Monday, 16 December 2013

November 2013 - Putting blue car back together

After the leaking fuel puzzle was solved (see previous post) I started to think about putting the interior stuff back that I had taken out to help with welding and painting.  I also noticed the rear bumper metalwork was looking a bit scruffy so had a closer look and decided it had to go. See pictures below which explain why.
old bumper - past its best

I had a ring round and bought a good secondhand one from one of our TR Register group members who has several TR7's.  All it needed was a quick tidy up and a coat of paint. Fitting the plastic covers back was a fiddly job where you seem to need three hands but after a few choice words of persuasion it all went back together and is a much better result.

New bare bumper before plastic cover

 Now I could turn my attention to the interior.

Whilst the car was being welded and painted I got the bodyshop guys to install a couple of captive nut mounting points for the Aleybars  roll hoop that I have.  This had originally come with the old red car but had never been bolted in, it was simply just placed in position. Looked OK but was only decoration and wobbled about when you got hold of it.  At least now was the chance to install it properly, see new mounting plate with its captive nuts welded in position.

Plate with captive nuts for roll hoop
I also had a fine time scraping off the remnants of adhesive where the old carpet had been stuck on. It was very rough and jagged so had to be done but was a real swine to get off.  I tried various tools and concoctions but ended up with a petrol soaked rag as the best method. It took a couple of unpleasant hours but had to be done.
Job done  but I don't want to do that again!
Roll hoop and rear panel fitted
Came across a few of these stickers on the trim

Monday, 30 September 2013

September 2013. Blue Car Bodyshop work finished

13th September.  Went down to pick up the blue car after its time at the bodyshop having the rear wheel arches repaired, it was 5:00pm Friday, it was raining heavily and we were going on holiday next day.  The guys there had told me the car run out of petrol when they were moving it around and so I took a jerry can of fuel with me. Funny thing was I had put about two gallons in after replacing the tank so was a bit surprised and thought it was maybe a fuel pick-up problem but added the extra petrol anyway to be sure.

The rain even got to the phone camera
Two miles up the road I found out that it wasn't just a pick-up problem as the car started to miss then gradually just died.  It had all the signs and feel of running out of fuel so the only answer was a blockage or a pump problem.  Curses, no choice but to call the Towergate Insurance breakdown service.

A wet Friday rush hour turned out  to be a very busy time for the breakdown guys and I spent 2 hours waiting in the rain. Eventually one had to come from 40 miles away and it was fully dark when he arrived..  He was good but had no idea about the LT77 gearbox and the fact that it cannot be towed so I had to explain and persuade him to put the rear wheels on his tail-lift.

Next morning I dried out the car as best I could..  I left it in the garage with the hard top off, and the doors, boot and bonnet open and went on holiday to Portugal for two weeks sunshine.

Update:  On return from holidays the car was nicely all dried out so I made a start on trying to find out why it had broken down.  I was looking for a blocked fuel line so planned to begin by disconnecting at the tank end and blowing it through presuming I had disturbed some muck when I re-fitted the tank.. First step drain the excess fuel but I couldn't get a siphon to work. No problem, I'll blow it back the other was so I disconnected the feed pipe at the pump end and tried blowing back with the air line.
Imagine my surprise to hear the air arriving loudly in the tank - but with no sounds of bubbling - the tank was dry!  It had not broken down at all, I had run out of fuel.
I added a couple of gallons and it fired up perfectly but I then noticed a drip by the pump as I was reconnecting the rubber pipe. Closer examination proved the rubber was split and rotten although it looked pretty new. See picture below. I guess the lesson is not to assume fuel pipes are sound just because they look OK.
That explains the fuel leak then

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

September 2013 GLAVON day out in the old car.

GLAVON group cars at Rodmarton Manor
Away from working on the cars we had a nice Sunday afternoon out at Rodmarton Manor. Its a local manor house built in the early 1900's in the Arts and Crafts style developed by William Morris. It was all made from local materials and is still complete with all the original furniture made for the house. Amazingly it is also still owned and occupied by the Biddulph family who commissioned it. The latest generation Mr Biddulph was there to welcome us, he seemed genuinely interested our cars and asked lots of questions.

From our point of view it also made a great place to show off the cars in front of the house.

Nice line up with my TR7 nearest the camera (one of the members came in his Lotus Elan +2)
 To end our visit we had a wander round the garden which was also laid out in the Arts and Crafts style and an old Canberra then proceeded to give us a diplay fly past. The aircraft is based nearby at Kemble and we think he was trying out his display for the Goodwood Revival next week.

