Monday, November 30, 2009

Big Knob Week

Big changes a doing here in the TR6 Cottage! Dad’s motor is going west… Kelowna to be specific.

After opening up Dad’s engine like a gift on Christmas morning and finding nothing but goodness and oil; I phoned Mike of Mike’s British Auto Repairs. Mike took a look of the high def photos online and wants to stick his hands into this motor.

SOOO… the Sutherland Clan rallied around this and we worked a sweetheart deal to courier the motor out to Mike. That will happen this week. It’s a good feeling that dad’s motor will be the engine powering this car.

I met Mike in August, moments after I bought the red car. Back then he had a lot real good advice and made some game changing statements about these cars. I’m stoked to have him in on this project.

Meanwhile I’ve relisted the red car on Ebay – no reserve. I listed it on Saturday and as of today it’s up to 1600 hundred bucks Canadian. If it doesn’t break 4000 bucks I’m going to pull it – do some work to it and list it again.

To answer the question “what happens if the engine is not viable?” Well, I thought about that, and it’s highly unlikely from what I saw, but if so we’ll snag another engine block. I know this undermines my KC excursion but I rather have some of dad’s motor in there than nothing. And I really don’t think that’s going to be the case.

I also receive a walnut gearshift knob I ordered off EBay. Dad’s had one at one time and it split. I’m not convinced this one is the same but it looks great.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CSI: Triumph TR6

The thought of this engine had me distracted all week; I couldn’t wait to get a look inside. Remember: I was told there was a piston or rod through the block. After posting my blog I got some feedback from my uncle Jerry that that might not be the case. He remembers it being a turned bearing. I quizzed mom as she was driving it at the time. She relayed that it didn’t leave her anywhere; it was just that she arrived home one day in a plume of blue smoke. That’s when dad took it off the road. Whether he had someone look at the car after this incident is debatable. Mom doesn’t remember and it was more than 28 years ago.

An engine doesn’t lie. Saturday I removed the transmission and clutch assembly from the engine. I then mounted it on the engine stand. The fact that the engine turned over when I put a wrench to the fly wheel bolts raised my suspicion that this engine wasn’t seized by a piston or rod.

I drained the oil from the pan. There was a lot of it and it was quite black. What this means is that there was no water in the oil. If there was it would have been a chocolate milk-like color. It didn’t seem that there were any metal shavings in it either. These are all good signs – unless you just bought a TR6 from Kansas City for the motor and went through hell to bring it to Canada. If that’s the case… well… let’s ignore that for now.

Flipping the motor and removing the pan should have been the eureka moment, “Look! A giant hole and wreckage!” That wasn’t the case – the crank and piston rods looked fine - dare I say it, they looked great. I turned the crank a few times but the only sign of a problem was a bump in the rotation when the second piston (from the front) reached the top of its stroke. It something; it’s not go out and buy another car w/engine damage – but it’s something.

Having no answers and more questions than ever before, I decided to dig deep. It was time to remove the head. This was not fun as both the intake, and exhaust manifolds had to be removed. The water pump and other peripheral items had to also be removed – fun, fun, fun. More parts, more bolts labelled in bags and more time.

The head didn’t come off willingly or even unwillingly. For awhile it didn’t look like it would come off at all. I had to suspend the head, engine, and the engine stand from the hoist to get it even to budge. The Haynes manual said it should pull right off – it was wrong. It took me an hour but it came off. I didn’t escape unscathed through; I sliced my palm wide open on the head gasket - nice.

With the head off the cause was even less clear – everything looked great – perfect almost.
See high-def pics @
After a lot of head scratching I went into the house, had a lot of beer and went to bed.
I thought about possible next steps. The possibility of the original motor being repaired had been scratched a long time ago. The purchase of the ’74 complicates things.

But if the motor is viable it has to go back into the car. There aren’t many rules to working with cars but this one is universal. To put it in perspective – especially in this case – there’s a line from a Blue Rodeo song about “the same sun rising over me as over you”. I can’t pass up the possibility to hear the same motor as dad heard. It’s an opportunity at a shared experience – those are few and far between now.

Sunday – I built a crate. I think this motor might be heading for someone who can make it sing again. I’m at the edge of my knowledge.
Stay tuned…

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dropkick Murphy's and a Hungover Engine Pull

This weekend I attended the Dropkick Murphys at the University of Calgary. That was Friday night. It was loud, scary, loud and drunken. We were standing exactly where this video looks to been taken. My Friend Bryan, of road trip fame, threw up during this song (The Who's Baba O'riley). This was the first encore. We left shortly after. I was a little disappointed, I could here "Shipping Off to Boston" playing as we left.

