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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Triumph Spitfire Chassis Restoration #4

I'm sitting at my desk Saturday, enjoying a cup of early morning coffee. In about 20 minutes, I'm leaving to run in the 54th Annual John and Jessie Kelley Road Race. Then the phone rings. I recognize the first three numbers as the "work extension". Since I'm filling in for my vacationing boss, my Navy training kicks in and I answer it. Needless to say, an hour later I'm at work taking care of a problem, absolutely NOT running in any road race. Not happy.

But, if there's a silver lining in every story, this one was that I got to the garage earlier than I would have otherwise. There, I continued the monotony of blasting, cleaning, priming and painting of the suspension parts. I'm "gettin' 'er done" as the saying goes, but I burned myself out a bit on Saturday. That, coupled with still being bummed about missing the race, resulted in being at the garage for just a few hours on Sunday.

First, I had mentioned an elongated bolt hole in one of the lower wishbones. I took some close-ups of it and discarded that one in favor of one from the black car.

The hole (on the right). This is where the lower trunnion bolts in.

I also broke out the pressure washer to take care of some of the last most stubborn greasy stuff.

Rear axles, some leaf spring leaves, the "new" wishbone, and the differential front mounting bracket.

Some of the parts to refurbish were the front hubs. I taped over the interiors to prevent marring the races.

Front hubs prior to blasting and paint. These are from the '64, by the way...the wheel studs were in better shape.

Hubs after the final coat of gloss black.

I also added my first splash of color. It was surprising how much this motivated me, but there you go. I blasted, primed and painted one front suspension tower (the other is in the blast cabinet, but not done yet).

After a coat of primer.

Now that, is red! I think it's going to be "brighter" than the Signal red, but we'll see. Close enough, hopefully.

That was it for the painting, but I did want to get some assembly progress done, so I decided to put in the bushing for the rear lower radial arms. Quite some time ago, I ordered a rebuild kit for both the front and rear suspension from The Roadster Factory (TRF). I bought the urethane bushing kits which cost a bit more. The ride is supposed to be stiffer, but the quality better. We'll see, I suppose. These kits are convenient because they come with all of the nuts, bolts, bushings, etc. that you will need. Some of the stuff isn't OEM (like the front trunnions), but overall I'm happy with the quality.

Urethane bushing installed. I didn't use any lubrication as, unlike the rubber, this things are naturally slippery.

Bushing sleeve installed. I will be using anti-seize compound (the grey bottle out of focus on the right) to prevent bolts rusting to this.

The sleeves could be tough to push in, so I used the vice to provide a little assistance, protection the bushing face, of course.

All of the hardware is mixed up in one big bag so individual bolts are not identified. Since I wasn't sure of all of the exact bolt sizes, while also wanting to double-check, I needed to educate myself on how to determine and size hardware correctly. Coincidentally, Moss Motors recently put out a video on how to do this. All of their videos are very good and I highly recommend them especially for some of the more mundane stuff that you may need to learn or a refresher on.

Getting on with it, the first thing I had to do was determine which bolt went where. I got this information from the Triumph Spitfire Parts Manual (you can find this online). For example, looking at the parts manual for the rear suspension, the radius arm bolts are identified as part #14, while its flat washer and nyloc nut are part #15 and #16, respectively.

Part 14, identified in red, is the bolt in question that I needed to figure out the specifications of.

That number is then cross-referenced, still in the Parts Manual to the parts listings for that particular drawing, which yielded specific Triumph part numbers.

For the bolt, S14 provides a Triumph part number of HB0918.

Now that I had the Triumph part number of HB0918, the next manual to go to is the Standard Triumph Hardware Catalog (again, available online). There's all sorts of nuts, bolts, washers, cotter pins, etc. in this manual. Each type of hardware (e.g., bolt, lock washer, nut) has it's own section.

For the bolt in question, finding part number HB0918 provided the information of:

Bolt sizes from the hardware manual

Some of the print in this manual is hard to read. However, for the bolts at least, the lengths seem to run consecutively in 1/8" increments, so it was just a matter of figuring that out. Ultimately, the book says that this bolt is a 3/8" diameter, 2 1/4" in length.

The trick is measuring the bolt properly and the Hardware Manual provides a convenient picture on how the measurements are performed:

Note the length does NOT include the bolt head itself.

Armed with what the bolt dimensions needed to be, I dug through the bag and found the correct match. For the measurements, I used my Harbor Freight 6 in. Digital Caliper that I picked up, with a coupon, for about $10. Not incredibly accurate, I'm sure, but definitely worth the $10.

Measuring the length. 2.25" is what I'm looking for, so a difference of 0.009" is good enough.

And 3/8" diameter. Right on for this. Nice that the caliper has the ability to read in fractions.

Now I know I have the correct bolts for the correct application. But, since I don't have the rear axle assemblies ready to go, I couldn't bolt the radius arms to the rear vertical link because, if you'll notice on the drawing plate, bolt 20 sits on the inside of the radius mounting bolt and has to go in first. Bolt 20 is what secures the rear vertical link to the rear hub via the rear inner hub.

That was about it for Sunday. There were things I wanted to do around the house and frankly, by this time, I was rather burned out again even though it was only about 1pm having got over to the garage around 8am.

I went back at in on Monday though and, speaking of the rear axle assemblies, I finally got them both blasted. I ended up with one assembly primed and painted and the other just primed since I didn't stay long enough to wait out the required curing times between coats on the second one.

Freshly blasted on left, not so much on right. The one of the right is post-pressure washer.

The hub that's fully painted. I put a foam ear plug in the grease fitting hole to prevent paint getting in there.

I also got the rear drums blasted and painted. Out of the four that I had (two on Dot and two on the black car, I chose the best two and blasted and painted those.

The right one has more pronounced rust pitting on the outside, but it clean on the inside.

Also some time ago I purchased new front rotors, also from TRF. The originals were not in good shape at all with heavy pitting on the rotor faces. Since I couldn't find anyone to turn them, new ones it was.

Pretty obvious which is which, I think.

That was about it for Monday. Like I mentioned, the blasting and painting process is tedious and time consuming. Though I got into a rhythm, waiting between coats for the paint to dry takes between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on primer or top coat.

I did have time to do one bit of assembly, though. I cleaned up the bolts that attach the brake disc to the hub with a wire brush.

Mostly like new!

I looked up the torque spec for these bolts in the workshop manual...

...and applied the proper 32-35 ft-lbs of torque. I tightened them in a star pattern, much like putting on a tire. I also went back over them at least twice to make sure I didn't get any movement as they were tightened down.

Always feels good when stuff starts going back together!

That concludes the 2+ weeks of time without the family. They got back today so I will be back to one day a week and one day on the weekend. However, I think I made up so much time over the last two weeks that I can now start putting stuff back together. Major chassis items awaiting refurbishment are four leaf spring leaves and the other front suspension tower. I also need to rebuild the differential. I'm going to put a drain plug in the case, I think, so there will be some time making sure I'm going to get that right but, otherwise, the hill is starting to level off a bit for the chassis.


  1. I dunno, you're really making me think about getting a blasting cabinet someday. Those parts come out looking so nice!

    1. Can't recommend it enough, David. It is really worth the cost. I've got about 1/4 of the 50lb bag left, to give you an idea of consumables rate.

  2. It doesn't hurt that your compressor setup is taken care of. Mine, if I ever do it, would take a significant chunk out of my garage area.

    1. Yes, a big help, there. No way it would have worked, or at least as well, without the larger compressor that I'm using.