Sunday, 27 June 2010

DHC report nr. 103; Finishing touches part 4

List of things to do or get sorted is getting shorter by the day. Although a few new items have been added. Most important for its topless use is that the hood cover was fitted last Monday. Turned out it also needed some slight adjustments to the front to get a proper fit without fouling the side windows. And with the cover fitted it was time to enjoy the car a bit. As I didn’t have to keep an eye on the hood (it would raise at speeds of 90 kmh and over) I could concentrate on the driving. Was very good fun indeed. First impression is that the handling is much more precise than expected, but combined with a very comfortable ride. Was an enjoyable afternoon indeed.

Over the week I busied myself with some of the simple things on the to do list, like sorting the dashboard lights for the heater switches. Turned out that one bulb was burned out, one fitting was molten on the inside and one of the wires turned out to be broken, probably during fitting. So what should have been a 10 minute job took me well over an hour and a half to get sorted properly.

Next I fitted a protective sleeve over part of the wire running to the starter motor, to prevent damage by chafing on the heat shield. When I installed the wires they had enough clearance but after a few kilometres they were already chafing against the heat shield ...

Replaced the temporary tape over the hole in the bulkhead (near the battery tray) with the correct grommet I found in my spares stock at last ...

Adapted the inlet tube on the oil catch tank to get more clearance between the breather hose and the exhaust manifold, to prevent the hose from getting burned away...

And while at a petrol station, I found out that the fuel filler cap wouldn’t go of easily. Turned out it wasn’t vented. Luckily I had the necessary part, to make it vented, lying around. And fitting this to the filler cap was only a few minutes job.

Spot the difference ...

In the pictures the plate on the left is vented, and the one on the right is of the non vented variety.

Also sorted a broken interior door lock surround, fitted some new and heavier cable ties in order to take some strain from the carburettor’s rubber mounts and washed away a fair bit of excessive wax oil where visible.

And due to the rather fine weather over the past week the car has clocked up some 700 kilometres since she came back on the road. Still nothing really wrong so far. Water pump is still weeping very lightly, but no visible coolant loss in the header tank. The rest of the mechanics still work as they did before the restoration. Only the clutch doesn’t stick anymore.

Now waiting for the front badge to arrive, so I can officially finish the restoration, and go for a little photo shoot.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

DHC report nr. 102; Finishing touches part 3

Haven’t spend much time on the DHC over the past week. After having spent so much time on her over the past year and a half, I have enjoyed a few free evenings. But as the weather forecast for yesterday wasn’t great I asked Robbie if I could use his workshop to sort a few of the remaining jobs on the car.

First thing to get sorted was the permanent burning low-coolant-light. Knowing that you can’t trust the coolant light on these cars even gets me slightly nervous. As mentioned a few days ago I suspected my own work on the main wiring loom to be the cause of this problem. So after raising the RH headlamp, disconnecting the connectors I could pull the loom clear for inspection. Sounds easy but wasn’t as I did a pretty thorough job of wrapping up the loom. Took me well over half an hour to remove enough of the wrapping tape to find the two suspect wires. I indeed had just cut of the (unused) connector, isolated the wires and wrapped them inside the loom. Luckily sorting the problem was easy with a spade connector and a crimping tool ...

Before re-wrapping the loom I applied some heat-shrink tubing over the connector to isolate it. After which it was fiddling the connectors back through the front panel’s hole (not easy with the headlamp motor in position) and reconnecting everything. A quick check revealed that the lights still worked but also that the coolant level light now switches of as it should.

As the car was on the lift in Robbie’s workshop I used the opportunity to check underneath the car. This actually was the first time the car was on the lift so a good opportunity for some pictures ...

First I went over all the suspension nuts and bolts. Most needed a little bit of tightening but nothing worrying. Only the nuts for the front struts lower ball joints needed more tightening. This is probably caused by the fact the struts themselves have been powder coated. And as this coating is wearing of through use, this gives some play between the ball joint’s stud and the mounting point on the front strut. Something to keep an eye on for the next few miles.
Last thing I checked was for leaks, there were none ... yet. Only the water pump is weeping very lightly. Hopefully that will go away after a few more miles.
And, clearly visible in one of the pictures, the fact that the centre exhaust box (still) has a tendency to slowly rotate under engine load.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

