Category Archives: 1. bowtie6

Improve the Factory Triumph TR6 Courtesy Light

LED festoon bulb on the bottom, original on the top

In this article, I’ll describe how to improve the factory Triumph TR6 courtesy light.  On the original 1971 Triumph TR6 there is only one courtesy light – I talked about that in the previous article and now, I’ll show you the results of how to improve the courtesy lights with not one, but two.

I used two courtesy light housing mounted on the kick panels on both footwells.  You can see that in the picture above.  Since I changed all lights on bowtie6 with LED’s, I thought about improving the dim bulbs originally fitted to the courtesy lights.  Sure enough, there are replacement festoon bulbs with LED’s.  The difference is dramatic; the LED’s are just so much brighter

36mm festoon bulbs

Just one note of caution:  there are numerous sized festoon bulbs.  The ones that fit the TR6 courtesy light mount are 36mm in size.  As you can see in the picture above, these even come with a heat sink on the back.  They are so bright I had to angle them down a little towards the bottom of the bulb holder.  They work great!

Wiring the lights

I spent a few hours putting all this together today.  And the result is quite impressive.  I’m pleased…

First, the passenger side.  Here you can see the new light on.  I want to show this picture first because it includes part of interior fuse pane.  You can see the bottom 10 amp fuse; that is new.  When we fitted the Ecotec in bowtie6, I ended up re-wiring the whole car.  This fuse panel holds all the circuits inside the cab.  There is another one in the trunk as well as the main panel under the hood.  I had left one fuse slot with a constant “hot” for the courtesy lights.  And this finally got wired up today.  In case you want to see more about this, check out bowtie6‘s Custom Wiring – Inside the Cab (if you look close, you can see this same fuse panel with the missing circuit!).

Here is the driver’s side with the new light turned off.  This picture is misleading as hell though.  I took these pictures with my new iPhone12 and I must say, the camera is simply amazing.  It compensated for the low light big-time.

Here, we have the new light on.  The LED festoon bulb sure is worth it.  And I must say, they are cheap.  They are just a smidge over a $1 each.

I had these Coco mats custom made; missed the heel pad by a few inches – you can see the wear just ahead of the pad

One more showing the bottom of the dash.  “What is that cutout on the dash for?”, you ask…  That is part bowtie6‘s Tilt Steering.

And, what does the passenger’s side look like?  Take a look…

I need to get new Coco mats! The red dots have faded. Then again, they are about 15 years old…

Yeah, its been long overdue, but the result is pretty cool.

Remember I mentioned the new iPhone12?  Just for kicks, I stepped out in the garage, turned off all lights and flipped the light switch to the “on” position and took this picture.  Note the doors are both shut but the lights are on.  Each light has a little switch.  It took me quite some time to figure this out, but the way I wired this up, the lights will operate in either way:

  • With either door open – so opening the passenger and/or driver door will turn the lights on
  • With both doors closed –  by sliding the switch to “on”.  And if you do this, both lights will light up.

Yeah… That’s an HSR sticker on the back glass of the hard top.

Except for making the picture smaller, this picture has not been edited.  It has been a good day.

Stay safe people!

Triumph TR6 Courtesy Light

The factory Triumph TR6 courtesy light is originally installed on a plinth, mounted on the driveshaft tunnel cover between the seats, toward the back.  Unfortunately, the new driveshaft cover in bowtie6 is different from the original and the plinth does not fit so well.

Since the two floorboard kick panels are scratch built, I figured why not mount a courtesy light on each one.  I had this all working after I wired the car up for the first time, but when I installed the Ecotec, all that came out because I had to build a new fuse panel.  I left the lights on the kick panels, but never wired them up.

 

The reason I never wired this back up was the lack of a proper 12v source to test with.  Sure, take the battery out, put some leads on it and test away.  Too much trouble.  Well, remember that NOCO Genius 10 Battery Charger that I bought earlier this year?  It has a setting that supplies 12v to the terminals.  You can see the little red 12v light below…

I wired up the circuit and voila, after a few tries, got it working…

You can see in the photo above, the terminals, my buggered up wiring and the two lights in action.  Job done!

Well…  Not so fast.  Two problems came up.

First Problem

My original wiring worked well, but my initial solution did not take into account the fact you can flip a little switch on each light to turn it on when the doors are shut.

Duh!  After scratching my head a little, all it took was a few tests with my multimeter and now I have the proper wiring on paper.

Second Problem

When I wired bowtie6 up, I used WeatherPack connectors for everything.  All terminals were crimped, soldered and covered with shrink wrap (where necessary).  You can see the three terminal WeatherPack connector in the photo above on my kick panels.  All this was put together at my cousin Jim’s shop – he has a whole array of wire, connectors and terminals.  Since I have a few other circuits to rework, I needed a small kit of Weather Pack’s rather than ordering in bulk.  This is where I found CustomConnectorKits and placed an order for one of their smaller kits.

