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Sunday, February 08, 2015

Eighth vehicle - 1973 Triumph TR6

After my first Navy technical school in San Diego, I was going to be sent to Great Lakes Naval Training Station, just north of Chicago, Illinois.  This training would last for a couple of months.

Following the school in Chicago would come a six month school in Orlando, Florida.  After I finished class in Orlando would come the final school, a six month class in upstate New York.

At that time, the only transportation I had was the unreliable but wickedly fast KH 500 motorcycle, which I was NOT going to ride on a long distance trip, ever again.  Instead I had the bike shipped back to Idaho, which cost about as much as I paid for the motorcycle.  A high school friend kept the bike for me as I flew from school to school.

In the Chicago area I didn't mind being without transportation; they a have wonderful commuter train system there.  Things changed when I got to Orlando, however.  There wasn't much opportunity to get out and explore places without a vehicle.  Soon enough I began looking for sports cars in the newspaper.  Eventually I found a 'decent' 1973 TR-6.  It needed a bit of work.

It looked about like this, right down to the aftermarket wheels that I very much disliked.

I was very fortunate that Orlando (And later, San Diego Sub Base) had "Auto Hobby Shops".  These were places where you could rent a stall on a daily or weekly basis, borrow tools, and repair or maintain your car - if you didn't happen to be out to sea.  I don't know if the Navy still does this, but for me and my problematic vehicles, it was a Godsend.

The first problem with the new TR-6 was the front brake rotors.  They were massively warped, so slowing the car down was pretty exciting (and I don't mean "fun" exciting).  While braking, the steering wheel would start rapidly pulling one way and then the other, all the while the car was shimmying to a stop.  I had the brake rotors turned for the price of a six pack of Budweiser, and the brakes were never an issue again.

Next was the ominous "clunk" whenever you got on the gas or let off the gas.  I jacked the car up and found that the Independent Rear Suspension universal joints were sloppy.  I ordered replacements, and as soon as they arrived I removed the old universal joints.  A universal joint is supposed to look like the one below:

The TR6 being a Florida car had a fair bit of rust, but where I found the most rust was where the Needle Roller bearings once were.  I found rust powder and a few loose rusty pins that looked like they might have once been needle bearings.  Once I replaced the universal joints the car handled and ran pretty well... but it still had those god-awful magnesium wheels.

After a lot of scraping and saving, I replaced the awful smaller rims with stock rims and new Michelin radials.  The car didn't corner as well, because it now sat slightly higher, but it looked and ran right, finally!

 I drove this car from Orlando, Florida to upstate New York with no problem whatsoever.  I drove it all over in both places.  It was a great little car once I got all the problems ironed out.  It didn't even have any electrical fires!

For reasons I can no longer recall, I decided to trade this car in on a brand new Ford Mustang GT...

... but this was not to be, because Ford Motor Credit wouldn't front me the money.  Their loss on a car sale and on the interest they would have earned from making the loan.

Instead, General Motors was willing to make an auto loan to me, and so they got to sell a (slightly used) car.  This one.

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