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Triumph Gloria - a sympathetic restoration

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The Acquisition
Not the usual agricultural machinery but it is mine, it's old and a machine of sorts.
First of all a bit of history as to how I became the custodian of a 1937 Triumph Gloria Vitesse 4 seat Tourer.PICT0004.JPG.604917e8a8a16eb248d5d02a2463dc2c.JPG

In 1963 my father was offered £5 for an old 10.8HP Coventry Climax engine that he had removed from a 1935 Gloria Saloon he used in the late 1950's if he put it in running condition but when he found out it was required for a Gloria tourer he refused to sell the engine and offered £5 for the car.
A couple of months later he became the owner of SU3305 and soon found out why it needed another engine:- 


The above was sticking out of the engine block and had smashed the camshaft, engine mount, sump and front casing.
As he was foreman of the machine shop in the local Albion agency in Aberdeen the spare engine was rebored, fitted with new Rover 10HP pistons, the crankshaft reground and the bearings re-metalled and line bored to suit.
The engine was installed, bushes and pins were made for the front suspension, door trim was replaced with leather from a cut down Austin Seven rear seat and sponge backed domestic carpet used to replace carpeting that was falling apart.
The mechanic at the local garage who owned a Singer 9 Le Mans tourer gave it a 'sympathetic' MOT and we enjoyed short runs on warm summer days around the Aberdeenshire B roads.
Over the next twenty years every so often if money allowed - he did have three teenage kids to feed and clothe - it was insured, MOT'd and licenced for 4 months in the summer and once I reached 25 my name was added to the insurance and I was allowed to drive it.
We attended local galas and some local car shows over the years until a problem with the brake master cylinder that we were unable to repair in 1988 put it off the road and it ended up at the back of the workshop collecting dust.
I had been bitten by the kit car bug by this time

A Burlington Chieftan

A Westfield SE
The Gloria was started and taken out to be dusted down now and then until 2005.
To be continued.

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Just paid my dues so that I can continue this post!
Aye, the Westfield was the best fun per £ ever, really brought out the hooligan in me with it's 1700cc Ford X-Flow stage 3 engine and handling like a go cart.
I did follow it with this

A Carlton Carrera and then I restored this one


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The Scimitar was a great motor, had a rebuilt mildly tuned 3.1 litre V6 when I bought it but you had to watch it on a wet road.
Back to the Gloria, I inherited it after my father died in 2003 and decided to get it back on the road in his memory.
I joined the Pre 1940 Triumph Owners Club and discovered that they were getting hard to find essential components re-manufactured and were reconditioning brake master and wheel cylinders by boring them out and pressing in stainless steel sleeves and reassembling with new seals and springs.
Having sold the Scimitar in 2005 there was some spare cash available and I spent most of it on new shiny bits for the Gloria - master cylinder, 4 wheel cylinders, 8 brake shoes, new front and rear splined hubs with new spinners, new wheel bearings, new water pump, new water manifold, new head gasket and a reconditioned steering box.
First on was the master cylinder


I then fitted new wheel bearings and the splined hubs followed by the wheel cylinders and brake shoes to the back axle and thought I would give the inner wheel arches a bit of clean and maybe a coat of paint while I had the wheels off.
As we all know, that is the moment you find all of the horrors hiding under the mud and grime



I had that sinking feeling and thought that this just might be the end of the old car.
I decided to dig a bit further by removing the boot lid for a better look and it just got worse




The wooden body support to the chassis was sinking, the plywood boot floor was warped and separating and the boot hinge brackets were nearly falling away and any exposed timber that I prodded seemed to be rotten.
A few rums and fags later it became obvious that what was going to be a fairly straightforward mechanical 'restoration' had turned in to a nightmare and was going to need a lot of time and thought or professional help was needed.
In the end it was decided that this was to become a retirement project for 2011 as it was going to need all my concentration and a hell of a lot of time.

