Category Archives: Accessories


Triumph TR6 Bumpers

The other day I received a question about the bumpers on bowtie6 so I thought it might be of interest to explore the alternate solution I took regarding Triumph TR6 bumpers.  As you can see from the featured image above, bowtie6‘s bumpers are not exactly “factory”.  😉

First Some History

When I originally purchased bowtie6, the original bumpers were part of the deal (if you want to see what they look like, see this gallery on my original website).  However, they were in very poor shape:  rusted, pitted and dinged up – not very attractive.  I did some research on what it would take to “restore” them and quickly discovered this would not be for me,  To have the bumpers chromed would be too expensive, the “chrome” look was not for me, and most important, they were way too heavy.

We thought about giving bowtie6 a “commando” look without bumpers.  Something similar to what I did on my old Spitfire (pretty cool, huh?)  The problem with that was a TR6 looks plain ugly without some sort of bumpers fore and aft.

Another option would have been to go with the stainless steel bumpers now available on the Interwebs.  However, when I worked on restoring bowtie6 the stainless bumpers were not available and they too are too pricey.

The Solution – Bespoke Lightweight Triumph TR6 Bumpers

And so, after many hours of design my cousin Jim came up with this design for the bumpers and this is what the front bumpers look like:

The rear bumper looks like this:

The bumpers are very simple and extremely lightweight, perhaps fragile.  They are a “U-shaped” affair, painstakingly shaped and finished smooth.  The finished bumpers were powder coated with a matte silver finish.

So How Were the Bumpers Made?

We worked on the basic shape using the original bumpers as a starting point and made cardboard templates.  The templates were then transferred to sheets of aluminum and cut with shears.  What we ended up at this point was an “L” shaped form.  The top “lip” was then shrunk with a mechanical shrinking machine.

Now, before you start calling bullshit on me here, just keep in mind all this cannot be made in one piece!  The bumpers as a whole are one unit, however they consist of several smaller sections TIG welded together.  The welds were then hammered and filed smooth.  This took patience and effort to pull off.  Take a look at the following picture…


Shrink and weld marks are visible in this picture

This is the front bumper seen from below.  To orient yourself, note the lower radiator intake on the extreme left.  If you open this picture and look closely, you can see the shrinking machine marks, hammer marks and welding seams.

Mounting the bumpers to the body is very simple:  they bolt straight up to the body panels with a rubber “washer” between the body and the tabs on the bumpers with stainless bolts.  This is all achievable because these bumpers are feather light.  All the factory bumper bracing that tie the back of the fender to the frame are not used.  They are too heavy!

Here is another view of the front bumper from below (you can see the front spoiler):

Closeup of the mounting tab holding the bumper against the body

Closeup of the mounting tab holding the bumper against the body

This picture shows the close tolerance between the bumper and the front nose.  We tried to make this as close as possible so it would give a nice finished look.  Pay close attention here because you can also see the custom aluminum finishing strip on the radiator intake as well as the grill surround.  These were made using the same technique as the bumpers – they are all aluminum shaped by a shrinking machine.

Very close spacing tolerance between the bumper and body

Very close spacing tolerance between the bumper and body

Front grille surround and finishing strip

Front grille surround and finishing strip

And now, here are some pictures of the rear bumper.


Rear bumper corner edge

This bend (shown above) took some time to get because of the angle of the rear fender.  The front bumper does not have this longer lip and it was tricky to line up with the rest of the body.  Remember, the bumper is one complete piece that must fit perfectly.  The rear bumpers are also mounted on tabs against the body with rubber spacer washers.  Here are the mounts:

Rear fender mount

Rear fender mount

Rear roll pan mount

Rear roll pan mount

And finally, this is a picture as seen from below.  For reference, the “button” in the middle of the picture through the opening is the trunk release.

Rear bumper as seen from below

Rear bumper as seen from below

As you can see in the closeups above the powder coated finish turned out very nice indeed.  It is as smooth as the rest of the bodywork and gives a very nice, understated look to the bumpers.  I did keep a few “imperfections” – I wanted to show these are hand-made bumpers!

Small imperfections (click on the picture for a closeup)

Small imperfections (click on the picture for a closeup)

Excuse the bug marks, stains and overall untidiness…  But then again, bowtie6 is not a show car TR6 garage queen – she gets driven very frequently!!

