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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Electrical Fun

Did a little more carb cleaning today, but not a lot. Still not done with the aft carb. I did remove the transmission cover, though. Looks like it is an original cover (pressed cardboard) that had a fiberglass coating placed on it. Also has a heat blanket underneath. Not sure, though. Forgot to take pics, but I will and get them posted.

Look, a transmission...only smaller!
Pulled the clutch slave cylinder out. As with most of my hydraulics, this one is pretty seized. Lots of white powder out of it, which I imagine is crystallized brake fluid? Silly me, failed to take a picture of it. So, now it's pretty cleaned up on the outside, but who knows on the inside.

Anyway, I'm soaking it with some WD-40 over night to see if that will soak through. If not, then I'll try actual brake fluid. If not...uh, a new one, I guess. I did order rebuild kits for all cylinders, but I may end up returning the clutch ones and getting a new master and slave. The brake master plunger moves freely, though I cannot get it out, but I also haven't tried real hard yet...I'll wait for the kit. I hope the front calipers are not too bad (they don't look horrible, but haven't been taken apart yet, either).

The initial find
But, the point of the post was what I figured out today. Seems as though we almost had a fire in this girl at some point in her life. The main brown ignition wire that runs from the ignition switch to the control box (and then to the starter solenoid) seems to have gotten rather hot and melted inside the harness. You can see the damage to the harness on the right.  The PO had put a jumper wire in...now I know why.

I cut the harness back to the firewall and all the other wires around it look fine and there is no exposed copper. I'm not sure if it would be worth it to keep going with the harness...I open up a huge can of worms to bring the harness into the passenger compartment from the front of the car just to replace a 3 foot piece of wire. I have a new wire standing by for installation, though I'm having problems finding a 3/8" wide female spade connector. Maybe I can reuse the one already on the car without breaking it?

Harness mostly cut back to firewall.
If you notice above, the brown wire that is all the way to the left and hanging off the red "platform" a bit...it doesn't have a connector. That is the solenoid end of the wire that comes from the control box. I cut the harness back enough to get this wire out of there for replacement.

Anyway, that's it's for now. More cleaning and such tomorrow. Maybe I'll get the Rustoleum down for all the nasty-ness you see.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Carb Rebuild

Decided the start the carb tear down, clean up and rebuild today. I ordered the rebuild kits and some other things from SpitBits. So, with this order, I will be able to rebuild both brake and clutch master cylinders, clutch slave cylinder (I didn't look at it, but the rebuild kit is only $5.50 and, given the condition of the clutch master cylinder, I am assuming it won't hurt), both front brake calipers, fix the super-sloppy shifter, the carbs and replace the rubber around the windshield (the PO already had the shield rubber and the chrome surround, I just got the windshield frame to body rubber because it was pretty shot, too.

So, because I've never worked on SU carbs before, I've been taking lots of pictures. Right now, all I have is "befores". I've started with the aft carb first - 50/50/90. It took me three hours to clean up the common linkage (bottom pic) and the choke linkage (top pic, still mostly attached). So, yes, slow going, but I figured as much.
Side view of aft carb...some choke elements removed.

Top view of common accelerator linkage
Tomorrow I plan to finish up with the aft carb. With the rebuild kit coming, however, it will probably be until next week until I'm ready to fully reassemble them, depending on how long the stuff takes to get here, so no trying to start her for a while.

In the meantime, I intend to get the transmission tunnel cover removed and get a look at the tranny, get the brake and clutch pedal assemblies prepped and painted (got my Rustoleum today!) and get primer down on the engine compartment side of the master cylinders where years of leaking brake fluid have resulted in no paint and, therefore, some rust.

I also bought some wire today to fix the wiring "anomalies". The one female blade connector that I need is 3/8" wide...not a normal size for the big box stores, so I have to see if Radio Shack has it (wow, did I just say that?!)

Anyway, more to follow. And, I'll try and work on the picture quality. My little point and shoot doesn't like to do closeups that way that I have it set up. Guess I need to look into that.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Continuing Saga

In the spirit of trying to return the car to its "as original as I can get it" condition, I did some electrical work today. Assuming I'm still having intermittent/weak spark problems, I went after possible ground leakages because some of the modifications to the car included installing oil and ammeter gauges. I also decided to take out the radio. Removal of those parts resulted in me finding a brown wire (part of the original harness) hanging, unconnected, near the ignition switch. A blue wire installed by the PO was running from the ignition switch, through the firewall, to the starter solenoid. Unfortunately, I was unable to trace that brown wire from the connection I found hanging to its next termination point...odd, because I expected the other end to go to the starter solenoid. Seems like they liked brown for the ignition system.

In that search, I also discovered another brown wire that was cut in half close to the voltage regulator and another (didn't test to see if it was the same wire) at the starter solenoid. This brown one was wrapped together with the blue one the PO put in on the ignition switch...at least it looks like he soldered them.