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So I retired in 2011 and built a new shed to house the Carlton to make space for all the bits that I would need to remove from the Gloria to gain access to all the rotten wood. The correct way would be to remove the aluminium skin from the ash frame and repair the frame but I just don't have the skills to undertake such a marathon job as it would have entailed removing hundreds of panel pins, prising the aluminium from the frame and then replacing it with all the panel beating and then a full respray.
By this time my partner Alison was in poor health and required more and more help around the house until she passed away in 2016.
I now needed a project, rather than just want one, and set to planning how I was going to achieve it without everything going belly up.
I am not very skilled at carpentry so to make life easier I purchased a few woodworking tools,

small band saw, bench sander, planer-thicknesser, dremel, grinder, multi tool, router and a rip-snorter.
I already had a small bench saw and my brother in law had one with an adjustable table so I thought I would be able to make all the bits I needed.
A neighbour who had worked in the lumber business for many years gave me some lengths of ash trees that he had cut several years earlier and I thought I was on my way but after making a couple of simple flat pieces that bolt to the chassis (4" x 1 1/8" x 12") I came out the following day to find them curled like bananas.
Obviously you need to slice your timber and leave it to dry out for several years before it can be used and I wasn't about to wait for this lot to dry out.
Found a sawmill beside Huntly that had some 1" and 2" thick well seasoned ash slabs about 10 Ft x 2 Ft and went off to pick them up, should have taken about an hour but got back 4 hours later as the 85 year old owner of the mill was also a Jaguar enthusiast and about 3 hours were spent talking cars and looking round his Series 3 V12 E Type.
I had also done some research in to what glue should be used when assembling the frame and found so many different opinions that I ended up using Araldite 2 pack epoxy (the long setting time type).
Since I was going to be working in some very tight spaces, using standard slotted head wood screws did not appeal as I would have found it difficult to work even the shortest screw driver so I opted to use torx headed stainless steel screws and a torx bit that I could drive with a small 1/4" drive ratchet or a 10mm ratchet ring key.


I managed to get 200 off each 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50 an 60 mm screws for under £100 and bought about 12 double syringe packs of the araldite so that I didn't have an open pack sitting for weeks and slowly going hard.
A few test samples of ash were cut and either screwed or glued together and pulled apart to confirm that these methods were going to be successful.
This is the offcut of the 1" ash that i was left with.

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Nae happy !! Doing a bit more last night and just about to load the last photo and internet crashes and lost the lot.
With all the tools and raw materials gathered it was time to start dismantling, the chassis was levelled on two wooden blocks and rear bodywork supported by two adjustable scaffold feet and some aluminium tube under the boot top rail, wheels were removed, rear wings removed and all the interior trim from the back seat rearwards.
It was evident that the rear body section was sinking causing the sides of the rear wings to bow out and the front of the doors to rise above the front bulkhead level.


On the offside you can see the wooden chassis mount is tilted along with a broken bracket and a makeshift repair with some sheet steel.


The nearside gives a better view of how it is constructed with the chassis attachment plate half lap jointed to the cross member, a fairly solid support block attached to a length of angle iron bolted to the steel inner wheel arch. The boot hinge is bolted up through the cross member with one bolt coming through a steel bracket coming round and up along the lower wheel arch frame which is again attached to the back of the support block.


80 year old wood screws are not the easiest of things to remove especially in such confined spaces but using small cutting discs in the dremel the slots were tidied up and with a selection of different sized flat screwdriver bits and various ratchets and sockets to fit all but two came out and  I was lucky enough to have space to drill them out with a right angled drill and some short stumpy drill bits that I had bought for this job some time earlier.
The bolts were also dispatched using the dremel and cutting discs but it was all too easy to shatter them and quite a number were used.
I had to cut the crossmember to ease removal of all the bits but was still able to measure them and get dimensions for the new pieces, the chassis mounts and support blocks along with the crossmember were relatively easy to make as they were all straight sided, the lower wheel arch extension needed to be curved but after some trial and error I worked out the radius and used the router to form this piece.


