Thursday, 26 March 2009

DHC report nr. 16; General progress

Car returned home today after the body repairs. As the weather was rather wet I just shoved it into the shed complete with trailer. Will start this weekend with the preparations for the next stage, shot blasting and coating with an epoxy primer. Need to remove the suspension and then remove as much of the remaining kit and under body protection. Hopefully will get some good pictures of the repairs then.

Also brought the interior trim panels to a local car upholsterer. The panels will be re-trimmed to match the seats that have been standing in the attic for over 10 years. Here I encountered the first real set back so far. As he is rather busy, the panels won’t be ready before June. Good craftsman are scarce and sought after indeed.

And still found no one to prepare the body for painting, although a friend in that business has found someone who he thinks is good enough and might be willing to take the job. He does need a bit of talking over ...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

DHC report nr. 15; Last of the bodywork

Last week I mentioned that we left the biggest challenge till last. Well here it is:

Right from the start it was obvious there was some rust around the fuel filler neck, but there was no reason to believe that it was as extensive as it turned out to be. But the biggest problem wasn’t the rot itself or even the extent of it. It was the fact that the rusty areas were rather inaccessible. So only one way to tackle this was to remove the bad bits together with some of the better bits, just to create some working space;

And replace them. As most of these panels are not in sight they will be replaced with homemade repair sections.

Friday, 20 March 2009

DHC report nr. 14; First parts order arrived

No physical progress this time, but an essential one nevertheless;

The first parts order arrived yesterday, containing carpets, door seals and all the little trim bits that tend to break on these cars …

Also been sorting through the trim panels that came of the car yesterday evening. Hopefully I find a bit of spare time next week to go over to a local interior trimmer to get a quotation. Plan is to refurbish most of the trim in the same style as the seats.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

DHC report nr. 13; More bodywork

Some more progress on the bodywork. If everything goes to plan all the welding should be ready somewhere next week.

The right hand front wing was in a really bad state. The filler that was left after stripping the paint was actually almost an inch thick and the sheet metal around the “pull” holes was very thin indeed. So some new metal was welded in combined with pulling out the dent as much as possible.

The right hand rear wing was slightly better;

Also found a very shallow dent on the front, probably caused by the headlamp pod hitting the sheet metal in one of the many accidents in which this cars has been, in its former life;

Alignment of the doors is pretty good on both sides.
The right hand side with the original door;

And the left hand side with a new door skin, which actually fitted very good;

For good measure a boot-stay-bracket  nicked from an early FHC body shell lying around was welded in. So no future problems with inadequate gas dampers!

Monday, 16 March 2009

6th Nacht van het Oosten

Club Triumph on tour!

Last Saturday saw the by now traditional start of the driving season, the Nacht van het Oosten. After several failed attempts to do this event with René as my navigator, this time he succeeded ... just, being released from hospital for a pneumonia treatment only last week.
This time Rutger had built in some tricky bits in the road-book, in the shape of some map reading to start with and a herring-bone-diagram to finish the first stage. As we had start number 33 we decided not to hang around too much and find ourselves a nice quick driving route to the start of the (tulip diagram) road-book. So we ignored the provided line-on-the-map and choose a very nice road along one of the many dikes in the area instead. Big advantage of doing this was that we managed to “overtake” all the cars that started in front of us without any problems. OK save one that is, but that one was dealt with without problems. But it did automatically rule us out for any prices though, as we off course missed all the way points. But we didn’t care to much about that ...

The first stage went very well indeed, despite the roads being rather slippery so now and then, caused by a little rain in combination with clay on the roads. Luckily RenĂ© was reading the road-book faultlessly, so I could concentrate on the driving. Which was a good thing as it was rather busy on the road. In the first stage we encountered quite a lot of Land Rovers who also had a Night rally in the area. But that didn’t give many problems as they were all decent chaps who moved over to their side of the road. Near the end of the first stage we encountered a group of a rather different calibre. These guys were in all sorts of hot motors and by the looks of it rather annoyed that they had to move over for oncoming traffic ...
But in between these two groups I had more than enough time to concentrate on the behaviour of the cars suspension. Can only conclude that the front is very good indeed. Despite the spring rate being much stiffer the car isn’t harsh. Contrary, the front is much more stable and quieter. Especially on bad roads the stability and the ability to absorb potholes and bumps at speed was a revelation. The dampers, despite being at their softest setting, worked pretty well too. Compared to that the rear with “uprated” 200lb/in springs and AVO dampers can’t keep up with the action!

