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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 1 year ago
    The Triumph Is finally back on the road in Our classics

    / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5 / #1965-Triumph-2000 / #1965

    CAR Triumph 2.5PI

    Run by James Elliott
    Owned since April 1998
    Total mileage 64,218
    Miles since January 2015
    report 224
    Latest costs £1170


    It was a funny old year, 2015. The last time you read about the Triumph, I’d just taken it off the road for a pre-50th birthday (its, not mine) spruce up. Nothing too dramatic: some filler here, a dash of rattle-can paint there, that accursed steering column bush, all putting off for a bit longer the bigger tasks that I can still ignore at the moment. And then work (namely DRIVE-MY – The London Show) overtook me.

    Suddenly it was November, our workshop was being demolished and the Beast needed to be shifted. Thankfully, Oli Cottrell of Classic Jaguar Replicas stepped in, allowing me to kill several birds with one stone: get the Triumph off site, give it a good home over the winter and get some of those jobs done while it was there. I borrowed a Kia Something-or-other from former editor Clements (today the God of all things caravan and motorhome), hitched up the DRIVE-MY trailer (now also sadly gone due to lack of storage space), loaded up the Triumph and made a dash for Berkshire as the bulldozers moved in.

    Oli’s principal job was to fit the new wiring loom, which I’d wanted to do myself until common sense prevailed. I’d bought the loom from Moss Europe and been hugely impressed by the process. Before I was allowed to order one for my Mk1/Mk2 cross, I took a call from fellow owner (and Moss employee) Adam Chignell. He then painstakingly talked me through the decades of mods and bodging to the Triumph, to make sure that the replacement was bespoke and would fit with minimal adaptation. It was nice to catch up with Adam and Triumph-mad son Will when I picked up the loom from Matthew Hutchins at Moss Europe’s London HQ, which was only a spit and a cough from our old office.

    Oli was certainly grateful of that extra attention to detail when he fitted the lovely new item. The previous horrible mess was so knackered that even I was content to watch him bin it rather than let me try to salvage some “get you home” emergency wiring from it. As a result of the loom being a near-perfect fit straight out of the box, Oli was done far sooner than expected and put the car in for an MoT test in mid-December. The good news from the point of view of my storage woes was that it failed.

    The bad news was that it failed. Typically for the Triumph, it was a similar list of problems to pretty much every year: some welding, a bush or two and something minor and electrical (in this case, the impeller pump for the washer bottle). That bought a little more time but my original thinking that the car would be away until spring was undone by 6 January when, for the first time in more than 12 months, the Beast became legal. On picking it up, I instantly became addicted all over again. In approaching 20 years of ‘ownership’, the joyous thrills of driving the Beast have never dimmed and it still brings out the hooligan in me.

    It isn’t the fastest car in the world, but it is the best-sounding and there is just something a bit lairy and outlaw about it. My relationship with it is like forever being stuck in the first three months of a romance, and I guess that’s why I’ve never parted with it when so many other classics have come and gone.

    With the car pressed into daily use (the kids love its attention-grabbing persona and springy back seat), my growing jobs list (carpets, heater, hi-fi, rust-holes, etc) is being topped by the fact that maybe it’s time to grow up and fit a steering wheel that takes a bit of pressure off my arms. If anyone has a MkI PI item, I would love to hear from them. There is another reason, of course, why I am so pleased to have the Triumph back: sadly, there is sombre news on the Jensen front.

    Moss Europe: 020 8867 2020; Oli Cottrell, Classic Jaguar Replicas: 0118 971 2091;

    Matthew Hutchins with replacement loom. Oli Cottrell with the old tangled remains. Corrosion to the sills required attention. Cottrell with his handiwork: the Beast is finally running and seducing Elliott all over again. Moss employees and arch Triumph enthusiasts Will and Adam Chignell with their cars. With the car rewired, it was time for an MoT; the short list of fails was easily addressed.
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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    A Triumph of style over substance

    / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5 / #1965-Triumph-2000 / #1965


    My Triumph is one of those rare classics that just become an immutable part of the family from day one. I have known the car since it was born out of my pal Humphrey Hale’s Mk2 PI ‘Big Red’ that committed harakiri on the side of a Welsh farmhouse and a rust-free Mk1 shell discovered by another mate, Andy Thompson.

