Monthly Archives: July 2010

I’m Not Worthy

This week has been fun.  I set out earlier this week to replace the gearbox oil in the transmission (it requires this funky 90-weight stuff that typically goes in transmissions for motorcycles and scooters).

Everything started out fine enough.  I took the Triumph out to a park to take some pictures and to warm up the transmission (and its existing oil).

Once home, I jacked up the side of the car to get to the transmission oil’s drain bolt.  It’s tucked way under the middle of the car.

Initially, I couldn’t see the bolt to refill the oil, so I paused and checked the books to make sure that, yes, there is a bolt through which you refill the gearbox.

Naturally, there is — it’s on the side (the passenger side).  The gearbox oil poured out and I let the car sit for a few days since it was getting late, and I didn’t want to pour “cold” oil in a hot transmission.

Fine.  Yesterday (Thursday) I started the task of refilling the transmission.  It’s actually easier (and safer, I think) to get to the bolt by removing the carpet and tunnel cover from inside the car.  One by one, the screws and bolts were removed, and the tunnel eventually came out.

Propeller Shaft As Seen From Inside The Triumph

That’s when it hit me.

Removing the tunnel revealed bits of engineering from a foreign land an ocean away, parts that had been manufactured and assembled decades ago, and components that had propelled this little car (and its passengers) across many thousands of miles.

For a while, I just sat there and looked at the transmission case and propeller shaft, with its U-joint.  Rarely does one get to see such sturdy mechanical bits while sitting inside the car.

There is a certain beauty to the grease-covered metal.  There is a story in every little pebble and leaf caught up in the now-exposed chassis.  And even a few spider webs speak to the history of the Triumph.

This car has seen so much, and done so much.

And though it sounds sappy, I’m honored to be working on such a neat, historic, sentimental vehicle.

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Weekend Of Minor Repairs

Despite the setback with the radio today, I did manage several minor repairs to the Triumph this weekend:

Instrument Cluster At Night

– The tachometer has a new light bulb behind it which shines nicely at night.

– The horn has been fixed simply by cleaning off the connections.

– Per the recommendation of my older brother, a quick-release battery cable has been installed.  This makes disconnecting the battery quick and easy to prevent any unexpected shorts (and then fires) while the car is sitting unattended in the garage.

– The brake fluid has been replaced and the brakes have been bled, but they’re still really soft.  I may try bleeding them again, and/or may seek the guidance of fellow Triumph drivers.

– One of the three main fuses to the car has been replaced.  It’s the so-called “Line Fuse” — not one of the two fuses in the little fuse box — this one is in a plastic case embedded in a purple wire.  Anyway, it was blown, so a new one has been installed.  I’m not sure yet what caused it to blow, but it’s all better now (and possibly the reason why the horn wasn’t working previously).  And, yes, the car has only three fuses, plus one for the radio.

New Tires!

– New tires have been installed!  This is a pretty big deal, actually.  The new tires are larger than the original 155/80/R13 size.  According to the guy at the tire store, they don’t make tires that small any more.  The new tires are 175/70/R13, which, according to one site, are a pretty good substitute for the originals.  So far, the new tires are doing great.  I thought I heard a bit of scraping at one moment while turning the steering wheel pretty far to one side, but I haven’t heard that sound again since (and I see no damage to either front tire).

– And with the new tires, I got the Triumph up to about 55 mph Saturday night — the fastest I’ve taken the car.  I was going home after taking pictures of the car Saturday evening.  I went through downtown Minneapolis, but it was crazy busy because of some fireworks show.  Instead of going through yet more stop-and-go traffic, I decided to zip down a short stretch of I-35W (over the new bridge) to Hiawatha.  While the Triumph certainly wasn’t the fastest car on the road, it ran smoothly all the way home.

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Um, Some of the Magic Smoke Got Out

It has been said that Lucas Electric components rely on this mysterious “magic smoke.”  Whilst the smoke is inside components, they work fine.  But if you should, say, cross two wires, the smoke gets out and things stop working.

That’s what happened today to the radio.  Some of the magic smoke got out.

I’m not sure when the radio last played, but it hasn’t worked since being parked in Minneapolis.  So today I tried to diagnose the problem by removing the radio and fiddling with the insides.  Keep in mind, this is the original radio — there’s a stamp inside that reads “Dec. 1964.”

The radio powered up (that is, there was a light on inside, and if  you wiggle the speaker wires, you would hear a crackle of static).  But it wasn’t picking up any stations or even the odd squeaks between stations.  Complete silence.

After playing with it for a while, I smelled the scent of fresh rain on a dry desert.  I thought one of my neighbors was up to something.

And then I saw it.

A little plume of magic smoke drifted up from the top of the radio.

There it was: the magic Lucas Electric smoke.  It drifted carelessly up through the cabin, free from the confines of the radio wires.  And with it went any hope of getting the radio to turn on.

This is where the magic smoke escaped.

In its place, the magic smoke left behind one charred little component on a psychedelic circuit board.

Everything has been put back together (radio, fascia, knobs).  And the power has been disconnected from the radio to keep the rest of the magic smoke inside.

That’s too bad because, while I’m not sure what the next steps are for the radio, it won’t be playing any lovely tunes anytime soon.

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This is What I Like About Classic British Roadsters

License Plate Light Housing with Glass Insert

Take a look at this:

It’s the little housing for the light over the rear license plate on the Triumph.

It was a bit loose (one of the rivets holding the bracket down had popped), so I took the little housing off in an effort to repair the bracket.

The housing is a piece of formed sheet metal with ornamental lines pressed into the top.  It has a little hole at the back into which a screw is used to mount the housing to the body of the car.  The bottom of the housing is open to let the light from the two little light bulbs shine through.

Inside the housing is this:

Glass Lining for Inside License Plate Light Housing

It’s not just a little strip of glass to protect the bulb — it’s a full glass lining for the inside of the housing.  Wow!  How cool is that??

I took the glass lining out (obviously) and cleaned both the glass and chrome housing.  Two new bulbs now illuminate the license plate nicely.

Here’s  another shot of the two pieces side-by-side:

License Plate Light Housing and Glass Insert

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Nice Shot!

After giving a ride to my neighbor, Amy, on Sunday, she took these pictures of the Triumph in the alley.  Great shots!

Beautiful day for a drive!

Who's Driving?

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14 Miles

Just a quick update to say that I took the Triumph out on its own power this afternoon and added 14 miles to the odometer.

First order of business: an oil and filter change (to get any remaining gunk out of the oil pan).  I also removed the front bumper guard as it is in need of repair anyway.  And I picked up some new light bulbs for the rear license plate lamp.

The real fun started with a quick run around the block.  And when everything looked fine (no wheels had fallen off and no fires started – that’s a good sign), I went to the gas station and Taco Bell (it’s kinda my Sunday guilty pleasure).

I ran into my nice neighbors in the alley so we went for a couple of rides with the top down.  And it’s a good thing the top was down because it appears the heater is kinda stuck in the “on” position — we would have baked in a confined space.

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It Runs!!!!

After a bit of tinkering this afternoon (and a bit of blood spilled), the Triumph came to life after a little prodding!

The first time it fired up, I let it idle for about 20 minutes to bring it up to operating temperature, and to recharge the battery (assuming the generator is working, of course).

The video above is from a little later in the afternoon.  It sounds a bit rough at first because I left the choke out.  After a few seconds, I released the choke and it returned to a (lower) idle speed.

Man, I love the way it barks when revved!

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