Mid-Ohio Report – June 14th through 16th, 2002  

Again it is the details that get ya!

Our next event this season was Mid-Ohio vintage festival. This year it was the 50th anniversary of Triumph. This is an event I have wanted to participate in for over a year. It really was the whole reason for me pushing to get my car done so quickly.

As the event drew near it became painfully obvious that I was not going to have a raceable car for this event. It was par for the course this year to not have my car ready when I wanted it to be. It really sucks growing up and having a job!  ;o)

After Topeka, Jack, Frank, and I had about a week and a half to get my car to move under its own power. We made a list of what had to be done and attacked it with feverish determination. The list did not seem that big but as most of you know the smallest job on a 30 year old Triumph can take five times the hours it really should. We ran into a lot of that in those last few days before Mid-Ohio.

I won't bore you with all of them but two of them stick out as humdingers that can really piss off a tired and hot guy in a hurry. The Sat. before Mid-Ohio (June 8th) was the first time my car was started. What should have been a simple push of a button turned into a day of frustrating hell for me. Frank, Jack, and I were all pretty excited to see this thing start. We had all been with the car from the start of the rebuild. This was going to be the crowning moment for our efforts. We pushed the car outside for the big moment early that afternoon. Everything was seemingly in order. We had oil, gas, battery, water, wheels blocked, car out of gear, starter fluid, fuel pressure, and fire extinguisher.  Jack turned on the master switch and I hit the starter. POP snort then nothing! I tried again. Nothing, not even a snort. Then the starter stopped!  We figured the engine was tight so we used a booster to make the starter turn faster. NOPE! That was not it. We did get it to turn over but quit trying when Frank saw a pretty impressive fireball underneath the car. The starter was really hot and so were the wires leading to it. Frank stated the obvious. The starter was not working properly. I agreed but felt it was something else. My ears were ringing with frustration.

First off I needed a stronger starter. This one was tired. Second, this car should have fired easier. With out telling Jack or Frank, I jumped in my truck and headed home to find another starter. (Being a pack rack has its advantages in these situations. Sure enough I had a couple starters in the garage. I took a quick restroom break and a one-line conversation with my wife. She asked, "Did it start?"   I answered "Nope!"   I then heard "Oh boy" as I shut the door in a flat run back to the truck. All the way back to Franks house it was eating at me that I had done something wrong inside the engine that was keeping it from starting. It had been several years since I had put together an engine and I have never build one as radical as this one before. I was very unsure of what I did at this point.

When I got back to Franks house Jack already had the old starter out for me. I put the new one in and we tried again. It turned over better but still did not start. Now I was really not happy. I was trying very hard to keep my cool. Then I figured I must have it timed wrong. I checked the distributor just as Frank was saying "I bet it is 180 degrees out."  Sure enough when I set it at top dead center the rotor was 180 degrees out. DOH!! So I pulled the distributor gear out and rotated it 180 degrees and put it back. I was really pissed at myself. I was sure I had the engine at TDC when I set the distributor gear. I must have had it on the wrong stroke.

Once it was all back together one push of the starter and it fired right up then quit. Started again then quit!  Started again and quit! What now!!!!  Turns out I had the ignition lead off of the solenoid on wrong. When I pushed the started button it gave me both starter and ignition. When I let go it killed the ignition.  Dumb mistake. Easy fix. We changed the lead and the car started and ran on its own for the first time!! :o)

Once it was started I went about the simple stuff of setting the carbs and dialing in the timing. It seemed to run OK. The carbs sneezed a bit and I would have to ask an expert on that but for the most part it worked.

Then the next day was when my car was coming home to my garage. Again this was a straightforward thing that just did not work out. Jack and I got over to Franks house early to pack up my stuff and load the car up on the trailer. Every thing worked well accept the clutch decide that this was the day to spring a leak. The fitting at the slave cylinder was leaking. It had been good for over a month sitting in the car being tested but today it leaks!

Jack and I tried several things, like retightening the fitting, thread tape, and a hammer. What finally worked was putting a small O-ring inside the fitting. I have never done this before but it seems to work quite well and is still holding.

Finally the car could move under its own power.  I shot it up the driveway and onto the trailer. It really felt good to be behind the wheel of my baby again.

Once my car was home it was a nonstop week of finishing up the wiring and plumbing as well as the general checking of every thing out. Finally the Tues night before I left it was done. Wednesday morning I packed up the family and headed to Mid-Ohio. Boy, it is a long drive! It took us over ten hours. Getting lost in Amish country didn’t help. Once we made it to the track everything just kind of fell into place. I went to registration and met up with Tom Strange who had invited me to share his paddock space along with Susan Hensley. I had never met these folks before but they took me under their wings and showed me a great time the whole weekend. Tom had an open car tent set up with everyone’s name on it. It was very cool. I left the car for a day and took the family to Cedar Point Roller Coaster Park on Thursday. (I highly recommend this park. It was great fun.) On Friday my wife told me she would take the kids for the day so I could do the Triumph thing alone with out interruption. What a sweetie! Friday was about the most fun I have ever had at a Triumph event. It was like going to Triumph heaven. The amount of racecars and road cars was unbelievable! It was almost like stepping back in time 25 years. I was beside myself with excitement. Everyone I met was a Triumph nut. They even had eight cars that were shipped over from England to race. I made a beeline over to there paddock to meet them. It turned out that three of the British guys I had corresponded with by e-mail on several occasions in the past. It was really cool to put the faces with the cars I had been drooling over for years. The British drivers and their crews were extremely nice and entertaining. Jack, Creig, and I spent Friday evening sharing stories and lots of beer with them.

Saturday morning I had a headache. I could not stay for very long Saturday due to a commitment in St. Louis. I packed up early-afternoon and headed home. I did get to see two races that had Triumphs in them and they were fantastic. I really wish I could have stayed until Sunday. If I would have thought that I could have run my car in the all Triumph race, I would have stayed. It was as ready as half the cars out there. It just would have taken some convincing on my part.

Creig will have a full report on the rest of the weekend I am sure.

See you soon.

Andy

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