Jump to content

1979 Triumph Spitfire! - A Goodbye and a Hello


Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, SiC said:

What are new mounts like for quality? I know on A-series stuff they fall apart after a very short time. Even after only a few months. 

The ones I bought for the Dolly were so shit the engine didn't sit straight...

Bought SuperFlex ones from Chris Witor. Expensive but might actually work...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 minutes ago, Rocket88 said:

That fan should be in direct contact with the rad. Most aftermarket kits have little fasteners that you push through the gaps in the fins. Sucking eggs comment…. It is rotating in the correct direction….?

The kit looked like this:


Other kits they did had the pins to go through the rad like you mentioned. This doesn't have that.


I don't want the fan sat against the rad fins when mounted on those two poles. That's asking for vibration to wear down the rad and cause a leak. It probably needs a foam or rubber seal along the backside of the fan.

Definitely blowing out the back. You can feel air passing out the back of the fan as thats lower restriction than it trying to be forced through the rad.

Tbh those arms would make more sense on a fan that sucked. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, captain_70s said:

The ones I bought for the Dolly were so shit the engine didn't sit straight...

Bought SuperFlex ones from Chris Witor. Expensive but might actually work...

He's not far from me. I keep meaning to pay a visit to get a windscreen rubber for my Dolomite and more bushes for the BGT suspension. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, SiC said:

Hopefully this fan will be the end of any cooling issues and that gauge will stay fixed in the normal end. My experience on heatsinking is that even a small bit of airflow makes an enormous difference over no airflow.

Brilliant work - optimum solution I reckon.

It never came close to overheating when the thermostat was working properly. Sat solidly just under the N mark, so I'd have thought that's a fix.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, SiC said:

He's not far from me. I keep meaning to pay a visit to get a windscreen rubber for my Dolomite and more bushes for the BGT suspension. 

Mounts are new anyway, I think, and don't look to move at all so you can probably save yourself the ££.

I also flushed the cooling system and filled with 40% antifreeze.

Glad that wax doll of me isn't progressing any further 😉

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll probably keep the thermo switch in the hose as I don't really want to disturb the cooling system. It works and I'd rather not put an airlock into it!

I did notice that there is still some copper bits floating around on the cap. Presumably whoever put the alloy radiator on before us, had a leaking radiator and K-seal/similar it before having a new rad. I'm not that worried about what's there as it's only a tiny amount, just it's interesting that how difficult it's being to get out of the system. I'll probably flush it again later in the season.



If I get time tomorrow, I'll wire in the switch to the electric fan. With the mechanical fan now on it, there should be no need for the electric fan. However as it's already there and fitted, to save cluttering up my garage with more spares it can stay on the car.

But if it stays, I might as well make it work! I don't want to spend any money with new thermostats or the like as the mechanical fan is sufficient, so I'll just wire up the random switch under the dash (probably was for aftermarket fog lights it once had) through a relay. That way if I absolutely need more cooling on a sweltering hot day, I can flip the switch and run the electric fan too.

I think I've spent more time chatting about sorting the cooling system than I did fitting that mechanical fan! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My Rapid [RR donk/FR rad] only cooked when standing in traffic/hot weather.....

The leccy fan override (BIG orange glow switch!) on the dash cured it 110% 😎👍

Following all this with my usual mix of admiration & relief it ain't mine 🤣


Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, N Dentressangle said:

Fibreglass bonnet. No overdrive.

No thanks

No overdrive is probably what hurts its value, along with being a 1500. But I still would rock around in that and he'd probably take a sharper offer on it too. 

I like red but it is a common colour of them. The green on this one is always a conversation piece and really does stand it out. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had a Spit back in 73/4. A 1969 in a rather nice shade of blue. I got it by doing a swap with a 56 splitty Moggy that I got from Warwick auctions for £17. Me and my cousin had shoehorned a 3 litre straight six into it that sort of fitted. This was me and my cuz's first attempt at customisation. It wasn't good. Went like fuck but the rest of it had trouble keeping up and it was about 3 or 4 months later that the rest didn't keep up, but luckily the plate was worth a bit as a guy in a Bentley accosted me in Leamington and asked if I wanted to sell it. In those days personal plates weren't a big thing. You might see one on a Roller or the likes but that was about it. So I was a bit surprised that  Bentley bloke would want a dropping to bits Mog but I was thinking about moving it on, probably to the scrap yard. He gives me a card and said to let him know when I would sell. Upshot was I rang, after consulting with cuz, and he asked if  I would bring it to his crib, yo, which I did and it was then he asked if I would do a swap. He was buying his son a new car for his birthday and would I be interested in his sons old car. So I asked what it was. A 69 Spit. Can I have a look at it ? Into the garage and there it was in all its blueness and that is how I got it. Oh yea, the plate was RGT 2 . It's not around anymore which I find a bit odd although I'm probably thinking a bit , that would be worth half a gazillion now. A 4 year year old Spit was alright so I wazzed about in it for a few months and sold it fund me a rather nice Austin Champ and some cash for other stuff. Beer for instance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bloody love this car. On paper it should rubbish. Out of date technology with a rattly underpowered and under designed engine, with a bendy chassis and flaky build quality.

