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TVR Tasmin, Emotional Rollercoaster. Tyres, Ball Joints, WOF and Brakes.

Well, it has been an interesting time on the TVR front. Most recently, I have been dealing with one of those “why did I start this” jobs on the car.

One of the first things I did after failing the WOF inspection was to order some new tyres. The old tyres, although both a good brand (Dunlop) and near new tread, were as hard as rocks, slippery as anything, starting to crack, the wrong size, and were flat-spotted. Its no surprise really, they were about 10 years old.

The spare was even worse, I suspect it may have been from 1986, as its a long-obsolete model (Good Year Eagle NCT 60, the original spec tyre for the TVR), the rubber felt like plastic, and the date stamp was 196 without an arrow (the arrow indicates it’s from the 90s, and a three-digit number indicates its pre-2000).

They got their monies worth out of this one!

After much deliberation, I decided to revert back to the standard size all around, at a “low profile” 205/60R14. The old rears were 215/65R14, so not only wider but also a lot taller (about 16mm taller than standard). This always looked a bit wrong to me; too much sidewall.

I don’t know if the reason for the size change was just because of what was on hand, or if there was a deliberate choice to do it, but Its not my thing. I did have some issue getting the original size; there wasn’t a lot of options for brands, but I chose to go with a tyre that’s a decent economy tyre. No, it’s not as good as a performance tyre, but options were limited, as was my budget, and at the price I got these for it was hard to say no. A decent new economy tyre is better than any old, hard, performance tyre.

The tyre I chose was a Nexen CP672. It has good reviews, is a modern Korean made tyre, and Nexen is OEM fit on some Hyundai and Kia cars, so it can’t be all bad. At least it’s not a Chinese ditch-finder.

Hover car, again

The Saab came in handy for taking it all down to the tyre shop for fitting. The Honda probably could’ve managed, but the Saab just ate it all up with space to spare.

With the new tyres fitted, it was time to tackle the reason I failed the WOF. The front lower ball joints.

It turns out these are the original 40 year old ball joints, as they are riveted to the arms. The replacements all have bolts holding them in. Not great news, they’re a prick to get out.

I struggled around a bit on the first one, but worked out some tips that made the second a lot quicker and easier.

First, this job sucks. It’s messy, it’s hard to access, and takes more than your usual spanner set to do.

The split pin in the nut was my first issue. It was old and properly rusted into the hole. After a lot of faffing about trying to hammer it out with a punch, and then trying to smash it up with a chisel, the easiest way for me to remove it wasn’t to remove it at all, but to chop the tails off, slip a spanner on the nut and swing off it until the nut cut through the split pin. You can see the split pin remains still in the hole, about halfway down the thread. Both the nut, and the joint are junk, so not an issue.

Now, if you have a ball joint splitter, go ahead and use it to split the ball joint, otherwise use the BFH and hit the knuckle with a few sharp hits, and the taper should pop. I found jacking the hub up helps to put pressure on the taper and make it easier to pop.

You can see in the above photo I have removed the two bolts from the tie bar. This wasn’t smart, it was a real pain to line it back up again, what I did on the second one was to use a clamp and hold the bar into place on the arm, and leaving the nut-less bolts in the holes to align it

Next, undo the nut off the tie rod end and release the taper. Move the tie rod out of the way. Now for the fun part, grab your grinder, and grind the top of the rivets down so they are as low as possible, and flat.

Use a punch to mark the center of the rivet, and using plenty of cutting oil, starting with a small drill bit, drill through the rivet. Work your way up to a larger bit. After a couple of different sizes I changed to a step drill. Take care not to enlarge the hole in the arm.

The goal is to cut the head off the rivet, so you can get a chisel in and split the parts

Once you do both of the rivets, push the ball joint through the arm and that’s part one done.

The new ones should come with a pair of nuts and bolts to replace the rivets, as well as a grease nipple. Fit the nipple, and pump the joint full of grease

Now refit the new joint from the underside of the arm. Make sure everything lines up, and leave all the bolts loose until everything is aligned and in place. Once all the bolts are in, tighten them all up. The two large nuts want to be 58-68NM, whilst the little ones don’t have a torque setting, so just do them up tight.

Now for another fun part, getting the hub back onto the taper. I found this to be too much of an arm-full, so used a jack between the two arms to lift the upper arm and lower the knuckle over the stud. Not a Ford/TVR approved method, I’m sure, but it worked well.

And then you refit the nut. The Nylock was a pain to fit as until it cut through the nylon it kept trying to spin the balljoint, but I got there in the end. There is a torque setting, but I couldn’t get a torque wrench in there, so settled for bloody tight with a spanner.

With both sides done, on went the wheels with new tyres, and it was time for a shakedown.

