Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mid Winter Update

I walked into the house after work one day, a few weeks back. The first thing I heard from my lovely wife was "That car is stinking up the garage! What's wrong with it?"

I calmly replied "It's a British car - that's the way they smell". Eventually I too had to admit there was a strong smell of gasoline coming from the car. Upon minimal inspection under the hood I could tell the fuel pump was leaking everywhere. I tightened things to no avail so now, as I write this, the car has a new fuel pump.

From denial to inspection to diagnoses to half-ass-fix-attempt to surrender to purchase of new pump to installation was about a six week turnaround. Meanwhile almost every event where we had friends and family over I wanted to show the car off to came in those six weeks. Not a big deal since Calgary is currently buried under a foot of snow but I would have like to have been able to fire her up for the fans.

There are some small parts I need before I finish skinning my convertible top. And the big thing I'm hoping to get in January/February is my carpet kit from Skinner. But for the most part the car is now a living organism. So much so I often forget to pull the negative off the battery and she doesn't short or run the battery down while I'm away. I come back days later and open the door to the bright courtesy lights.

There is a point in the build where a car becomes more than the sum of its parts. It's the point where the car develops its personality again. We are past that point. The car has a presence. For those who were in my garage over the last couple months and hadn't see the car for a year it's not the same car to them. I can see people's happiness for things saved where there once was a sadness for things lost. Believe me, I've seen both looks over the 3 years I've been into this.

I'm not saying I've created Herbie The Love Bug but, I feel, the essence of a soul is now there. Not every car has it - my wife's Rav4 doesn't. It has more in common with our stove than it does the TR6. But great cars do.

It's Christmastime and I really am enjoying it. Times are good. I like to make sure I convey that in this blog. These entries were so dark for so long during that first year that it makes it that much more important to note the fruits of that struggle.

Hayden and Ruffin wish you a Merry Christmas too

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Show and Tell

This is the point where I shut up and let the pictures do most of the talking. Since I last submitted a blog report Shawn and Dave were over to lend their expertise to the installation of the waist seals for the doors. Between the two of them they have a TR6, TR250, MGB, and TR250 project. AND wives who have given up all hope of parking in the garage - I’ll get Krista there someday. I had the windows in seconds before they installed the waist seals. the windows work great but those waist seals really have me tickled.

I had another order come in from EBay this week that I was trying to avoid but in the end I had to bite the bullet. The order was the column mounted dimmer switch. I reported earlier that I had rebuilt it but it wasn’t staying rebuilt. I opened it up two more times and it would work for a few uses then act up again. I picked a used one up for a hundred bucks including shipping. It wasn’t a screaming deal but almost half of what they retail for. I installed it last night and works great.

It didn’t take me long to get my door panels installed after the windows and seals went in. Within three days I had both new door panels installed. I put all of the hardware on except for one window crank as it’s missing the knob. I have new crank assembly coming in from EBay for sixteen bucks. I hope it will be here this week.

Also received an order from Moss. This ordered contained my windshield wiper blades. Along with those the order also contained seals for between the windows and the convertible top frame.

Speaking of the convertible top - as of this past weekend - I almost have the top completely installed. I need to glue the leading edge but before I do that I want to wait until my leading edge seal channel arrives from Moss. The top provided a lot of challenges not the least of which was a trip to “Michaels Craft Store” for a snap punch, leather hole cutter and Velcro. That place is not fit for man or beast on the weekend before Halloween. After a lot of line-waiting, hammering, tugging and swearing the top looks really good.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dashing Dash

Late Friday Krista and I returned from Brother Lachlan’s wedding in Mexico. It was a great week and I did relax. Although the entire time I was there I couldn’t help but wonder: “has my dash arrived at home yet?”
Turns out it arrived the same day I did and with the three day weekend the car got some long deserved attention. 

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves but I will share that I had the car out to celebrate the new dash on Saturday (most things are celebrated with a TR6 drive these days).  No side roads this time as I took her out on 1A and then on to the mighty Stoney Trail. Now that I am driving this car there are two things that I can’t get over. The first being the long power curve of that little motor. That thing is torque-y and long legged. It’s very fun to drive. The other thing is how small it is. Granted its big sitting next to my MIG welder in the garage but get her into modern (read: boxy behemoths) traffic and it’s a little intimidating. I had an F250 Diesel go by me on the right in three lane traffic and I have to admit I may have left a brown lump in my pants. I’m basically driving a double-wide Goldwing – except you sit a good two feet higher on a Goldwing. I do love plugging the little car into lanes with ease. It snakes through traffic like a ghost.   

Dash, Door caps, snaps for boot and tonneau cover and under the boot: softtop frame.

Look at that dash.
British Leyland Badge. I tried to save the original but it fell apart when I attempted to remove it.

Some of you may not beleive this but dad's car only ever had one and it was on the passenger-side

Night driving anyone? - all new bulbs- everywhere.

The first pic is from August 2009
Prince of Darkness Battery (Label) an the new hold down kit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waiting on Parts

Waiting on parts again. The good news is that I see that TRF has charged my credit card. That's their anti-social way of telling me what I ordered is on it's way. The parts will probably arrive while I'm away for brother Lachlan's wedding in Mexico. So no post next week.

See you in a couple of weeks.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

By The Numbers

I’m the type of guy that if there’s a subject that interests me I’ll find out everything about that subject until there is no more information that can be rung out of it. There were two occasions this week relating to “The Little Car That Could” where I had to dig until I got all the answers I needed. One was a win the other was a loss.

Before I put any real mileage on the TR6 it needs an oil change. It essentially still has the break-in oil in it. Being that I haven’t put any mileage on the car it hasn’t been an issue. October is my month to do some driving (hopefully) so it’s about to become an issue.

I have a bad habit of listening but not hearing. Match that with a spotty memory for detail and it’s amazing that I function at all. Everyone has been telling me what I need to use for oil but as I wasn’t ready to deal with it I wasn’t really listening.

It turns out what they were saying all along was “ZDDP”. ZDDP stands for zinc dithiophosphate. To keep it simple ZDDP does two things effectively: 1) it protects flat tappets as they move over the camshaft. 2) ZDDP kills catalytic converters (that’s the thing on you exhaust pipe that’s not your muffler).

