Dave's Cars

1963 Triumph TR4


UPDATE : 07/15/2013 - Click Here!!

Click on the images to enlarge them!

This is how it all started!!! I'm cruising eBay last week for no particular reason, looking at Triumphs. Actually I'm kind of looking for Stags. And I see this.
This is probably the most striking picture of the lot. You will notice the weird bonnet, which apparently is an aftermarket piece of fiberglass. As I found out later, the car was raced in SCCA back in the 70's. This is obviously a holdover from that.
The other thing is that these pictures were taken many years ago, before the car was parked in a garage in South Texas about 1990.
It sure looked good once. Of course, this is history. What does it look like now?
This is a current picture after it was washed. Many years of dust, apparently. Notice right away the weird reflectors or backup lights or ??? We'll know when we pick up the car. I fear there are holes in the trunk lid. I'm hoping not :-)
The interior looks in surprisingly good shape. Notice the aftermarket dashboard. On this car, unless I'm mistaken, the dash should be metal. Then I begin to wonder what else has been customized???
The question is, after 20 years in a hot climate, what will happen to the seats. I'm going to try to stay away from them until I can condition them and maybe salvage them.
So then I ask a friend about it. He says go for it! Offer them $XXX. I'm thinking about it.
I talk to the wife, and she is encouraging. She thinks this might be a good one. She thinks it is very cute!
So I wait a few days, and think, and Tuesday evening I make my move. I make an offer. I see there are two other offers, so I figure I'm low. I decide to let it go; I don't worry about it anymore, and go to bed.
I'm up early on Wednesday, and actually go to the website with the intention of increasing my offer. But I can't do that. You have to retract your current offer, then put in a new offer. I decide to just wait. I see there is one offer waiting on a counteroffer. I figure I'm not going to get it, so mentally I move on.
Wednesday mid morning I check my personal email and find that my offer was accepted! I guess I just bought a car! Pretty exciting! So the plan is to go down next Tuesday, pick up the car, and spend the night at the beach. Stay tuned!
Here is the little car in person, out of the garage for the first time in years.
The seats and the top may well be salvageable. The carpet - not so much. Notice the "wood" dashboard. too funny!
Let's get this guy loaded up and on the trailer!
On the trailer! Putting everything away.
I think we're ready to roll.
We stopped here for a picture!
Back home, starting on the cleanup and back on the road. You can see this car has SU's. One of the dashpots was frozen, but a couple days of penetrating oil and a little persuasion and it popped free.
This is the best gem of all - the original sales receipt!
At some point the orignial owner got the gages recalibrated for the rear axle and tires he put on the car.
This is the release of lien when the original owner finished paying for the car.
This is the transfer sheet that the original buyer made out to the second owner. Its not signed, but all the details as far as I know are correct.
Here is the other sheet, this time signed, for the title transfer from the original owner to the second owner.
Here is the ignition side. I've been pouring penetrating oil down into the cylinders since we picked it up.
Here's the brake and clutch master cylinders. They will need some work!
This is what the inside of the master clutch cylinder looks like. Pretty funny! It, like the master brake cylinder (and all the brake components), is being replaced.
Commission number tag
The car does not have a regular fan on it. This is apparently the thermostatic control for the electric fan. And, the radiator shop says the core has already been replaced and the radiator is in excellent shape. I tested it using boiling water and apparently it is working.
And this is the electric fan. Looks pretty ancient! But it also works, so I am leaving it in. Notice the read paint on things. All going.
This is the trunk. Not so bad. Apparently the car was originally painted black. This is likely the original paint.
This is the inside of the trunk lid. Someone installed those weird backup lights.
Used a wrench to turn the engine over. No problem! OK. We are ready to drain all the fluids, put the radiator back in (it will be back day after tomorrow) and hook up a battery. I think we're close!
a very good day - got rid of that carpet! Yay! But I did notice that the floors look original and very very good!
And the gas tank is out. Here its just sitting in the trunk.
And this is what the inside of the tank looks like. Seems that he drained the tank prior to leaving it. That's a good thing!
This is the wiring. I'm going to use the word creative. I checked some of the wiring and so far have not found a correct color match to the wiring diagram. This is either going to be interesting, extremely frustrating, or ripped out!
The dash and gauges seem to be in pretty good shape. That's a good thing!
The dash support is not in such good shape. I may well end up replacing all the knobs.
I think the door upholstery can be saved.
I'm not at all optimistic about the top!
I took the top and then the hoodsticks off today
The interior looks very good; much better without the carpet.
I have no idea what that button is/does.
One of these switches controls the backup lights. I think, but haven't verified, that the other turns off the brake lights.
Getting ready to remove and clean up the hubs
Old and the new
Here is a steel replacement hood that arrived. And - I sold the fiberglass one!!!!!
Today I got the engine to fire!
I decided to test where top dead center was, and discovered that I was substantially off. I used a 1 1/2" long 1/2" bolt - stuck it in the spark plug hole. Because the bolt is inserted at an angle, it stops the piston. So moving the piston from each direction, and then estimating the middle point, I discovered I was off in my determination of TDC. I then advanced the distributor so that it would fire before TDC, and voila! With carb cleaner (couldn't find the starter fluid), I got some action. So I finished putting in the radiator, the gas tank, and now I have to run the fuel lines. Who knows - I could have a running engine this week! Of course, I'm also in the middle of doing the brakes, too!