By fixing the workpiece and pivot block to a 8 x 4 x 3/4" sheet of plywood the radius was set and the inner radius cut then adjusting the threaded rod by the required thickness the outer radius was machined -  a lot of playing about but it worked out OK.


Behind the boot hinge bracket there was some evidence of a solid piece connecting the boot side rail, another body rail and the lower wheelarch extension which had been screwed from the outside before the aluminium had been formed around it, I managed to make a couple of pieces that would fit to all three wooden rails but just could not get the correct profile to fit the body.
After two attempts and even trying some modelling clay I finally managed to get the correct profile by using one of my trial pieces, covering it in a good layer of body filler, covering it with a polythene bag and gently pressing it in to position.Once set I was able to use a profile gauge every 1/4" along the piece to copy to the new one.


With all the new pieces made and trial fitted, broken bracket welded back together, pilot holes for the screws were marked and drilled and holes for the bolts drilled, final assembly took place with all pieces glued and screwed together.






The rear body was now solid and firmly attached to the chassis for the first time in over sixty years.
The fun really begins now.

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Thanks Wristpin,
I just dabble in the woodwork but I thought that if Triumph could do it in 1937 then I could surely manage with all the tools that are available today, only problem is there's usually more sawdust than finished article.

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The boot lid was tried in place, the doors closed and were level with the bulkhead so it was time to move forward.
A 2 x 2 was cut to length and the body was supported under the top of the frame just at the back of the door pillars with another support under the frame of the bulkhead.
There was a lack of wheelarch front frame and inner wheelarch steel at this point


and even less to attach any new material to


The construction here is what I can only describe as a plank of ash 7/8" thick, tapering from 7 1/4" wide at the rear to 4 1/4" wide at the front of the bulkhead bolted to brackets along the side of the chassis and to this there is bolted and screwed a sill member which follows the lower body from the rear wheelarch to the front bulkhead and forms door shut.
You can see this better in the photo - these are the two pieces nearest the camera


In this next photo you can see the aluminium section that covers this sill member one piece on the top and then a side cover that meets the front wing and running board.
These are two separate pieces that are just fixed under the door so can be removed without affecting the rest of the body, but boy were they well nailed down, there was a lot of cursing and swearing at this point as every thin chisel and small screwdriver available was pressed in to service.

The flat plank was relatively easy to make but when I had initially measured how much ash I would need I had measured it at 6" and not 7 1/4" wide so my 6" wide thicknesser was as useful as a chocolate ashtray.
Luckily a retired joiner a few houses away still had his 12" planer and he obliged by taking it down to 7/8" thick.
The sill member also posed a problem at 2 3/4" wide as I only had 1" and 2" material available but planed a 2" piece to 1 3/4" and glued and screwed it to a piece of the 1" to get the required width.
This piece should have gone the full length but tapering and angling the rear needed numerous trial fits so I cut it in two and joined it at the front joint of the aluminium sill section.
There was enough of it left to give me the required sizes and I cut a template of its section from a piece of 1/2" skirting board and screwed it to the rough (very rough) sandwich of ash.
The router was then put in to action with a 3" long bit with a ball bearing guide on the end and this was used to follow the profile on the skirting board.

It was a bit scary at times as it dug in to some rather thick bits but we got there and it had the correct upper and lower curves, the side angle was cut on my brother in law's table saw and I persevered with the plane and the belt sander until it fitted the body aluminium and the top sill aluminium.
Although the body frame is primarily ash there are quite a number of substantial steel brackets, one at the bottom of the door hinge pillar and one holding the front bulkhead to the 7/8" board at the front.
These are the finished nearside before the aluminium was replaced 




I nearly put a match to the whole thing when I had bolted and screwed the offside together as the door bottom was striking the sill member before the aluminium was even on and the front of the door was now about 1/4" above the front bulkhead with a huge gap as well, I really thought something had moved and I hadn't noticed.
Time for a fag and a beer and some deep thought, sand down the timber for clearance and play about with the hinges?
Then I thought what would happen if I took out the original spacer between the chassis bracket and the 7/8" board?
Did this and the bulkhead was now touching the door and it was about an 1/8" low - it then dawned on me that by fitting different thicknesses of spacers was how they had originally set up doors and sills when they made the car, thinner spacer made and fitted and all was well.



