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Hi! - New Spitfire Owner


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Hi everyone,  I'm a new member of TSSC and a first-time Spitfire owner, So I just thought I'd introduce myself any my new project;

 

My new car is a 1969 Triumph Spitfire Mk3, currently finished in a rather poor coat of (I think) Primrose Yellow.  The original paint code (26) I believe refers to Wedgewood Blue, It seems a previous owner decided to have a go himself with some spray cans at some point, and the effect is....not good.

In terms of history, the previous owner insisted that the indicated mileage of just 2,700 was correct, though i'm naturally dubious.  Apparently the owners for the first 30-years were in the Royal Navy, and only used the car as a runabout when back in Portsmouth.  Even so, I don't believe a 40-year old car with six previous owners on the logbook could have done so few miles, so i'm working on the assumption that 102,700 is more likely.  Having checked the previous MOT history as far back as I can, the car seems to have been MOT'd every year since at least 2004, but has covered only a little over 100-miles in that time.  So it has spent most of the last 14-years (at least) standing around rather than being used. 

Mechanically, the engine sounds good and seems solid, if a little down on power,  but does not seem to have been cared for in recent years.  I spent the bank-holiday weekend working through   When I removed the air filters, they were marked up as last changed in 1993! so I'm working on the assumption that it has not been properly serviced in the last 25-years.  The incorrect oil filter was also fitted, and when I drained the oil it was very thin and black.  When the cooling system was drained, only about 2-litres of 'brown soup' came out, and several of the hoses were almost completely blocked, as well as the thermostat being absent.  The dynamo also seems to be completely dead.

The electronics are in right state,  again, I think one of the previous owners had a go himself at some point.  There are random wires and connectors all over the place, additional switches of indeterminate function have been added, and there are poor earths (either rusty or painted in the home-respray) everywhere.  

Due to the issues listed above, and the unclear history, I've decided to adopt an 'if in doubt, replace with new' policy as a general rule.  No doubt this will lead to me becoming intimately familiar with the deeper depths of the Rimmer Bros catalogue over time :P.   As the car has already been significantly changed by previous owners, I'm not going to go for hardline originality, but will concentrate on making it as useable as possible through sensible upgrades where appropriate, but i'll try and keep it looking fairly standard externally.

 

The jobs i'm currently working on or have planned (in no particular order) include;

1) Oil change, with correct filter and grade of oil (I used Millers Classic Sport 20w50).

2) Replace faulty dynamo, and voltage stabiliser if required.

3) Remove aftermarket electric fans.

4) Replace radiator with new full-width kind, along with all cooling system hoses.

5) Replace water pump.

6) Install correct thermostat.

7) Replace air filters/box with K&N filters, set up carbs to suit, reduce idle speed (currently idles at 1500-1800 rpm!)

8) Check HT-leads and re-gap spark plugs (all seemed OK).

9) Fuel gauge not working - check gauge, wiring, earths, and sender unit.

10) Trace wiring for unknown switches, remove or rewire as necessary.

11) Check complete braking system (seemed fairly poor performance, despite front discs/pads being nearly new, seized calipers?) 

12) Check suspension system, and lubricate as required.

13) Check gearbox/diff/etc oil levels, and lubricate as required.

14) Possibly replace steering wheel for smaller item - I'm quite tall and have some difficulty getting in/out.

15) Respray - The current paint finish is really poor and i'm not a big fan of the colour.  I'm thinking of either going back to the original Wedgewood Blue, or for Old English White. 

16) Additional mirrors - I think they are known as overtaking mirrors(?) placed on each front wing.  I cant see the passenger side mirror at all from my seating position.

17) Interior - Re-cover seats (a few tears in each).

18) Hood - doesn't seem to fit right, leaving a small gap at the front at top of windows/windscreen.  Remove and re-fit to see if that helps. 

19) Locks - There appears to be a different key for every lock, and the bootlid lock does not work.  Replace with new if available.

20) Hopefully...drive it as often as possible!

