Saturday, 31 December 2011

Another year over

As stated in my last post 2011 wasn’t a good year for my TR7’s. I thought it couldn’t get any worse. But when I wanted to take ‘t Kreng out for a short blast, over some nice deserted country lanes a few days ago, I was met by an ominous click from the glove box. A quick check with the multimeter showed the battery had still 12,47V left.


Which normally should be enough to spin the starter motor. But when I switched on the headlights only one came up (and rather reluctant at that) and the light it gave off was rather feeble too. So it looks like it that (after 15 years of faithful service) I’ll have to renew the battery ...


As for the DHC, she’s still waiting patiently in the shed for the repairs. But the longest part of the wait is over. This Monday she will be brought to the paint shop at last.

Also very slow progress on the gear box. Mainly because I have been busy with other (none Triumph related) jobs. Managed to clean the various casings though, which was rather rewarding ...


Also inspected all parts from the second ‘box I dismantled. Again some pronounced wear on the mesh teeth and a little wear on the main shaft. Especially the part where 1st and 2nd gear are situated ...


So I decided it would be best to order a new mainshaft and some new gears, just to be on the safe side. Ohh ... and still waiting for my clutch kits to arrive. Seems there are some problems with the supplier!? Parts are now promised for mid January (2012)

Remains to wish everyone all the best for 2012.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Not all going to plan

2011 certainly won’t go into the books as a good Triumph year! After the 10CR related break down and transport damage to the DHC there were still more things to go wrong. As a result of which I lost a bit of motivation to work on the cars. But luckily there were some positive things too;

Nice toy;
Early last month I went over to a friend to collect a very nice alloy FI fuel tank for ‘t Kreng. As we both had plans for building a rally replica and both love longer distance events, we thought it a good idea to order two tanks from Andy Wiltshire. These are more or less made to order with baffles, swirl pot etc. and have a capacity of a little over 70 litres. Which should gave a nice amount of extra range. But when I walked into his workshop I was pleasantly surprised to see his newly acquired toy ...




A rather nice car and a very good starting point for a proper drivers car, as a result of which the restoration of his old car will be postponed a bit. And while inspecting the car I almost completely forgot the reason why I was there ...


Sadly no decent pictures as I left mine in its protective wrapping. But the craftsmanship of the work is very nice indeed. It’s a real shame to hide it away underneath the car ...

23th edition of the Nachtrit;
As usually the plan was to do a last reconnaissance run on the day of the event. But I had to park ‘t Kreng on the hard shoulder of the motorway 23 kilometres short of the start in Slenaken. On a motorway junction, while transferring from the A2 to the A76, I heard something bouncing underneath the car. A quick look in the rear view mirrors didn’t reveal anything, but a few kilometres further down the motorway the first few drops appeared on the lower left-hand corner of the windscreen. First thought was that I lost the radiator cap from the header tank. But the temperature remained as it had been since the engine got to its working temperature. As the oil pressure also was as it should be I decided to carry on for a few more kilometres till the heard shoulder was a bit wider.




But even before I opened the bonnet it was clear that it wasn’t coolant that was leaking through the left hand side louvers of the bonnet. The left hand side of the car was covered in engine oil. After opening the bonnet, the reason became all too clear, I’d lost the oil filler cap.


Although the oil level was still well above the minimum level (I guess I lost about ¼ litre of oil) I decided to call the guy who would be on standby with his recovery truck during the Nachtrit, and see if he wanted some practice. 25 minutes later ‘t Kreng was loaded and we were on our way to a friend’s workshop to clean of the oil a bit. In the meantime my co-driver who was following in his own car, went to my house to pick up a spare oil filler cap. And after a few hours of cleaning oil from the car, drinking coffee and watch how JM was preparing his TR7V8 for the Nachtrit, we headed for the start. And as the weather was still rather fine for the time of year we decided to make ourselves comfortable in the sun and enjoy the views and a few pints of beer. The event itself went rather smoothly for all who entered. No one broke down or got lost. And just after midnight all teams had arrived back at the hotel. Time for another beer or two ...

