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Oh Lord! Now I'm hosed.

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tomster Avatar
tomster Tom Dunbar
Annapolis, Maryland, USA   USA
Well, my experiment into British roadsters took a bad turn today. I took my TR4 out for a neighborhood
spin and noticed that it was really starting to sputter in 2nd gear like it wasn't getting enough fuel. As I
drove it it seemed to get worse and I stayed in 1st for the most part. Coming into home I could smell
a bad burning and the car seemed to be seizing up. I got it to my drive way and cut the engine.
Smoke came out the front so I opened the hood. Couldn't see anything readily wrong but then I put it
in neutral to push her in the garage and she is stuck. So I guess either my engine is seized up or
my tranny is hosed.

Think I'm in over my head at this point.

Any ideas or tricks on how to move a stuck car?

Hopefully, I'll learn something valuable from this.

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TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
Engine seized wouldn't block from moving in neutral (unless you can't get neutral for some reason). So it's more likely a gearbox problem.

Fortunately, used gearboxes are plentiful. Prices vary a lot, but they are sometimes pretty cheap and often just need seals, synchro rings and countershaft bearings to "freshen up".

If you only need to move the car a few feet, you could try jacking up the rear with a floor jack (with wheels) and roll it on the floor jack.

Another option might be a pair of car dollys from HF https://www.harborfreight.com/1500-lb-capacity-vehicle-dollies-2-pc-60343.html

Or disconnect the driveshaft at the differential. It's just 4 bolts (but be sure to support the car securely with either jack stands or stout blocks under the wheels). Never trust a jack with your life!


In a pinch you can stack up pieces of 2x4 similar to this (although IMO two pieces per level is plenty of support)




Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

TuRtle5 Avatar
TuRtle5 Kevin Kelly
Absecon, NJ, USA   USA
1949 Triumph 2000 Roadster "Coral Mistress"
1959 Triumph TR3A "Drandulet"
1962 Triumph Vitesse "Ohtoseethelightofday"
1968 Triumph TR250    & more
Tom- Perhaps your brakes locked up? did it it smell burnt as opposed to smelling like oil or coolant? If brakes, you might open the caliper bleeds to move the car. - K

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tomster Avatar
tomster Tom Dunbar
Annapolis, Maryland, USA   USA
Hope is alive! (and I won't get the beat down from the wife winking smiley )

I just walked back out to the car and tried to push it again and it rolled freely.
Thank God on that. Now I'll have to trouble shoot the real problem.

So an electrical type burning smell and smoke did happen out the front
and the sputtering and seizing type running were real.

Kevin - I will take your advice and pull a wheel off to check the brakes.

But I'm not certain how to go about checking the tranny - other than checking the fluid level.

TuRtle5 Avatar
TuRtle5 Kevin Kelly
Absecon, NJ, USA   USA
1949 Triumph 2000 Roadster "Coral Mistress"
1959 Triumph TR3A "Drandulet"
1962 Triumph Vitesse "Ohtoseethelightofday"
1968 Triumph TR250    & more
That's good Tom- I think you might throw us off by mixing symptoms and interpretation. When you say electrical smell, that is not brake lining- so the diagnosis changes. Anyway, immediate thought is that your brake hoses are collapsed and the front brakes locked on causing you to run lower gears to keep moving. Test by driving short distance and see if front calipers are hot and car seems difficult to push. If so, replace two brake hoses in front and one in back, bleed brakes. IF Not- return to forum - lots of helpful guys on here, usually Randall is on duty and if you describe your symptoms accurately, he and others will keep you in a TR! ...and did you feel that earthquake around 5pm? It came out of Delaware (I'm in Atlantic City)

Trike4 Avatar
Trike4 Marcus G
Brighton, Michigan, USA   USA
1963 Triumph TR4
1963 Triumph TR4 "Trike"
Don't panic!

To find out if the engine is seized, take out the spark plugs and look at each (poke them in some cardboard labeled 1,2,3,4. A spark plug will tell you a fair amount about engine condition. Black can be overly rich, bad rings, white can be too lean, tan brown is just right.
Try turning the engine by hand now. If it turns fairly smooth it isn't seized. Check your oil level. Try turning it over with the starter. If it turns over without terrible sounds, put the spark plugs back in and give it a try.

Jack the car up and try turning each wheel listening for heavy dragging sounds. When you turn a rear wheel the opposite wheel should turn indicating the differential is fine.

Crawl under and top up the 90 weight gear oil at the transmission (square plug on the drivers side) Oil should be level with the hole. May as well check the oil in the differential too.

My guess is front disc brakes are not releasing. A bluish tint to the disc is a telltale sign of a hot brake. Smoke coming from the front could very well be a disc brake.

TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
+1 on front brakes hanging up. Likely you are mistaking hot brakes for electrical (they can be similar).

Since you say it was locked up and now rolls free, my guess is the problem lies at the master cylinder. Check that the pedal return spring is in place and that the pedal reliably returns all the way. The pedal pivots are supposed to get a drop of oil from time to time but are often overlooked. If the pedal is keeping just a bit of force on the MC, it can hold the return valve closed. Then when the fluid gets hot, it expands and, without the return valve to allow the excess to flow into the reservoir, apply the brakes.

One way to test for this is to drive until it happens again, then loosen the fitting at the outlet of the MC. If letting a few drops out releases the brakes, the MC or linkage to it is the problem.

When it happened on my Stag; the brake discs were so hot that they were glowing bright red. When I got out, the red light was so bright on the pavement that I thought the engine was on fire! By that time, the brakes were totally locked, couldn't move the car even with the engine. But, bleeding just a few drops out released the brakes and we finished the last 400 miles or so of our journey with no further incidents.

