I know I’m a newbie, and can’t contribute anything that hasn’t been done or is being done to a Dolomite, but I thought something to read (even if the content and grammar is c**p) could be amusing, also could end up being my autobiography once the car is back on the road.
I would also like to say my car is not in for restoration, more of a roaderation. (MOT passable).
I’ve sat in a Dolomite from the year 1974, that’s when my mum bought my oldest brother the first car in our household, a brown Dolomite 1850 reg: VYK 974M. (Supposedly stolen after changing hands).
I also used to see in the late 70’s a yellow & black sprint on the way to school, (reg: WLA 409S) this is the car that had stayed in my mind, I wanted a yellow & black sprint. (Never knew the owner or the outcome of the car).
I bought my Sprint in 1987 after I failed my first driving test, looked thought the Exchange and Mart and being a novice wanted a late car,.
I found one in Coventry for £1250.00, a car that cost less than third party fire and theft insurance, what more could I want.
Drove it around for a full year before passing (“legally with a L plate and a qualified driver in the passenger seat”). And in classic teenager tradition, replaced the stereo and put speakers on the back shelf in the first days of ownership. Stereo system was stolen 3 times over.
During the first year I had a Rover dealership in Ilford replace the engine as it was always leaky and at the same time had all the cooling system replaced, I replaced the alternator, contacts, plugs, hub bearings and brakes etc, the exhaust was replaced by Kwik fit and all the tyres to their own brand of Centaur supreme, which still have the lifetime of ownership no quibble warranty, something I am going to put to the test once the car is back on the road.
The car was fantastic, and I enjoyed every minute of driving in London, and out into the country lanes around Epping & Ongar where I was taking driving lessons. My car was pretty much one of the quickest on the road and only ever got beaten at the lights because I had the overdrive on between the 2nd to 3rd shift, but to this day I have never enjoyed another car as much, probably as it was my first car. And this paragraph pretty much summed up my driving style, and the inevitability of the next paragraph.
Unfortunately 7 days after passing my test I had an accident and flattened both rear wings and bent the rear axle, and part of the passenger side sill.
The accident had a major effect on me, I gave up my job soon after (depressed) and subsequently started running out of money and delayed the repair for nearly 5 years, as I only had third party insurance.
Eventually replaced both wings, axle, new sills and re-sprayed, the car passed its MOT got taxed but then a problem occurred.
Within weeks, driving around Woolwich (London) the steering rack moved further into the car a few inches and became not so much heavy but more not centralising.
I stopped the car to find the engine chassis sub-frame had dropped. Few days after I found a Triumph repair agent in Woodford who said the old one had rotted away and fitted a galvanised replacement. Yes I did drive the car in-between.
Then one night my dad woke me around 1pm and said my car was gone, I was almost in shock, but for some reason I could not accept it and walked down the road. Just 400 yards from my home in a side street I found her, and managed to push her back outside my home. The thieves had forced the front quarter light and broken the ignition lock, but could not start the car, mainly because I had the carburettors & air filter in the garden shed for a quick clean and painting, as you will see from the pictures, a rubbish first attempt at spray painting.
A month or so later, after driving for around 10-15 minutes the clutch lost pressure, but still short of cash, I kept on driving and got quite good and changing gears with the rpm, a bit clunky, and awkward at traffic lights I finally learned to keep a distance from other road users, this went on for about 5 months or so, until one day I needed reverse gear urgently and forced the gearstick.
The gearbox was grinding like mad and then nothing, the stick would go into reverse position without resistance, and then I realised I had broken the gearbox. Having not learned my lesson, I kept driving and soon became proficient at pushing the car into reverse even for kerb parking, and could start the car with a screwdriver without looking into the barrel, another 3 months or so passed.
Eventually even I accepted there was no chance of a MOT pass or tax disc, and I reluctantly had to garage the car. Luckily my brother in Milton Keynes was not using his garage much and allowed it to stay there for 22 years.
In May 2015 he needed the garage back, and for me it was the incentive to do something, so I hired a 3.5t transporter and drove up on a Sunday to bring the car back, should be easy I thought.
Thinking something should be easy ought to be a classed as some sort of criminal offence, maybe then you would think about the improbable happening, or maybe rephrase it as sods law is a jealous mistress.