New gearbox DHC;
Next set back I encountered was with the gearbox which I wanted to rebuilt. After the Nachtrit I took some more time to inspect the gears properly. Turned out that first and second gears are too far gone to be re-used. The small mesh teeth are all badly damaged on these two gears ...




So I collected another ‘box from my spares hoard and started to dismantle it. Thought it would be easy to dismantle but the layshaft fifth gear put up a bit of a fight. But after a struggle with the extractor tool, lasting almost half an hour, it came off. Removing the bearings turned out pretty easy, using the proper tools. But the last bearing (the small one between mainshaft and inputshaft) wasn’t impressed by the hydraulic press. Especially the inner race refused point blank to move. At the first attempt we managed to chip a piece out of it. For the second attempt we welded a sturdy washer on top of the race to get more leverage. We managed to pull the ring and part of the bearing’s race of, but most of it remained stubbornly in place. There were now two options left, the first of which was to weld an even larger washer to the bearing race. And this option certainly made an impression, as it came off with a rather loud bang ...




With everything in pieces I could inspect all the bits in detail. Clearly should have chosen this ‘box earlier, as everything looks in pretty good condition. But it makes me wonder why I had to replace this box last summer. Either I have overlooked something or there was something wrong with the clutch already, when I changed the gearbox then. Time and an extra inspection of all ‘box parts will tell. Also found some strange markings (SK) on the mounting plate and the casing ...


Only explanation I can come up with is that these are marks from a rebuilder? Which might explain why the bearing and 5th gear where so tight, maybe they used Loctite to fix them?

Damage repairs DHC;
And to end on a more positive note, I had a chat with the guy who still will be doing the paint repairs. And he gave me some rather good news, he should be able to start work again within the next few weeks. So we agreed that he car will go over to him around Christmas.
But most importantly the news has encouraged me to start working on the car again. Have to admit that my motivation had dropped considerably in the last month ... And still waiting for the new clutch to arrive from Britain, certainly to be continued.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Damage assessment

The DHC is ready to be moved to the paint shop, which is scheduled somewhere in this week. Last bits that needed removal for the paint repairs were the mud flaps, central bumper pivot, sill trim and nose badge. And of course I had to remove a fair bit of (seam) sealant (between nose panel and front wings and underneath the ends of the sill trim). At least I know now that my choice of sealant has been a good one, very adhesive stuff and a bugger to remove.


And I used the opportunity to have a better look at the damage to the front spoiler. Actual damage is worse than a first glance might tell. But it is still much easier to repair than to prepare a new one.


Also been busy sourcing the parts for the gear box. As I have a healthy amount of distrust in British Leyland’s numbering systems I decided not to go by the (parts) book, but dismantle everything first and measure all serial number related parts. The typical LT77 parts were sourced through S&S preparations ...




Whereas the bearings were carefully measured and, using SKF’s main catalogue, numbered. After which it was pretty easy to order them through a friend’s work shop ...


For one bearing I opted for a slightly different approach. The rear end bearing (the only ball and metric bearing in the ‘box) will be replaced by a fully sealed (for life) version. This has two advantages. First it is sealed from any debris wandering about inside the gearbox. But most important, as it sits against the rear oil seal it will act as an extra seal itself.


Also I spent some time cleaning up the garage. Main reason for that was that I wanted to find a little tool I had made a few years ago when I rebuilt the current gearbox in ‘t Kreng. Indeed a dummy for the main shaft bearing, to enable measuring first gear’s end float.


And last but not least, I received a notice from my insurer last week that they agree with the damage valuation. They even managed to transfer the money to my bank account.


Edit: serious setback for the damage repairs. Just got a phone call from the guy who is going to do the paint preparations etc. He has a serious arm injury, as a result of which he will be out for at least 6 weeks ...

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Here we go again

Got a message from the damage valuator last week, and we agreed on the cost for the damage repairs. He also agreed with the fact that I want to do the repairs myself or under my own supervision. So in preparation for the body repairs I started dismantling the DHC again. Brought back memories from almost three years ago ...