But it's great fun!

I left it running on the drive to see how hot it got to.

Above the middle but it stopped there and didn't rise much more.

What does that correspond to?

Upto temperature and generally okay. Actual coolant may be a bit higher than this. 

More crucially, especially with modern fuel, are the float bowls. These previously were far too hot to touch.

I'll live with that. I'll still wire in the electric fan though.

Before wiring that in, there needs to be a clear out of all the old aftermarket wiring.

First step was removing the centre dash. I came a cropper early on as I didn't have an imperial Allen key to get the dash controls off. Well I should but someone (me) has managed to put a metric back in the size I needed. However a T6 fitted perfectly!

With that off, it's just four exposed screw heads and fold it down.

All the green/yellow wiring is aftermarket. I chopped all that out pretty quickly. I still have no idea what these lights were for. The bulb connection was earth and the other terminal was just floating.

Looking under the dash I found this loose clip on the steering column. This was no doubt making a lot of the rattling noise.

The auxiliary switch was wired into the main light switch.

Of course badly. At least it was soldered. Shame they didn't put heatshrink over the terminal.

The light to the right was an even better installation. It's wire to the bulb was trapped under the steering wheel column bracket. I just chopped it flush as I couldn't be bothered to try getting the bracket off.

That wire was attached to the bulb wire by wrapping the two together and putting insulation tape over it. Safety fast?
I should point out the wire used was standard earth appliance wire. You know it's a good job well done when random wire is used.

Following the wiring, it appears it was used for indicators. No idea why as there is a factory green light in the centre of the dash already.

With all that done, I set onto the non-functioning hazards.

I removed the hazard flasher unit and tested it on the bench. That worked fine.

Pulled the hazard switch and pulled it apart.

Pretty dirty. I cleaned all this up.

It still didn't work! After further poking it started working. To cut a long story short wiggling the brown wire on the back of the fuse box got it all working again. Not entirely sure what the problem was but I wiggled the fuse about and it now works reliably. I think the fusebox terminals have gone a bit limp.

The main flasher is definitely not original. Not least it's made in France. No idea what it's from but it's branded "Klaxton". Opening it up showed a bit more complicated affair than the usual Lucas flasher. But essentially the same bi-metalic affair. The other terminals go through the reed switches. Presumably for a dash LED and such.

It makes a nice and proper clicky sound, so it can stay. I did manage to break the fixing onto the metal bracket so I zip tied it into place. A bit bodgy but the other flasher unit I have, I don't have a mounting bracket for it anyway.

I still need to clean out more wiring. Under the bonnet is a random brown wire that doesn't seem to go anywhere and all the wiring for the fan too. Some of that is attached to the starter relay.

The plan with the fan wiring is to remove it all and start again. I was thinking of putting the switch through a fused relay. That is then off the switched ignition and the fan side off permanent live. The idea being that turning the ignition off will turn it off too.

However now I'm thinking of simplifying it further by wiring it directly through a 20A switch straight onto the battery live. The thought being it's an emergency switch, so the ability to run it with ignition off is a useful thing if it's really toasty. No relay as a 20A(or higher) DC rated switch should be sufficient as I measured 18A peak and 11A when running. Then a 20A inline fuse to protect it all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, Noel Tidybeard said:

i would try and test the thermo fan switch some more so that you could run through it and have the fan switch itself off like a modern whilst using the perm live

It's deader than a dead thing. The original intention was to wire the thermostat switch through the relay too. But it doesn't even click on/off when turning the temperature dial now. 

I may pull it apart to have a look but I think the bulb might have lost its gas. Or the contacts are melted/deformed as it was switching the full fan current. While the spec says it should be able to handle the full fan current, thats making the presumption the spec isn't a lie. I strongly suspect it is! The switch might also not be up to the job of switching an inductive load either. 

The sensing bulb lives in the top hose. Undoing that means shedding coolant. I don't want to disturb any of that as it's all working fine and quite happy now. Replacing the thermostat switch means buying a new one. If I didn't have the mechanical fan then I might have done. But it's now got a factory cooling solution on it. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10 hours ago, SiC said:

plan with the fan wiring is to remove it all and start again.