DHC report nr. 101; Finishing touches part 2

After having covered some 200 kilometres so far, I went over the car this evening to make a list of things that still have to be done or which need sorting. Didn’t find anything really worrying, the list so far;
  • Fit the stud sockets to the custom made hood stowage cover and apply the badges. Ordered these parts from S&S and they should be with me for this weekend;
  • Coolant warning light remains on all the time. As I can’t find anything wrong I think I made a slight mistake when refurbishing the main wiring loom, removing the connector from the spare (TR8) coolant wires on the right hand side of the engine bay and taping the wires away inside the loom, thus separating the wires;
  • Under (hard) braking there’s still a slight knocking sound, also felt in the steering wheel. So another check of all the front suspension nuts and bolts (including the front shock absorber closure nut) is prominent on the to do list;
  • One way or another only one of the four lights above the heater controls is working, new bulbs ordered;
  • Fixate the speedo cable and the header tank’s overflow hose with some cable ties;
  • See if I have a spare LH finisher for the top of the door seal/header rail. The one fitted at the moment has developed a nasty crack;
  • Fit some protective covering to the RH engine mount, to prevent damage to the lower radiator hose;
  • Fit a protective cable sleeve to the wires going to the starter motor. Also to prevent future damage, as their clearance is to minimal for my liking;
  • Re-align the bonnet slightly together with the lock and striker pin;
  • Find a grommet to fill the (temporarily taped over) hole in the bulkhead near the battery tray;
  • Make a banjo connector for the oil catch tank, to prevent the engines breather hose from getting burned by the exhaust manifold.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

DHC report 100; Finishing touches part 1

First of all over the past week I have been keeping an eye on the pressure in the right hand front tyre. When fitting the steel wheels this one had lost nearly all of its pressure, with only 0,5 Bar remaining. As sticky valves are not uncommon I decided to pump it up to 3,0 Bar and see what would happen. But after half an hour the pressure had already dropped by almost 0,1 Bar, at which pressure it seemed to settle, remaining steady for nearly an hour and a half. So I put the wheel on the car, dropped the pressure to 2,0 Bar and drove home. After that I have been keeping a close watch on the tyre’s pressure, but it has remained steady since. Looks indeed like a sticky valve.

On Wednesday really was the most import day so far, It was time for the verdict from the expert. 17 Months of work were to be valued by a sworn valuator. This is necessary to get the car insured properly.
Right from the start my aim has been that the cost of the restoration shouldn’t exceed the cars value. And it looks like I have succeeded, and with quite a margin. Considering the amount and quality of the work done the valuator would only give an indication of its value. Because it was so high for a TR7 he first wanted consultation with a few of his colleagues, before committing himself. Looks like the valuation will be a fair bit higher than the cost of the restoration, well pleased with that ...

After that it was time to give the car a good wash in preparation for the finishing touches. To start with a few flaws in the paint were polished out (dust particles and silicon faults). Turned out to be easy but rather time consuming. First the blemishes were polished away by hand with a little cutting pad ...

Giving a rather unsightly look to the paintwork, in this case the boot lid ...

After which the paint was cut back in three separate stages ...

With the paint polished the seams between front wings and nose panel, rear wings and rear deck and spoiler to front wing were sealed with a special sealant. I opted for this approach as it gives better protection compared to painting over the sealant. This way there is no risk of the paint cracking and trapping water underneath.
To prevent the sealant from making a mess of it, the seams were first taped of ...

After which the sealant was applied and washed in ...

Only two things remain now, the badges and the hood stowage cover. I Managed to make a mess of the front badge. So we removed that one immediately. Will have to order a new one. Hopefully I can get a better quality one from one of the (TR7) suppliers.
But I can and probably will take my time for that, as I received the cars new licence papers today. So it’s fully road legal again, about time to enjoy it.

Monday, 7 June 2010

DHC report nr. 99; MOT

An early start of the day to get the car MOT’ed (or APK as it is called here), only to find out on arrival that the garage didn’t open till 8:45-ish on Monday. But in the end the staff arrived and after making space inside, the DHC could be driven in for the first check, the brake test. I had a slightly bad feeling on the handbrake but I needn’t have worried. Brakes were OK. Same could be said for the emissions which turned out to be perfect, with a CO level of 2,7%.
Next were the lights which all worked as they should. Only one of the headlamps needed to be adjusted upward a bit. But while the mechanic was doing this the light concerned went out. Not good. All other checks didn’t turn up any faults, so they cleared a space for me in the workshop, gave me all the tools I needed and left me to get the light sorted, the joys of a friendly workshop.
Only thing that could be wrong was the connector block at the back of the headlamp unit. And after I had the unit removed from the head lamp pod this was proofed correct, the connector block nearly fell off. Turned out the connectors inside the block were all a bit loose. But from the outside they all looked quite OK. But when I removed them from the block with a special tool, it was clear that they were all to wide, which was easily sorted with a pair of pliers. And within fifteen minutes I had the now fully functional headlamp pod back together and adjusted. After which the car got its APK-certificate.

Next job was go over to a friend’s workshop to get the alternator tested. I thought it was on the way out, but it turned out that in true Lucas style it was stone dead. Luckily he had a 70 Ampere alternator lying in storage. Only needed realigning the mounting lugs (turning the front cover through 120ยบ) and a different fan and a new pulley, after which it was ready for fitment.