So, all in all, the electrical system has had "minor" modifications to it. But, they are less than my old Midget. So, since my whole goal tomorrow will be working on the car (now that the kids are in school, my trips to the New Haven VA Hospital are done and I'm still "retired"), I hope to at least get the wiring sorted out if not fixed. Deep down, however, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to do all of this work and will still have a weak/intermittent spark...but who knows. Happy thoughts!

Oh, and I located the "fuse box" (sorry the pictures sucks...camera wouldn't focus in low light under the dash). There are two fuses in it (love it!) at the top and bottom. And, turns out, I think they are the original fuses. How this is, I do not know. If you look at the picture above, to the immediate left of the starter solenoid, you'll see a fuse holder...that fuse has been replaced in the past. However, the fuses under the dash have soldered ends (which I haven't seen since my first submarine, and we had to get rid of them) and little pieces of paper inside of them that say "Lucas" on them. One under the dash, the horn, I think, that was in a fuse holder cartridge was blown (it's just above the fuse block in the below pic) and I replaced it with one of the two installed spares in the fuse block (they are sticking straight out at you below). Got to love the Brits...then knew these cars were going to break a gave you things like two spare fuses and a button on the starter solenoid.

I also went ahead and pulled the entire brake and clutch pedal assemblies from the car, following my removal of the master cylinders a few days ago. They were pretty gunked up due to leaking brake fluid over the years but not corroded.
So, with my brother's recommendation to use Purple Power, diluted, as a degreaser, I will be soaking those, my brake and clutch master cylinders and my brake calipers in a 5-gallon bucket overnight. Hopefully that will break up a lot of gunk and I can get all of those things broken down, rebuilt, and put back together.

In the meantime, my goal will still be to try and get her running. I wish I know what I did that first day because I had good spark and had her (almost) running on starter fluid. I'll have to rebuild the SU carbs, but I think she'll run without that.  I need to get better organized and not try to tackle too much at once, or at least fall prey to "shiny object".  However, sometimes I find it good to shift to another, more brainless area (like removing pedals) to occupy me while I think about the more complex problems (like getting her to start!).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Slow Going

Well, unfortunately, not a whole lot of progress today. Family obligations took until mid-afternoon. I troubleshot, unsuccessfully, the ignition problem. So rusty with remembering how to do this stuff.
You can tell when an engine wants to start...it will catch or otherwise not just smoothly turn over. In my experience, when the engine does nothing EXCEPT smoothly turnover, there is no spark (assuming you are using starting fluid to give her some help). So, that's where I am now...no consistent spark. Funny, because before I checked the static timing yesterday, I had consistent spark. So, I either fried (or partially fried) the coil by leaving the ignition on (I'm hotwiring it, remember) or did something else. My guess is the later since it will spark sometimes. I did not test the coil but will do that first thing tomorrow.

I think I've freed up the forward carb piston enough to make her work, but they both need to be rebuilt. Depending on the level of rebuild I want to do, kits seem to go from about $50 to north of $160. But, before I break into that project, I'd like to get the motor running.

So, after I gave up on the ignition, I removed the brake and clutch master cylinders in preparation for their rebuild. They are pretty gummed up and will require some love...may purchase new ones outright, but not ready to give up on them before I even try.

I also removed the starter solenoid and associated electronics in the immediate vicinity to get that area forward of the firewall all cleaned up. Brake fluid from both master cylinders have, over the years, totally eaten away the paint so I need to get some rust converter down in that area.
My neighbor's brother, an amateur photography, was kind enough to take some before pictures for me. I didn't really take any good pics today (or yesterday), so I will provide those instead.
Me and the girl...and my oldest in the passenger's seat.

What a beautiful nose!

The power house...and so much room!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Trying to Get a Triumph Spitfire to Start

I had 11th hour apprehension about purchasing the car. The more research I did, the more I determined that the intake manifold didn't look right. The short of it is that it is a Mk 1 engine (and an early one at that, FC 3997 HE) installed in a Mk 2 car. However, for whatever reason, the PPO put in the Mk 2 intake and exhaust manifolds. This results in, essentially, no hot water to the heater coil.
However, with the exception of this and a different camshaft, there is little differentiating the engines. Oh, and 63 BHP instead of 67 BHP...yeah, not going to matter much, I don't think.

So, in the end, I bought it at the agreed on price and, a short U Haul trip later, she was in my drive way, all nice a pretty. That was yesterday, 8/23.

Today, 8/24, I got the car cleaned out and vacuumed. Found some more rust than I had originally hoped. The front sill on the passenger side may be an issue, but it's from the interior. The underside and outside still seem to be solid...however, that's an odd place to rust FROM...so, further investigation will be required. The battery pan has been fiberglassed and the drivers foot area has been replaced with a piece of pop-riveted metal. There are some holes in the floorboards, but nothing extreme and it has all been rust treated. So, I think it will be more than solid enough to drive, but definitely something to look at fixing earlier rather than later.

Woke up too early and I was done with that cleaning and inspection by about 8:00 am (too damn excited). Then, the rest of the day was taken up with trying to get her to run.

