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Triumph TR6 - at the crossroads

I think my 1970 TR6 is testing me. What I want to get is some educated opinions on when a car might need too much work. Tomorrow I will hear from a knowledgeable mechanic witrh his diagnosis, but I am fairly sure I've got a couple of bad push rods. Had up to about 60 mph for about 10 minutes yesterday with oil pressure of around 75-80 psi when I heard a loud knocking sound but no obvious loss of power, but the oil pressure sunk to 20-25. I limped off the freeway drove about a mile, turned it off and then it started again still making this horrendous noise and I drove very gently another half mile. No it won't start at all. I believe the oil pump failed.

Fact is this is a weekend fun car not a show car. It has fiberglass quarter panels, a cd player, aftermarket (not panasports!) and the doors don't shut flush. So it is not the car for a purist. But it is fun and I have tried to replace things proactively in the 3 years with the right mechanics so as to keep it safe and hopefully reliable. My fear is that the new oil pump installed June 2002 created too much pressure and hastened the demise of my engine.

My question is: what is prudent if my engine is in fact cooked? Rebuild this one? Purchase one rebuit thru TRF or another source? Stop now and begin the search for a better TR6?
Thanks Dan
Dan Pitzer

Dan that is a tough question to answer. Alot depends on how much work that you can and will do yourself, how mechanically knowledgeable you are, and how much money you are willing to put into the neverending money pit we TR6 owners and lovers can't do without. For myself it would be a no brainer, repair the car. However, if you in fact lost the oil pump, which is not likely if you still had 25+ psi of pressure, most likely you will need at least a crankshaft turned, new main and rod bearings along with new thrust washers and associated gaskets and seals.You probably also did damage to the cam and valve train. However, once you get it tore down, you will be able to make a better judgement once you see what failed and how much damage was done. Sometimes the damage will be far less than you think, these little cars are a pretty tough breed. If in fact you have major damage, it may be cheaper, since you said it was a fun car not for purist, to look at other engine options. There are some interesting retrofits running around out there, from 4.3L GM v6 to 350 Chevy V-8 to the consensus favorite the Ford 302 swap. You could probably buy everything you needed for the swap cheaper than you could do a complete overhaul on the original engine, if it has major damage. When I did a complete overhaul on my present car, I never totalled it all up, mainly I didn't want to know, but I am sure it was close to $1500.00. Good luck.
Arnold Newton

Thanks for your input Arnold. I am relying on a mechanic since I am only capable of simple repairs. I haven't heard the assessment yet but I will definitely get it going again and I would like to keep the correct engine in it.
Dan Pitzer

Dan--Sure sounds like the crank bearings are gone (the knocking sound gives it away). If not too far gone (such that the crank journals are damaged), it is a straight-forward repair without R&R'ing the engine.

Stick with it!

Rick O.
Rick Orthen


I suggest definitely the standard approach,rebuild the engine as a swap is not a cheap route. Parts for TR6 are not expensive and you could find aftermaket wich are cheaper. This engine is very basic and simple to fix, an old mech., not the kind money orientated, will have fun to do that repair.

Cheers, JGC
Jean G. Catford

I'm not trying to to convice Dan to do an engine swap
but just like to set the record straight.
Swaping the original engine for a Ford 302 V8
does not cost more. In fact it cost me the same
to do my V8 conversion completely restored car as it
would have to restore it stock. I did all the numbers
before making up my mind.I get that question about it
costing more all the time at car shows so just thought
I would nip it in the bud here.
Good luck Dan,
Christopher Trace

Thanks Chris. I know there are purist out there that think everyone should keep there TR6's stock, but the price of parts are definately more expensive and availability definately is less than desirable. Any time you have problem, you certainly can't run down to the local autoparts store and get what you need. The big advantage of the conversion is parts availablity as well as cheaper parts. The bonus is more powerful engine, as good if not better fuel economy, and no more oil leaks on the garage floor. Of course there are negatives, but one certainly is not finding a mechanic that knows what he is looking at, or how to fix it. I am sure that I will get blasted for this from the purist, but alas that's life. I guess that's why they make so many different kinds of cars.
Arnold Newton

I proved the local auto parts debacle today. The guy behind the counter asked me 3 times what kind of car, then who makes it. I've seen him working there for years. Then he got on the phone for a few minutes, then told me he couldn't help with brake shoes. If it had a Chevy engine, I'd still need those brakes.

Loosely related: Called Orange County Brake in Anaheim today. Real nice guy, will reline my shoes for $29, 2 days turnaround at most. Still not ready for a Miata.

Gentle Geese,

If you approach a REAL auto parts store, Napa or Parts Plus afilliate, you will discover untold pieces.

I REGULARLY buy pieces for my TR6 at my local Parts Plus afilliate. The advantage here is that you are, usually, dealing with REAL parts people not someone who can't find it unless it's in the computer.

Oh, and by the way, brake shoes for a TR6 are $18.66 US from the Little British Car Company ( who is one of the advertisers here that supports our wonderful BBS.

I checked my local Parts Plus afilliate just now and they are available with a 3 day lag for $19.85, no core charge, and are Beck Arnley brand.

Hope this helps,

Jim Deatsch

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your help, but I'm doin' TR3 stuff. But there's a lot of great info here in the 6 section. We do have a NAPA, should see what they have to offer.

Most of the parts guys have been telling me their books stop at 1960.

