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The TR7 project

My TR7 and a half  

It has the Rover 3.5 Litre V8 motor with twin SU carbs.  It was converted for a local couple who were bitten by the TR7/8 bug while touring England.  Strangely, it's the same car that I was salivating over a few years ago at a local garage (which the couple run).  It has had a couple of owners since then.   It's had thousands spent on the motor, and a couple of years ago was valued at over twice what I paid for it.  Still, market value is the true value of a car.  It's not quite as fast as I expected, but seems OK on petrol.  This suits me just fine, although it needs a higher ratio back axle.

I wasn't so keen on the white writing on the tyres but have grown used to it.  It looks better in real life. This is how it looked when purchased - original wheels and no front air dam/spoiler.

  my TR7 V8 as purchased
 

April 1999

I wondered why there seemed to be more wind noise than there should be.  Eventually it dawned on me that the windscreen was loose!  At the top of the passenger's side I could feel the windscreen moving out from the metal frame.  Oops.  Spurred on by stories of TR7 windscreens falling out due to rust, I approached  Novus Windscreens the next day.  They spent the best part of two hours trying to get the 'screen out without breaking it.  They only had a four inch section left to free when it cracked from top to bottom (actually bottom to top).  Never mind, got a new windscreen out of it - and didn't find any sign of rust.   The Insurance company eventually coughed up for the new screen.

 

July 1999
The good guys at the Waimakariri Motor Company have got the old beast running well.  It now idles properly and revs quite freely past 3500 - quite a way past, in fact!  It was getting quite dodgy!  I've also had a new radiator fitted - a three row CT10 unit.  Makes a huge difference, running a lot cooler.  It will still overheat when idling though, so it looks as though an electric fan (or two) will be the next step.  When will it ever end? (Rhetorical!).   The heater has been reconnected and works quite well (luxury, it's mid winter as I write this) and I have bought and fitted the heater scoop to get fresh air to the heater.
I've actually bought quite a few bits and pieces for it, all from the guys at Robsport (watch out, the parts ordering section of their site only works properly with Internet Explorer).  They even rang me up to confirm an aspect of my order!  Pretty good service, and the parts were all here within 5 days.  Not bad for half way around the world.

December 1999 update
Dagnammit, the heater leaked and it's now disconnected again.  Still, summer approaches here in the southern hemisphere so I won't need it for a while.  I've spent a small fortune on getting two 10" Electric fans fitted to the front of the radiator, red traffic lights in summer now hold no threat!  I hope.

March 2000 update
Well, the the sentence "find out why the second to third gear shift is sometimes so bloomin' hard" was on the to do list!  At the moment, the '7's at my brother-in-law's up on jacks with the gearbox out.   It got to the point where I couldn't change gear sometimes, so she got parked up while I saved the money to fix her.   No sense in ruining the gearbox because of clutch problems.  The clutch looks fine but apparently the pressure plate needed rebuilding.  The thrust bearing was whining so that's being replaced at the same time.
Here's a photo of the new electric fans, they seem to work pretty well, although in the 35 degree heat that we had in the height of summer the cooling still struggled.  Gulp!

April 2000 Update
Yeeha!  Got the beast back from Clifford's, I can change gear now.  I have gone for quite a few little spins - it's true, absence makes the accelerator foot grow heavy! 
...but...   (There is always one, isn't there?  Well, two if you count the one you sit on) a good friend and I were having a blat around Christchurch's Port Hills - they're quite steep in places - when the brakes started making a hideous noise.  I naturally thought that it was merely a stray banshee caught in the front disks.  No such luck, it got us home, but the nice man in the garage sayeth:
"There's good news and bad - the bad news is that every time you touch the brakes, your worn pads are just ripping the sh*t out of your disks.  The good news is - they're so far gone, it doesn't matter!"   Everybody's a comic.

To cut a long story short, we've raided the budget and ordered a vented brake kit from Rimmer Brothers.  Hopefully it will turn up shortly, in the mean time the car is parked up again.  :-(

However, there is some good news on the Carburettor front.  My SU's are well past their use by date, and desperately need an overhaul.  I've been told of a cheap source of overhauled and guaranteed Holley 350 carbs, and that they can fit on a modified Rover manifold.  This would save about NZ$1000 on the brand new Holley 390CFM/Offenonagain Manifold.  OK, I might have got the name of the manifold wrong.  The 350 is a 2 barrel carb compared to the 390's 4 barrels.  Still, might be good enough for me.

