TriumphTRS.co.uk

Triumph TR7's and 8's and the odd 6 thrown in for good measure.

 

‘HOK 70W waiting to start the 2010 Heritage Classic Tour of the Peak’

I purchased my Persian Aqua TR7 DHC in April of 2003 having briefly considered what to buy to satisfy my craving for classic motoring. You may well ask, ‘what on earth possessed you to buy a TR7!’ and the simple answer would be nostalgia and price in that order.

The nostalgia element of the purchase harks back to about 1978 when I purchased my first TR7 a boringly white FHC that I loved with a passion, for unlike the other sports cars of the day it was nice to drive, it stayed dry and even got warm in winter, the ride was in a different league to the other contemporary British offerings and it was quick and went round bends.  What more could I have wanted?  Well as you clearly need to know, it would have been nice to have a more racy colour (red would have been good), it would have been nice if it sounded like a 6 cylinder TR6 and it really, really would have been nice if the rest of the British sports car fraternity had accepted it as a proper sports car.  After all it had an overhead cam engine which boasted over 100hp, there was no separate chassis and it had a modern shape with gizmos like pop up headlights blah blah blah!

Ok I can sense that you are still not convinced but I needed the trip down memory lane and this car looked the part, went well and was well within my very limited budget at the time.  The intervening period has been a blast too, the car has been reliable and most of all, it has been used regularly and would you believe, it has never failed an MOT in all the time that I have owned it (notice that I refer to it as IT as I don’t believe that cars should be given names and certainly not the names of women, come to think of it that’s probably why it has behaved so well!!)

The Purchase

Having spent some few months looking around and journeying to odd places like Birmingham to view some real tatty offerings at really silly money it was suggested that I contact Yorkshire Triumph near Goole as the guy there had a couple of lateish models in stock and the price was in the right area, so off I went.

The two cars available were an 81 model which was totally original but quite untidy bodily and of course the 1980 model in Persian Aqua which I finally bought.  Interestingly the vendor seemed very keen for me to take the 81 model as it was a more honest vehicle (for honest read, lacking in body filler) but it ran like a dog and looked like one too and as I needed more of a rolling restoration than a project car I resisted his bias towards the 81.  I hated the colour as well, it reminded me of school ink, you know, the sort that resided in the dipping well on the top edge of the desk (this article is clearly aimed at older people and scholars of ancient history).

So off I went, having parted with my hard earned cash, and with my wife Sue in close pursuit  in the Daily Driver, for a quick flirt down the motorway heading for home.

With hindsight and to be fair it was inevitable that such a pretty car would eventually show the signs of a previous restoration and sure enough after about three years all the usual places exhibited bubbling paint and rusty tear stains.  At least I now know where to start digging and grinding when I am ready to start my own restoration, or will I, as I now have a hankering after a TR6, but that is another story yet to be told.

This story is not over by a long way, HOK 70W has covered some 6000 miles in the last 7 years and in that time has provided our family with hours of fun motoring at almost zero cost.

Over that period of time I worked steadily on the car improving and repairing where necessary and of course enjoying the pleasures of open top motoring at every opportunity, my repairs included replacing shocks at the front and at the same time replacing suspension bushes and track rod ends all of which improved the ride and handling which was getting a bit soggy to say the least.  I then moved on to replace the clutch assembly to cure a slipping clutch when warm and also the noisy release bearing.  This was followed by the removal of the viscous coupled fan and replaced it with a home spun electric fan which was made up as follows.  The fan itself came from Rimmers who were selling off new and unused (but old stock) Rover Fans which just happened to have a diameter that matched the TR7s radiator size, the thermostatic switch was already in place at the side of the radiator because it turns out that someone had fitted a radiator off an American car that had air con fitted.  I removed the switch and tested it in a pan of water on the gas ring with thermometer and circuit tester in attendance and was delighted to find that it switched at between 82 and 87 degrees Celsius.  The switch was replaced on the radiator and wired in to the fan with a fused relay to take care of the power demands of the Rover Fan, I also wired in a manual over ride switch but in all honesty never had to use it as the thermostatic switch worked a treat cutting in and out at the perfect temperature, the relay doing its job of protecting the switch from current overload.  It was difficult at times to leave the car in a car park after a run because as the residual heat dissipated from the block as I turned the engine off, the fan cut in and ran to keep the temperature down, this state of affairs only ever lasted a minute or two before the fan cut out as the water temperature dropped to acceptable levels.  I, of course, finally got to trust the system and all was well until the day I sold the car in 2010.  The electric fan also had the benefit of reducing the noise that the viscous coupled device makes even at low engine speeds.

