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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Triumph Spitfire Body Removal Preparation #6

Well, after almost three weeks, I'm happy to say that I've finally done some work on the car. However, there is somewhat of reason. I guy that I work with and I both have the same problem...lots of big dreams and lots of no space. He's been somewhat serious about looking for a garage but, as we got to talking, we both fed off of each other and he got motivated to find one within our price range. He found a 20'x50' in a local industrial park so it's more than enough room. The intention, to help supplement the cost, is to provide seasonal or year-round storage for people that don't have room at home for their toys. If we can a few takers, we figure we can make it work while providing us with a place to make a mess and not have to suffer the wrath of our wives. I've kept stalling on pulling the body off the car if I'm going to have to turn right around and transport it to a garage since I will have to put it out back and I'd rather not make the extra work. Keeping my fingers crossed.

As for today, it was more of removing pieces-parts from the body. A lot of different things. No real surprises, fortunately, so that was good. In no particular order...

I was able to finish stripping the dash after partially destroying it. Used a hair dryer to help loosen everything up. There were a lot of little clips that had to come out, but all-in-all, not too bad.
Finally got the dash and all of the plastic off.
Next was the steering column seal. Not too much of a seal on this one, but they are available.
Steering column lower seal dry-rotted and brittle.
Found some little carpet screws (?) on the driveshaft tunnel. Not sure if they hold the carpet down, but they seem to (I've never had carpet in the car). I love the finishing rings.

Cute little things...a regular screwdriver on right for scale.
The handbrake needed to come out and that was just a snap ring to disconnect it from the mounting point. There is a square adjustment nut that also needed to come off and I just spun the whole assembly as the nut was trapped by the clip and so spun right out.

Snap ring removed. The square nut is inside the metal "clip". Cable will need to get pushed through hole eventually.
That black stuff that I had wondered about on the rear seat pan was indeed sound deadening material installed by the factory. I was able to use a metal putty knife and pry/crack it up with little problem. Stuff was nearly brittle, but just flexible enough to get under it. Of note, a plastic putty knife would not be an option here as it would snap.

Passenger's side. Stuff came up pretty cleanly with just a bit of adhesive residue.
I also needed to remove the accelerator bar (finally remembered!) and the connection to the carbs. I drove out the linkage pin with a 3/32" punch and then had to use a bearing puller to slide the lever assembly off of the rod. After that, it was like a puzzle pulling the thing actually out of the car, but I was able to do it. I've heard horror stories about these things on my favorite forum, so I'm sure it will be much more fun when I try to put it back in!

Pin pushed out of lever. The hole on the bottom is for the cotter pin to keep the rod attached inside the passenger footwell.

Bearing puller setup.

Liberated. Interesting that it is curved, of sorts. I assume it's supposed to be that way to help clear the clutch housing of the transmission.
Lastly, I pulled the rear license plate light assembly. As with the black car, this one was also toast and rusted and half not there anymore. I used the sawzall to take care of it. The electrical portion of these are easy to come by, but the bases are not. So, I have a request out on the Buy/Sell/Trade section of my favorite forum to see if anyone has one laying around that is in serviceable shape.

Almost 50 years of rust...spider egg sacks and all.
That was about it. I did a bunch of other little things; pulled all of the remaining interior screw clips that I could find, removed the rubber boots for the wiring hold-down tabs, drilled out the pop rivets for the body snaps for the soft top, etc. I don't think there is much else I can do now other than pull the body. I'll talk to my garage buddy and see what he thinks and go from there.

Here's wishing all of my US readers (and anyone else that wants to celebrate) a happy Thanksgiving!


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Triumph Spitfire Body Removal Preparation #5

Slowly but surely. But damn if I didn't forget to do that throttle linkage again! Regardless, another few steps closer to body removal. The stuff that I'm doing now is mostly focused on weather protection (the body will be stored outdoors during a harsh New England winter) and while none of it is required, it is all desired.