Finally, for a twist on the whole hand made bumper concept, check out the rear bumper on my cousin Jim’s TR4 (click for detail):

If you are interested, you can read more about it in this article I wrote about an Ecotec Powered Triumph TR4 in this blog.

TR6 Bonnet Rod

After installing countless sheets of Dynamat Extreme all over the place ($$), thick sound proofing carpet backing, new carpet, plugging up the firewall for any small holes, modifying the exhaust and misc other improvements, bowtie6 is very quiet now.  While this is a great thing, it also brings with it the ability to notice other smaller aggravating sources for noise. I started noticing a very annoying squeak from underneath the bonnet (the hood).

This darn squeak would happen on bumpy roads as well as smooth blacktop.  Since it was coming from under the bonnet I started adjusting stuff.  I made sure the two rubber bumpers were up to snuff, made sure the latch was nice and centered and double checked all bolts.  Fender bolts, hinge bolts, grille, the works.  Still – squeak city.  Damn.

While visiting with a buddy of mine that works on TR6’s – Mike Richardson – over the holidays, I discussed the annoying squeak.  We went for a ride, and Mike laughed and said, “It’s the bonnet rod!”.  Duh!

Mike suggested a couple of things.  The first was to tighten the nut holding the rod in place.  Mike reached into his toolbox and pulled out a 7/16″ wrench and tightened the nut just a tad.  Since Mike restores TR6’s back to “original” I figured this might do the trick.  Well after chewing the fat for a while, I headed back home.  Damn squeak was still there.

Remember I said above he suggested two things?  Mike suggested that if after tightening the nut it still squeaked, to take a closer look at the rod and see if there was any evidence of it rubbing on the rod guide on the body.  Sure enough, there was a shiny spot on the rod where it touches the guide.

Properly mounted the rod nut should be a loose fit.  This enables the rod to fall in place into the recess on the rod guide when the bonnet is lifted open.  If the nut is too tight, then gravity cannot let the rod fall in place and one has to manually intervene, which is not good.  Mike said this is out of the “Original Restoration Handbook”.  Hmmm…  I guess I never read that book.  Shame on me.

However, leaving the nut a little on the loose side – according to Mike – the rod has a tendency to bounce and move around.  This is how that shiny spot forms on the rod and thus the source of the squeak.  Hmmm.  I guess the “purists” know a thing or two I don’t know.  Imagine that.

“So, how do I fix this?”, I asked Mike.

Mike looked at me and said: “Get some shrink wrap and cover up any shiny areas.  This will solve your squeaks”.

So when I got back home, I opened my toolbox with all my ‘lectrical stuff in it and found the appropriate size shrink wrap.  I cut an appropriate length, aligned it over the shiny areas and let the hot air gun do the rest.  This is what it looks like:

I put the nut back on, careful not to tighten it too much (in accordance to the “Original Restoration Handbook”) and went for a ride.

Well folks, that did the trick.  No more annoying squeak.  Imagine that.

So if you have an annoying squeak under the hood that is driving you nuts, you might be able to do a similar fix as shown above.  Mind you, it will not score you many points with the judges but I can’t stand squeaks.  Of course, in my case…  who cares what the judges say!

Thanks Mike!!!  🙂


bowtie6‘s Tilt Steering

Aside from the Ecotec, coilover suspension and new frame the most anticipated improvement made on bowtie6 has been the new tilt steering mechanism.  On the first iteration with the V6, the steering wheel just did not feel 100% perfect for me.  It was very close, but it sure would have been nice to make it dead nuts accurate.  Solution:  tilt steering.

This one is going to be very hard to replicate using the factory steering.  In our case, the entire steering column was replaced with a much simpler design (click here for more).  This allowed freedom to pretty much do anything.

So basically what we have is a new aluminium  tube with bearings on either end.  Inside that is a shaft with a threaded end where the steering wheel gets bolted on.  On the firewall is a fixed bearing that allows a pivot.  The steering rod goes through it and that eventually ends up at the rack.  Along the way are two stainless Borgeson “U” joints – one even has a built in shock absorbing element that keeps road vibration out.  We used the u-joints, not the “rag” joints because the u-joints are more durable.  This is what it looks like:

At first, I guess the question is “what is the big deal”.  Well the aluminium tube I mentioned above can be seen going through the dash.  It is fixed and the actual steering shaft is inside the tube.  On the right side, behind the turn signal housing is a little lever.  Pull down on the lever releases the mechanism and the steering shaft glides along the two tracks you can see in the opening in the dash.  Here is a side view:

The wheel hub is on the left, you can see a brass spacer followed by a Nylatron spacer.  These are made to allow a smooth movement and durability.  Then is the turn signal housing and inside the dash opening the adjustment lever and the “tracks” where the steering shaft travels on.  The tracks are bolted to the original dash mounting screws on the body.  It is hard to describe but believe me it works!