New cars have roller type tappets which create less friction at the cam and therefore they do not require ZDDP in oil. With that being the case, and being that all cars have catalytic converters now, ZDDP has been slowly reduced in oils until it’s almost not there. Before catalytic converters oil contained about 2000ppm of ZDDP.

Even the oils that tout ZDDP as an additive don’t have 2000ppm. Most of those oils have between 150ppm and 1500ppm. After a lot of research on what was recommended, what was available locally and what was best I decided to purchase a 20W-50 weight oil from a company called Brad Penn. The oil is their high performance Penn-Grade 1 and it can be found at performance parts store in Calgary. Brad Penn stands for Bradley, Pennsylvania. That’s where the oil is refined. Independent tests put the ZDDP content around 1500ppm. I also purchased a bottle of ZDDPlus. That can be added to any oil to give it 2000ppm. Because I like many of the other benefits of using Brad Penn I’m going to add one forth of the ZDDPlus to every oil change to bump the ZDDP to 2000ppm.

I did a lot of research on oil online. A part of that is reading a lot of car forums. If there is a “third-rail” car topic it has to be what oil guys use. There is some passion for oil out there – to say the least. Dodge v. Chevy. v. Ford doesn’t hold a candle.

The other issue I tackled this week was the fact that shortly after the TR6 left Felixstowe, England in early 1976 bound for Montreal, Quebec and eventually Edmonton, Alberta it disappeared - at least on paper. There are no registration documents on the TR6 – anywhere. I know because I spent the last three days searching. I inquired with two registry agents and someone in the service center at the Government of Alberta Ministry of Transportation. The car doesn’t exist. There are no records in Alberta for cars last registered before 1984. But here’s the kicker: the car may never had been registered anywhere ever. The only document I have from the car is the last insurance document in my mothers name for 1981-82 and the VIN number on the card is incorrect. In the insurance doc the car is listed as 1976 Triumph TR6 CR52431UD. The VIN on the car is CF52431UO. It’s not clear when this mistake was made but if it was right off the hop when the car was first registered then the car was never-ever properly registered. I’m such a geek I find that fascinating.

The downside is that the car is going have to have an out-of-province inspection before I can register it. I insured through Hagerty insurance and because it was insured as a low annual mileage / pleasure vehicle they didn’t require an inspection to be done. For a moment there I was off the hook. But at the same time the car needs an alignment anyway and I found a good little shop that does a lot of British cars that will do both at a really good price. Not a big deal – the car is in great shape – might as well prove it. As a bonus I’ll score points with my in-laws who love checks and balances.

Still there’s a part of me that wanted to reach into that past again and pull back some tidbits of this car, and by extension, my dad’s history. I knew it was a long shot but the dealer name in Edmonton or something like that would have been neat to see on a VIR. It may be sick but I love to dig through those registry records if they existed somewhere – that’s my idea of a good time.

Last Thursday marked 3 years since dad’s passing and funny but I almost forgot about it. From a mental health point of view I’ve come a long way from the panic that punctuated the beginning of this blog. It might not be as interesting reading as it was when I was trying to get traction with this project/life but now is a good place to be.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Techie Week

Maybe to the confusion to most who read this and maybe it plays into those who say that I’m a bit of a strange cat but again I need to talk about the audio system going into this car. I know that it is rather a moot point as a stereo in a convertible is rather obsolete and I know that we all thought I had it put to bed with the Satellite on the dash and the amp under the passenger seat but I wasn’t happy with the volume control.

My plan was to install the volume knob where the dash light dimmer switch resides as the dimmer is not that important and could easily be bypassed without issue. The problem with that plan is that left me installing at radio-delete panel in where the radio used to reside. I didn’t love that situation but it seemed to be the best case at the time – until now…

It came to me in a dream the other night: What if I leverage the Blaupunkt radio to control the volume? I admit it was pretty far fetched but I did once turn a vintage Royal vacuum cleaner into a derby racer so I know I am sometime capable of strange things.

My first plan was to utilize the inline rheostat I had purchased for my system by sistering it to the radio’s volume knob internally. But once I removed the volume knob control shaft from the old Blaupunkt it became clear to be that I could simplify everything by using the Blaupunkt volume rheostat. It also became clear that I could also use the power switch on the Blaupunkt to turn the satellite head unit and amp on and off.

The advantage I had, and what also made so bold, was that I bought a second Blaupunkt on EBay last year just like the one salvaged from the car. This stereo is in great shape, I think it came out of a Porsche, but being that I have it I was able to take the old Blaupunkt apart to test all theory without fear.

Once I had the Volume shaft out of the old radio it didn’t take me long to map the functionality; as in: what was volume, what was, balance, tone and on/off. The hardest part of the whole thing was waiting for the soldering iron to heat up. Within an hour I had the volume rheostat soldered inline between the satellite head unit and the amp. It works like a charm!!! I haven’t soldered in the on/off switch yet but that will be simple compared to the rheostat.

This weekend I’ll install the modded shaft into the new Blaupunkt and drill some holes in the back of the radio casing to run all the wires out the back. The whole thing should look right-proper as the English say.

This past weekend, on the way through Red Deer on my way back from the Stampeders / Eskimos football game and drunkfest in Edmonton, I stopped by the acreage to pick up the remaining TR6 parts and leathers. Part of this pick up was the windshield sprayer jug and pump and the radiator overflow jug. After letting them soak in some CLR and cleaning up the pump motor, I installed them back on the car and they work great. I bought a new length of clear hose for the overflow but windshield sprayer worked with only plugging it in. I had to re-aim the sprayer nozzles but other than that it’s like new. My only issue was that the strap the holds the washer jug crumbled in my hand before I could re-install the unit so for now there is a strip of hockey tape holding the jug to the bracket – it looks not too bad… I’ll change it out at a later date.

To cap off last week’s post: I resealed the rear diff cover with grey silicone “The Good Stuff”. Then I let it to sit empty for more than 24 hours before I filled it with gear oil again. So far my leak is gone. Although refilling it sucked as I had a siphon tube with a bulb on it to do the job. I failed to notice when I bought it that it didn’t have a one-way valve. It took me more that an hour to pump two and a half liters of gear oil into the diff Saturday night. I had to keep pinching the line on each side of the bulb to suck fluid into the line then pinch it again on the other side of the bulb to push it into the diff. This is something I don’t want to do again for awhile.