One fateful day I decided to attempt to cure a small exhaust leak from the head to manifold joint and in so doing managed to break off two of the fixing studs and so decided to remove the head to effect a repair to the studs.  This small job, as all small jobs do, lasted about two weeks as one after another the head studs either broke or refused to move in the head, clearly 30 odd years of never being moved had caused them to bond to the head and no amount of soaking in WD40 and diesel fuel would free them off.  I finally had to pry the head away from the block enough to feed in a hack saw blade and cut the offending items in half.  The head, I decided to send off to a specialist firm, Beckett and Garner, in Sheffield whilst I tried to drill out the threaded remains of the studs from the block.  The removal of the head did allow me to confirm that the cylinder bores were still in good condition and also to diagnose worn rings particularly on number one piston causing some degree of piston slap when cold.  Lack of funds did not allow me the luxury of removing the engine for a re-ring so it was decided to re-assemble as it was and see how things went.  A good decision as it happens as the engine went on to perform faultlessly for several more years right up to the sale of the car in 2010.

Over the years I made extensive use of Robsport for supply of bits for the car both new, and in some cases, used parts, there was also no small measure of advice and guidance freely given by Simon.

The car was used regularly for classic runs in the Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Leicestershire area over the years and provided hours of fun and economical classic motoring for my wife Sue and I.  My son Oliver also used the car for the last three years to take part in the Classic Runs that I organised, indeed some of the best pictures that I have of the car in action were taken when he was driving.

‘HOK 70W taking a bath in the Peak District in 2007’

 

‘HOK 70W topless in Elmton Village in 2008’

‘HOK 70W enjoying the sun near Ogston Reservoir in 2010’

In August of 2010 I retired from 38 years of secondary teaching and decided it was time to acquire my next car and so the search was started for a TR6 to form a rolling restoration that I could occupy myself with in retirement.

It is worth mentioning at this juncture that I have very clear views about the types of restoration that I want to undertake, whilst I fully understand and admire those who are driven to concourse restorations I would not have the nerve to use a car that was in better than new condition and that had cost more to restore than it would ever be worth.  This philosophy led me to formulate a stance on restorations that dictates that the car must look nice, it must run well, it must be capable of being used in any weather and it must be an individual like its owner and not some blue printed clone of a car.

So yes, I am happy to modify my cars away from the original spec, by doing such things as, upgrading fuel pumps on TR6s, improving brakes and suspension systems using new and technologically improved components, replacing original seats with more modern and safer designs.  All these things fall into my acceptance of what a restoration should be based on but more than that I believe that for me to gain maximum satisfaction from the restoration I have to do as much of the work myself as humanly possible and farm out to so called specialists only those tasks that I am not able, or equipped, to do in my own workshop. 

I believe in repairing rather than replacing where possible, I also believe that where items are purchased new they should be checked for suitability as many manufacturers of replacement parts are making sub-standard items that are not fit for purpose.  A perfect example of which cropped up recently when I replaced an original throttle cable with a new one only to find that the new ones only lasted for a few miles before failing through faulty workmanship. (more of this later in the saga)

Back to the hunt for a suitable TR6 to form my rolling restoration.  I had been keeping a look out for suitable cars for some months, talking to members of the South Yorkshire TR Drivers and TR Register group to find out what their advice would proffer.  I also concluded that there were a good many nice looking cars out there that were a long way from what I would call genuine and honest, with a large proportion of the ones that I cast an eye over hiding a great many mechanical faults under a pretty outer skin and paint job yet asking top dollar in terms of price.  Remember my mantra that the car must be worth what had been spent on it or at least very near to that.