 

I have owned a few classics in the past (Austin Allegro, Lambretta Li125), but have not had one for a few years now.  I decided a Spitfire would be a good/easy project to get me back into things, and I was able to find a solid enough example of the model I was after (Mk3 1300) to play with.

I'm probably going to be a regular on these forums, asking for help with the random gremlins that will now doubt arise.  I'm also hopefully going to try and get to some shows this summer, though as a visitor rather than an exhibitor (the photos don't do justice as to how bad the paint finish is), and hopefully get to meet some of the TSSC community :).

 

-Matt

 

 

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Welcome Matt. You've come to the right place, the guys on here are incredibly knowledgeable and really generous with their help. 

Looks like you're going to be busy with that little list. 

Rimmers are good but don't be tempted to get the std stuff like nuts and bolts and connectors etc from them cos they aren't cheap. Ditto interior trim. When you get to that stage have a look at Park Lane Triumph. Great quality, fit and price but order well ahead cos there's a waiting list of about 10 weeks due to them being made to order. 

Good luck and have fun. 

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you just missed our meeting last night , you dont have to be in a triumph to getin !!!

i would stick with standard parts till you get her running and you get to know the car, playing with KNs is ok but you may need to chage needle specs and get the associated hassle that goes with some supposed  must have up grades ...keep the orig air box and cold air intake if you want it to run 

as it says on the tin

see you at the raven  next is june 25th

if you want to be on my list of locals emails  let me know

Pete

 

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Hi Matt,

Welcome from a fellow Mk3 owner. I know where you're coming from on the colour. Wedgewood or OE white both look good on a Mk3.

As Pete said, keep it standard (or, in some areas, put it back to standard) and get it running right before you start introducing potentially hassle-prone mods. The original airbox may look restrictive but its cold air intake means you often get better performance than with pancake filters.

Rob

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Matt,

Welcome,  Some random thoughts, going back to the mechanical fan is a good idea. K & N filters are pretty, but not as effective as the original air box. If you're replacing the seat covers, how about replacing the seat foams? Different keys for every lock is standard, a real pain! I took the barrels apart and reorganised the tumblers so that one key fits all.  I have bullet mirrors on the front wings, they look pretty, but next to useless! Door mirrors are better, but not much! Oil your trunnions, in fact I'd be inclined to replace them unless you know they're not very old. 

Good Luck!

Doug

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Thanks for all the replies and advice, and I will definitely try and make it down to the next monthly meeting!

 

I was planning on going with the K&Ns (once I've got it running well first) as the OE airbox looks really REALLY restrictive to my eye.  As far as I can tell, the filters are completely encased, save for the two oblong apertures at the top (pictured), so this setup would surely only draw in a limited amount of (warm) air from within the engine bay?  I cant see any sort of cold air intake, unless some parts are missing(?).

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Looks odd to me - maybe the p.o. had an odd idea or something. Should look like this

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0/0/0?mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fulk%2Fitm%2F352274425127
 
Usually have flexi tubes fitted to suck in air from in front of the rad
 
I have k&n's fitted but you do need to have the carbs and needles adjusted if you want it to run on them perfectly
 
Aidan
 
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I think you should add some fuel hose to your shopping list.  I could be wrong but I don't think I've ever seen proper fuel-rated hose that's red.  Looks more like a length of garden hose pipe...

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I might fabricate something to feed cold air up to the OE airbox for the time being then, it'll still be useful when I (eventually) get round to fitting the K&Ns too.  I had a feeling it was running a little lean beforehand, so I suposse setting it back to standard on OE equipment as a starting point does seem like a very sensible idea before I start changing things. 

As for the red fuel hose, I'm not convinced it's the proper spec either, as are some other sections of the fuel line.  I've ordered a few metres of SAE30 rated fuel hose, so 'ill probably work my way around and replace the whole lot eventually. 