Still waiting on my backordered dash panel.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Don't Leave Your Car With Bruce

This weekend a lot of good things happened for the TR6. I was able to fix the heater fan without buying a new one. The door and window seals arrived and I was able to install them easily. And a long with the seals the new clutch master cylinder arrived and I was able to install that without issue. Everything went so well that I was able to take it for a drive around the neighborhood late Saturday night.

Since then I have dropped the rear diff cover and am letting it drip clean so I can reseal the diff – to resolve a, not dire but persistent, puddle under the rear end.

As these things get accomplished the car looks more and more like those last 30 years never happened. But those 30 years did happen and that was my life – half of that was my childhood. This restoration is a bookend to period. It only makes sense; the car came off the road shortly after I was born and will go back on the road shortly after dad died. I guess it’s only around when it’s needed – something like the Littlest Hobo (very Canadian reference).

This car is truly an experience in tandem. When it’s done the car is going to tell me the little stories – not dad. If he were here when it’s done and we went for a drive together I imagine the visceral experience of him driving it again would bring back memories and learn-ed insights about the car he would feel compelled to pass on.

Thinking about riding with him makes me remember one night a few years back. My brother Neal had purchased a mid-90s 3 Series BMW Coup. It was a punchy little five speed and was sitting on the acreage as Neal was working up north on the oil sands for the summer. For some reason I was out on the acreage for Saturday night dinner. I suspect I was kidnapped sometime during the day to look at a car or go to a farm auction and was talked into dinner. Anyway before we could cook dinner the barbeque ran out of propane and Dad and I had to run into town to get it filled so we could eat.

I remember dad being coy and saying “What car should we take?” Then saying, “Well let me dig into the key basket and whatever key I pull out that’s what we’ll take.” If he was actually doing that it would have been rather high odds that he would have picked a key to one of the many work trucks he had historically but have long since been replaced, or one of the many crashed Plymouth Acclaims and Dodge Spirits that littered the healing line. The odds of him grabbing the keys to Neal’s Beemer were rather low. I think he cheated.

When we got to the end of the driveway he looked at me and said, “Your brother doesn’t know how to drive this car… I know how to drive this car – hold on!” Before that day and since I have never heard that car, or another car for that matter, scream like that as we peeled out of the driveway. It was a six mile trip into town and we easily broke the record getting in there as his big right paw put the stick shift up and down through the gates and left foot dumped the clutch. At one point he looked at me and said “This reminds me of driving the TR6.” Knowing what I know now I imagine the Beemer was a little quicker.

Sure enough by the time we arrived back at home Neal had phoned home and opened with, “Who the hell is driving around in my car?”

Apparently he had got a call from, his then girlfriend, now wife, Michelle who had just spotted the car in traffic and was wonder why he hadn’t let her know he was back in town.

Bruce caught shit on that one.

And I should end there as that makes the most sense but the ending of that story reminds me of an email I was copied into once that was between Dad and my brother Lachlan. I had just got a company car for work as my work wanted to recoup all the money I was making charging out my truck. Until I decided what to do with my truck I parked it at the acreage. I can’t remember exactly what the email was about but there was a line that said “Lach, if you need to, you can probably grab that white truck. It’s been left here on the acreage for an undisclosed amount of time.” The biggest surprise was that he bothered to copy me.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fans of All Types

There are very few times in my life that I’ve really hoped to see a large dead mouse but that was exactly what I was hoping for as I pulled the heater box from the TR6 on Saturday. I didn’t want to do it. In fact I ignored it as long as possible. It wasn’t until Friday evening when I pulled on the heater fan and saw that all the dash lights dimmed and there was no fan noise that I really started to pay attention to the problem.

I have known for a long time that there was a problem with the heater but as the car is going to have a fairly relaxed retirement, weather wise, and there was a grocery list of other things wrong with the car, the heater has been sitting pretty far up the pyramid on Mazlow’s (TR6) Hierarchy of Needs. With the dash out and the new dash panel six weeks down the road now was the time.

It was surprisingly easy to pull the heater box. I’ve pulled a few in my time. They are never fun and you always end up pulling more dash off than you intended. But that wasn’t the case here. Three bolts, one nut, two hoses and the whole thing popped out.

When I opened I was disappointed to see no dead mouse pinning the fan form turning. I pop the fan out and bench tested it and it didn’t spin the whole thing just heated up. If I helped it get started with my hand it would turn slowly. So with little to lose I took the motor apart.

Spinning fans make me happy

There are two brass bearings at each end and one was stuck on the shaft. I freed it and put the little motor back together and it worked again. It was still heating up a bit and sometimes would stick so I think I’m going to take it apart again and try some lithium grease on the shaft. Failing that I see that some cat in Seattle has a shelf full of them on EBay for about $120 each*.

With the heater box out of the car it was a little less mobile than it was previously. Although a leaky clutch master cylinder made it pretty immobile before this – at least it hobbled the car’s range. That being the case I might just throw it up jack stands this week and tackle resealing the rear diff cover with “the good stuff”.

Before I am able to get to that I have to finish the little project I started. Ever so gingerly I have started to install the interior I bought from Bob Danielson more than a year ago. I’ve started with the rear wheel arches. Last night I finished the passenger side and I’ve just started on the driver’s side. I’m using contact cement to install the foam underlay and to adhere the vinyl to the foam. So far (and it seems to be working) I adhere the foam and clamp it with some tape until the contact cement dries. Then I glue the bottom corner of the vinyl to the foam, let that dry. After that I glued the rest as I then had something to pull against. I like the way it is turning out but it is slow work.

Sunday Krista and I cleaned the garage out as she’s has been like a terrier about getting the Rav back in the garage before it gets too cold. Out of good excuses and down to irrationally throwing myself around, I had to let her have her way. I’m not happy about it but what can I do? – the damage has been done – this utilitarian-vehicles-belongs-in-the-garage-thing is a product of bad parenting – it’s too late. Take this as an important lesson to all the fathers of daughters out there: don’t let this happen to their future husbands. Make those kids park outside.