The front end feels a bit tighter, but the biggest difference are the new tyres, which don’t try and kill you when you point the car at a corner, and the rear shocks (new damper adjustable replacements also went in as I felt the old ones were a bit soft) control the rear end better. The incorrectly high (40psi) tyre pressure resulted in a nice light steering, but a harsher ride and less grip than when the pressure was lowered to the correct 24psi. I think this car has the heaviest steering of any car I have driven.

I could help but take some photos. It’s a great looking little car, and such an experience to drive.

So, with new bits in, it was time for the WOF recheck. Almost 4 years since the last one expired, a new WOF!

Its a great feeling, knowing the car is finally good enough that its back on the road, when for the last few years it had been sitting at a workshop being ignored because the injection work was just “too hard”. Sadly the injection work is just the tip of the iceberg of issues with this car, but I’m working through them. I do wish the seller, or (more importantly) the “specialist” were honest about the condition of the car. Some of these issues aren’t new, and are hard to miss.

So with a new WOF, what’s the first thing I do? Go out and enjoy the car right? Nah, that’s not how I work.

It was time to take the car off the road again, and fix the brakes. I knew this job was going to be bad, but little did I know how bad it was about to get.

As I previously mentioned, the brakes had a shudder. This was also noted at the WOF, but wasn’t enough to fail on, yet.

Unfortunately, I had had enough of the shudder. It was bad when braking from 100kph, and annoying coming to a stop, so had to be fixed.

I purchased a set of new rotors, front and rear, but just needed to fit them. I was originally going to start with the fronts, as they are a lot easier to access, but decided to do the hard ones first, and get it over and done with; the rears.

Of course because I have inboard rear brakes, nothing was going to be simple. I asked around and the general opinion was that it was easiest to drop the whole rear diff to get the calipers off, so the rotors could be removed. Yay.

Dropping the diff on a Wedge isn’t too bad of a job, especially with the trailing arm models like mine, as there aren’t a whole lot of things holding the assembly in. Unfortunately, we found the job was made much harder on my car thanks to whoever designed the exhaust, as there isn’t quite enough space between the two exhaust pipes to slip the calipers down and out. After a heck of a lot of levering, and much help from my lovely apprentice, this happened

I’ll tell you now, this thing is bloody heavy. We lowered it on the jack, and removed it from the jack to work on it. I’m not too sure how we will get it back on the jack to refit it, lots of brute force I guess.

With everything on the ground it was time to remove the calipers to extract the rotors. The handbrake calipers on the top need to go first. These are held in by two pins each. One side had nice (barely) greased and free pins, the other had dry, stuck, pins. Not ideal at all. They did come out in the end.

The hand brake pads looked OK. I have receipts for them being replaced a few years ago. The units need a good clean though.

Next, the calipers came off. These were missing the lock wire on the bolts.

and then the old rotors

You can see the extent of the runout in the wear on the rotor. Above the two arrows is rough and rusty, below them is shiny and smooth. The shiny spot is the high point, where the pads have been contacting well, and the rough part where the pads haven’t been working as well.

I gave the shims a quick wire brush to get the obvious crud off them, and fit the new rotors. Here is an action shot; brushing so quick my arm is nothing but a blur

This is where it went all a little pear-shaped. I didn’t check the runout on the new rotors before fitting the calipers, and when I did, it was worse than before I pulled the lot out. Previously on the old rotors, I had about 0.35mm runout. Now I had over 0.60mm runout. Crap.

At this point, I flipped tables and gave up for the day.

Well, they looked nice anyway. Mmm Brembo.

Today I forced myself to go into the garage and see what I could work out. I knew the shims looked a bit average, so let’s start there.

I pulled the shims off and had a look at what I had. It wasn’t good. The shims are stuffed. Rusted, crusty, painted and missing bits.

And the flange didn’t do much better. It had baked on crusty rust, and paint on it

I had to chip a few bits like this off with a chisel, and then I wire brushed thoroughly

I can still see some room for improvement there too, but its a lot better.

The first way to see where the runout is, is to remove all the shims and see if the rotor runs true when mounted directly to the flange. After cleaning the flange, I fit the rotor to it and checked runout. The old rotor makes a great mount for the dial indicator

Much better at 0.08mm. I think I can get it a little lower with some strategic scraping, but the spec is up to 0.10mm

That’s a great success. I did the same to the other side too. The shims were worse here, and the flanges covered in old crusty rust

I cleaned these up and tested them. Boom, awesome. 0.035mm

So the take away from this is a few things. I need new shims. DONT paint faces of flanges or shims. ALWAYS use copper grease on shims to stop them sticking together and reduce corrosion. Oh, and the bolts that hold the diff to the cradle should be tight; someone previously missed that memo.

Now I need to source some new shims, and we should be good to refit. I measured the old ones, and will try to replicate the original stack, but I may need to tweak it myself as I don’t know if these are right or not.

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