Saturday, March 29, 2014

Surgery time.
Before the disassembly.
After waiting for all the parts to arrive (most from across the pond) and an opportunity to take a day off from work, I finally got a chance to tackle the coolant leak that sprung up soon after we picked up the TR7. Thanks to forum members, I was told the likely cause may be the link tube/pipe (bypass value) and/or the 2 o-rings that are on it. Access to it means having to remove the intake manifold. A lot of work for an easy fix. But it has to be done!

Once I removed the battery, air filter assembly, all the coolant, various fuel lines, hoses and the distributor cap, I was able to pull off the manifold (cables and carbs still attached) and place it on the side of the engine on top of a big pad. At that point, I could easily pull out the link pipe, which was corroded quite a bit. See pics - with the new one on the left and the old one on the right:

I put the new o-rings on the new link pipe,  a new intake manifold gasket, cleaned things up and proceeded to put everything back together. I was pretty pleased with the way things were going, but little did I know that Murphy was right around the corner ready to strike. With the manifold on the head, I put on the new screws. When I went to torque them down, all went well until I torqued the final screw - as I turned the ratchet, it would get tighter, tighter, then loose. Tried it again - same thing. I even pulled out the new screw and tried an old original screw - same thing. I had to face the fact that the hole in the head was stripped. Darn you Murphy.

Intake manifold with carbs and cables still attached sitting on
the valve cover.

Concerned, I went inside to figure out my options. One was to use a larger screw. That sounds easy, but having one odd size screw in a set of six didn't sit well with me. Surely there has to be a better option. There is: HeliCoil - a thread repair kit. I went that night to local auto parts store, talked with them, and decided to go that route.

The next morning I was pulling off the intake again. I then found myself doing something that I never thought I would be doing: drilling into the head of the TR7s engine. But sure enough, the HelioCoil was very easy to install. And when all was done, you can hardly tell by looking at the head that anything was done - and best of all, the same size screw was used.

Now with a newly threaded hole, I reinstalled the intake and this time all screws torqued down fine. I then hooked up all the coolant hoses (installed a new thermostat and gasket) and double and triple checked all the connections. I then slowly added water to the system to see if it would leak. At that point no leaks!

Finally I reattached the fuel and vacuum lines, hoses, distributor cap, battery and air intake and started the car - or at least tried to. The car still doesn't want to cold start. But that's a different issue. A single shot of starter fluid in each carb, and the 7 comes alive. I let it idle for awhile and check for leaks. All dry. Chalk one up for success. The following day, I drained the water, added the proper mix of antifreeze/distilled water, and burped the system.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tinker time.
Over the weekend I had some time to tinker with the 7. I'm still waiting on the intake gasket and a few other parts along with a totally free weekend before I remove the intake manifold and tackle the coolant leak (probably mid-March). But I was able to cover some smaller things, but most of all spend time with the car and learn more about what we have.

First thing were the lack of brake lights. After just a few minutes I discovered the ground on the housing to be the culprit. Nice to know that by fixing the driver’s side took care of both sides. Rear brake & taillights now work.

Moving to the front - headlights popped up nicely (passenger side a little slower than the driver’s side, but not too bad). Everything seemed to light up as they should. Turning off the lights was a different story - the driver's side went down nicely - passenger side not at all. I poked my head under there and saw the knob to manually turn it - as I started to turn it, the motor quickly took over and the headlight nicely went down on its own. Looks like I need to check some connections and ensure they are all clean.

Turning to the interior - the roof mounted interior light had no lens or bulb. I popped a bulb in, which happens to be the same odd-ball bulb used in our DeLorean interior light, but still darkness. My test light showed it had power running to it, but no ground. Darn grounds got me again - this time at the door plungers. Cleaned both plungers nicely and there is now light when either door opens. Another easy fix. A lens should be arriving from across the pond in a few weeks.

Next, on the test drives I noticed that the speedometer and odometer were not working.  Research told me to check for an unplugged cable in the back of the speedometer as they tend to come off. Laying on my back with my feet up in the air, I could see and feel behind the instrument panel - and found the cable tightly connected. I then moved my investigation to the engine bay as I saw the cable come out thru the firewall. Low and behold it was unplugged!  Further looking, I found a similar cable coming from the transmission jammed into a part of the body, probably so as to not drag on the ground. The two ends don't connect, but they do meet up to a counter box, for the EGR valve. I learned that once the counter hits a certain number of miles, it throws a light on the dash (only on '76 models). I spotted the counter box in the engine bay, but the cable from the transmission side was so badly damaged it would not attach to it. The solution is to get a a new single cable (used in post '76 models) and bypass the counter box.

The exterior is exactly where we want it to be. The previous owner did a good job with the body & paint and applying the decals. I thought it was missing a front chin spoiler under the bumper, but I learned that '76 models didn't have a front spoiler. Still, a future enhancement may be to add one from a later model 7.

But there was one issue on the exterior that was gnawing at me - the door handles. They should sit flush with the body, but they were sinking in - a common problem I learned. The rubber grommets inside the door handles to keep them flush wear out. Those grommet are no longer available, but I got some ideas on how to solve it, so now the car no longer has the sinking in syndrome.

I cleaned up the car a bit - took off all the old stickers from the rear window - which looked like they had been there since the '80s.

The door panels, dash and center control are all in good shape and don't need anything. It's mainly the seats & carpet - but they won't be addressed until the car is running fine. The rear shelf is a sore spot - it looked like someone tried to carpet it - and now that carpet is sun faded, and pulled from all edges. I'm thinking of just taking off the carpet, cleaning it up and spraying it a flat black.

Overall, very excited about the car - and look forward to getting to the coolant leak – and whatever other issues that crop up.