1962 Triumph TR4 Restoration

Brian Sanborn, Groton, MA

Ride the Learning Curve

Summer '98

Aside from the "banging noise in the engine bay" mystery.... The first thing I had to deal with was a new exhaust system or I would have the neighborhood up in arms. Barry Fox, a local TR4A owner, pointed out that the exhaust manifold was a header and not the stock unit. This made things more complicated and didn't have a simple solution. I had a TR4A engine and OEM intake manifold and a TR4 frame and body. The header had to go, so I could install an early TR4 stock exhaust manifold. I got that from a guy on the Triumph Mail list and swapped him the header in return. This allowed me to install a stock stainless steel single pipe TR4 system. This turned out to be a very difficult job because some PO (Previous Owner) had deleted all the stock hangers including the one that is part of the gearbox rear mount. Fitting a new one without taking everything apart was a real trick because I really didn't know how the part was supposed to fit.

The header pipe position had fried the hydraulic brake light switch so it was not switching unless there was a lot of pedal pressure. The part was on back order so I lived with it all through the summer. I later replaced it and the new one only lasted about 1300 miles and 5 months. It seems these are not reliable for lots of other owners as well.

The other immediate problem was the variable idle I was getting. I traced this to the TR4A period PCV valve. This thing leaked like a sieve and at a different rate on every cycle of the up and down of engine vacuum. The replacement diaphragms were hard to find and what I got didn't fit the PCV valve on my car. The solution was to remove the PCV valve and retro back to 1962 open breather specs. I needed to find an early TR4 valve cover without the little spout, a breather cap and engine siphon tube. Ken Nuelle helped me with this problem by sending me a valve cover and siphon tube. I decided to make the change in the late fall when the car came off the road.

I soon realized that the windscreen was going to have to be changed. It was so worn, that driving at night was almost impossible due to the sparkle from any light source. The headlights were very weak as well.... they should be upgraded to the new 60/55W units from Sylvania.

I was developing a restoration strategy. The plan was to bring the car back to the late 1962 specs that it was at when new. That meant some changes in the engine bay, the dash should go back to white metal, the TR4A seats needed to be replaced with the early TR4 seats that resemble the seats in a TR3A/B but use a different tub.

I was developing a long list of problems and restoration goals. Somehow I convinced myself to take the car apart and do the engine and maybe the gearbox, if I had the guts, and all the other things on the wish list. I learned later that these are the first symptoms of shipwrights disease.