Parts Shopping

The recent sale of my '67 Spitfire has infused a new sense of enthusiasm (and badly needed cash) into the "new Mrs. Jones" project and I've been gathering all the missing pieces to the puzzle. In the past week, I have acquired the following new and used parts.

Race-prepped, freshly rebuilt 1300 engine, balanced, with ported and flowed heads, hardened valve seats to run on unleaded gas, oversized intake and exhaust valves. In a few days, I'll be dropping the engine back off at the builder to remove the cam, have it ground for hot street spec and put back in. Current compression is 7.5:1. I intend to increase the compression ratio to 9.5:1. I have also purchased a lightened flywheel and ARP bolts. The stock flywheel is 16.5 pounds. The lightened version weighs in at 9.5 pounds. This should improve the tach wind up considerably.

For exhaust, I'm starting with stainless steel Bell 4-2-1 header, which will be ceramic coated inside and out to retain more heat and improve performance, terminating to a Supertrapp muffler. This engine should have no problems hitting 7,000 RPM without blowing up. I'll be fitting my Keihn Quad racing carbs with cable operated throttle (as shown below when they were fitted to my '67) for even more horsepower and torque.

I've also acquired a mostly rebuilt 3-rail full synchro gearbox with rebuilt D type overdrive that I'm taking to the transmission shop for a good checking over and the installation of all new synchro rings. The radiator has been dropped off for rebuilding at a local radiator shop that's done good work for me in the past.

Other parts I've purchased include brake and clutch pedals with mounting brackets, a brake line distribution block with pressure warning switch, brake rebuild kit, complete heater unit, the pipe that goes from the water pump to the heater, new heater valve, radio blanking plate, full steering column and mounting hardware, replacement hi/low/parking light switch for the stalk, a complete wiring harness, front and rear parking, braking and turn signal light assemblies, radiator cradle, horns, door latches and strikers, window cranks door handles, grab bar, dash top, windshield mounting kit, various gaskets and rubber weather stripping, and innumerable other small objects that will make this car complete.

There is still more to find, but I'm having good luck between eBay, friends and the local British car boneyard.

6/18/02 -- Not much getting done this month. Visiting relatives, graduations and birthdays have been occupying most of my time. I've managed to track down a distributor for the engine and a used, but remarkably clean radiator arrived today that I found on eBay for $9.95 plus shipping. The entire thing is clean, the fins on the cooling elements were nearly perfect, and I straightened the few that weren't with a straight edged razor blade. When I ran the hose into the top, clean, clear water rushed out the bottom exit port. The seller claims to have pressure tested it for 3 hours, which seems excessive, but I believe that it's a good radiator.

After a dab of paint and ready installation now. Can't beat THAT deal! TTN member Dan Canaan generously donated a spare heater valve bracket for my project that he had already bead blasted. Thanks, Dan! I've gathered up several engine brackets, braces, etc. and heater vents that I'm going to have powder coated in semi-gloss black. I'm going to take it to the same place that ceramic coated my new headers. I need to dismantle the brake pedals. I may have them powder coated as well.

I also dropped off the transmission with a giant of a man, who works in a remote area of San Diego out in the wild country. I had to weave through a post-apocalyptic maze of car graveyards to find his place, but informed sources tell me this guy does excellent work and I'll have a perfectly functioning transmission when he's through.

I still need to source a new, sportier camshaft soon. I thought I had a mutually beneficial deal set up with a well regarded performance-oriented Spitfire parts dealer, but unfortunately, he was out of stock and couldn't tell me when he'd be able to play ball. My engine builder is backlogged with work at his speed shop and dragging his feet in getting my engine mods performed, which is actually okay since cashflow is a bit tight at the moment anyway. Nice when things work out that way.