And the last port of call was the tyre shop, to get the alignment of the front suspension checked and set up properly. Wasn’t that far out. Also checked the overall alignment, which showed us that the suspension (front to rear) on this car is absolutely spot on. Well pleased with that. And when I got back to the shed it was time to fit the wheels I prepared for the car. I didn’t fit them earlier because I didn’t want them to get damaged by the alignment gear that is hooked on to the rims. Car looks completely different now, very 70’s which I quite like ...

But there might be a problem with one of the wheels, as there was hardly any air left in it. Could be a sticky valve (which I hope), but might as well be much worse. Will see if said tyre keeps pressure over the next day or not.

Also fitted the new alternator and put the borrowed one back in ‘t Kreng. And last job was to realign the steering shaft. Turned out I fitted it upside down, as a result of which the indicator didn’t return after the corner. With that sorted I took a slight detour home to see how the car behaves. Must say it was a pleasant surprise, the car feels much easier to drive with the 13” wheels. The handling, although lacking the precision and road holding of ‘t Kreng’s suspension, is rather predictable and comfortable, which suits it quite well I think. Makes a very nice and quick GT car!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

DHC report nr. 98; Happy birthday ...

Nothing to do with the restoration but it was a memorable day today. Because today 30 years ago the car hit the road for the first time. Doesn’t look very much like she left the factory anymore, as I used parts from at least 5 different cars I have lying around ...

Sadly no time to celebrate as there were some minor problems to get sorted. First one was the fan guard. While driving over speed bumps yesterday there was a very slight metallic sound. I first thought it was part of the exhaust touching the body but there were no signs off that. After a few minutes searching I found out it was the fan touching the fan guard. Clearly that somehow the original spacers weren’t thick enough. So I needed a few new and slightly thicker ones, which thanks to Robbie and his lathe were only a few minutes work. Now with the same clearance as ‘t Kreng I am quite sure the fan won’t hit the guard anymore ...

Next on the to do list was checking all suspension bolts. A few needed to be tightened up a bit, but nothing excessive. Also checked for any further leaks (but found none) and fitted the fresh air duct ...

So only one thing remained, the first repair. In true Lucas style the almost brand new (only 10.000 km) alternator decided to pack up. As the only decent alternator around was in ‘t Kreng I decided to use that one, and get myself a new one for her tomorrow. I had already planned to take the DHC home with me and put ‘t Kreng in the shed, as I have to leave fairly early for my appointment at the MOT garage tomorrow morning. I used this opportunity to swap the alternator. And for the first time in more than two years the cars were back together again ...

After that it was time to bring the DHC home with me. I took a detour for a final check. Should be OK for the MOT tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

DHC report nr. 97; First drive

Yesterday, with the front screen’s sealant fully cured, I fitted the lower wind screen finisher and the wipers. Should have been a quick one but the nut from the right hand wheel box put up quite a fight. Took me well over an hour and a half to fit the nuts. After that the wiper arms were easy indeed.

Final job was fitting a new battery and connecting it up, she was ready for her first outing. And this afternoon the car left the shed under her own power for the first time in just over 17 months. As the car officially isn’t roadworthy without an MOT, I decided not to venture to far from home. Luckily there are enough interesting roads within a 10 mile radius for a gentle shake down run.
Really nothing much that was wrong. Only the coolant warning light refuses to go out, and after about 50 kilometres she developed a slight knocking under (hard) braking. But I am not too worried about that, as going over all suspension nuts and bolts was planned for tomorrow afternoon.
Other thing that needs some attention is the alternator, which looks like it’s on its way out. Near the end of the test drive I noticed that the indicators were only working very slowly. A quick look at the voltage gauge learned that the alternator was only charging marginally. So I will have to use the alternator from ‘t Kreng to get the car to the MOT and order a new one.

Safe for these few problem the test drive was rather good fun. This together with the fine weather made me forget that the car isn’t road legal yet. It was a rather enjoyable afternoon. And most importantly she looks absolutely gorgeous in the bright sunlight ...

With the car back in the shed I carried out a few more checks, but no real problems. Still a small leak at the front of the rocker cover. Turned out that I hadn’t tightened one of the screws properly. Also had a look at the wind screen washer which didn’t work. But after filling the hose with water that problem was solved, clearly the pump isn’t self priming.
Will see if there are any other things that pop up tomorrow afternoon ...

Thursday, 3 June 2010

DHC report nr. 96; More checks and front screen

Carried out more checks today. Turns out that the centre console lights safe one have decided to go on strike. At least that’s no MOT failure. So something for next week or so.

