Friday, 9 April 2021

2021, March. Some SJW888S history revealed

SJW888S was a rally car in earlier times .
Browsing through the rally pages on Facebook I am always on the look out for any TR7 related stuff and I noticed a familiar registration number on the entry list for the 1985 Port Talbot Novice road rally, 
TR7  SJW888S at start number 5.  
Asking around on the page I tracked down the navigator David Collins so I contacted him to ask what he could remember about the car.   He said it had originally been a BL managers car (hence the close registration number to the TR7 Sprint development cars) but had been rolled by the managers son.  The roof was quite badly damaged so it was sold off and rebuilt by his driver Martin Hall as a rally car.   They used it on quite a lot of events in the 1980s and he even sent me some pictures of them in action, see below.

When they rallied it the car ran a tuned version of the standard 8 valve motor and the obvious difference now is the colour was originally yellow.  Apparently it went pretty well and they had enjoyed themselves getting some decent results.

2021, March. Few tidying up jobs on the FHC

 Lower Front Panel 
When I got the car it had the standard plastic front spoiler as fitted to all the TR7s from about 1978. This covered the lower front panel that runs across the car but which had got a bit scruffy under the pastic. With limited time originally it just got some rust treatment and that was all so it was overdue a tidy up and now was a good time and. The car was registered in 1977 so I liked the idea of keeping it to the earlier spec. Looking closely it was actually in very good condition so all that was needed was sanding with wet and dry and some primer before a coat of Pageant Blue from a spray can. 

Nicer now with a bit of blue paint on.
Rear Panel 
The earlier cars also had the back panel between the rear lights painted Satin Black and as I needed to do some tidying up there as well I decided to paint it black.  There were some scabby bits of paint where the number plate is screwed on and needed cleaning up.   Again it was just a question of sanding with wet and dry before some primerand then a Satin Black spray can. 
Fellow TR7 blogger Beans had also noticed that the number plate was fitted too high on the rear panel.  I had done this deliberately to cover up an area of poor paintwork so I could now put that right as well.
Guilty secret, I had covered this up with the number plate!

Ready for some Satin Black paint.

Finished version, but is that plate on straight?

 Seems I need to adjust the number plate now!  Always something to do.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

2021, February Life begins again!

 FHC Front Suspension Job

When I built the FHC a couple of years back it was in a bit of a rush so there was not time for some little jobs like modifying the front strut tops for the roller bearings. The best way is to machine a recess in the aluminium bells so the bearings fit inside them. There wasn't time for the machining work so I fitted the bearings without the recess anyway which resulted in a slightly increased the ride height by about 5-10mm.   Now I needed to have the struts apart to replace the "rubber" bellows which had split so it was time to do the bearing job properly.  

These gaiters lasted less than 2 years!

The most commonly used bearings used are a standard part from a Ford Escort Mk4 and cheap, part no. 6150276.

Ford Strut Bearings, part no. 6150276  

Background:  The standard TR7 strut top bearing is a plastic/nylon bush running against a greased flat washer. This may have been OK when new but over the years these have often dried out and many owners now find the steering too heavy for comfort. Power steering was fitted to some cars back in the day, mostly the TR8s in the USA market but this has two drawbacks, 1 it is for LHD cars, and 2 it is almost impossible to find nowadays.  Some folks have used a modified Rover SD1 power rack but the modern equivalent is an adapted version of the electrically assisted steering column used in many cars now.  The other easier and cheaper option is to just fit the bearings which do the job perfectly for me. 

 The standard strut top parts look like this:-

1. Spring top pan

2. Nylon bush/bearing

3. Rubber seal (runs outside of 2)

4. Flat steel washer (runs on top of 2)

5. Aluminium cone (goes on top of 4)

6. Strut top with rubber insert

7. Cupped washer 

The new bearings replace the nylon bush (2) and the flat washer(4).

Like I said above, when I built the car I just put the roller bearings in place of the nylon bush but being much thicker they do raise the ride height so I wanted to fix this. 

Thickness of the Ford bearing

 The way this is done is to machine a recess into the aluminium cone to take the bearing with only the running surface being slightly proud of the cone, like this:-

Modified cones to take Ford bearing (photo Beans)

Putting it all back together with the well geased new bearings and new strut gaiters was pretty easy, not forgetting to include the bump stop on the damper shaft.  There are various options with the bump stop, some folks don't use one at all (not a good idea!) and some have the nice expensive polybush version.  I just use a cut down rubber one as suggested by Steve Wilcox of S&S Preparations.  The new standard ones sold now are too long.  All you need is one (yes one) rubber bump stop and cut it in half, so it does for both struts. Result!