My cousin Jim designed this entire steering shaft and built it from scratch.  The idea here is for making this as simple as possible – however this has many challenges!  Among them, how do you get a turn signal switch and have it operate as “original”?  Well, here is the solution:  inside the steering tube, on the steering shaft the factory TR6 turn signal activator ring was retained.  This is a clamp-on affair with a little ridge that causes the turn signal leg to trip when it is in either the “left” or “right” direction.  The switch itself is stock TR6 except that it has been modified to fit inside that little aluminium box.  There are two screws that hold the switch in place.  This is all wired up to my custom wiring harness and includes fully functional “left” and “right” turn signal indicator on the dash (you can see them at the top of the instruments above).

This is what the firewall side looks like, seen from the inside.  You can see the Borgeson joint, just above the firewall bearing.  The Borgeson joint is what enables the “bend” to happen when the steering shaft tilts up or down.

This shows the steering shaft under the hood:

This is the stainless shaft that resides inside of the aluminium tube on the inside of the cab looks like.  All this eventually ties into the steering rack.

In the final analysis several concessions had to be made in order to have “tilt” steering.  The most severe was cutting the dash as shown in the photos above.  This really hurt because I have been very proud of just how nice it is.  But, it has been a great tradeoff.  Being able to adjust the steering has been priceless.  Now, I have the 13″ leather Mountney steering wheel in the exact position I like.

Is this something that can be replicated?  With the original steering it would be very difficult.  I guess an option would be to somehow graft a donor car steering column but that not only takes up space but looks very cluttered.  But, to each his own.  I like the simplicity of mine, and it is very easy to service.

Hope this sparks some ideas…  🙂

Carpet Kit for a TR6

One of the many things that gets overlooked when doing an engine transplant like mine is figuring out how to handle a small issue such as carpet.  In order to fit the Ecotec, we had to modify the transmission tunnel and made a few alterations to the floor.  You can see more about that by clicking here.  That link shows pictures of the body work done long ago when we first did the V6 conversion.

With all this work as well including the new all aluminium transmission tunnel, any “original” carpet kit simply does not work.  So how do we solve this issue?  Some folks wold perhaps send the car off to somebody that would do a custom interiors.  That would be too easy.  We made our own.

Fist, the entire floor and new transmission tunnel were generously covered with DynamatExtreme.  This stuff is not exactly cheap, but it does the job very nicely.  There are several less expensive ways to cut corners here, but I am partial to the real-deal so that is what I used.

Next step is to get a nice base to the carpet.  Fortunately, there is an industrial automotive carpet supply warehouse not far from my house.  They have any carpet material imaginable.  I bought several yards of this backing material for about five bucks per yard.  This is 36″ wide material so you have to plan accordingly but for the price it is hard to beat.  I’ve lined all the inside of the cab and trunk.  This is what the cab looks like:

Installing this is not a real problem.  Get a pair of sharp scissors and a box cutter blade and you will be in business.  I used contact upholstery glue to hold the stuff in place.  Word of caution:  there are several types of glue.  You can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and spend big bucks on 3M contact cement – that stuff will set you back about $14 per can.  Or, do like I did and get the adhesive at the carpet supply warehouse.  They had this stuff for about $7 bucks a can.  Can’t beat that.  This takes a little time to get cut and glued down, but the result turns out nice and this helps keep noise and heat out.

Next comes the actual carpet.  I bought a non-woven material that can be cut and shaped very easily.  Best of all, it won’t “unravel” like regular carpet does.  The material I bought comes in 72″ width and is not too terribly expensive either.  Why go with this?  Well, for one it is easy to install and best of all since it is cheap it can be replaced when it gets worn or looks bad.  I used this material the first time I did the interior and that was five years ago.  It held up extremely well.

