Monday, 11 July 2016

3rd July 2016 - Devils Bridge Run

The car got a good test a few days after fitting the new heater matrix on a club run up to Devils Bridge in mid-Wales. This had been organised by the Wyedean group of the TR Register and they invited the Glavon group which I belong to come along as well.

Several of us Glavon members met up at the old Severn Bridge services and drove up through the lovely Wye valley on a beautiful Sunday morning with hardly any traffic. We joined up with everyone else just outside Hereford and headed up to a refreshment stop at Crossgates near Llandrindod Wells. We were rather surprised as we arrived to find the large car park virtually full of motorbikes. There must have been well over 100 bikes but luckily there was some parking space in front of some business units at the top of the car park so we lined all our TR's up there.
Lined up at Crossgates Cafe.

 Everyone was in good spirits and luckily the bikers didn't seem to mind us car drivers in their midst. It appeared to be some kind of charity event with quite a lot of them wearing the Blood Transfusion Service tabards. They also seemed to mostly as old as us!  The cafe staff were working at full speed so we didn't have to wait too long to get served.

The drive from Crossgates to Devils Bridge took us up past the Elan Valley and over the mountain road which is a super drive with great views.
Heading up the Elan Valley
We had some local company as well.
I have driven through Devils Bridge many times on rallies over the years but there was never time to stop and explore.  Turns out it is actually three bridges, each built on top of the other. The legend tells how the first one was built by the Devil himself but I suspect that is unlikely. It is well worth a visit and you can pay £1 to go down into the gorge below the bridges.
Three bridges at Devils Bridge.
Not many of these left.
We got a cuppa and an ice cream from the Woodlands Cafe and then our return route took us south to Llandovery for another stop, this time at the Castle Car Park. This is another place I have been to so many times on rallies because it was very often used as a service area. We parked in front of the sculpture of  Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the first Prince of Wales.

Llewelyn ap Gruffydd sculpture at Landovery
 Many of us sat outside the Castle Hotel for one of their excellent cream teas before we all split up for our various journeys home.  The first few miles along the A40 towards Brecon are another lovely piece of driving road, fast sweeping bends and lovely scenery so I was really able to have some more fun.

Arriving home we had clocked up 276 fun miles, it had been an excellent day out with good company and great cars. 

20th June 2016 - Heater matrix leak

On our return from the Bullet Run I noticed a few drips of something on the passenger side rubber mat and a finger /sniff test proved it to be coolant. So it could only come from the heater which meant the whole dash would have to come out. Bugger!

Water on the carpet means a heater leak!
Removing the dash assembly and heater from a TR7 is not too difficult but it is just fiddly. There are lots of fixings in places you might not expect but the factory workshop manual took me through it step by step with numbered pictures of where all those hidden screws are located. It also gives you the confidence you haven't forgotten something and without it the job would certainly have taken much longer.  I also took lots of pictures along the way to help me remember where all the wires etc were positioned.

Dash and heater unit removed.
With the heater unit out it was clear to see that it had been leaking from the matrix seals.   These are well known to cause trouble in TR7's, they were fine when it was new but after 40 years its not surprising that they can fail. The problem is that they are one of the few TR7 parts that are no longer available. New old stock ones do appear for sale occasionally at inflated prices but they are also 30/40 years old so I would not trust them anyway. The other issue is the metal pipes that go from the matrix to the engine compartment also go rusty and cause problems. There is an expensive modern stainless steel option to fix this as well and luckily my car already had the stainless pipes so a previous owner had obviously been there before me.

The infamous heater matrix seals.
 I ordered a replacement modified heater matrix from Steve Wilcox at S&S Preparations which has normal outlets and does away with the seals and comes complete with hoses, jubilee clips and even the self adhesive foam to go round the outside.

S&S Preparations heater matrix kit.
The only problem was that I had to shorten my nice shiny stainless pipes to go with the new matrix and hoses which felt a bit like sacrilege. They are also expensive so I didn't want to get it wrong and have to buy some more.