Anyway, part of this abomination of car justice was that I had to move the TR6 out on the driveway to clean in the garage. It was such a beautiful day and boy did the car look nice out in the sun. Before Krista joined me in the clean I had to sneak out and give it a quick wash to get all the dust and finger prints off.

Over the course of an hour I had several people stop and ogle the little car. A couple neighbors stopped and chatted. Of course there I am standing there like a grinning fool, any time someone said something nice about it, all I could say was “Thanks! It’s my dad’s car!” I questioned myself later on why I kept saying that but thought it best to not dive too deep into it.

This long weekend we’re home for most of it and I’ll have some time to work on the car. Hopefully my latest order from TRF will come this week but either way there’s lots to do.

Stay tuned…

* It makes me a little sad to think that each one of these fans might represent a car no longer on the road.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back Ordered

The one thing that doesn’t translate in the restoration hobby is a sense of urgency. Not that I’m in a big hurry. I’ve resigned myself that 2011 is the late days of the restoration not the first year of driving. But – still – it would be nice to get a sense that when I make an order that somewhere somebody gets a sense that that list is more than the sum of it’s parts – both literary and figuratively. After a couple inquiring emails I get the words that no one wants to hear: “Back Ordered”.

I’m not sure the ethics of sending out a sales catalog where there are items that are not actually in stock. Only things in stock should be in the sales catalog! That’s why you have a sale, to clear out items in stock. Regardless of the ethical implications of this transaction my dash panel has been back ordered… six weeks… in the year of the cat.

To bridge that period I ordered the door seals and the windshield seals. That and a bulb kit for the dash lights. Not as interesting as the dash panel but still it’s progress.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A New Windshield and a Old Tree

Bring the Funk bring the Noise! The TR6 blog is back this week with a renewed vigor. After last weeks melancholy about the path ahead I was able to refocus and find a foothold.

On Friday of last week I go some very good news concerning my career. You remember my career – that thing I didn’t have for the first year of this project (somewhere Krista just said “15 months” to herself and she has no idea why). Unexpectedly I got a salary bump.

To celebrate I bought a couple of things from TRF. One thing I have coming is a new dash panel. I know I was talking about redoing the old one myself – and I even bought materials to do it. The problem is that now since I’ve seen a few that have been redone I haven’t been happy with what I’ve seen. Even the nice ones look wrong to me. Everything on this car looks so nice that I just couldn’t put something sub-par right where I look all the time. I just would never be happy with it. It didn’t help that TRF had them on sale for two thirds the regular price.

Beyond that I also had Greg the Windshield Guy over last night and we finally mounted the windshield. That’s a game changer. Look at the picture and try and tell me that’s not a game changer. After something like that is mounted you start to see little design aspects in how the chrome in the windshield seal sets off the chrome in the mirror and the vanity rings. The car looks great.

On the weekend my brothers (Neal and Lachlan) and I were at the ranch cutting and jackhammering out the old foundation from under what used to be the porch. I might have mentioned this before but we’re re-doing the porch and railing as that has been a mess for a long time. It was a good time and we worked well together (which is not always the case) – as a bonus I finally got to use the winch on the Power Wagon. We used it to yank out big pieces of foundation (the Sutherland brothers don’t mess around).

Unfortunately while we were out there we became aware of some pretty bad news. The 150 year old Blue Spruce tree we buried my father’s ashes under snapped in half in the recent strong winds we’ve been getting out in the west country. We also had one of the poplars in the yard of the cabin fall over and crush one of the benches around the fire pit. The poplar was expected but the Blue Spruce was very disappointing. It was on a registry of Alberta heritage trees. My father was very fond of it and often walked people out to have a look at it. It was a sad mark on what was an otherwise great weekend.

It’s worth mentioning while listening to Willie’s Place on XM Sunday morning at the ranch my brothers and I heard a song that stopped us dead in our tracks. I have never heard it before now and that’s shocking as it was completely engulfing. In the tradition of Marty Robbins it’s a western ballad called “Seven Spanish Angels” and it was by Willie Nelson. In the version we heard it was a collaboration of Willie and Ray Charles which was just perfect. I highly recommend downloading it. I did and played it for Krista and Hayden last night. Krista knew it word for word – I may be the last person to the party on this one.

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Funk beyond Zero Hour

I’m in a funk and try as I might I can’t shake it. Even the excitement of accidentally starting the TR6 in gear (reverse) and have it shoot out of the garage and down the driveway until me and another fellow could wrestle it to a stop couldn’t shake me out of it. Not a proud moment - but rest assure I put the parking brake back together soon after. Geoff, the fellow that was visiting, must have been as shaken as I as he didn’t stick around long after that bit of excitement.

I’ve blown through my second deadline and there is no real sign of when this project will be finished. I don’t consider this a failure but I’m not too happy about it. It comes down to simply a cash-flow issue. The year of the cat continues to be expensive.

To try to alleviate my funk I visited Triumph Close to eyeball a TR250 Dave and Shawn brought up from Arizona to restore - an act of trust and faith that reaches way beyond the comfort zone I have with any of my neighbors. Also beyond belief is that, with the “new” TR250, both Dave and Shawn’s garages are housing vintage British iron in all spots exclusively. Being that they are both happily married I find this amazing. Krista’s Rav4 continues to enjoy a sheltered lifestyle that no other rather homely utilitarian car should. Yes I said car - if I continue to ignore the term “Sport Utility” I’m hoping it will go away. I have the same hope for the term “Adult Contemporary”.

Later the same evening I drove the TR6 to a gas station in the neighborhood to fill the tank and then to visit a quiet country road near here. Although Greg and I haven’t been able to match up schedules yet to install the windshield it was still a good shakedown drive. Two problems I discovered while on my drive. One being that since I fixed the high/low beam switch I lost my left side signal lights. The other problem is more concerning. My clutch master cylinder is bleeding like a stuck pig. I had this same problem in the fall of last year around the time of that drive. I suspect its blow-by from the plunger as my right foot and foot well was soaked in dot4 brake fluid. I had to limp the car home without a clutch which wasn’t great for my starter as I had to stop for two lights. As the car proved by dashing out of the garage earlier, the starter is pretty torque-y but starting the car in first is not great long term plan. The master cylinder is brand new from Moss so I’m not very happy about this.

Today I was able to fix the left signal lights - it was just a pinched wire. I also installed the windshield wiper motor and it works very well.