First, the old battery from the PO wouldn't hold a charge (not surprising...hoped to get lucky) so a quick trip to AutoZone got me the cheapest battery I could get. Hooked that up and pressed the ever-so-convenient button on the starter solenoid and she immediately turned over. Sweet.

However, when turning her over, I noticed some light smoke coming from the area of the head gasket at the rear. Odd, since it wasn't running, it couldn't be oil smoke or anything like that. More investigation led me to find that the ground return path from the block to the chassis was going via the accelerator bar (that light brown rod that comes up, traces along the back of the head, and back down in the picutre below on left). If I lifted the bar off the block...no roundy-roundy. So, I located and removed the block grounding strap, cleaned it up real well, re-attached, verified resistances, and it worked like a charm regardless of the accelerator linkage location. That, of course, brings into question the proper mounting of the accelerator linkage...should it really be touching the block?....for another day!

Then, a quick reference to the handy-dandy Triumph Workshop Manual that the PO was so gracious as to provide and I energized the ignition system using jumpers.

Unfortunately, the PO is unable to locate the keys...hopefully he finds them so I can use the door locks, but a new tumbler, with keys, is only about $15 from Victoria British. So, hotwiring the ignition led me to verify that the tail lights, wipers, the oil light, indicating low oil pressure, on the speedo all work.  The horn...well, the horn clicks... So, electrical systems seems, at least, functional.
Pulled a spark plug, put my finger over the hole and had it blown back...a good qualitative if not quantitative test for compression. Plug looked good. Put it into the plug wire, held the plug to the block, turned her over and had a strong spark.

Holy Cow, I love it when a plan comes together. Got spark, got rotation...just need gas...and maybe some starter fluid...it's been at least a year...I think more, since she's been running.

So, I undid the float pot lids on the carbs and filed them about half-way with gas. I noticed, however, that the piston on the front carb stuck quite a bit. The aft one worked just fine, however. I have about ZERO experience with SU carbs, let alone twin ones, so I just left it. But, I cranked her over several times, using and not using starting fluid. Lots of catches, some pretty good backfires and some responses back through the carb body (but only the aft one).  However, except for one time where she ran for about 2 seconds, she wouldn't stay running.

Then, the engine characteristics changed...either out of spark or out of gas.  Sure enough, the rear float chamber was empty, but the front one was still about half-way.  So, the forward carb is, right now, not working.  Could be as simple as cleaning it up a bit or who knows. I'll do some disassembly and inspection and hopefully get the piston moving freely...probably just some old gas "gum". Then, I'll roll the dice again.

Unfortunately, due to prior commitments, I have limited time to work on her tomorrow.  Maybe I'll get lucky, do a quick cleaning of the carbs, and get her to run for more than a second. If so, then it's on to a rebuild of both master cylinders (and maybe clutch slave...haven't looked yet) and both front brake calipers.  Then, overall checks of clutch and brake operation and I think she may be ready for a trip or two around the block...as long as I can get the tires to hold air.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Classic Car Buyer Beware...Bought!

Well, after a bit of haggling, I've agreed with the CO to the sale price. With a UHaul truck and trailer, I should deliver it to my house sometime early Saturday afternoon.  Kids want to come with me to pick it up...sorry, boys, that one is mine. Let's hope the deep-down is as solid as I think...after a bit of cleaning up and degreasing, I can't wait to get her running and road-worthy.  Maybe then, I'll look at more restoration.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Classic Car Buyer Beware...

As I found her...
If all goes according to plan, I will be the happy owner of a 1966 (but maybe a 1965) Triumph Spitfire in the very near future.  She needs some work and is definitely not pretty, but appears solid for an east coast car. She also doesn't run, but the current owner (hopefully soon to be PO) winterized it when he started to do some work on it.  He didn't finish the work so he never brought it out of layup but I was able to turn it over by hand easily enough to tell me it isn't seized but not too easy to tell me there is no compression.

The passenger's front quarter, including that frame outrigger,
Cancer on the passenger front frame outrigger
and the bottom of the boot lid are the only bad areas of corrosion. The sills and just about everything else are solid. The engine, body and commission numbers all seem to be close enough to each other to be considered a match (from what I could gather, you don't expect the numbers to actually match but be close numerically).

I actually found the car on the International Triumph Spitfire Database and the listing has the car as part of a northern Florida Triumph club. This database also has it listed as a 1965. Being used to VIN numbers that are usually easily decipherable, does anyone know any way to be sure the year of this car? I doubt there were significant differences between 65 and 66 that would be giveaways.

Anyway, another curious thing is that the odometer only registers 5781 miles. I see one of two things...either the odometer has turned over through 100,000 miles (surprising, to me, for these cars) or it stopped working early in the car's life... early enough that I would think you would have it fixed by a dealer. The look of the unit doesn't seem to be any newer than the other gauges, so I doubt it was replaced.  The current owner says it was his Grandfather's car and he really only drove it on weekends and to work on nice days, so who knows. Hopefully I will be able to figure it out using other clues (like when I tear the engine apart).
Dash...5781...can't be right!!
I should have an answer by the owner sometime tomorrow...crossing my fingers.

Commission and Body numbers