    Although inveterate Triumph developer Thompson has moved the game on with his own 200bhp-plus #EFI-equipped cars, this one was state-of-the- art when assembled in the early 1990s. It has a TR5 fast road cam, Sprint metering unit, Stag police-spec overdrive ’box, drilled discs, and other tweaks such as Datsun linear driveshafts to eradicate spline lock.

    The car came to me after Hale and Thompson bought a goldmine in Australia (long story) and ‘The Beast’, as it was dubbed, went into storage.

    I hate cars having names and this high-decibel monster is my only exception. I disinterred it shortly afterwards and it has been a constant in my life ever since. An oft-neglected constant admittedly, but it remains the most reliable car that I have ever owned.

    For many years The Beast was regularly sprinted and hillclimbed, it did the #VSCC ’s #Pomeroy-Trophy and didn’t disgrace itself, it racked up 300 miles at Castle Combe in a day on an Enginuity trackday, and twice it has completed Club Triumph’s Round Britain Reliability Run, a 2000-mile, 48-hour charity dash.

    Of course, I’ve had to carry out constant maintenance to keep the Triumph on the road, but such is its usability – and tendency to start on-the-button however long it has been stashed away – that most of the major maintenance was a long time ago. Which means that some serious work on the car is long overdue.

    The gearbox is desperate for a rebuild, the whining diff is a goner (might as well replace it with an LSD, no?), the headlining looks like Anthony Perkins has been let loose on it with a carving knife, and the Cactus Green-under-black paint is so faded and varied that people ask if the Triumph is a rat-rod. And heaven knows what bodywork horrors that dodgy paint is shrouding.

    The problem is that addressing any of these would mean taking the Triumph off the road. I still take the kids to school in it regularly, commute in it and enjoy it for fun family days out, like popping down to Brooklands to see in the New Year, as we did this year.

    I say ‘family’ but, if the Triumph is involved, the day is unlikely to include my wife – she hates the car and the feeling would appear to be mutual. Its relationship with her has been freakily Christine-like, and the window winder once took a chunk out of her hand that merited hospital treatment. That one tested my loyalties a bit, I admit.

    From top Scenes from James’s life with The Beast: Brooklands this New Year’s Day; en route to Le Mans; at the Ace Café, London; doing the Pom at Silverstone.
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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5 PI-MkII / PI - Petrol Injection
    Run by James Elliott
    Owned since April 1998
    Total mileage 65,465
    Miles since April 2015 report 1247
    Latest costs £28


    It’s not a nice feeling being showered in glass as your driver’s side front window shatters over you. Oddly, your first thought is for your passengers. Instead of the near hysterics I was expecting from nine-year-old Charlotte and seven-year- old Lucie, however, my daughters are clearly so inured to misbehaving and unpredictable classics that, while I had my heart in my mouth, they barely flinched.

    Neither did they bat an eyelid for the week that I drove them to school with the gaping hole shrouded, Christo-style, with Clingfilm (which, oddly, proved to be more watertight than the glass and seals had previously).

    What caused the drama will remain a mystery. All the glass came inwards so it could have been an ambush by some stone-throwing mob, although that seems unlikely on the rooftop of the Putney Exchange. So I think it just euthanised itself after going over an especially vicious speedhump.

    Having never replaced the window glass before, it was a task that I was keen to tackle but also somewhat wary of because – as is often the case when parts are cheap and plentiful – the actual job of fitting them is a bugger.

    I got the glass from Chris Witor and set to it with Port. Without our old workshop, every travail seems to take a day longer than it used to because, when you discover you need a new tool, it is never to hand and you have to bring it in to work and start again the following day in the Twickenham multi-storey that we now call home. This makes essential items drag on depressingly, not least because I had spent one entire lunch hour just removing the remnants of the old glass.