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On ‎12‎/‎12‎/‎2020 at 8:22 PM, Aiberdonian said:

Thanks Stormin, waiting for an update on your SWM.


  'fraid SWM has been put aside for now. Parts supply/expense etc.

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Now that most of the framing was done and the body now firmly attached to the chassis I welded in some repair panels to the inner wheelarches and screwed and bolted them down giving the structure more strength.
As I had good access to springs and hangers I checked for wear and found that my father had only done the front ones - these were well worn so an E-Mail to the PNTMC soon had a new set of spring pins and bushes delivered.
With springs off I also wire brushed the really solid chassis of loose surface rust and gave it a coat of paint before refitting the spring on one side and when I came out the following day found a new nut with a broken off thread in it lying on the floor.



The chassis spring pin had sheared off, and I hadn't tightened it to that extent.
On closer examination it seemed to be a brittle break and when I tested it with a file it was really hard all the way through, unfortunately I no longer have contacts that could do a proper hardness check for me but armed with a good file I began to investigate.
The original pin was so hard on the surface that the file just bounced off as it did on the new pin but on the worn section it had a feel similar to a high tensile bolt.
Obviously the original pin was case hardened and the new one was made from through hardening material and had not been tempered.
I advised the club of my problem and a new pin was supplied but before fitting I tempered both pins with a torch to reduce the hardness and increase the toughness to something resembling a high tensile bolt. Since the car would not be doing thousands of miles wear on the pin should not be an issue whereas a failure of the pin during use could be a real danger on the road.

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It was now time to replace the floors and the boot floor but what I still cannot understand is why a car built in Coventry in 1937 was using metric plywood, I was sure that it was 1/2" thick but I measured various pieces and they were all bang on 12 mm, maybe just as well since you can't get imperial plywood.
I checked availability of 12 mm marine ply on internet and a local builders merchant had in stock but it was about £85 plus a £15 delivery charge for an 8 x 4 sheet, thought this was steep but then it was a case of - hell the car only cost a fiver, go for it.
I decided to go and order in person and sitting behind the salesman was the manager who lived across the road from where my partner had stayed, after a brief how are you etc. he called across and said give him a good discount and deliver it for free, I got it for £33 delivered. Not what you know but who you know right enough.
The old front seat base and steel rear footwell


new front seat bases with refurbished rear footwell that only needed a couple of 2" square patches welded in





The boot floor was next but it had originally been covered with rexine which doesn't stretch and you can only get leathercloth these days and the non stretch doesn't appear to come in green.

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Next came choosing material for the interior trim, a lot of which could not be removed intact in order to gain access to the framework , I decided to go with a modern type green vinyl similar in colour to the original along with dark green rubber backed carpeting. The original carpeting was a short pile hessian backed type but I could not find it in a suitable green and I did not think dying it to the correct colour would be a feasible proposition. As someone had coloured the leather rear seats and arm rests with a hideous blue in the past  I also ordered a leather renovation kit in the same shade of green as the vinyl and if the original side panels which I was going to re-use didn't look right I could do them as well.


The rear arm rests along with the rexine attachments had to be fitted first before the boot floor as these formed the inside of the boot.
The boot floor was duly cut to size, covered in the new vinyl and fitted along with the repainted steel covers.



The old rexine side panels don't look too bad against the new vinyl and the arm rests turned out quite good as well alongside the original rear panels, this is after the seat had also been done.