I cut off the bottom of the rivets that hold the door check straps to the door, so those will have to be replaced. Someone much smarter than I has come up with what seems to be a removable version that SpitBits sells...good idea. Those are now on my wish list. Also, I discovered that the the driver's side door check strap guide was busted. That explains some denting on the driver's side bonnet.

Driver's side door check strap guide...missing top portion and showing damage because of it (left of hole).

Passenger's side door check strap guide...what it should look like. 
Also, one of the tabs where the check strap rivet passes through the driver's side door was also busted. Years and years of use for both, I presume.

The bottom tab in this picture, but on driver's side, was broken. Spot-weld repair...fun, fun!
The check strap guide replacement is readily available, but, for the door, I think I'll have to steal one off of one of the other four doors that I have. Easy sourcing, but it will be interesting to weld it in!

Once the doors were out, I pulled the windows winders and door handles. They both use tapered pins that will, therefore, only push out one way. There are also two holes, 90-degrees opposed to the pin (why...I have no idea) that head-fake you into thinking the pin is in there...it's not.

Pushing down on window winder escutcheon (iˈskəCHənto get at pin.

Window winder and tapered pin...it will only come out one way.
The two bonnet latch catches (left) and the two door check straps (right) along with the door check seal clips (top-ish center).

Driver's side door.
If you have been keeping up over the last year or so, you know that I retired from the Navy and got a job at Electric Boat shipyard teaching nuclear theory. Well, the parking there sucks and it is only getting worse as they hire more people (turns out the submarine industry is booming). They also don't like to paint parking spaces that respect the size of most cars these days (i.e., pickup trucks). Needless to say, my Fit got swiped the other day. Fortunately, the person who hit me was honest and I actually walked out while they were calling their insurance company to report it. Anyway, for what I think amounts to a loss of some clear coat and several minutes of buffing, their insurance company sent me a check for almost $1300. There are so many dings in my Fit now that I don't really care and my poor Spitfire needs so much sheet metal...$1300 would about cover it!

I've also decided to start divesting myself of some unneeded parts. So, if you are in the market for some Mk1 or Mk2 Spitfire parts, especially non-engine or transmission stuff, I may be a resource for you. I appear to have a taker on the hardtop, but there is more that can go. Drop me a line in the comments and I'll see if I have it. If I didn't pay money for it, I won't make you pay for it, either, except for shipping.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Spitfire Body Removal Preparation #4

Not too much happening lately. With regards to free weekend time, this time of the year is not so good. Soccer, transitioning into basketball, practice and games, Halloween and other random events have limited my available time. And, of course, just when the hectic weekend schedules start to even out, the weather crashes and it's 22F in the garage. I vow to fight it this year, though, and will invest in a space heater to try and keep my garage, or at least the area that I am occupying, warmer.

I continued to strip the body of stuff that I don't want sitting in the weather. The master cylinders and pedals are out, as wells as the wiper arm boxes, washer jets, and the attachment hardware for random firewall items.

Master cylinders. You can easily see the reservoir size difference (brake on left, clutch on right). Also the defrost nozzles and hoses on the far right.

Much smarter this time with labeling and bagging everything.

Wiper wheelbox (passengers) and end where it connects to wiper motor.

Some random firewall item attachments, recorded for posterity (and future re-attachment).
I also got a closer look at the steering coupling after a while soaking in the Purple Power. Nothing too exciting, but it definitely needs software replacement.

Clean it up and she'll be good as new. Note the lockwire...when lockwashers just aren't good enough. Very popular in the nuclear power industry!
I started to play with the dashboard a bit. I had a misunderstanding that the dashpad was removable and that I could "easily" repair it outside of the car for future reinstallment. Doesn't look like this is the case. The foam is a stiff grey stuff (you can see it in the corner that I broke off in the picture below) and there is a metal backing that defines the edge of the dash that is bolted to the dash "nose". I think I'm just going to go for it and rip it off, using a heat gun to help with the adhesive and curse myself for doing it later. It has to get repaired and that's all there is to it.

