How To Rebuild the Speedometer & Tachometer on a Triumph TR6

I’ve had problems with both the Speedometer and the Tachometer since I bought the car.  The Tachometer was noisy, made a grinding sound.  The Speedometer didn’t work at all. I tried just putting a new cable in the Speedometer.  That worked for about 20 miles, then it snapped too.  The end at the transmission broke. I had been putting it off because I had never taken one apart before.  My speedometer was seized.  When i tried putting an allen head wrench of the approximate size in the back, and turn it, it was frozen up. Follows the procedures below.  And when I was done, my speedometer works, and the tach is quiet!  Not as hard as I thought it would be, with the exception of the odometer.

I found everyone on the forums was referring to:   Anthony Rhodes Speedometer Repair Guide

I found the guide very helpful, printed it out, referred to it as I went.  I did find some “gaps” in the guide that I had to figure out as I went.  Here is what I learned:

Note how accurate your speedo is now – by comparing to a GPS app on your phone for comparison later.

Do NOT bend the spring steel “wings” that are attached to magnet  inside it will throw off the calibration. If someone already has, you can carefully bend them back with goal of getting as much of the flat surface as close as you can w/out touching. By doing this I was able to fix my low reading TACH somewhat.

Be very careful not to damage the inner spring that returns the needle to zero.  If you do you have to send it off to Nisongers or someone else to fix.  It would be really, really easy to wreck the spring if you had your drill motor set the wrong way when “testing” the speedometer.  There is no need to use a drill motor at all, and it would be easy to cause damage.

Mark the disc that moves the needle at zero, so that you can put it back exactly without messing with it unless you need to recalibrate zero.  It is not a disaster if you don’t – you will likely tweak it anyway as explained in that step.

Do you really have to drill the two rivets that hold the inner case together?  Yes, to get to the bushing that you need to clean and lube. You have to do this to clean out the dried grease and lube it, it is not optional.  To replace the rivets I used the largest diameter stainless screws (non magnetic) from Ace hardware that I would w/out drilling/tapping, together with some Loctite to reassemble. I felt they were strong enough, do use the Loctite. No reason to tap the body as others have.

What Grease do you use?  After researching, I used the synthetic grease rated for handgun lubrication, long lasting and rated for heat.  Had some handy.  You could use other synthetic high temp grease.

How do you clean the needle and face?   I was able to clean the needle and face by very lightly dabbing with cotton “Q Tip” like makeup applicators, and 10-1 dilution of Marine Clean (from POR15) with no ill effects on the paint

Should I take the Odometer apart and clean it?  Any tips?  I decided to because of stories about odometers seizing and breaking cables.  Once I got it apart though, it was really clean anyway, not sure I needed to.  The one thing I did do was polish up the brass tube that the cylinders ride on, it was scored.  It was a bit fiddly to get it back together right, and Anthony Rhodes guide isn’t detailed enough.  I figured it out.  But if I had it to do again I would take a video of the disassembly. And I would  put the pieces as I took them off on a coat hanger in proper reassembly order and orientation.
How do you set the mileage on the  odometer?  Before you put the odometer back, hold it carefully so that you have fingers on either side of the brass bushing tube the cylinders ride on.  Hold it loosely.  Take a knife or small screwdriver, and carefully separate the number wheel from the two metal round “gear holders” on either side with all the bits assembled on the brass bushing, but not installed. Adjust, and squeeze back together.

What paint should I use for the outer mounting ring?  SEM  Chassis black Satin is a good paint match

Where can you buy the thick gasket that goes between the glass and the mounting flange (the piece that twists on)?  Buy an extra O Ring, the one that goes between the speedo and dash, and cut about a half inch out of it, and lay it in. Just the right thickness.

The rubber piece that shields one of the idiot lights came loose, how do I reattach it?  I used RTV Silicone.

Where do you buy the thin paper gasket that goes between the glass and the speedo face?  I don’t know, I re-used mine.

How do you calibrate the Speedometer?This is really, really simple if close enough is good enough.  Don’t bother with all the drill motor fuss. Install the Speedometer in the car without the glass, without the lights,  just attach the cable.  Then with a road trip and GPS app on your phone, note how far off you are at your desired speed (like 50mph).  You can only make it accurate at one speed.  Adjust it by removing the Speedometer cable, pull the gauge, remove the two screws, and  adjust the needle (hold the disc, carefully turn the needle).  I am a 3-5 MPH slow at 70. You can mess with the magnets otherwise.

There has got to be an easier way to reinstall the Speedometer/Tachometer in the dash!  When reinstalling, I had a really tough time getting the nut started on the top bracket.  In a moment of inspiration I realized  it is easier to put the top mounting bracket and nut on loosely with the speedo out, and tip it in from the front, and then tighten from the back.  It is pretty easy to get to the bottom bracket and nut on from the back.
Do both the speedo and the tach one right after the other.  It is pretty much the same process, and it is good to do this while it is fresh in your mind.