As all bolts and screws were liberally coated with anti seize paste when I assembled them, everything came of pretty easily. Only the first part that I had to remove, the front bumper, put up a bit of a fight. Which was to be expected, as the central pivot point is a pretty tight fit. But after 15 minutes of careful wriggling it came off.


Also the rubber headlamp surrounds decided it was again time to shed some of the steel washers that are vulcanised to the back of the surround. This was caused by the kit I used to glue the steel washers to the surrounds. It looks like the kit became soft (due to high temperatures???) over the past year or so, and after that it set again and glued itself to the steel frame inside the head lamp pods. Hopefully they can be glued back in place with a few blobs of kit. With the surrounds of, the rest of the headlamp pods was rather straightforward. Only the connector blocks for the headlamp bulbs needed removing as they wouldn’t slip through the holes of the headlamp bowl and the bottom of the pod.


Luckily I had a few very fine/slim screw drivers with me to help with removing the three connectors from the block. With the connector blocks out of the way removing the headlamp bowls and pods was straightforward.




Finished work for this weekend with removing the screen washers and disconnecting the bonnet stay in preparation for the removal of the bonnet. But the actual removal won't be done until she's in the repair shop.

So almost ready to transport her to the body repair shop, which is scheduled within the next two weeks. Only items that I have to remove, before she is off for paint repairs, are the sill strips, the front mud flaps and the nose badge. But for the sill strips I need a few special tools to prevent (too much) damage to the sills, see where I can borrow these.

Monday, 26 September 2011

DHC back home at last

Since this afternoon the DHC is back home again from the 10CR, so time to invest the damage caused by the little rock that crossed our path on the Friday evening of the event ...




Overall impression is that the damage is not too bad. All damage is to parts that can easily be removed from the car for repairs or a new coating. And the damage to the front spoiler looks as if it can be repaired fairly easily. Not visible is the damage to the wheel rim, that'll need a fair amount of attention.

Sadly somewhere between Austria and home (but probably in the workshop in Austria that inspected the car before it could be sent home) they managed to chip the paint on the front quite badly. On both front panel and bonnet all layers of coating are completely gone. Looks like they closed the bonnet with something wedged in between bonnet and nose panel ...




It will come as no surprise that this one will be continued. Glad that my insurer has promised they will pay for the extra damage and then will try to get their money back one way or another. But the repair will be very difficult/expensive to get done properly. So not very happy at the moment.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Preparations for the return of the DHC

At the moment the DHC is still not back home, estimate is that she’ll be back home early next week. But I haven’t been completely idle. As I don’t want to take of the gear box for the next ten years or so, I have decided to go for a rebuild gear box. So last week I went through my spare gearboxes in search for the most suitable ‘box for a rebuild. In the end I decided on the original ‘box that was fitted to GB-16-YP at Canley early in 1980. A bit in doubt as to its serial number though ...


And although this ‘box has covered over 200.000 kilometres, it felt to be in fairly good condition, with hardly any play on the bearings. So first thing to do was dismantle the ‘box, to get a clear picture of the internals. I started with an inspection of the oil that came out if it. Was good to see that is was fairly clear and didn’t contain any brass contamination ...


With the oil drained, it was time to start dismantling it in earnest. First part of the ‘box to remove was the rear extension containing fifth gear and the oil pump, which was fairly easy once the rear flange was removed (easy thanks to a proper air powered wrench)




Was good to see that (again) the internals of the oil pump were in fairly good condition, especially regarding its high mileage. And the first gears (fifth) to come into view also looked in good condition. Only some slight play of the gear on the main shaft, so some new needle bearings needed here.






After everything from the fifth gear was removed, it was time to separate the main casing from the mounting plate. Again no hidden horrors. All gears look in good condition with no noticeable play on the main shaft.




Only real sign of any wear was visible on the selector forks. Will see if I can get pair of proper (original) new ones, otherwise these will be reused as they aren’t that badly worn.