I also had the problem of getting rid (what a harsh term that is!) of my TR7 as I simply did not have the room for two cars nor the funds to maintain both.  In all honesty the TR7 was not going to be worth much, in fact at one point I was tempted to trade it in under the Cash For Clunkers scheme that the government was running to entice people to buy fuel efficient new cars in order to get a respectable price, but in the end decided not to in order to avoid yet another car being lost to the crusher.  So the search continued!

I must express my gratitude to all those who offered advice on purchasing my first TR6, sadly I reached information overload very quickly, computing all the advice collected clearly indicated that some critical decisions had to be made and key factors were:

·         The chosen TR6 must have a good chassis and under body that would not require a body off restoration.

·         It must be a 150 bhp fuel injected model (difficult to say why other than I fancied wrestling with the injection system)

·         The drive train must be in serviceable condition with over drive working.

·         Colour was not an issue as long as it wasn’t green.  I really wanted a red one at first but there are so many of them around that I sort of lost interest in red after a while.

In September and October of 2010 I sallied forth and viewed a couple of examples that looked great in the adverts but in the flesh were as far from honest examples as it was possible to get, a situation that I found very dispiriting very quickly.  I dragged myself all the way to York (some 60 miles from my home to look at a red 1972 example that was described as a private sale but which was quite obviously being sold by a dealer from home.  It was a top price car which screamed its problems at me, it ran roughly on 4 or 5 cylinders, the inside smelled of fusty carpets and seat covers, the underside was dripping with fresh black waxoil, some of the instruments did not work, the key one of which was the oil pressure gauge, and the paint on the outside was freshly sprayed whilst the inners surfaces were tatty to say the least.  The owner got very shirty with me when I lifted the carpets to look at the floor pan and kept insisting that everything was in good order.  This car ticked none of my boxes so I left well alone and set off for the 60 mile drive home, much to the chagrin of the owner.

So disgruntled was I at my lack of success in finding a TR6 to replace my beloved TR7 that I decided to leave well alone for a while and think again about my plan and whilst mulling it over it occurred to me that the plan had to include selling on the TR7.  Now whilst this sounds easy, in truth, I anticipated that it would be far from the case, TR7s are gaining in popularity but sadly not in value and getting a price that would satisfy me, seemed something of a dream.

 

Chris Turner, who was aware of my predicament, offered many words of encouragement with regard to the worth of my 7 but in my heart of hearts I knew it was neither a concourse example nor a sought after rarity that would command a premium price.  It was at this time that I decided to look at part exchanging the car at a TR specialists who had a TR6 to sell, the hunt was back on and I re-visited the classic car press to rekindle the search.

 

My first sighting was a Royal Blue 1971 example residing at Robsport International who I knew to be TR7 enthusiasts as well, I had dealt with them before, over the years, and had come to trust their word so it seemed like a worthwhile plan to try and negotiate a part exchange for my 7.

 

A quick phone call established that they still had the TR6 and that it was in fact in daily us by one of their mechanics and indeed had a fairly long test (not a basket case then!) and great news, they would consider a part exchange, just bring the TR7 down and we could exchange viewings of each other's cars.  I made plans to be there a couple of days later.  I set off bright and early with my file of paperwork for the TR7 to enjoy a fabulous drive on a bright autumn day, full of excitement at the possibility of acquiring a TR6.

 

On arrival I parked the TR7 and went in search of Simon with whom I had made the arrangement, first up was a look around the TR6 parked under a lean-to garage and looking a little dusty, a mechanic was dispatched to get the battery (was that a good sign or a bad one) whilst I looked around the car.  There was ample evidence of two new wings having been fitted on the near side of the car and the interior was not at all bad considering its age, with new carpets and a newish looking Motolita steering wheel clearly in evidence. Mechanic was next to arrive, carrying a battery which he swiftly hooked up then in he lept to crank it up.  Crank was the operative word, endless seconds of churning on the starter and the odd pop and bang and the car burst into a very lumpy, but non the less powerful tick over, I was hooked-totally!