Canberra fly past

 The week previously the red TR7 had decided to play up. The clutch master cylinder leaked most of its fluid down the bulkhead and then the new(ish) fuel pump started to leak as well. There was not time to change the master cylinder and the clutch still worked OK so I just topped it up and put a bottle of brake fluid in the boot - just in case.  The fuel pump leak turned out to be just the top loose so I was able to nip it up gently and that fixed it.  Did start to wonder though if the car was getting a bit agoraphobic, or maybe it realises its days are numbered so it is showing off?

On the day The TR7 behaved itself perfectly, Then on the way home it rained quite heavily so I got to try out the wipers in anger and the headlights worked as well. Magic.

Monday, 1 July 2013

July 2013. Blue car goes to bodyshop/ red car MOT

Looks OK from a distance. The hardtop is on because I took the hood off to aid welding. 
1st July.  After all the dramas getting fuel tank sorted for the MOT I took the car down to the bodyshop today.    It was not without last minute dramas however.  Drove it out of the garage OK and parked it to go indoors and collect phone, money etc.  Got back in to drive off and it would not start, no sparks at all.

Bit of a Victor Meldrew moment -  I DON'T BELIEVE IT!!.

It had cut out randomly on me a few times before.  No other symptoms just a sudden cut like you switched off but it had always re-started immediately. I had previously found a loose earth connection for the Lumenition and thought that was the problem but it obviously was not. At least now with a total failure I was able to do some proper fault finding. Following the Lumenition diagnostics that I was able to print off their website I finally tracked it down using a voltmeter to the optical unit in the distributor.
Good news - I had a spare.
Bad news - the distributor had to come out to fit it.
So instead of a quick drive to the bodyshop I spent the whole day taking out and replacing the distributor.

Finished the job at 4:30pm and it runs fine now, so was able to deliver it after all.  Phew !!
Reasons for the work can be seen in the pictures below.

Nearside wing

Offside wing

Nearside wheelarch trouble

July 11th.   The bodyshop has started work on the blue car now and revealed some of the gory details

Outer wheel arch cut away to reveal rusty inner
We found the previous arch repair panel had barely been welded at all !

Rusted inner arch and sill sections now removed
ready to install new repair panels

Closeup of lower wing area 

Old Red car update July 12th.  

July 2013 - looks OK from here
Like I said in a previous post, the intention is to get the blue car bodywork up to a decent standard and then swap my good oily bits over from the old red car I have had since 2002. Because of the limited garage space this means I need to keep the red one road legal long enough to swap the bits over. After that the body can be stripped of any useful stuff and scrapped.  There is an MOT coming up later this month so I was having a poke around and guess what I found, see the picture

Nasty surprise in the nearside sill
Its going to need a quick repair job to get an MOT test.  Not what I needed just now.

Latest news: sill has been patched and the car has a new MOT so its road legal for another year - or as long as I need it to be until I nick all the good bits off it!

One of those good bits will be a neat finisher for the top of the gear lever gaiter. The original rubber ones on most TR7's have given up long ago but a guy called William Parris in the USA was making some replacements and sent me one.
William Parris finisher fitted below the wooden gearknob.


Blue car update  17th July.

Popped into the body shop for a look at how they are getting on.  The offside wheel arch metalwork is now finished, just waiting for its skim of filler etc.  They showed me the old arch that a previous repairer had fitted and turns out it was only just welded in a couple of spots, the rest was done with seam sealer. Not good.

New inner arch fitted

Right side outer panels now fitted

Left side outer panels fitted ready for filler and paint

The guys in the body shop did moan to me that the repair panels I supplied didn't fit too well. Apparently they had to make at least four cuts in the inner wing repair panels to get them anywhere near to correct shape so that is not good to hear.  Because of stock problems I had bought one of them from Rimmers and one from Robsport so seems the suppliers to both are equally bad - or is it the same source?


Update  21st August.  Not too much progress to report, bodyshop boys have been on holidays and working on new car accident stuff so the TR has been mostly gathering dust but it has had a first coat of primer and a contrast mist coat to show any imperfections up before final colour is applied.

