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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...


  1. Great job and thanks for posting your work, your site has been very helpful to me. One question, how did you install the parking brake cable that runs between the rear wheels? I'm having trouble getting the threaded end around the guides. Any help would be appreciated.

  2. Hi, Terry. Thanks for visiting the site and I'm glad that it's been a help. As for the brake cable, please refer to this post (http://www.triumphexp.com/phorum/read.php?8,1469299,1469892#msg-1469892) as this is what I used to help me with mine. The post explains removal, if I remember right, but just reverse it. My cable install wasn't pretty still, but it worked. I'd recommend some lubricant just to help (the manual calls for it to be greased regularly anyway.
    That's one thing I regret not taking better pics of...I was just in the zone that day.
    Also, you can find more recent stuff on my website (I've moved) at http://www.roundtailrestoration.com.