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Triumph TR4 1961 - 1965 More
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #Triumph-TR4 / #1962 / #Triumph
    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since October 2015
    Total mileage unknown
    Miles since acquisition a day at Goodwood
    Latest costs £12,000

    GOING DUTCH ON A RACING CERT

    My romance with Bob Pomeroy’s Marcos lasted for four races, two of which were at Cadwell Park over a wonderful weekend that exemplified the low-profile joy of British club racing. I hadn’t competed before at Lincolnshire’s answer to the Nordschleife, so it was all new to me, but, after four attempts at constructing some form of seat, at least I was comfy in my wood-and-glassfibre classroom. Not that it prevented me from using the kerbs once too often and subsequently flattening part of the exhaust.

    Both races were fantastic, particularly the first one in which, after fluffing my debut standing start in the Marcos, I was engaged in a 10-lap battle with the two cars from the row behind. Although I won that particular encounter, I was closely chased to the chequer having eased my pace on account of the amount of oil on the track.

    An oil-soaked surface was also a feature of my last outing in the Marcos at Brands Hatch. Following three tours of the Grand Prix circuit, the race was red-flagged after a Turner had emptied its sump all over Paddock Hill bend. The re-start was equally eventful with an unsighted 911 running into the rear of a stationary Elan prompting the end of the race, though not before I snapped the gearlever in half changing down for Druids.

    Bob had always hinted that he would be open to offers if I liked it and, were it not for the Marcos being a 1600cc, ’67 model and thus ineligible for the more glamorous events, I would have bitten his hand off. It’s more than 10 years since I’ve enjoyed racing as much and the sheer novelty of piloting a car that was working with me, rather than against, was an absolute delight.

    It was never going to end there, of course. James Mitchell at Pendine had mentioned how much he wanted to go racing and how he was thinking about an MGB. But the problem is that there are simply too many of them being raced. How about a TR4, I ventured? Same budget, less common. And that, dear readers, is how I ended up with a half share in a ’62 Triumph TR4.


    I knew that my buddy Steve Francis in Connecticut was struggling to sell his bright yellow racer so I made a cheeky offer and, with our friendship still intact, it was accepted. He hadn’t competed with the car, but it had been run successfully by its previous owner since the early 1980s in American vintage racing. We sent the spec to competition TR guru Neil Howe, who confirmed that, although we would have to change a fair bit of the set-up, it represented outstanding value. As is always the way, an FIAspec example came to market the same week priced at in excess of £45,000. How could we possibly go wrong? Watch this space…

    THANKS TO
    Bob Pomeroy
    Steve Francis
    CCK Historics: 01825 733060
    Neil Howe: 01767 677111


    Jules puts TR through its paces at Goodwood; tall roll-hoop is due to go, but it’ll gain a full ’screen and hardtop. Below right: new toy looks tiddly by Wooly.

    Deft-handling Marcos rekindled Balme’s love of racing, here at Brands.

    ‘An unsighted 911 running into an Elan prompted the red flag, though not before I’d snapped the gearlever‘
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR: #Triumph-TR4 / #Triumph
    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since October 2015
    Total mileage unknown
    Miles since March 2016 report none
    Latest costs plenty

    RACE PREPPING TURNS SERIOUS

    I ended my first and only report on the Triumph with the question ‘what could possibly go wrong’. Where shall I start? They say one man’s race car is another man’s scrap and in our case they’re not kidding. Although the yellow peril had been used solely for competition since the early ’80s, during the preceding two decades it must have endured a very hard life.

    The panel fit should have given myself and co-owner James Mitchell an inkling as to what lay beneath. As is always the case, though, it was only once Neil Howe and his body man Paul Empson started pulling the car apart that the inventiveness and faith of previous owners came to light. This was never going to be a quick respray and get out there, but the rebuild wasn’t meant to be quite as involved as it became. Alarm bells went off once the chassis was separated from the body, and at one point discussions were had about the merits of replacing the former.

    After repairs ranging from cutting out rust to straightening suspension mountings, though, we managed to resurrect the original frame. With the panels removed, the shell was sent for blasting, revealing more evidence of abuse. The popriveted sill repairs were almost amusing but the lack of metal in the driver’s footwell was frightening.

    Paul’s welding skills were challenged for more than a week while he sewed up the remains, but once covered by a coat of Sebring White the tub looked almost new. He also scraped the old paint from the wings and doors, which fortunately don’t require too much attention, but the bootlid turned out to be pretty ugly. Hopefully, by the time you read this, Paul will be realigning the panels and preparing the rest of the Triumph for the top coat.

    As Neil started to put the suspension back onto the chassis, he found a number of mods that can only be described as ‘purple-sky thinking’.

    One front corner, for instance, wore the correct TR4 wishbones and upright but the opposite side was from a TR6, and the anti-roll bar was so thick it was tearing the frame at its mounting points. There’s a certain amount of ‘them and us’ with regards to the way historic race cars are prepared in America and how we do it here, but our hopes that it would be a common language have been dashed the further we’ve got into the project.

    Obviously budget is a factor but a lot of the expense we’ve incurred has been as a result of reinstating items that were thrown away in the USA. The FIA requires us to run with a windscreen and hardtop, it must be possible to wind up the side windows, and you need a handbrake, lights, wipers and washers.

