It was precisely 6½ days before our first sprint event of the season at Castle Circuit in Wiltshire (UK) when just prior to what I thought was going to be the final shake down run I declared the car ready and 30mins after that momentous moment on my return when the TVR 3000M water pump began the process of discharging the contents of the engine’s freshly replaced anti-freeze all over the drive.
That hurt because I’d been all over the car, painted the chassis, fitted new silencers to bring the noise level down from an unacceptable, at sprint events at least, 108-109DBA to more comfortable 99-100DBA. The limit is 105DBA at ¾ max rpm with the noise meter held 0.5m away at a 45 degree angle. Freed up the extinguisher and electrical cut-off cable pulls which were both seized, changed the fluids, created a makeshift fuel gauge in the form of a cut down 1m wooden rule re-calibrated to show ¼, ½ and ¾ levels in the 20litre race tank and bought more Millers VSPe additive than I care to remember. Indeed with the last of the holes in the cabin sealed by every competitors favourite, trusty tank tape, the car was confidentially declared to anyone who would listen as good to go, fatal I know.
Yes damn and blast it, from smug zone to trying to source a new part via the internet and on the phone which soon proved a tad more difficult than I imagined. It has you see been some twenty five years since I last did similar with old school Ford power plants and back then all the local auto part outlets were filled with such items. Of course perhaps no surprise things have moved on and now nothing like this is stocked on the shelf and only bought in when required, albeit within just a few hours if available. The problem is that a 1977 TVR 3000M water pump (Ford 3.0 V6 Essex) is no longer offered by mainstream parts suppliers.
For anyone reading this with even the slightest knowledge of classic car restoration and repair I can imagine thinking, what an idiot, what was he expecting to find one in the window of his local Halfords, well yes actually. Because in the haze of work, wine, far too much wine, marriage, kids and a string of family sized modern motors this failure to simply pick up what I need within an hour of asking completely caught me by surprise. As did the fact I couldn’t get any hoses to replace the ones showing their advancing years by apparently being glued to various parts of the engine.
The search online began in earnest and in the end Burton Power confirmed stock of a TVR 3000M water pump minus backing plate and Merlin Motorsport had those lovely looking Samco Classic Black series hoses. Simples order the pump online and fit the day before the sprint after returning from a business trip to Manchester and in the meantime collect hoses from Merlin Motorsport to put on that evening, assuming of course they fitted and what is it they say about assumptions?
The hoses didn’t fit. The first fix was to move the swirl pot a little bit closer to the engine so that the new top hose wasn’t at full stretch before everything started moving around in anger, a job that took longer than it should because of corroded nuts and bolts that needed to be eased before loosening off. Still the final result looked alright with the only other find being a repair needed to the radiator breather inlet on the top of the aging swirl pot. Now whether it failed before or after moving the pot is not 100% clear, although there was evidence of a leak beforehand in an earlier photograph.
A few taps on a small hammer and makeshift drift (socket extension bar to be exact ) to the inside of the breather pipe seemed to help put it back in place before I left to go away on business; needless to say I wasn’t brave enough to wiggle it very hard before departing. Thoughts afterwards moved between re-soldering the joint, using a glue gun or buying a new item altogether. The thing is as fragile as the whole thing appeared below it’s by now rather suspicious looking fresh black paint exterior the temperatures had been fine with no steam coming from the area that I noticed anyway. Also there wasn’t that distinctive smell you get when leaks occur particularly with fresh anti-freeze on board. No the only thing apparently really wrong had been the pump itself, not surprising given the car’s seven year break from use.
This early experience had been a rich one and confirmed if needed that old cars need old parts which in turn need specialist providers. Up until this point I had only navigated the auto-jumble sections of any classic car show with the very faintest of interests. The next one I visit will be different, armed with dimensions or even the old parts in need of replacement themselves I will be delving into every pile of likely looking stuff I can find. To be honest I can’t wait because as it really is lovely to be messing about with cars I get once again.
In the history of the universe never has one person changed their relationship with classic cars so quickly, from pure reviewer to DIY mechanic in a matter of weeks and with the battered hands and wallet to prove it, I wouldn’t change it for the World.
Our TVR 3000M made it out for the Williams Automobiles Great Western Sprint at Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire organised by Bristol Motor Club where the water stayed on the inside of the engine and not all over the track. As a precaution we held off putting the anti-freeze back in favour of plain tap water instead just in case, after all there’s been no shortage of that in the UK.
Mileage this month – No idea the speedo is bust
Costs This Month – £259.62 (see table below)
|Water Pump||£38.95||Burton Power|
|Alternator Belt||£7.79||Burton Power|
|Samco Hoses & Clips||£53.17||Merlin Motorsport|
|Millers VSPe (Treats 500 litres)||£29.99||Merlin Motorsport|
|Aluminium Tube||£12.50||Merlin Motorsport|
|Two Jetex Silencers||£117.22||Merlin Motorsport|
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