 

 

 

“My first view of the TR6 at Robsport International”

 

Oddly enough once warm the car ticked over very smoothly and at this point I was encouraged to take it for a spin down the road to see what I thought of the performance and to see if everything worked as advertised.  From inside I was at first struck by how small the cockpit was, narrow and only just long enough for my six foot frame, my sub conscious self though, was still listening to the throb of that straight six engine which made me determined to like it at all costs.  Mechanic man installed himself in the passenger seat and decreed that we should go before it ran out of petrol (another sign that my conscious self was prepared to ignore) so off we went for a brief test drive to see how things went.  Sanity did return on the test drive though as I checked out the function of the overdrive (working ok), gearbox (also ok), and the general feel of the car which I have to say felt very good, steering was precise, it drove in a straight line and brakes worked well (for a 41 year old car).  On the down side the engine pick up was rubbish, coughing and spitting until enough momentum was gained to overcome whatever was ailing it and it was like sitting on a roller skate as it went over the bumps, leaping in the air and landing equally hard.

 

Driving back in to the premises of Robsport my mind was in complete turmoil, did the good out-weigh the bad, was it going to be a money pit, I was furiously trying to reckon up how much the bits would cost to fix those issues I knew needed attention.  There was also the thorny issue of the poor pick up, could I fix this ageing fuel injection system or would that be the crippling item or indeed, was the issue something more critical but equally difficult to find and costly to repair?

 

To buy me time I executed plan B which was to ask for the car to be put on a lift so I could examine the underside, remember my mantra, it must not need the body off as I simply did not have the space to do such a restoration.  Simon could not have been more helpful, mechanic man was detailed to put the car on a lift and I was invited to take my time having a look round which I duly did.  I thought old Fords held the prize for leaking oil but this TR6 looked like the Torrey Canyon underneath with oil stains coating the whole of the underside of the car from the rear of the engine to the very back of the car, oil was leaking out of every part of the engine and gearbox as well as the differential.  On the plus side the bodywork had been preserved as had the chassis which on closer inspection looked to have some level of galvanic coating on it, could this be a galvanised chassis or just one carefully painted with a zinc rich paint?  Either way it was in excellent condition from end to end including the diff mountings and the pick up points for the trailing arms and also the rear spring top mounts.  By this point excitement was really starting to build, most of my tick boxes were being ticked and there were few if any serious crosses on the list, could this be the one, you bet it could.  Time to play it cool and see what the TR7 was worth against the 6.

 

I declared an avid interest in the TR6 subject to a good price on the TR7 so off went Simon to have a look round whilst I had a cup of tea, in no time he was back and announced what he would give me in exchange for the TR6.  To say I was shocked would be an understatement, he offered me a good bit more than I expected but to maintain my aura of cool calm and collectedness announced that I would go home and think it over, then ring him the following day with a decision.

 

So off I went, unbearably excited but determined not to make a rash decision, prepared to take some time to weigh up the pros and cons or at least that was the plan.  By the time got home I could not contain myself, the TR6 was not as pretty as some I had seen but neither did it shout anything other than this was a genuine car at me.  A quick exchange of thoughts with the chancellor of the exchequer, otherwise known as my wife Sue, and, without waiting for the morrow to arrive I phoned Simon and the deal was struck and a collection date in two days time was agreed.

 

The intervening two days were spent drafting a list of all the parts I already knew I would need so that I could leave it with Simon when I collected the car and he could have the parts delivered a few days after that.  I organised the paperwork for the TR7 and cleaned it out in preparation for the exchange, insurance was arranged through Buckingham Insurance Brokers and two days later I was off again to Robsport.  Incidentally the drive down in the TR7 was something of a torture for me because I really liked the car and was reluctant to let it go even though I had got what I thought was good money for it, I was becoming acutely aware of the bond that I had formed over the years with the 7 and it was going to be hard to leave it behind.

