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Herald 1200 Convertible - Looking for Tips, Tricks, Parts

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Herald LA Avatar
Herald LA Stone F
Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, USA   USA
Hello Everyone, this is my first post on the site but hopefully not my last. From what I've read I can look forward to some knowledgeable feedback.

A bit of background, I have had a 66 Herald 1200 Convertible since Secondary School (High School) where I worked on it in an afterschool program almost every weekend to get it running, after 13 years sitting in the family garage. This was almost a decade ago and I should be able to remember more, but I believe the original engine was seized so a used 1147cc was sourced and put in the car. At the time I never checked to see if it was a 1147 or a 1298/1300/1500, but I'm assuming I'm not so lucky to have been upgraded unknowingly. Planning to pull the car out this weekend and get VINs for reference also getting under the car and making sure frame is in good enough condition. The car ran but was never registered and licensed in the UK since insurance prices were ridiculous.

The car was then shipped to the US from UK and driven lightly for several months; it used to get lots of stares, which I miss, and break down a lot, which I don't miss but always knew was part of the territory having never been fully restored. Then in a rush of youthful exuberance I decided to try the thing out on a road trip, that was a mistake but made several problem areas apparent including a radiator that resembled the fountain at Ceasars Palace, tires that were more like concrete than rubber, and a bad generator. Additionally had the front seats restuffed, bought 3 point belt kit, but have yet to install. These issues were then fixed by several LA shops, who all commented the car wasn't worth the time or effort I guess I should have asked for 2 cents off the bill. The car was running great until the headlights shorted during a night drive and the car would barely pull its way out of the Valley on the 405 South, that's when I realized 39 BHP may not be as practical as I needed. School didn't leave me with a big budget to pour into the car, or much time to devote to it, so this meant it got garaged again where it sits. 1 year later I noticed a nasty oil leak which may have come from the transmission since even before it was garaged it struggled often to get into gear.

So now you know about as much as I do, the last few months I have been scouring the web looking for parts, ideas, guides because I think it's time to get it back on the road, but I have a lot of questions still, and unfortunately have found a lot of conflicting/confusing info like 10 bolt patterns and 11 bolt patterns, Mk1 parts vs Mk2/3/4, so maybe I'm not alone and this page can help demystify some other enthusiasts looking to bring their cars back from the brink.

Came across the car pictured through a forum on this site and it's very close to what I wanted in my head all these years, lowered with a bigger engine, better stance, handling, etc. but in my convertible (shown) would be even more amazing. So really I'm looking for tips and tricks to get there.

From what I read the car has 1500 Spit engine (I was originally contemplating a MX5 lump, but that would be a long haul project past my skill level), trans (would love one with an Overdrive), Spit front/rear suspension, disk brakes, banded rims, assuming a Spit diff (I have many ratio questions), dual SU webbers, straight pipes, rear swing axle, and I didn't realise but I like the wood finish on the door surrounds so that would be a great touch, bluetooth speakers would save some radio hassle. So I've set myself an easy task.

At the moment 1500 engines and gearbox are a little out of my price range, so I was thinking about how much power I could eek out of the current 1147. I've read many places that a switch to dual webbers from a spit could be done, a new camshaft and exhaust manifold, maybe even a new crank could maybe bring the 39 to 51BHP if I'm lucky, which may be a lot of cost for not much improvement but it would be nice and orginal-ish. Plus I've read in places that the compression rate is also a big factor, but not sure how to work on this, plus I wouldn't want to cause any additional wear and potentially compromise the reliability of the engine. Of course having cylinders rebored, and the engine really tuned up and modded flush ports and lots of head work which is a little bit past my range of comfort and in that case I should just send it to ACME-Racing.

I have a lot more to say but I've probably already lost many of you to my short essay, so I'll follow up with more questions and info soon. So please let me know if you have any suggestions for improving a Herald 1147cc, tips about suspension work, trans, diffs, electrical, or if you can sell me a cheap Spit with all the parts I need. I want to make this a weekend mostly car, but something that could be driven daily if necessary.