Passenger's side dash pad. You can see the metal backing where I broke off the foam.
Another shot of the dash showing where the vinyl is breaking off. Very brittle after almost 50 years. The white primer was me.
Finally, I was going to remove the doors in an effort to make the body as light as possible and I forgot to look up the fact that the metal door straps need to get removed in some way. Turns out there is a rivet that needs to be ground down a bit so that it can fit back out through the hole. However, based on the time, I decided to wait on that until the next time.

Left is the body, right is the door. The pin on the door is what needs to be ground out.
That was it. Until next time...

Friday, October 23, 2015

Spitfire Body Removal Preparation #3

Not much further now. I got to those last two bolts that I had mentioned were through the rear seat pan. They were under some sound deadening material, which is why I missed them the first time. Turns out that stuff was factory, as answered by several folks on my favorite forum. Seems to me that it was a waste of time with so little, but it must have been worth it to Triumph to apply it. One response to my forum question was that it was "applied by the factory in a pathetic attempt to muffle the sound of a failing diff." It's a heavy tar-like stuff about 1/4" thick and I'm sure it's both an environmental hazard and carcinogenic. Yes, Mom, I'll be careful!

Pretty brittle stuff, so it came up easily. Hole is where the bolt goes down into the frame.
After a quick lift on the boot to make sure the body was truly liberated (body can't weigh more than 300 lbs), I continued on with stripping the body clean. Since I will have to store it in my backyard during the winter, I want to get as much stuff that will not suffer the weather well off as possible.

I pulled the window out of the hardtop (the rubber seal was dry rotted) and took that and the hard top up to the attic. Thing barely fit, but it's up there and out of the way (and the weather).

Hard top glass (foreground) and windscreen. Wrapped in mover's blankets in the attic.
 I also pulled the freshly installed instrument cluster back out (hey, it looked good while it was in there) and pulled the windscreen frame.

Instrument cluster back out.

Windscreen frame out. The car looks like a race car with nothing sticking up...all the more reason for that racing jack!
The steering column came out and up to the attic as well.

Steering column and instrument cluster ready to go to the attic. That's the original steering wheel (Herald-type).
The last thing I did was strip the wiring harness. It came out rather easily without damage except to stuff that needed repair anyway. The tail lights were a bit painful, but I eventually figured out the trick in loosening the clasp that held the bullet of the wire (sorry, no pics of that). One spot of trouble was fishing the harness through the driver's side floor crossmember. The PO had done a combination pop rivet sheet metal and fiberglass floor repair. Most of the hold in the crossmember that the wiring came through was caked with fiberglass so I had to chisel that stuff out.

Front of driver's floor crossmember where wiring comes through...pre-fiberglass destruction. Original snap is still there, though!

Looks like a bunch of spaghetti, but a very simple harness. Needs a hand-over-hand inspection/repair/re-wrap.
As with the black car, the rear license plate light housing was in bad shape and I couldn't get the bolts off. I didn't cut through it this time (not yet) but I destroyed it trying to get it off because of how much rust damage there was. Future me repair.

Finally, I pulled a lot of the miscellaneous electrical stuff (starter solenoid, control box) mounted to the engine compartment portion of the body.

The last several things to accomplish are to remove the master cylinders, get the throttle linkage, all of the rubber, put the gas tank in the attic and remove the doors. I intend to spot-weld in some square tube to support the body when the doors are removed and before I move the body to prevent any chance of the thing folding on me when it is moved (that would suck). I'm sure there are other odds and ends (like the seat rails you see in the above picture), but that should about do it. Some 2x4s to make some sawhorses and a lean-to for rudimentary weather protection and I'm all set!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spitfire Body Removal Preparation #2

Some more work today. Got a few hours before dinner and after a nice family outing for Halloween stuff and pumpkin picking.