 

One of the things I liked best about dealing with Robsport was their willingness to spend time chatting about TRs, giving advice freely and offering affordable, practical solutions rather than trying to sell you a load of stuff you didn't need or want.  The day of the exchange was no exception and more tea was drunk, lists exchanged for replacement parts and Simon, as ever, was chattering away with plentiful advice on all things Triumph.  I left the yard with promises to let them know how I got on and in return a promise to help out with bits at affordable prices as the project progressed.  And so it was that I pottered out of their premises with newly acquired TR6 burbling away under me.

 

As I was driving from Shepreth to Chesterfield, a journey of some 110 miles I decided it might be prudent not to rush on to the motorway but to get to know the car by using A class roads at least for the first half of the journey.  Get to know the car I certainly did, the first 10 miles was a real 'life in your hands' affair with all the classic TR6 traits manifesting themselves one after another and sometimes simultaneously.  The hard uncompromising ride coupled with the splines on the rear drive shafts locking up on bends under acceleration made for very hairy cornering, the car leaping sideways without warning then snapping back into line as if nothing were wrong.  After the engine had got thoroughly warmed up there was a mind numbing smell of exhaust fumes, burnt oil and other sundry smells designed to render a driver comatose.  Even with the window wide open there was no escape as the smells rushed into the cockpit in ever increasing volumes, fast or slow there was no escape.

 

Remember the issue of pick-up being jerky, well it got worse, so much so that I decreed that the motorways was indeed the best option, get it in the slow lane and tootle along at 60mph and hope no one notices the antics of the car or me.  The hour and a half spent on the motorway, not wrestling with the car, gave me time to think and those thoughts were simply, 'Oh my god what have I done!' and should I take this thing back and get my trusty TR7 back?

 

For whatever reason I persevered and after a while found that I was actually enjoying myself, I managed to put the smells out of my mind (or was it the smells that were having an hallucinatory effect on the grey matter) and I started to formulate a restoration plan that would get the car on the road in reasonably short time so I could get on with enjoying it.  Needless to say when I arrived home the car went straight into the garage and up on the jacks ready for the big dismantle and a closer inspection of known and unknown issues that needed attention.

 

All the above happened in October 2010 and I was determined to have to car on the road by summer 2011, ah, the best laid plans of mice and men!  Of course it didn't happen, it was in fact late August before the car would see the light of day again following a monumental list of replacement parts and hours and hours of labour.  I was seduced by the need to ensure everything was working as it should so as parts came off I could not resist replacing or refurbishing them in order to avoid removing the same parts in a year or so. 

 

The complete front suspension was removed and sorted with new trunnions, bearings, brake pistons and seals, suspension rubbers were replaced with poly upgrades, as well as anti roll bar bushes and drop links.  I entered into many heated debates on the merits of standard shock absorbers versus the gas upgrades and decided that for a starting point I would keep it standard, then upgrade later if I felt the need.

 

The gearbox was removed to allow a clutch kit to be fitted and the mechanism to be repaired and at this point I managed to save myself some money by re drilling the bearing carrier stop pin at 90 degrees to the original thus getting another lease of life out of it.  All the actuating mechanism was overhauled with new bushes, tapered pin on the fork and oil seal on the first motion shaft of the gearbox.  For good measure I fitted a new spigot bearing in the rear of the crank before refitting the whole lot back into the car with new mounting rubbers for the rear of the overdrive unit as the original ones had collapsed completely.