6/21/02 -- I dropped off a lot of engine brackets and support rods to be powdercoated the other day, and picked up my ceramic coated headers. They look terrific. I also managed to source an AC Delco Mk3 distributor from eBay, which I'll disassemble, clean, re-assemble, lube and install with a Pertronix electronic ignition module instead of retaining points and condensor. Update: I decided to keep and restore the GT6 Mk1 heater unit because it's very similar to the Mk3 heater box (fitting in the same space perfectly) but has a nicer vent controller. I can remotely switch between dashtop vents or floor heating now, via a dash knob. Had this been a later GT6 unit with the extra vent outlets for fresh air (and thus more complex), I might have decided differently. Update: Hindsight is always 20/20 with these things... I hadn't stopped to consider that the speedometer and tachometer cables would have to be routed through the heater box due to my centrally located instruments until after I had installed the heater box. Oop! After marking the hole centers while still mounted to the bulkhead, I removed the box, drilled out the holes, inserted the proper grommets and all turned out fine.

I closed the deal on two more restoration items on eBay today as well. A 17-pound can containing all the bolts, screws and shims that hold a Spitfire together, and a vibratory parts cleaner that should restore all those little metal bits to a like-new luster. The process is a bit easier on the metal, using crushed corn cobs and walnut shells to clean and polish, than say, bead blasting. I also like the fact that it's a semi-automated process. Just set the parts in the machine, turn it on and check the progress several hours later. I'm still struggling to flush a glass bead out of my eye from my last bead blasting exercise on Father's Day (6/16) last weekend. Ouch. I bead blasted the starter solenoid that came with an old second-hand wiring harness I picked up recently and it turned out beautifully (but as it turned out, short-lived). When starting the engine in January, 2003, the starter solenoid shorted out and had to be replaced with a new one.)

I'm also considering purchasing a black oxidizing kit from Eastwood or wherever, to anodize some of the bolts and screws.

I managed to find another Formula wood wheel that's in need of a bit of wood refinishing work, but for just $125, I'll gladly do a little sanding and sealing. I've also learned a painful eBay lesson: Never buy from Europe unless they take plastic. It cost me $30 to arrange a wire transfer from U.S. to U.K. Pounds Sterling today, and in addition to the shipping charges, the item that I paid about $65 for wound up costing me $135. Ouch. It was for a complete Mk3 dash facia panel with all gauges, key switch and most importantly, main headlight switch which simply aren't available NOS anymore, from any source that I have sought out. I missed out on a .99 cent generator complete with pulley and bracket. Damn! It would have been worth the shipping for the fan and pulley alone. Oh well, you win some and you lose some!

A terrific gent named Pete Groh sells the British specialty keys that our Triumphs need and for a $10 deposit, creditable towards a key cutting, he mailed me a ring of about 200 Triumph double-sided keys, and thanks to that, I've managed to source the cut needed to lock the rear hatch on my GT6+ and also found the correct key cut to use an ignition switch that came with the aforementioned used harness. It was full of dirt and other buggy crud. I ended up having to dismantle the ignition switch to get a better look at the pins and determine which key on Pete's ring fit. While I found the perfect match there as well, the entire assembly needed to be lubed, as the switch itself was difficult to turn, even with the properly mated key, but now it's just fine. I know that I can buy a new lock fairly inexpensively, but half the fun for me is in tackling and defeating all the little challenges...

I don't know why nobody is manufacturing the fuse boxes for these cars anymore, with everything else that's available, but I was fortunate to source one in that old ratty harness I picked up second-hand for seven bucks on eBay recently, too. My new harness from British Wiring does not contain a fuse box, either, but all the connections are there, and after taking some pictures to remind me of what goes where, I'll be installing the fusebox on the new harness soon, after cleaning it up a bit. Extra wires with bulb holders from this harness are going to come in real handy for connecting lights to my auxillary trio of gauges. Update: That spare wiring harness turned out very handy when I accidentally shorted a wire during assembly later. I was able to pull the good wire from the donor harness and replace the one that got scorched, then wrapped everything back up so it all looks as good as new. I later purchased another complete MkIV wiring harness, with a good fusebox and cover, for about $10 on eBay.