Please also feel free to share any Herald stories and history, Spits get all the love, but I want to hear more about Heralds.

Thanks for reading, Stone.

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vancouver, washington, USA   USA
Attached is a photo of my Herald (the red one). Lowered 3/4" in rear with added camber compensator. GT6 front suspension and type 16 front discs. D-type overdrive/3 rail tranny. It is the original 1147 engine but head was skimmed to give 9.5to1 compression and mildly ported. single Weber 40 DCOE but I would recommend the simplicity of dual SUs as an alternative. Mark 3 Spitfire cam and tube headers. Also replaced the Delco distributor with a modified 25D Lucas distributor and Pertronix ignition. Still not a rocket ship but much better than stock. Just a ton of fun to drive. Longest trip so far was to Hailey, Idaho from Portland, Oregon. Wouldn't have done it without the overdrive. I don't dare look at the receipts. If your engine is defunct a Spit 1500 with J-type O/D and single tranny would be a good conversion. Good luck with your project. There are lotsa of good people on this forum that can help.
Mike C


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Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
Hi Stone, the Herald 12/50 (reputedly) had 51hp with 1147cc and a single Solex carb, so bringing yours up to that spec (or more) would not be difficult.

I think you need to be on the lookout for Spitfire bits. Cheap parts turn up where you least expect them. Just keep looking.

My first car was a 63 Herald 12/50 in Army racing green. I have had the bug ever since!

You will find lots of help here. Happy reading.

First job, Get yourself a good (bentley or Triumph) workshop manual.

Good luck.

And post some pictures of Your car!

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Herald948 Avatar
Herald948 Andrew Mace
East Nassau, upstate NY, USA   USA
In reply to # 1425923 by Tonyfixit Hi Stone, the Herald 12/50 (reputedly) had 51hp with 1147cc and a single Solex carb, so bringing yours up to that spec (or more) would not be difficult.

Right! Basically, the change from 39 to 51 hp was mostly in upgrading the camshaft to the same profile as that of the earliest Spitfire 4, coupled with a slightly different intake/exhaust manifold with a slightly different shape (deeper where the headpipe bolts to it, and a correspondingly larger flange, but not bore).


In reply to # 1425923 by Tonyfixit I think you need to be on the lookout for Spitfire bits. Cheap parts turn up where you least expect them. Just keep looking.

Right again! Indeed, it might not be THE absolute best in terms of performance gain, but it's not too difficult and actually can be considered almost "factory"! For example, there were "catalogued" dual-carb kits for the 1200 engine: two different kits, depending on the spec. of the engine you started with.
In reply to # 1425923 by Tonyfixit And post some pictures of Your car!
And I would be very interested in commission, engine and body numbers a: for my Database and b: to help better identify what you have and where you might go with what you have!



http://www.fairpoint.net/~herald948/database/

Herald LA Avatar
Herald LA Stone F
Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, USA   USA
Thanks Mike, really appreciate the tips for the1147 it sounds like a great setup, you have thoroughly restored my faith that it could gain some pickup. Good to see a reliable example and I'm loving the red, I want to return mine to the original powder blue eventually. Did you use lowering blocks for the 3/4" drop? I may want to do more, but the original picture I posted seems maybe too low. Can't believe you brought up the camber compensator for the rear that was one of my biggest questions, seems the best options are either that or the Spit swing suspension. How has the compensator been working for you? I think I would definitely do the dual carb for an upgrade but I have seen Spridgets is working on a fuel injection system which could add a lot of efficiency, reliability and maybe power; good to know a Mk3 cam, headers, and a gt6 front end would fit.

