Saturday, December 24, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #19

I just didn't have it in me to go to work on Friday. There's nothing going on and I have some vacation time built up, so I took it off. Breakfast with the wife, a few errands and then over to the garage for a few hours. My garage-mate was there working on his Volvo V70R. That thing is a beast. 6-speed manual transmission, 340+hp turbo-charged station wagon. Wow.

I'll stick with my 63-hp Spitfire, thank you very much! The only things I wanted to accomplish today was to get the steering rack mounted and the anti-roll bar in. Got both done (well, the anti-roll bar isn't completely installed) and another major milestone is checked off...she's a roller!

Lots of tweaks, adjustments and tightening left, but it will roll!

I started with the anti-roll bar. I previously purchased blue Polybush bushings from Rimmer's. There are a few different colors but blue is the "soft" version. These are quite a bit more than the standard rubber ones but, for this application, relatively inexpensive so I went for it. I put some Sil-Glyde on the inside of the bushings and fed them over the bar to the approximate location. I also attached the new anti-roll bar links (these are "handed"), re-using the old end studs and attempted to re-use the old bushing retainer clamps along with new u-bolts that I sourced locally from True Value. The bushing retainer clamps were too beat up, however, and I'm not sure that the u-bolts are the correct size, so I'll be ordering new sets of these.

New bushing and link.

Link hand-tightened in.

I figured out that, though I tried to be very careful, I didn't weld the new mounting bracket in at the proper spot. I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to correct the error by taking advantage of the play in the link, but it definitely doesn't fit in as well as the driver's side, which wasn't messed with. Also, I'm concerned about being able to actually get the bolts started for the u-bolt as a dry fit didn't provide a whole lot of room between the bolt flats and the frame itself.

How the new mounting plate welded in. Not obvious by looking at the anti-roll bar, but it is off a bit.

In short, I mounted the bracket a bit too far forward and a bit too far in towards the center of the car.

The untouched driver's side. Obvious how much further "back" the bracket it.

Again, hopefully I'll be able to take up the slack using the play in the link mounting. I'm more concerned with being able to tighten the bolts, I think. Given my concerns and the need for new bushing retainer clamps, I'm going to order all new hardware here and will see how it goes when it arrives. Bummed out pretty bad about this because I took a lot of care in trying to make sure I got the clamp in the right place. It was pretty obvious, however, that it wasn't once I got a different look.

But, moving on, I got the steering rack in place. I had asked on my favorite forum what the deal was with mounting it. The workshop manual calls for pre-loading the mounting brackets so as to minimize the play in the steering feel. This was easier read than done because of the minimal contact surface available to prying stuff out. I was able to use three clamps, reversed to make them spreaders, and get them arranged this time to provide some tension.

Clamp contraption.

I then tightened down the mounting brackets to provide a snug, but adjustable, fit and tweaked on the clamps some more to get the required 1/8" space between the mounting bracket and the steering tube plate.

That's about an 1/8'.

After that, I put the front wheels on and got myself my aforementioned roller!


I had mentioned the incorrect brake clip in my last post. I got my old one cleaned up and got it installed. I'll be getting another one from Rimmer's in my next order as they are the only ones that I've found to carry it.

Brake clip installed.

Next was the steering joint. This is one hell of an engineered piece for what it seems to accomplish. Though these are still available from Rimmer's, if you order one over here, like from SpitBits, you'll get a regular steering knuckle. Not quite sure why Triumph designed the thing this way, but lets break it down a bit and see.

The original steering joint.

There are three main parts of the joint. Two appear identical (I didn't really look to hard too make sure) and in between these is a disk. The three parts are held together with four bolts, a pair of which are lockwired together at the threads.

The use of the lockwire holding the bolts together is an obvious safety concern. We used the stuff in the Navy quite a bit for vibration and shock resistance for critical parts. It would really suck to have your steering joint come apart on you so that my vote for its use here.

There are also rubber grommets around the four bolts that completely isolate them from the center disk of the joint. I figure this is for vibration dampening to the steering wheel from the road.

Finally, and something I didn't expect to find, was a grounding wire that was twisted and mounted between the two knurled fittings on one side of the disk, hidden from view. It took me a minute, but I figured this out pretty quick.