 

Next up was the drive train, UJ's on the prop-shaft were deemed to be in good order, not so the ones on the drive shafts, so they were replaced and the splines cleaned and liberally greased and new boots fitted along with new bolts and nylock nuts on reassembly.  The differential was taken out and new seals fitted to the pinion and output shafts, at this point the play in the planet wheels was measured and the cup shaped thrust washers removed for inspection, well at least one was, the other had worn away completely.  New ones reduced the back lash to zero so the whole thing was re-  assembled ready to go back in the car except for one mistake, when putting the drive flange on the pinion I torqued the nut up to the original figure rather than counting the turns off then on, this squashed the compressible sleeve in the pinion bearing giving too much play in the mesh between the crown wheel and pinion and loading the bearing too highly.  None of this would be apparent until much later in the rebuild and necessitates the re-building of the diff again in the near future.

 

New bushes at the rear and on the differential, along with new brake cylinders and shoes in the rear brakes made for a very satisfactory rear end rebuild which went back together much more easily than it came apart.  Brain fade did set in when dealing with the rear shock absorbers which seemed to have a good action when bench testing them so they were cleaned and re-fitted without further attention – big mistake!

 

One of my favourite upgrades to TR6 interiors is the fitting of a Burr Walnut Dash, the asking price of nearly £300 put it well out of reach for the foreseeable future until I decided to strip the old one, which had split and cracking teak veneers and try to veneer it myself. 

 

“Original Teak Dash before being stripped out of the interior”

 

Before starting I sourced the veneers locally and purchased enough to do the whole dash and glove-box cover and a bit left over to practise with.  I'd done some veneering when training to be a design teacher back in the 60's so set about the job with lots of enthusiasm.  My research uncovered some up to date adhesives and surface treatments which I figured would be perfect for the temperature and moisture extremes experienced by the dash in a car, techniques were adjusted and off we went, the result was a near perfect Burr Walnut dash for the princely sum of £50, what's not to like in that?

 

“Newly installed £50 Burr Walnut Dash, a very satisfying upgrade”

 

Seats were next on the list, the original ones were split and, not having any headrests, I felt were a little dangerous in an accident so I sourced a pair of Mazda MX5 seats and made new brackets to give me the fit that I required.  The old seats were sold to a guy wanting to keep his car authentic and the income from those went a long way to help pay for the MX5 ones.  They look good and are supremely comfortable on long journeys. 

 

I put off sorting the bubbling paint on the windscreen surround as long as I could but on closer inspection discovered the dreaded tin worm had eaten my precious screen surround virtually in two. Lots and lots of cash later I purchased a perfect ex Californian example from Yorkshire Triumph and set about painting and refitting it along with the original windscreen, a difficult but very rewarding job once completed. 

 

“The bottom corner of the screen surround virtually eaten away by the dreaded Tin Worm”

 

Part way through the winter I set about the fuel injection, having spent considerable time downloading and researching the famous Lucas mechanical fuel injection system.  Several things were clear, it is a waste of time retaining the original Lucas pump, the system needs to be proven at several different levels before moving on with any diagnosis.  First step then was to source a different pump, the Bosch unit was far too expensive and compared to other Bosch units was disproportionately expensive so I set out to see if there was another pump that would do the job.  My local MOT centre provided a solution in the form of a contact in Portsmouth who sells replacements for original equipment., a phone call and long discussion later and they agreed to send me two units that they thought might measure up to the spec that I had presented them with namely it should be capable of delivering at least 1.5 litres per minute at 110 psi. 

 

I set up a test rig and as soon as the pumps arrived I set about testing them with heating oil replacing petrol as the test fluid (safer don't you know).  Both pumps did the job but one was much less stressed than the other so that's the one I picked, the other was duly returned and the remaining one coupled to an in-line racing fuel filter on the low pressure side.  New and heavier cable was installed along with a suitable relay and fuses and a good earth cable completed the job.  This setup has now done several hundred miles without so much as a murmer save for the steady hum emanating from the boot.  I have checked the temperature of this unit after several hours of continuous use and it barely gets warm to the touch unlike the Lucas unit which was famous for vapourising the fuel when it got hot.