Right side before final wet & dry

Left side before final wet & dry

30th August update:   Called by the bodyshop today to see if there was any progress and found the final primer was on and flatted back ready to paint.  Seems they had the car set up in the spraybooth ready to paint yesterday and when they went to mix the paint they found the paint code is wrong.  Turns out the one on the car says its Persian Aqua but of course it isn't.  
Apparently when it was "restored" by a previous owner years ago they changed the colour at the same time. My boys sent the bootlid to their paint supplier who scanned it to identify the real colour and paint is now ready to go. Should get painted over the weekend.

Here it is, stonechipped and ready for paint.

Monday, 17 June 2013

June 2013. Blue car, Fuel tank problems and MOT

17th June.  Back from holidays in Portugal and time to get on with the project.  The sealer in the new tank has had three weeks to dry and looks OK so I need to finish getting the old one out. The old mounting studs actually came out quite easily - I had given them a good soaking with WD40 before I went away - but then I had to remove the rear exhaust section to allow the tank to drop out.  Bit of extra work but no big problem.

Rusty area of old tank 

Interestingly there is a screw head that looks like a drain plug in the old tank (see picture) or it might be where someone has made some kind of repair before.  I wonder?

With the tank out I was able to have a good look at the condition underneath the rear and found it mostly good but some potential trouble spots.  All the main sufaces have a really good covering of sealer/stonechip except the tops of the two chassis rails.  These have some scabby rust starting.  Its like someone has done a very nice job and then completely missed some important bits.  The area above the tank is all excellent so why miss the chassis rails?  Weird.

Tank out, looks good
Left chassis rail top, rust starting

Right chassis rail top, rust starting

Rust treated with Hydrate 80

Couple more pictures. First shows the remains of the tank fixings that came off, you can see they would never have come undone without breaking the straps anyway. Second shows the dodgy repair of the old tank done by the mystery bodger.  I just hope it was an emergency repair and not typical of any other stuff I might find lurking in wait for me.

Old tank fixing studs

Dodgy repair to the old tank
18th June.  Now the Hydrate 80 rust treatment has cured overnight I have painted the areas with some underseal I had in stock.  I think it came with the previous red car project that I sold last year and has never been opened.  Looking at the label it is priced at £1.09 so must be almost something for Antiques Roadshow but it looks to be in perfect condition.  I know the shop ( A&B Autospares ) got taken over in the 1980's and the 4-digit phone number confirms it.
Just realised after writing the above that the underseal is just about the same age as the car, Now THAT is originality for you !!

Historic underseal

Historic pricetag as well!

23rd June.   Well its all back together and the car is sitting on its wheels and running.  Usual sort of dramas finishing the job, had to make a new brake pipe up on the axle as the old one twisted off when I undid it. The bleed nipple rounded off so I had to fit a new one.  One of the KYB dampers had a thread picked up so I had to carefully run a die down it and the fuel gauge is still not working - more of this later.
On the plus side that old Tetroseal has worked out realy well and gives a good finish.

Tank back in place,
note lots of copper grease everywhere!

24th June.   Three Cheers, after all the fuel tank drama the Blue car passed its MOT today so I can now run it down to the bodyshop to have the rear arches done.  Feels like I can really get started making it into what I want now.
So it will just be the Sprint engine, poly bushed suspension, 4-pot brakes etc etc etc to all come off my original red car!!
Could be a busy summer.

Monday, 20 May 2013

2013 - The New Blue Car Project Begins

I had realised back in 2010 that my original TR7 I bought in 2002 was not going to last too much longer.  The previous owner had done quite a lot of welding but it was not very good quality and I found some important bits he missed, or rather the MOT man did.  Almost at the same time I bought another TR7 which was an abandoned project and was structurally sound.  See my previous post about this with some pictures.

However when I started to get serious about the project I found that the interior had got wet at some time so was actually in a poor condition and would all need replacing.  Also when I got a quote for a decent paint job it came to almost £1500.  This meant there was much more work - and expense - in putting it back on the road to the standard I wanted so I decided to sell it.  Less than two weeks later it had gone to a new home up near Manchester.

Looking round for a replacement I found a good looking  1981 Midnight Blue TR7 on Ebay and bought it for less than the price of painting the old one.  It was pretty tidy and had quite a lot of good stuff already done, like uprated brakes and suspension, 15" wheels, stainless exhaust, electric fan, electronic ignition etc etc.    It had some restoration done previously but there were a couple of spots still  needing attention, mainly the front of the rear wing just above where it joins the sill. This is a regular TR7 problem area and repair panels are easily available.