The little grounding strap that could.

A vehicle's electrical system, at least for the Spitfire, is a simple 12-volt system. Like any electrical circuit, for current to flow and work to be done (like lighting a light, for example), there has to be a complete path from the supply to ground. So, a simple circuit to turn on a light could look like this:

Doesn't get more simple than this...except for the switch, maybe.

This picture shows electron flow, which while correct, may be opposite of what you are used to seeing depending on when you went to school. Essentially, however, for this circuit to work there is a wire from the battery to the bulb, and from the bulb back to the battery. In your vehicle, however, that would add complexity and about double the amount of wire, increasing cost and the chance of something breaking.

Instead, a vehicle's electrical system uses a common ground of the chassis. That way, instead of running an individual wire from every circuit back to the battery, you can run a much shorter wire to any point on the chassis and use it to act as the wire, saving money and complexity...and probably some weight, too. This circuit would look something like this:

Sorry, no cool animations.

In this case, the return conductor is the vehicles frame, body, whatever. And, since it is all a big hunk of metal and will conduct electricity, the returns can be separated by a huge distance with no impact on circuit operation.

Now that the basic electricity lesson is done, what does that have to do with the Spitfire's steering joint? Well, the steering column is resiliently mounted to the body (in the tub) for vibration control. This means the use of rubber or plastic, neither of which conduct electricity. On the steering column, however, is the horn, turn signals, headlights, and maybe an overdrive switch (if you're lucky enough). All of those switches need a chassis return path to work.

On the steering rack, at the steering box, is a ground point for several components on the front of the car. The ground wires all tap into the grease cap on the steering box.

There's a plug that goes in that threads into that hole, under which go the ground wires.

To provide a return path for the switches on the steering column, down the steering shaft, through the rubber-isolated steering joint to the steering box, that little ground strap is used. Whew...

Steering joint completely exploded.

After that, I didn't have a lot of time to dig into something new so I took a look at the motor again. Since I've been studying up on rebuilding it, I figured out that I should have been a bit more careful in spots while taking it apart. My biggest initial concern was that the main bearing caps are not only location specific but orientation specific. While I made a note of which cap came off of which bearing, I did not make a note of its orientation. I wanted to look into that.

As you can see, my concern was for naught as it's quite obvious which way the main caps are installed.

This is the correct way.

I didn't expect to be able to so clearly see the difference in just flipping the bearing caps around. All three main caps were similar.

This, is not!

Another way to tell was that each bearing cap was marked with a series of dots to denote if it was #1, #2 or #3. I doubt it's by coincidence, but while there were no matching marks on the block itself, each of the match marks on the bearing caps faced towards the front of the motor.

Bearing cap #1.

Bearing cap #3.

Another way that I could tell was the "shadow" the bearings themselves cast on the block and the caps. This is a bit hard to explain what I mean, and I didn't take any pictures of what I'm trying to explain. Suffice it to say there are several methods for making sure that are going in as-built!

And that was it. We are traveling for the holidays so there won't be any work done for a week or so. I do have Dorothy's parts Christmas list all filled out and ready to go and I'll be placing that order either tomorrow or Monday so everything is here waiting on me when I get back.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #18

Welcome back! I left last time with some some unfinished business...well, it's all unfinished, but you know what I mean. I had some old problems to fix and some new problems to solve.

First was to try a new joint pin for the passenger's side emergency brake connection from the fork end to the operating lever. A search of my local True Values didn't yield anything that was close, so I purchased a "universal" 1/4" pin (that's diameter) with the intention of trimming it down to fit. 

The universal pin.

Trimmed universal pin (left) versus new one from SpitBits.

In the end, I wasn't happy with this solution as the universal pin hung down too far for my liking. As a temporary fix, I left the washer off and put a hairpin clip in instead. I also got the cotter pin installed for the other side of the emergency brake operating lever, wrapping up the rear brake assembly as a whole.

Connected up, but not adjusted. That probably won't happen until tub goes on.

While playing with the rear suspension, I again took note of how crooked it was back there. You can see in the picture below where the suspension twists out to the right and tilts forward.