Saturday I was hung-over with many people in my house. About noon the place cleared out and I quickly headed up to Red Deer to do what? - That’s right; pull the engine and trans on dad's TR. This schedule is not recommended.

The TR6 room was warm with its new heating system. I, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, slowly I started removing the bonnet (hood) and labelling wires and hoses. It was a slow lethargic process.

Over time I built momentum. I removed the radiator; which was neat because it had water and coolant in it. I find that exciting. It also had some black oil in it. I suspect that's engine oil from a hole in the block but that's yet to be seen. Remember this car stopped running because a piston or rod through the block in 1980-81.

I then removed the cross member bolted in front of the engine block. I had to remove the cooling fan blade to dislodge the cross member. I suspect the cross member is in place to stiffen up the frame as convertibles are notorious flimsy. Thus their handling suffers.

Being quite hung-over I had to stop a couple of times and dry heave. I also had to hydrate profusely.

It decided to pull the engine and transmission together. The idea is that it will be easier to replace the clutch with the trans out of the car.

Dad's TR is a full load. This means it had both options available: removable hardtop and overdrive. Nowadays overdrive seems to be built into transmissions. Essentially I think of it as fifth gear.

It wasn't until I remove the transmission tunnel from the inside the car did I get an idea that overdrive on a TR is a different beast. It's even a different drive train item. It looks so cool.

Essentially older American cars work like this: from front to back: engine > trans > driveshaft > rear-end. This TR is: engine > trans > overdrive unit > driveshaft > rear-end. This simple variation is so cool.

Why they did this?

Triumph..., British Leyland, or whoever, decided to add the overdrive after the trans because it maintains the short-shift nature or the trans but adds long legs for driveability and economy over long distance. It's a sort of a best of both worlds situation: small gear ratios for quick acceleration and overdrive for long drives.

I also think it's cool that they just tacked it on the end of the transmission.

There three brackets holding the engine and trans in the car. One each side of the engine and under the back of the trans or overdrive unit if equipped.

After supporting the engine by a hoist I disconnected the front two brackets. the one under the trans has to be removed through the cockpit. The cardboard transmission cover is removed. Unfortunately, after disconnecting the driveshaft and trans from it's support bracket, you still can't get the engine and trans out. It seems the support bracket also has to come out.

I'm not sure anyone else has done this but the bracket removal was confusing as I could only access one bolt out of a possible four. This frustrated me for some time and I have to say it was the hardest part of the process so far. In my short-patience-hung-over state I removed the overdrive unit instead. This shortened the drive train so it could clear the bracket.

The engine and trans pull free from its surroundings - with some engine lift magic, some shimmying and a little brute force. The brute force had to come in when the front of the engine wasn't high enough to clear the grill but couldn't go up because the gearshift lever passed the mouth of the trans tunnel. Some brute force applied and engine was free and clear.

The Haynes manual said this process should take 3 hours. It took me 5.5 hours hung over and tired. I crawled into bed about one AM with the engine and trans resting safely on the floor.

Sunday I had to do the brakes on my truck. Next week I'm going to separate the engine/trans, inspect the clutch setup and mount the engine on an engine stand.

Sorry for the crappy I-Pics better pictures next week.

Post script: Found dad's car to be in excellent shape and turning bolts was easy. Especially surprising was the condition for the exhaust system as they usually rot out quickly. The exhaust on this car was solid as a rock - but not nice enough to keep.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Continuing Saga of the TR6 Room

Currently we're experiencing problems activating the heating system in the TR6 room.

This room is at the back of a shop on the acreage and, until earlier this year, were two rooms. It's now one big one. Unfortunately it hasn’t been heated for sometime as the existing under floor heating was in rough shape.

The world’s best plumber, Michael H. McPherson, has torn the system down to the under floor heating and built it back up to be a glycol-filled closed under floor system. Michael originally installed an electric hot water tank to heat the glycol but it seems now, as efficient as it is, electric doesn't have the recovery to keep up with what is required. We're going to gas!!

On that note - I'm still quite under-employed - anybody? anybody? Bueller?

Stay tuned...

For now enjoy me in 2006 driving the worlds shabbiest 72 Caddy Eldorado