Before the side panel could be fitted a new door seal was required, not just any door seal but a 3/8" dia piece of wing piping, you can see it running down the door pillar here


You can't buy 3/8" wing piping and certainly not in green so as always we'll just make it.
Sewing machine was already there as I had bought it to do the Carlton interior, 


and a new 3/8" foot was purchased


The original piping had an orange rubber pipe running through it and I managed to get some 10 mm bunsen burner tubing which was the perfect size for the job but I just couldn't get the vinyl to feed through the machine. I tried various methods of lubricating it until someone advised using tissue paper and it worked a treat but a bit of a pain to remove from the thread afterwards. Once a new piece of carpet was sewn on the bottom of the side panels they were then fitted along with the back seat.


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With the boot floor finished it was time to refurbish the boot lid, it originally had a small steel flap which hinged down to extend the boot floor and with the lid opened against a canvas retaining strap gave a significant increase in carrying capacity. The inner lining had seen better days and my father had removed the flap long ago but for some unknown reason it was still in an old shed complete with it's chrome hinge. The rexine was removed from the flap, the rust sanded off and new vinyl glued on, the hinge was eased off and straightened and a new panel made from 4 mm plywood and again covered in vinyl.


When not being used it is popped against the boot lid.


The aluminium protectors and the retaining lugs were still usable.

The nearside door was next for attention and needed a new section where the lower hinge attached as the original was split and the screw holes were stripped, simply screwing the split together and plugging the holes didn't look as if it would  work so a rather rough piece was cut, bolted and glued to the upper frame and screwed and glued to the bottom door frame.


Only the front half of the plywood lower section remained but it was used as a rough template and a full length piece was cut and sanded to shape but when placed against the frame I only had about 1/8" of aluminium on the leading edge to fold back over. Took a few tries and checks of the frame to realise it was made of 9 mm ply and not 12 mm - a total waste of a good piece of 12 mm plywood !
That was soon corrected and then screwed and glued to the frame.
These doors are quite interesting, the triangular black piece actually hinges up and provides a straight door top for using the sidescreens and when cut away doors are required an armrest unfolds and screws to the top of the cutaway



The finished door, with new rear and lower panel and original armrest and flap in leather.


The lower hinge was non original and I found some hinges of the correct depth and width at Vintage Supplies which had to be cut to length and drilled but they fitted perfectly.
The threaded plate in the door top was stripped so a new one had to be made and the offcuts from the hinge did the job.

Just as well as my aberdonian tightness did cringe at paying over 40 quid each for them, the offside door was better and only needed a new piece of ply and all the trim.

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Photos are becoming a bit thin on the ground now.
Under the back seat there were two crossmembers on the chassis with plates for holding two six volt batteries, one of these had to be replaced and I decided to convert it to one single 12 volt battery while I was at it. I test fitted the new battery and noticed a bit of a spark as I put the terminal on and thought that everything was switched off and it was. I knew the wiring to the back of the car was needing replacing but when I added an ammeter to the main cable there was a 3 amp discharge with nothing switched on, so the rest of the wiring was now suspect.
There were a couple of burned wires under the dash, several added wires under the bonnet and a couple of duplicates to the front lights, the club came to the rescue with a wiring diagram and it really isn't a complicated system and I removed the lot to start from scratch. Although cotton braided cable is available the thought of measuring the various lengths, making sure I had enough and getting the right colours seemed a bit too much like hard work. I had plastic covered wire from 2 Triumph 2000's a Mark 10 Jag and an XJ6 all in BL colour codes so decided to follow their coding system and make up my own loom and use some vintage style trunking to hide most of them.


It was a cold spell and paint wasn't drying, glue wasn't going off so I thought I'll do the wiring but hadn't reckoned on trying to straighten out cold plastic wire that had been coiled up for the best part of 25 years, it was a real pita to feed six or seven cables through the trunking and had to pull some through two or three at a time with a squirt of WD40 to help it along.
Once done it looks quite in keeping with the rest of the car with only a couple of inches at the control box showing


and fixed to the chassis with brass clips


Two solenoid were added for the horns and the headlights to lessen the load on the wires passing down the inside of the steering column and the underside of the dash is also a lot neater.