July 2000 update
Still waiting on the brake parts from Rimmer Brothers, they are apparently having trouble getting the callipers for the upgraded brakes.  I wouldn't mind but it's been three months and it's always me that has to contact them.  I've started seeking an alternative locally, plus looking at S+S Preparations kits.  S+S also have such delights as affordable Holley 390 carbs, Rally spoilers, Offenhauser manifolds, Minilite wheels, I could spend heaps there.  Watch this space!
In the meantime, there has been progress on other fronts.  I've had the exhaust tail pipes repaired, and some minor rust forward of the rear suspension mount on the passenger side.  I've also got around to fixing the loose door panels, so the doors shut with a resounding "thunk" now!

August 2000 update
I finally got tired of ringing Rimmer Brothers to get a delivery date, and cancelled the order.  To be fair, it wasn't their fault that the supply of Princess callipers dried up, but it cost me a small fortune in toll calls to the UK.  I rang S+S Preparations (they'd sent me a copy of their excellent catalogue) and ordered their equivalent.  The next day (Friday the 4th) I got an e-mail to say that they had been dispatched.  By the following Tuesday they had arrived at Customs in Auckland, by Thursday (yesterday) I had them in my hot little hands!  How's that for service?  They look really good, great big vented discs, with well made adapters and spacers.  The pads are about 15% bigger than the standard ones.
13th August:
The new brakes are fitted, thanks to my brother-in-law Clifford (where would I be without him?), and the beast stops!  Wonderfully!  The kit was a straight bolt on as advertised, and the stopping performance does seem a lot better.  It certainly can stand repeated emergency stops now, so the vented disks obviously do their job well.  The brake pedal does seem slightly spongier than it used to, although this is a subjective feeling.  It would be consistent with a slightly larger caliper pot.  Anyway, thanks to S+S Preparations for the good advice, and selling me a great kit. 
S+S big brake kit S+S big brake kit

22nd August 2000

I had to re-certify the whole V8 conversion because I have made one change to the vehicle. Great, eh? Big Brother's alive and well in New Zealand. Anyway, I failed the certification because of:

  • A stuffed lower suspension ball joint (fair enough!)
  • Got to prove that the internal bolts that hold the adapter to the disk are High tensile (not too hard)
  • A blown parking lamp (!)
  • My fuel line has no standards markings and has to be replaced (despite functioning OK for 11 years)
  • The brake booster hose has a cut and needs replacing
Not a mention of the V8 side of things, and the brakes performed well. Repco said that there was one lower suspension ball joint on their books in New Zealand, guess who owns it now? :-) So hopefully, in the next couple of weeks...

21st October 2000

The old bomb's back on the road, and running reasonably well!   It's so good to be able to drive it again, I have almost forgotten how good it sounds when it passes 3500 revs.
To celebrate this, and as a gift to myself for my fortieth birthday (yech!), I ordered a Rally type front spoiler from S+S.  Even though it came surface freight it was here within a month, pretty good really.  I can't fault the service from S+S.  The spoiler was a good condition second-hand one, and has been sprayed dark blue.  All I had to do was sand and paint i,, and screw it on - easy. I really do think it improves the whole front end - it always looked a bit 'chinless' before.

my TR7 V8 interior

Now the bad news: bloody Carbs! I've got fed up with getting vapour locks when I take the car in heavy traffic. Once it's warm, and has sat idle for a while (shopping, typically), my little yellow angel turns into a bloody-minded demon. One bank of cylinders will cut out, and it is a pig of a thing to drive until it sorts itself out.

I figure that this is caused by the way the fuel line is fed to the carbs. It goes straight from the filter on the left hand side to the left hand carb. From there a "T" shaped connector feeds across the top of the manifold to the right hand carb. My theory (given that I am not particularly mechanically inclined) is that the right hand carb is the one that loses fuel when vapour locked. I have now fed the carburetors evenly by placing a "T" joint in between them, feeding to a 90 degree bend right at the carb itself. I would prefer a "Y" joint feeding straight in, but the bits were just not available locally. So now I have gone from one carb being fed directly, and the other having two 90 degree bends, to both carbs having two 90 degree bends.

The first test drive, when I got up to 180 kph (about 110 mph - lucky there's a test track close to home!) went well, but when I got home the right hand carb was spewing fuel out of the float chamber overflow pipe. So either the carb can't handle the additional fuel flow (sounds rubbish to me) or another problem with the carb has surfaced. It did this shortly after I had bought it, and Clifford had removed and cleaned a ton of reddish gunk out of them, presumably from evaporated fuel during its storage period.

Given all of this, and the fact that the butterfly bearings are slogged out (resulting in the idle speed sticking at an embarrassingly high level) I have decided to spend $300 and get them overhauled professionally. Apparently there is a place in Christchurch with someone who is ex-Lotus, and knows SU's better than most, so that's where it's heading. I will book it in soon and keep you posted.

