Sunday, 23 March 2008

Blasphemy or ...?

I was at Rob’s workshop yesterday to do some measurements in the engine bay of one of my TR7 body shells standing there. The fact is, he has a rather interesting modern engine lying around, a 2.3 litre Ford Duratec.

Even better, this type of engine seems to be rather good, can be tuned easily, parts availability is good, and it’s easy to put some rather decent (rear wheel drive) gearboxes behind it. And last but certainly not least, they seem to be rather bomb proof on their standard internals (250 BHP easily available and a safe rev range to 7500 rpm). Also being all alloy it’s much lighter than the original Triumph “slant four”. So more than enough reasons to try and fit it in a TR7. Especially as parts supplies for the Sprint engine have been rather difficult so now and then.

First measurements showed that this engine was quite a bit higher than the Triumph “slant four” so I was a bit sceptical of it fitting under the bonnet. But it turned out to be no problem as it can be placed further back. This, combined with its lower weight, should be rather good for weight distribution. But probably the biggest problem is that there is so much room around the engine that making some decent front engine supports will be quite a challenge.

On the other hand, last week during the midway halt from the Nacht van het Oosten at the premises of BCCP I found out that all of the difficult Sprint parts could be delivered or re-manufactured for reasonable prices .... dilemma !!!

But I won’t bother with the engine choice to much for the moment, as I 'm not going to start on ‘t Kreng ... yet. Maybe a nice DHC with a tuned Sprint engine under the bonnet ...
So after some coffee with the traditional vlaai;

It was time to turn the attention to Rob’s Mk2 Escort;

Sunday, 16 March 2008

A blast through the country

Being the middle of march it was time again for the (by now 5th edition of) the Nacht van het Oosten yesterday. This night time touring rally was again organised by Rutger and Gea Kwant (from Club Triumph Holland). As last year we would take part with four cars from "down south Limburg"; Rob V's mk1 Escort, Rob's TR7V8 and 't Kreng. It was also the first public appearance of Roger’s newly acquired 2500 mk1 saloon. And a rather nice saloon it is;

Contrary to last year we got to the start in Holten without any problems, giving us more than enough time to check in at the hotel, a few miles down the road. Here we met up with the first of the 10 English teams who also had entered the event.
With the luggage out of the way we returned to the start to sign in and get some Chinese food inside, after which it was slowly getting time to get started.
As usually the road book used tulip diagrams to define the route. This system makes navigating rather easy, as long as you have a half decent trip/odometer. Some of the crews looked like the road book was rather difficult to read though 😜

Contrary to the 4 earlier editions this one was promoted as an official CTH “bokaalrit”. The downside of this was that they needed a few tests to make up a ranking, and speed trials are not allowed on public roads. But as I’m not a CTH member anymore I could ignore these tests without a problem. And as usual with this event there was a large variety of cars participating, like a 2CV, a NSU 1000C or a Porsche 911. Of course there were some Triumphs;

With start number 33 at 18.33 we set of on the first leg. After a few small navigational mistakes on the first few diagrams we should start on a regularity section, but the road was just too good to stick to the set average speed.
Having start position 33 meant there were 32 cars in front of us. Luckily it turned out that most of the drivers did look in their mirrors so now and then, or they just took a wrong turn. So we managed to get to the midway halt with only 3 cars left in front of us, progress indeed. So far the car had behaved rather well indeed.

The midway halt was rather interesting, as it was at the premises of BCCP Fuelsystems in Gramsbergen. They are actually the firm that set up the engine in my car. We should have done some more tests here but we kindly refrained from that. After a cup of coffee and a short chat with Hans and Winneke about their racing Dolly Sprints, it was time to set off on the final leg.

This turned out to be very good fun indeed. As my navigator again had some starting problems, Rob (in his mk1 RS2000 Escort) caught up with us rather quickly. From there on it was one long chase to the finish back in Holten, where we arrived rather early indeed. Definitively one of the better drives I’ve had with ‘t Kreng.
After phoning Rutger that we had arrived safely at the finish we went back to the hotel where we had a few beers in the hotel lounge;

All in all it was again a very good Nacht van het Oosten. Compliments to Rutger and Gea for organizing this great event.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Final preparations NvhO

Just finished the last preparations on the car for this evening’s night rally, De Nacht van het Oosten. Checked and adjusted the front bearings slightly and installed a satnav on the dashboard.

Also did a quick check of the tyres, looks like I’ll need some new rubber in the near feature. I even found some time to wash the car. It still got the dirt from last November’s night rally on  it!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Changing heater (day 3) and preparations for the NvhO

With the majority of the work done the only things that remained for the Sunday morning where rather straight forward. Before I put the dashboard back in I had removed the gearlever, just to be sure it didn’t damage the dash. The other reason to remove it was to enable me to put the gearlever surround back without damaging it. Good plan, but not good enough. The surround wouldn’t go in place without putting a lot of strain on it. As I didn’t fancy damaging it in the process, I removed the bolts from the handbrake lever. This gave me just enough clearance to manoeuvre the trim back in place.

