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
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 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.

2019: September 1. Trying out new sprint motor

With the engine in and running I had a little tinker to tidy up and check settings etc.  The fancy (and expensive) Mangoletsi throttle linkage seems to be well engineered and was easier to fit than it looked. The engine idled quite nicely and I set the ignition advance at tickover to 10 degrees BTDC as a good starting point.
10 degrees BTDC using the Snap-On timing light.
Driving the car it felt good and responsive and with that fantastic growl from the carbs when you floor the pedal.  Almost worth changing the engine just for that sidedraught roar!  I booked a test in a couple of days time with Martin at Maynard Engines on their rolling road in Nailsworth to check what was really happening with mixtures etc.  A couple of days later I took the car over there and we strapped it down on the rollers.

First run showed it was actually set up quite well.  I had used the carb settings recommended by Matt at Eurocarb who are the Dellorto main agents in the UK. For the anoraks amongst you this is what he suggested as a starting point:-

Dellorto 45DHLA
Chokes    36mm,
Main jets  145,
Emulsion tubes  7772.5,
Air correctors  180,
Idle jets  60,
Accelerator pump jets  42.

I have been reading up on the carbs to try and get a better understanding of what all these numbers mean and how they all work together. This book was my main source of information.

I wouldn't claim to understand them now, but I do have a bit more of an idea than when I started.

Martin found it was running a little rich at the bottom end then went a little lean at the top so he made a few changes. We were not trying to achieve ultimate power but needed it to be a nice engine to drive on the road.

Turns out that folks have differing opinions about setup, Martin prefers to run bigger spec emulsion tubes so changed them from the recommended 5 to an 11 which gave a richer acceleration phase. They have more holes and in different places - see picture - and it certainly worked to make the top end mixture much better.
Dellorto Emulsion Tube Range from 1 ti 17
Driving the car afterwards it certainly felt smooth, with plenty of torque at low revs and pulling all the way up through the range.

Final carb settings are:-
Dellorto 45DHLA
Chokes    36mm,
Main jets  175,
Emulsion tubes  7772.11,
Air correctors  135,
Idle jets  60,
Accelerator pump jets  42.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

2019. August Part 3. DHC car show and classic runs.

In between work on the FHC Sprint engine upgrade August was a busy month for the DHC as well. The car had its birthday on 1st August having been first registered on 1st August 1981.
On 3rd August we took it to the Cotswold Steam and Vintage Extravaganza at South Cerney. This is a huge three day show with a huge range of vehicles including steam traction engines, lorries, busses and classic cars. As a participant we get a free ticket so its well worth attending.  It was a nice day but with a few heavy showers which kept us all on our toes.  At least the DHC looks more shiny wet!
Showers at Cotswold Steam
Next day we were off in the DHC again to take part in the Valleys and Villages Classic Tour. This was based at Royal Wootton Bassett and took us on a nice route all around the Marlborough Downs and past several of the ancient White Horses and a lunch stop on the green in the centre of Hungerford.
Passing just below the White Horse at Uffington

It was an excellent route organised by Devizes and District Motor Club who have been well known as proper rally club for many years.

A couple of weeks later we were out again on the Cotswold Classic Run again based at Grittleton House near Castle Coombe.  This is a much more gentle run aimed at less serious crews and with many older cars.  The route took us to a lot of the usual Cotswolds places before returning to Grittleton for a cooked meal.  This year they had a Peaky Blinders theme so a lot of folk dressed up in 1930s outfits to look the part, some even carrying fake Tommy guns!

Cars at the start of Cotswold Classic Run
Some older cars at the start of Cotswold Classic Run

 It was a nice day out and the weather was really kind to us again so the roof stayed down all day. An excellent day out in the TR7 DHC.