Half a rubber bump stop is used

With the car back on its wheels I took it for a quick test drive and the steering feels excellent, light and precise - and back to the proper ride height.  

Monday, 8 February 2021

2020, September Tulip Run

Glavon Tulip Run

After a very strange summer September gave us a chance to actually go out in a TR7 on the Glavon Tulip Run.  With all the COVID restrictions in place our TR Register group managed to organise a small run out with the cars on 13th September.  

Fairview Garden Centre at Birdwood opened up specially early at 8:30am to serve the 12 crews with a nice bacon roll and a cuppa before we started. We were the only visitors there at that time and the lovely weather meant we were able to sit at outside tables.

Glavon cars at Fairview Garden Centre

The gentle route had been planned by Noel and Ange Jones and took us out towards Ross on Wye and then down via Upton Bishop and along the beautiful river bank at Hole-in-the-Wall where we got a cheerful wave from some folks camping by the river. 

River Wye at Hole-in-the-Wall
Socially distanced campers

 Being harvest time we did meet quite a few tractors with heavily loaded trailers full of sugar beet in the narrow lanes. No rest for the farmers who have to work Sundays when the weather is kind to them.

Jo calls a turn near Ross on Wye

We all paused for a coffee at Raglan Garden Centre where people were starting to arrive for Sunday lunch in the cafe.  This felt a bit strange to us but arrangements were in place to enable everyone to keep their distance and again we were all able to sit outside.

After a short run through the Forest of Dean we crossed back over the Severn Bridge to finish at the Royal Oak in Wotton Under Edge.   A Sunday lunch had been arranged for us here but we chose to pass on that and continue home which is only 7-8 miles away.

Glavon cars at the finish pub 

The day after our run the country entered a new lockdown and it turned out to be the only outing of 2020.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

2020, February. Tidying up jobs on the FHC

Changing Switches

One of the really irritating things for me on the FHC was that it had the wipers and indicator stalks on the "wrong" side, so there were several times when I indicated to turn and the wipers came on instead.  Apart from being embarassing it was also potentially dangerous so I wanted to swap the switches around.  All the cars made from the next year onwards have theirs on the "normal" side - indicator on the left so I wanted to swap them over.  I already had a set of the switches from my original old red TR7 that I had broken for spares.  The ignition lock was also on the left which sometimes had me fumbling to get the key in, so I wanted to swap that over as well.  I needed the plastic cowl that covers the ignition switch but Steve Wilcox at S&S Preparations supplied that from his huge stocks of all things TR7. 

It was not a difficult job and only took a couple of hours, the most difficult part was getting the security bolts out that hold the ignition lock assembly. They are the sort that are made to shear off when you tighten them up, presumably to deter car thieves.  I had to use a Dremel to put a slot in the head and a centre punch to start them turning but they came out easily enough.

Right side and left side ignition key assemblies 

The changeover means I no longer have to fiddle with the key or have to think every time I want to indicate or switch the wipers on which is a good result for me.

Ignition key where I like it!

Friday, 15 November 2019

2019, October. Lombard Rally Bath 2019

We had very much enjoyed the Lombard Rally Bath 2018 so were keen to do it all again in 2019. The idea was the same with cars using some of the classic stages for the 1970s-80s and some new ones. This years start was moved out of the city up to Bath Racecourse to give better access and reduce the traffic problems.  The proposed route took us up through Gloucestershire and then across the Severn Bridge into South Wales, with an overnight stop at the Celtic Manor Golf Resort. The entry was about 120 cars of all shapes and sizes with five TR7's taking part. The other four were serious rally cars and had V8 engines.

After a short run fron the racecourse our first stage was through the Badminton Estate, more famous as the location of the Badminton Three Day Event for horses.  This was a short section on nixed surfaces but was good fun and an excellent start to warm us up.