How do you get the cable ends through the replacement rubber grommets on the firewall?  I couldn’t.  I cut it from the outside to the center, and installed it that way.

What if I want to convert to an Electronic GuageConvert a Gauge




How to change the ORings in the Dashpot of a TR6 Stromberg Carburator

My dashpots have leaked oil quickly ever since I bought the car.  They richen the mixture on acceleration, making it go faster.  Faster is better….    I just now am getting around to fixing it.  I kept forgetting to order the ORings when ordering other parts, and didn’t want to pay more for the shipping than the ORIngs cost.  Finally, I saw on a forum that John Twist at University Motors mentioned that they were size #10.    So I went to Napa, and was able to purchase 10 for $5.60. (Minimum order since they had to have them brought in from their warehouse. )  This project took me about 2 lazy hours from start (finding all my tools, answering the phone, watching the John Twist video, watching a movie at the same time, etc.)

I am not going to repeat anything in John’s video, just post the link here

John Twist’s Video on Replacing Dashpot ORing in Stromberg

I do want to add some things that weren’t clear from the video, and maybe save multiple trips to the store getting tools/supplies.

  1.  Napa Part Number is 727-2010, #10 = 1/4×3/8×1/16  – these are Nitrile, rated for oil.  Others have recommended viton.


2.  Loosen the Air Filter housing and the Carb Top will clear – you don’t have to take the air filters completely off.  Loosen, put them away a little, and the top of the carb will clear and remove easily.  Otherwise the air filter housing is in the way when you try to remove it.

3.  Brass Brush – John shows using a brass brush to remove scratches from the inside of the tube the ORing rides in.   I found a brush for a 9mm handgun cleaning kit, fits perfectly.  I did not use a drill motor, but rather pushed it in/pulled it out until the scoring appeared gone.  It took 100 passes on the worst carb.  You can get a very basic kit for $10.00 at Basspro or Walmart.  Use WD40, no need to buy the gun cleaning solvent.

4.  Retaining Lock washer – which orientation?   The tangs are bent slightly.  The washer should go in with the tangs bent up as you put the washer in the tube. Probably won’t go in the other way around anyway.


5. Filling the Dashpot – My oil squirt can has 90wt in it.  I had just finished changing the lawnmower oil and that had a spout on it.  Very neat and clean. Fit to a bottle of 20/50 weight Valvoline Racing Oil which I use in the engine.  John recommends 90wt, folks on the forums recommend all kinds of things like ATF or regular engine oil.  I will try the 20/50, if it still leaks because of scoring or whatever I didn’t quite remove I will try the 90wt.  20wt is recommended, and you can buy that as 3-in-1 oil at the big box stores.  However it also is more prone to leak as it is thinner, the 90wt least likely to leak.   I decided to try the 20/50 as a compromise, assuming I fixed all leaking. If it doesn’t leak, maybe I’ll try 20 wt in the future sometime.


All done –  Unfortunately it is raining right now, so I can’t try it out…

Flushing Brake and Clutch Hydraulic Fluid, Resetting PDWA to Fix Bright Light/Oil Light Off

I have not flushed the hydraulic fluid since I have owned the car.  Many argue it should be done every year or two to remove absorbed water, which rusts the internal parts, causing premature need to rebuild.   Removing the cap from both master cylinders shows some black in the fluid towards the bottom.  I understand this is either rust suspended in the fluid, or bits of rubber from the hoses.  There are no other symptoms that something is “wrong.”  I also learned about centering the PDWA valve, as my friend vigorously pumped the brakes between bleeding.  The brake warning light comes on bright, as well as the oil pressure light stays off with ignition on, engine not started.  I’ll cover how to recover from this as well.  My hoses are old, and I have braided stainless steel hoses to replace them.  Will do this later.  Was in a rush, and should have done it at the same time.

Here is what I did…

Replace Fluid in Clutch Master Cylinder

Pretty straight forward, just sucked it out with a mighty vac, and then use a carefully rolled shop paper towel to soak up the last little bit, and wipe out the black residue.  I then replaced it with Prestone DOT 3.  Eventually I want to swap over to DOT 5, but I am headed to a british car show and didn’t have time to completely tear down.

Opened bleeder on Clutch Slave

Fluid just flowed freely.  I let it run till it was “new.” And then tightened bleeder.

Bled Clutch Slave

I didnt’ trust the “free flow” above, so….

  • Had a friend press slowly on pedal
  • Opened bleeder
  • Had friend yell when 3/4 of the pedal travel was reached.
  • shut the bleeder
  • Verified clutch action felt right – it did not, so repeated till it did
  • Topped up clutch Master Cylinder with DOT3

Replaced the gasket under the Clutch Master Cylinder Cap

It was missing altogether.  I had one in spare parts.