Hopefully, the new radiator, water pump, and dynamo will be arriving tomorrow, so should have it back up and running before the weekend :)

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Mines Wedgewood blue and looks stunning :P

think about a new fuse box if your doing a lot off messing. Threads on here and a good upgrade. Electric fan may be good if it’s a proper job alongside the old metal fan. All hoses and pipes could be an issue. Old brake pipes won’t help and your brake fluid could be 20 years old too. 

Chaps on here know much more than me so I follow their Advice and it’s been invaluable. 

Grant 

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Whilst I sort of get the cold air being better for the charge into the engine, once it’s moving I do wonder how much difference it really makes. Plenty of cars I’ve seen with the air intake over the exhaust- and not always selectable to a different position in the winter and summer. 

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2 - convert to an alternator, and add an extra wire if you get a powerful one. Instruction readily available if needed.

4 - get silicone hoses if you can afford them, avoid Kevlar ones

7 - look for a mk4 air box if you want cold feed, readily available

9 - float is full of fuel or the sender is jammed, empty the tank and pop it out.

11 - some modern pads are rubbish, if not worse. Cardboard or wood is probably better!

14. - the column is adjustable on a Mk3 so perhaps try that first.

16 - try door mirrors if you think you need, the wing mirrors are rubbish on Spitfires

18 - the hood looks a good fit to me, can you get a better pictur?

 

also, you are missing the correct breather assembly, I wonder if the inlet manifold is a Mk4 one.

 

cheers

colin

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Quote

Electric fan may be good if it’s a proper job alongside the old metal fan.

It originally had a pair of small diameter (blower type) electric fans mounted to the outside of the radiator in addition to the standard metal fan.  I took them off because I thought they were doing more to disrupt the airflow to the radiator than assisting with cooling it.  I have ordered a full width replacement for the knackered standard radiator, but I might add the fans back in later to help with post switch-off cooling.

Quote

2 - convert to an alternator, and add an extra wire if you get a powerful one. Instruction readily available if needed.

 I did consider this, but they are very expensive IIRC.  I've gone with a standard replacement dynamo for now to get things running, but I might look at upgrading in the future.

Quote

11 - some modern pads are rubbish, if not worse. Cardboard or wood is probably better!

I wasn't sure if I was just expecting too much, having not driven a classic for a while, but the brakes did feel pretty awful.  I've not got around to investigating closer yet, but is there a particular brand of disc/pad you would recommend? and similarly, ones to avoid? 

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14. - the column is adjustable on a Mk3 so perhaps try that first.

I did not know this! I will investigate further before ditching the original wheel.

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also, you are missing the correct breather assembly, I wonder if the inlet manifold is a Mk4 one.

I'm assuming you are referring to the crankcase breather / PCV valve setup? (https://rimmerbros.com/Item--i-GRID005619) At present, there is just a long hose from the rocker cover venting straight to atmosphere around the NSF wheel arch, and the fitting for the PCV valve is blanked off with a plug.  Apart from being the original fitment, does this setup offer any major benefits (worth the £75 for valve and hose) over just venting to atmosphere? is burning off the excess gasses more environmentally friendly than just venting them?  

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Might be the pics but is it a bit low at the back?

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Looks like a sloping drive? Putting more weight on the back end ?

I think it is both.  The driveway does slope away towards the road, but I remember thinking it looked low at the rear end when it was parked on the flat.  I haven't got around to looking over the rear suspension yet, though I understand that 'sag' is quite common after a while.  Any advice on how to remedy this?

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roof looks ok to me too. Always going to get a gap around the windows I’m afraid :ph34r:

Maybe it is, this is my first time owning a soft-top so i'm not sure what is 'normal'.  The material seems tight over the rear edge of the windows (I cant open/close the doors when the windows are all the way up) with a gap at the top leading edge that is about golf ball sized.  I'll try and get some pictures tomorrow while i'm waiting for my Rimmer Bros delivery to arrive.

 

Thanks to everyone for all your replies, it's always great to have extra pairs of eyes looking at things, especially as i'm still learning what is 'normal' for a Spitfire and what the standard fittings should be.

