Friday, March 30, 2007

TR Radiator Flush

Finally got around to flushing the radiator on the triumph yesterday. I also replaced the globe badge on the hood and installed a 160 degree T-stat. I am glad that I had bought a can of Loktite Instant Gasket and had it on hand. When I removed the tstat housing the gaskets where toast. I thought I was going to be stuck until I remeber the Loktite I had bought to do the rear differential. Cleaned off all the mating surfaces, bench installed the tstat and two halves of the housing using the instant gasket then mounted it all up to the top of the water pump. The instant gasket worked great. I did have to adjust the mounting of the hose from the radiator to the water pump a few times to stop a slow leak. I also added some Red Line Water Wetter, this stuff is supposed to help the car run cooler by doing something with the coolant? It was just an add on purchase when I bought all the Red Line gear oil and transmission fluid.

Car runs a lot cooler now, guessing this is mostly due to the new 160 degree tstat and clean coolant. The stuff I drained out was pretty nasty. Next two projects are to change the transmission fluid, replace the oil pan gasket and do the brakes. I'll get to the transmission fluid in the next month, do the oil pan next time I change the oil and hopefully get to the brakes next month as well.

If you work on cars I highly suggest keeping some sort of liquid gasket stuff around. I know I will from now on, it saved me the hassel of ordering and waiting for new gaskets to finish the radiator flush.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Car Show prep

I am taking the TR down to the Georgia Tech Car show next weekend. Bought a few things from Victoria British to clean it up a bit. A new hood emblem should really look nice. Plan on trying to clean the engine bay up a bit with some engine cleaner. I know it won't win any awards but it will be nice to show it off a bit. Also ordered a new oil pan gasket and drain plug. Going to change these out next time I change the oil. Next two things that have to get done to the car are the brakes and flush of the radiator (I know, yes I still have not gotten to this). Once I get those two things done then I am going to try to get a few other cosmetic things taken care of. Window seals, new top and tonneau cover, get one of the plate lights working and install a line filter on the radio.

Been digging the new tires and alignment on the MINI the last few days. I had forgotten what it was like to drive a car that didn't have a wicked wheel shake past 50mph. I think the new tires (General Exclain UHP) have really helped out the ride. They seem much smoother over everyday driving than the Dunlops where. Haven't pushed them yet, first chance will be a MINI club mountain drive next month. Looking forward to that to see how they handle some serious curves.

That's it for now. More after the weekend.......

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dunlop Direzza DZ101 Review

A quick review of my old tires before I replace them later today....

I ordered these in the 205/50/15 size for my MINI. At the time I was faced with either keeping my very heavy stock 17" rims or switching to lightweight 15" rims. Based on the suggestion of several members of the MINI club and my experience with driving around on my 15" autocross rims I decided to make the switch to aftermarket wheels. One of the biggest advantages of this is I was able to buy wheels and tires for about the same price of putting decent 17" tires back on the stock rims. I got an incredible price on these Dunlops tires, at $47.00 per tire it was too good a deal not to try out.

I have been pleased with the tires. I got about 20,000 miles out of them which I think is pretty good for a 300 treadwear and my "spirited" driving style. They do have some sidewall flex (what 50 series tire doesn't) and that took some getting used to but after a few mountain runs I knew exactly how they where going to act. Very sticky in the corners and give you good feel and warning of when they are going to break loose. They have also been a very good on the noise side, they are not very loud even now that they are almost slicks. Wet performance is so-so, they like to plane so you have to be careful when it is really wet. Also, they don't have the best start grip when it is wet out, could be very tricky when pulling away from a stop sign in the rain.

One of the best features (IMO) is the rim protector. The tire has a very pronounced lip around the tire, the tire sits out past the wheel by about 1/4" giving excellent road rash protection and adding a pretty cool look.

Overall I would buy these tires again at the price I paid for them. I'll give them around a 7.5 out of 10? I am going to a different tire this time because I can't get the Dunlops as cheap anymore and because I just want to try something else. Who knows, maybe after this next set I will be back to the Direzzas.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Tires on the Way

Ordering new tires for the MINI today. They will be General Exclaim UHPs from Tire Rack. Looking forward to getting them mounted and balanced so that I can finally have the car aligned and have all the camber setup for autocrossing.

I'm really digging the new springs. They have made the most difference to the handling of the car since I put the rear say bar on. Feel really nice on the road but flatten the car out when you push the car into a corner. If you are looking to put springs on your MINI I would go for the M7s.

In Triumph news, going to try to squeze the radiator flush in this weekend. Been doing some more research on the Fuel Injection system. I think it will be a go sometime in the next year. Trying to figure out the Megasquirt will be the toughest part. I'll buy a preassembled one and buy the relay board as well just to make sure everything is nice and tidy with the wiring. Tuning the system will be the hardest part and I know I will be having a few other wrench heads help me out with it. I am going to try and pick up a spare intake manifold that I found on craiglist next week, just to have an extra to mount the fuel intake to and so if I have to drill any holes for sensors in it then I have my original just in case I ever return the car to carbs.

That's it for today. I'll be watching a lot of basketball today, tomorrow and the rest of the weekend. First F1 race is saturday as well, looking forward to getting excited about that series for the first few races again and then realizing (again) that no one can pass and 90% of the time the winner is decided in qualifying. Hopefully I'll post some pic of the work on the TR next week.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Possible supplier for my fuel injection project

Received an e-mail back from Mark at Affordable Fuel Injection stating that they can do full kits for a car with twin SU carbs! Very sweet, now all I have to do is scare up the money to do it.