Replaced Fluid in Brake Master Cylinder

Same as the Clutch, but there are two compartments.  When replacing, made sure to pour fluid into the small, front compartment.  I believe my MC is an aftermarket, don’t know if the OEM MC had such a small space to get into for the front compartment.

Bleeding Brakes – Some Things to Know

  • Bleed from the farthest to closest.  Start with passenger rear, then driver rear, then passenger front, then driver front
  • DO NOT PUMP THE BRAKES between bleeding strokes of the pedal.  It will put your PDWA over to one side.  If you do this, you can recover, just nicer to avoid.
  • On a TR6, it is easier to do this with the wheel off.  Loosen the lugs, and then jack it up, place a jack stand, then  remove the wheel.   To put back, use antiseize, and torque to 80lbs, don’t use an impact wrench or you can mess things up, including warping rotors in the front.
  • Clean or replace the bleeder screws, so the vinyl tube gets a firm seal and no bubbles enter or few do.  Not necessary, but makes it easier.  Some little bubbles may enter from the screw threads.  Ignore these.

Bled Passenger, then Driver Side Wheel Cylinders

I tried using the Mighty Vac to suck the brake fluid through, rather than pump the brake.  Didn’t work.  Sequence is Passenger Rear, Driver Rear, Passenger Front, Driver Front.

  • Put some clear vinyl hose on the bleeder, have a friend apply slow steady pressure.
  • Tell him to yell when he gets about 3/4 of the way down the pedal travel.
  • Loosen bleeder till friend yells, tighten.
  • Have friend let pedal up.  Don’t pump it!
  • Repeat until no more air/bubbles.
  • Replace wheel, go on to next wheel.

Resetting PDWA valve.

Here is information about this valve, and how to rebuild it.

You don’t need to rebuild it just because it needs resetting, but it is an interesting read.  There is a procedure in the Haynes manual that I followed.  Basically I bled the drivers side front again, slowly, watching for the brake warning light to dim and the oil light to come on.   This did not help.  So I bled the passenger front the same way.  This made the brake warning  light go dim  at first, then it came back on bright.  I tapped the PDWA unit gently with a breaker bar, and it then behaved correctly, oil light too.

Using 2 Different Epoxy Coats for 2 Spaces: POR15 Floor Armor, Epoxy-Coat

So I have two different spaces where I work on the triumphs, a typical two car garage, and a side room to my shop.  Both are new construction, so the cement is new for both spaces.

I decided to use epoxy-coat on the garage floor.  The reviews show it is thicker, harder, and tougher than the big box store water based stuff.  It is also more expensive!

For the side room, I decided on POR15’s Floor Armor  The main reason was that the side room is not easy to rinse with water, which you have to do with epoxy-coat.  POR15’s product does not require acid etching and rinsing. Once I started looking, I got a great deal on a gallon of Floor Armor from a custom speed shop that ordered it for a customer who didn’t show.

Epoxy-Coat Experience – Garage Floor

It has been two years since I did the epoxy-coat.   I bought the full kit as my garage is 480 square feet, and the full kit covers 500.  I have zero regrets, it is great!  I use a floor jack on it, jack stands, etc.  No chipping, flaking, it is perfect.  I followed the instructions to the letter, and watched the DVD several times.  I was really anal about scrubbing with the etching solution, and rinsing after words.  In fact I etched, scrubbed, rinsed twice.  I rinsed until the water was absolutely clear.

The scrubbing was a heck of a LOT of work (at least the anal way I did it), far more than the POR15 product.  I should say, I worked the heck out of my son-in-law John, who did most of the scrubbing.  He wore half the bristles down on the natural fiber brush we used to etch/scrub.  I also let the floor dry for a month.  Here is the TR6 looking quite nice on the new floor.


The only problem I had was bubbles forming after I finished laying down the epoxy.  I was able to pop most of them using a leaf blower as recommended, but the blower couldn’t quite reach all the bubbles.  I ended up duct taping the blower to a long pole, so I could reach in far enough to pop all the bubbles!  It did leave little “craters” in the finish where the bubbles were, but they don’t hurt anything.  The floor is still completely coated.  In fact, they add to the “anti-slip” quality of the floor.

POR15 Floor Armor – Shop Floor

I have had good results with POR15 on metal for the triumphs, so when I saw that there was no water involved, I decided to try it.  The room below is a 120 square foot side room to my shop, and I want to use it for things such as rebuilding engines, small painting projects, etc. So the 1 gallon size will just barely suffice.  As I stated above, the floor is new construction, so the cement has never had oil, grease, or anything else on it, except the drywall hangers did leave a mess of “mud” on the floor, which had to be scrubbed off.