Next on the to do list was re-filling all remaining fluids. The back axle was easy, but the gearbox wasn’t. I have the impression that this exhaust manifold runs slightly different, because access to the ’box’s filler plug is pretty awkward indeed. I’ve made a mental note to make an inspection opening in the transmission tunnel of ‘t Kreng when I start on that cars body. After that I filled up the cooling system. Only interesting thing there was that I needed 8,5 litres of coolant to fill the system compared to 7,5 litres for the original system. Clearly the capacity of the alloy radiator is much bigger than the standard one, definitely an added bonus.

And last but not least, I put 5 litres of fuel in the tank. After which it was time to start up the engine, at least I tried to. As there wasn’t a hint of combustion I presumed that there wasn’t any fuel getting to the carburettors. Probably that 5 litres isn’t enough to prime the fuel pump. At least I could see that the low-fuel warning light worked. So of to the local filling station with a few cans to get some more fuel. And with that in the tank the low-fuel warning light switched of, and after a few turns the engine spluttered into life!


I let it idle for some 20 minutes to see what happened, not much really. Temperature was fine, coming up the scale and remaining in one position ones on temperature. But it will need a bit of fine tuning.
With the engine on temperature the last thing to do was change the oil and the filter. As the engine had been standing some 16 months I thought it better to start her up on the old oil to wash out any stuff that had come into it while in storage and put new oil in after that.

And before I put the car back on its wheels I checked for leaks, which I found, but only one. The front of the rocker cover. Due to the temperature and the oil the new cork seal had softened as a result of which it didn’t seal properly. Easily sorted by tightening the nuts and bolts a bit.

This evening we tackled the last major job, fitting the front screen. Last time we did one in a TR7 was on ‘t Kreng in 1996. The process was still the same only the materials and tools have evolved a bit over the years. I decided to use one of my top spare parts, in this case a brand new, original Triplex screen I have had lying for many years now ...

First it had to be cleaned a bit ...

After which the screen’s edge was treated with a black primer ...

And the wind screen surround with a transparent primer (not very visible) ...

After that the sealant was applied to the front screen ...

And the screen was fitted to the car ...

I was a bit too quick here as a result I’ll have to live with a bit of visible sealant for the next few years. With the front screen positioned correctly last thing to do was fit the front screen finisher ...

A day well spent!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

DHC report nr. 95; Systems check

On Monday I started with a check all systems. First one were the brakes, bleeding them and checking all unions for leaks. There were none ... I thought. When I returned to the car on Tuesday there was a damp patch underneath one of the front callipers, and there was a drop of brake fluid hanging at the bottom of that calliper. I presumed it to be from a very minor spillage when I loosened the bleed nipple too much. But just to be sure I cleaned up the suspect area on the calliper and put a piece of clean paper underneath to give the exact position if there was a leak. It turned out there wasn’t one.
After Bleeding the brakes the obvious thing to do was bleed the clutch. This time definitely no leaks and we managed to get all air out fairly quickly. It is not unusual on these cars that bleeding the clutch can be a real pain.

As I was lying underneath the car I carried on with the adjusting the hand brake cable. Hand brake lever still has a fair bit off travel, but I presume that with the servo in operation, the brake shoes will adjust a little more. So should be OK.

Yesterday was the big day, or the dreaded one, time to connect the battery and check all the electrics. With a battery in place there at least was no smoke or smell of scorching wires. And when opening the door, I was welcomed by the interior lights, at least one thing that works.
I started with the lights at the rear. Rear lights, reversing lights, licence plate illumination and indicators (including hazard) working fine. And the brake lights were also working fine, even with me standing outside the car. Clearly something wrong. A quick check with the multi meter showed that the switch was always switched on. This could only mean two things, either the switch was faulty, which it wasn’t, or I fitted it incorrect, which I did. I fitted the shims/washers on the wrong side of the bracket. With these on the correct side the brake lights worked as they should, or don’t as they shouldn’t. Most obvious is that they are much brighter with the inside of the clusters coated with chrome paint. And much cheaper than LED’s ...

While checking the rear I already noticed that up front something was fairly wrong. Everything worked fine, safe for the headlamp lift motors. Switching of the lights raised them, switching on the lights lowered them, clearly not good. First thoughts were that I fitted the wires incorrect to the connectors, but that didn’t explain the fact that the lights didn’t raise fully. And of course I refuse to accept that I make that kind of mistake. So time for a little experiment. I crawled underneath the front of the car to disconnect the levers that attach directly to the motors, and raised the pods manually. After that I switched on the lights and disconnected the battery. 5 Minutes fiddling with the little levers later and the headlamps raised and lowered as they should! I mounted the levers the wrong way round ...

To end the day I checked the instrument panel where possible, horns (very loud), wiper motor, screen washer, heater and starter motor. Everything works fine so far. More checks to follow in preparation for its MOT on Monday and insurance valuation on Wednesday ...