Badminton Estate stage (photo Noel Jones)

 You can see the Badminton in-car dashcam footage here:-

From Badminton we headed up to Cirencester Park. The stage here was to be run twice and was the same as used on the original Lombard RAC Rallies in the 1970s and 1980s. It was also the main spectator venue for the day. Queues to get in extended for a couple of miles so it was certainly popular!   The stage was again a mixture of tarmac and loose surfaces but under trees with spectators lining the track.  We had a bit of a go here and this seemed to be popular with those watching.  We were parked next to the Stig (the real one!) in his ex-works Audi Quattro and he queued up behing us on the start line for our second run - no pressure then. He didn't catch us up, but was doing charity runs with paying passengers so was obviously taking it a bit easy.

Cirencester Park Stage with crowds

Cirencester Park, spectators lined the stage

The stage was very enjoyable and there was a little more grip than might be expected, see our run in Cirencester Park here:-

From Cirencester we headed down across the Severn Bridge into Wales via a couple of passage controls and then lunch at the Celtic Manor Gold Resort.

Next offering was at Parc Bryn Glas which is a country park near Tredegar. As we arrived here the roads around were lined with parked cars on every available space so there was obviously going to be a few folks watching and there was a little delay whilst the organisers tried to get the spectators to stand in safe (ish) places. There was a tight hairpin in the middle of the stage that I had to do a reverse at because the handbrake is not good enough on dry tarmac - that will have to be improved for the future.  The road here was tarmac all the way so there was plenty of grip and we could have a bit of an attack again.  This was confirmed by the brakes starting to go off towards the end. Excellent!

See the run through Parc Bryn Glas here:-

Next stage was quite close by at a place called Trefil Quarry. This was a short tarmac road leading to a dead end at the quarry so the plan was to run about ten cars in who would then wait at the far end and come back out in convoy so the next ten could have a go.  The marshalls told us there were some potholes but they had been filled but this truned out to be not quite true. We hit a couple of water filled holes very hard which punctured a rear tyre. As we were changing the wheel a marshall brought us an electric fan which he said was ours, so we opened the bonnet and turns out it was! 
There should be an electric fan here!
So with no spare tyre and no cooling fan we proceeded carefully to a second run at Parc Bryn Glas keeping a close watch on the temperature gauge. Thankfully it stayed well in the normal range and the run was fine.

Last stage of the day was at the Caerwent Military Training area.  This was originally a Royal Navy propellant manufacturing factory site from WW2 where they made explosives for shells.  Naturally the buildings there had to be kept well spaced out for safety so there is a large network of service roads between them. These days it is used for training troops and we were told the SAS were there observing - but we would never see them. The site is regularly used for modern single-venue rallies but we had never been there before.  Most of the roads are lined with kerbstones and it has a reputation for breaking wheels and suspension if you hit any.  I managed to have a slight brush with one on our second run, when I dropped a front wheel off the edge of a concrete road as you can see from the picture, but we escaped with minor rim damage.
Typical Caerwent scar on this rim.
You can see our run through Caerwent here:-

 To sum up the Lombard Rally Bath 2019 I would say it was a victim of its own success. Large numbers of people came out to watch - probably many more than was expected - but spectator control was almost nil which created a potentially very dangerous situation. Luckily there were no incidents this time but the organisation needs to be very much better if future events are to take place.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

2019. September part 2. Driving the FHC with the Sprint motor.

First chance for a nice little run came a few days after the rolling road when two visiting TR Register groups arrived in our area.  Windsor Forest and Camb Followers were having a joint visit to the Cotswolds so we all met up at a convenient pub.  They had a lot of very nice cars, mostly TR3-6 but with a couple of TR7s as well.  There was quite a bit of interest in FHC and a few nice compliments.

The car drove smoothly with plenty of torque low down.  The afternoon only amounted to about 75 miles so I needed to do a lot more for a good test.

Luckily the following week our own Glavon group of the TR Register were having a Glavon Tulip Run.  This was a small version of the highly popular classic runs and as the title suggests the route was presented to us in the form of Tulip Diagrams.  There were 12 cars taking part and we would set off at minute intervals. Since we have done a lot of these runs in the past couple of years we were deemed to be "professionals" and sent off as car number one.
Glavon Tulip Run, coffee stop at Kemble airfield
There was a stop for coffee at Kemble airfield and a visit to the ford at Duntisbourne for a bit of fun.
Glavon Tulip Run, Duntisbourne ford
The weather was kind to us and the car ran perfectly so the day was a good 120 mile test.  Fuel consumption was pretty good as well working out at about 28 mpg.