Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Baffling, Hot Headed, Surprises

So some good has come out of my decision to not race my first time at the track with her. During the test and tune session I was black flagged for a bad oil leak or "SMOKIN' 'round the track". Pulling into the pits, the cause smoke was now obvious to me. A nice pool of oil the dripped down off the oil pan was my clue something wasn't "quite cricket".

Since this was test and tune day and the next day was a race day, I opted to pull myself from the race and being the wonderful club that the SCCA is, they refunded me all my entry fees. My thoughts were I could chance fate and see if I could bubblegum and duct tape her up enough to run the race but as the rules states, if I turn one wheel revolution... it's game on, money spent, no refunds! Or, I could pack it in and use the money saved to buy whatever parts this motor needed. And door number two is what I chose.

 On first inspection, I found one of the oil pan bolts stripped out. Al the oil pan bolts from factory are 1/2" bolts. For some reason (that would make itself know a week or so later) one of the bolts on the backside of the oil pan was a 9/16". Hmmmm, I knew that wasn't right either. I thought about what I could do and really the choice of an all-nighter wrench fest in the pits or a Shiner fest back at the trailer was a no-brainer for me. The next weekend had me tearing into the motor that was full of surprises.

Bolt on left stripped, bolt on right 9/16"
Surprise #1, the bolt in the front of the oil pan that was stripped went into the custom billet steel saddle bar in the front of the block. The threads in the saddle bar are stripped and a new billet steel bar was used. I had extra alloy one's but felt that billet steel is the way to go with a race motor. The manual calls for 8 - 10 ft/lbs of torque on these bolts when using the alloy block.  Really no need to exceed the 16 - 20 ft/lbs. like the rest of the oil pan bolts that thread into the block. The 9/16" bolt went into the alloy rear oil seal and had cracked the alloy housing. Luckily, I had two or three of these on the shelf so it was an easy fix with a new rear oil seal to finish the job right.

Bolt too long, hitting custom main bearing cap. The washer is even loose. 
Surprise #2, one bolt on the timing cover was found to be too long and was bottoming out against the custom made main bearing cap. The allowed for oil to leak out the timing cover. 60psi of oil is going to find any and all loose bolts!  Replacing with a shorter bolt was an easy fix. Actually, upon inspecting the timing cover bolts, which were not factory, I found two that had been ground down shorter but were not in the lower part of the timing cover which, from the factory there are two shorter bolts with a slot head. I imagine whoever built the motor had one in place of the one that, whoever rebuilt this motor inserted the longer one.
Bolt too long, hitting custom main bearing cap
Surprise #3 turned out to be a pleasant one in the end. Good thing I opted out of the race, because after tearing down the motor, along with the  poor workmanship above, I found one of the baffles in the oil pan was dangling loose barely hanging on by one rivet, surprise #3. Where the other rivet resides, I can only hope it went out with the previous rebuild. Another part of the baffle needed shoring up as well as all three of the rivet heads were almost completely worn away.

Had this piece of metal broke free, it would have been a very expensive day...

One item in the long list of surprises I have found so far that has me "baffled" the most the blocking of the water flow with gasket sealer. When I pulled the water pump housing off the cylinder head, I found that whoever replaced the gasket used so much gasket sealer it made a "dam" in the water passage surely restricting the flow and cooling of the motor. It's difficult to see in the picture on the left but the passage on the left is blocked by a "flap" of sealer as well as all that protrudes on the edges. One Hot Head! Maybe it was put there to reduced the flow to prevent cavitation. ;-)

More surprises to come, stay tuned...


  1. This car came from California prepared by the same shop that prepared Bob Blakes TR4. Initially I had planed to use this car for one of my sons to run drivers school with CVAR as it is obviously built, or over built, with a kick ass safety cage as this car has SCCA history dating back decades... As I started to get the car running I contacted the builder in California...on the third call I realized this car was not in the best hands as far as how it was being prepared before I acquired it...hence my search and acquisition of a 1300 small journal which I restored..I intended to use the new engine in this car. But, as the window of time diminished, I just never got around to installing the new engine. I gave the new engine to Bill Collins and that's what he has in his Spitty now. I sold the car to you with the understanding that the engine had no oil pressure and needed to be pulled out, as Pinnacle had told me the oil pump was bad or the gear drive. So, I hope that clears your thoughts on what it was I had or sold to you... I've got a brand new engine in the GT6 and now the gearbox needs rebuilt. Such is the stress and headaches of trying to make these cars do something they never were intended to do. It's emotion over common sense. Love of the cars over letting them go. Happiest of times when they do actually finish a session, or even perform well. Or, as in most race weekends, "where's the Triumph guys at?" ... look for the garage where all the hoods are open and someone is performing something mechanical...all ... the... time...... Bobby

  2. Bobby,
    I’d love to hear about that “third phone call”. I couldn’t agree more with you on the build quality on this car. Way over-built. I keep saying, “whoever built this car was amazing!

    The oil pump is fine, actually, from what I have found so far, nothing is wrong with the motor other than some stripped bolts and a missing rivet and some over enthusiastic use of gasket sealer. One thing I’ve learned in my years of buying Triumphs is you never know when the previous owner but his wrenches down and the for sale sign up.

    In some ways, the oil leaks were a blessing because had I just jammed more gasket sealer around the oil pan and went ahead and raced, the loose baffle in the oil pan might have broke free and this would be a completely different blog posting.

    I’m sure from what I’ve seen so far of this motor, once I finish going through it she’s gonna be “one Helluva ride”!!! And I cannot THANK YOU enough for “pawning” her off on me!