I followed the directions completely, which you can read here:  The only thing I did differently had to do with painting the edges first with a paint brush.  When I discovered the recoat time was about  4-5 hours (less if really humid), I realized the project would take 4.5 hours first edging + 4.5 hours second coat edging + 4.5 hours first coat floor + 4.5 hours second coat floor = 18 hours.  So I did the edging and first floor coat all at once, not worrying about second coating the edging.  I remember from my epoxy coat experience that I will be able to get the roller right up to the edge.

1.  Preparation

Floor was scrubbed, and allowed to dry for several months.  No special reason for the length of time, other than I was busy with other things.  Vacuumed, and painters taped.  I opened all the windows, and put old towels at the base of the doors going upstairs, to keep the odor out of the house.  Turned off the AC.

2.  Mixing  the Floor Armor/POR15

I did not want to mix it up all at once, as I am going to do both coats with the single gallon, and you have to let it dry 4-5 hours between coats.  I did not know how much I would need for the first coat, so I came up with the following approach.  I grabbed a bunch of half quart throw away Tupperware containers, which have 2 cup, 4 cup lines on them.  I added 3 cups of the POR15, dipping into the gallon can with a cleaned out jello cup (I have a bunch of these), then adding activator till it reached the 4 cup mark.  I then wrote down the time.  I stirred and let it activate for 10 minutes.  Then before painting, I mixed a second batch in another container, and marked the time.  I used the first batch, and noticed I did about a quarter of the floor.  I figured I’d need 4 batches.  So I then made a third batch, noted the time. Then used the second batch when it’s 10 minutes was up, and made a fourth, noting the time.  I then used the third batch, then the fourth.  This allowed each batch to activate, limited the waste, and allowed me to keep painting without having to wait 10 minutes for activation.

3.  Single coat edges and floor

I decided to single coat the edges with a disposable paintbrush, then immediately put the first coat on the whole floor, all in one operation.



The picture above one coat of wet POR15, using a little more than half a gallon POR15 + activator.  It isn’t a solid color yet, you can still see it needs another coat, but the instructions say don’t worry about it on the first coat.  Now to let it dry for 4-5 hours.  The test will be that I can drag my finger over it, and it drags, but won’t leave a fingerprint.

4.  Second Coat

After 5 hours it was dry to the point it would not leave a fingerprint, and I could walk on it ok.  For the second coat, I was worried I would not have enough.  So I divided the remaining from the gallon can into 4 Tupperware containers, one for each quarter of the room.  Fortunately, it covered, but it was very close…  Here it is, done, still wet.


Here it is dry, a day and a half later


5.  Odor concerns

As you can see above, my shop is part of the interior of the main house building. I had once rattle canned a car part in this room, and the odor permeated the house, upsetting the Mrs.  Since I didn’t want to add the cost of a hotel room to this project, this time I opened all the windows, and put old blankets against the space under the doors leading to the rest of the house.  No problem with odor inside the rest of the house at first.  But my wife got up at 2am and opened more windows.  The smell didn’t wake her, but once awake, it was pretty strong. After a day and a half it is a slight background odor, just barely.

6.  Crack coverage

The instructions say it covers hairline cracks.  I had filled most of the cracks with urethane crack filler, but left a few, thinking the Floor Armor would fill it.  No such luck.  If I had to do it again, I would fill every crack first.  My own fault for being overly optimistic about what a “hairline crack” is.


7.  Comparing the Two Products

For ease of application the Floor Armor wins for not having to etch and rinse, and it did not bubble.  Appearance wise, they are the same.  I have not abused the Floor Armor yet, so I cannot comment about how the two products compare for durability. I will update the post after I have used the Floor Armor surface for things like jacking up the car, etc.


How to Install a Spin On Filter Adapter in a 72 Triumph TR6

I have had the Spin On filter adapter I purchased from the Roadster Factory hanging around for a year now, waiting for my next oil change.  Changing the stock oil filter is such a pain.  You can do it without completely pulling out the canister by undoing the bolt, maneuvering the metal canister so the round end is towards the front of the car, and dropping the paper filter element out the bottom between the frame rail and the oil pan, near the clutch slave cylinder.  But it is a hassle.

1.  Buying A Spin On Adapter – Beware of Cheap Adapters

I’ve heard you have to be careful buying these adapters.  Some are cheaply made – either the aluminum is porous and the oil leaks through the aluminum itself, like

Others have a reduced flow capacity.  So I bought a Flotec FHT2 from The Roadster Factory to ensure I got good quality.  After discussing with others on various forums a lot of people also buy the Mocal Spin on filter adapter.

2.  Removing the Old Filter and Canister 

It turns out getting the metal canister out of it’s little “trap” is even harder.  I initially tried removing the Oil Pressure Relief valve, in order to take it out towards the front.  That didn’t work, and I broke the valve in the process.  Ordered an equivalent at Napa for a little over $8.  Part ATM 1431009

Product Image

To get the metal canister out, I had to remove the Fuel Pump.  Even that was a challenge, as I couldn’t get a socket on either nut of the fuel pump.  I took the front nut off with a regular 1/2″ open end wrench.  To get the back one out I had to use a stubby open end wrench that I had just purchased on sale at Northern Tools on the odd chance I might need it!


