They Don’t Make ‘em Like They Used To!

In Issue 2 (October) Chris Oswald recalled the day he bought TC7045 from a dealer in 1990. To quote Chris:

“On the surface, my car looked pretty good but the years had taken their toll in a myriad little (and big) ways under the surface, of which more anon”.

In a series of articles, which will follow in future issues of TTT 2, Chris takes us right up to where he is now with the car…

TC7045 on the outside seemed to be looking good for her age (OK her makeup was a bit too thick and her clothes were looking worn, but you would not turn her out of your garage on a cold night). Then one day she stopped performing (fortunately close to my garage) and the scales began to fall from my eyes. I began a thorough and very intimate examination of the whole car. As I scraped the waxoyl off everything, it was clear that underneath was a world of rust just waiting to get worse.

As time went by (and believe you me a lot of time goes by when you’re restoring a TC) and as I dismantled more and more pieces, it was becoming a regular feature of weekends for me to stagger up from the garage and present my supremely disinterested wife (bless her, she does try to sound interested) with yet another sad bit of rusty metal and say “My God, just look at that – and I was four-wheel drifting round Donington (racing circuit) sat in this death trap!”

A sample: the cage bolts clamping the front springs to the front axle – me and my eye for a straight line again!

While I was removing the engine – you know, the sturdy ‘bomb-proof’ XPAG – bits just came off in my hand! Yes, I know that is the standard excuse, but the water pipe had been quietly rotting away from the inside and just snapped – imagine that between junctions on the motorway! Couple that with my discovery of the fact that one of the two front engine mount bolts had sheared, and I was beginning to feel that I had borrowed several lives off my cat.

Remember the mention of Donington? Yes, well, that resulted in four broken spokes.

The brakes? Well, the master cylinder had seen better days –the bore was pitted and it took ages to get it out in the first place. (I heartily recommend the replacement extended nut to enable you to reach it with a spanner rather than struggle trying to reach it inside the mounting bracket). I had the bore on this (and all of the slave cylinders which had similar pitting) reamed out and fitted with stainless steel sleeves. Brake shoes? – at the rear, oil-soaked; at the front worn down to the rivets.

I dismantled the shock absorber links – they were held together with washers and split pins, hiding the fact that as far as the bushes were concerned, the rubber had long since hit the road. I had a problem even moving the shock absorber arms as they had frozen through inactivity because the movement was being taken up within the loose link joints. So, effectively there was no operating shock absorbing system apart from the spring in the tyres – which, of course were wearing unevenly because they were not properly trued due to the ‘dicky’ spokes (you can almost play a tune with the different tones the spokes make if you tap them)

The back axle? …no, I won’t bore you. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask any TC owner.

Wiring? – a mysterious concoction of wires not of the original colour coding all wrapped in black electrician’s tape – no metal ducting anywhere.

Brake lights? No, the switch was full of black gunk. Where did it come from? You guessed it – again ask any TC owner about engine leaks.

To her eternal credit, however, the stub axles and the pitman arm, passed their crack-test with flying colours.

I never intended to end up with a total dismantle and restoration but time and previous owners had taken their toll. I could not responsibly cobble her back together, once I knew what was wrong with her, so total makeover it became.

Editor’s Note: The ‘horror story’ continues in the next article…

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