A bit crooked, wouldn't you say?

I assumed this was due to the rear not being loaded. Since everything back there was practically done, I put my theory to the test by putting on the rear wheels/tires and standing on the frame. I bounced up and down a bit and could see that the rear would come true as it compressed. Concern alleviated.

Halfway to a roller! Scary, isn't it?! Wheel need refurbishment and new tires, obviously. Makes it look ugly!

My next problem to address comprised of swapping the upper wishbone mounting bolts. The parts manual calls out the fact that there are two different length bolts for the upper wishbones, which I recognized while putting it back together. Unless I missed it, however, neither it nor the workshop manual specifies which bolt goes where. Looking at the construction of the suspension turret and the fact that there is a reinforcement piece welded on the front for the motor mounts, I figured the longer bolt would go there and that's what I went with.

Front view of passenger's turret prior to correction. What I failed to recognize as excessive thread protrusion on the top bolt.

What I failed to remember was the need for the brake hose support brackets and the thickness that they would add.

Not enough threads to get the nyloc nut engaged, let alone the proper thread protrusion.

Here's the forward side. Should have recognized the excessive amount of thread left.

Based on my previous experience and lessons learned putting them together, I was able to get both sides apart, the bolts swapped, and everything back together in about two hours.

A few tricks I used were to undo the upper wishbones from the upper ball joint, and then pull down and rotate the disc/hub assembly out of the way.

Side view of disc/hub pulled down.

Front side view of above.

Next was to remove the damper/spring assembly. I removed the large bottom mounting bolt and loosened to remove the three small upper bolts. I did these in rotating sequence to protect the upper cap's threads since the spring would expand and bring the assembly down, rubbing the threads down the mounting holes. Removing the bottom bolt may not have been necessary, but it allowed some wiggle room. At no time did the damper/spring assemblies have to come out entirely.

As the damper/spring assembly loosened, it and the lower wishbone assembly dropped and rotated down. I supported its weight with a jack stand to prevent any unnecessary pressure on the mounting point once it had fallen enough to allow pulling the assembly out of the way.

Damper/spring assembly pulled out and down.

With the interference out of the way, it was a simple matter to take the bolts out and swap them around. Another thing that I had forgotten and would have been impossible to install without disassembly were the pair of small bolts, washers and nuts that mount to the very top of each turret. The front of these are used for the radiator stay brackets while I think the rear are used for the engine valences (my cars never had them). If I'm wrong about that, they are getting tightened up and will stay as decoration 'cause I'm not doing this again!

The rear nut/bolt/washer.

I also took advantage of having everything apart to check all of my torques putting it back together. I made a checklist, copied from the torque table in the Workshop Manual, that allows me to literally check off bolt torques as I do it. Unless I need to keep it loose for final adjustment, it's all torqued up!

Once that was complete, it was on to bending more brake lines. Once I got the hang of this, it went pretty fast. I finished up with the line I started last time and finished them all, except the master cylinder to front 4-way union, in just about two hours. Though I started using bending tools, for the most part I used my hands. For sharper curves, I used this tool from Harbor Freight. It worked, though it did leave a very small indentation in the pipe. It was convenient, however, it that I didn't have to struggle with placement like with other tools.

Finished up the first line.

Cross connect line between the two front brake calipers.

Routing of the passenger's side brake line.

For the passenger's side brake line, there is a small clip that support the line and clips it to the suspension turret. In the interest of renewing hardware, I ordered a pair of these from Rimmer's. However, when I went to install the new ones, it was obvious that it wasn't going to fit properly.

Rimmer's on left, original on right. Note the extra width on the right side of the original clip. This is where it "hangs" from the turret.

To their credit once again, I contacted Rimmer's and they acknowledged the incorrect part, though while also saying it was the original part number. They provided an alternate part which, though a bit hard to be sure from the picture, looks like it would work just fine. Next Rimmer's order.

After completing the front, I did the long piece down the frame to the rear. This piece contains a union where a short line runs from it, through the outrigger, to the front 4-way union.

Line running from rear up the frame. Original frame retaining clips re-installed.

A bit further forward, showing the union.

The end of the short line from the union to the 4-way union. Note the line is way too long in this picture.