All in all this ‘box looks like a good choice for the rebuild. The only parts showing real signs of wear are the main bearings. Although there was no noticeable play, they all have visible signs of wear on the outer races

Saturday, 17 September 2011

10CR2011

Last Thursday, the 8th of September, saw the start of the 5th edition of Club Triumphs 10 Countries Run. As four years ago I chose the DHC to do the event, although I did have some doubts when I was preparing the car for the event. As in earlier editions we started from Steenvoorde in the north-west of France. This again being the continental start for the event. We arrived there fairly early, so we had a few hours to relax and have a coffee or two, while we waited for the rest of the pack. After an hour and a half the serene quite of the place was shattered when the rest of the entrants arrived from Calais.


After saying hello to some of the more familiar faces, and collecting the starters pack from Ellis, we also hit the road. First bit of the route through northern France wasn’t to interesting with mainly motorways to get a decent amount of miles under the wheels quickly. The ”official” route would take us from Steenvoorde via Lille, Valenciennes and Hirson to our first control stop at Charleville-Mézières. Turned out to be rather crowded with Triumphs there. In the end we managed to find a parking space just outside the centre, in front of a Turkish kebab shop. Needless to say we didn’t bother to walk back into the city centre to collect a signature for the road book! And the meal was good.

After the meal we headed further east towards Sedan and Carignan, but after that we decided to take a “shortcut”. So instead of heading into Belgium (which we had done already) and Luxembourg at Thonelle, we headed south-east towards Montmédy, following the D643 through Longuyon and Briey towards Metz, were we would pick up the official route again. It turned out to be a very nice and relaxing road to drive with little traffic. And during this stretch I again was reminded of the wonderful world of Lucas - Prince Of Darkness. The dashboard lights were working perfectly, great! Not so great was the fact that by this time the clutch had developed a tendency to stick rather randomly. This meant that quick gear changes were out of order, which definitely hampered progress on the rest of the run. A sign of things to come !?

But after some 100 kilometres we rejoined the official route just south of Metz, taking the A31 towards Nancy. This gave us also the opportunity to fill up the fuel tank just south of Pont-à-Mousson. Was again a pleasant surprise to see that the car easily managed well over 10 km/litre. (±30 mpg) on the Route Nationals.


With both fuel tank and ourselves replenished we hit the road again, following the A31 motorway till Nancy, where we joined the A33 towards Lunéville and after that the N59 towards Baccarat. We actually followed the N59 all the way to Sainte-Dié-des-Vosges, where we left it to enter the Vosges Mountains This turned out to be (again) a great and challenging drive over passes with interesting names like the Col du Calvaire, Col du Wettstein or Col du Platzerwasel.
But the most challenging of them all was the Collet du Linge which was covered in dense fog. At some places visibility was less than 10 metres. It will come as no surprise that our average speed suffered a bit more here. And to add to the fun the wipers decided to go on strike. Luckily it happened just when we came out of the mist. With the weather turning dry at that moment, I decided to keep going for a while till we’d find a parking space with a street lantern in one of the villages we’d pass through. This we found in Sondernach in deepest darkest France.


My initial thought was either a blown fuse, which would be easy to get sorted, or a knackered motor, which wouldn’t. I checked all the fuses, but they all turned out to be OK, bugger! As I couldn’t find any loose connection and don’t carry spare windscreen wiper motors around Europe, there was not much else to do than carry on and hope for the best. But while setting of again there was some doubt in the back of my mind, so I stopped again to check something else. The wiper motor was still hot, but it hadn’t been working for more than half an hour, weird. I switched them on again, nothing happened, but when I gave them a little push, they moved to their parking position under their own steam, the joys of Lucas. Clearly the motor is to gutless to move the wipers over an (almost) dry windscreen! But we could carry on enjoying the roads till we hit the N66 just west of Cernay. From there it was a short trip through Mulhouse towards the next control stop.