As my dad would say, “They oughta make the engineer that designed the d@mn thing work on it!”

3.  Removing the O-Ring from the Engine Block

The only other trick is to make sure you get the O Ring out of the Engine Block.  After trying a couple of things, I found an inexpensive voltage tester, the kind with the “ice pick” sharp end, did the trick easily (circled below in yellow).  I used a mirror to verify that the groove in the engine block for the O-Ring was absolutely clean, to avoid leaks.


4.  Installing the Spin On Adapter

Pretty straightforward.  Just use some oil on the O-Rings prior to installing.  You may have to angle it so the Oil Filter will be at about 7 o’clock (angled towards the front of the car) for the filter to fit.

5.  Selecting an Oil Filter

The only other challenge was the Oil Filter.  The instructions that came with the Spin On Filter recommended a Fram PH9A or Fram PH966.  These are both obsolete.  I did some research, and found the following on Oil Filter selection for the Spin On Adapter.

In particular, it is important to get an Oil Filter with the proper pressure regulating valve because “Full flow oil filtration systems such as used by Triumph pass all of the oil from the pump through the filter before proceeding to the bearings. Any stoppage at the filter results in no oil pressure at the bearings.”

After looking at all the suggested Oil Filters in the link above, I found the PH3600 at my local Autozone.  After buying two, I verified in the specs online that it had a pressure regulating valve.   I bought one, and installed it – angling it at about 8 o’clock towards the front of the car.  It is too tall.  The rounded top presses against the clutch slave cylinder hydraulic line.  I don’t think it is a good idea to heat the clutch fluid!

Ok, I got ahold of FRAM tech support.  The obsolete filter recommended by Flotec, the manufacturer of the Spin On adapter, was a PH9A.  Fram recommends a PH16 to replace a PH9A.  However, the diameter of the PH16 is too large at 3.66″ as opposed to 2.98″ of the PH3600, which “fits” the adapter well and just clears the engine/frame.   So we went back to the PH3600 as a starting point as recommended on the VTR site (but is too tall, hits the clutch hydraulic line).  After much discussion, they recommended a Fram PH3614.   There is a catalog with specifications, and it shows the same specs as the PH3600, only it is 3.34″ tall instead of 4.92″ tall.  That should clear ok.  I asked about the capacity.  Wouldn’t that be a factor, could we find something a little taller?  The tech said that is a common misconception, that height matters <g>.  this PH3614 filter is used on a variety of cars and tractors, including 6 cylinders.  He suggested if I am wanting to really go all out don’t focus on height, but get a better filter, get the TG3614, which is $6.99 at Autozone.    So I have a plan that doesn’t involve rerouting the clutch hydraulics I believe!  Off to Autozone.


TR6 temperature gauge running cold/heater doesn’t work due to missing thermostat

Ever since I bought the TR6 the temperature gauge has read way to the left, only rarely in the solid white.  It was running really rich when I bought it, and I thought that was the problem together with potentially a bad sender.  I finally fixed the running rich problem, and the gauge was still way to the left.

I was reading some threads on on bad senders, etc., and ran across someone mentioning to also check for a stuck open thermostat.  I removed the thermostat cover, and – no thermostat at all.  Previous owner…..   grrr…..   Ok, I’ll get another thermostat.

But nothing is as simple as that.  On Moss Motors site there are multiple choices.  First is temperature range – one for winter, one for summer.  Second is failsafe or not.  I’d never heard of Failsafe, but looked it up, and if they fail, they fail open, so coolant keeps flowing.  I decided to spend the extra 6 or 7 dollars and get a failsafe at the OEM recommended 180 degrees.  Autozone carried it and the gasket, had it in stock, saved me a couple buck and the shipping fee..  Part Number: 7200-180


The bolts holding down the thermostat housing were rusty.  I cleaned them up with a wire wheel on a dremel tool, and used anti-seize on the threads.  I also cleaned the mating surfaces of the housing really well before reassembling.  I did not use gasket sealer.

The results?   The temperature gauge now runs about the middle of the white zone, and guess what?   The heater now works!   I have driven in high 20’s low 30’s weather, and it was COLD.  And my wife will now ride with me in the winter!



How to top up the differential oil on a Triumph TR6

After having my differential mounts reinforced and replacing my rear axles, my differential front seal is now leaking.  It shows up as a thin stream of oil dripping from the front of the differential onto the garage floor, and winding its way back on my nice epoxy coated floor.  I will need to deal with the leak itself  later.  For now I need to keep the differential topped up.   I am planning to check it once a year regardless of whether I see leaks, and I definitely topped it up when I first bought the car, before driving it any distance at all.   Here are my notes so I remember details for next time:

1.  Purchase Recommended Oil – I am using Brad Penn Multi Purpose GL4 80-90wt purchased from The Roadster Factory.  It will not cause problems with any “yellow metal” components in the differential.  (If there are any, this is a problem with transmissions).