Stainless heater pipes have to be shortened.
 The heater unit itself is mostly held together with lots of pop rivets which have to be drilled out. Again the workshop manual was very helpful with step-by-step instructions to follow because its quite a complicated item with lots of levers and flaps to disconnect. Once it was all apart I also took the chance to renew all of the rubber foam seals on the various flaps, most of which had long since disintegrated.
Old foam rubber debris inside the heater.
 Re-assembly was another case of following the steps in the manual and lots of pop rivets to do.  I had plenty of rivets in stock but they turned out to be mostly too long so I had to buy some more short ones. Best deal I could find at short notice was a box for £4.99 - but it had 1000 rivets!  I must have enough left over to fix all the TR7 heaters in the UK.

Before and after matrix replacement
These pictures show the stages in replacing the matrix, 1 original, 2 those troublesome seals, 3 new matrix fitted, 4 completed job.

Following advice from Steve Wilcox I connected up the heater pipes before fitting the dash and ran the engine up to temperature so I could check for leaks. Fingers crossed and it was all good to go. 

Putting it all back was just a reversal of taking it all apart, but I also took the opportunity to fit some wire mesh over the main air intake to prevent that experience of dead leaves etc being drawn into the heater and shot out of the air vents into your face.  I also tidied up some of the wiring harness which appeared to have been left to just float about.
Wire mesh on main air intake.

So after all that work it looked like it did before, but without the wet spots on the mat. I also had a heater that all the flaps worked properly and sent hot or cold air where you asked it to.

Job finished.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

17th June 2016, Bullet Run

The TRDC decided it would be a good idea to mark the 40th anniversary of the TR7 launch in the UK and also the recent death of Tony Lee who was the Triumph Chief Development Engineer.  The result was the Bullet Run which followed the old factory test route up to Bwlch-y-Groes in North Wales.  Bullet was the factory code name for the TR7 when it was still in the design and testing stage.

Day 1.  About 40 TR7/8's of various types came, with some being driven by members of Tony Lee's family who had been invited to take part.  Some of us started from the base hotel near Stratford-on-Avon with others joining us at a rest stop in Oswestry. From here the roads became much more interesting as we drove up to the next stop at Lake Vyrnwy.

Some of the cars at the hotel start.
Our lunch halt location, Lake Vyrnwy dam.
Leaving Lake Vyrnwy the route follows a narrow mountain road up to Bwlch-y-Groes which is the highest mountain pass in North Wales. During the 1960's and 1970's this road was used regularly by several car makers to test their new vehicles. The modern road is all single track tarmac but back in those days much of it was still a gravel surface.

TR7 traffic jam on the road to Bwlch-y-Groes
Photo opportunity.
Nearing the top of the pass.
Having stopped to admire the views and take a couple of pictures we arrived at the summit car park to find it full of TR7's. Many of the first wave were just moving off as we got there but it was soon full again. Lots more pictures followed before we set off down the other side to Bala. As you can see the weather was perfect for everyone to enjoy the great views.

TR7's only allowed!
 From Bala many crews decided to take the quickest way back to the hotel via the motorways but we chose to take a much nicer cross country route.  This took us across the B4391 to Llangynog which is a superb road to drive. It is a fast sweeping mountain road with no traffic so I was able to push the car quite hard and it handled perfectly.  Exactly the kind of road the TR7 was built for.  The fast corners and sudden changes of direction suited it perfectly with no dramas at all. Great fun.

Back at the hotel they had prepared an excellent buffet for us followed by a talk from Gordon Birtwistle who was the Triumph High Speed Development driver and has an endless supply of amusing stories from those days. Very interesting chap.

Day 2.  The organisers had arranged for us to visit the Midlands Air Museum at Coventry Airport where we were able to park the cars amongst some of their 70 or so historical aircraft.  They have all sorts of planes from a Fairey Gannet to a Vulcan  and even a more modern Russian attack helicopter.  We especially liked to be able to climb up into the Vulcan bomber cockpit to see where a crew of five worked to fly with our nuclear deterrent. We were also able to sit in a Gloster Meteor and an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy cockpit.

Another photo opportunity.

My partner Jo in the Vulcan cockpit
Driving home after lunch we came across lots of old motor cycles on their own tour and talked to some guys in a 1914 AC Sociable which had stalled. Never seen one of those before.

1914 AC Sociable
 We arrived home having done almost 500 miles in the TR7 which had behaved itself perfectly.