I guess my first task at hand is to change out the master cylinder. Also hopefully before next week Greg can get he windshield installed. The good news is that we're into the shakedown stage.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Short and sweet TR6 update this week:

I received the windshield for the little car last Wednesday. I placed it in the frame then placed it back in the box as it scares me. Thanks to Orest I have a guy lined up to install it. That will probably happen the week of the eighth. Until then I am on vacation with a whole whack of Sutherlands in Beautiful British Columbia.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Reality of Getting the Lights to Work

I know it’s a bold statement and quite off topic, but, I believe, we are watching the decline of the relevance of television. Gil Scott-Heron was right: the revolution will not be televised.

I started to notice the decline of television when A&E spun off their hit series Biography into its own channel and then both channels became home for crap that wasn’t Biography. Currently I think Dawg the Bounty Hunter and Billy the Exterminator are the only thing on either channel.

I didn’t see it coming when I watched the first season of Survivor in 2000. The concept of reality TV was so foreign to me. I remember my uncle Jim describing the pilot episode to me before I’d seen it and I thought he had lost his mind. That show then went on to grab my undivided attention for three seasons before I figured out it was a manipulative melodrama that was eroding my very soul. I probably could become addicted again if I watched two episodes in a row.

Most of it has turned out to be crap. All offshoots of Survivor but there were a few bright spots in the last decade as this reality phenomena was coming of age. One I remember fondly was Junk Yard Wars; another was Monster Garage. Those two shows were the booster rockets that launched me into being hopelessly addicted to American Chopper.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – that it’s more likely that given my predisposition to cars that American Hotrod was my show. The problem with American Hot Rod was that it couldn’t be anyone’s show – the characters were too unlikable. Do you think I’d ever let Blue Bear touch the TR6? That and you just felt sorry for the guys who paid for having these cars built. The owner of a car built by Boyd's crew had a documentary of the morons who turned wrenches on their hot rods – that seem unbelievable to me. Since his death it seems to be in vogue to remember Boyd Coddington fondly, especially if you’re name is Craig Jackson and you have no soul, but Boyd was a prick. Paul Senior is a prick too but in a different way – I can’t touch on it exactly but more likable – although his likeability is quickly eroding in this last season.

American Chopper was my show because it had content that I was interested in (working on mechanical stuff) but detached from my interests enough that I wasn’t overly critical of what they were doing. For years it was the perfect show. Then something happened in ’08 that changed everything. The show moved from Discovery to TLC. It seemed benign at the time but it turns out, with the clarity of hindsight, that it was akin to switching your vice from weed to heroin.

I'm not going to say too much about TLC because I love my wife but I will say this -It's the reason, when I quizzed her the other day, she as an educator didn't know who Charles Lindbergh was. Apparently he hasn't come up yet on "The Learning Channel".

I imagine, and I only have my generation to blame, that a lot of young TV producers cut their teeth on reality television of the last decade. There is a formula to the current crop of docu-dramas (can’t believe I just used that word) that is so slick it’s become impossible for anyone with any self-respect to watch these shows. Shows with potential like Pawn Stars, Storage wars and Auction Kings which are great ideas but they are born as hideous malformed drama monsters because of this new breed of TV producer. These producers know that the least of us (potential-wise) watch the most television and those people love drama and hate learning.

I know where Storage Wars came from. I listened to the same episode of “This American Life”. I hate to Give Ira Glass any credit because he already gives himself enough but it was a very interesting episode. The reality show is not and it won’t ever be because public radio listeners are not reality TV watchers.

Anyway I made that point to make this point: I’m still watching American Chopper. I know it’s not real – I know that it’s totally a commercial vehicle for businesses and other TLC/Discovery shows and this season they are not even trying to hide it. But I have to see how it ends. I want to see if this father and son duke it out. I can’t relate anymore because it’s gotten too cartoon-ish but there was a time I could see a little Angus and Bruce dynamic in there.

Although the more I think about the conflict (invented or real, aside) between Junior and Senior the more I’m reminded of an old episode of Cheers. It’s the episode where two women start arguing in the bar and all the barflies turn around to watch chanting “Cat fight! Cat fight!” Soon the barflies realize that it’s not going escalate to blows and they turn back to what they were doing chanting, “Kitten fight, Kitten fight.”

I think eight years in it’s become obvious to everyone that we’re watching a kitten fight unfold on American Chopper.

Before he became Hollywood persona-non-grata-of-note for screwing over Sandra Bullock, Jesse James was featured in a few Thom Beers produced docu-dramas (I think they were called “Motorcycle Mania” or something equally as stupid). In those and in his ever-diminishing role on “Monster Garage” Jesse took a lot of pleasure in taking shots at the Teutuls for the fact that they never fabbed frames or tanks from scratch. They would just pull pre-fabbed parts from a shelf and bolt it on. I always thought he had a point and it seems OCC thought he did also because since those days they’ve gone a long way to add non-Teutuls who can build tanks and frames from scratch. That’s not growing as fabricator but it’s the next best thing I guess.

That’s stuck with me as I worked on the TR6. No it wasn’t me who rebuilt the engine. And no it wasn’t me who painted the car. I’ll do those things eventually but not on this car. I can rationalize that but I am still sensitive to it. Although I did redo the entire suspension and brakes myself and I did weld the rockers on.

Last week in this blog I related that the headlight dimmer switch had fallen apart and that the TR6 need a new one. I looked it up in TRF and the new one is seventy dollars plus shipping. That’s a bargain compared to parts for modern vehicle but still money that could go somewhere else. Spurred on by the cost and the thought that I couldn’t really make it worse, I took the switch apart to and rebuilt it. Guess what? It works as good as new. Check one for reality over reality TV.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Face Everyone Can Love

I think it’s important to point out that even before I started this restoration that the emergency brake on the TR worked fine – and most importantly continues to work great. Everything else however…

Finally, after two months of back orders and a rather annoying mail strike, my parts from TRF parts came last night. Because they took so long and that I’ve been pretty whiny about it, Krista let me open everything at the dinner table during supper. Although she did get a little annoyed when I told a headlamp that it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Funny enough, I actually knew how to install a headlamp on a TR6. As I installed the first one all these memories came rushing back to me of changing out the light with one from the trunk back in the eighties because someone (probably me) had smashed it with a off-target kick of the soccer ball. I think I became a car guy out of necessity over anything else.