May 2013.  The car was booked into a good local bodyshop but the MOT test expires on 1st June so I took it for a test not expecting any trouble.


The tester pointed out a badly corroded fuel tank strap that would need  replacement before he could pass it..
Yes, its completely broken!

I ordered some new straps from Robsport and started to get the axle out to give access to the tank. This is when the fun started.

Someone had been at the axle bolts before me and they were mostly rounded off so this was going to be fun.

Out came the grinder to take the heads off and things were going pretty well with showers of sparks until I noticed something was dripping amid all the sparks. It was petrol !!!

Yes, that is petrol leaking!

I only just touched the spot where the petrol was coming from and the sealer came away to reveal petrol dripping in a steady stream from the tank.  Not good.

Hmmmm, I think any more grinding will have to wait till the leak had stopped.   I drained as much as possible (about 6 gallons)  from the tank and left it dripping into an old washing up bowl overnight.

Next morning the drips had stopped and I was able to get the axle out completely, but not before some more grinding.  The upper link bolts at the body end are harder to access so I had to cut though the links.
Bolts cut off with the grinder.

It seems a bit brutal but it was the best way to get at those top link to body bolts. I do have a some old suspension links "in stock" so temporary replacements are no problem.

Top link sawn off
to aid access to bolts

So the axle is now on the floor and the new tank mounting straps are on their way from Robsport.  

Axle finally out

I found a replacement tank in Aberdeen via the TR7/8 Forum  and did a deal at a good price.  By a amazing stroke of good luck a friend in Aberdeen ( John Roberts ) is coming down to Gloucestershire in the next couple of days  to collect a Fiat 124 Coupe he has bought from Stroud and will bring the tank down with him.

Update: 22 May 2013.  My friend John has delivered the tank which looks pretty good but has obviously been sitting for a while and has something making sloshing noises inside.  He also gave me some fuel tank restorer/sealer stuff that he had left over to treat it before I install it.  

23 May 2103.  The tank treatment is in three parts, a cleaner/degreaser,  an etching solution and finally the actual sealer. I have done the first two giving them a good "slosh around" - that is the actual term used on the products labels - and its now waiting to air dry before adding the sealer.  I will also give it a good external paint layer for protection before fitting.

Replacement tank during treatment

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

2012 Sprint engine update and Oil Pressure gauge

 Running around trying out the Sprint engine was good fun. It is a smooth torquey engine and I just love the way it revs.  The only thing I started to notice when the initial grin started to fade was a few rattles and noises that weren't there before. The exhaust system would knock on the floor sometimes and I had also found a mark on the inside of the bonnet (hood) where the oil filler cap was just touching.

Several attempts to rearrange my cobbled up exhaust system proved useless, and it was too close over the axle area,  so I decided to buy a complete new system that I knew would fit properly.  S&S supplied a very nice complete new stainless system including manifold and mounting rubbers, but at around £500 it was not cheap!
Fitting the system was very easy apart from the manifold.   The new engine has studs in the head instead of bolts which I think is a good idea, but the clearance issue ( see picture ) means there is not enough room to
 Nice new stainless manifold - but close to chassis
get the manifold on/off the studs.  The only way is to undo the engine mounts to tip it over and then it would just go on.  I also used brass nuts on the studs to avoid any sticking problems later.

When I asked S&S about the clearance to the chassis rail they told me that folks tend to use a bit of heat and a hammer to "modify" the manifold.  I thought this was a bit brutal having just paid good money for it but found another way on one of the forums by a small machining job on the right side engine mount - see pictures below.

engine mount before - block side

and after

engine mount before - chassis side
and after

About 5mm is machined off each side of the mounting as shown in the pictures.  The effect of the machining is to make the engine "lean" slightly to the right and away from the chassis rail.

Enquiries about the bonnet clearance revealed that the usual trick is to use TR8 spacers between the subframe and chassis rails.   These are basically just a thick washer (about 10mm) which drops the subframe by the same amount relative to the body. Easy fix and took less than 30mins to do.


Forgot to mention earlier, somewhere in amongst all these goings on I managed to find time to fit an oil pressure gauge in place of the clock. The car always had a gauge fitted low down by your left knee - a useless place - so I moved it to somewhere you can now see it.. I used a old Smiths classic full scale 0-100 psi capillary. gauge. Quite a simple job, just a bit of fitting/cutting out some plastic in the back of the instrument pod to get it sitting nicely in place..

Oil Pressure now clearly visible.