And I discovered that my favorite tire store, tirerack.com, does not carry tires for this car. No problem - there is a tire store here in Dallas that does! So I'm going to have the wheels powder coated and get new tires.
2/1/12 - finished the gas line from end to end. Had to blow it out; there was still some varnish left in it, but all the tubing and hoses and filters are in and connected. The new fuel pump is also in, but I have not rewired it. The ground is in, but I need to add a hot wire. The connector is ready, too. Hope to get that in the weekend. But meanwhile I can't get it to fire again, so I'm not sure what to do at this point other than work on other stuff!

2/18/12 - the fuel pump is fully wired and ready to go.
Ha Ha - look at my bling! New brake calipers in up front with stainless steel brake hoses.
New brake pistons in the back as well
And brand new master brake and clutch units, as well as the clutch slave. Plus the brake and clutch hydraulic lines that I could get out were derusted and painted. I am getting closer to a functional vehicle!!!
Wheels were sandblasted and powdercoated, and nice new tires put on. Someday i'll actually get to drive on them!!!
Been doing a lot of cleanup. Cleaned and repainted the header, starter motor, engine, and distributor base. Cleaned the distributor, alternator, and starter solenoid. Am working on putting things back in the car. The engine is painted flat black; it shows up in pictures almost brown.
The distributor side. The pedeastal is in; I'm not quite finished with the dizzy itself.
Had to do the front, too!
Header in; getting ready to bolt down the intake manifold. Compare it to the earlier shots; its much prettier!
All that done and bolted down; getting ready to put the carbs in. Here's the first one.
And the second one in place. Just a few more things to clean up and I'll be firing it up again! Then I get to drive it!!! So can't wait!!!
Stripping out the interior. You can see that this car is remarkably rust free.
Starting to scrape away that silly wood applique. It comes off very easily with a heat gun. The big problem will be the crashpads!
Am finally working on this again. Getting ready to pull the engine, as the pistons/chambers need to be replaced.
Update 08/3/2015
Here it is with the replacement hood, in primer gray!
Look Ma, no bumpers! They are out being rechromed
Floors are not too bad
getting things ready to pull the engine
Engine out
Dash is looking better, but still needs some work
Putting in dyna mat
replacing the tail lenses
Lots of cleanup work here!
Putting dynamat on the transmission cover. This is kind of interesting - the previous owner fiberglassed the cardboard transmission cover. And I'm covering it up!
I received these funny Italian horns in a trade. I ran into someone who is restoring an early TR4 and his horns didn't work. It was really important to him for the car to be as original as possible. This car, of course, long ago strayed pretty far from original, which is OK with me. So i traded him my original horns for these. They sound very Italian, and are plenty loud. I love them!
Here is where we are right now. Car won't run. Hopefully we will solve that soon.
Spent some time putting the interior in.
Made a lot of progress! I'm ready to drive this thing!!!!
Bumpers looking good. Those funny back up lights, though ?????
Had the engine rebuilt with 89 mm pistons. That was a very long, very long hiatus while we got everything figured out and working. Then found out the water pump was leaking, likely due to that very long interval being dry. Hoping to drive it this weekend in a rally. Making progress!