2.  Make an Oiler + 6-8″ Clear Vinyl Tube Extension –  It is impossible to squeeze oil into the differential from the bottle.  I made the following oiler rig from an inexpensive oil can purchased from Northern Tools, plus a piece of 1/4 inside diameter clear vinyl tubing from Lowes.  I marked this oiler rig with a sharpie (80-90 wt Brad Penn GL4)  to remember what oil is in it.  I can use it for topping up both the differential and the gearbox.


3.  Remove the filler plug –  with car level on the ground, the plug is on the passenger side of the differential, and is square.  Get on your back and wiggle under the passenger side from the rear of the car.  Don’t jack it up, leave it level.  There is room to get under it ok.

4.  Fill the Oiler to a Predetermined Level – as a reference point, so you will know how much you added to the differential later

5.  Insert Vinyl Tube end of Oiler Rig  into Differential until it Turns Down – until it bends down, into the differential.  This way you will know when you pump oil in and it leaks back out that it is truly full.  At first I put the tube into the filler hole  level, and didn’t turn it down into the differential.  When I pumped oil in, it appeared to immediately overflow, as if it were full.  I’d been wiping up oil for awhile now, and knew it had to be low.  The oil was traveling back down the tube and dripping down as though it is overflowing when it was not.  Pushing the vinyl tube down into the differential made a difference – I had to pump the whole can in before it overflowed.

6.  Pump Until It Overflows


7.  Make Note of How Much Oil Was Pumped In – open the oiler rig and make a note as to how much you used.  This is a good way to keep track of the rate of the leak.  The capacity of a TR6 differential is  2.4 pints (1.13 liters).   2.4 pints =  38.4 ounces.   The oiler has about 8 ounces capacity.  So for the last top up, it took almost the whole 8 ounces of the oiler.  But that isn’t bad – I would have been concerned if it took more though, and wouldn’t want to drive it if it was more than 8 ounces low.

8.  Replace the Filler Plug –  its ok if it is still flowing out.  Wipe down the overflow, and the nice epoxy coated floor!

How to Fine Tune Timing on a Triumph TR6

I tend to be the kind that would assume that simply setting timing to the factory specification will give optimum performance and economy.  I have learned that octane levels have changed since the 70s, carb settings, engine wear, distributor wear or unique characteristics of a rebuilt distributor, all impact where optimal timing should be set.  If timing is set too retarded, the engine won’t pull enough vacuum, resulting in an overly rich burn.  If timing is too far advanced, the engine will experience pre-detonation and possible valve damage and power loss.

Before you can fine tune timing, some basic fundamentals must be right:

  1. The crank and cam are correctly in sync, chain not overly worn, tensioner in good shape.
  2. Had distributor rebuilt by including adding the adjusting wheel, specifications at 12-15° before TDC with vacuum disconnected and plugged.
  3. Ignition components are good  – I installed top quality new coil/points/condenser/rotor/cap/wires/plugs from
  4. Vacuum leaks – I changed all vacuum hoses including the brake booster vacuum line.
  5. Compression is good – 160 on all cylinders
  6. Carbs are in good condition:  Verify no leak in piston diaphragms, healthy air bypass diaphragms.  I had to put new air bypass diaphragms and gaskets in both carbs, screw turned counterclockwise all the way to block off air bypass per Joe Curto.
  7. Decide what gas you will burn most often, and fill the tank.  I decided on Premium.