It was no surprise that we did reach the halfway stop first. And after a few well deserved cups of coffee, and a little chat with the other faster teams we started on the second stage. We did make a few mistakes on this one, mainly caused by my eagerness to try out the new front suspension of my car. First I nearly managed to drive of one of the dikes and into a river, due to me being slightly annoyed by the lights of the car behind me. As a result of which I interpreted Rene’s instructions wrongly and missing the road going down to the left. I managed to stop the car just before we would have slid of the embankment and into the water. Lost us a minute ...
Shortly afterwards we made another mistake, but we immediately realised we had turned left 10m¹ too early instead of onto the parallel road on the other side. Sadly we had to carry on for a while as we were on a busy through road with no possibilities to turn on to the parallel road or make a U-turn. Lost us another three minutes ...
As a result Robbie in his Mk1 Escort RS2000 caught up with us halfway the second stage. As I didn’t want to hinder him I let him pass. Shortly after that we entered the village of Dalfsen, were we got completely lost. As we lost 15 minutes here I couldn’t pick up the route outside the village we could only retire out of the event . So I programmed the sat-nav and returned to the start/finish location. When I checked the road-book at home against the maps it turned out we actually left the village as per the road-book!

Wasn’t the best end to a great evening, but the most important thing for me was that I got Rene back in action. It also gave me a very good impression how the new front suspension behaves under different conditions. As mentioned earlier the rear is lagging behind now, so putting the rear coil-overs under the car is high on the to-do-list!
Oh and I definitely need a revy engine with more low down torque ...

After the rally we returned to the hotel to find they had closed the bar already. So we were forced to find ourselves a pub in the village...

Saturday, 7 March 2009

DHC report nr. 12; Bodywork

A few pictures of the progress on the body work so far. To start with the result of an evening’s panel beating on the RH front wing. Looking pretty decent already;

Slightly less time was needed to get the rear back in shape, although on closer inspection the dent was a bit more extensive;

Repair panel welded into the right hand front bulkhead. It clearly needs some finishing touches with the angle grinder;

We also welded up the large holes in the rear floor section. We did this to strengthen up the floor a bit around the suspension pick up point;

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Suspension upgrade part 4 - Test drive

As the work on the DHC has taken up most of my spare time it took me slightly longer to fit the new (front) suspension. But after bleeding the brakes Wednesday evening, I found a free hour Thursday afternoon to take ‘t Kreng out for a short spin. As she had been standing dormant since November last year, she was rather reluctant to fire up, but she did splutter to life at the fifth attempt. This first trip was mainly used to blow the engines cobwebs away and to settle everything gently and get an overall feel of the new setup. First impression was rather positive though.

Today I took the car for a longer spin over some of the more demanding roads around here. Due to the fact that the front springs are quite a bit stiffer now (remember I went from 225 to 336 lbs/inch) the car feels slightly bumpy on uneven surfaces, but without being harsh and only when the speed is slow. As stated earlier the dampers are at their softest setting, which probably helps here. This all changes significantly once the loud pedal goes down a bit more. The front is much firmer, more precise then my last setup and overall grip at the front is much improved. So much that I managed to get the coolant light on in a long and fairly fast right hand corner ...
But where it really excels is in its ability to absorb bumps and ruts at speed. Even on two really vicious bumps here in my neighbourhood the new front doesn’t lose its poise. Even at well over 70 mph it doesn’t bottom out or crashes, but feels completely in control.
First impression with the current damper settings is that it needs to be stiffened up slightly, but as the weather was rather nice today there were loads of walkers, cyclists and cars on the road making it impossible to do some decent comparison tests. So tweaking the dampers will have to wait a bit.

Every pro off course has it’s con, most notable being the difference between front and rear now. With the old (front) setup the rear felt pretty good, but not anymore. Although far from being sloppy it really isn’t good enough. With the current rear springs it needs pretty firm damper settings to keep it more or less in control, but compared to the front that is not good enough. So next stage will be fitting the rear coil-overs, but to fit them I need to adapt the rear suspension turrets slightly. So that will have to wait till after the ”Nacht van het Oosten” the first rally of the year in two weeks time.

Remains the front ride height, which has gone up a bit. It is now 630/635 mm (L/R) with the lower spring seats at their lowest possible setting with the current springs (they were 610/625 mm respectively). So not yet sure what I’ll do here, if room allows I will probably add helper springs to give me more freedom with the adjustment. But for now the cars stands pretty good, so I’ll leave it for a while;

As you can see the car stands nice and level with the lower rear links nicely horizontal. Will need to get front alignment checked/adjusted in the next few weeks.