This is the 1971 Triumph Spitfire
pretty much as I received it. It was in rather tough shape.
The previous owner had invested in brakes, brake lines, a new
soft top and a number of other things
but this car was going to need a lot of work. According to the odometer
a little more than 35000 miles on it. However the speedometer cable was broken
got it so who really knows.
I like the rear bumper alignment.
First order of business after some basic mechanical things was to deal with the seats. I don't want to imply that they were bad.
They were plain mouse infested nasty. (They smelled bad too.) One could hardly stand to be near them. I ended up getting a used seat frame for the drivers side as if one leaned back, it went all the way back.
Putting new back foams on one of the seats after the frame had been sand blasted and painted and the webbing replaced.
Someone had "customized" the passenger door. The car
only had two wheel covers and no spare tire. The driver door
latch handle did not work. The drivers door window regulator was shot.
When I got the car there was this piece of wire wrapped around
the steering column and bolted to the steering wheel.
This was so the horn would work. I chose to remove this as I don't care
for things impeding my ability to
actually steer the vehicle, even as nimble as this one is.
Note that the knob on the gear lever was liberated from the car before I got it and that there was no dash / radio support bracket.
This photo was from the PO just before I bought the car.
I replaced the missing ground jumper across
the U joint at the steering box as it was meant to be originally.
This is the original instrument panel. In this photo I had
already rebuilt the gear lever, put an actual knob on it and replaced the
tunnel cover. The center pad and horn button were replaced and what was rusting
metal on the steering wheel was painted.
Lots of over spray from the car being
My opinion is that the person that repainted the car had
Some new carpet laid in and the beginnings of my custom
instrument panel. Here I've added a clock and a lighter (power point)
to the passenger side. It is not in the usual place, low on the dash because I'm
reserving that spot for a dual USB power connector.
It puts the USB which would get more use closer to the glove box.
Had to replace all the furflex, the drivers door latch didn't
work from the inside, the drivers door window regulator was shot and
the dash cover was cracked and a mess. Here the dash cover has already been
replaced. As mentioned before the
seats were rebuilt. It costs about $1,000 for the materials to fix them. After that there is your labor.
The temp gauge in the center console has been replaced by a
volt meter. This is the almost finished dash, (steering wheel
removed.) A clock has been added where the air vent for a GT6 would be.
A combination water temperature and oil pressure gauge has
been added to the left. A panel dimmer has been added
and the 4 way flasher switch has been changed to the later version. I was lazy about cutting a rectangular hole
to accommodate the original version of the switch.
When I got the car, I found a small block of wood electrical taped to the brake pedal shaft. This was to engage the brake light switch
so that the lights did not stay on all the time. I also received a half dozen NOS brake light switches. I could not find the
reason the switches were just a little short.
The new switches listed seemed to have the same part number, the bracket was not bent etc.... just seemed the switches were short, or the plungers were too short.
At the time, I didn't bother try to figure it all out, but got rid of the block of wood, drilled and tapped a hole for a 6-32 screw and adjusted appropriately.
The plunger is fairly deep. One from a broken switch is in the caliper. The screw used was ¾ inch long. Don't know if this was the appropriate fix
but it continues to work.
My assistant "Beaker" (actually Mommy Cat)
helping with some of the more difficult calculations.
The headlights were kind of "out of alignment"
One pointed up into the trees and the other about 4 feet
ahead of the car over into the ditch.......
On inspection I found all the hardware defective and the buckets rusty. So
out it all came.
Both headlight buckets rebuilt, the liners repainted and new
It does not show here but I replaced the head lamps with high output
which of course necessitated wiring changes.
This is the engine compartment pretty much as I found
it. The exception is the air filter, there was no air filter when I got the car.
The hose clamps and most of the hoses have been replaced.
This setup has one Zenith Stromberg carburetor. Not my favorite set up.
Later I replaced the mock K&N air filter with the factory set up due to intake
noise. After all it is the single Stromberg
CD150 and the chrome air filter won't do anything for performance except look shiny.
I guess in some circles that gets another 15 horsepower... like that fancy screw on chrome gas pedal.....
The other side of the engine. Changes are a new oil filter and
oil change, new ignition wires, plugs and points, and an additional oil feed
from the oil pressure sensor to the rear corner of the head. This delivers
better oil feed to the rocker arm assembly.
When I first started the car the rockers / tappets sounded
awful. I found that a screw was missing from the rocker assembly and just laying
on top of the head. Essentially very little / no oil was getting to cylinder # 1 and #2
rockers or lifters. I do not believe the car was driven like this
as there was no apparent huge damage. I will be replacing the rocker assembly
with a bushed version.
Both the brake and clutch master cylinders were replaced out of necessity.
By the summer of 2010, after I had this a couple years I
decided it was past time for a rebuild. There were a
lot of things wrong, mostly about the body.... so I thought. Earlier that year I had
acquired another entire body shell and
a ton of parts The body shell is under the brown tarp behind. I also think there is
about a car and a half in boxes etc in the basement.