Steps to Fine Tune Timing

  1. Set valves to .010 with engine cold assuming a stock cam.
  2. Set Dwell to 35° ± 3°
  3. Set timing adjuster wheel on distributor to middle position
  4. Set timing to 15° before TDC with Timing Light, vacuum disconnected and plugged at 900 RPM for a baseline, keep the adjuster bolt loose for further tuning.
  5. Connect vacuum gauge to intake manifold where brake booster vacuum line normally goes.
  6. With engine warmed up and idling, turn the distributor clockwise and counterclockwise until the maximum vacuum is achieved.  For my car with a stock cam this was 21. This will be lower if you have a performance cam.   If the needle jumps a lot, or you have low vacuum, fix those problems first.
  7. Retard the timing (counterclockwise) until the vacuum is 1.5 to 2.0 lower than the maximum.  For my car this would be 19.5.  Tighten Distributor clamp.
  8. Check timing again with the timing light, distributor vacuum hose disconnected and plugged.  Record results.  Reconnect distributor vacuum hose.
  9. Check balance with Unisyn, adjust as needed.
  10. Check air/fuel mixture with Colortune for both carbs:   one cylinder (1-3) for the front carb, one cylinder (4-6) for the rear carb.  Yellow means you are too rich, or timing is still too retarded. Should be yellow on acceleration, blue at any steady speed.  Red means too lean.  Idle may be slightly yellow.  Record results and settings..  Adjust mixture as needed for the front and rear carb (clockwise richer, counter clockwise leaner).  To start, turn all the way clockwise, counting exactly to the quarter turn how many turns in.  Then turn counter clockwise with the engine at about 1500 RPM until it turns blue.  Turn no more than 3 full turns or the needle will fall out of its carrier and you will have to take it apart.  If you turn 3 full turns counter clockwise and you are still rich timing may still be too retarded. Record new settings.
  11. Verify vacuum is still within the range of maximum – 1.5 to 2.0.
    1. If yes, proceed to next step
    2. If no, repeat steps 6-10
  12.  Remove Colortune and Vacuum Gauge.   Test drive.  Car should ping very slightly under light acceleration, not at all under heavy acceleration.  Keep adjusting wheel on distributor until this is the case.
  13. Check air/fuel mixture again with Colortune.  Adjust as needed, record new settings.
  14.  Test drive again if you had to change carb settings.  Car should ping very slightly under light acceleration, not at all under heavy acceleration.  Keep adjusting wheel on distributor until this is the case.
  15. Repeat steps 11-14 until the engine pings very slightly upon acceleration, and the Colortune verifies the mixture is correct, and the vacuum level is maximum – 1.5 to 2.0.
  16. Using the timing light, observe and record the optimal timing for your car.
  17. Set the adjustment wheel on the distributor to the middle of its adjustment range.
  18. Loosen the distributor clamp, and using the timing light set the timing to the optimal timing for your car as recorded in step 16.  Now you can advance and retard equally from the optimum timing setting.
  19. Verify that nothing “slipped” one more time with Colortune that the mixture is correct (blue), with the vacuum gauge (max – 1.5 to 2.0 at idle), and a test drive that pings slighty with mild acceleration, not at all with heavy acceleration.
  20. Record all the appropriate settings:  max vacuum, vacuum when timing is proper, timing, air mixture (turns from fully closed), octane, colortune notes.

How to set valves for a Triumph TR6

1.  Set the valves cold – let it sit overnight.  If hot or warm the metal will have expanded, and the gap smaller than when cold.  If you set the valves warm/hot, when the engine cools off the gap will be larger and the adjustment too loose.

2.  Take records of the following as you go:

  • Mileage
  • Plug color and gap per plug – to monitor over time the mixture per cylinder
  • Pre-adjustment valve clearance per cylinder per valve – if the clearance on a valve keeps getting tighter each time you check it, you may have a valve seat getting pounded down.  This is a great way to monitor a head that has not been rebuilt for unleaded gas.  Erratic readings, going tighter and looser, may indicate rocker arm or tappet wear.
  • Post-Adjustment valve clearance per cylinder per valve (see the “T” and “L” notes below).

3. Wipe around Valve Cover with a rag, remove the Valve Cover with a 1/2 deep socket and speed wrench.  I do this before removing plugs just to prevent any junk from falling into plug holes.

4.  Remove the spark plug wires from the plug side only, being careful to pull them from the boot rather than the wire so as to not pull the wire off from the connector. Leave them in line with the plug you removed.  Remove all the spark plugs with the speed wrench + extension, recording the color (sooty, brown, white) and gap,  to make it easy to turn the engine


5.  The “Rule of 13” is a slick way to know which valve to adjust on a 6 cylinder engine.  If 1 and 3 are open, 1 + 12 = 13 and 3 + 10 = 13.  Thus 12 and 10 are the valves to adjust. Look at valves to see which pair  seems to be open from the chart below.  A valve is open when the adjuster side of the rocker is up high, and the spring side is down low.  (Note:  someone pointed out that the order of the chart is inverted.  Work your way UP the chart not down.  I will verify this next time I set my valves)

Rule of  Thirteen – Valve Adjustment Order
Open Valves Check and Adjust
1 3 10 12
8 11 2 5
4 6 7 9
10 12 1 3
2 5 8 11
7 9 4 6

6.  Choose the NEXT pair of valves that will open from the chart (a reader tells me the chart is inverted, so NEXT is UP if they are right.  I will check next time I set valves), and put your fingers from your right hand on the adjusters.  I choose the NEXT pair in case the pair that appears open is already starting to close.  Your sense of touch is very sensitive, and you don’t need to watch the valves, you can easily feel when both adjusters rise, and when the one starts to descend. The reason I choose the next pair is so you can be sure they are fully open and am not tempted to turn the engine backwards, which you should never do.  You want to keep the timing chain tight in the direction of the normal rotation of the engine.