The problem I had with this job in present time was that my twelve dollar riveter broke about halfway through the install. After an ill-advised trip to Home Depot and then a trip at the speed of light to Canadian Tire (where I should have gone first) I had a thirty-six dollar Stanley riveter. Soon after that I had the headlamps installed.

Yearning to see them light up like the rest of the lights on the car I quickly hooked up the battery and flicked the switch… Nothing – no head lamps. I have marker and tail lamps all day long but no head lamps.

Remembering what Shawn has told me about grounds on these cars I went searching for bad grounds. I had no bad grounds. After some more messing around that included jumping the light switch I figured out it was the column mounted dimmer switch. Giggling the switch produced momentary bursts of light. If I stood on one foot while holding the switch up and towards me and crossed my eyes the headlamps would stay on steady.

Eventually I opened up the column and went to pull the switch out and it didn’t really pull out as much as it pulled apart. Lovely, I guess I need a new one of those – this was my point about the emergency brake.

I wouldn’t have minded as much that the switch needs to be replaced but expenses that are non-car related have been hitting me hard as of late. Between the hot water heaters, weddings and a family vacation to Kelowna last long weekend and another trip there coming up on the August long weekend – the TR6 has had to take a back seat.

Although last week I finished a quite rewarding (read: cheap) little project while Krista and Junior where still in Kelowna. I clean, polished and painted the front grill. Shawn blasted the grill for me a few weeks back and I then painted the metal frame with Por15 (big blob on my elbow still to prove it) and the grill itself with black enamel. I polished the stainless parts of the frame and repainted the aluminum bar silver again. I finished the whole thing off with a new horizontal pin strip to replace the original and a new “TR6” badge that finally arrive from TRF yesterday. It turned out great.

Beyond all that Krista (because she has all her fingers) and I installed the side mirror I got from TRF yesterday. That was cool because the side mirror has actually been off the car for longer than I can remember.

I also receive the bolt kit for the front spoiler (I have it pinned in place currently) and the blots for the “Triumph” badge that mounts under the rear bumper. I have yet to install those two items and being that I have to chase the threads for the rear badge that one is going to be a bit of a task.

Things keep bumping along but I’m definitely working from a “cash on hand” place currently so it’s slow going.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Post 100

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Moving Forward and Reversals

At the time of his death my dad had almost all but given up on his last parenting goal. Some would speculate (incorrectly) that it was a tongue-in-cheek statement but those of us who knew him best knew better. For a long period he was convinced that his grand finale in parenting was going to see if could make back all the money he spent on raising kids through a reverse mortgage on the family cabin, his legacy property.

If he got the buy in from my mother and the rest of us he might have been able to pull it off. Let’s face it he really didn’t spend that much on us growing up. Maybe 8 eight bikes, five beds (he finally reluctantly replaced my childhood bed when I was in grade 11 after the dog’s ninth near miss from a middle of the night collapse), fifty pairs of running shoes (at most) and a handful of cars that got misdirected on the way to the crusher. That’s not much (comparably): no college or university tuition, no rent money, no gas money and no first home down payments. Although I must say dad was very effective in helping us (in his way) in getting those on our own.

The reverse mortgage idea came from one of those TV ads that targets seniors with no money but lots of equity in their homes. I guess what happens is you sign over the title and they make you monthly payments on the house until you croak. Bruce wanted to do that except me and my sibs would make monthly payments to him until he passed.

Outwardly it seem like a cold gesture but all conversations about it were always ended just as coldly by us reminding him that he wasn’t actually on title at the ranch – mom was and she wouldn’t let him do that to us.

At the time of dad’s passing the only thing in his name was a 1981 Yamaha 1100cc motorcycle. Dad liked it that way – he never wanted to be on title. I think owning businesses in the ’80s economy left him a little shell-shocked. Krista won’t let me do that – she makes me put my name on everything.

I don’t believe we got away scot-free through. I think there is “The Curse of the Reverse Mortgage” and so far the instrument of that curse has been the Grasshopper Lawn mower. Again something has gone wrong with that mower and again it is on us to fix it. I have voted to sell it but it seems I’m in the minority this time. We will fix it again this time and it will cost a lot to do so. Damn you, Bruce!

That and this weekend my sibs are tearing up the porch at the cabin. It’s time to address that porch (fifty years of deck board in the wrong direction is enough) and some foundation issues. I’m in Kelowna with Krista and junior this weekend because of a scheduling error in my favor but next weekend I’ll be out at the ranch pouring pilings. We didn’t get away with anything.

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Orest. He’s a long term TR6 owner. He’s had his car since ’79 (I resisted telling him that was the year that I was born) and has kept it up over the years. He commutes in it from Canmore on the nicer days.

Orest tracked me down on the blog and after finding out we worked close to each other convinced me to come over to check out his car. We had about an hour session about his car, dad’s cars and cars in general. I like meeting guys like Orest who, as Jack Kerouac would say: “not only understands… but cares.” But at the same time stops way short of being fanatical about these cars (I don’t think him and his wife have matching Triumph sweatshirts).

Throughout the week and over the weekend I was tracking the parliamentary proceedings concerning the postal strike and filibuster like it was a sporting event. Boy, was that a mess and a pain in the ass. I think we’ll look back on this strike as the TSN (read: ESPN) Turning Point on socialized mail service in Canada. If you were like me you spent that time taking the last of your eggs out of that basket.

The rest of my weekend was dedicated to installing two new hot water tanks. I believe that qualifies as the modern equivalent of wrestling a bear. I only had one crap-inducing moment where I bumped a gas valve on a line that formally connected to a hot water tank, thus now venting some gas to atmosphere. A quick move, a quick girly scream, some swearing and I was close to being back to a resting heart rate. They both work great and when I muster up some more ambition for non-TR6-related tasks I’ll haul out the old two tanks. Right now they serve as a warning to the new ones especially since I roughed one up a bit.

I’m hoping that my headlights and side mirror arrive this week but who knows what will start trickling in and when. I weaseled Shawn into blasting the front grill for me and as of last night I have a coat of paint on it. As of tonight should have another coat on there.

