Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Spitfire back on the road - eventually

Managed to get enough done to get the Spitfire back on the road about a week before we headed off to Sorrento for two week's holiday on 20 September. What a fantastic holiday - but it seems so distant now that it almost feels as though it was someone else's holiday!

Anyway - back to the Spitfire. I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised that a few more niggles surfaced just when I thought I was entering the finishing straight. I discovered that, in addition to the gaiter on the O/S track rod end, the gaiters on both of the top ball joints had perished.

I noticed the split gaiter on the O/S track rod end earlier in the year and was mightily pissed off at the time because I had fitted that particular track rod end in September last year - basically the gaiter had perished while the car was laid up in the garage between November and February.

I wasn't too pleased about the top ball joint gaiters either - both ball joints are less than three years old. Further evidence - as if it were needed - of the very poor quality of the rubber parts we seem to get nowadays. What I find particularly frustrating about this is that the TREs and ball joints themselves appear to be of decent quality and now that perished gaiters are an automatic MOT fail it's very wasteful to have to replace the whole assembly just because the gaiter has perished.

This is what they looked like:

O/S Track Rod End Gaiter

Top Ball Joints

I got a small supply of good quality replacement track rod end gaiters from Bill Davies of Rarebits4classics so I was able to fix the track rod end. But I could't find gaiters for the ball joints so had to replace them. I'm keeping them though and will keep investigating because the ball joints themselves are fine. BTW Moss do appear to list top ball joint gaiters for Spitfire/GT6 but what they sent wasn't the right thing - I need to chase them up on this.

With that sorted the Spitfire was back on the road - but, unfortunately, without the anti-roll bar!

Shiny ARB-less Front Suspension

Turns out that the aftermarket 1" bar I got from Chic Doig via TriumphTune/Moss back in 2000 was fitted with M8 coarse studs rather than OE 3/8 UNF studs. This meant that I couldn't immediately fit the solid ARB links that I got from Jon Wolfe.

I got that sorted the weekend after I got back from holiday. Retapping the anti-roll bar to 3/8 UNF proved to be straightforward. I wasn't sure if the previously M8 threaded part of the drilling in the anti-roll bar would successfully take a 3/8 UNF tap but it was fine and produced a good strong thread. I also ended up having to tap a previously unthreaded part of the drilling to accommodate the length of the fitting that Jon supplies with his kits so it's ended up much more robust that I feared it might.

Anyway - the rebuilt front suspension feels fantastic. In particular, the new progressive springs supplied by Gareth Thomas are a revelation. I got the ride height calculations more or less spot on. The front is sitting slightly higher - the fitted spring length (including spacers) is now a smidgen less than a quarter of an inch more than it was with the 330lb springs and it's all the better for it in my opinion. The front end is much more controlled - diving under heavy braking is substantially reduced and as I was hoping for it's also cured the excessive yumping it used to suffer from on B roads. And somewhat to my surprise there's been no appreciable deterioration in ride quality. I thought the higher spring rates may have made the ride quality a bit harsher but it hasn't worked out that way.

Next up is the MOT - so will be dropping the Spitfire off at Chic Doig's tomorrow afternoon.

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