As far as the checklist went from the last post, I got 10 of the 12 body bolts (I missed the two that are on the ledge behind the seats), the radius arms and the steering column. My youngest helped me with some of the bolts before his soccer practice.

I started with the radius arms since I figure they would be the worst. The passenger side was first and its nyloc nut came right off but, as expected, and the bolt would spin, but not pull out, even with some manual persuasion. Since there isn't a lot of room in there to swing my 3lb sledge, I had another one of those brief moments of genius and put my trusty Harbor Freight Ball Joint Separator to work and was able to push the bolt out. Once it became flush, I was able to use another short and smaller diameter bolt and have it then push the radius arm bolt out the whole way. Pretty proud of myself on that one, especially since it popped quite a few times on its way through as it broke the rust bonds. I'm sure I would have never gotten it out so easily otherwise. The driver's side, however, came right out. Something must be up and, sure enough, the bolt seemed to be zinc coated...or at least not original and I (or, should I say, my youngest) was able to spin it right out.

Tie rod separator set up before bearing down on it the first time.
Success! A no blood loss!
Something tells me this bolt is not original...and also not the focal point of this picture..sorry.
After the radius arm removal, it was on to the bolts under the gas tank and then I worked my way forward to the 6 bolts inside the passenger compartment and the two bolts in the engine bay. All of these came out without a problem, though the one in the driver's footwell came with a lot more metal than originally designed.

The youngest doing the bolts under the gas tank.

Here he is on the passenger's side floor cross-member. Small hands, big gloves.
In there somewhere is a 1/2" bolt head. Everything extra is floor pan...oh, boy.
I then moved on to the steering column. That was a bit of a pain, but I did get it separated. You have to remove two mounting brackets for the steering column inside the passenger compartment and this can be a bit painful since there is little room for your body and less for the wrench. After I got those out, I undid the bolt on the steering knuckle closest to the steering rack first. Note that, at least for me, I had to pull the bolt all the way out. Until I did that, I wouldn't budge. Of course, it may be all of the grime on it, but there you go. That out, I pulled on the steering column and in a few tugs it separated from the steering rack. I then removed the upper bolt on the knuckle and used a small hammer to knock it off the inner steering column. The knuckle went immediately into a small bucket of Purple Power and I left the steering column detached, but not totally removed.

The passenger steering column parts needing to be removed.


Hanging in the breeze.
That was about all that I got to. I still need to disconnect the accelerator linkage, but I don't foresee a problem with that. Oh, and I did end up missing two bolts that are on the ledge right behind the seats, but those should come right out, too. After that, the body will be liberated for, I suspect, the first time in almost 50 years. I do intend to pull the windshield frame, the instrument cluster (too much work already done to take the chance of it getting messed up) and both doors to make the body that much lighter. I also intend to put some square steel tubing in the door jams to provide some support since the sills are obviously lacking. Hate for the thing to fold in half on me!

I put the jack under the front corners of the body to do a check to see if I got everything and it came up fine. However, the passenger's side front sill is essentially gone and for every little bit I lifted the body, it crushed in just a bit less...nothing there but rust and future tears, I'm sure.

All in all, after a bit of a dry spell filled with thoughts of despair for the amount of work to do, this weekend was productive and motivational. There is a lot of work...I accept that. I also want to do it right, which will entail more work and more time. As much as I would like to put her on the road in 2016 in celebration of her golden anniversary, I doubt that she will be on the road until sometime in 2017. But, I'm okay with that because I hope she will be solidly on the road vice "just barely" and, after all, she probably deserves it!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Spitfire Body Removal Preparation #1

Started the preparation for body removal today. Some of the stuff was already done based on work in progress so now there are only a few things left prior to being ready to pull it. As the Workshop Manual lists it, on page 5-202:

  1. Disconnect the battery cables (Done), remove the battery (Done) and disconnect the following cables and controls:
    • Cable from oil pressure switch (Done)
    • Front end lighting cable at the snap connectors on top of the air duct (Done)
    • H.T. and L.T. cables from the coil (Done)
    • Both cables from the generator (Done)
    • Cables from the temperature transmitter (Done)
    • Earthing cable from the engine (Done)
    • Tachometer drive cable from the distributor (Done...found this broken, though it did work the last time I ran the engine. Hate to have to route that damn thing through the heater again...what a pain!)
    • Choke and accelerator controls at the carburettor (Done)
    • Hydraulic pipe at the connection between thc brake master cylinder and three-way connector adjacent to the front suspension on the left-hand side of the car (Done)
    • Handbrake cable (Previously done for repair)
    • Accelerator relay lever (1 mills pin and split pin with washers) (Not done)
  2. Remove:
    • Bonnet (four bolts) (Not done)
    • Both seats (One already done, pulled the passenger's, so done-done)
    • Four bolts securing the facia support bracket to the floor (Previously done for transmission pull)
    • Floor covering (Done, but never really there in the first place)
    • Spare wheel (Done)
    • Fuel tank (Done)
    • Release all clips securing the cable loom to the chassis. Pass the cable loom under the outer left-hand side tie rod and withdraw the loom clear of the engine (Done)
    • Release the clamp bolt from the lower steering coupling and push the inner column upwards, clear of front suspension (Not done)
  3. Disconnect the radius arms from the body (Not done...and not looking forward to it, either!)
  4. Remove 12 bolts securing the body to the floor (Not done)
  5. Attach lifting tackle and lift the body clear of the chassis (Definitely not done).
Unless I missed it, the manual does not mention removal of the hydraulic pipe between the clutch master cylinder and the slave cylinder, so I did do that as well.

Not too bad for about 2 hours of work. If figure if I can get some solid time tomorrow, I should be able to get everything else done with the exception of the bonnet removal (I don't plan on doing that until just before I pull the body). I should be able to get the accelerator relay lever and the steering column done without much issue. That shouldn't take long and I'll give it a shot at the radius arms and see how they go. Hopefully I'll get lucky there and they will unbolt easily. Otherwise, I'll soak them in some WD-40 for a day or so and revisit.

The "three-way connector adjacent to the front suspension on the left-hand side of the car"
Master cylinders drained. I put a paper towel in each reservoir and in the pipe holes.
The wiring harness in the engine compartment was in pretty sad shape. I think I may have mentioned that, with the exception that the dynamo is not charging the battery, I have not found any electrical faults in the car. However, the wires up there have insulation that is cracking and some have been repaired (poorly) with new connectors at least once. And years of oil leaks and general road grime has left several of them covered with that black gooey stuff common to LBCs. I figure a visit to British Wiring (or some other source that may be cheaper) will solve all of my problems. A full wiring harness refresh will be in order once I get the whole thing out of the car, especially since I have the black car's harness as well.
The hole through which the engine compartment portion of the wiring harness comes through. Need a new rubber grommet.
The harness. Hard to tell, but there's grease and grime all over it. Pretty sure they used all blue harness wrap, too. Nice.

Finally, my latest Harbor Freight purchase was their 1.5 Ton Compact Aluminum Racing Floor Jack with Rapid Pump <whew, that's a mouthful>. There was a coupon for about $70, so I picked on up. I have a big, heavy Craftsman 3 ton jack that I purchased over a decade ago. It's built like a beast and of good quality (think before Craftsman went more the way of Harbor Freight with some of their stuff) but it was too big for jacking several points on the car. I like to use a wood buffer between the jacking point and the jack itself. Unfortunately, since the Sears jack stood so tall, I either couldn't fit the wood in between the car and the jack or, if I could, I couldn't lift the handle enough to actually start the jack going up. Since the HF one is low profile (and racing, did I mention that...so I can pretend I'm doing pit stops on her, obviously), both of those problems are solved. Haven't used it too much yet, but it jacks the car up without any leakage, so it's go that going for it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