After that it was time to put the steering column cowling back in place. While cleaning it I discovered quite a lot of dark grey dust on the inside. Closer inspection revealed some wear on the top of the cowl where the steering wheel boss had rubbed along it;

To prevent this happening again I loosened all the bolts on the steering column and made it as long as possible before retightening them. At least there is some clearance again. With that sorted the only things left were the seats and the steering wheel. They went in without a problem. I even found time to polish the steering wheel’s spokes;

Yesterday afternoon I took half a day off from work for the finishing touches. Filled up and checked all the fluid levels and took ‘t Kreng for a short test drive. I think she should be OK for the Nacht van het Oosten on Saturday. Despite the rather bad weather she behaved rather well. She even managed to kick her back end out quite viciously on a slippery bit of road. Luckily the tree was standing far enough from the road side ... just!
On returning home and after the engine had cooled a bit, it was time for a check of all the coolant connections and the heater. I didn't find any leaks, knock on wood ...

Monday, 10 March 2008

Changing heater - day 2

As progress on Friday had been pretty good I started work a bit later on Saturday. This decision was prompted by the fact that the night before had been a bit late and there was some beer involved!

I started with the engine bay as I thought that would be a lot of trouble but I didn't encounter any problems there. So I could quickly switch to the car's interior. Whilst progressing steadily there I noticed that some of the connectors had become slightly corroded over the years, so a bit of contact cleaning spray was needed. Which isn't a problem as I usually carry it in the boot of the car. Only I always use the boot to store parts while working on the car. This made the spray can rather inaccessible, unless I fancied scattering all the parts, screws, bolts etc. on the drive, which I didn't. A quick phone call to a friend learned that he had some lying around, but he wasn't home till after noon. As these connectors were not accessible with the dashboard in place it was time to divert my attention to other jobs like cleaning the heater air ducts and shedding a little a bit of weight from the car. This was achieved by removing the superfluous speakers and connecting cables from the car. Only left the grills to cover up the holes.
After that I even had some time left to inspect the wiring. Found nothing wrong with it, only an interesting text on the sound insulation pad on the bulkhead;

Especially if you bear in mind that the official parts manual does only state two different versions: LH and RH. The strange ways of Leyland indeed.

By now it was time to pick up the contact spray, after which I cleaned the connectors and started on refitting the dashboard itself. Of course something had to put on a fight, in this case the master switch.

Removing it had been easy, but putting it back in place and fastening it with a bolt proved to be nigh on impossible. Some explanation might be in order here, I fitted the switch when I restored the car. I actually fitted it to the dash when it was outside the car. I connected the leads through the windscreen which wasn't in place than, but it was now. After a frustrating half an hour of fiddling I got fed up with it and took the drill out. 5 Minutes later the switch was in place!

From there on it was all rather straightforward except for the fact that the daylight ran out before I could finish everything. The gearlever, arm rest, seats and steering wheel had to wait another day.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Changing heater - day 1

Almost 4 weeks ago I discovered that my heater had developed a bad leak. After getting all the parts together to do the repairs, I took a day off from work Friday to start the on the job. I prepared myself mentally for this one, as the dashboard and most of the interior has to come out of the car to get at the heater. To make work a bit easier I started with removing the seats. They are rather high sided and bulky so would only be in the way with the work.

After taking the seats and steering wheel out (only a 15 min. job) it was time to start in earnest with the removal of the dashboard. I had some worries here because when I built it up some 12 years ago I thought it a good idea to put the master switch in a rather inaccessible place. Luckily it turned out to be no problem to dismount the switch from the dashboard. So after only a few hours of spannering the dashboard was out of the car, enabling me to have a better look at the heater. It was leaking indeed!

It was now time to switch my attention to the engine bay to drain the coolant and disconnect the coolant hoses. Actually only a few jubilee clips to undo, but they are awkward to reach, sitting in a rather tight space between cylinder head and bulkhead. After half an hour’s fiddling, swearing and bruising my knuckles they were undone, soon after which the heater was out of the car;

As mentioned earlier I thought that the heater matrix was leaking but it wasn’t. A closer inspection revealed that it was the connection between coolant pipes and matrix after all. Actually a rather usual place for TR7 heaters to leak. Only in my case the leak was on the bottom of the lower connection and between matrix and seal. As a result the coolant leaking out, dripped into the heater itself, as a result of which there were no traces visible from the outside;

Because I already had another matrix with new seals ready I used this one for the rebuilt of the heater;

Rebuilding a TR7 heater is a fairly straight forward job as long as you remember the correct place for the various flaps and order to put the linkages back together. Also a small stock of pop rivets is essential. Luckily they could be purchased locally. So at the end of the first day the heater could be mounted back in the car;

Only thing that remains to be done is to put the dashboard back in, which shouldn't be to difficult!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Slow progress on heater rebuild

A bit of news on the TR7 front at last. After having found out that the heater radiator itself was leaking, first thought was to go for an AC heater unit as they are more effective in demisting the front screen. I picked one from my stock of heaters with the idea of cleaning and checking it before putting it in the car. But as this one also had some leak traces I thought better of it. The fact that they are rather heavy did help in the decision to use the original one. So another browse through my parts stock left me with what looked like a good radiator;

Cleaning it out revealed no visible leaks and also the flow seemed to be OK. But as I don’t fancy pulling the heater out of the car every few months, I thought it a good idea to have it professionally tested. Both pressure and flow tests gave a 100% score.

Next job was to get some new seals for the inlet and outlet pipes. At first I thought the old seals could be reused as they were still very flexible, but I decided to order some new ones. Just to be safe! As you can see in picture below that was a good decision;

On the left is the old one, the new one’s on the right. The difference in inside diameter, and with that it’s sealing abilities, is quite clear.
Next job, scheduled for this weekend, will be removing the dashboard and heater out of the car. I hate that job, but it's less than two weeks before the Nacht van het Oosten. Hopefully I’ll get her ready in time, as I like to use ‘t Kreng for this event!