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Triumph TR6 - Where to start?

Okay, I've asked some of the simple stupid questions and I have appreciated very much the kind advice. After several years of checking out old British cars, I am now the proud owner of the 71 TR6. I am generally fairly handy with tools and stuff, much more so than I was when I was younger, and I like doing things where you can actually see the results of your work.

What would be a good plan, for someone with virtually no car knowledge, to start working on a car like this? I have the shop manual. I have American and metric box wrenches and socket wrenches. Assuming I go ahead and get 4 stands and a good jack, I think I can at least start doing oil changes, checking the differential fluid and the rear axle fluid.

What are some other fairly easy things I could do to build up a little confidence so I can tip toe into some of the more delicate and expensive repairs as time goes by? Eventually, I would like to be able to maintain the car myself, except for very major stuff. For instance, if it needs a motor rebuild in the future (which I couldn't afford right now if it did get bad), I would probably farm that out. But as far as tune ups, valve jobs and some of the other scary sounding stuff, I would like to learn. I just don't know where to start and I don't really want my wife to think I am totally crazy.

Thanks, as always, John.
JohnB

John, congradulations!! I'm now on my 14th TR6 and if funds allowed would get another. It just seems that once I get one where it hasn't anything to fix, I sell it and get another. You are on the right track. Check out ALL gease points, u-joints, axels where they slide together, triling arm bushings, rear shock links, front suspension, BRAKES!, just to get started. Make cosmetics low priority right now, brakes and suspension high priority.
w Holtzclaw

In addition to the basic hand tools, the following should be added to your collection:

Shop Manual, hard to have too many around. You did not say which manual you have, but if you are only going to have one, that one should be the Robert Bentley Press reprint of the factory manual and owners handbook. Once you get past that, the more the merrier. I have found that different manuals will sometimes address things from a different perspective or just flat do a better job than another one. Local bookstore, Amazon, Motolit, Roadster, Moss.

If you are going to continue to run the points ignition you will need a dwell meter. You can set the point gap by measure, but using dwell angle is much better. Of course if you install something along the lines of the Pertronix ignition, dwell angles become a thing of the past. A good dwell meter is about half the cost of the Pertronix ignition. A dwell meter/engine analyzer is about the same as the Pertronix. I think there is a message there.

A good timing light, look for inductive pickup and advance measuring features.

Torque wrenches, 1/2 drive for heavier stuff, 3/8 for smaller stuff. I keep three around, one 3/8 for medium stuff and in inch pounds for the really light stuff, although admittedly that last one sees much more bicycle use than car use.

Gunson Color Tune, seems a bit hokey at first, but actually works. Think of it as a "see through" spark plug allowing you to see combustion colors. Available from Roadster Factory, Moss, possibly your local British Foreign parts place, you know, the usual suspects.

A carb needle adjustment tool. Be forewarned though, it may just be the most dangerous tool in the tool box. It provides the temptation to just go start turning. Don't go fiddling with carbs blindly. Take a very systematic approach. Again, the usual suspects.

A good carb balancing device. I picked up a unit from a place called Top End Performance (a TWM distributor) that works quite well. Find them on the web. Unisyns have been around forever and work, but not near as well. Unisyn from the usual suspects.

A 1/2" allen key. If and when you to rebuild the brake master cylinder on a Saturday afternoon, you will drive yourself crazy trying to find one of these on the weekend. Go ahead and find one, get it and stash it in the toolbox. You will be glad you did when you go to remove the tipping valve from the master cylinder. Typically from specialty tool and fastener type places. You should have one local to you.

Confidence building work:

Oil change, tune ups, valve adjustments are all good starters. Install that Pertronix. The only caution I can think of is that some of the after market rotors will not work (clearance problem) if you run a Pertronix. Run Lucas rotor and keep an extra or two around.

It may sound intimidating, but suspension rebuilds are really not hard on these cars. You do some serious work, but it is very straight forward. The only thing you will need in addition to your hand tools is a sring compressor. You get that from the usual suspects.

