Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TR6 Brake Bleed

Bleed the brakes last night on the TR6 in an attempt to fix the pulling issue. After the work, the car is still pulling a bit to the right but not near as much as it was. Only thing I can figure now is that the caliper on the front right is sticking. Guessing that the pistons have gone a rusted to the caliper much like the fronts in the TR4 did. I am going to put in a few more miles this weekend a see how the brakes hold up. This will determine if I go ahead with the 4 piston upgrade for the front brakes or if I can hold off on that. If I do go ahead with replacing the calipers I may as well replace the steering rack boots (which I have), double check all the front suspension bits, and replace the rear lever shocks (which I have). So driving impressions from this up coming weekend will determine what I do next to the car....

Best American Band of the '80s?

Quick post today. Had an interesting discussion with some friends that ended with each of us trying to come up with our top 3 best American Bands of the '80s. The trick here is Band. This eliminates Prince, Bruce Springsteen (yes he played with the E Street band but the Albums always just said Bruce) plus some others. Kick it around in your head and let me know what you come up with. My Top three?

1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
2. REM
3. Metallica

Friday, January 25, 2008

Shipwright's Disease: Stage 1

Ok, place my first bits order with The Roadster Factory. Ordered a bunch of parts that need replacing on the car. Figure this is the first of a few large part orders I will be making. Guess I need to inventory and label the spares that came with the car so I can organize everything when the order comes in.

For those unknowing about Shipwright's Disease see an explanation below....

Shipwright's disease

Goes something like this:

Sailor owns boat.
Boat has burned out light in galley.
Sailor decides to change bulb.
Sailor notices socket is corroded, decides to change socket.
Sailor notices wiring frayed while trying to change socket.
Sailor decides to change wiring.
Sailor notices galley ceiling slats are rotted while changing the wire.
Sailor decides galley ceiling slats need changing.
Sailor notices ...

this goes on and on and on and on and pretty soon, Sailor is undertaking a
major renovation of his boat because of a burned out lightbulb.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Starting work on the TR6

Finally got the 6 up in the air yesterday and poked around. Underbody of the car is in great shape, no rust at all. One of the biggest pluses I found is that all the rear differential mounts are intact (!) so that saves me a few hundred bucks in repair. Front steering rack is going to be added to the project list, needs new boots (which I have) and some serious adjustment (which I need to learn how to do). I was going to bleed the brakes but found that my bleeder will not fit over the master cylinder opening. The master cylinder cap has a hole in the middle of it so I need to order a new one (this has been the source of the mysterious brake fluid spray all over the engine bay when I finish driving). This will allow me to adapt the old cover to my bleeder, all I have to do is drill a hole, add a hose fitting and connect it to the pressure bleeder and I will be good to go. I think there is some back up in the brake system that is causing the car to pull left under braking. When I got the master cylinder cap off it was filled to the brim with fluid, I wicked off some with a paper towel (making sure not to get any on the paint and to completely wash off any I did) leaving the master cylinder about half full. Went for a quick drive (to see if adjusting the rear brakes had helped the pull issue) and when I came back the master cylinder was backed up and completely full again. No idea. Going to empty the whole system and refill it to see it that fixes the problem. Once I have that sorted I will replace the DOT 4 fluid with Silicone DOT 5 fluid so I don't have to worry about small brake fluid leaks eating any of the paint off the body.

Have a parts list worked up and right now it looks like I can come in under budget. First thing is to get the brakes figured out so I can drive her around a bit more and get a feeling as to what else needs fixing. I think I may also go ahead and change all the fluids (Oil, coolant, rear diff and transmission). We'll see if changing the transmission fluid cures any of the grinding in 2nd and 3rd gears.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Back out on the Road

Heading up to the Mountains of North Carolina this weekend for some R&R. My wife and her family have been going one weekend in January since she was just a little girl. Nice place they have a deal with up near Cashiers. The weather is going to get interesting Saturday. It is supposed to snow all day! I haven't seen a real snow since my honeymoon out in Colorado. Could make driving back to Atlanta a bit of a challenge.

After getting back from the mountains, I am back off on my SC/NC plant trip. Head out towards Hartsville, SC then over to Southport, NC, up to Raleigh and then back home. 1300+ miles in 3 days, woohoo. So I won't get a chance to start work on the TR until middle of next week at the earliest and it is looking like it really will not be unitl the week of the 28th.