    None of those are required Stateside. It all adds up and, although the likes of Rimmer Brothers carry a huge array of parts, not everything is available new and some secondhand prices for the rarer items are nothing shy of eye-watering.

    The roll-bar, which appeared to have been modelled on an old tubular brass bedhead, has now been replaced with a full FIA-spec cage, made by Safety Devices but available only through TR Enterprises for some reason. We had to wait six weeks for it to arrive, but it fitted perfectly with no alterations. All the other European racing TRs are running exactly the same configuration.

    Likewise, a new pedalbox has replaced the old TR6 item. The brakes are in and bled, suspension rebuilt and hung. The US engine and gearbox untouched and installed, although we have ordered new Weber carburettors and an oil pump from Mass Engineering to replace the SUs and Accusump system that came with the car. Neil is doing an incredible job and his attention to detail is rivalled only by his patrons, one of whom – James Mitchell – has christened the Triumph ‘Chuck’.

    An apt name given the amount of money that we’re throwing at it. In our hands it won’t be the fastest car out there, but I’m confident it will be the smartest and now the safest.

    THANKS TO

    Neil Howe: 01767 677800
    Paul Empson: 01954 267878

    Four-cylinder motor has been left alone, but will be getting new Webers. Note the reinstated windscreen, hardtop and FIA-spec cage.

    Rebuilt front suspension is installed on the Triumph’s original chassis. Shell looks good with a fresh coat of paint Master cylinders fitted. Comedy sill repair was rather eye-opening. Blasting revealed rot in one of the A-posts. Bootlid turned out to be in a parlous state.
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  •   Chris Hrabalek reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR: #Triumph-TR4 / #Triumph
    Run by Julian Balme
    Owned since October 2015
    Total mileage unknown
    Miles since April report approx 14 laps of Silverstone
    Latest costs huge

    SPECIFICATION FRUSTRATIONS

    The joy of preparing and racing a relatively unglamorous car such as the TR4 is the lack of complication in both its mechanicals and historic specification – or at least, so we thought. It turns out that although there were two engines available for the model before the end of 1963, only one was homologated. Although nothing that the proceeds of a bank robbery couldn’t put right, the subject of papers has brought to light a number of dilemmas.
    To be invited to compete in the one or two grandstand events in the UK, ‘Chuck’ needs a smaller engine and wheels. Anything else – from the HSCC to Equipe GTS or GTSCC to CSCC’s Swinging Sixties – requires the later, pre-’1965 interpretation of Appendix K. I can appreciate why.

    Nobody organising an event hoping to attract Ferrari 250SWB owners is going to take kindly to an over-competitive club racer in a hot Triumph dusting up the precious metal. Not that I would count myself and co-owner James Mitchell among them, but there are some competent and brave drivers out there currently doorhandling some very quick TR4s.

    It was academic in the end because we were too far in, but the question raised was should we go the route of a 1991cc unit fed by twin SUs, or the larger 2138cc with a pair of Webers and 5½in rims?

    We knew nothing about the engine in our car. Capacity? Compression ratio? We didn’t even know where the redline was (the current guesstimate is five-and-a-half to six grand) but the intention had always been to run it for a season, get some experience, then have a ‘proper’ motor built. The upshot of all this is no Silverstone Classic this year. We’d wanted to test the car at the press day in March but, despite an unprecedented effort, specialist Neil Howe was confounded by too many obstacles. As a result, we settled on the HGPCA test on the National circuit at Silverstone a month later.

    ‘Out of the box’ Chuck immediately put a smile on both of our faces. I dare say that as we get quicker he will develop a nastier character, but the initial thought was what a user-friendly car the TR is.

    The American-prepped engine was desperately cammy and the Triumph wasn’t interested in anything below 4000rpm. High revs, though, soon provoked our main issue of the day – a misfire that set in after a couple of laps. I’m proud to say that I quickly diagnosed the problem (a failing condenser), which was easily rectified following a bit of pitlane scrounging – thank you Martin.

    After half a dozen laps, the long brake pedal was the only item on the Triumph that didn’t inspire confidence. Judging by the smell, the anchors worked well enough but the travel was disconcerting. We thought that it was pad knockoff and Neil is hopeful that he will have the solution before our 90-minute competitive debut with the GTSCC at Silverstone.

    A few other minor gremlins also arose, such as a reluctant temperature gauge and the ability to see the oil pressure gauge with your hands on the steering wheel, but for now the financial suffering almost seems worthwhile. The irony, of course, is that, having gone for the later pre-’65 spec to broaden our calendar, we can barely afford to do more than two events a year thanks to the elevated cost of race entries.

    THANKS TO

    Neil Howe: 01767 677111
    Paul Empson: 01954 267878
    Martin Greaves: 01869 322913
    James Mitchell: 01869 357126;  http://pendine.co

    The Triumph lifts a front wheel during its first visit to Silverstone; the car proved to be user-friendly but demands lots of revs.

    Finished car looks superb, thanks to the efforts of body guru Paul Empson. TR has been kitted out to pre-’1965 spec with twin Webers. Rebuilt dash needs some fettling to dials. The TR4 awaiting its shakedown session.
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  •   Matt Petrie reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    Julian Balme updated the cover photo of the group
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  • Julian Balme updated the picture of the group
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  • Julian Balme created this group

    Triumph TR4

    Triumph TR4 1961 - 1965
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