July 2001 update
No progress on the carbs, just keep driving it the way it is. To be honest, I've been too busy to do much with it. In fact it had been so long since I drove it that the battery was flat a couple of weekends ago. Still, easily remedied. I'd forgotten just how fast it can be! It does strike me, however, on the coldest winter that we've had for some time, that the heater could be fixed and reconnected! 

Here's a photo of the beast rusting gently beside my friend Dave's rather immaculate and well maintained Ford Escort RS2000. An extremely nice car, it certainly shows up the rough spots on the TR7.

TR7 V8 and Escort RS2000
December 2001 update
As warrant of fitness time approached I had to face the fact that my tyres were completely worn out, just plain old age. They've been on the car for the best part of 13 years apparently, that's pretty good by any standards. This, allied to the fact that I can't get that size of tyre anymore gave me the excuse to fork out on a set of mags. They're a Minilite look-a-like, made in Australia. They took 6 weeks from ordering to be delivered! What do you think, are they an improvement?

Anyway, while I was throwing money away I decided that it was high time I had the carbs rebuilt. So they're currently at a carburettor specialists in Christchurch getting heaps done. The car itself is at a local mechanic's getting the timing chain cover oil seal fixed. She's been leaking oil very badly (actually, it leaked it very well) and messed up my garage floor. So my baby's away and in bits at the moment, hopefully it will be a different beast when she comes back.

February 2002

It's been a bit of a trial, the old bomb's been off the road for most of the last two months. It was running like a dog the day before it went in for the carb overhaul, and was likewise when it came back. After a few false starts trying to fix things like the fuel pump (the fuel in the filter does have an awful lot of air bubbles in it), the Distributor cap/points/capacitor, a local Mechanic (thanks, Lineside) has fixed it by adjusting the carbs (float levels and the like). Makes me wonder why I paid so much for the carbs to be overhauled. The friend who re-fitted the carbs made a heat shield for the fuel line too, so now no more vapour locks!

Showing the value of a good mechanic, Lineside remounted the radiator so it wasn't twisting (the last people who had it out were the radiator guys who did the upgrade, fixing another leak), replaced the timing chain cover gasket (it was leaking like a *really* leaky thing), and sorted out the extremely mis-matched bolts holding the cover on. Metric, SAE, and High-tensile all mixed up in the wrong holes! I had the impression that the car had, on the whole, been converted properly. Not so sure now.

baby cakes

October 2004
The clutch line blew an 'ole in it mid last year, while I was in the middle of trying to move houses. The poor old bomb was parked up for a few months in mid winter while my attention was elsewhere. I gathered the required bits (took a wee while to find the right fittings, it was a home made job) and now it seems fine.

This year I bit the bullet and had the fuel tank repaired - mainly because I decided to replace the engine in my work car and needed the Triumph on the road for a while. After 2 years of the patch holding, it started leaking again when I really needed it! Anyhow, Lineside Automotive pulled the tank, and the local radiator company welded a new bottom in it. It's so nice to be able to fill the tank and not worry about it losing fuel!

A month or so after this I finally got my decent trip in her - a work trip to Nelson

mr TR7 at Nelson
The picture above is my baby gracing the sea shore at Nelson, below is near Kaikoura.

March 2008 Update

Finances are not permitting me to do much with the old girl at the moment. Just hanging on, had a decent trip around Southland and Otago a while ago, so here's a few pictures.

  my TR7 V8 at Otago Harbour Otago Peninsula
 

It made it to the lookout at Bluff harbour. I had to record the occasion to prove it.

my TR7 V8 at Bluff

  my TR7 V8 at Otago Harbour Update March 2012: I'm finally getting back to the TR7 after a few years hiatus. In this time I enjoyed the MGF, and the TR7 V8 was only driven infrequently, only to keep the oil, coolant, and hydraulic fluids moving!
 

I have a wish list of things to do, but it may be years before I can afford to do the important stuff - fix the cooling and find out why it doesn't rev properly over 3500rpm. In the meantime I can drive it and enjoy it for what it is - a good condition, great-sounding, fun drive.

Here's a selection of photos.

my TR7 V8 at Bluff

  my TR7 V8 at Otago Harbour Work, 2011.
 

In 2002 one of my friends brought his TR7 DHC out for a frolic in the countryside.

my TR7 V8 at Bluff

  my TR7 V8 at Otago Harbour 70's flashback?!
 
 
(c) Copyright Brian Greenwood 2013