Installing the engine and transmission went smoothly, with the assistance of a friend to guide it into place. The hoist (tempted to capitalize and bold that word, it came in so handy) was used not only for installation, but also for the cleanup of the transmission as I hung it over a tub. The previous owner indicated that it shifted fine so I did not open it up. Just cleaned it, replaced front and rear seals and the clutch bits at the front of the transmission (throwout bearing, fork, and shaft). I did spin the trans with a drill to make sure the gears did in fact work.
After reading about heat and noise factors in the various forums, I decided to stay with a stock exhaust system. The manifold is stout, the stainless steel pipes guarantee a long life, there was no need to worry about fitting headers, and the exhaust note with the stock system, including the muffler, is perfect.
I added a bung into one of the downpipes for the O2 sensor, which is one of the inputs to the TBI computer. It just barely cleared the original starter, so I could have aimed it slightly more to the outside. Of course a single downpipe would have made more sense for the O2 reading but the ’73 is the dual downpipe manifold system so the bung was welded into the more accessible outside downpipe. It seems to work fine this way… no problems with the way the engine starts and runs.
Even though I was months away from actually starting the engine, I decided to fill the engine with oil and spin the oil pump with my drill to make sure I had oil pressure before going any further. I used Driven 10w40 break in oil.
Although I had no intention of painting the Triumph, I couldn’t let the nice looking engine reside in squalor. So, the I painted the engine bay and also the trunk, which got a new floor. The color – which I bought from TCP Global, was meant to be the original color, Carmine Red.
As you can see, it is much darker than the exterior of the car. I’m not sure if that is due to the age and condition of the original paint or because the formulation is just off. If I decide to paint any part of the exterior (and I am thinking of painting the hood) I will head down to Meza Paint in Escondido and see if they can match my weathered exterior color.
With a little help from friends we dropped the body onto the chassis. In retrospect I should have measured the height of each mounting point on the frame and adjusted with the spacers as needed. Instead I reinstalled the same number of spacers that were on the car when it was disassembled. The right front corner, measured at the top of the headlight ring is just slightly higher. It is hardly noticeable but perhaps one more spacer at the front would have been perfect. On the other hand, the doors fit nicely and work well, so maybe it shouldn’t be messed with.
Since I was going to be producing a little more heat with the added power, I decided to use an electric fan and build a shroud for it so that it would draw air through the entire radiator core. I bought the shallowest fan I could find and it fit, just barely. At the end of these TR6 rebuild articles I will make a list of all the parts I bought, and total cost for the project.
Installation of Rick Patton’s TBI fuel injection kit was a breeze because of two factors: it is almost entirely “plug and play” with the exception of a couple easily made connections to power the computer and the fuel pump; and more importantly because of Rick Patton himself. He provided excellent customer service and enthusiasm about my project, and he’s a TR6 owner, as well. Since this was my first experience with a fuel injection conversion, I’ll admit to needing a little hand holding and guidance.
The kit comes with all the documentation you need to get the system installed and working. In addition, Bob Danielson’s lengthy and thorough step-by-step narrative of his TR6 installation was extremely valuable.
When I got the system installed and ready to fire, it was a complete hoot to just reach in and turn the key and hear the engine come to life… no choke, no fussing about with the throttle. Once it is up and running, forget about carburetor servicing and tuning, that is what sold me on this conversion, as well as the promise of starting regardless of the temperature and, hopefully, better fuel efficiency.
There was a hitch once the car was ready to drive and I embarked on my 3 mile loop around the neighborhood. It would just suddenly die as if the key was switched off. This happened consistently: drive for a mile or two and it would just stop; coast to a stop; turn the key off, then it would start right back up and go a couple more miles. It was a frustrating period of examining my wiring job (I had also installed a new main wiring harness), and scratching my head, and getting ideas from Rick.
Finally, I decided to Google my problem and found that I was not alone. There were several posts out there about the GM TBI system failing in exactly the same way as mine. And the problem most often was an ignition control module (ICM) failure. I drove down to the local Chevrolet dealership and picked up the real GM article rather than replacement brand. Presto, my problem was solved and it has been smooth driving since then.
For data logging the kit includes Windows software that I installed on my laptop. The log files can be sent to Rick Patton for his review. I also picked up an Android app called ALDLdroid for my Samsung tablet, which I mounted where the radio would normally be installed. Not only can I plug into the ECM to display or log data, but it can also serve up Google maps, Pandora, and all the wonderful things you can do in modern vehicles.
Needless to say, I’m really happy that I chose Patton’s TBI kit to take care of induction. It is a source of pride when I pop the hood, er, bonnet and explain what is going on in there. Installation was straightforward and Rick was with me in spirit and by email, every step of the way.
The final major project at this stage was installation of the interior components. Perhaps installing a new wiring harness did merit its own article, but for some reason I took zero pictures of the wiring job. Too busy looking at wiring diagrams and reading Dan Masters’ Electrical Maintenance Manual, I guess. It was a tedious job but, given the state of the original main harness, had to be done. The only part of the original wiring that I felt comfortable repairing was the rear section.
The very first thing restored was the steering wheel, which my wife Linda took care of, sewing a new leather cover on it. That steering wheel was on display in my office for nearly two years, badly missing my initial time table of “a few months” for the whole project.
I chose to go in a different direction with the dash panel, opting for 1/2″ thick HDPE. The sheet I bought was 9″ by 48″ and cost around fifty bucks. Adding the $12 for the vinyl “carbon fiber” wrap that covered it made it a pretty cost effective solution. Purists may cringe, but I’m a little sick of the wood dash look anyway. The HDPE does require a little preparation to get paint or vinyl to stick to it… burning off the surface oil with a torch and spraying with an adhesion promotor.
The gauges are all a press fit, as several of the threaded studs holding the original gauges were rusted and broken. This also made the wiring job much easier since I could wire the gauges and not bother with reaching around behind the dash. I simply wrapped some of the vinyl wrap around the gauges until the fit was snug. As I have done in other restorations, I opted for an electric oil pressure gauge, which is the odd duck in the middle of the cluster. The original oil pressure gauge was installed with the illumination light just to satisfy my sense of symmetry. The “velcro” that I used for the Samsung tablet and to mount the ECM computer is the plastic mushroom shaped interlocking style. Very strong and the adhesive grips so well that if you decide to relocate this stuff, it will rip the paint right off the car. Don’t ask me how I know this.
After fiddling with the original rotary wiper switch and a replacement version, I chucked it all and went with a double toggle switch arrangement. That idea is from Masters’ manual. I also added a double USB outlet and lighter outlet for convenience. Since there is no heater in the car, and no top, I am hoping I can plug a heated blanket into the lighter socket on the remote chance that Linda will want to ride with me on a cold morning or evening. In truth, it’s probably the way I drive that keeps her out of the passenger seat.
I installed Pro Car seats sourced from Carid.com, and for the interior panels went with Bob Danielson’s excellent product. The only thing I’ll note about the seats is that the seatbacks are considerably thicker than the original seats, so I’ve had that cover off a few times to carve away foam. It is a simple job but of course requires removal of the seat. I’ve got it down to about an hour job to remove, carve, and re-install. Nearly there now.
For door seals, as well as boot and bonnet seals, I decided to go with Martin MacGregor’s products from macgregorukcarparts.com… they are perfect and so easy to install compared to the nightmare I remember from my truck restorations. Plus he’s another of those great sellers who is a pleasure to deal with from a customer service perspective. Fun talking with him.
And on that note, I’m all talked out. The sun is shining and the forecast says 70 degrees here in San Diego, a week before Thanksgiving. Time for a cruise.