I had just come out of a bad 2009 and another, the fourth, major cancer surgery and canceling a
build of a garage because of that,
I improvised. My neighbor Gerry and I built a raised and level platform to
get things off up the ground.
I had ordered a Shelter Logic enclosure.
In the mean time I started taking things apart and cataloging
(Loosely translated storing stuff somewhere in the basement.)
The front valences were pretty bad and full of Bondo. I
kept the trim and lights and got new valences for both sides.
I did keep the firewood................. it was more useful.
I managed to save all the hardware and usable parts on the
bonnet. I was going to save the entire piece. However
I apparently had not propped it up sufficiently and the wind took it down.
A bunch of snow and ice came
off the wood shed roof and hit it.
This was when I realized how much rot and repair was in the
front fenders. It does not show in this photograph,
but it is there on the upper side. This being the case,the buckling from the
ice and the really bad paint, I junked
the whole thing. Probably shouldn't have but I did.
I do have an excellent replacement, even though it is
The left rocker panel is pretty much shot. This is the
front end cap. It has been "repaired" and then
A sure way to start rot again..
The other view of the left rocker panel.
If you want to pick the body off a car, this works pretty
darned good. Courtesy of my neighbor Gerry.
The chassis, engine and drive train separated from the
The water pump and timing covers removed.
Engine and transmission removed from chassis. The rear
chassis has been sand blasted and coated in POR15 paint
The inner chassis had been sprayed with a chassis seal and rust stop from
Rear side of chassis pretty complete. Note that pulling
the hubs off the rear takes the proper tool.
A regular puller no matter how big will NOT do the job correctly. Don't ask me
how I know.
All U joints, bearings, etc have been replaced. All
rubber bushings have been replaced with poly type bushings.
All brake hardware replaced. Wheel bearings... pretty much whatever you
can think of....
The right frame outrigger was toast. But the fact
the frame itself is in great shape is a good thing..
This is the left frame outrigger, actually
worse than the right side.
Rotted front outriggers ground off.......
Left front suspension added back to the frame. On both sides, the
correct springs, new shocks,
all bushings, trunions, ball joints, tie rod ends and sway bar hardware, grease
fittings replaced. The original
brake lines have been replaced with flexible stainless steel lines.
Front wheel bearings and seals were replaced a short time ago. The calipers
are real good but I had to clean up the rotors with the bead Blaster.
I will replace them when I can drive it again. Sitting around does
them no good.
Rack and Pinion mounted with new hardware..............
Almost every bolt in this car has been
The gear lever was pretty pitted and rusty. Before and after sending it out to be re-chromed
In the mean time that winter, I pulled the oil pan and
replaced the oil pump, water pump and did a timing chain kit.
The engine was stripped down and cleaned and re painted. All seals and frost
plugs were replaced. Most components like the
valve cover and timing cover were bead blasted and re-painted.
I didn't tear the engine down completely as the compression was good and it ran
quite nicely and there were
no bad noises other than from the rockers before it had proper lubrication.
The odometer and the previous owner say there are only
35,000 miles on this car. ????
It didn't burn oil (more than normal) and ran like a top, so if it isn't broke.......
think if I were to do a full rebuild, I might just start with another block
Oil Pressure Issues:
The oil pressure at idle on this engine was always around 15 to 20 lbs/in. After taking the pan off and giving it a thorough was out,
replacing the oil pump with a stock strait stem, the pressure at idle is 30lbs consistent on hot engine. This does not preclude
other issues, however it does speak to sump and pump problems.
Here the engine and transmission are assembled and on the
frame. The new outriggers have been fitted and welded to
the frame. The transmission seals have been replaced. The clutch, pressure
plate and throw out bearing
along with the pilot bearing have been replaced. I also did a rebuild on
the clutch slave cylinder. The rebuild did not
work. A replacement slave cylinder was $24 from Rock Auto.
That new brake line was eventually passed through the newly welded on frame outrigger.
The front half of the frame has been sand blasted and painted.
The return vapor line and fuel line are stainless
June 20, 2012
The heater box was a real mess.
Everything was sandblasted and re-painted. The mechanism was disassembled bead blasted, repaired
and repainted. The felts and foam parts were replaced. The heater speed resistor was cleaned and checked.
June 07, 2012
One of the lifts. The body needed to be set on to align the
new frame outriggers. I did not trust just making
measurements from the documentation that was available.
The newer body has a hard top, which I'll keep... somewhere,
but I'll use the convertible top from the older body....
Note on lifting the body: With a hard top attached and both
doors intact, this lifted fine. Do not try this without
reinforcing the body if there are no doors or a soft top and the inner sills are bad. The body may buckle
We had a some apprehension about doing the lift this way. It worked just fine however. No dents or bruises.
The Spitfire body was also fine.
Mission accomplished.... sort of. This got the alignment
of the body to the frame so the outriggers could be tack welded.
process was reversed and the body was removed and the frame parts properly welded and painted.
June 16, 2012
Here is one of the welded outriggers.