It's About to Get Real

After some soul searching and sage advice from a co-worker who has been down the road of VIN assignments and the Connecticut DMV, I've decided to take a bigger plunge and pull the tub on the car. As I mentioned in my last post, I found the spot of cancer in the frame and that outrigger is shot. My co-worker said that they wouldn't fly with the DMV and suggested that, along with the holes in the floor and front corners, I would be wise to do the repairs instead. This guy shares the same love for cars that I do, more probably, and has much more experience in them than I do. He also offered to help, so it was a no-brainer.

The plan is to pull the tub and put it on sawhorses in the backyard next to the black one while I clean up and repair the frame.  Of course, the tub is going back there at the start of cold weather and will endure the harshness of winter, so I intend to build a lean-to into the sawhorses to try and protect it as much as possible. Then, with a solid core, rebuilt suspension and other bits, I can swap the frame for the tub and work on that. Oh, and I'm sure along the way the engine will come off so I'll probably take care of that to, to some level, at least converting the head to run unleaded gas (valves, guides and seats).

In a way, it's a bit of a relief because at least now I know my way ahead a bit more and I've removed the anxiety of trying to get the thing to pass inspection "just barely". Since I really don't have any intention of selling the car and since it is just a hobby (though a passionate one), it can wait to be done correctly.

Today, towards that end, I did some more cleaning of the garage and moved a significant amount of parts to the attic. I pulled the gas tank that I had just put in (though had not piped or filled) and otherwise made small inroads into pulling the tub. Since this will be the second time for me, I hope it will go a bit smoother, though I will be taking much more time in labeling and documenting everything much better since I'll want this one to go back together someday. Unless some suspension mounting parts become painful (like the radius arm problems I had with the black one), I suspect I should be ready to pull the tub by the end of next week. Out of town next weekend, though, so hopefully the weekend after that it will be ready to pull. Then, the fun will begin.

As for actual work, I decided to tear apart the windshield washer motor and remove that 50-year old grease as well as clean it up and refurbish it a bit. The wire that runs from the internal brush to the windings was in bad shape so that will be replaced.

Mostly pulled apart. You can see the insulation cracked on that wire. It did work when I pulled it out.

The usual suspects.
That was about it, really, for the car today. This morning, however, I had the pleasure of taking the family to see the christening of the USS Illinois (SSN 786) at General Dynamics - Electric Boat here in Groton, CT. As a career Navy man myself, this was one of the only major Naval ceremonies that I had not witnessed. The Navy and the shipyard approved cameras, which was a surprise. I didn't think far enough ahead and failed to charge my point-and-shoot, so the pics were with my cell phone.

As a native of Chicago, Illinois, Michelle Obama was asked to be the ship's sponsor and she laid the keel about 16 months ago. The weather was beautiful, the speakers were actually pretty good (though I don't think my boys agreed) and it was another impressive show of our nation's military men and women. I had actually contributed a very small part to the ship's construction, testing some of the nuclear plant before I switched jobs, internally, to now teach nuclear theory, so it was nice to see it all come together. She has a few months before she is ready for sea trials.

Obviously we weren't that close, but the official party and crew are on the ship.
Michelle Obama, the ship's sponsor. Again, not a great picture.
This is the USS Colorado, under construction, looking aft. Inside that little tan building sits the reactor plant.
Since this was the USS Illinois, the theme was Chicago and there was a live Blues Brothers-style band (funny...the lead singer said they usually didn't start playing much before 10 PM let alone before 10 AM), Chicago-based food (loved me some Chicago hot dogs) and everyone got a pair of Blues Brothers sunglasses. Don't worry, those were not your tax dollars at work as the shipyard pays for all of that stuff. Of course, your tax dollars pay the shipyard, so...