Went through the spare parts that came with the car and found a few things that will save me some bucks. Rear license plate light assembly was in there ($300 part) as was the interior convience light (another $100 or so). Plus a set of rebuilt rear lever shocks, the brake PDWA switch, some new indicator covers and a bunch of other random parts. Won't have much else to tell on the 6 until I can get the wheels off and diagnose the brake issues. That's it for now. Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

TR6 Pictures and Snow!

Well the TR6 sits protected in my garage now. I got the insurance switched from the 4a to the 6 yesterday. I have classic car insurance through Hagerty and I could not be more pleased with their service. Rates are great and the website is easy to use. It only took me 5 minutes to switch coverage between cars. Their customer service called me later in the day to confirm and tell me that they had e-mailed and mailed me copied of my insurance card. Only think I had to do extra was send them a photo of the car. I highly suggest them if you have a classic that you want to insure.

Below are some pics of the TR6 as it sits right now. I have all the spares that are with it sitting in a few boxes. I plan on going through them tonight to see what is usable and make a list of what I have. As you can see form the pics the car is in great shape, no rust (gave the underside a much better inspection last night, all clean!) but the interior and the wiring is a bit disheveled. I'll get rolling on the brake fix sometime in the next few weeks. That will let me drive it a bit and start figuring out which project to hop on next. I guess after the brakes I will have to pick a time to take it off the road while I pull the tranny, rewire everything and redo the seats. Anyway, on to the pics (Bonus Pic of my house in the snow late last night at the bottom).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

TR6 is now in it's new home!

Got the TR6 back to the house last night. Drove well on the 40+ mile trip. The trip allowed me to assess a few things and come up with a plan in my head on what to do first. Brakes are going to be the first project. They are a bit scary (pull hard left) and once I got home I noticed that the Master Cylinder was leaking a bit. Previous owner claims he just rebuilt the thing but I'm still going to tear into it and see what's up. I'll know a bit more about the brakes when I get the car up in the air with the wheels off next week. The interior lighting is also a bit off, looks as if the wiring is a bit cobbled together. So I have added a new wiring harness to my list of projects. Using the big three suppliers I have come up with a budget for what needs to be done to the car, looks like I will have enough money to get the job done right and have the car running as good if not better than when it was new. I'll post some pictures in the next few days.

Monday, January 14, 2008

TR6 to do list

I pick the TR6 up tomorrow. Really excited, can't wait to tear into it and get to fixing it up. Just a quick list of what I know I need to do first...

Rebuild front brakes (Plan on converting the front brakes to Toyota 4-piston brakes)
Recover seats
Replace dashboard warning lights (OEM parts are unavailable so I am going to try to adapt the TR4 warning lights to fit)
Remove transmission for rebuild
Design new headliner for Hardtop
Tuneup/balance the carbs

That is all I have off the top of my head. Some pretty big projects in there (transmission) and I am sure I will find a few more to add to the list once I really get in and under the car.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fog Light Rant

This rant is a long time coming. Finally came to a head while driving to work this morning in the rain. Ok, here goes...

Fog lights, where to start. In the whole time I have been driving (16+ years) there have only been a hand full of occasions where using fog lights would have been appropriate. Since owning a car that has fog lights (my '04 MINI) I have only had to use them maybe 4 times, while driving at night through pea soup fog. That is what fog lights are designed to do, distribute light at a wider and lower angle so that you do not get the glare back from the fog. Until recently most cars did not come with fog lights but now they are a selling point option with most cars. And since everyone now has them it seems everyone wants to use them all the damn time. Most "fog" lights fitted to cars now don't even accomplish their intended mission, to aim a low wide beam at the ground. It seems that 50% of the time fog lights tend to aim higher than the low beams of the car, this is especially true with all the SUVs and trucks. Drivers run around with fog lights on any time it is dark. Fun thing is, most cars make you turn on a completely separate switch to operate the fog lights once you have turned on your low beams! That means these mindless Urban Assault Vehicle drivers take the extra time to think about turning on the fog lights! Arrghh.