Put all the details on here please. My fan setup is thermostat controlled but I want to add a manual override so when it's hot and I'm in heavy traffic I can flick it on when I want.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been continuing with ripping as much of the aftermarket wiring out of this as I could.

I've removed the thermostat switch completely now.

20a rating or is it 16a rating? Who knows! It doesn't bode confidence on quality

Inside looked like the metal contact strip was permanently bent to open. I might have a fiddle another time to see if I can get this working again.

Ripped out the old relay and unused splice blocks

This unknown brown wire by the masters actually was one piece that did nothing. No idea of its original purpose. Certainly not factory though.

Then started wiring the fan in. I decided to use a relay in the end. Mostly as I had one and so I could use cheaper thinner wire to the dash switch.

The main feed to the fan is wired directly off the starter solenoid and through a 15A fuse. For the switch I used the always on fused purple circuit that is shared with the horns, interior fan blower and hazards. The clock had been badly wired in with uninsulated crimps and tape over the top. So I cut all this out and redid so I could tap the switch in.

As none of the aftermarket dash lights did nothing, I chose the red one (easiest to get to) as the fan on warning light.
This light and relay coil is through an additional 1A fuse. Just because it goes all over the place and offers better protection than the 17A fuse while allowing me to use thinner (cheaper) wiring.

It does work but the main factory fuse holder in the car seems to be problematic and so doesn't always kick in. I think the springiness of the contacts is lost and not grabbing them well.

Today I went off to a local classic car show. It was in a village park and a great selection of very varied cars turned up.

I arrived an hour late so snuck next to some other British Leyland shite.

I don't know why but this car does attract an awful lot of attention. Far more than any other of my classics I had on the road. Maybe because of the colour it catches peoples eye?

I'll upload all my photos later as I have loads but I'm being badgered by the other half to get up from the sofa and sort stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brilliant progress, as ever. Whoever wired the fan in (not me, honest!) was a right numpty, so nice to see another rats' nest sorted out.

I see you've been picking at the dash varnish 😉

You're not wrong about the attention. I don't think I took that car out once without someone commenting or starting a conversation about it. It must be the colour, although Spitfires aren't nearly as common as they used to be. And the shape is gorgeous.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the car show! There was a good selection of everything and a few odd balls thrown into the mix. Its always nice to see old Renaults and such in attendance at a British village car show - I do quite fancy a Renault 4 one day. 








This is a Sunbeam but I seem to have misplaced the front photo.












2023-05-29 13.38.01.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was ace


This is cool but I struggle to see why they go for an awful lot of money.


The star of the show for most was likely this pre-war Bentley. It was lovely, apart from maybe the bit over restored paintwork on the side.



But for me the star of the show was this 12 seater "luxury" bus



As I was leaving this trundled in.



In total we were there a good 40 minutes or so. Then we pottered off to a local Cider farm shop (because Somerset) and picked up a pasty and scotch egg.



Then pottered down to Weston Sea Front to eat it. Busy but not unbearably like it can be in the summer holidays.


On the way we got stuck for 10 minutes in stop/start traffic at roadworks. The temperature started to creep up just above half way. While I really didn't need to, I flicked the fan switch to see what it'd do. Very quickly the gauge dropped back down to just under half where it normally sits. While not particularly useful for the coolant, at least it allows extra airflow across the engine and more importantly for a 1500 bottom end, the oil cooler. I don't really expect to use it more until we get 30c+ weather later in the summer but it was a good test to see what it does.

Really the only things left I need to sort on it are cleaning it and replacing the seat foam/diaphragm. Carbs probably could do with a rebuild or even service, but its all behaving at the moment, so that can wait as it'll take the car off the road for a bit and the weather is stonking at the moment. Maybe look at replacing the fusebox if that becomes troublesome again in the future.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, SiC said:

its all behaving at the moment, so that can wait as it'll take the car off the road for a bit and the weather is stonking at the moment. Maybe look at replacing the fusebox if that becomes troublesome again in the future.

Good plan, and commendable self-control! 😉

Those fuse boxes are just shit (as far as I can tell) and not expensive, so if you can find a replacement which isn't purest Chinesium it's probably worth fitting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 5/29/2023 at 6:43 PM, N Dentressangle said:

Brilliant progress, as ever. Whoever wired the fan in (not me, honest!) was a right numpty, so nice to see another rats' nest sorted out.