 

 

“New fuel pump and inline filter installed ready for uprated wiring”

 

Sadly this improvement in fuel delivery did not cure my faltering pick up from tick over so I moved on to the next suspect which was the injectors.  Now my injectors look like they came out of the arc so I was not too confident about their condition  but, not to be deterred, I made up another rig to test the spray pressure and patern.  First job was to clean the injectors internally by blowing compressed air though them followed by a blow off test which every injector passed, next up was a spray test with petrol to see if they were spraying in consistent paterns and not dribbling when closed but under a little pressure.  Again they all passed the test so I'd still not found the cause, it was back to the manual and go in search of the next likely culprit which just happened to be the metering unit.

 

There seemed to be very little that I could do to test this unit as very specialist equipment was required but simple things like testing the vacuum enrichment diaphragm I could and did do, likewise the timing of the metering unit and this is where I found the fault.  It transpires that the unit was timed some 180 degrees out so fuel was being injected into the throttle bodies at completely the  wrong time and fuel was not staying atomised in the airstream until the inlet valve opened.  Now this was not such an issue when at tickover but at small throttle openings when the air rush was higher the engine was being starved of fuel, hence the coughing and spluttering on pickup.  Re-  timing the metering unit is not a simple job but a couple of hours later I was satisfied that I had it right and set about firing it up.  What a difference, slightly lumpy now at tickover but the pick up and acceleration is fantastic, what a result. Ive still got to resolve the lumpy tickover now but am convinced that the culprit here is the throttle butterflies which are leaking air at zero throttle, making the air bleed valve ineffective.  I'm going to make a new throttle linkage that is easier to adjust and works on top of the throttle bodies instead of underneath them and also try to adjust the position of the throttle discs on their shafts to give a complete closure of the tubes when closed, fingers crossed.

 

By the end of August 2010 I had the car MOT'd and booked in for its first run The Sherwood Restorations Classic Run organised by Carlton and District Motor Club, it was with some trepidation that we set off for the 180 mile round trip.  We did make it to the end but not without finding a few more faults, some of which were of my own making.  The biggest fault by far was a dreadful noise coming from the overdrive which sounded just like a tail shaft bearing about to collapse, second to that was the return of the burnt oil smell along with small puddles of oil under the car at every stop.  Later investigation showed oil dribbling out of the reversing light and overdrive switches on the top of the gearbox, running down the gearbox and on to the exhaust, hence the pong!

 

So out came the gearbox and overdrive again, the diagnosis of a tailshaft bearing led me to decide to dismantle the overdrive myself and replace the bearing but as soon as I got the thing apart it was clear that the culprit was a badly worn anulus ring gear with half the teeth worn away.  Needless to say replacements are not cheap so I swallowed my pride and took the whole unit to Overdrive Services in Killamarsh near Sheffield for a second opinion.  Now this place is a real gem, run by ex employees of the original manufacturers of the units (Laycock de Normanville) in Sheffield, the guys running the place are consummate experts in their field, they identified the overdrive as a high ratio one from possibly a 2500 or 2000 model then followed that up by manufacturing a complete new anulus ring and rebuilding the unit with new bearings and cone clutches.  What a stunning job they have made of it, it looks like a new one and works like one too, worth every penny of the £480 it cost me to get the work done.

 

The leaky switches were a little more troublesome in that no replacements were available so I decided to take them to bits and see what could be done and I'm glad I did because the seals are simply rubber O rings and the case is just crimped over at the edges to keep it all together, a couple of hours work and I'd got them all rebuilt and working.

 

So it was back together with it all yet again but this time before I put all the transmission tunnel cover and carpets back in I drove the car round for 50 miles to check all was working as it should and to my relief I must have the most oil tight TR6 in existence and a very quiet one to boot.

 

Since this last bout of mechanical maladies the car has run very well, the list of jobs to do is much reduced and most repairs now seem to be holding their own, the car is a joy to drive, it looks and sounds just the way I imagined it would and I/we are having lots of fun in it.

 

“The finished interior of the car showing walnut dash and MX5 seats”

 

This winter's jobs will include sorting out the pinion back lash, making a throttle mechanism that allows me to tune the injection system more easily and tidying the paintwork on the near side of the car and of course driving and enjoying the car too.