When I garaged the car I had basically parked the car, I didn’t put her on axle stands no fluids draining, and had put the handbrake on, thus braking system totally seized, hydraulics furred up, bushes, shocks totally perished, etc,.
Ended up using the winch on the transporter to yank the car out, after engaging the there was a mighty loud crack and the car moved.
Slowly bit by bit got the car out using the winch and rear bumper mounts, repositioning the transporter truck and blocking the road, I managed to finally get the car onto the flatbed.
(There is no towing eye!).
Tied the car down and closed all the windows, and for some insane habit locked the doors and turned around to walk away, only to fall to the ground from the top of the flatbed truck. Priceless.
I drove back down the M1 without too much trouble and stopped off at my home in East London for some refreshment and couple hours of rest.
Later on headed to SE London where I work to get the car into a locked yard. All was fine until the car refused to disembark the flatbed. With the rear wheels on the ground I put the handbrake on and left the car in gear and drove the flatbed forward, and left the car in the middle of the yard.
Next day, 2 guys from work helped to push the Sprint into the corner, until I decided what to do.
A couple of days later, could not resist temptation, and bought a new battery, and put some fuel into the float chambers. The coolant was a nice clove brown colour in the expansion tank, the oil black, the fuel lines looking cracked and dry. Subconsciously I wanted to start the car, however I knew this was a bad idea and decided to only turn the key (screwdriver) to see if the starter motor was still working.
The moment I turned the screwdriver the engine was running, I had only triggered the starter motor for a fraction of a second, and had not pulled the choke out. Unfortunately I did not have my camera ready to record the moment, it was unexpected, but did make a short video afterwards with the engine at 2200 rpm.
This seemed to ignite the old fire of, I don’t care what it costs, I want the car back on the road. I didn’t expect the coolant to change back to blue.
I emailed various places for restoration, but Southern Triumphs rang me and I sent them a list of things to do and some pictures and the history (thankfully only a part of what you may have just read).
Yes I am subjecting you to the full Monty, better to read it than hear it when inevitably we meet at a show, I’m saving the history of other vehicles, best to sign your own death penalty in delayed stages.
We came to the conclusion that Mark at Southern Triumphs would need to see the car, so I arranged a transporter hire again in a fortnights time, and booked a day off from work.
The day has arrived to collect the transporter from North London, so immediately after work, collected the transporter and thought that’s it nice and easy, go to the work yard, put the car on the flatbed and return home have some dinner, set off early in the morning. Again, forgot sods law and I are in a relationship.
As I emerged from Blackwall Tunnel the revs on the transporter increased and then went to normal, I thought nothing of it and fuelled up to the brim at BP in Charlton.
Left the petrol station and 200 yards up the road the revs went up to 3000 this time with the clutch down, and then to max reading. I managed to get into neutral and with hazards to the side of the road, by which time there was grey smoke behind and around the vehicle and no more cars were trying to pass. I thought the engine would explode, even switching off the ignition and taking the key out made no difference.
The choice was jump out and head for the other side of the road or stall the truck, I chose the latter, It worked but the truck wanted to start again, so I left it in gear. Unbelievably a fire engine was on the same road at the time and another driver had also rung them. They opened the bonnet and poured in the water, a welcome idea in the circumstances. This happened around 7:45pm. They left and I rang the hire firm, who advised me to call the RAC.
The RAC would not come out until 11:15pm as I needed a 10t flatbed to take the truck to Horsham, and would be from a sub-contractor. Suffice to say I took a cab home, had dinner, another cab back to the breakdown scene, and took the truck to Horsham, got a replacement (cannot believe the hirer stayed there for me) got home at 2.30am, so much for an early start.
9:00am next day, load the car on the transporter no issues, drive to Dorset, major issues! I am tired, and had to stop twice at service stations for a coffee. I hardly ever stop at service stations, 130 odd miles isn’t enough distance to warrant stopping (normally).
12:40pm I arrive at Southern Triumphs, and I think you’re probably fed up at my ramblings on by now, so I will upload some pictures (soon) with short messages.
NRW 581W Sprint
On the motorway no one can hear me sing!
Construed as a public service, self preservation in reality.