Orest gave me a hot lead on a windshield and installer so I’m going to follow that up this week also. Things are moving again.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Striking Developments

Tanks, there are tanks in my garage... eck.

I have been and always will be a “water will find its own level” guy when it comes to the economy and business in general but this week I find myself a fluffy-wuffy “the government must intervene type.” The Canadian postal system is shut down – closed – or at least it is as I write this. This is crap! I mean it – this really, really sucks. I have TRF parts stuck some where at a postal depot and no one’s doing anything about it. Forget these Social Security cheques. I need my TR6 parts.

Right before everything went south between the posties’ union (did I mention they get seven weeks a year in vacation time) and Canada Post I did receive a box of want now apparently is considered contraband. That is, of course, my war paint, POR15.

Yes, can you believe it? A few weeks back I called over to the worlds worst located body shop and I was told it was outlawed for sale in Canada and they just finished a fire sale of what they had left. The fact that I wasn’t informed of the sale I think was what pissed me off most – the places I need an email flyer from never send one and the places I do get one from are the ones I really don’t need.

Hello – internet! I ordered another sixer of POR15 arm paint from the USA (between POR15, Ebay, TRF and Moss I’m doing my part for the American economy). It came right before they locked out the posties. At least I’ll have that to do.

But what I have coming from TRF is all the cool stuff: The head lamps, and side mirror (remember only one goes on the TR6 – two means you need to refill your prescription of Cialis – put the tools down). I want to see the head lamps light up and I really want to install the mirror. But it looks like there’s just painting in my immediate future.

Well not just painting thanks to Mad Dog Mikey McPherson I picked the two new hot water tanks I need to install. The little orange car is really starting to get the hind tit with this postal strike and now the life of a married home owner.

I am getting pretty close to ordering the windshield. Looks like the bid is going to Drakes as a) they have it and b) they send everything by bus.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – a TR6 doesn’t get built in a vacuum. Life still happens. Granted this car has taken a disgustingly high priority in my life but hot showers still rank way up there.

This passed weekend was the Father and Son fishing trip at the ranch and there were about 15 of us out there from Friday on. I was out on Thursday with the dogs. My Mad Dog had to cancel so I was drinking alone with the dogs Thursday night. I don’t have the same hang ups about drinking alone as the rest of my nanny generation does – often the conversation is better.
I can feel and hear dad out there when I’m there alone. I spoke to him a bit about the car, Hayden and some things that are really pissing me off that only he could truly commiserate with me about. It was nice night – woke up Friday with a headache.

Other than the weather it was a great weekend it was good to see everyone. A couple of groups walked out to the tree to see dad over the weekend. I did early Friday before everyone arrived.

At the end of and another blog and again I find myself hoping. This week I hope this damn strike ends.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Father’s days and Plumbing

The Year of the Cat is off to a marginal start. Much in the tradition of this project over the last two years something is again getting in the way. We lost a hot water heater in the new house last week. Krista insists that it’s not something I can just ignore.

On top of that the boiler at my mom’s acreage went south on her so me, and two close friends, (one being Bryan of the KC trip – Bry is clutch) had to spend 12 hours on Saturday installing a new boiler at her place. ARRGGG!!

Having that done I finally got a little work done one the car on Sunday. I mounted the two stainless moldings that go below the doors on each side. That’s a game-changer. Those really give the car a sleek lower line. I also did a little touch-up painting between where the passenger headlight goes and the grill. Tony and I had a bit of miscommunication on if that was supposed to black or orange. He chose black – it should have been orange (Topaz). No biggie and it turned out great.

We’re experiencing a postal strike here in Canada. It’s a rotating deal. They get seven weeks a year off for vacation (I should strike) so I’m not sure what they’re complaining about. Calgary had it last week and I would like to say that’s the reason my headlamps aren’t here yet from TRF – but it isn’t. They are still backordered and because I’m a fool who likes to get pushed around I sent in another order today for the side mirror (only one as God intended), decal for the grill badge and hardware for the front spoiler. I was going to order the lock tumblers also so to finish off the exterior of the car but it wasn’t in my budget (damn you hot water heater!). I hope they read my note and combine shipping or Angy is going to go “postal”.

This upcoming weekend is the Annual Father and Son Fishing Trip at the ranch. It’s been going on for something like 29 years. I mentioned it last year. This is the second year I will attend since dad’s passing. The sibs and I ducked the one in ’09 as it was too soon. Last year was great but I had a lot on my mind with pending employment and the prospect of taking the TR6 to Kelowna the following week. This year I’m in a much better place. I’m headed out on Thursday night with Ruffin, Yogi and the mower and will be way more relaxed then last year. Maddog Mikey McPherson (the other friend on the boiler replacement – to say Mike is clutch is redundant) is joining me that night for porch drinks and I think everyone else is showing up Friday during the day – Perfect.

Eventually Hayden will attend this event - but this year he’s a little too young. I am really, really looking forward to taking him with me to the father and son in three years or so.

Krista notices I get a little owl-ly this time of year and I think it’s related to the father and son fishing trip as I really start thinking about dad a lot. It was one of his favorite events with us boys – and ours with him. Traditionally it would be about today (Tuesday) we’d get an email from him about when he planned to be heading out to the ranch (always Thursday) with his “number one son” Yogi (meaning the dog ranked number one and the three of us ranked somewhere from 2 to 4). He’d inform us that he’s handling the steaks and burgs but we were responsible for our own booze. If I could, I’d join him on Thursday. I think I have an unblemished record for being at the ranch on the Thursday before the father and son for something like seven years – keeping in mind the one I skipped the year after dad passed.

In short there will be no work on the car this weekend. That gives TRF some time to get me the parts I need – c’mon boys lets go!

Everyone have a great Father’s Day weekend and if you can – hug your dad for me.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rubber and Chrome

There’s nothing like black to make Orange really pop. This past week the TR6 had the rear bumper installed along with a new trunk seal, top hood seal and windshield frame seal all installed. All the seals came from TRF and arrived yesterday. Beyond that I installed the windshield washer heads/ wiper moldings.

The car is really starting to look like something. New rubber certainly makes the car. Installing brand new rubber parts is one of those things I didn’t really understand when I was younger. It took being 32 to appreciate that the little things are what make a nice restoration.

