Carl McIver's Little slice of the net:


First of all, I need to thank Huw Upshall for the server space he has been kind enough to offer me. I donít know squat about HTML, so Huw is doing all the work to make this look good. I couldnít have done this without him.  Huw has an engine swap that is _the_ very dream car I would like to do, so being able to actually put my hands on it and his very well documented web site is a true luxury for me. He is not the owner of the following content, so if you have any issues, questions, or complaints, please let me know at cmciver@mindspring.com for which I will thank you for your time and thoughtfulness. All criticism is truly welcome.

Also thanks are due to several other folks, mostly listers, whose dedication and resistance to spousal reaction has maintained a stock of new and used wedge parts that sustain a large number of our cars. You know who you are, and it is immensely appreciated. Iím sure I speak for many others as well in this expression of gratitude. Iíve discovered that this list is populated with some truly awesome people, the world over, and the shared knowledge has been a blessing to all of us.

My name is Carl McIver (pronounced mick keever) and this has become a car I really enjoy having. I only enjoy working on cars when I don't have to, but since I drive it every day I get to become intimate with wedges, and that goes a long way. Stick with what you're comfortable with.. I also believe that one should not work any harder than necessary, so I try to fix things so I won't have to do it again in a few months!

My first introduction to the Triumph TR7 was in while I was in the service in the mid 80's. My good friend's father-in-law had given them a white coupe with a Ford 289 under the hood. Going from zero to 130mph in no time with my seat that low to the ground was a serious rush. I didn't have a way to maintain it when they decided to get rid of it at the time, so I watched it get towed in the wrecker. I was sad, but knew that someday I would have one of my own.

Fast-forward to the early 90's, when I was out of the service, making decent money, and newly married. We found a 79 Anniversary Edition DHC and bought it. Previous owner was a college student, and his parents were selling it for him. Bad choice. Car had about 160,000 miles on it, but I just had to have one of these cars. You know the feeling, donít you? A few weeks later I was already replacing burnt valves and trying to make it pass smog. So that winter I tore the motor down and rebuilt it, swapping the original intake and carbs for a '76 intake set with manual carbs, and no FASD, aka FAPOS. Ah, it ran so much better! Over the next ten years I drove it every day, with brief interruptions for a couple blown head gaskets and such, but never had to take the engine out. Now the car has over 321,000 miles on it, and still shows 30 psi oil pressure at idle when hot. The rest of the car shows the miles though! Stolen once and been in a couple minor fender benders since then, courtesy of yours truly, as you can tell. No hiding the reason for that dented nose, is there?

All these miles recently took their toll on the firewall underneath the throttle pedal, causing it to simply disintegrate with cracks until the cable sucked through. I had a little bit of fun making this doubler to stiffen things up. Lots of small bolts and epoxy dripping all over the place. What a joy!

Back in the summer of '96 I found a classified ad for a TR7 for $500. I casually showed it to my wife, who called on it unbeknownst to me. She insisted on us getting it, so we made a day trip to tow it back from Whidbey Island. Oh, did I get a basket case! The hood was off of the '80 Spider and the engine compartment was in complete disarray. The car was the honeymoon car for the previous owners and they loved it dearly, but I guess he didn't know how to work on fuel injection, so I got the car in the middle of a conversion to '76 carbs, head included. The guy had a family emergency and had to leave the car to his wife to dispose of. It was covered with muck from sitting out under the trees but the top was in great shape. For $500, it wasn't a bad looking car. Now it had to join the two wedges I already had, one being a parts car I still hadn't stripped yet. Find room for two VW bugs, three tr7's, and a truck in a standard in-town driveway and two car garage, and you see my problem! So we towed it home and I puttered with it for awhile before I realized that getting this car back on the road would take both time and money, neither of which I had at the time. So for five years it served as a dust collector and occasional parts car for my daily driver.

I finally spent last winter tinkering here and there, and when my tax refund came in I hit the net, ordering or trading lots of parts, including 0.020Ē over 9.25:1 UK spec pistons. The block cylinders had water damage, with two of them requiring sleeves, at a hundred bucks a pop. Ouch! The crank kit I got from Rimmers had a groove where the rear main seal rides, which was annoying, but I had to live with it because it wasn't like I wanted to ship it back, you know!

Over the years tweaking my car to get things the way I like them, I've developed a few tweaks and ways of doing things that make a lot of sense to me. Two of them deal with valve adjustment. Prior to pulling the cam, you have to take the cam sprocket loose and mount it to the bracket that Triumph, in its questionable wisdom, installed there for you. You have to bend open the ears on the bolt retainer plate so the bolts can be removed. My problem is that I hate to remember to order a retainer plate every time I want to do the valves, so I came up with a shortcut that's even cheaper: Safety wire. I acquired some drilled head bolts at an aviation supplier and installed them in place of the stock bolts. You install the wire so it pulls in the tightening direction, simply. If you need directions or other instruction on safety wire, let me know. Rather dry reading, so it won't be here. When I first rebuilt my other TR7 engine, I found that very retainer plate in the oil pan, which is the other reason I didnít want to use the retainer. The 
other thing is when you're ready to bolt the sprocket to the plate, the book tells you to install a "slave nut" to the button that centers the cam sprocket on the cam. I'm rather paranoid about dropping things, so I just as soon _not_ put something small in my fingers in a tight spot, so I got a 5/16" NF all-thread coupling and jam nutted it to a bolt. Now I have a handle! 