    Getting the new one in was a convoluted process that involved extracting the entire quarterlight assembly, a job that was complicated by having to remove all of the seals and then drill the rivets. Once we had all the correct tools to do the job, Port and I had it done quite quickly. That left me another hour or so of reassembly plus lubricating the seals so that the pane could move freely and nipping up the runner so that it didn’t detach. It’s not as if there is a massive improvement between one piece of glass and another, but it is certainly a lot nicer than a big hole and I am pleased we tackled the job even if it did just emphasise how urgently we need to locate a new workshop.

    To be honest, other than the window glass, in the past 1200-odd miles I have done little more than tinker and de-smog the plugs, but much more extensive works were planned in the run-up to the essential Le Mans Classic. Not so much due to mechanical worries, but the potential embarrassment when the participants on the C&SC Reader Run see the car in the rust.

    Chris Witor: 01749 678152; Martin Port

    Port drills out quarterlight-frame rivets.
    Quarterlight went back in after drop glass.
    ‘Glass with care’, so he did as he was told.
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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5
    Run by James Elliott
    Owned since April 1998
    Total mileage 66,208
    Miles since September 2016 report 743
    Latest costs £94


    The C&SC Reader Run to the Le Mans Classic is one of my favourite things in the world, but it does have its pitfalls. Number one is that, for readers meeting the C&SC fleet, or certain elements of it – ie, my cars – it must be a bit like comparing the limp greasy kebab they have just been handed to the picture above the counter of a beautifully packed pitta overflowing with crisp, fresh lettuce and succulent meat.

    It’s not that we doctor the photos of the cars in Our classics (we don’t), just that we don’t tend to print shots of their worst bits – unless we are actually working on that area. And, besides, small pictures of cars in magazines don’t tend to show an old one in all its ignominy.

    There is always, therefore, a certain amount of desperate sprucing up before an event such as this. That’s despite the fact that the worst bits of The Beast are so bad – rot everywhere, many different shades of Cactus Green and none of them good – that I always end up trying to divert attention from them via the medium of noise anyway.

    There were plenty of things I could be getting on with between trips to Goodwood and Ally Pally (via the Ace Cafe, natch). Ages before I had removed some of the horribly faded carpets, but not got around to doing anything with them. So, finally I invested in some cheap dye in a suitably in-yer-face red, did them up and reinstalled them. This time I used the underlay that has been sitting on a shelf since I put in a new set of carpets years, perhaps decades earlier. They’re far from perfect, but for a tenner instead of hundreds of pounds, I’ll settle for that at the moment.

    I also did an oil change (putting it back onto 20w50 for convenience’s sake) and did a lot of tidying up under the bonnet, reattaching the airbox and sorting a load of other stuff. I even gave the Triumph a T-Cut, but it made no difference.

    It was only a matter of time before I had to confront the elephant in the room. That wasn’t the dead diff (regular top-ups would sort that), nor the gearbox so desperately in need of a rebuild, but the lack of both an overdrive (crucial to preserving that diff just a little bit longer) and a hi-fi (essential for drowning out the wailing banshee of a diff when at speed).

    The overdrive has been dodgy for a while, and I was convinced it was the wiring, so on the day I was due to take the overnight ferry I decided to rewire it, which, with the gearbox in place, was a bugger. Even so, you know that feeling when you come across a wire and connection and just get that hunch that you have found the problem?

    Well, I had that when I did the earth running off the top of the ’box. Nightmare it was to get at, so it was a dead cert. Drove into the office. Still no overdrive. Bum.

    Just before setting off, I fitted my spanking-new Clarion CZ315E with its Beast-appropriate Phantom Menace look, all stealth black with red lighting. Yet easy enough for an idiot like me to use. This low-priced but high-spec Bluetooth and USB equipped (though still able to play CDs, hooray) item can cope with newer iPods/iPhones that don’t need a Firewire lead for charging.

    The standard DIN meant that fitting it took a matter of minutes before I set off. But when I did, still no hi-fi. It wasn’t a great start to one of my favourite jaunts, but then came some Le Mans Classic magic. First, as I got up to speed on the A3, the overdrive clicked in. When I finally summoned the guts to flick it back out and in again, it still worked and has done ever since.

