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 @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/24287646@N05/tags/1976/
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…

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