The reconditioned steering box was also fitted at this stage before a new plywood bulkhead section around the pedals and steering column was installed.
This is the final tally of all the woodwork that was replaced


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12 hours ago, Stormin said:


Aye but when one of the 'auxiliary' fuses blows you have three different accessories to investigate to find the culprit and that usually means another blown fuse when you pick the wrong one.

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In 1963 when we got the car the old man repaired the join between the front and rear wins with a couple of plates as we didn't have any welding gear at that time and there was also a lot of corrosion on the front wings where the headlamp support bolted through to a bracket under the wing. Once the wings were removed the extent of the corrosion became apparent and new metal from a half sheet of 20 SWG mild steel I had left over from a previous project was formed and welded in. 

Not a perfect job but blends in well with the 'patina' of the rest of the wings, the corrosion around the headlamp support was a bit more extensive and a double curved piece was formed on a sandbag and carefully welded in to prevent buckling. A quick grind down, thin skim of filler, sanded, primed and given a quick spray of cellulose with an air brush and an acceptable finish was achieved.


A new bracket under the wing had to be made as the old one had more holes than it did metal


The running board strips had also been replaced by wooden ones in 1963 and the wings were full of holes from previous repairs to the strips but by carefully placing new ones I was able to hide nearly all of them because welding them all up would have corrugated the running boards and I didn't want to try sorting that out.


The wings were now firmly attached to the body which in turn was firmly attached to the chassis and in the future if someone wishes to restore it to concours condition there is enough originality left to do so.

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With the under dash wiring done I could now finish the carpeting of the bulkhead, side panels and floor.
When I initially started in 2006 I removed the gearbox cover which was made of moulded hard rubber and had broken in 3 pieces but I was going to make a mould from it and do one in fibreglass but in the meantime it had fallen off a shelf and was now in a hundred pieces. A modified one was made from aluminium and made it a lot easier to carpet.

The vinyl edging around the carpeting is wider than I would have liked but the rubber backing just cracks and the carpet splits if you sew too close to the edge, I didn't have this trouble with the hessian backed stuff I used on the Carlton.
The bulkhead


and the side panels with air conditioning facility - no fuses required!


then renovated front seats fitted


The new front brake cylinders and shoes along with the new hubs and bearings were next


The tyres were all different makes and sizes and well over 50 years old so new 5.50 x 16 Blockley tyres tubes and tube protectors were ordered, the wheels sand blasted and powder coated to prevent damaging the new tubes.
The original colour had been cream then repainted yellow and I couldn't decide whether to go black to match the body, green to match the interior but in the end decided to go with silver.1036582207_Gloriawheel.JPG.2f35a54b3767931c069bdf51787b6b16.JPG

Not far to go now but we still have the engine saga.


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Most impressive work on a fine project and viewed with a touch of envy!.

Reminds me of my childhood back in the late 1950s when my Dad had a 1935 Morris 8 Tourer and we often went for picnics etc in it.

Have to rely on you and others now to produce these projects, too. much or me nowadays. Keep up the excellent work.

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1 hour ago, Anglo Traction said:

Most impressive work on a fine project and viewed with a touch of envy!.

Reminds me of my childhood back in the late 1950s when my Dad had a 1935 Morris 8 Tourer and we often went for picnics etc in it.

Have to rely on you and others now to produce these projects, too. much or me nowadays. Keep up the excellent work.

Thank you.
My brother's first car in the early 1960's was a 1935 Morris 8 tourer, YS 5104, followed by a 1936 Ford model Y.
If my father hadn't had a spare fiver in 1963 I wouldn't have the car now and there were a couple of times I thought it was going to go belly up and I'd have to sell it for spares but I got there eventually. 

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  Funny isn't it. My fathers first car was a 1935? Morris 8 saloon. He changed the three speed gearbox for a four speed. Gave one or two MG drivers a surprise on the hills.

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