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…

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