Trying to get the gauges to work. Had them out and they no longer work.
Testing the temp gauge using some boiling water. Success!!! Also correctly reinstalled the fuel gauge. Thought it was not working but found the sending unit was not connected!!!!!
Great news!!! Car is officially running and driving again!!!
Another porblem I have had for some time is the passenger side window. used to just stop prematurely when rolling it down. Now its kind of useless. So I'm going to have to pull the door panels. Here are some instructions I was given:
    How to remove door panels
  • Remove the two screws for the door pull
  • pop the caps off the two screws at each end of the map pocket and remove screws
  • push the escutcheon of the door latch and winder in towards the door panel and push the little pin ( 1/2" x 1/8"?) out being careful not to lose it
  • Door panel is now held on with metal spring clips; Use something like a putty knife or the proper tool and work your way around the door
  • Besides the channel felt being worn out, or because of it, the arms of the winder may be bent and the pivot bolt fits in a two flat hole (you'll see . . .) may be loose and has worn the hole.
How to Check the Overdrive Electrical:
    Overdrive Electrical
  • If it's an electrical problem so could be fairly simple to diagnose. There are a few simple checks you can do starting with the overdrive relay. The relay is probably mounted (inside car) on the driver side bulkhead just above the gearbox tunnel or thereabouts. Assuming you've got the original type relay, there are 4 terminals marked C1, C2, W1 and W2.
  • First connect a 12v bulb between C1 and earth.
  • Turn on the ignition, if the bulb lights then the power supply is good, if not, then the electrical supply upstream of the relay is the problem - check fuse or connection on fusebox. Assuming the first check is ok,
  • next check is to do the same test between terminal W1 and earth but this time with the o/d switch on. If the bulb lights the power supply from the overdrive switch is good, if not check the connection at the switch and/or power supply to the switch.
  • If C1 and W1 both have power, connect the bulb between C2 and earth and turn on the ignition & o/d switch, if the bulb lights the solenoid is probably faulty, if not the relay has failed and a replacement should fix your problem.
  • Final check is to test the relay earth, connect your 12v bulb between a live supply (e.g. battery terminal) and W2 on the relay and select 2nd, 3rd or 4th gear. If the bulb lights the earth is good, if not the earth connection to the relay is the fault.
Yes, the hood really needed to be painted. so here it is, pre paint.
and after the paint, the letters, and the medallion
Having some issues with electrics. Here is the voltage regulator, circa ?????
There is a number on the bottom, but it didn't lead me to anything
I've got a period correct 60 amp alternator as well.
    Static Timing by Eric Wilhelm of Moss Motors
  • As accurately as possible, locate the piston of the “timing cylinder” at top dead center, on the compression stroke. This is achieved by noting the position of the ignition rotor when the piston is at top dead center. If the rotor points to the contact on the distributor cap which leads to the spark plug of the “timing cylinder”, the piston is on the compression stroke. If the rotor points away from that contact, the piston is on the exhaust stroke, and the crankshaft must be rotated one full turn to bring the piston to top dead center on the compression stoke. Check that the timing marks line up correctly. (If the distributor has been removed from the engine, consult an appropriate workshop manual for proper re-installation instructions.)
  • If your vacuum advance unit has an adjuster, you may either proceed with the instructions in this paragraph, or skip it and go to paragraph 3, continuing from there.
  • If your pulley or indicator is marked with degree settings, turn the crankshaft until the single mark and the appropriate degree mark line up. If your pulley or indicator is not marked in degrees, use a timing degree wheel (Moss # 384-910) to set the crankshaft to the proper advanced or retarded setting as specified for your engine. It is essential that a reliable workshop manual be consulted for this specification. The piston of your “timing cylinder” is now in the correct firing position, and the distributor must now be adjusted to is firing position.
  • Loosen the distributor clamp to the point where the distributor may be rotated freely. Set the adjuster on the vacuum advance unit (if present) to mid-scale.
  • Connect one wire of the test light to the low tension contact on the distributor, and the other wire to a good ground. (The low tension contact is where the thin wire from one side of the ignition coil connects to the distributor.)
  • With the ignition on (but the engine not running), rotate the distributor body slowly in the opposite direction of the rotor’s rotation until the test light lights up, indicating that the points have just opened. Do this a few times until you have accurately determined the exact point at which this happens, and re-tighten the distributor clamp bolt.
  • For distributors with adjusters on the vacuum advance unit, only if paragraph #2 was skipped:
  • With the piston of the “timing cylinder” at top dead center (see 1.), the adjuster on the vacuum advance unit may be used to “dial in” the correct static advance setting. One division of the scale is equal to four degrees. Count the “clicks” on your adjuster nut between divisions, and divide by four for the number of clicks per degree (generally about ten per degree, but check your individual distributor). Multiply this by the number of degrees advance you require, and set accordingly. Refer to a reliable workshop manual for this setting. Be sure to turn the adjusting wheel in the direction of the “A” to advance, in the direction of the arrowed “R” to retard.
  • Disconnect the test light and start the engine. If it does not start, make sure that you remembered to replace the rotor after adjusting the points. Don’t feel foolish if you find it on top of your battery or wiper motor – there probably isn’t a single auto mechanic dead or alive who hasn’t had this happen.
Having issues with the overdrive so after some unsuccessful tests we figured it had to come out. Here is my son with the offending tran in hand as we ready to send it out.
It has this interesting pahnard suspension add-on
Just trying to put up some different views
I don't know how it really affects the handling but it sure is interesting.
Now that i have to replace the lever shocks i'm thinking it will have to come out.
It's all just a dusting of rust; mostly its caked on dirt
The front shocks have to come out too, which i think means this stuff.
I'm hoping it will all nicely unbolt without too much grief.
February, 2017

Drive your Triumph day. Was out and enjoying the nice North Texas weather
The wife and I took a little drive. I think this is Celina, TX
April 2018 I'm out on the track at a club event in Fort Worth. Did OK, but this car still needs better tires and some suspension work. and a front sway bar. all coming!!!
October 2018

Looks like a bit of a rain storm. Guess I forgot the Rain X
January 2020

Nice Triumph club event.
February 2020

Its not exactly the perfect grocery getter, but it sure is fun!
March 2020

For a while the house across the alley was vacant. i took full advantage!!
Just the 2 TR's.
June 2020

I looked at the tires. Data coded 2010 I think. When I got the car. Oh dear! Time for new ones. They are also cracked around the rim. The good news is that i can get some seriously sticky tires!!! I have to stick to 185 but I think I'll get a somewhat lower profile.
Revamping a lot of stuff in my garage. There are multiple cars all being worked on. Finally decided to redo the front and rear suspension on this car. Will replace with polyurethane bushings

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