Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Pre LCC check-up

Yesterday I went over 't Kreng in preparation for La Carrera Caledonia on the 2 and 3 of June. Was great to use Rob's workshop for this. Having the car on a lift makes life so much easier.

As for the car, no real surprises, the only thing that I'll have to keep an eye on is the water pump as this has developed a tiny leak over the last few days. After some 100 miles there was no visible drop in the coolant level in the header tank, so nothing to worry about to much. But I put a spare water pump and some extra coolant in the boot, just to be safe !?
For the rest all the usual checks, swapping wheels front <> rear etc. And as you can see oil and grease are perfect to keep the dreaded tin worm at bay!

After that I took the car to a tyre centre to have the front wheels re-balanced and the alignment checked. Due to the wheel swapping there was now a nasty vibration around 90 km/h. Also the inside off the front tyres showed a little more wear than the rest. But that is rectified now. It should be ready for La Carrera now (famous last words!)

DHC front suspension upgrade part 2

After 't Kreng was in working order again I could continue with the front suspension upgrade on the DHC. As the struts were already assembled it should have been just a matter off taking the old units off the car, clean everything and put it back under the car.

But than of course there are all those small jobs that need to be done such as getting rid of the surface rust on the sub frame, and the old and rather deteriorated rubber bushes.

These were replaced with new (poly) bushes. The surface rust was attacked with a wire brush and waxoyl. I know, not the most elegant solution but it will keep the dreaded tin worm at bay for the next few years.

After the sub-frame was done it was time to put the struts back on the car, together with the ARB. Putting the last one back under the car can be a real pain, especially when using (new) poly bushes for mounting the ARB to the TCA's. The trick is to use two trolley jacks (one under each strut) so the car's weight is supported completely on the struts, thus maximising the distance between the mounting holes for the ARB. This way it is quiet easy to get ends off the ARB through the holes in the TCA's. After that putting the bolts on the ends off the ARB is an easy but rather time consuming job. First put a flat washer and a bolt behind the bush on the ARB's threaded end and tighten it up. After this the ARB is fixated to the sub frame using ratchet straps. The flat washer can then be replaced by the original dished washer, and the ARB can be tightened down.
With the easy part from the ARB sorted, it was time to turn my attention to the mounting points on the sub frame plus the anti dive blocks. To make life easy I again used ratchet straps. From the outer end off the TCA (between ball joint and ARB) to the towing eye at the back of the car to be precise. Pulling the TCA's  backwards was necessary to align all the holes (sub frame, anti dive block bush plate and bracket) so the bolts can go in. Sounds rather straightforward which it is. Until I had to pull the last bolt out because one way or another it was too short. After that the bugger I replaced it with just refused to get in, but even that one went through in the end.

With the suspension parts all firmly in place it was time to put the brakes back on. As the original TR7 brakes are not quite up to the job off slowing the car down within a reasonable distance, it was logical to use the old brakes that came off 't Kreng.

As they had seen some rather hard action over the years I brought them to a local firm (C&C Parts) to be reconditioned. And they did a rather nice job on them. The calipers were cleaned, (industrial ) nickle plated, original chrome plated pistons replaced by stainless steel ones and of course new seals and dust covers.

After that it was just a matter of putting the hubs with the discs back on, followed by the calipers and some new stainless braided hoses. Last jobs were bleeding and putting some fancy alloys on. Can't wait to take the car out to see how she handles now, but that will have to wait till after I return from La Carrera Caledonia this weekend.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Top end problems with 't Kreng

As the engine in 't Kreng has by now covered almost 85.000 km since it's restoration it was time to check the valve clearances again. Last time I checked them was in the summer of 2005, before the 10CR. As some off the clearances were just within the limit than, it was a safe bet to presume that had to adjust the clearances this time. This was also prompted by the start off a slight top end rattle. Nothing really worrying yet but it was there!

Measuring the clearances showed that they were between   0.10 to + 0.05 mm out, so they needed to be re shimmed. On a Sprint engine this means you first drain the coolant from the engine. This to prevent coolant from entering places it shouldn't, because you have to undo half off the head studs to get the cam and rocker shaft out to access the shims.
And of course there is the ever present risk of the sprocket to cam shaft bolts falling into the engine. To prevent this I always use a strong magnet to catch the bolts, together with a thick cloth stashed in the opening in front of the cam sprocket as second defence line, just in case!

However after removing the camshaft and rocker gear I discovered some rather nasty damage on the number 3 cam lobe, tappet and rocker.

Some slight pitting on the left hand side off the cam lobe;

A tappet that is fit for the bin;

And some rather uneven wear on the rocker face;

As I want to use the car for La Carrera Caledonia next week, something had to be done. As I had a new spare camshaft lying in the attic, the only things I needed was another tappet and rocker.  So off to RenĂ© last Sunday afternoon to have a look at the internals off my spare Sprint engine. The tappets in this engine were all fine but some off the rockers also had uneven wear marks on them. Luckily there was one in the engine that was more than good enough to use in the car.