When we arrived at the 4th control stop in Bartenheim at around 03:20 hrs we were reminded of the fact that our chosen route might have been shorter in distance, but clearly not in time. The parking lot was filled with Triumphs, and after switching of the engine the only sounds that could be heard was some light spannering going on and lots of snoring!
We tried to get some sleep here, but that was a rather futile exercise. In the end we left just over an hour after we arrived, heading for Switzerland. Aim was to be on top of one of the first passes at sun rise.

The First stretch through Switzerland was fairly easy so my navigator decided it was now time to sleep a bit. Needless to say I promptly missed the exit for the A8 towards the Brünigpass. As I only found out my error when we were halfway the southern shore of the Vierwaldstätter See, we decided to carry on from there straight to the St. Gotthard Pass. Needles to say that there was still no one there to sign the road book! Added bonus was that we reached one of the, in my opinion, most beautiful passes in the Alps just before sunrise.


Especially the old Tremolo road with its small cobblestones is an absolute brilliant drive. And because it was so gorgeous and completely free of traffic at that early hour, we did it twice just for the fun of it!


And with the sun coming up, it was time to put down the roof and start enjoying the roads, the scenery and the weather. Some pictures taken near or on top of the San Bernardino Pass ...








The last really enjoyable pass was the Splügen Pass, an old border crossing between the Swiss Rheinwald and the Italian San Giacomo Valley. This still is a very nice pass, but sadly here (as many other passes in the area) time didn’t stand still and the best bits, the narrow tunnels and very sharp hairpins, have been widened to accommodate the ever larger mouse grey Euro boxes …

After the Splügen Pass traffic slowly but surely became more and more dense. Especially the Passo del Maloja, between Chiavenna and Sankt Moritz was a bit of a disappointment, with long traffic cues due to roadworks, lorries and Ultra slow Camper vans (mostly “Grey Wave”). Luckily the Bernina again was much quieter, giving me a chance to have little fun with an Aston Martin Vantage (the modern one). It won’t come as a surprise that as soon as the road was wide enough and with no oncoming traffic, the Aston whooshed past and quickly vanished out of sight. Wished I had ‘t Kreng with me. After that everything seemed to go very quickly, and after lunch on top of the Ofen Pass we were over the gorgeous, and partially unsurfaced, Umbrail Pass and on top of the Stilfserjoch before we knew it. Even got caught by one of the webcams on top ...


Although the views from the top of this pass are still as impressive as ever ...


it has lost much of its old time charm. Only one reason for that, it’s much too crowded with stupid people who don’t know how to drive properly. Nicely illustrated by this mouse grey Euro box on the descent of the northern slope ...


But in the end we managed to get off the mountain at around half past three, time for a, by now rather traditional stop in Sponding, and a well deserved beer ...


So far so good with no real problems, although the clutch still had a tendency to stick a little so now and then. But on the positive side the engines’ temperature remained rock steady irrelevant of the load and the conditions. Clearly the new viscous coupling I fitted two weeks ago is paying off. Even the fuel consumption remained very good, still averaging at around 10 km/lt or just over 30 mpg. And not unimportant, the brakes, although pretty hot on some occasions, remained very effective so far. We also used the stop to make some plans for the rest of the day. My GPS calculated an estimated time of arrival at our hotel near Sankt Ulrich of 18:20 hrs. And that was via the quickest route. As it had been a long day, we decided to go for this option.

Sadly just before we reached our hotel I managed to misjudge the last corner of the day, clipping it too tight. As a result I got into the grass verge, were a hefty piece of rock had been waiting just for that to happen ...


The damage; one shredded tyre, a bent wheel, a damaged front spoiler and some minor damage to the RH front suspension. Nothing I could do but walk to the hotel to get some transport for the luggage and navigator, and start phoning around for some emergency repairs and a new tyre (yes, I don’t carry a spare wheel). Didn’t go to plan, so I went for a few beers and a good meal.

Luckily next morning turned out much better, the tow truck that had been promised for the previous evening turned up nice and early. The damage to the suspension was negligible (some parts need to be re-coated) and the bearing seemed OK. Only the rim was bent a bit, but nothing a few well aimed blows with a hefty hammer couldn’t sorted. Not good for the coating, but that was damaged already by the rock. Biggest problem was the tyre, 185/70x13” isn’t what you call a current size. In the end I had to go for a compromise (165/70x13”) just to get us home half decently, but the car was road worthy again.

