Wednesday, 11 September 2013

O/S Rear Lower Wishbone Mounting Bracket and Water in the Catch Tank

Managed to get away from work in time to get a couple of hours done on the Spit this afternoon. Got the O/S rear lower lower wishbone mounting bracket replaced. Hopefully the picture below will show why it was needing replaced - I've run a grinding disc lightly over the inner surface to clear away some of muck.

One very ovaled hole.

I wasn't at all sure at first how I was going to get it at because access from below is severely restricted by the manifold down pipes and access from above is severely restricted by the starter motor. In the end it turned to out to straightforward. There was just enough room to slide a ring spanner between the manifold downpipes and the chassis rail to undo the nut from underneath. Getting the washer and nut back on the new mounting bracket was a bit of a fiddle but with the help of some lateral thinking and some sellotape even that got sorted quickly.

Should get the rest of the front suspension back together and road tested on Friday afternoon.

On another subject, I removed the O/S engine valance this afternoon when I was checking out access to the wishbone mounting bracket and was surprised to notice that there was quite a lot of liquid sloshing about in the catch tank, which is mounted on the front of the O/S engine valence.

It turned out to be about 300ml of water:

I suppose some condensation is inevitable but I wasn't expecting to find as much as this. I think I'll post a question in the Club Triumph forum.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Cleaning up the mess...

I had time on my hands last week while I was waiting for the parts I need to repair the Spitfire's front suspension to arrive so I decided to spruce up the bits that are going back on.

I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out two anti-rust paint treatments that I bought a while ago (primarily to use on the Saloon) but haven't had a chance to use in anger yet - Bilt Hamber's Hydrate 80 and POR-15. It'll be interesting to see how well they do in what isn't a particularly benign environment.

The shock absorbers and spring caps were looking like this when I took them off the car:

I degreased the shock absorbers and used a wire brush in an angle grinder to remove the rust. After further cleaning with Eastwood Paint Prep I treated the areas that I'd removed the rust from with two coats of Hydrate 80.

Finally, the shocks got two coats of smooth red Hammerite that I had lying around on the garage shelves.

The spring caps were derusted with a wire brush in an angle grinder and then some 40 and 80 grit wet and dry in the areas I couldn't get to with the angle grinder. They were then given the full POR-15 treatment - Marine Clean, Metal Prep and Ready, Two Coats of POR-15 and then a single coat of POR-15 Chassis Coat Black.

I'm not claiming they're concours (that's not my thing anyway) - but they are looking much better now.

The anti-roll bar was degreased, derusted with a wire brush in an angle grinder, cleaned with Eastwood Paint Prep then given two coats of Hydrate 80. You can see the second coat of Hydrate 80 drying the following picture.

The anti-roll bar was then finished with a single coat of POR-15 Chassis Coat Black.

Almost all the bits I need to rebuild the front suspension have arrived - superb service as ever from Canley Classics (lower wishbones and mounting bracket); Chic Doig (miscellaneous bits and pieces); Chris Witor and the TSSC Shop (Superflex bushes); Jon Wolfe (wishbone bolts and solid anti-roll bar drop links) and Moss (spring spacers). I would have all the bits to hand by now if I hadn't misread Moss's web site and ordered what I thought were a pair of spring spacers only to find that in fact I had ordered only one. Doh!!

The 330lb front springs that were on the car were too soft for my liking and I'm replacing them with a pair of progressive springs that I've had sitting around for nearly two years now - the last of a small batch for GT6 that Gareth Thomas had manufactured a few years ago.

A bit of thought had to go into working out what spacers I think I need to get the front ride height right.

The combined fitted length of the old 330lb springs plus the spring spacer was exactly 7.5". This is more or less perfect for the way I like the ride height set up (if anything I'd like it a fraction higher but not by much). Subtracting the height of the spring spacer used with the old springs (0.375") gives the fitted length of the old 330lb springs as 7.125".

The free length of the old 330lb springs is 10". That means they were being compressed by a force of (10-7.125) x 330 = 948.75lbs.

The free length of the new springs is 8.5 inches. The primary rate is 380lb therefore they will compress by 948.75/380 = 2.5" when fitted, giving a fitted length of 6".

Looking at what's available I've decided to fit the 1.25" below spring spacers from Moss in combination with the 0.375" above spring spacers I was using with the old springs. That should result in a total fitted length of 7.625" which I reckon might just be perfect!

It's going to be really interesting to see if this works out the way I planned. Hopefully, I will not end up looking like a complete arse...

One very odd thing I found when checking the damping adjustment of the Konis was that they were both set to minimum. I could swear that I'd set them mid-way when I built the chassis - but it looks like I boobed. Anyway, they're set to 3/4 now which I reckon should be appropriate for the new springs. It'll be interesting to see what the rear Konis are set to when I strip the rear suspension down later in the year. Conventional wisdom has it that that the rears should be set soft and maybe at least I got that right!