I have been pretty myopic lately in using TRF almost exclusively and it’s not like I’ve had a bad experience with Moss – they’ve been great.

Growing up – I can’t help talking about growing up I think it’s having Hayden around – beside my dad’s bed, on his nightstand, he had The Roadster Factory catalogs, various Hayne’s Auto Repair manuals and a Motor’s Auto Repair Manual for Cars from 1961 (It’s stamped inside “Saint Thomas Aquinas School Library”). He was obsessed with the Roadster Factory in a way that someone who only had the catalogs could be - which explains his email to them in 2008.

That being the case there had to be some Roadster Factory parts on dad’s car. I have to say that I’m really impressed with what has arrived so far. Their wiring bullet connectors could use a little refinement but everything looks and works great.

God knows why – but in one of my early part orders I ordered the seal for the front of the engine bay. I’ve had it since spring of last year – really who knows why. I ordered the engine bay seal for the back of the engine bay from TRF this last time around and its way better than the other I’m seriously considering not installing the one I have for the front. I may list it on EBay and get the front one from TRF. I don’t say this to start anything but all the seals from TRF (so far) have a metal inter-liner so they pinch the metal flange coming off the car – this really works well.

I have an order into TRF right now for the headlight kit: buckets, bulbs and chrome. I ordered it early last week and didn’t hear anything back so followed up today and some of it was backordered to late this week (see they’re not perfect).

This weekend I hope to install the lower body trim on both sides and finish bolting down the windshield frame, install the passenger-side defrost vent, glove box and some other small dash stuff.

For those going to Best of Brit’s in Radium – have a great time – you may see me there next year.

Stay tuned…

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Last of The Yellow Swarm

Those are correct year signal lights (all amber) they just look white with the 4 ways going

What I’m about to tell you is the god’s honest truth.

I’ve kind of rubbed up against it but never really talked about it openly but I should as it’s an important part of the car’s history. When the TR6 was stored in the “TR6 room” from 1994 until 2007 – the room, which after tearing down a wall, adding light and heat became the work area for most of the project; it was taken over by mice.

I hate even admitting it now but those foul little bastards had their way with the car for 13 years. It was a trade off I guess for warm, dry storage but that’s what happened. That’s why you see no more of the interior from the car being used again than the seats. Even the seat rails are going to be replaced.

I even had a bold little bastard move back into the glove box (old glove box) this past winter – between getting the car back from BC and it going for paint – do you believe that?

Mice leave a smell – you don’t have to tell me – I’ve been on the frontlines of this for awhile. When I started this car where there wasn't mice sign there was dirt. There was dirt everywhere on this car. Most of the dirt ended up in my ear. I mean every time I stuck my head under that car I came up with an ear of dirt.

Almost every car guy worth his salt has dealt with mice at one time or another. I actually had a mummified mouse corpse fall out of the rusty rocker onto my face back when I was working on those. You get to the point where it just becomes common place.

Here’s the part you may not believe – the part that is a little bit fantastical but very much true.

First some background: before we moved to the acreage we lived a small town called Blackfalds and during most of our time there (82-93) the TR6 sat in the backyard behind our house. The TR6 was last registered in '81 but it didn't show up at the house in Blackfalds until '86. Somewhere in thos lost years it aquired that thin layer of overspray that coated the entire car.

When it came to our yard in Blackfalds it was back there along with a Steyr-Puch Haflinger (if you don't know what a Haflinger is you should google it or look on Youtube - they're pretty cool), a pea green Volvo 164 and a homemade lawn tractor. All the kids loved playing at our house.

I can't find any pictures of that side of the yard from that time. I think my mom refused to document the caryard behind her house hoping that it would eventually vanish from memory.

You could crawl around on the Haflinger and the tractor but you didn’t mess around with TR6 or the Volvo. If you did you could expect the wrath of Bruce. Although – we did once knock out a piece of flat glass from the Haflinger windshield and that got pretty wrathful.

Being me and having always been the guy who can’t leave things alone – especially things that I’ve been explicitly told to leave alone – I messed with the TR6 from time to time.

One time, dad opened the hood and showed us kids the engine to try to abide our curiosity. After I saw how he did it I had it open almost 4 times a year. I had the top down only once – and it looked so cool – but my mom had to help me close it again as I couldn’t quite get it to latch. Mom was a peace-keeper and would become a helpful, yet hostile, co-conspirator in getting things back to the way dad had left them if it meant a quiet dinner table.

But mostly when messing with the TR6 I would just sit in it. What I remember most is that, back then – before the mice – is that it had this smell. It was a bit of a musty smell and must of had something to do with the wool underlay and the convertible top. It was a great smell but until recently I had forgotten about that smell. After the mice had got to it for awhile that smell was gone and it was replaced by mouse stench. The only reason I started to think about that smell again is that I started to smell it again.

This past weekend while working on the front bumper, front signal lights and installing the tranny cover a familiar smell started to drift into my nose. I can’t tell you why this is happening. I haven’t installed any soft materials that would contain the smell. There is no rationale for it, I can’t explain it but it’s the same smell.

This is too cheesy to make up and I think it’s really kind of cool. I think it's a sign that we are truely in what I have deemed "The Year of the Cat" - in honor of Al Stewart and the birth year of this car.

More than just the smell with the front bumper and signal lights installed I can see the cars personality starting to comeback. Many guys remove the bumperettes from this year of six but I can't bring myself to do it. That's the face I grew up with. It's the face I know and love.

The TR6 had a great past week and weekend as, like I said, I got the front bumper installed and the signal lights frames painted and installed. I also fixed a missing marker light in the back and got the backup lights going. The TR6 now has all it's external lighting in working order short of the headlights.

I attribute most of my success to being hung over on Sunday. We had guests down from Red Deer to meet Hayden and I spearheaded the charge to make copius amounts of rye disappear. It was great to have everyone here and as an added bonus my niece Kessie took her first steps at our house Saturday evening - that was pretty awsome.

I think being hung over balances out my ADD as I have had some highly effective days hung over. I ended up doing 8 hours in the garage on Sunday.

I have the windshield to body seal and rubber for the windshield coming from TRF this week. I'm hoping to get a windshield locally (Mick maybe?) as I would hate to crate one in but we'll see.

Stay tuned...