Leaving your front foggers on is bad enough but rear fog lights I hate even more. These are usually found on European cars (required by law by the EU). They are a good idea (I have them on the MINI and have used them once for their designed use) when it is really foggy (I'm talkin less than 50 foot visibility) and help a car approaching you from the rear know that you are there. But they are meant to be turned off once someone is behind you. I compare them to rear facing high beams, most of the time they are brighter than brake lights. When driving with high beams on you dip them when a car is coming in the opposite direction, same with rear fogs. But alas it never fails, if it is raining on my way to work I will see at least one or two cars driving in traffic on the interstate (sometimes it isn't even raining!) with the rear fogs on. Usually some idiot in a Jag or Land Rover talking on their cell phone and wanting to be seen. Really just doesn't make sense, again you have to actively make the effort to turn these on when you start the car and turn the lights on. If you leave your rear fogs on then I see it as you are ok with me pulling in behind you with my front high beams on just to make sure that you see me ok?

That's it, I'm done. Fog lights are great safety items and do increase your the FOG!! Used alone on a dry night or in a drizzle they are just plain annoying.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Last Day with the TR4a

Well, today is my last day with the 4a. Drove it to work this morning and it is running great. Going to make me sad to see it go but the TR6 should do a fine job of replacing it and give me something to work on during the next few months. I guess I will do a quick review of my experience with the 4a for anyone thinking of getting one of their own.


Very distinctive. I like the bonnet bulge and the headlight "eyebrows" the most. I can just see the guys at Triumph designing the bonnet "power" bulge when they first tried to fit the hood on the TR4 and realized that it didn't clear the carburetors! Not a huge fan of the rear with the small tail fin treatment. Looks a little to forced and not all that elegant. The convertible top doesn't ruin the looks of the car when it is up like many modern convertibles do. All in all nice lines but not near as pretty as the TR3 or as tough looking as the TR6.


Small but laid out well. Has some funny quirks that show it is a British car. Bonnet release on the right, hood vent control on the right, choke pull on the right ect. Perfect driving position. Steering wheel is a bit large but the extra diameter comes in handy when trying to throw the car into turns. Visibility is great even with the top up. The area behind the seats is a perfect place to store extra tools or install some speakers. All the gauges are well thought out and easy to read. Nothing that I would really change on the interior.


It is a blast to drive (once warmed up!). Corners as good as anything that I have ever driven. Shifter is the smoothest and coolest that I have ever used, just clicks back and forth willingly between gears. Backend will hop a bit on exit of a corner but no big deal, very predictable. Steering is quick and spot on, it can be a bit heavy in fast corners but hey this thing was designed 45 years ago! Cruising with the top down at 50mph is the perfect setting for the TR4a. It can do 70 on the highway or scream through the curves but it really is most at home just cruising. Top down on a spring day driving through some gentle hills is just amazing. I never really understood the lure of a convertible until the first perfect fall day that I took the 4a out with the top down. Wow.


If you can change the oil on any car then you have the skills to keep a TR running. Nothing fancy under the bonnet here. Just a big 4-pot engine and simple electrics. The car has 4 fuses I think? I've done everything short of rebuilding the engine with no problem. Parts are very easy to come by, tons of workshop manuals out there to guide you. Heck, I am pretty sure that you can take the whole car apart with a phillips head screwdriver and a good socket set (don't forget the 8 point sockets!).


It is an old car. It was finicky when the weather was cold. That is about it.


All in all this was a great car to get me started into classic cars. I found one close that was in good shape to start and cut my teeth keeping it running and updating it a bit over the 15+ months that I owned it. Sure, one day I'll look back and wish I had not sold this one (probably when I see one go for 6 figures on Barret-Jackson) but the time is right for me to move on to a new project. The finances have worked out perfectly to sell this one and get the TR6. I just don't have the money to put into the TR4a that I would want to if I kept it. With the 6 I get a car in better cosmetic shape with enough money to get it in great mechanical shape. Anyway, I hope the new owner takes as good if no better care of the 4a than I did!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Yep, TR6

Well it is official. The TR4a is sold and I have committed to buy the TR6. Out with one old car and in with a new old car. Looking forward to working on something new to me. It had reached the point with the 4a that I had done all I could do to it without taking a big step and sinking $7k into it to really restore it. The TR6 is in better cosmetic shape, will make a better driver with some of the improvements that have been made to it and I will have some money left over from the 4a sale to actually do some restoration to the TR6. I am also still holding out hope that I can keep the upgrades/repairs within a budget so that I can afford to finally buy the Nissan Patrol. Should be picking the 6 up by this weekend, I'll post some pictures and a to-do list when I get it home and really get into the guts of it.