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Metal filings on drain plug


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Today I drained the gearbox on my 1981 Spitfire 1500. It's a non-overdrive box. I bought the car to refresh (I hesitate to call it a restoration) after long term storage, so I have never driven it although the gears all seemed to select fine with the engine running. The magnetic drain plug looks horrendous and my immediate reaction is to take the box out for rebuild. However when I cleaned the plug on a clean paper towel there are no actual fragments, more like miniscule iron filings. Is this fairly normal for a 35000 mile gearbox ? I have no idea as I have only ever drained properly broken gearboxes before. It seems a shame to drag it out for rebuild if it's not neccessary or if it turns out the engine has to be pulled out too.  What do you think ?

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That doesnt look good and these gearboxes have a reputation for being weak. Also they dont have a large oil capacity so they tend to get run with low levels which rapidly shortens their lives. You could drive it to hear what it sounds like but without knowing a good one (theyre all noisy especially with the cover off) its difficult to judge. To make things worse if a bearing does fail it can damage gears which makes a repair more expensive... 

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SNAP!

1836513028_magneticplug.JPG.7e5f707faeebb0d1b14f3dc04a779e75.JPG

Had one of those myself a good few years back - photographed it at the time - but I'm still running that gearbox with no problems. Run your own car for a good few miles, then check it again; you'll hopefully find a lot less next time. 

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The wear particles on a magnetic plug do look horrendous!    But wash them thoroughly and pull them away from the magnet with your fingers.   Smear them on some white card.

This will reveal that what seems to be large spikey pieces, shattered off from somewhere, to be instead as fine as dust.  You should not think that the engine is severely worn without careful inspection and measurement, of bearings and bores, which you should do anyway, before a rebuild!

Oh, hang on! It's a gearbox isn't it?  Same difference!   That Xmas tree of iron dust is a red herring!

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Thanks to all for your replies. I think the jury is still out. I'm currently siding with Colin. Having bought the car unseen on ebay (!!!****!!!) my original plan was to do as little to the car as possible to return it to active duty (nope, it's better than I expected so interior is stripped, floor painted, controversial roll over bar fitted, new belts,chassis stripped and waxoyled, new brakes, suspension, all hoses, wide radiator etc etc) and then see what really needs doing. Further opinions are welcome.

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Many thanks everybody. My mind is made up. I will carry on bolting everything back together and aim for putting the car on the road sometime in May with a bit of luck and half decent weather (unfortunately the car is on the drive on axle stands as the garage is too narrow for working). I will however cut in some access panels both sides of the gearbox cover ready for next time.

Thanks again,Tim.

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Yes. another vote for "It'll be fine!" Clean it up, put it back and check again in a couple of months. Which means it's tunnel off, again, a tedious job. Consider cutting an access hole over the plug, it's well worth it.  

Ha! You read my mind! :lol:

Doug 

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I wouldn't be too concerned, especially if the oil hadn't been changed for a long time.

My advice is to refill with EP90 GL4 and drive it. If the gearbox is smooth and quiet, carry on and don't worry. Only consider an overhaul if it's unduly noisy.

Nigel

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Dont want to frighten you here Postman but just to explain the weakness we're up against in these gearboxes. They have 3 needle roller bearings which run directly on surface hardened components. This surface hardening is very thin and can vary in hardness and thickness (which cant be determined by eye) but once worn through exposes the softer base material which wears much more quickly. When the bearings get to this stage they can deteriorate quite rapidly but noisely so obviously its important to detect this and overhaul the gearbox before they break up👍 

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Thanks Johny. I know I should but the car is such an unknown quantity  I really want to get it to MOT standard and hopefully get a few miles under it's belt to see what else needs attention. The car is so much better than anticipated so far (cosmetic bodywork to be attended to, but chassis,sills etc excellent ) I'm expecting some major maladies to be attended to so I want to try out the engine and back axle as well as gearbox and clutch and do it all in one hit.

Many thanks for your advice and knowledge .

Tim

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Not my favourite choice of colour Doug (Inca) but I think it's growing on me. The good news is that friends' wives and my wife's hairdresser all want a ride in it when it's finished....

...in fact s*d the rain, I'm going outside to work on it now !

Tim

 

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1 hour ago, postman said:

Not my favourite choice of colour Doug (Inca) but I think it's growing on me. The good news is that friends' wives and my wife's hairdresser all want a ride in it when it's finished....

...in fact s*d the rain, I'm going outside to work on it now !

Tim

 

Honestly, yellow spitfire sare the best spitfires. 

 

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2 hours ago, postman said:

Thanks also Doug and Pete. 

I definitely like this forum !

Photo of late night special delivery to keep me quiet through lockdown no. 2. It's certainly doing the trick.

received_3800989533274279.jpeg

Special delivery eh! Bet your colleagues didn't try to put that in a wheely bin overnight!! Seriously, looks good. Hope she makes you happy....and welcome to the best forum.

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2 hours ago, postman said:

Thanks Johny. I know I should but the car is such an unknown quantity  I really want to get it to MOT standard and hopefully get a few miles under it's belt to see what else needs attention. The car is so much better than anticipated so far (cosmetic bodywork to be attended to, but chassis,sills etc excellent ) I'm expecting some major maladies to be attended to so I want to try out the engine and back axle as well as gearbox and clutch and do it all in one hit.

Many thanks for your advice and knowledge .

Tim

On the upside you have got the strongest standard version of the gearbox that Triumph ever made👍

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Yes, I think it's pretty much the same as the Morris Marina. I used to rally one decades ago and must be one of the few to have actually won a rally in a 1300 Marina. Sadly this is no reflection on my driving abilities - it was a very foggy night and I had a brilliant navigator who I trusted completely. Ancient history now. 

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Talking of ancient history, Triumph certainly got their moneys worth out of that gearbox as it was basically the same as the Herald 948 and probably went back further than that. Then as you say it was used in Morris Marinas and even up to the 2L small chassis sixes - only finally saw sense when it came to the saloons🤪

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