Update to the driver’s seat

So the driver’s seat of the Triumph has always been a little bent.  It was apparently deformed a bit after the rollover in 1966.

On top of that (and possibly also because of the 1966 accident), a bracer bar in the bottom back broke off.

So a couple of weeks ago, I removed the driver’s seat from the car in an attempt to fix both issues.

The first order of business was the bracer bar in the back.  There’s a clip that’s supposed to latch onto that bar.  Since the bar was never attached, the seat could always move forward without effort.

Now, I’m definitely not the best welder around, but I can do a few things with the simple welder I have, so after a bit of work, the bracer bar has been welded back in place.

For what it’s worth, the bracer bar was originally tack welded into place.  That wouldn’t work for me, so I tried to run as much of a bead weld across the two pieces as possible.

As for the bend in the seat, I don’t really want to take the upholstery off the seats.  The vinyl is tacked in place and has little clips holding it in place.

I’m afraid removing the coverings to truly fix the frame would cause too much damage to the vinyl.  So, while saving that for later, I just tried bending the seat to make sit properly.

Indeed, I did manage to bend the seat into a better position.  However, I still don’t think it’s perfect and may require a more adjustments in the future.

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Spring warmup

Spring is here in Minnesota! And that means it’s time to take the cover off the Triumph, dust it off, and go for a ride.

I did that on Thursday for the monthly meeting of the Minnesota Triumphs.  It was a bit chilly out, but the top on the car kept the worst of the cold out.

When starting the car in the morning (which took a while after sitting all winter), I noticed the starter made a bit of a funny sound.  It almost sounded like the cog that pops out of the starter didn’t fully retract when the starter was disengaged.  At best, it’s nothing.  At worst, it’ll chew up the flywheel.  I’m optimistic everything is fine since the starter was spinning the engine.

And, yes, the battery spent the winter in the basement of the house.  I brought it out Wednesday evening and connected the charger.  I was surprised to see that it was still fairly charged up.

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Wheels & Wings

Here’s a shot of the Spitfire at Wheels & Wings in Osceola, Wis. last weekend (Sept. 10).  There were hundreds (somewhere around 1,000) cars there, along with lots of airplanes and a little air show.

The weather was great, but the sun was a bit harsh after a few hours.

More pictures are online on the Facebooks.

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One Major Electric Issue Solved

Yes, that’s an alternator sitting in the engine of the Spitfire, replacing the generator.

Since bringing the car to Minnesota, we’ve had to deal with problems from the generator.  You may recall that this led to a harrowing drive home in the dark one night after getting yummy ice cream last year.

The old generator has now been removed.

Trying to remedy the problem including better grounding from the battery, adjusting the internal regulator and performing a minor rebuild on the generator.  However, nothing we did ever provided enough juice back to the battery to keep it charged, while providing electricity to the rest of the car.

Many people I talked to suggested that the best fix is to remove the generator and put in an alternator.  A couple of weeks ago, we made the decision to go that route.  Now, after a week of trial-and-error in trying to get parts to fit, the new alternator is in place, and it works!

The battery is now getting 14.5 volts while the car is running, which is right where it should be.  And the ignition light, which has been glowing red ever since the first drive, is now off when the car is running.

Ice cream anyone?

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Too Short, Too Long, And Just Right

Well, it has been decided.  We’re replacing the generator with a new alternator.

The reasons are not insignificant.  Primarily, it means that the battery will be charged continuously, allowing us to drive longer distances (and at night!).  It also means more reliability, and the ability to provide power when the engine isn’t running as fast (so the lights don’t dim when we come to a stop light, for example).  Some in the Triumph Club also suggest having an alternator will make the engine run better since we’ll be providing more electricity to the spark plugs.

I’ve been looking into this for a while and have now begun the project.  My biggest concern is the electrical connection setup.  There are a lot of wires, and I don’t want to get it wrong.

I haven’t been too focused on the actual physical attachment of the alternator — that seems pretty straight-forward, or so I thought.

Naturally, the alternator isn’t the same size as the generator, nor are the mounting bolts in the exact same position.

The bottom attachment is fine.  I have a universal bracket that I can use to mount the bottom of the alternator.

However, the top attachment is another story.  Alternators (and generators) attach to an arm that has a long curved slot, allowing you to position the alternator in the spot where the the belt is tensioned just right.

The original bracket arm is the one on the bottom of the picture on the right.  It’s perfect for the original generator, but it’s far too short for the new alternator.

Paul and I went to an auto parts store and picked up the only universal bracket they had, which is shown at the top of the picture on the right.  Of course, it turned out to be too long — the alternator would be sitting in the wheel well if we tried to make it work.

So I did what any self-respecting do-it-yourselfer would do and I cut the long bracket down to size.

I also drilled a hole in it to create a mounting point.

In fact, in the top picture, you can see the hole and the cut (if you look closely) — I put the two pieces next to each other to show what the original long arm looked like.

I loosely fit the new (shortened) arm into the engine and it looks like it will work.  It does, however, mean that the alternator will need to sit a little higher in the engine than I expected, though I don’t think it will be so high as to interfere with the hood of the car.