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10 hours ago, citybreeze said:

 I did consider this, but they are very expensive IIRC.  I've gone with a standard replacement dynamo for now to get things running, but I might look at upgrading in the future.

Alternators aren't too expensive, although more so than they used to be. I have a spare one I was toying with giving a quick refurb (having refurbed the other spare for my Mk3 and quite enjoyed it). Some people opt for the "dynamator" option, which looks like a dynamo, but I think those are a bit more costly.

 

10 hours ago, citybreeze said:

I wasn't sure if I was just expecting too much, having not driven a classic for a while, but the brakes did feel pretty awful.  I've not got around to investigating closer yet, but is there a particular brand of disc/pad you would recommend? and similarly, ones to avoid? 

By comparison to a modern car, "pretty awful" is probably about right. They're not servo assisted so you need a good bit of pedal effort. Many people recommend Mintex pads, or EBC. My Vitesse had EBC Greenstuff on it when I bought it, though, and I didn't like them that much.

 

10 hours ago, citybreeze said:

I'm assuming you are referring to the crankcase breather / PCV valve setup? (https://rimmerbros.com/Item--i-GRID005619) At present, there is just a long hose from the rocker cover venting straight to atmosphere around the NSF wheel arch, and the fitting for the PCV valve is blanked off with a plug.  Apart from being the original fitment, does this setup offer any major benefits (worth the £75 for valve and hose) over just venting to atmosphere? is burning off the excess gasses more environmentally friendly than just venting them?  

Yes, burning the gasses is considered a LOT more environmentally friendly, which is why the factory changed from an open breather on 948 Heralds to the PCV system on Spitfires. The Mk4 arrangement, venting into the carbs, or the Herald 13/60 one, venting to the air filter, were both cost-down versions of the PCV.

 

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If you need pads go for mintex 1144  much more like the original , very good bite cold or hot  and dont need a servo,

Ive tried green stuff and apart from easy to clean the wheels it didnt stop the Vit6  ....hopeless pads

Get the handbrake set up, disconect the cable , dont let axles hang this upsets the cable lenghts,  , lock adjuster, refit cable to suit 

Release adjuster to free the wheel.

Have a look at the rear shoes , the trailing shoe has the unused handbrake hole at the bottom , opposite to the leading shoe

This is often fitted upside down  .

 

 

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1 hour ago, NonMember said:

 

Alternators aren't too expensive, although more so than they used to be. I have a spare one I was toying with giving a quick refurb (having refurbed the other spare for my Mk3 and quite enjoyed it). Some people opt for the "dynamator" option, which looks like a dynamo, but I think those are a bit more costly.

 

By comparison to a modern car, "pretty awful" is probably about right. They're not servo assisted so you need a good bit of pedal effort. Many people recommend Mintex pads, or EBC. My Vitesse had EBC Greenstuff on it when I bought it, though, and I didn't like them that much.

 

Yes, burning the gasses is considered a LOT more environmentally friendly, which is why the factory changed from an open breather on 948 Heralds to the PCV system on Spitfires. The Mk4 arrangement, venting into the carbs, or the Herald 13/60 one, venting to the air filter, were both cost-down versions of the PCV.

 

I fitted a Dynamator to replace the Lucas c40l dynamo on my Vitesse , so far so good. I purchased the accuspark version which is currently priced at £140 ish http://www.accuspark.co.uk/dynamator.htm  . 

if you pursue this route at some stage , you will need an additional cable from the dynamator to the starter solenoid or battery to cope with the extra amperage . I used 42 amp thin wire .

untill I can get a smaller pulley for the dynamator  the charging starts at approx 1800 revs which so far is proving to be ok 

Paul 

 

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Another vote for Mintex 1144s, they made an extradentary difference over my original standard pads. Although, they are expensive. The club shop sell them and are one of the cheapest. The addition of a servo makes brake performance much more like a modern, so swapping from one machine to another is much less of a "surprise".  

Doug

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