And just before 10 o’clock I was back at the hotel, to have a cup of coffee and to say goodbye to the friends. So by the time the first Triumphs appeared in the Val Gardena, we set off for the second day. But instead of taking the main road to the west and the A22 Brenner Motorway, we took the old road which was more north ward bound. Turned out as an advantage as it gave us some views off the A22 before joining it. It was jammed with traffic. So instead of taking the A22 we took the old road again, the SS12 heading parallel to the motorway. Glad we did it, as the traffic jam stretched as far as Sterzing, where we should have left the A22 for the Jauffenpass.

By the time we reached the foot of the Jauffenpass the tourists and day-trippers were starting to emerge, so the run up the pass was at a fairly sedate pace. We decided to have lunch at the Alpenrose, in Walten, just because we passed it around lunch time. They have a lovely nice balcony overlooking the pass road, so while having lunch we could enjoy the sight of the first few Triumphs coming past, heading for the last proper pass of the day, the Timmelsjoch.
With our lunch finished we also headed in that direction. Despite the very fine weather the road wasn’t too crowded, and we could maintain a nice pace. The car was still behaving quite nicely, although just under the top of the Timmesjoch it developed a slight rumbling noise from the left hand rear when turning sharp to the right. But as we came over the top of the pass at around 3 o’clock, while changing down a gear, to drive into the parking area, there was a dull crack from somewhere and all drive was lost. With the ‘box still in gear I stopped the car and released the clutch, nothing happened. Could either be a broken clutch, gearbox or snapped half shaft. But when I looked underneath the car the prop shaft wasn’t spinning. So definitely the problem must be in the transmission. Exit 10CR finish.

And in between several phone calls for a recovery truck, there was not much else we could do but wait and enjoy the views and the other cars, most of whom still had to pass the Timmelsjoch by that time...






By half past five I had another phone call, just to check what was keeping the recovery truck from showing up. They told me someone had been up there over an hour ago and that there had been no one there. As I had been outside all the time, with a sharp eye on the road from the Austrian side I couldn’t agree with them. The long wait went on. Luckily out of the fog the last Triumphs to come over the top of the Timmesljoch that day, appeared to keep us a little company and to liven up the wait ...


But at a quarter past seven in the evening we were all on our own on top of an ever foggier and darker Timmelsjoch ...


Half an hour later the recovery truck emerged from the foggy darkness at last ...


After that it was down the mountain to the nearest larger village, Sölden, and find ourselves a hotel for the night which we did, thanks to the driver of the recovery truck. And after a very nice meal I spent the rest of the evening on the phone to get us home, all very frustrating. Always nice to see that in such cases no one from the insurance companies gives a damn. They screw up the first recovery, leaving us for 5 hours on top of a mountain and then refuse point blank to get things sorted properly (“sorry we can’t reach any one this late”). In the end I managed to find a hire car through the driver from the recovery truck the next morning. 
And at 10 o’clock on the Sunday morning we were in a taxi and heading for Innsbruck, to pick up a nice Ford Focus estate. We left Innsbruck and headed north towards Rolduc by 11:30 hr. The drive was rather eventful too, with lots of traffic jams due to just too much traffic on the Fernpass, a broken down car in the fast lane near Ulm, and a burning car on the hard shoulder near Frankfurt. The fact that the last holidays ended in Germany that day didn’t help either, as did the downpour on the A61. In between the Focus managed a very decent pace though. We even managed to overtake some 5 teams in the last few hours before the finish. And at around half past eight in the evening, we turned onto the drive of the Rolduc monastery. Time for a few well deserved beers ...

At the moment (Saturday evening 17th of September) the car’s still not back, but I have started on the repairs already. I ordered a new (now uprated) clutch kit from AP Racing. I also sourced a useable gearbox from my spare parts collection and started dismantling it in preparation for a rebuild.