2019 August. Part 2. Finishing Sprint engine installation.

With the new engine in and running there was still a long list of small jobs to get done before the car was ready to be used.  One of these to get the rev counter working again. Having moved the coil from its old location in the tunnel to its new place on the inner wing I had already provided a new 12 volt ignition feed to the coil and Lumenition. Now I needed the provide a rev counter feed from the coil and rather than just connect with the old wiring I decided to run a completely new wire direct to the instrument cluster.  I located the correct wire in the multi plug, cut it off and then joined my new feed into it.
New rev counter feed to instruments multi-plug in loom
Coil as later cars in new position on inner wing
Next job was connecting up the electric fan. The Revotec fan controller comes with a pre-wired relay that just needs connecting to a power supply. The alternator I was using is a new  Lucas A127 which has a 70 amp output and plugs directly in to the standard loom but also has additional external screw-on terminals so I could pick up a feed directly to the fan. I also used the same alternator output to provide power to the driving lights relay.  The Hella Comet 550 driving lights had actually been fitted on the car since earlier in the year but I had never got round to actually wiring them up.!

Hella Comet 550 driving lights, almost period style but modern perfomance.

Lucas A127 alternator outputs direct to driving lights fan controller  

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

2019 August, New Sprint engine going in!

With the engine built I could now call a friend to help with putting it in the car. Engine swaps are a proper two man job so help was needed.  Fred Brunsdon is an old mate from my rallying days and who has serviced for me on lots of rallies was available, so he called by on a Saturday to get the job done.

I had already got most of the old standard motor connectons undone or ready so it came out easily  and the new one was readied to go in.



It's in

The exhaust lined up nicely and it was then just a case of connecting all the usual pipes and wiring.  There was one different pipe because the manifold is not water heated like a standard one so the heater feed goes directly from the water pump outlet round to to the heater inlet. This picture expleins it, sorry about the greasy lens on the camera!

Heater feed direct from the water pump outlet
The carbs could now go on with the fuel feed an I included an inline filter as an extra precaution.  I had decided to fit an electric fan so that was attached to the radiator using the normally supplied fixings through the radiator.  (These fixings later turned out be a poor choice - see Lombard Rally Bath 2019 report).  But it was beginning to look like a proper job
Dellorto DHLA45s on
Air filters and electric fan fitted
View from left side
Filling a new engine with oil and water is always an exciting but nervous moment but nothing ended up on the floor so that was a good sign.  Testing the Lumenition prior to try starting the motor revealed a snag when I found that I couldn't turn the distributor quite far enough, maybe because I had the jackshaft timing a little out, so what to do? Taking the distubutor out and turning it one tooth was too much so I came up with a Plan B.  I decided to modify the distributor mounting adapter plate by adding some additional threaded holes so it allow the distibutor to be turned a little more. Cunning plan, and it worked !

My distributor mounting plate with additonal threaded holes
With the Lumenition all connected I could now get it to produce a spark at around 10 degrees BTDC and I felt comfortable to try and start it. I had already spun it over with the plugs out to get some oil pressure so replaced the plugs and it fired up without too much trouble.  Excellent stuff, so now I let it warm up briefly then cool down overnight so I could re-torque the head bolts/nuts with it all cold.

Next morning I re-did the head bolts/nuts but also found a couple of problems. Main thing was several water leaks.  One seemed to be coming from the temperature sender, one from the usual water pump slot in the block but the main one was on top of the block and seemed to be coming from the pump link pipe.  The minor leak from the water pump slot was not too big a worry as it is quite common with a new water pump and usually settles down.  But it still meant I would have to take the carbs and inlet manifold off - curses!

Evidence of leak from temperature sender

Signs of a leak from by-pass pipe
The temperature sender just needed some PTFE tape on the thread so I did that first then took the whole manifold and carbs off to fix the bypass pipe problem.  I had used a brand new link pipe and obviously with some new "O" rings so that was a bit of a puzzle. Inspecting the link pipe and comparing it with the other used ones I had it appeared to be a few thou smaller diameter in the grooves where the "O" rings sit.  I decided to use one of the good spares and put it all back together with some extra magic gasket then let it set overnight before refilling the system. Everything crossed.

Next day I ran it up to temperature again and things had settled down with only a couple of tiny drips.
Now I needed to run the car for a while to put some miles on it and see how it all worked.