So last Monday I could start with rebuilding the head. But because I was putting a new camshaft in I first had to put it in together with the rockers to recheck the valve clearances. It turned out the there was a slight difference between the two. After calculating the required shim thickness it was only a matter of searching for the right shims and put everything back in ... But despite having the complete stock off an (ex) Leyland garage on loan, I missed 5 shims. A quick phone call to a local engine rebuilder told me they had the required shims in stock : ). They also thought it possible to regrind the faces off the rockers, so I'll bring some over to them within the next few weeks, to see what they can do.

From then on it was all rather straightforward, clean thoroughly, reassemble everything using lots off cam lube, re torque the head, let the sealant dry for 24 hours and put new coolant in. After that I let the engine run for some 20 minutes @ 2000 rpm to bed the camshaft in. At first it was a bit noisy but that quickly settled down to normal proportions. Also the temperature, after reaching its normal value, remained steady.

As the engine was nicely on temperature I thought it a good idea to wire up the strobe light to check the ignition timing. But while connecting the light up I heard a rather funny noise. When I looked in the direction were the noise was coming from (thermostat cover) I saw a nice little (± 1,00 meter high) coolant fountain coming from the top coolant hose;

As you can see the hose is ripped cleanly open along both sides off the hose clip. OK better now than during Le Carrera Caledonia next week, but at this rate I am going through my spare parts rather quickly!

Luckily I still have a few spare parts lying around but I think it's time I go looking for some fancy silicon hoses for on the cars.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

DHC Front suspension upgrade

Today I reassembled the front struts for the DHC. For this I mostly used parts I had lying around, such as the struts off course, springs, Koni dampers, and some new parts;

As the original top "bearing" is rather nonexistent and prone to excessive wear I opted for the Ford Sierra strut-top-bearing conversion (I could have opted for the same solution as used under 't Kreng but I just wanted to keep it simple for the DHC). To do this properly you have to machine a recess in the top cones so that the bearing sits inside rather then under the cone. Which looks like this on the drawing board;

And like this in real life;

After the machining was done it was time to reassemble the struts. It's important to put them securely in a vice, this makes it all so much easier. Off course spring compressors are a must as is a vice-grip to prevent the damper rod to (slowly) move down. Adjust the vice-grip so that it just doesn't touch the damper rod, put some cardboard around the rod and clamp it with a vice-grip;

The rest is fairly straightforward, although the gaiters did give a little bit off a struggle when I tried to get them over the strut tubes;

Next thing to do is put the (old and by now reconditioned) brake calipers on the struts and put everything under the car. But I'll first switch my attention to 't Kreng, as she has to be ready for La Carrera Caledonia in the first weekend off June.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

DHC valve clearance adjustment

I did check the DHC's valve clearances yesterday;

Measuring the clearances showed that valves number 2, 6 and 8 were between 0,05 to 0,10 mm to tight. The others were still well within their tolerance range! By the way a large 38 mm ring spanner is ideal to turn the engine over. Much better than putting a spanner on the hexagonal part at the back off the camshaft.

So the valves had to be adjusted, which means the camshaft has to be removed. As per the "book" fix the cam-sprocket to the bracket to prevent the chain tensioner from falling out. Oh and don't forget to take it off after you have finished!

As I had borrowed the complete stock of shims from a friend who runs a (by now ex-Leyland and ex-Rover dealership) that shouldn't be a problem. But alas, I forgot that I have a reground camshaft in this engine (Kent T14/TT10204) so I needed some rather thick shims. And of course they were not there! Well after an hour’s measuring them all, it turned out that there was one shim that I could use;

As a result I could reshuffle the others a bit, so in the end I only needed one 3.40 mm thick shim, which, of course, I hadn't. Only two that were rather thicker than that. A few phone calls to several firms in the region were not very hopeful, no one could supply one in that thickness. But one of them gave me the address off a firm in a village some 15 km to the north who could regrind one off the shims. So two hours later (thanks to rush hour traffic) I had my last shim to put back in. From there on it was quite straight forward again, putting everything together, torque down the camshaft and connecting everything up.

Then Rob come along to have a look at what I was doing in his workshop so there's even a picture off me at work!

And as he has a rather nice workshop;

Monday, 14 May 2007

DHC Suspension upgrades (part 2)

Started on the rear suspension upgrade today. Really rather straight forward. As the car has (by the looks off it) never seen some serious rain or dirt, all the bolts came out without a problem. The only parts that had really suffered were the bump-stops. On the left the remains of one of the original ones and on the right the new polybush one (Superpro);

While working on the rear suspension I always prefer the car to be on the ground. This way you can use a trolley jack under the axle to adjust and manoeuvre it, making it easier to put the bolts back in;

As you can see in the picture the car was fitted with Spax dampers, and they were indeed past their prime. If you pushed the rear off the car down it would take several seconds for the back to rise again despite it being almost on it's lowest setting and having rather strong rear springs. Luckily I had a set off brand new (very old stock) Koni's lying around (got them for free from the owner off an old Leyland garage);

They look like Koni Classic's but they are not. They are in fact "Special D" dampers, which means that both in and outgoing strokes are adjustable. As they are rather old I am curious how long they will last ... Also the springs were changed from something very firm for 200 lbs ones as supplied by Neil Revington;

Next job is to adjust the valve clearances, some machining on the top cones off the front suspension and replacing the front suspension.