6/27/02 -- Okay, I think I'm done shopping for awhile... I found a NOS stalk-mounted headlamp switch recently. These are generally not available anymore, and when found, can cost upwards of $150. I lucked out at $50. Still expensive, though. Other goodies nabbed include a good used license plate light assembly, a chrome valve cover oil cap (to go with the chromed cover I already have waiting in the wings), a can containing EVERY Spitfire bolt, fastener and shim, a vibratory parts cleaner, a set of perhaps unused Clear Hooter hi and low note horns and a lovely aluminum grill that my eBay seller seems to have fumbled (he can't say exactly when it was sent) and subsequenly "lost" in the mail. That's my first real bad experience with eBay as a buyer so far, and naturally, a disappointment.

8/15/02 -- Things are moving rapidly now that I've made a decision to take the tub to the painter a week from tomorrow. I've been procrastinating long enough. A great deal has happened since my last entry. I managed several more good scores on eBay and those Clear Hooter horns did turn out to be brand new! All of the engine brackets have been powder coated in a semi-gloss black and several have been fitted to the engine compartment. The engine is back, and so is the rebuilt transmission and both have been lowered into the chassis with an engine hoist I recently picked up for a great price. I'm a sucker for a bargain, what can I say?

Tonight, I sealed the deal on window regulators and tracks for both doors, left and right side remotes for the doors (the handle to the latch linkage) and another set of door strikers and latches. I've already got a pair that I've cleaned up, but we'll see which ones I like better.

8/19/02 -- Well, today was another eBay find. I've been hankering for a set of those cool Lucas PL700 Tripod headlamps, and found this pair on eBay, which I obtained for signficantly less than the cost of a new single one. These are going to look fantastic on the newly painted body. I've already got the headlight buckets, adjusters and trim rings.

Still on my list -- several items -- some of which I'll buy new and others which may not be so easy to acquire. In particular, I need the metal fuel lines. I'm not certain of the routing, so I'm hoping to find a used set that are already shaped. If not, I'll make due. I just know that when I have the body on the chassis and the wiring installed, the first thing I'm going to want to turn on is the engine!

9/8/2002 -- Still acquiring some odds and ends, like the washer, clips and plate that connect the steering shaft to the bulkhead. I've made a list of a whole lot of items that I still need to come up with in order to complete the car in time for my October 6th deadline. And of course, there's much refurbishing and parts cleaning to be done. That Mk3 grill eventually did turn up, by the way...

Just the other day, a wood dash facia panel that I purchased on eBay nearly 3 months ago finally showed up from England. The panel and gauge bezels are all shot, but the gauges themselves appear salvageable.

The panel was shipped two days ago to Gordon Peterson, the craftsman in Oregon who did such an outstanding job on my last dash. He assured me that he can get my new facia and wood veneered dash support back to me in the next few weeks. My primary motivation to purchase the dash had to do with the main headlight switch which was still attached. They're not available any longer and I seldom see them for sale. I also needed a temperature gauge, but this one looks like it might be too faded to use.

4/20/03 -- While my completed project is in the paint shop getting some touch-up work performed, I've decided to update some of these pages. Since my last entry, the new dashboard arrived back from Gordon, looking magnificent. I sent him the old Triumph formula wheel at the same time and asked that the new dash matched the wheel. He chose on a rare red maple burl, which turned out every bit as beautiful as the tiger maple dash he created for my last car.

I wound up finding an NOS temperature gauge, and restored the speedo and tach that came with the dash facia panel above. On March 17th, 2003, the car drove for the first time in probably 15 years or so. Since then, I purchased a rear quarter panel and arch kit, a carpet kit, lower crash rails and parcel trays/glove boxes to complete the interior. About the only things left I need to fabricate or purchase are the rear gas tank cover panel for the trunk and the engine valences, if I choose to fit them at all, that is. I'll defintitely be fitting radiator valances, though.

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Please. Always wear your seatbelt while driving -- and that goes double for your children if you have any.