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Triumph TR3 - Oil: Cleaning up the Exxon Valdez

Ok...let's talk about oil...a lot of oil...

My '61 TR3A deposits more than its fair share of crude after each run, and I'm considering recycling. It doesn't just mark its spot, it completely dominates its territory.

Having owned two Triumph Bonneville motorcycles, I understand the propensity of British engines to leak a bit of oil. But what can be expected for the TR? How tight can I reasonably expect to make things down there, or at least stem the heavier flows and prevent having the Environmental Protection Agency come knocking at my door? Short of pulling the engine and reassembling everything, are there other measures that can be taken? What are the more notoriously offending sources of leaks?

Putting down a clean piece of cardboard will usually reveal about 8 different drip points distributed along an 18" line from roughly under the radiator on back.

On the other hand, the undercarriage is completely rust free thanks to the constant application of oil.

From the deck of the Valdez,

Bill Stagg, Captain
1961 TR3A
Bill Stagg

workshop manualto Reduce Oil Leaks on a Triumph Engine

by Don Elliott

There have been many technical articles written on this subject, notably by Ken Gillanders of the Triumph Register of Southern California.. Some of his suggestions may be repeated here.

Check the gasket where the fuel pump is mounted to the block and verify that it is not leaking.

Check that all the fittings for the oil line that feeds the oil pressure to the gauge on the dashboard are really tight.

Check the up and down oil breather pipe coming out the block near the fuel pump. It must be sealed leak-proof. So they wouldn
Don Elliott

Bill-Sounds like your car came with the optional road oiling&under carriage rust prevention kit. Since the leaks start at the front, the most likely sources are the timing cover seal&gasket. Usually the seal track develops a groove which can be cured with a speedisleeve or polishing in a lathe.Also, inspect the timing cover as the chain or tensioner can wear through it. Other contributors are leaking vave cover gaskets, bent pan flanges,or the ineffective rear seal. Of course the supersoaker of oil leaks is the oil filter housing, if the seal improperly installed. Some club games include a "dirty diaper contest" in which a sheet of paper is placed under the car and the car with the largest oil spots win. At one time Moss sold a large foam pad with magnets that attatched to the pan to deal with the incontinence problem. A lip type seal is available to help with the rear main leak, but it involves removing and machining the crank.

Berry and Don,

On behalf of myself and the rest of the Cartel, thanks for your suggestions and information. You provide a ray of hope for the environmentalists among us.

Time to tighten up!

Bill Stagg
1961 TR3A
Bill Stagg

My wife has the best line on this subject:
"Why don't you just bypass the middle man and pour that oil right on the floor?"
My friendly mechanic has suggested that since I have about six different small leaks, he won't even bother to fix the one at the oil filter adapter. I use about 1.5 litres per month (daily driver) and don't make much of a mess at the company parking building. But I now control the damage at home by having an old, galvanized, dog kennel bottom under the car's offending areas, while in the garage.

Dennis Nelson

This thread was discussed between 13/11/2002 and 24/12/2002

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