfixable. The patrol man arrived, tried to fix the broken nozzle for an hour with glue. (Even though I told him that petrol will just melt glue!) After his unsuccessful attempt and wasting a lot of time he then radioed in and told control I needed recovering! (Which is what I originally told them two hours previously!)  after another long wait for recovery, I eventually got home at 1am Saturday Morning! 

After replacing the nozzle on the fuel pump on Saturday morning, a friend of mine investigated the 'over reading fuel gauge' issue. It turns out that the float in the fuel tank had been fitted the wrong way round and was possibly catching on the side of the tank. Also, where the sender unit was seated it, it could be in two positions. In one position the gauge was showing empty and the low fuel warning light on the dash was on, (Which is correct with only a gallon of fuel in it)  in the other position, it was reading quarter of a tank and no warning light on. (Which it was when I ran out of fuel!) 
This would also explain why on the recent weekend drive along the south coast, my gauge appeared to be stuck on full all the time. If my car was always on three quarters of a tank (which is likely with the the amount of fuel stops we did) it would have been reading full. So hopefully, this is resolved now and I wont be running out of petrol anymore while still thinking I have quarter of a tank left! 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Pi Engine work continues.

 Further stripping of the Pi engine revealed more damage than I had hoped. I removed all of the pistons and when I removed the cap from number three piston, the bearing just fell out. It was also badly scratched and grooved. Both halves of the bearing were a very loose fit and wouldn't push back into their locations. This would indicate that at some stage the bearing has spun on the journal and caused excessive damage. 

The remainder of the engine was stripped and the crankshaft was removed. It looks like the main bearing journals on the crankshaft are ok, so the may get away with just a polish, but we'll have to see what the engineering firm says. 
The cam sprocket and rear crankshaft seal housing both had a fair amount of gungy oil on them, so it looks like both oil seals had failed as well. The camshaft does look to be in good condition though, so hopefully this can be used again. (I haven't had a chance to clean it or inspect it fully yet though.)
So, the pistons are now on the work bench and the engine block itself is pretty much stripped for cleaning. 

Friday morning 23rd  October, I met Colin Wake for breakfast to swap some other bits over, then took the crankshaft over to Thurston Engineering at Ongar for them to carry out the work. They are an established engineering company that have been operating for many, many years and have a very good reputation. 
It was a nice sunny day, so I decided to take Gertie2 for a drive over there. The crank is now in their possession so I now just have to wait for their report on what work needs doing. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

New engine to rebuild for the Pi.

 Ever since I've owned my Mk1 Pi, it hasn't had the correct engine fitted. This has always irked me somewhat and I've always kept an eye out for the right one. My Pi is currently fitted with a Mk2 Pi engine which starts with an MG prefix. The correct engine for my car should start with a CR prefix. 

Whilst browsing on ebay last week I spotted a CR engine which would hopefully be ideal. Luckily a friend of mine in Derby went to nearby Nottingham where the engine was situated and looked at it for me, confirmed it would be good and collected it for me. Even more luckily for me he was coming down to mine at the weekend anyway and brought it with him. 

I had some free time today so I started to partially strip it down to give me an idea of what I was up against and what parts I may possibly need. 

Removal of a big end bearing cap and a main bearing cap showed hardly any wear on the bearings and crank at all and the 308778 original Stanpart camshaft looked good as well. The oil pump filter also looked clean , so this engine has been looked after at some point. I say some point because when the engine arrived newspaper had been stuffed into the bores to keep them clean and extraction of the newspaper showed it to be 1983! 
All was looking good, but the cleaning of the top of the pistons gave the biggest surprise. At some point in its life the block has been bored out and had plus 60 thou pistons fitted. This will increase the CC (Cubic Centimetres) from 2498cc to 2601cc. (or in other words 2.5 litre to 2.6 litre.) 
At present it looks like this engine could just be fitted in the car and used as is. However, I will still be fitting a new set of big end bearings, main bearings, piston rings and a new oil pump, to hopefully get some longevity out of it. 
The funny thing is, the other engine that I have fitted in my Blue Mk1 has also been bored out to plus 60 thou as well, so I'll be running two Mk1 saloons both with 2.6 litre engines.