I ran into a little snag at this point in that I had too much line to tie into the 4-way union, as shown above. This was corrected by making a larger relief loop all the way in the back of the line, where it goes into the rear 3-way union.

A bit larger of a relief loop than I like. May look and bending this a bit differently.

 After I did that, it lined up just fine.

All fitted up!

There were just two lines left after that. One very short line that went from the rear 3-way union to the driver's side wheel and the cross-connect line from the 3-way union to the passenger's side wheel. I wish that the short line was about another inch or so longer, but it worked.

Short line coming out of the top to the driver's side wheel, other going across to the passenger's side.

Connection into the passenger's side wheel.

Of interest, my kit came with two additional brake lines, both labeled line #11. Per the generic list, these are "Rear Hose to Wheel". On my car, and on the black car, I have hoses from the brackets welded to frame near the rear wheels out to the wheel cylinder. On some cars, not sure which, I guess there is a line that is formed on the brake assembly itself somewhere. I asked the question on my favorite forum, and that was the answer I got, along with the picture below.

Rusty, but you can see it loop its way around the axle. Glad I didn't have to do this one!

As I don't need them, I'll hold on to the lines as they are good quality and the female fittings are hard to find.

That was it. Next items up are the anti-sway bar and steering rack. I got "generic" u-bolts at True Value today; as close as I could find for what I think is correct. If they fit, I'll use them, otherwise I'll have to order them. The steering rack is a bit trickier as it has to be mounted under tension to minimize play in the steering. This probably should be done with two people, but I have some clamps and spreaders and I'm going to make a go of it.

I also have together a full parts list, mainly of motor items, for work after Christmas. I'll place the order while we are away visiting family and hopefully it will be waiting on me when I get back.

Until next time...

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #17

Darn snow! Meant to get over to the garage all day on Saturday, but the snow forecast busted a bit so instead of 1-3" with it changing over to rain early in the morning, we ended up with about 5" and it not changing over until mid-morning. By the time I was confident the roads were good enough to drive on, it was essentially too late to make it worth it. I did get some work done on my weeknight, though. Everything is still focused on getting the chassis back together. I learned some new things, figured out some new problems, and otherwise had a great time!

First, you may remember that I was concerned with my thread protrusion for the rear damper upper attachment points. I had purchased new nyloc nuts and they were rather tall. This resulted in insufficient thread protrusion (I'm looking for at least one whole thread, preferably 2-4) with the threads just barely engaging the nylon at the specified torque.

As you can imagine, the Navy is pretty concerned with fasteners and their proper use. Turns out a warship has got to be built pretty solid and, just as important, maintained that way. In a submarine this is even more important since we sink her on purpose. A program that came out of the loss of the USS Thresher (SSN 593), and reinforced by the Challenger disaster, is the SUBSAFE program. SUBSAFE is a quality assurance program that provides objective quality evidence (OQE) to maintenance and repair work on systems designated as SUBSAFE. SUBSAFE systems include seawater systems, emergency main ballast tank blow systems, escape hatches, etc. Essentially, if it is a system that could allow seawater into the ship (intentionally or not) or could impact ship recoverability (like the rudder and planes), it is SUBSAFE.

Certain aspects of fastener installation are important to be observed. A common specification that we are used to in dealing with in our cars is torque. Something that is not so common is thread protrusion. The designers deal with this and, as long as you re-use the nuts and bolts, you don't normally need to worry about it. But, if you are replacing hardware that may not be exactly as original, it becomes a concern.

To ensure proper engagement, a threaded fastener should extend beyond its nut a certain distance. In the Navy, we have manuals called Naval Ships Technical Manuals, or NSTMs. Most, if not all, of these are publicly available. The one that deals with fasteners is NSTM 075 (this link opens a pdf of the NSTM). There's all sorts of good stuff in here. For our discussion, the pertinent section is 075-7.5, Length of Thread Protrusion, which specifies at least one thread protrusion. In my case, I didn't have that.

Threads just barely flush with nut end. Improper thread protrusion means the fastener may not be at full strength.