The picture above shows several things (sorry for it looking “dark”).  The carpet is now covering the transmission tunnel.  The handbrake boot came from an “original” carpet kit.  That was about the only decent piece in the set.  At any rate, I saved and used this piece because it covers the handbrake handle.  Basically I cut the section and placed that on the tunnel.  Then on the new carpet I cut a square hole big enough to allow the boot to fit through.  Glue it down and voila!  It looks “factory”.

The shifter boot is straight out of Street Rod 101.  You can get these at any street rot speedshop.  It has four countersunk screws and the boot is vinyl.  The shifter knob however is special.  My cousin chucked on the lathe a solid piece of brass barstock and shaped it on the fly.  This thing is heavy, but there is a valid reason for this:  it helps shifting.  Yeah, I’m sure you’re calling bullshit but this thing does work!

The seats are covered in “stock” foam and fine, exotic vinyl.  Not exactly the fanciest or the most fancy but they do the trick.  My good friend Mike was kind enough to cover them for me and they have held up quite well after 5 years of use.  I reckon I could have sprung for leather but those are pricey and questionable in the durability department.  Maybe one day I’ll have one of those “professional” outfits do the seats.  For the time being, these will do just fine, thank you.

Finally on the floor are my trick sisal mats.  Those were custom made for me by a South Carolina based company and they did an excellent job.  And yes, those are little red dots woven in.  They match quite nicely the exterior of bowtie6.  These mats are extremely easy to keep clean and look awesome.  Yes, they might be a little “retro” but it fits the personality of my car.

So there you have it.  I still have some work to do on the firewall and I’ll have an update on that soon.  The point I’m trying to make here is that if you think outside of the box you can get a real cool look and feel.  It might not be “original” but who cares?  I made this myself, it looks great and it did not cost a bunch of money.

TR6 Trunk Liner Kit

The “original” TR6 trunk liner calls for this ugly cardboard material used to dress up the sides of the trunk.  There is also a piece that hides the tank.  In my case I wanted to try something a little different.  Something more modern and durable.

There is a local automotive interior supply warehouse close to where I live.  This is where I bought the sound deadening carpet backing material, the carpet and the black plastic material I used for the trunk liner.  This material is easily cut with scissors, although I used a shear (normally used to cut sheets of metal) to get crisper edges.  In order to form this material one can use a break and this plastic has enough “give” to make some very sharp edges.  The result looks very neat and is a zip to make.  Take a look at the driver’s side trunk panel:

I made the edges just a tad longer and this fits quite tight.  On the top side (near the trunk gasket) it fits quite tight and once you lower the gasket over the edge it actually helps support the plastic liner in place.  The greatest advantage is that on the back of the trunk it helps hide all the wires going to the tail lights.  You can see that more so in the next picture:

The pièce de résistance in the cargo net.  I know, not “original” but it is not only very attractive but also extremely useful.  Since I don’t have to carry a spare TR6 worth of parts and a full compliment of wrenches, I have a bit more room than the average British car owner ever dreams of having.  For example, when I make a quick run down to the grocery store I can put bags in there and the contents won’t go all over the place.  Similarly when going to a car show, I’ll put odds and ends in there.  A quick search on eBay will yield you a plethora of suitable options; that is where I found this one.  There is an elastic strand at the very top that holds the thing in place and on either side are two special hooks that catch the ends.  You can see that in the first picture above.

Here is the battery box.  This is all aluminium and there is a Red Top Optima dry cell battery inside.  These batteries are not cheap, but offer many advantages over all the others.  I’ve had this one for several years now and it is as strong as the day I bough it.  You can see in the background the same plastic material I used for the rest of the liner.

On closer inspection you can see two more details…

  1. To the right of the box is a thick cable.  This is the same kind of cable used for leads on a Miller TIG welding machine.  In this case, this is the heavy ground cable clamped to the negative side of the battery.  This cable goes through a rubber insulated opening in the floor of the trunk and the end is securely bolted to the frame.  This gives the body a hard ground.  Up front, in the engine compartment there are two more similar cables.  One is tied directly to the engine (grounding the Ecotec) and the other is tied directly to the body (making the body ground too).  Without solid grounds your electrical system will fail.
  2. On the left of the box you can see a silver plate.  Bolted to it are two circuit breakers an three relays.  The circuit breakers feed the relays which in turn supply the a) fuel pump, b) stop lamps and c) reverse lights with power.  I’ll have more about bowtie6‘s electrical system in a later issue.

And there you have it.  One thing about doing work like this is to think outside the box.  With so many modern materials available it is a shame not to use them.