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Around About Town – Summer Edition 2017

 

Sorry for the drought intrepid followers, although there’s not really been a drought this summer has there? Wow. Last month seemed to be a daily deluge. As such I haven’t been doing much motoring, combined with family vacations, but I have been doing quite a bit of wrenching in the in between time. In March, I obtained my first ever Porsche. It’s an early 944 and a bit of a basket case but nothing insurmountable. I started out changing out the gear oils and other fluids, followed by a full brake servicing. Some cosmetic work on the wheels and then started to tackle some of the more serious items. The sunroof and rear hatches on these cars are problematic with leaks, the electricals become dodgy and the interior dash degrades…wow sounds like a Triumph doesn’t it? Well, in fact, it is my opinion that these German cars aren’t as problem free or well built as their reputation warrants. I have seen enough in my short time as an owner to safely say they have the same issues in different ways. Both marques suffer from neglectful owners in much the same way.

For instance I am sure some of you will recognize this scenario. The 944 has ‘power remote’ mirrors, okay so none of the Triumphs ever did but that’s not really the issue. stick with me on this. The power mirrors were surprisingly, not working. Okay now you are starting to relate….A little digging inside the door panel and I find a grouping of wires hanging from above. “Ah!”, I think to myself. The wires are cut. A little digging on the interwebs and I find out ‘why’ they are likely cut. You’re going to like this, it’s very Triumph’y.  It seems that Porsche must have gotten a discount on some electrical connectors or they just grabbed what was in the ‘bin’ when they went to put the side mirrors on the 944’s. The stock connector was actually too big to go through the alloted hole in the door so ‘Hans’ had to feed the wire through the opening and then attach the connector on the inside of the door. That’s great, gives Hans a job. The issue is when it comes time to remove the mirror for whatever reason, in which case, you guessed it, you can either buy the special tool to remove the connector or ….cut the wires. If you peruse the internet at all you’ll find it is a very popular option, and so it was with this car. But wait, there’s more. Removing the door panel to gain access I start tracing the wires which seem to terminate in what can best be described as a ball of electrical tape that has started to decompose into a primordial goo. I know where this is headed but I’m curious as to how heinous it will be. Unwrapping the tape it’s shock and awe with a little chuckle of laughter. I don’t think I need to say much more about it.

 

Moving on, I remedied the mess and started working in the engine bay. Going through my standard regimen of items to look at I reach down to unscrew the distributor cap for a quick look….wait, it’s already loose. Come to find out it was fastened on one side only and the rotor had impacted the insides in various points. That was replaced. I found two sensors that were not bolted down although the bolts were inside the car fortunately. I now understand why they were removed however as the car suffers from a common 944 issue of not starting once keyed off. I find this analogous to the ‘click nothing’ that Triumph marques suffer from and of which the causes can vary. However, omitting the bolts to hold the sensors in place surely will not aid in diagnosis so I reinstalled them.

The headlight on one side also did not work along with various other lights and switches. Using a page from my TR6 experiences I decided to polish all the connectors in the fuse panel. Lo and behold everything that wasn’t working suddenly is. Does any of this sound familiar? It should, I just performed the same process on my TR6 fuse panel and relays which restored my horn, hazards and turn signals. With both cars you can crack open the relays and give them a good servicing to restore functionality.

Speaking of TR6’s, I spent last weekend going over the TR. Some of you may recall my odyssey from Missouri in the 6, subsequent trip to Oxford for 6-Pack TRials and traveled with me on The Driving Dead last fall.  I picked up a noise from the rear that sounded distinctly like a loose half shaft while driving to Joe’s for dart night. At Joe’s I crawled under the back and yes there were loose bolts on the half shaft. Now that’s not typically something that happens I thought to myself but nevertheless they were loose so I snugged them up and put it on the mental back burner to investigate at a later date. So the later date arrived last weekend and I pulled the wheels at the back to inspect the drivetrain further. I could find nothing else amiss, but while I am here I thought I’d check the brakes…..Ah the horrors.

So apparently one of the things that did NOT weather the layup well were the rear brake shoes. Now I’m not an adhesives expert but I don’t think that I have ever seen a set of brake shoes decompose in quite this manner. I suspect leaking wheel cylinders may have contributed to the carnage although they were not actively leaking during this inspection. The brake linings had separated on both wheels  The side that had the loose half-shaft bolts had come loose completely and shredded themselves inside the drum. So I believe the random vibration was as much from the disintegrating lining on that side as from the half-shaft. Indeed, the brakes could have caused the loosening of the half-shaft. Pictured below: Passenger side forward shoe, passenger side rear shoes with separated lining. Driver side lining beginning to separate.

All of this has been remedied and I also installed new wheel cylinders and stainless braided lines as the condition of the hoses (being original to the car) were also suspect. I also took the opportunity to replace the fuel lines on the driver side rear since I was there anyway. Coming back to the Porsche since I’m on the topic of fuel, at speed you are very likely to die of asphyxia. It seems that if you have the slightest misalignment or degraded seal on the hatch or tail lights, you will die. Opening the windows only increases the flow of exhaust. It’s a feature really sort of like the plugs on the bottom of TR6 carbs. Hot exhaust plus gas, what can possibly go wrong?

Keep driving my friends.

-Tony Graham

Triumph….It’s what’s inside.

 

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