    Then, after a bit of campsite fettling with Port, we soon had the speakers blasting out Led Zep for the whole of the Porsche Curves to headbang to. Things were looking up and, best of all, I then had two options whenever people got too close. I could distract them by revving up the Triumph or by blasting music out of my new stereo.

    THANKS TO Clarion: www. clarion. com

    The Beast in its element, howling along deserted French D-roads towards Le Mans. Elliott had even T-Cut and polished it up for the C&SC Reader Run.

    Confused of Putney, with crimping set… …new Clarion unit neatly fitted in console. Obligatory stop at the Ace Cafe by A406. With Scott Fisher’s 912 at Hotel de France.
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  •   Greg MacLeman reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR: #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph-2.5PI / #Triumph / #Triumph-2000 / #Triumph-2.5
    Run by James Elliott
    Owned since April 1998
    Total mileage 66,840
    Miles since October 2016 report 632
    Latest costs £108


    Some questions are best left unanswered. I discovered this a couple of days after blatting around the M25 on a late September evening having spent a splendid day at the Warren Classic & Supercar Show in Essex. Traffic was light, the Triumph was roaring along obnoxiously in overdrive top (yup, still working) and all was right with the world – until the Beast suddenly started revving to maximum. Anyone who has experienced this will know how terrifying it is and, even though I have had similar over-revving in the past, never to that degree.

    That past experience was crucial when it came to diagnosing the problem at the side of the motorway, feeling very vulnerable. In virtually all circumstances it means a load of air is getting in that the engine doesn’t want, and the first thing to check is the throttle butterflies.

    Sure enough, one and two were not closing, and one seemed to be jammed open. With the traffic getting heavier and faster, and me getting more nervous, I went into limp home mode. A little violence towards the butterflies closed them enough to reduce revs to a slightly less scary 3500. Driving around a raucous, headturning backfire on number two, I got the Triumph back to south-west London.

    When I inspected the car properly the next day, I discovered what had happened. The butterfly on one had lost both screws, detached and wedged itself in an open position. As a result, two was also stuck partially open all the time.

    The question? Ah yes, a few weeks earlier I had found a loose screw rattling around in the airbox and had been wondering where on earth it had come from. I’d even photographed it at the time, but then forgot about it.

    Back to the present. I removed the throttle body, refitted the butterfly and, with the over-revving being less terrifying thought that would be that. Except that the flame-thrower backfire persisted and I couldn’t track down the cause. Eventually, after a compression test showed all six cylinders to be in rude health – despite my convincing myself that one of them had swallowed the missing screw – I limped it across to my old pals at Enginuity in Acton. For me, they have always been number one for fettling old Triumphs in London.

    I first made acquaintance with these guys when they had an arches workshop in Hammersmith in the 1990s, and it was gratifying to see that four of the staff from those days were still around. Naturally, that included bosses Mark Pattinson and Jerry Humphreys – who started his career building Arkley SSs and Lenhams. We spent a brilliant hour catching up before Jerry launched himself at my engine, another compression test confirming that nothing terminal was going on.

    It didn’t take him long to decide that the butterflies were the source of the problems. Although they were much better and only a little open, it was still enough to confuse the metering unit and cause chaos. That would be the butterfly effect! Jerry whipped the throttle body off, tidied up the butterflies and promptly diagnosed that they couldn’t close properly because they were screwed to a bent spindle.

    Not having one on the shelf, he ordered a replacement. I collected the Beast the following day after Jerry had not only sorted the core problem, but fettled the whole throttle set-up including the ageing Swedish linkage.

    He was kind enough to say otherwise, but we both knew that it was my roadside extreme prejudice that had bent the spindle! No matter, with a couple of hours of his instinctive fettling, the car was back on the road and running smoother than it has for years. Thanks guys.

    THANKS TO Enginuity: 020 8993 7737;

    Stags and E-type form a backdrop as the chaps at Enginuity get to work on the Beast, which is now running beautifully.

    ‘All six cylinders were in rude health – despite my convincing myself that one had swallowed the screw’
    Humphreys gets to grips with the problem. The fixed 2.5PI takes a trip to the dump. The offending throttle body is removed. Lost screws meant butterfly jammed open.
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