Thanks Tony, I would assume with the mods to Mike's he may be surpassing that 51bhp. The bug has definitely taken hold so this project will not go down without a fight. Here are some more pics even showing the original motor and a little of the new one, the carb has been rebuilt and tuned since then, the engine always looked a little wet dreading replacing all the gaskets but might be best just for peace of mind. There's also one of the tire that ended the road trip it managed to wrap around the front bumper and give it a tug so that's going to have to get sorted as well. Luckily there is a site that had a lot of useful shop notes and guides for the herald, I'll try to attach in a later post for everyone to peruse. I feel pretty lucky to have a good collection of tonneaus, the vinyl roof is a little stained and very tight, but I also have an attachable hard top which seems pretty rare from the posts I've seen.

Finally, Thanks Andrew, really helpful with the specifics on the headers. When I get the car out this weekend I'll make sure to note the various numbers for you, is the commission number located on the same plate as the body number or should I look somewhere specific?


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Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
Ideally, it would be nice to get your hands on a Spitfire 4 MkII exhaust manifold and inlet manifold.

Strangely they do come up from time to time. I use the 1147 exhaust manifold on my 1500.


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kin74 Avatar
kin74 Alex M
Verona, Verona, Italy   ITA
The owner of that customized Herald keeps (or used to keep) a blog where he wrote about the modifications he made, it's worth a read: https://racer86.com/category/project-herald/



Triumph In Italy

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Herald948 Avatar
Herald948 Andrew Mace
East Nassau, upstate NY, USA   USA
Further semi-random comments!

1. 39 hp ain't all bad if you're actually getting all of them. I've told the story many times here and elsewhere, so I'll make it very brief. I drove my '62 Herald 1200 (dead stock in every way) on a 2550-mile round trip from NY to Minnesota and back in 2002, 95% of said travel being on the Interstates. I had no problem cruising around 65 mph. Granted, there wasn't a lot of "reserve," but I never felt I needed it.

1a. My philosophy over the past almost 50 years is to start with getting the best you can get out of the original factory setup...and then see where you think you might want to go from there.

2. Just for sake of reference, think of the Spitfire 4 and Mk2 models as being most nearly like your Herald, all of which have 1147cc engines. A stock Spitfire 4 engine was 63 hp, and a stock Mk2 engine boosted all the way up to 67 hp. Pretty much all of that improvement over the older Herald 1200's 39 hp came from dual carbs, better intake and exhaust manifolds, slightly increased compression ratio and different camshafts.

2a. The 1296cc engine of the Mk3 Spitfire is arguably the nicest of all Spitfire engines, lacking only the ultimate torque of the later 1493 cc engines of the Spitfire 1500. They all bolt in with few if any other changes needed, although once you get up to the 1500 engine, you really will want to look at a lower (numerical) diff. ratio...as well as possibly an overdrive gearbox, especially if you're bound and determined to do long trips on those Interstates!

3. For all practical purposes, suspensions between Herald and Spitfire are identical. Differences are pretty much limited to springs (rates, etc.)

3a. For handling, a swing spring rear setup is quite good, but that's best when you get a swing spring designed for the heavier Herald (in the UK, Canley Classics has such a spring). Otherwise, getting the stock settings just right (maybe tweaking settings just a tiny bit) helps a lot, and the swing spring is no more a cure-all than any other modification.

3b. Camber compensators were and still are very cool and very effective (and, last I knew, still readily available). If you care to splurge, a set of Koni shocks all around is worth every penny. For rubber, you can easily and inexpensively go with Spitfire 4.5" wheels and some 175/70R13 tires, and that's pretty much all you'll ever need unless you plan to challenge every MX-5 and Porsche Boxster you meet on a winding road (in which case you can either sink another $8-10k in modifications to the Herald, or just go out and buy your own MX-5 or Boxster).