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From 13 Points Of Failure To 3

For some time now, the little extra coolant heater has bothered me.  Now, it’s gone, eliminating several potential weak spots in the Triumph.

Let’s start with that little heater.  It was tucked into the driver’s side front wheel well.  It’s a little cylinder, about the size of a soda can.

It has a coolant hose running in through the top, and a second hose comes out the side to return coolant to the radiator.

It also had an electric plug that was wrapped around the front bumper (you may have noticed that plug in the pictures and wondered what it was).

Since the Spitfire lived in Nebraska, which gets very cold, having such a device meant that the car would be ready to drive on any cold winter day.  That’s a good thing.

However, its time has come and gone.  I don’t know if the device still works (I never tried plugging it in), it’s rusted and doesn’t look too healthy.  Besides, we don’t drive the Triumph in the winter anyway.

The real problem I see comes with the way it was installed.

To get coolant to the heater, someone replaced one of the coolant hoses on top of the engine with several other hoses and a copper T plumbing fitting.  The copper is corroding and, for some reason, short pieces of hose were used, which all had to be clamped together. This is all at the top of the engine, where the hoses feed warm radiator fluid to the heater box to warm the cabin.

All together, from the radiator connection, through all the hoses, there are 13 points where a hose or pipe connects to something else.  That’s 13 points where something could fail, causing coolant to leak all over the place (and that doesn’t even include that copper T fitting that I don’t trust).

This last weekend, I removed all that extra hosing and the little heater.  It has been replaced with one simple hose that runs from the block to the heater box valve.

Not only does it look better than the mess of red hoses, it’s much more reliable.  There are only two connections at either end of the new hose, plus the new cap at the base of the radiator (technically, I still need to install that cap and refill the radiator, but there’s another upgrade that’s taking my attention — more on that shortly).

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Summer Fun

I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while.  The summer has been hot and busy.  However, we have managed to squeeze a few Triumph road trips into the schedule, which have been nice.

AutoMotorPlex and Winery Tour

Earlier this summer, we took the Spitfire for the longest road trip it has been on since moving to Minnesota.

The day (June 4) started with the Cars & Coffee show at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen, MN.  Wow!  What an experience that was!

First, you have to understand what the AutoMotorPlex is.  It’s a series of garages that people can buy (lease?) to house their precious cars.  Some of these garages are about the size of a normal 2-car garage.  Those are the small units.

Then some are gigantic, with a dozen or more cars stored inside.

Naturally, the garages aren’t cheap, so why not spend a bit of extra money having the space customized with a loft and maybe, perhaps, a 50’s diner motif in side?  These garages bring “Man Cave” to a whole new level.

And then there are the cars!  On the first Saturday of each month (during the summer), many people open their garages to the public, and other car collectors bring their prized iron to show off, too.  The Spitfire was parked between (if I recall correctly) a Pontiac GTO and a ’60s era Mercedes-Benz convertible.  Elsewhere around the AutoMotorPlex were Ferraris, Audi A8s, a couple of DeLoreans, classic old Buicks and even a Messerschmitt.  Between the huge crowd of people, and all the interesting cars that you could get right up close to, the whole thing was a little overwhelming, but fun.

Then we got back in the Spitfire and drove up to a winery near Delano, Minn.  This was an event of several car clubs in the area, and it was a beautiful day (Paul and I actually got a bit sunburned).

The usual smattering of trusty Triumphs, MGs and Austin Healeys were there, but there was also an older Aston Martin and a Morgan +8.

There are lots of pictures online to drool over from the winery tour:

All told, we added about 100 miles to the Spitfire.  Of course, we had the top down the entire way, and by the end of it we were a bit wind blown, but happy.

InterMarque Picnic

Next up for the Spitfire was the InterMarque picnic in late July.  InterMarque is a group that works to organize events among all the different classic car clubs in the Twin Cities and Minnesota.  Once a month (in the summer), the group holds a picnic at Cherokee Park in St. Paul.

The July picnic was hosted by the Minnesota Triumphs (the club to which we belong), so we went to show our support.

The picnic itself was fine.  The food was good.  The conversation was good.  And the cars drew a lot of looks from passers-by.

But the weather was another thing entirely.  Though it was warm and sunny, it was incredibly humid, too.  I think everyone was sweating something fierce and we were all happy to go home and cool off.

Again, lots of pictures are online here.

Royal British Car Show

Most recently (as in last weekend — Aug. 20), we went to the Royal British Car Show (again, at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen).  Actually, Paul couldn’t make it as he was driving home from Fargo that morning.  But the Triumph and I drove out there to take in the show.

Like the previous event at the AutoMotorPlex, there was no shortage of interesting cars.  However, this was a much smaller event, which provided time to really appreciate every car there.

Of course, we were parked in the Triumph section, which had a good showing.  The Jaguar section had more than a dozen cars.  There were also a handful of MGs, Austin-Healeys, a Rolls Royce and a Bentley (oh, and a Riley — talk about your obscure British cars!).

I took a lot of pictures, which are available here.  I even hitched a ride up a scissor-lift thing, from which I snagged a few overhead shots.

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