Then there was the radiator. I thought the cooling
system was marginal. This is a fairly small radiator and
there is a 6 blade plastic fan mounted to the
water pump. I noticed while idling in hot weather the temp
gauge would rise. So not wanting to leave anything to chance or
have steam blow off. I modified it. (I am an engineer...)
Carefully using a counter bore, a small hole was cut in for a fitting in the top tank
near where the top radiator
hose goes back to the engine. You can see it in the upper right of the
photo. I plugged the bottom radiator
hose fitting with one of those big laboratory rubber stoppers and put some water in it about maybe 7/8
or more the way up
and wrapped a wet rag
around things and proceeded to solder in a fitting.....
I was worried about de-soldering other pars of the
radiator. The radiator petcock was replaced.
There are different schools of thought on this, one being to
be sure the radiator cowls are in place
and put nothing
in front of the radiator. It all seems to be a debate, so we'll try this
and see what works.
No Photo. Tonight the body
got 8 of the 12 mounting bolts. The last 4 will require putting the car in the
and getting under it. I didn't want to start that at 9:15 PM with no one
else around. Tomorrow will be another day......
7-5-2013: No Photo. Got all the body bolts
in but left them slightly loose to assure the connection to the rear axle goes
Well that didn't go exactly OK. The radius arms from the body to the rear are too
short for this body shell. Have to find the longer ones.....
Cut out some of the interior pieces while I had the
old ones in hand. These are the
rough cuts of the rear
wheel well covering and the B post covering.
Partial Top View Auto Cad layout of the frame and body, some
engine, cooling and electrical components.
My other assistant, Bunsen (actually Mr. Walker) after a long
hard day under the Spitfire.....
Starting to put a few things together. Don't think I'll
get to the body work this fall, so I guess the
best would be to get the hydraulics back together and get it to move on its own power.
Slight exhaust modification. A new exhaust pipe came
with the car. I had mounted this while the body was off
to save trying to install it from below. That did not work as the pipe was
a little short in the vertical dimension. The pipe was cut
and sleeved with a larger diameter pipe. It was only about 1 1/4
inches short so there is a lot of overlap.
The charcoal canister has been rebuilt.
The factory cardboard radiator cowls have been replaced with ABS plastic.
The electric fan relay and switch along with a more modern
self contained windshield washer unit.
NOTE: No photo. Started and ran the engine at 8:48
PM Friday September 20, 2013. Have a small fuel bowl issue
on the rear carb., need to do adjustment on the carbs and linkage (to be
expected) , set the timing, and figure out
the breather system.
This is classic! Never throw anything away? This
finally got tossed. I had come across the old fuel filter.... actually the one I
put on when I got the car.
For some reason I saved this. When I picked it up,
"stuff" started falling out, so being curious it got opened up.
The car now has a tank that is really clean (and shines inside) and a new filter.
The new tank pick up tube is stainless steel.
It is Now December 2013.....
Work continues albeit slowly. Did some modifications to
Found a cap to cover the mechanical tachometer port on the distributor. Will be
using an electronic tach.
Got the Carbs pretty well synced and air filters on,
fixed the fuel bowl leak on the rear carb.
Got an exhaust hose to pipe the
exhaust outside so it can at least be run for more
than a few seconds.
Worked some more on wiring diagrams and have started the front
Have the windshield wiper motor installed. The wiper mechanism
is hiding under the dash. Have -30 degree antifreeze in for the winter.
Happy New Year. It is now January 3, 2014. It is about
-20F outside so no work out there. Still working on small
things. Cleaning the
Have been converting some of the interior lamps to LED
s. The lamps for ignition, high beam and oil in the speedo have been
with high intensity LED's of the appropriate color. Those were easy.
The gauge illumination is a little more of a challenge.
1/20/2014 This last weekend, got the exhaust system bolted up
correctly. Got the throttle linkage and cable and accelerator pedal all
sorted out and working correctly.
Trimmed in the new windshield washer tubing. It is stainless from the front across
the frame to the right side of the frame to the firewall where it transitions to
Sorting out the steering column and ignition switch for
installation. Bead blasted and re-painted more parts.
2-25-2014; Our 36th Wedding Anniversary despite the
Spitfire. My last post was about a month ago. I've been
working on some of the wiring again and actually got
the steering column in and the ignition and most of the front harness wired. The
horn even works....
Mounted up the front valences. Found and fixed an alignment problem on the
front right side. Got the most of the rear wire harness figured out
and built. It has been very cold this winter so I've not spent a
great deal of time out there. I can heat with propane but thanks to an
propane shortage artificially driving prices up unnecessarily, its a little
expensive. So I've been working inside on smaller things.
Created a couple new pages for this site to try and
organize things in their respective areas. Moved a lot
of electrical stuff to its own page. Put all the photos of the SU carbs on a separate
page. Started documenting
the LED dimmer conversion and some of the rationale behind it. Not sure I make
any sense to anyone.
Updated some of the schematics on the electrical page.