Thanks for puttin' up with me..

well it is the roads; my mechanic located 5 unrestored TR6 engines. They are $875 each and we are going to try a 1969 with 57,000 miles. I asked him to remove the head cover to inspect and to replace all seals on the "new" motor. total cost is $1692 versus $2983 to rebuild mine.
Dan Pitzer

Hi Dan,
While the motor is out you should check the end float of the crank, thrust washers and bearings. Mine has 59,000 on it and my big-end (connecting rod) bearings are good but my main lower half bearings are showing I'm replacing them all tomorrow.
A compression test ect would not hurt either,your mechanic should be able to do that all fairly easy
It might save you grief down the road (pardon the pun)
Charlie Ballard


What exactly are you getting for the $817.00 difference? Is your mechanic removing the head or just the valve cover? If he's just removing the valve cover, can you really be sure the engine has 57,000 miles on it and not 157,000. Hard to document after so many years. Rockers and shaft are notorious for wear, so should be checked closely. They might also give you an indication if the mileage is accurate or not. I just went through a total rebuild; $4,000 (Cdn)for parts and machining. Really hurt at the time but now I'm glad I went that route and not just a patch job. Be sure your not going to end up with a rebuild on the used engine a few years down the road. You will be kicking yourself for not rebuilding your original engine.

Doug (Just itching for first drive of 04)
Doug Campbell

Just to set the record straight, I have attempted to buy parts from O'Reily Auto parts, CarQuest, NAPA, and even a few locally owned auto parts store. My last attempt was for a starter solenoid. $19.95 for a Chevy starter solenoid. NAPA wanted $119.00 to order one for the TR6 from Atlanta ( if they had it in stock ), which would take 3 days. I ordered it from Victoria British for $54.95 and had it in 5 days. The point being yes you can get some parts through local auto parts stores, if you're willing to pay through the nose and wait to get them. And yes you will still need some parts that you can only get through TRF, Moss or Victoria British, or a similar supply, but at least with a retrofit drive train, most of the expense and wait for parts goes away.
Arnold Newton

Crank bearings. Easy job. Get the crank re-ground professionally. You can also have the con-rod re-ground, NP.

Well she is back home again. The bill was more than I had hoped but that is how things usually work out. The car runs well but somehow a bit hotter according to the temp guage!?!

To refresh anyone's memory who might care, my engine (73K) inexplicably broke two connecting rods.

I now have an alleged 57k engine, replaced the clutch and hoses at the same time.

Question is, why or how could the "new" motor run hotter?
Dan Pitzer

Oh yeah, and after I had the guy my limp credit card, he advises that the diff takes 2 quarts and it was low 1.5 quarts. He will get back to me on what it will cost to rebuild? I have always had a teeny drip, are there sign of rear end trouble before it is too late??
Dan Pitzer

I'm certainly sorry you had a bad experience with local parts houses. I've not had such experiences. I guess one's mileage will vary but 'paying through the nose' is not something that we do, or should do. Just like with a lot of the suppliers of parts for our cars, there are those who gouge us and those who do not.

the heat? We have no way of knowing the condition of the water pump/coolant jackets in this replacement engine unless your mechanic went through the stuff.

If the differential isn't noisy I'd run it. <G>

Jim Deatsch

Hi Dan. Glad to hear you back on the road. There are a number of reasons why you are running hot; but first, did your mechanic do any teardown of the donor engine? What does he say about the situation? What's your cold/warm oil pressures? After a good run, is the bottom of your oil dipstick too hot to hold on to?

Some possibilities:
--sticky coolant thermostat
--worn water pump impeller
--blocked radiator core
--blocked head/block coolant passages
--advanced timing
--bumped compression ratio (head thickness less than about 4.550 inches?)
--lean fuel mixture (carbs and/or intake vacuum leaks)
--worn crank/rod bearings

I wouldn't mess with the diff unless it starts making strange noises. If it leaks excessively, you should pull it to replace the input and output shaft seals.

Rick O.
72 TR6
Rick Orthen

Another point to add to Jims' is maybe a simple checK of the T'stat is in order.
If I read your post correctly then you only had .5 quarts in the dif. Sounds like a little more than a tenny drip. You do not mention where it is leaking from. There are several products on the market for gear assemblies that say they help stop seal leaks. One that comes to mind is from Lucas oil. One thing for sure..keep it toped up. But then a dif rebuild may be in order to rreplace the seals.
Rick C
Rick Crawford

Rick - Other than replacing the valve cover and inspecting for overall dirtiness, the mechanic did not do any teardown. He has a infrared gun that will read the temp that I may try. He thinks I should replace the thermostat and possibly the sending unit. Cold the oil pressure is about 75 and warm it drops to about 55. Haven't tried the dipstick test yet.

The engine does run well, I must say. I do plan to replace the diff seals
Dan Pitzer

Sounds like great oil pressure Dan. I'd look into what Rick O talked about. Couldn't hurt to also place your wife/girlfriend's candy thermometer/meat thermometer in the coolant when the engine is warm (BE CAREFUL, of course, that's gonna be hot). This will give you a baseline and a comparison to your temperature gauge to see if it's accurate.

Flushing the cooling system can't hurt. Remember, if you dump antifreeze you'll need to dispose of it properly. It's deadly poison to people and animals and they/we love the smell and taste.

Pure water doesn't cool as well as 50/50 mix of antifreeze-coolant and water.

I don't recall you saying just how hot it does get.

Jim Deatsch

This thread was discussed between 29/03/2004 and 06/05/2004

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