If you are a regular here, you know I very seldom “plug” anyone.  These folks were gracious enough to send me my kit priority mail (I did not ask for that) so this is my way of thanking them for the super fast service.  I will have my kit in the next couple of days!  This is highly appreciated.

The next step will be to add a new circuit to the fusebox with a constant 12v supply and make up my connectors using my new Weather Pack ends.  In the middle of doing my research, I found replacement LED festoon bulbs – they will be certainly brighter and won’t get hot.  There is a set of these bulbs on the way too.

I have some time off from work in the next few days, so I’ll be putting this all together next.  I’ll have an update article soon.

As always, be safe…

Ecotec Intake Manifold Upgrade

Been a long time since I’ve done any work on bowtie6.  This little car is just like a trusted Timex watch – it takes a beating and keeps on ticking.  This weekend I installed an upgrade:  the other day, I came across a vendor that offered a phenolic intake spacer for the Ecotec.  The advantage of a phenolic spacer is to help reduce heat transfer from the head into the intake manifold.

The intake manifold my cousin Jim made when we installed the Ecotec in bowtie6 is all aluminum (in case you want to know more about it, here is the link to a previous article with details about the custom intake).  We did this because the original composite intake from the Solstice was just too large and would not fit because the steering shaft lives where the factory intake is attached to the head.

You can see the intake in today’s featured image above, and as you can imagine it gets a bit warm.  I suppose the amount of time air hangs around the intake manifold is minimal, but any improvement would be helpful.  So, I sent the $99 plus shipping for the phenolic spacer and a couple of days later, one of the brown trucks delivered this:

The phenolic spacer matches perfectly the GM intake manifold plate Jim used to build the custom intake and is exactly 1/4 inch wide.  The “kit” comes with new gaskets and several replacement bolts.  Sadly the bolts did not fit the head of the LE5.  When I trial fitted all this, I noticed the factory bolts were about 1/4 inch too short (duh!), so I had to go find replacements.  Fortunately the local NAPA store not far from home had them in stainless, no less.  Torque settings on these bolts is not high, so the NAPA bolts worked just fine.  Not bad for $8 and change.

Taking the bolts out was a job!  There is just no room.  But, with a little patience and a few curse words, the manifold finally came out.  I remember I had used RTV on the original metal gasket and was left with quite a bit to clean up.  This is the intake manifold minutes after I had removed it.

And here we have the other side.  I had to remove the valve cover breather hose and the coolant hose.  You can also see the alternator is still bolted to the block (more on this later).After a little elbow grease, the head and the intake came clean.  From the mess in the the photos above, we have this:

Remember I mentioned the alternator being mounted?  Well, after trial fitting the whole affair, I found there was no way in hell the bottom bolts could be reached without dropping the alternator.  Here is what the phenolic spacer looks like in its new residence…

And here is a closeup…

I had to mark the spacer with “block side” and “intake side” so I could line up the new gaskets in the right direction.  Yes, they have a “side” – you can see that in the first picture above.

Then, the fun part:  getting it all back together.  As I mentioned the new bolts are about 1/4 longer, so it took some fiddling to get them lined up just right.  I had to pay close attention to the gasket orientation and used a bit of gasket adhesive on the gasket face next to the block and intake.  I left the faces that come in contact with the phenolic spacer dry because I did not want to risk damaging the phenolic material with the gasket adhesive material.

All that hard work, and you can’t even see the spacer!  So much of bowtie6 is like this too.

And so, it is time to start the engine and go for a ride.  But, we can’t have a good automotive project without the proverbial “oh shit” moment…

  • gaskets lined up – check –
  • bolts all accounted for – check –
  • no extra parts (yeah!) – check –
  • wiring connectors plugged up – check –
  • alternator properly bolted – check –
  • serpentine belt on – check –
  • engine coolant hose – check –
  • valve breather hose – check –

Get the keys, jump in and hit the ignition button.  Nothing.  Engine turned and turned, no fire.  Strong smell of fuel.

Damn!

I retrace steps.  Had to be something simple.  Turns out the plug for the injector harness is the exact same size as the one for the electronic throttle body.  I had them switched.  No wonder.  After swapping the electrical connectors, I tried to start the engine again.  This time, a cloud of smoke came out the exhaust – she was pretty flooded so I decided to let the engine idle for a few minutes.

Finally, backed the car up and went for a short drive.  I noticed no seat-of-the-pants improvement, but I did touch the intake when I returned and it felt much cooler.  I have no idea if all this is going to make a difference but there is no big investment here.  And yes, I would agree if you say that heat will still make it into the intake just by heat transferring through the bolts.

