An engine needs only spark, compression, and fuel to work. Our TR6 was not running well on the way to New Orleans. It felt more like an old diesel pickup than a TR6. I couldnít get power going up hills, and I could not get it past 5000 rpm in 4th gear (no overdrive). After a brief consultation with my mechanic (isnít that great - he gives free advice over the phone!), I pulled off at an exit. Mostly so I could use the facilities. A most interesting thing happened - the car stalled when I put it in first to go up the hill. I noticed it was because pressing the accelerator appeared to have no effect upon the engine. Then I noticed that the pedal was about a foot up off the floorboards. Hmmm.
This is never a good situation. But when you are on a steeply inclined access road, and the only option is to roll back down the hill against traffic, it makes life even more exciting. Now if my emergency blinkers actually worked, people might have understood my plight. Instead, I received what could only be called unfriendly glances. No one ever likes a small sports car when it is doing something antithetical!
I did, however, manage to roll backwards about 100 yards down the hill and into a parking lot without hitting anything or having anyone hit me. Knowing the task at hand, I decided my first step would be to politely request the use of the facilities of one of the small offices there. This mission accomplished, I pulled my tool bag out of the trunk and began the inspection. I knew the accelerator linkage was actually supposed to be connected - it just took me a minute to find the right hanging pieces and ascertain the correct order. Oops. Hot. Glad I brought my gloves. Once I successfully put that back together and tightened it with the wrench I just happened to have, I pulled off the distributor cap and took a look. Why, of course I travel with a feeler gauge. Doesnít everyone???
Carefully turning the engine by the fan (note: be careful to grab it by the very base of the blade or you may end up holding it in your hand!) I turned the engine to get the points to open their max. Ha! Just as I suspected! Way too close together! Grabbing the correct screwdriver, which I just happened to have in my well-planned travel tool kit, I loosened up the screw, at which point the gap closed some more. Undoing that, I opened up the gap, checking it with my handy dandy feeler gage, until it seemed right. As a side note, my mechanic tells me that in a pinch, .015 is about the width of the cardboard in a pack of matches, should you be without your feeler gage!
Locked and loaded, I drove off. Wow! What a feeling! What a difference! Itís like a whole new car. Or maybe a turbocharged one! I was zippin and zappin down the highway! Was I proud of myself or what? Rolling into Houston, I was just a few minutes from my destination when the car seemed to loose itís punch. In fact, it seemed to not want to run. Huh? Tried taking it out of gear, then putting it back in. This is not good. Iím on 59 south coming into Houston where the minimum speed must be at least 75, and this car is dying. One thing I must say here, though. In Dallas, I would have been deafened by the sound of horns. In Houston, they just go around you. And they did.
Thank goodness for construction and those orange barrels! A place to hide! I pulled off the road before I became part of the traffic report, and the car died. I tried to restart it to no avail. The gas gage read 1/8 tank. But - this symptom is suspicious.
Oh, yes, did I mention that I also have a pocket flashlight in my tool kit? I peered down into the gas tank (at least thatís easy on a Triumph) and saw, for the first time, I think, the bottom of the tank. Itís got some nice ridging in it. And one small puddle of gas. How nice.
Fortunately, the wife has preceded me into Houston with the van and the kids. I think this is the second time in my life I have called her to rescue me! Oh, yes, did I mention that I happen to have a laptop in my tool kit? (Actually, thatís a slightly different tool kit.) I pull it out, and make a sign in word that says "Out of gas. Please help." I stand out on the road (itís dusk so you can see it nicely) holding the sign. Er, laptop. Two tow trucks are of no help (they offer to tow me to a gas station). No one else stops. My faith in humanity is shattered! So, I sit in the car and type this up while waiting for my spouse to arrive with the precious juice! Whatís a fellow to do?
Note: I received the following commentary from a former TR owner:
Thanks for the update on your travels with TR.
Except for the geographic markers, this tale sounds very familiar. With TRs, you always had to have a well stocked tool kit on hand and be able to figure our how to get the thing going again, which it would do if you applied the right stuff. Congrats on doing that. You scored 10 points for diagnosing the disengaged throttle linkage and another 5 for getting it together again. Also another 10 for getting the distributor cap gap fixed for a total of 25. Well done.
Unfortunately, you lose all points gained by running out of gas. You should be able to keep going with a faulty gas gauge - that's part of the TR mystique and sport of the owning the marque! Remember, its one of the TR's gauge and electronics parts assembly with Joseph (Prince of Darkness) Lucas parts.
Of course, I never had a laptop to signal for help - that's cheating!