Brakes, also very straight forward on these cars. Pad changes are a breeze and rear brakes are your basic drum brake set up. You did go out and get that 1/2 allen didn't you for when that brake master needs rebuilding?

Install an oil cooler and spin on filter. Hey, you're in Florida, it's hot, give that car a little more help in the cooling department.

This should at least give you something to think about. Once you get going, trust me, you will find more.
SteveP

Hey John,

I'd also add that if you picked up the car 'condition unknown', spend some time getting to know the cooling system. Check the hoses for cracks & general age, and replace them if you have any concern.

Is it running a little hot? Consider flushing the system and checking whether the thermostat is a 160F, 180F, or if there's one in there at all. I like to refill with distilled water and antifreeze. There are some other tricks that can be done if it still runs hot.

Got a spare fan belt? If the one you have on there looks old at all, buy a new one and throw the old one in that box in the trunk where you keep the emergency tools (hint, hint) like screw driver, pliers, a rag, gloves, wrench, you get it...

Welcome to the club!

Brent B

JohnB
Excellent advice guys...good job!
2 more things.
Join this BBS so you can go to the archives. There is a TON of info there!!!

Also when you go to check your brake and clutch reservoir levels, do not be tempted to go out and buy synthetic brake fluid (DOT 5). You may be ( most likely) running with DOT 4 and the fluids are not compatable.
Changing over to DOT 5 is the prefered choice but then that is another story.
Rick C
Rick Crawford

John,
Although you don't give your location, I'm guessing Philly. My suggestion would be to find a local British car club. Those guys will have all been through what you are going through right now. They will be a wealth of information and are usually more than happy to lend a hand to a new owner. Post your address and see how many replys you recieve.
Joe
Joe Justice

John
My advice would be to read, read, read, and never be afraid to ask questions. I read repair manuals for any car I have owned like novels. Get friendly with your local British Mechanic / Parts Supplier. They can be very forth coming with important tidbits and even doing minor things for free when you go to them regularly. Also the internet is a wealth of information. I have a 3" binder full of information I have categorized into appropriate sections. And of course the guys on this site are the best.

And congratulations; once you catch the British car bug it never leaves you.

Doug
Doug Campbell

Whoa! Great responses! I have the Bentley manual, and my remaining at home kid and wife think I am nuts for looking at it so much. My most pressing issue right now is to figure out where my oil is going-the pressure is really high when the dip stick reads full and I think I am blowing it out somewhere, because of the smell, but I can't find it yet. My exhaust isn't smokey or ugly, and I'm not dripping a lot, but it's going somewhere! My thoughts are the oil pressure relief valve or the oil sump gasket; unfortunately, it is kind of hard to compare the pictures in the Moss catalog to what is really there. For the time being, I guess if I keep the oil level between the two lines on the dipstick and it is running cool (unless the sending unit is bad), I should be okay. It's fun, but I do feel really stupid.
JohnB

JohnB,

Your going to need a sadistic sense of humour, quantum perserverence, diabolical curiosity, the patience of jobe, a work ethic, deep empathy for the British engineers and an understanding wife. A blinding sense that you can build it better than the factory is a must and a garage will come in handy. Read everything you can get your hands on and know that about 10% of it is BS. You won't need to re-invent the wheel cause when it comes to the six, it's all been done before. I hate to say it but you'll need (some) money. Sell your family car if need be. Second mortgages are good. Paper routes.... Ask questions on the board. The guys here have a deep understanding of these inbread roadsters. Most of all, have fun and remember - you will never quite get there with a British car - they have foibles by nature and that's part of the attraction.

John Parfitt
Calgary, Canada.
73 5 speed.
John Parfitt

John, you say you have high oil pressure. How high? My 76 will have about 80-100 when cold but settles down to about 25 when hot and idling. About 50-55 going down the road at 3000 rpm. Remember, Triumphs don't leak, they only mark thier spot.
w Holtzclaw

This thread was discussed between 02/09/2003 and 03/09/2003

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