We shall see how this little experiment goes…

 

Refining the Stance

Back to bowtie6’s birthplace for a few suspension tweaks..

First a Little History

If you look at enough TR6’s as I have through the years, you will notice very few (if any) have consistent gaps between the fenders and doors.  To help solve this problem, factory workers at the Triumph factory, added spacers between the TR6 body and the frame.  Quality back in the UK in those days was not great and on top of that, after years of use the frame would sag and the gaps had a tendency to get really bad.  Next time you go to a car show, pay close attention at any “original” TR6’s and you’ll see what I mean.

When Jim and I worked on fitting bowtie6‘s body shell on the new frame, we took a long time carefully fitting the body shell, fenders, doors, bonnet and boot lid.  I remember we actually spent HOURS doing this.  The effort was well worth:  all body gaps came out very consistent.  The downside was we had to make thicker body-to-frame spacers for the rear half of the car.  This essentially slightly “bent” the body and caused the rear half of the body shell to come up and thus exaggerate the distance between the rear tires and the rear fender.

My first set of tires on bowtie6 consisted of four Kuhmo 215/55 tires mounted on those sexy Panasport wheels.  The rears fit just fine; however the edge of the front tires rubbed the edge of the front fenders. I really didn’t any body damage so I found a pair of matching 205/55 tires for the front.  This solved the rubbing problem.

But since building a custom car is not an exact science and one must make compromises, this resulted in the car having a bit of a “rake”.  Not too bad, but when looking at bowtie6 from the side, one would notice the rear tire and fender gap was not ideal.  As a matter of fact, I remember my friend Michael reminding me the rear suspension needed some tweaking.

“Drop it down an inch”, he said.  Yeah, umm-hu.

New Tires

As noted in a previous blog article, this summer I bought a new set of tires.  This time I ditched the staggered sizing in favor of a square setup:  I bought from The Tire Rack, four 205/55 Yokohama summer-only tires.  Well, with the different tire height (remember, we went from 215/55’s to 205/55’s) the rear fender gap got really bad.

Before… (for the “after”, see the last photo at the bottom)

See what I mean?  The rear gap was not quite right.  Well, I was not about to go digging out the body/frame spacers because this would throw the body gaps all to hell.  Fortunately, Jim was able to come up with a small but effective solution to the problem.

Solution and New Stance

When Jim modified the rear axle to handle the coilovers, he made vertical mounting pads for them to bolt on to.  You can see the outline of the pads in the photo above.  Today, we took all this apart and added an extender to the pad.  This extender basically moves the axle about an inch upwards.

And the result is amazing!

Before the tweak…

After the tweak…

And there you have it!  The rake is almost gone.  Jim and I measured the end result and there is about a quarter of an inch difference between the and of the front fender and the start of the rear frame along the center of the body shell.  The gap has been reduced dramatically and overall bowtie6 has a much more refined stance.

Before…

After…

After… (see above for the “before” version)

Bad Wheel Bearing

Pitted bearing race

Yesterday, I jumped in bowtie6 and went for a drive when not far from home I heard the classic rumble that comes from a bad wheel bearing.  On the way back home, the rumble developed a slight thumping.

I’m like, wtf? 😯 This is the second bad wheel bearing!  Back in April 2012, I posted an article describing the Rear Wheel Bearing Replacement.

So with my cousin Jim’s help, we pulled both rear axles from the housing and inspected their bearings.  Passenger’s side was normal; but the driver’s side bearing was very rough, as expected.

Jim busted the bearing using the same technique I described in the article from last time and sure enough, this is when we discovered the bearing’s race nicely pitted.

The majority of the race was in decent shape, except for the big round pit shown in the picture above.  The ball bearings were not smooth and showed slight pitting with a very dull finish.  Jim explained this is normal when particles from a bearing start to shear off and make a mush of themselves.

Pitted ball bearings from the bad bearing

This picture above shows three of the worse ball bearings – sorry for the picture quality – and as you can see they are rather dull-looking.  The crack on the race was caused by us when we took the thing apart.

RW207-CCRA rear wheel bearing

And of course, this is crappy Chinese-made stuff.  Jim has gone through 3 rear bearings on his TR4 and this is the second failure on bowtie6.  Unfortunately, it appears these wheel bearings are no longer made in the USA and as expected, this is yet another example of poorly made products from China. Jim explained this is bad quality steel on the race and/or the ball bearings and that once the surface starts to peel, it is only a matter of time before failure.

I ran a few queries on Google today and found versions of this type wheel bearing made in Japan.  From what I have read on some forums, the Japanese versions are of a higher quality.  Needless to say, I’ll be ordering some soon.  However if you know where I could find these bearings made in the USA, please let me know.

Driver’s side rear end

Passenger’s side rear end

Passenger’s side axle with good bearing