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Triumph TR3 - Cause - Broken Spacer in Gearbox

Over the winter, I found metal chips attached to my magnetic drain plug for my gearbox. I had it all re-built last month and found that the steel spacer ring was in about 10 or 12 pieces. Now after another 2300 miles, I have drained the oil from the gearbox and found 5 pieces of the new spacer ring which account for about 25% of the new ring recently installed.

Anyone have any ideas as to the cause of this ?

The gearbox in my early TR3A came with no synchro in first gear.

Could it be that a groove for a cir-clip is worn and not supporting the clip properly ?

As an aside, my starter has been acting up and if the car won't start, and if I've parked it on a hill, I usually let it roll, engage the clutch and this starts the engine.

I have been also been starting the TR in reverse if that happens to be the direction of the slope. Can anyone confirm that a rolling start in reverse is the cause of the broken spacer ring in the gearbox ? I would not have thought that this would be a problem.

My goal is to understand the problem and implement a solution so I won't have to pull the gearbox out every 2 months to do this. BTW, the overdrive is working fine.

Don Elliott, 1958 TR3A, Montreal, Canada
Don Elliott

Hi Don,

Sounds frustrating. Would this link be of help? Hope so.

Gotta see if it worked..if not cut and paste.

Tom - Last Monday I pulled my overdrive transmission and put in my spare non-overdrive one. I paid about $50.00 for this spare about 5 years ago, pulled off the top shifter assembly, it looked OK, tipped it over to drain it and the oil was OK. Last weekend I drove over 450 miles and while it's a bit noisy in 1st and reverse, it ran fine.

Now I don't have to rush to get my original overdrive/gearbox re-built and put it back in. I plan to do it myself. I have a video about 45 minutes long how to do it.

I still feel that it was the rolling, push, jump, bump starts in reverse that broke it last autumn and then again right after I had it re-built. I have fixed my starter this time. There was about 1/8" to 1/4" of axial play for the armature and the front end and the teeth on the front of the starter pinion gear were squared off. I think this is why it wouldn't start all the time. Hence the bump starts, etc.

To fix the starter, I turned two top-hat oil-lite bushings down to fit the two ends of the starter armature and pressed them into the housings from the inside. This way, the top-hat flanges will prevent the axial movment for about a hundred years or more. So I don't expect that I will ever have to bump, jump, roll or push start "TRusty" again.

Don Elliott, Original Owner
Don Elliott

Don.... There is always something ins't there. I went out to Kelowna for holidays and Rally in the Valley and lost my clutch hydraulics. ( just a seal) but spent a day up to my elbows in brake fluid and, luckily Drakes had a seal kit for the old Lockheed twin barrel master. Some people would call us a little goofy for driving these old toy cars but the best part about it is that we can do just as you are doing.
WE CAN FIX THEM. Good luck on the rebuild and keep us posted. We can always use another tranny expert on the site.

B. Towne

Don, I just thought that guy might have an answer for you on the cause of the problem. Sounds like he's done a few. Or maybe you can get the right guy on the phone at TRF. There's another tranny specialist whose name escapes me, maybe I'll think of it.

Sounds like a good fix on the starter.

Thanks Tom - I met Jack Wheeler at the TR races in Virginia in June. I also know several others. Brian Schlorff near Philadelphia plus Herman Van Dan Akker in Simi Valley, California. I want to re-built mine before I contact them. They may know more, once I get the broken parts out.

Don Elliott

Don, here's another link you may not be aware of. Just in case there's an idea for rebuilding that you might not have thought of before (like using a dremel on the circlip). I also like the Dave Barry reference, hehe.

There's another one I was searching for, if I find it, I'll link it here, too.

Thanks Tom - I took it all apart today and found the other 12 bits from the smashed spacer. That makes 17 in all. Some were 3/16" - 1/4" while the biggest that i fished out today was almost 1/2".

In speaking with the person who re-built it all in Virginai in June, he seems to agree with me that giving an early TR a rolling start in reverse may be what caused the problem - both the first time and again after the re-build.

Bill Stagg did a reverse rolling start on the way back to Indianapolis but he has a TR4 all synchro gearbox.

Bill - I hope that your TR4 box is better than the TR3A box as far as a bump, push, rolling start in reverse is concerned.

Don Elliott
Don Elliott

I have done the complete re-build of the interior of my gearbox on TRusty (Comm. No. TS 27489 LO), - something I had never done before. I made my own tools for measuring the axial release force of each gear where the balls and detents hold them out of gear when you are not in that gear. The tooling cost me $6.50 for the fish scale and $9.00 for the two fixtures, bought in the plumbing departrment at Home Depot. To calculate this in US Dollars, add them together ($15.50) and divide by 1.3 (= US $ 12.00).

Yesterday morning at 10 AM, I pulled out the 4-speed tranny I had been using for the last month and put my original gearbox back in (it has an overdrive and it was and still is fine). I finished it all at 1 PM today and then drove to the Montreal TR Club Summer Party.

It works fine and I have my first contract gearbox with overdrive job to do already. As someone said earlier, it'll be good to have a TR gearbox expert on the BBS.

Oh yes, I also changed the spigot pilot bushing in the rear of the crankshaft and I was glad I did. It had worn about 0.010" on the inside diameter. So the wise thing to do is change that item about every 80,000 miles or so.

Don Elliott
Don Elliott

Congrats on the new expertise, Don. Did you come up with a definitive answer as to the reason the spacer broke?

No Tom - Not yet. But that will be next and after I speak or e-mail these 2 other experts. The one for Califonia as well as the one in Richmond, Va. had never heard of this. But it may be true. Just that they had never heard of it.

Don Elliott

Good for you Don, are the pattens pending on the tooling or might we see a picture of your invention?
It seems to be getting harder and harder to get a nice clean (quiet) shift on The TWO so I might be drawing on your expertise sooner than later.
B. Towne

It's not really too hard a job. But the books are essential and there are ways to get around all the tooling if you have a friend like I have who just happens to live across the street from me. He lent me is apparatus that I lock into my vice and this holds the gearbox while you work at a conveneint height. Much better than having it slide all around - on the concrete floor. He also has a 6 Ton press that he used to press off all the bearings for the shafts and press on the new ones.

Do you have overdrive ?

The tooling is quite simple. I don't have any film in my camera so it may be a while before I get to shooting the tooling.

Don Elliott
Don Elliott

Yes mine also has OD but it is the original tranny. (OD is only on top gear.) It is not real bad yet, only the syncro rings, but the throw out bearing is getting a bit noisy so it is probably time to pull the box and clean things up. I see you threw my request on the Le Mans head on the Brit site. Thanks, I was going to but hadn't gotten to it yet. I hope someone knows something about it. What's up with film Don! NO DIGITAL????? hehehehe! Brian
B. Towne

This thread was discussed between 09/07/2004 and 23/08/2004

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