Monthly Archives: September 2010

Electrical Issue Solved? (Knock on wood)

You may recall that we’ve been having some type of electrical issue with the Spitfire.  Basically, the battery wasn’t being charged.

When I hooked up a voltmeter, it was showing about 7 amps when the engine was running.  That’s apparently low enough to slowly drain the battery.

I mentioned this at last week’s Triumph meeting, and one of the guys suggested a better ground from the battery to the engine block.  His theory was that connecting the ground to the body of the car was probably not creating a clean circuit for the electrical system.

So the other day, I disconnected the negative battery cable from the body, and connected it directly to one of the bolts on the engine.  After everything was re-connected, a quick check of the voltmeter showed 12.02 volts!  No doubt, that’s much better, though I understand it should actually be closer to 13 or even 14 volts with the engine running.

I took the Triumph to the auto parts store (it ran great, by the way), and picked up an extra battery cable.  That cable is now installed from the block to the body (just trying to get as much of a ground as possible).  The voltmeter now reads about 12.25 volts with the car running.

Did that fix it?  I hope so!  I’ll be checking the voltage periodically to make sure we don’t have a repeat of the infamous ice cream run.

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Filed under Lucas Electric, Triumph Spitfire

Day Of Firsts

Thursday (9-9) was an interesting day of firsts for the Triumph and me.


The Triumph, parked between a blue Stag and a couple of SpifireIVs.

Let’s start at the beginning:

7:30a:  For the first time, I installed the convertible roof myself.  Previously, Agnes and Dennis and I worked to install the top (and tonneau) together.

7:30a:  Also for the first time, I put up the black roof.  Previously, it was always the white top.  But I thought I’d change it up a bit.  Frankly, I think it looks kinda nice.

8a:  After about 30 minutes the roof was on and it was time to hit the road.  For the first time, I drove the Spitfire to work.  I noticed a couple of co-workers eyeing the car, which looked particularly small next to their SUVs.

5:50p:  Time to leave work, and the Triumph started fine, but for the first time, encountered some uncomfortable bad sputtering while leaving the parking lot.  It idled, but only at about 500 r.p.m.  A co-worker drove up next to me and yelled “My ’63 MG did the same thing!”  I limped into a parking space and sat there for a few minutes.  Every time I tried to give it gas, it bogged down as if the engine would stop.  Not good.  Playing with the choke helped, but it still wasn’t right.  I don’t know exactly what was wrong but after a few minutes the idle suddenly jumped up and everything was fine.

We all had our tops up as the sky was threatening to rain.

6:15p:  For the first time, I went to the monthly meeting of the Minnesota Triumphs Sports Car Club.  On the way, the Spitfire stalled at a stoplight.  Fortunately, a fellow Triumph Spitfire driver was behind me.  He pulled up next to me and suggested holding the gas pedal down while turning the key.  After a few tries, that worked.  I later found out this helpful guy’s name is Dennis.

The meeting itself was fun.  Lots of Triumph experts there had lots of advice about things to do, repair and maintain.

One suggestion regarding the previous electrical issues was to connect more cables off the negative end of the battery directly to the engine block and/or starter motor.  The theory is that since there is currently only one cable from the negative terminal to the car’s body, we’re probably not getting a great electrical circuit.  Yes, the body is all connected, but Dennis (he has lots of Spitfire advice, which is a good thing – I think I’ll be picking his brain a lot) suggested a couple (2 or 3) cables from the battery to the engine block would make for a better connection and likely be better for charging the battery.

Dennis and a couple of other guys there also confirmed that the Spitfire was likely converted intentionally to a negative-ground.  The car was originally a positive-ground (positive-earth for those of you across the pond).  I feared that someone may have looked at that and, figuring it was wrong, switched the wires.  Several of the people at the meeting confirmed that’s probably not the case — otherwise lots of other bad stuff would have happened.  I kinda figured that, but it was nice to have their confirmation.

7:05p: The meeting itself was interesting — lots of business talk about the election of new leaders at next month’s meeting.

7:50p: I didn’t stick around long after the meeting finished, though I did chat briefly with Orrin about helping to maintain the Web site.

Looking back:  The day was a reality check of living with a Triumph.  It was simultaneously a lot of fun, mixed with a bit of anxiety, topped off with the realization that we are part of a much larger community that shares in the same experiences.

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