Jeez, how did this happen-2011, my fiftieth year on the planet! Some sage stated that time goes quicker and quicker as one gets older-he's not wrong!
Just spent 3 sessions working on the cars and I have managed a few tasks as follows:
Stripped out the dashboard and gearbox tunnel to enable access so that I can change the gearbox mount and renew the seals on the speedo drive. All very simple work, I have stripped this part of the car alot of times over the last 27 years and I reckon I could do it with my eyes shut! Whilst working I noticed that the Clutch master cylinder had dropped all its fluid over the carpet, so I took that off and will re-new the seals once these have purchased from Canleys. I also took the opportunity of cleaning back the bulkhead around the base of the master cylinder and painted this with Finnegans No.1 and then some matt black paint I had on the shelf-not too worried about appearance at present. One day I will strip the bulkhead and paint properly.
Whilst working on the car, James Cooper popped over in his Mk1 GT6. He had just done a engine swap and was complaining that he had no real power, we firstly carried out a compression test (All ranging between 155-165psi), then suspecting carburation issues we did all the usuals, cleaned out the carbs and balanced them. Nothing seemed wrong. James had re-set the timing and the AC Delco dizzy seemed ok, must admit I did not rate the plug leads as they seemed loose. James has a spare set so will fit them and check the valve clearances once the engine cooled once he got home. Like many of us, James has too many Triumph cars and is spread too thin (Bit rich coming from me eh). However he is a man of discernment and owns a royal Blue mk1 Pi saloon, this used to be owned by Bob Maddocks and did the 98 and 2000 RBRRs. Since purchase, James has put sills on both sides of the car and made many other bodywork repairs and once re-painted it will look the bees knees. It was painted the other month, but was rushed by the paint shop that James chose, nice to report that they have agreed to paint the car again. Whilst chatting in the garage having a cuppa, we struck up a nice deal, James having the spare mk1 bonnet that I have and me getting a set of early mk3 GT6 seats. These will be used in the Spitfire-out of period, but alot better at holding me in place compared to the poor condition mk2 seats presently within the car.
It is nice knowing that James and Richard Brake are fairly local, both are resourceful people and always willing to help out when problems happen.
Had a list of jobs to do on the little car, the main ones being:
A) Fit mocal oil cooler
B) Fit stick on number plates
C) Tale out the CD player
The first job seemed to be going well, I had bought a kit with pre-cut braided hoses and casually decided to fit the oil cooler where I fitted one to a Spitfire 1500 I worked on years ago-this was great until I attempted to attempted to fit the smaller hose, too blasted short. Therefore I moved the rad backwards towards the water radiator and upside down as this seemed to be the only way I could fit the kit-why are oil coolers always a pain? The GT6 has rubber hoses and I think I will go back to using those next time, never had a problem with rubber hoses in 25 years. Many will question the use of a oil cooler, I think they are essential and definitely help increase the longevity of an engine
Number plates: Blimey, this job went well! The car looks so much better with the regular sized plate stuck across the bonnet -'E-Type' style. Dave Picton had put a small stick on plate onto the car, in all the time I have known Dave I have not known him show such a lack of taste-I think I know why though!
CD Player: This had been put into the car by the guy who owned the car before Dave, god only knows why as it is impossible to hear the thing especially with the wheelbarrow exhaust that presently is under the car. Now I am partial to soul music and do like the strong vocals of the late 50s and early 60s singer Wilson Pickett, but someone had jammed a Pickett compilation CD into the machine and everytime I started the car I would get a blast of the first track, 'If you need me', I started to get really fatigued by this track. Also the CD player seemed to be controlled by some form of higher entity (Maybe, Wilson coming back to haunt me), everytime I hit a bump in the road the volume would go up, or worse still if switched off it would switch itself on, got to say I have started to loathe Wilson! I would not have minded but the CD player only wanted to play that one track-why? Listening to music has always been a major pleasure of mine and when driving the Focus, I always have my ipod connected to the stereo, however in the old cars I find it impossible to listen to music so none of the old cars have radios or the like.
Whilst under the dashboard I cleared out some extranous wiring, all old cars seems to have this stuff, reckons bodgers during the 70s using scotchlocks are to blame, reckon many a car hit an early death owing to these devilish pieces of plastic and metal.
I also changed the throttle cable as the old one did not seem that progressive, making it difficult to drive the car smoothly at low engine speeds.
I also had a good look at the carbs, paying particular attention to the float chambers, these had a fair amount of crap in them, so I will fit a small fuel filter.
I took the car down to the New Years Eve lunch that CT member Nick Jackson organises at a picturesque pub in Woodford, near Salisbury. I met up with James Carruthers in his megasquirted 2000 and James Cooper in his mk1 Pi saloon just of the M25 at Chertsey, and took them down one of my favourite roads the old A30 that runs from Popley to Stockbridge and onto Salisbury. I have a theory that Triumphs should always be driven down single carriageway A roads when one gets the chance, the A30 along this stretch really does hit the spot. Coming out of Stockbridge, there is a sharp right hand turn on a nice inclined bit of road, the little Spitfire went round the corner and up the hill very well and I think surprised both James in their faster saloons.
James' 2000 is turning into a real beastie, I helped him purchase this car and have always had a soft spot for the machine. Megasquirt seems to have transformed the car, I must get him to let me have a drive at some point. When he purchased the car the previous owner was worried that James was going to thrash the nuts of the thing, well I think it is fair to say that he has/is!
Its fascinating to see what lots of CT members do to their cars, all seem to be in a constant state of modification, some like James' 2000 turning into impressive machines.
Got to say the NYE lunch is always very pleasant, a great opportunity to have one final drive and meet up with CT friends before the end of the year. I was pleased to see Nick Jones and his family in his recently acquired 2.5Pi mk2 plus Alex Chandler in his 2000 mk1 and Mark Bland in his very nice early 2000 mk1. That was the first time I have seen Alex's car and it just goes to show what can be done with enthusiasm, a top car that needs to be used on next years RBRR-are you reading this Alex?
On the way back James, James and Alex seemed to enjoy chasing each other up the A303, what a great sight, 3 mk1 saloons being driven with verve! The little Spitfire's top end is not all that great, so I stayed back and cruised home, a nice relaxing way of ending a day out and about.
Back to the Spitfire, I like this car, reckon its a 'keeper'! The car is looking better sitting on its 5.5J solid steels and correct number plates. I will post some pics soon, just need to take the camera out with me!
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