Another potential problem is the residual pressure valve on top of the 5 way near the RF. If it malfunctions, it can hold enough pressure to cause similar symptoms.

Sputtering is likely a different problem. Get the brakes/driveline working first and then if it still sputters, you can tackle that.



Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

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tomster Avatar
tomster Tom Dunbar
Annapolis, Maryland, USA   USA
Randall - I did change the brake light control switch right before this little drive.
The other switch had broken and I ordered a new one from Moss. I'm not sure,
but is it possible that it is too long and pressing against the Master cylinder and
somehow engaging the brake? Sounds possible but not probable.

I'm also including some spark plug pics for Marcus to evaluate for me.

Will continue the trouble shooting. Thanks for everyone's help!


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Trike4 Avatar
Trike4 Marcus G
Brighton, Michigan, USA   USA
1963 Triumph TR4
1963 Triumph TR4 "Trike"
A lot of times the last thing you did is a clue to what's going on now. It's possible the new switch could be partially applying brakes, but it would take a lot of force for that switch. It's not like foot pressure on a 14" lever.

Your plugs look pretty good. Good mixture on all. Maybe slightly rich which is better than too lean. The oily carbon deposits around the base could indicate ring wear, but you may have years of driving before it's an issue. I'd leave the engine alone unless there is some terrible problem.

Let us know how the wheels turn by hand. Should only be a slight scuffing sound and light drag on the fronts, and very little sound or drag on the rears.

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TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
In reply to # 1500677 by tomster Randall - I did change the brake light control switch right before this little drive.
The other switch had broken and I ordered a new one from Moss. I'm not sure,
but is it possible that it is too long and pressing against the Master cylinder and
somehow engaging the brake?
Yes, I think it's very possible. Easy to check, just wiggle the pushrod and see if you can feel some play in it. If it's under even very slight tension, then I would investigate further. It doesn't take much to hold the MC piston in enough to hold the valve closed.

The switch should not be serving as a pedal stop anyway; if necessary you may be able to add a second jam nut between the switch body and the mounting bracket. Set it so there is just barely enough travel to turn the brake lights off when the pedal is released.



Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild

1147cc Avatar
1147cc Silver Member Douglas Hansen
Westminster, SC, USA   USA
The last time I have a 4 engine lock up was a DPO rebuild that didnt spec the front cam bearing good enough and the cam seized to the bearing.



Douglas Hansen
New Parts; Engine Rebuilds; Sheet Metal work and Advice.
http://www.1147cc.com

Tonyfixit Avatar
Tonyfixit Tony M
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada   CAN
If your engine has seized it would not run in neutral. Transmissions do not normally slowly seize as you describe (gearing down to first gear to keep moving), they are more likely to just break, make loud noises, not go into gear of other dramatic/decisive things.

My bet (as others suggested) is the problem is with your brakes.

For future reference, it is often easier to investigate a problem when or soon after it happens.
I am sure when you arrived home you could have found the focus of where the smoke was originating (feel heat) Better yet, on the side of the road. Pushing-on in first gear without investigating is often likey to make a simple repair potentially very costly!

As suggested jack each wheel in turn and spin it, better still remove the wheel and look for discolouration of the brakes.

A few years back my wife had the brakes seize on the VW she owned, the problem in her case was the hand brake not releasing. Heat could be felt just by touching the rear wheels.

tomster Avatar
tomster Tom Dunbar
Annapolis, Maryland, USA   USA
After pulling plugs I was able to turn the engine with a ratchet and socket on the generator bolt and some hand pressed on the belt. So I think I got carried away on the engine seizing. I took off the crappy brake light indicator and it broke. POS plastic thingy. Will try to source a better one. I do believe it had a role in this. I also pulled the front right wheel and everything there looks ok. Brake lines look newish. When I turn the wheel I can hear some slight dragging on the brake but that may be normal. I’m gonna top up the oil and maybe lube the right side since the wheel is off and maybe take a ginger test drive.


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tomster Avatar
tomster Tom Dunbar
Annapolis, Maryland, USA   USA
OK, I think this is resolved. I started up the car and gingerly took her out for a drive.
Everything worked well with the normal sputtering from still needing to sort out and tune
up this car. But I was able to drive in 1st -3rd gears and all seemed well again.

In hindsight I guess I made too big a deal of this, but believe me when I was driving the
car the other day it had the symptoms of a vehicle with demons and about to conk out
and leave me stranded.

What is amazing to me is between the POS brake light control switch and me not knowing
how to install it, the effect it had on the car and brakes.

So I can only assume that the extra 1/4" of pressure against the master brake cylinder was
causing the brakes to be applied and creating great havoc. Seems weird, but that's the lesson
I'm taking away at this point.

I guess after the car sat for a while (last night) the brake caliper eased off to where I could push the car again.

I will continue to go easy on the car the next few times out w/o changing anything to be certain
it's OK. In the mean time, anyone know where I can get a new brake control switch that's solid?

Thanks for all the help as usual!

TR3driver Randall Y
Confusion, Los Angeles, USA   USA
I got my last one from TRF; it's been working well for 5 or 6 years now.

But none of them are going to stand up to being used as a pedal stop for long. You'll have to get it mounted farther away, or you'll have the same series of problems.

Yes, it can be a bit of a conundrum, but there are many aspects of a car that require some precision. In some areas, even .001" can be the difference between a sweet running engine and an expensive pile of junk. Fortunately you don't need that kind of precision here, just some attention to detail.



Randall
56 TR3 TS13571L daily driver
71 Stag LE1473L awaiting engine rebuild
7? Stag awaiting gearbox rebuild


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