There's a bunch of good stuff in that NSTM. Use of washers, when to replace a nyloc nut...lots of stuff. The table of contents is pretty good, too, so if you have a specific question, you should be able to find it.

Anyway, my solution was to find a shorter nut, which I was able to do. I didn't take a picture of the nut that I pulled off (I assume it was original), but if fell somewhere in height between the tall one and the short one.

Tall nut on right, short on left.

I don't believe that the shorter nut will degrade the fastener as much as the taller one would due to the insufficient thread protrusion.

New thread protrusion. About 4 threads there...perfect!

Since I hadn't done it and didn't want to forget, I greased the rear bearings also.

Good enough!

Sticking with the rear suspension, I also assembled the rear drum brakes. This went pretty well, with the aid of the workshop manual for assembly. And they are not very complicated, so there's that! The PO had purchased all new rear brake stuff from SpitBits as part of their kit so it was just a matter of putting it all back together. There were a few things that were not included in the kit, but the workshop manual saved me.

First was installation of the wheel cylinder and operating level for the emergency brake. The wheel cylinder is essentially the hydraulic guts of the whole drum brake. It's fastened with a two-piece horseshoe-shaped spring clip assembly.

First spring slid on (emergency brake operating lever not shown here).

And the second. They "lock together to hold it it. Tight, but not immovable.

Emergency brake operating lever.

The emergency brake operating level comes in from the back of the wheel assembly and the two nubs on it fit into recesses in the housing of the wheel cylinder. Definitely something better seen than explained.

Lever and wheel cylinder mating. The wheel cylinder is not clipped in in this picture.

I then bolted in the adjuster, which is the bottom pivot point for the shoes. I then installed the springs onto the brake pads and got them installed. This takes a bit of doing as you have to expand the springs, obviously. Most importantly is the proper orientation of the springs and their attachment to the shoes.

Springs installed.

How the upper spring is oriented through the shoe.

And how the lower spring is oriented.

And there it is!

I had mentioned that not everything was included in the kit. Specifically (and only, actually) was the cotter pins that capture the emergency brake operating lever through the leading brake shoe. I didn't have these handy, so another trip to True Value is in my future!

Close-up of where the cotter pin should go through the emergency brake operating lever.

Internals all done (except that cotter pin, of course).

Next up was connecting the emergency brake. Ran into a problem with "new" parts here in that the pin that holds the cable to the operating lever wasn't tall enough. The operating level and fork end are original, so I can only blame the pin. This was a new part from SpitBits.

Close, but not quite tall enough. There is a washer that goes in the bottom which completely covers that hole.

I was able to find one of my old ones (and only one, unfortunately, given that I should have four of them from the two cars!) and the difference was readily apparent.

Sorry for the blurriness. But, you can see that the hole is short but just about as much as it needs to be!

I'm going to add the pin to my True Value list, but I'm not confident that I'll find one. We'll see how that goes.

After that, I started in on the brake line kit. Pretty nice stuff. Automec is a British manufacturer that makes kits for all sorts of British cars.

The kit.

The lines come pre-cut to length with all of the proper fittings, but they are not bent. Each line is labeled, by number, with it's particular location and this is referenced to a generic list that comes with the kit. So, it is a simple thing to match the brake line number with the location and go from there.

A portion of the list. Again, this is a generic list and I only had a few numbers on my pipes...simple kit, obviously!

The hard part, of course, is bending the pipes! I got a simple pipe bender and between that any my hands, I got pretty close.

This is the driver's front brake line from the splitter to the wheel. Top is what came out, bottom is new. Ready, go!

One thing I learned is that there is such a thing as a "generic" brake line flare, which the Automec kit uses exclusively on both ends of the brake lines. I was concerned at first, but a quick inquiry on my favorite forum alleviated my concern.

The Automec kit on top (universal flare), the original on bottom (bubble flare). 

There is still some bending to do, but I got pretty close!

As close as I got that night.

That was about it. I also figured out that I had the brake line holder for the caliper in backwards. This lead me to discover that I also used the wrong length bolt for the upper wishbone mounting. This is going to truly be a pain in the rear, but better it right than not. I'll fully explain in the next installment!

Unfortunately, that black hanger piece is not installed properly. What a can of worms that opens!