Looking through the photo book and it's history, it think it's been thru quite a few iterations of the fan being wired in! Hopefully this will be it's last. Only variation might be to have it on ignition switched. But I prefer always live as it saves leaving the ignition left on if it's overheated and needing a break. 

On 5/29/2023 at 6:43 PM, N Dentressangle said:


I see you've been picking at the dash varnish 😉

I did wonder if someone would notice that. 🙈

I caught a bit when removing the centre dash. As is the way it goes, you clean it off, make it worse, take a bit more off and before you have removed all the varnish 🤣

At some point I think I might replace this original wood dash with a modern one. Not cheap but it would lift up the interior a lot and one of those things that makes it a look a tad tatty. Especially as it's something you stare at a lot when in the car. 

On 5/29/2023 at 6:43 PM, N Dentressangle said:

You're not wrong about the attention. I don't think I took that car out once without someone commenting or starting a conversation about it. It must be the colour, although Spitfires aren't nearly as common as they used to be.

I absolutely love the little car. So much so, it's making me wonder if I should finally sell the BGT on. Great fun to drive, positive attention and low stress of consequence if something breaks. Simpler and easier to work on than the BGT, even if it's an arguably a less refined package. 

On 5/29/2023 at 6:43 PM, N Dentressangle said:

And the shape is gorgeous.

The shape of the Spitfire has always very much appealed to my eyes. It even works really well with a hardtop on too. Something that I never think quite works right on the Spridget. 

Just look at the curves at this angle on the photo that @PhilA took the other day. (Car not the overweight bugger inside it 😂)


Maybe at some point I'll sell my BGT and this to get the ultimate (?) iteration of this in the shape of a GT6? I'd have to be a Webasto equipped one though. Plus part of the fun with this is the nature its a driver not to be worried about and perhaps that might be lost.

17 hours ago, N Dentressangle said:

Those fuse boxes are just shit (as far as I can tell) and not expensive, so if you can find a replacement which isn't purest Chinesium it's probably worth fitting.

These later models have the all integrated Lucas unit. Not cheap like the simpler older Lucas fuse boxes and I'd fear the quality even more.


Looking through the history, it does seem that the fuse box has been a common problematic issue. This was only 2 years after its heavy restoration. Interestingly the chap that spent a lot of money having it professional restored and painted only owned it from 1998 to 2002. Perhaps electrical issues spoilt the fun of it for him?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • SiC changed the title to 1979 Triumph Spitfire! - At the Classic Car Shows

I went for a drive yesterday to check the accuracy of my speedo trip odometer and see if that's accurate or not compared to the speed indication.
Anyway I started losing electricity. Firstly the horn then all the lights.
Melted the fusebox!

Looks to have been a poor (dirty) fuse holder contact that made high resistance. That eventually got hot enough to melt the plastic and insulate the fuse.

There are crimps on each side but are only connected through the fuse. Bit of a naff design really.

Anyway I removed all the contacts and cleaned them up.

Couldn't remove the melted one so spliced and soldered the contact to make it one. I don't like modifying factory wiring but I couldn't save that contact and it's a bad design anyway.

I would replace it but the equivalent repro parts are very expensive and I don't know how good quality they are. It's tempting to change to an older style Lucas box that is used on the MGB and such.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does the feed to the coil run through the fuse box ?

I was just thinking when it previously misbehaved didn't you have the headlamps on so maybe some high resistance at the fuse box (or ignition switch) dropped the power to the ignition and caused your fail to proceed ?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Joey spud said:

Does the feed to the coil run through the fuse box ?

I was just thinking when it previously misbehaved didn't you have the headlamps on so maybe some high resistance at the fuse box (or ignition switch) dropped the power to the ignition and caused your fail to proceed ?

Good thought. I don't think it does as I had a complete failure last night of everything on the always on part of the fusebox but the engine still ran. 

What I have noticed is that the coil and distributor goes through the resistive wire of the loom. Older cars used a ballast resistor but this is of the age where they used resistive wire as part of the loom. So it means the electronic distributor and coil isn't getting full battery voltage. While it's working okay, it's not optimal and against what the distributor instructions advise.

2 hours ago, Noel Tidybeard said:

blade type fusebox for moar loom smoke keeping in-ness?

I like to keep with a glass fuses on a classic car. Blade fuses just look wrong. Ultimately they do the same thing just need to keep an eye on ratings as they are done slightly differently. 

I've picked up one of these Lucas 7FJ fuse boxes that I've also got on my MGB. If I get trouble, I'll figure a way of mounting this in its place. 



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • SiC changed the title to 1979 Triumph Spitfire! - A Goodbye and a Hello

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...