http://www.fairpoint.net/~herald948/database/

vancouver, washington, USA   USA
Stone
I meant to convey in my post that most improvements can be made just using good used parts from Spitfires, Vitesses, and GT6s. eBay, eBayUk, and British autojumbles/swapmeets are great sources. Get all the manuals and parts books you can get your hands on for reference.Rehabbing the old parts is a form of stress therapy for me and it is so satisfying when a project is done and works. None of my modifications are irreversible and I have tried to keep an overall stock appearance. Your Herald looks to be in very good condition and there are some pluses to a restoration to original condition. Particularly a right hand drive car.
I did install 3/4" lowering block in the rear. The camber compensator is the simpler modification and does a good job in controlling rear wheel tuck. The header Tony cited is what I have (another used Spit part). Also I have seen Heralds with the wider steel wheels from later Spitfires and they actually look pretty good.
Mike C

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vancouver, washington, USA   USA
I'll drink to what Mr Mace said.
Mike C


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Herald LA Avatar
Herald LA Stone F
Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, USA   USA
Thanks Mike, Andrew, Alex & Tony. I have a lot of original manuals I've found online to read so I'll have to start digging into those. Unfortunately, the file sizes are too large to upload for the moment but I'll work on that. I did find a place in so-cal that seems to have an abundance of parts so hopefully can make it down to grab some bits in the next few months. In case anyone is looking for stuff the site is http://www.britishmasters.net/, and they have a fair amount listed on eBay http://stores.ebay.com/britishmastersdotnet/.

A few more pics of the Herald including one of it holding it's own with a couple of Rolls and a Jag. I know I'm getting a little ahead of myself thinking about paint already but I do quite like the flag design on this white herald, who knows if it'll end up on the car though.


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vancouver, washington, USA   USA
Stone
I happened to pull out my Rimmer Bros Herald catalogue today and I swear your car is on the cover. Well maybe not yours but an identical 1200. Check out their website for the cover shot. If you are not familiar with them you should order their catalogues for Herald, Spitfire, GT6, and Vitesse. They use the original Standard/Triumph part numbers and are a terrific resource for parts interchanges. NFI
Mike C

Herald948 Avatar
Herald948 Andrew Mace
East Nassau, upstate NY, USA   USA
Stone, your car also brings back fond (if distant) memories for me. In the early 1970s, I was a commuter student at the State University of New York at Albany, driving back and forth usually either in my own Herald or my dad's Herald. Every so often, I would end up parking next to or fairly near a RHD dark blue Herald convertible, which I thought was about the coolest car around! It was probably about a 1962-3 model, so not dark blue originally but repainted that shade. Like mine and my dad's Heralds, it was not in the best of shape, but it obviously got that student around!

Oddly enough, the car later ended up in a small junkyard not too far from where I lived, but it and the rest of the junkyard disappeared soon thereafter, and I lost track of the car. sad smiley



http://www.fairpoint.net/~herald948/database/

Herald LA Avatar
Herald LA Stone F
Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, USA   USA
Funny you should mention that I've thought the same thing in the past about the Rimmer Bros car, maybe that adds value $$$ as a tribute car. It is odd if there are so many examples in this shade since I don't think it was a factory colour and the many scratches seem to indicate there was a light blue under there at some point, it's a good looking one on the car.

Tomorrow is the day, I found a bike pump to get the tires filled and I will be spending part of my afternoon at AutoZone getting the battery recharged, so hopefully it'll turn over as a result and I can assess for any major issues, other than the gearbox which I know has no oil but probably needs a gasket or two.

I figured I'd keep posting pics of some examples I find pretty enticing and hopefully I'm not scorning too many purists


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Herald948 Avatar
Herald948 Andrew Mace
East Nassau, upstate NY, USA   USA
In reply to # 1426935 by Herald LA ... It is odd if there are so many examples in this shade since I don't think it was a factory colour and the many scratches seem to indicate there was a light blue under there at some point, it's a good looking one on the car.

Royal Blue -- paint code 56 -- was available by 1966. But the "light blue" you might be seeing could be Wedgwood Blue -- paint code 26. Your commission number plate will tell you what the original paint was.

This link will show you where all the numbers are. (If it doesn't work, try copying the link and then pasting that into your browser.)



http://www.fairpoint.net/~herald948/database/

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