7.  With your right hand fingers on the adjusters, take your left hand, reach down and pull the fan towards you, turning the engine clockwise.  If you have the right pair of valves, they will both start to open after only 30 degrees of rotation (a couple blades worth of rotation).  If only one valve opens, you have the wrong pair,  Keep turning the engine clockwise only just a little bit until one of the valves just barely  starts to close (when the adjuster side starts to go back down).  DO NOT turn the engine backwards if you go too far.  Just go on to the next pair, and adjust the ones you missed on the next full rotation..


8.  Record the valve clearance of the fully closed pair that pairs with the fully open pair on the chart. So you are not recording the valves you have your fingers on, but the matching pair from the chart.  Use the go/no go method with .008, .010, and .012 feeler gauges.  The largest one that will “go” is the one you record.  I will put a “T” if it is a little tight, an “L” next to the value if a little loose.


9.  Put a screwdriver that fits snugly in the adjuster, and loosen the nut by about a “flat” with a 1/2 end wrench on the adjuster, keeping the slot from turning with the screwdriver as best you can.  Tighten or loosen the adjuster  as appropriate by about a half of a flat of a nut, and tighten the nut, again holding the screwdriver firmly to keep the adjuster from turning along with the nut.  This takes a little practice, and you may need to eyeball it a little if things get away from you.  The important thing is to watch the adjuster slot, and have it end up a little clockwise or counter clockwise as is appropriate when you are done tightening the nut.  Verify the adjustment with a go/no go test, setting both intake and exhaust to .010.  Record the result for each valve.  If it is a little loose on the .010, but the .012 won’t go, I record this as .010 “L” and move on.  A tiny bit loose is ok, but you don’t want it too tight – “T”.  By recording it as .010 “L”, you can judge if the seat may be wearing if it is .010 “T” next time, or consistently each time you compare.

10.  Put a dollop of Vaseline on each adjuster as you go to keep track of the fact you adjusted it.  (Optional, but helps me keep track).


11.  Repeat for each pair of valves until you are done.  If you miss a pair, just keep going and do an extra rotation to catch the one/ones you missed.  The “law of 13” method doesn’t require full rotations, and the spark plugs being out makes it easy to turn, so it won’t take you much to get back to that pair of valves.

12.  Double check:  go through the process again, double checking all the valve settings.  This doesn’t take long.  If you have any that fail this test, you need to ask yourself if your valve rocker arms or tappets are worn.  Set the offending valve again, and go through another rotation to see if it still fails.

13.  Put the plugs back, putting a little Anti-Seize on the threads first.  Nothing is worse than stripping a spark plug hole, or breaking off a plug, and the anti-seize will make them come out easily next time.  I put them back in the same cylinders so I can track the mixture in that cylinder by the color consistently.  Use the Speed Wrench plus extension, and tighten to the equivalent of hand tight, and then a slight extra turn, maybe two “hours” or so of a clock face.  Like from 1 O’clock to 3 O’clock.


14.  Put the wires back on, verifying the firing order as you go.  (No.1 at front) 1,5,3,6,2,4  going counterclockwise.  The wires should be close to the correct plug holes anyway, so just make sure you didn’t get them crossed over.

15.  Put the Valve Cover back on, don’t over tighten it.  I use the same rule of thumb as for the spark plugs, tighten till snug, then a little more, about 2 numbers on the clock face.  (Replace the gasket first if it was leaking).  Be sure to put the emissions hose back.

First Autocross at the 2013 Gathering – Second Place – and Excessive End Float causes Gouged Distributor & Missing

So I hesitated about doing the Autocross at The Gathering.  Last year, one of our club members tore out his trailing arm mount.  I had the rear fixed up – reinforced Differential Mounts, new trailing arm mounts, Goodparts CV joint axles.  I decided to go for it.




My goals for the Autocross were to not mess up the car, not get lost on the course, and to not embarrass myself too badly.  During the third run, while cornering hard, all of a sudden something didn’t feel right.  I decided not to take a fourth run.  I was pleasantly surprised to place second.  I won’t tell you how many entered.


So afterwards, the “6” was missing and not running well.  Part way home, I realized what it might be.  I popped the distributor cap, and there was evidence that the end float on the distributor was messed up.  The shaft had risen, causing the rotor to dig an arc across the inside of the cap.  The rotor’s little “tab” inside that keeps it from spinning on the shaft was broken, just barely keeping it pointed in the right direction.

End float causes rotor to gouge cap during Autocross

End float causes rotor to gouge cap during Autocross

I limped home at 45 MPH, keeping the RPMs down to 3,000 or less.   The end float, according to a feeler gauge check, was far too much.  Yesterday I sent the distributor to Jeff at Advanced Distributors for a rebuild.  I asked him about going to an electronic ignition.  He said on his dyno tests, points outperform electronics!   So I’ll go points.  I can always change later.  I did order a Bosch blue coil and Bosch wire set however, per what I have read on the forums, and Jeff’s recommendation.