I've also decided not to fit new standard anti-roll bar drop links and have instead decided to fit the solid drop links sold by Jon Wolfe (Wolfitt Racing). They are lovely bits of kit.

I've almost finished rebuilding the N/S and I reckon that with a fair wind and fair weather I'll have it all back together again for the weekend and I'm really looking forward to seeing how goes with the new springs and anti-roll bar setup.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Bad day at the office...

A few weeks ago the Spitfire's front suspension started to creak and groan a bit. I had a poke about last weekend and spotted that the lower shock bushes were looking badly deformed. For some reason that I can't remember now I'd left the original rubber bushes in the Koni's when I was building up the rolling chassis back in in 2001 - I'd used Superflex almost everywhere else - so I wasn't that surprised that they had eventually expired.

I got Superflex bushes for the shocks and also the front trunnions (which were the only other standard bushes left in during the chassis rebuild) during the week and set to work on Saturday morning expecting the job to be finished later that day. At the same time I was hoping to fit the progressive front springs that I've had lying around for a year and a half.

I suppose the first sign that things weren't going to go the way I'd planned was when I came to loosen the O/S front trunnion bolt. The bolt and nut were way off centre in the lower wishbone - so much so that I couldn't get a ring spanner on the head of the bolt or the nut. Alarm bells started ringing and my suspicions were proved right once I got the trunnion bolt out - the holes in the lower wishbone were badly ovaled.

Things went from bad to worse very quickly. The O/S lower shock bolt then turned out to be seized. And it wasn't for budging, in spite of some aggressive "therapy". Plan B was then put into action - remove the lower wishbone with the shock still attached and sort it on the bench. Plan B progressed as far as finding out that the rear lower wishbone bolt was also seized.

At this point I had to walk away for a while. When I came back a bit later I decided to tackle the nearside - with virtually the same results. The trunnion bolt and nut on this side of the car were also way off centre in the lower wishbone. I thought things were looking up when the N/S shock bolt came out easily but it was a false dawn - the trunnion bolt on this side of car turned out to be seized. And just like the offside the rear lower wishbone bolt on this side also turned out to be seized when I tried to put Plan B into action for the second time.

At this point I lost the plot somewhat, gave up all thought of repairing the ovaled holes in the lower wishbones and got the angle grinder out. The wishbones and shocks were off the car in pretty short order thereafter!

If anything, the N/S lower wishbone was more ovaled than the O/S.

My theory that the lower shock absorber bushes were the source of the creaking and groaning proved to be correct. They were in a dreadful state.

In fact much of what I took off the Spitfire yesterday and today wasn't in very good condition. A bit disappointing really - I know that the stuff has been on the car for over ten years but since it was put back on the road in 2003 it's only done 25k miles and in that time it's been well looked after and it's never been used during the winter.

The badly corroded O/S trunnion bush sleeve gives a good idea of what most of it was like.

The only things in there that I found in good condition are the Superflex bushes (fitted to the top and bottom wishbones and anti-roll bar) and - thankfully - the trunnions and vertical links. There's no detectable play whatsoever in the trunnions and they turn very smoothly on the vertical links.

The lower wishbones were original so they date back to 1978 and don't owe me anything - but they were perfectly OK when I rebuilt the chassis and it's a bit worrying that they ovaled to the extent they did in space of 25k miles. I wonder if the heavier engine (2.5 vs 1500) and wide tyres (185/60-13s) I was running until last year had a part to play in it?

I also need to have a good look the O/S rear lower wishbone mounting bracket. It looks like the seized bolt and sleeve have been turning in the bracket and it appears that this has resulted in wear to the inner face of the mounting bracket. I can feel a step and the hole looks slightly ovaled. If I need to change this then it's going to be a real PITA - I can't get at the nut on the inner chassis rail from below because of the exhaust manifold downpipes and I can't get at it from above because of the starter motor.

The N/S rear lower wishbone mounting bracket in which the bolt and sleeve were also seized is OK.

So what I thought was going to be a quick and inexpensive repair has turned into a bit of an expensive marathon. In addition to the extra bits required - O/S and N/S lower wishbones, 1 x rear lower wishbone mounting bracket (possibly), some replacement Superflex bushes (for the ones that got cut off) and some other miscellaneous bits and pieces there's no way I can put the shocks and anti-roll bar back on the car without cleaning them up and painting them.

I think the moral of the story is not to leave the suspension unmolested for so long. In future I'll be stripping it down every three or four years while the Spitfire is laid up over the winter. And I'll be doing the rear suspension when the Spitfire is garaged this winter.

The Saloon didn't get ignored this weekend - in between all of the above I've managed to get the protective top coat on the front. Just got to finish the same process on the rear lamp panel and that'll be the niff naff and trivia finished and the real work will start in earnest!