The second thing is that there are places around the intake and carburetors that one will not be happy getting a 1/2" socket or wrench in there to work that fastener. A stop at the bolt store resulted in reduced head 5/16" bolts, with a 5/16" 12 point heads. So a tiny socket down in there does the job much easier than that monster socket. I liked this type of fastener so much I've used them wherever possible (and affordable) on the rest of the engine. Note that the washers are small and stainless steel, AN960 aviation washers. I have an aversion to split lockwashers and the damage they cause, not to mention they don't do what we think they should. The stainless washers are there also because they cause the least amount of dissimilar metal corrosion, as steel and aluminum donít like each other too well.

In this picture, you can see the reduced head bolts holding the carb spacer in, and reduced head nuts holding the carbs onto the studs. These are MS21042-5 part numbers and are called jet nuts, stop nuts, or whatever. Better racing suppliers (not your local speed shop) such as Pegasus at http://www.pegasusautoracing.com/ will carry these, as well as just about any aviation supplier such as Aircraft Spruce at http://www.aircraftspruce.com/. They are self-locking and are very sweet to work with. No fighting with a wrench to get in there, especially.

I have a serious aversion to corrosion. Rust drives me nuts, Ďcuz once it starts, itís very hard to stop, even with the dynamic corrosion prevention systems most British cars come with from the factory (oil spray!) and it doesnít have to be that way. I also like clean surfaces (okay, I mean that I like a clean engine, donít look at my workbench!) and shiny is even better. So every part that I took off got scrubbed clean and painted with high-temp clear coat or paint, either black or aluminum. We'll see how long this stuff holds up. This is the result:

Iíve only worked on a few engines, but I donít like oil leaks either. My driveway has a spot marked where the seals on my current daily driver (160,000 miles on those seals, remember?) are ensuring that this car has claimed that one spot for its very own. Tough to clean that stuff up after a few years of soaking! So to do something about it, I take great care in sealing up an engine. My own way of doing it has gotten me great results and Iím still improving it. I use Permatex High Temp Silicone, the orange stuff. Clean all the mating surfaces with brake cleaner (the non-chlorinated stuff, Ďcuz it has xylene in it, I think) or other solvent like acetone. I even spray the gaskets down to get my finger oils off of them! Set the gaskets down on a smooth surface and apply just a little sealant to the gasket. With a putty knife or similar tool, spread the silicone out as thin as possible, or the mating surfaces, whichever is easier. Both sides. Bolt your parts together but donít tighten the bolts beyond snug. You want the silicone to be 
spread out but not squeeze out more than a little bit. Iíve found that just clamping this stuff up seems to set the sealant very well. Go do something else for a few hours or a day even. Then tighten the parts down to full torque. You will have squeeze out that you can rub off with a finger and not leave any behind on the inside of the engine that can get picked up and possibly plug the oil pump pickup screen. Not to mention it looks great!

Depending on the web calculator I used, I got a compression ratio of anywhere between 10.5:1 and 10.8:1. For once I hope that Iíve got some extra volume in there (error, that is) that will take the C/R down, Ďcuz high octane gas is spendy for my daily driver as this one will be hopefully. The cam is stock, and only driving this car will I know what kind of difference this truly makes.

After this picture was taken, the starter, clutch slave cylinder, and bell housing was bolted down. Lookiní good!

For years I watched the temp gauge on the daily driver slowly creep up to the point it was unavoidable and I had to pause along the side of the freeway (know that feeling?) I had the radiator rodded out despite the protests of the shop. After reinstallation, the temp gauge stuck itself to the ľ point and stayed there regardless of the outside temperature! I figure I could have saved all the water pumps and head gaskets if Iíd have had that done sooner. More value in that one thing than anything else Iíve ever done to deal with the cooling problems. I also have an electric cooling fan, which hardly ever comes on, except during stop and go traffic in our rather mild Pacific Northwest summer. I highly recommend this service to anyone dealing with a cooling problem.

I want to let folks know that what Iíve done here isnít expensive (okay, the 12 point head bolts get a bit pricey) but it takes a lot of time. Every bolt and screw came out at some point and got cleaned up. Time is money to some folks, but I had carved out an hour or so in the evenings to do this over several months. Something else we were discussing on the list is this TR7 FI specific hood latch arrangement. Hereís pictures of the latch and pin. Iíll be moving them over to the carbed location as the fresh air duct I have from my 79 is a carbed one and wonít fit this setup, and I donít need to keep the latch over there. It turns out that the hood is a superceded design that never rated a part number change, including the fresh air duct (though they are not interchangeable) and this is invaluable information to know if you ever have to replace any of these parts.

So far Iíve done the following things to the car, in addition to the engine rebuild:

Swapped the FI fuel tank for a carbed one from Huw (how we met!) and cleaned it up real purty
Removed rear end to get the fuel tank out and repainted.
Replaced lower link bushings with poly
Removed and cleaned up exhaust system
Replaced all fuel hoses and repainted all the fuel lines
Rebuilt every component of the brake system, including the proportioning valve (not recommended!)
Installed stainless front brake hoses
Replaced the rear springs with a used matching set from Huw 
Repainted the engine compartment and all the parts inside
Repainted everything I could everywhere else except the body
Rebuilt alternator (full of corrosion, rained out like flour!)
Replaced the starter (shot)
Replaced the ear spring pads, upper and lower
Rebuilt clutch hydraulics

Stuff I still have to do:

Rod out the radiator
Wire up an electric cooling fan and relay
Battery and proper mounts
Assorted electrical bugs
Driverís door regulator
Relocate hood latch
Aft lifting fixture
Finish adjusting valves

After the car is on the road I'll do these things as I have the cash to afford it:

Alloy wheels blasted and powder coated to match original color
Tires
Shocks and struts
Replace the mufflers and tail pipe
More stuff I havenít thought of yet