So I have two routes to go, I can either have someone do the whole kit or come up with the bits and pieces my self. Mark also included a link to a company that makes SU throttle bodies that come with the injectors fuel rail, fuel pump and pressure regulator. All I would have to supply would be the fuel return line (which I would have to replace the stock feed line anyway, so not a big deal) and the ECU (hello Megasquirt!). So the project actually seems a bit easier than I first thought. It also may not be as rare as I thought, I found a few guys in the UK that have Fuel injected their TR4s using Meagsquirt and some sort of custom throttle body. This is just a long term plan thing. I would need to clean up the engine a bit, replace the oil pan seal, switch to an alternator (cheaper project than I first thought, maybe $100?) and then add the high torque starter. My initial thought would be I would like to get all this done in the next year. But of course this all falls back on if nothing else with the car goes bad and if I can dig up the money to do it. Even if it is a year off, it has been some neat reading over the last few days.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Up Coming Projects

I installed some M7 lowering springs on the MINI this weekend (thanks Scott and Laura!). So far I really like the ride, I actually think it is a bit smoother just driving around but when you take a quick corner you can tell the springs are better than stock.

Installed a new temperature sensor on the Triumph and have been driving it around for the last few days. I plan on flushing the radiator this coming weekend, just need to make sure that I have everything staged and ready. Also going to change the t-stat out with a new 160 degree t-stat (to help with cooling for the warm weather in Atlanta) and proably will also try to replace the transmission fluid.

I have had a neat idea kicking around in my head since I started looking into rebuilding and tuning the carbs on the TR. Two words, fuel injection. Triumph ran a few TR4a inected prototypes but never produced them. I have been researching a way to do it. I know Megasquirt is a pretty good grassroots electronic controller but I think the hardest part will be finding an intake manifold to fit the cylinder head. This of course would happen after I switch from a generator to an alternator and replace the old Lucas starter. I just figure if I can pull it off the car will be much easier to keep tuned, will get better gas mileage, have better performance and thus be even more fun to drive. Plus it wil be a trully unique car. Yes it won't be original, I really don't care. I plan on having the car for a long time and it isn't in good enough shape to be a mueseum peice anyway. Just hoping that I can do it, really excited about it.

Going to the AJC Auto show next weekend, I'll put up some reviews of the new cars I see. Very interested in seeing the new Volvo C30 in person.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Garmin StreetPilot i5 Review

My wife got my a Garmin StreetPilot i5 GPS for Christmas because I have been on the road some much latley. The i5 is one of the cheaper Garmins but Kelly did her homework and figured I would like it. Well, I do! It may not have some of the bells and whistles that the more expensive versions have (bluetooth, real time traffic, browseable maps, ect.) but it is a neat little package.

When I first opened the package I was concerned about how small the thing is but once I set it up in the car I realized it was just fine. Especially since I needed something small that I can pack from trips and move from car to car easilly. It tracks well, the user interface is really easy to use and the directions are perfect. I hardwired the power cord into the MINI so that I can easilly mount the gps and don't have to worry about a cord going all over the place. I did buy a 2nd power cord to take on trips.

Only two complaints:
1. I wish that when you where naviagating to a point (and not just driving around) that it would switch your arrival time back and forth with your actual speed. I like knowing my speed and find that if I have a good idea where I am going that I turn the directions off until I get to a point where I need them. Seems like this would be a nice user pref feature that you could change.

2. Battery life. If you aren't running this thing off of external power it devours batteries. On a recent trip to Virginia, the ciggarette lighter in the car I rented (Ford Focus, yea!) didn't work with the power adapter. Used to run into this problem back in the days of having car kits for CD players (You remember them, power adapter to the cigarette lighter and the cassette adapter!). So I had to buy a bunch of AA batteries. Specs on the model say that battery life is 6 hours. It may be but when battery life gets low (after maybe 3 hours) then the audio is turned off. This means you have to keep looking at the map becuase the unit stops giving you voice commands. So in 3 days I went through 8-10 AA batteries to keep the thing powered on with Audio, very dissappointing. I do plan on buying some rechargeable batteries and a USB power supply so that I can recharge the batteries at night in a hotel room if I run into this again.

All in all this is a great gps if you are looking for a cheap sat nav to get you around in a strange place.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

1st Dragon Run of the Year

Got up to the Tail of the Dragon for the first time this year. Took the trip up there with the other members of the ATLANTAMINIS Steering committee to do some planning for the ATLANTAMINIS on the Dragon event the first weekend of May. Only made one up and back run from the crossroads. Drive up to the overlook was good, only got stuck for a bit behind a biker. The run back was great. For some reason, I enjoy the drive going south on the Dragon better than running north. The road just seems to flow a bit better. Did have one interesting mishap. Pulled up behind a red Honda Civic (w/ black hood, that was the 1st sign of trouble) that was tailgating a Camero. Going into the next right hand 180 the Civic tried to pass the Camero on the outside! The Civic could not complete the pass and ended up locking the brakes up, sliding off the road and into the ditch, just missing hitting the side of the mountain by inches. We drove on by, the Camero pulled over to let us by and we had the rest of the run to ourselves. Didn't see the Civic before we left. Killboy ( has some picture of the Civic drifting through blind turns using up both lanes of the road, real smart. I get the feeling that anyone who saw him the rest of the day gave him a good talking too.

Anyway, it was a great day and I can't wait until I can get back up there are make some more runs. This will be especially cool next time I go up because I plan on having some new springs on the MINI and should have the camber all set up and new tires too.

That is it for now. If I get motivated enough I may try to finish some work on the Triumph this weekend. Mainly try to flush the radiator and change the transmission fluid. After that I will be on a quest to find a good carb workshop manual, buy a video on rebuilding my carbs and hunting for the best price on a rebuild kit.