Tips & Tricks

Engine/Under the Bonnet

When setting the tappets it can be difficult to determine when a rocker is at its lowest point. I find that pushing a 6″ straight length of stiff wire into the rocker’s oil hole can act as a pointer, exaggerating the movement of the rocker. You can set No.1 rocker gap, for example, when a pointer fitted in the oil hole of No.8 is at its lowest point, and so on.

I have a quick tip to set timing after distributer is removed or without a timing light. If timing is supposed to be 10BTDC set the timing mark at crank to 10BTDC instead of TDC. With the distributer in place, rotate the distributer until the number one fires using a inline spark tester or screwdriver to block. Lock the distributer in place. This trick always gets me within one degree if not exact.

Oil Filler Cap Leaking? don’t go and buy a shiny brand new one that stands out. Buy a sheet of cork gasket material and some 5 min. epoxy, this is how you do it. Use the top of a pepsi can to draw your circle on the gasket. Its the exact same size of the oil cap seal. Cut it out with scissors. To hold it in place mix up some 5 min. epoxy. On the oil filler cap the brass in the middle that holds your gasket on now put a decent drop of epoxy right there on the brass center. Then put you your new cork gasket on. Hold you thumb right on in center of it pushing the cork gasket to epoxy bond with the brass center ,and hold pressure for 5 minutes and your ready to go put it back on and no more oil filler cap leak. Mine has been working for 3 years now.

Having trouble with crimped heater hose? Get a 1/2 inch I.D. rubber heater hose from an auto parts store. Purchase some lighter 1/2 inch compression springs at a hardware store. Insert the springs into the heater hose and bend away. The springs will keep the hose from collapsing, and you will have a nice arch on your bend in your hose.

I was able to repair my vacuum retard with a 69 cent o-ring. Just remove the vacuum retard from the distributor. Slip the o-ring over the shaft and push into to housing. I used two o-rings but one seemed to work just as well. This won’t work if you have a ruptured diaphragm but in most cases the vacuum leak occurs at the shaft. You can get this part at any hardware store. The size is 1/4″OD x 1/8″ ID X 16″ thick.

I use my Spit all winter and have found that thick tinfoil from disposable BBQ’s makes good heatshield material that can be sculpted to achieve more carb warmth for a warmer starting. It also makes good oil cooler air blocking off.

Oil filler caps on 1500 engines with stock valve covers are standard radiator cap size, and the spring loaded part won’t interfere with the rocker arms.
Chris Neggers

Finding a small exhaust leak can really be a pain. One trick is to pour a little automatic transmission fluid into the carb throat while the car is running. The mass of smoke will result seeping out of any hole in the system.
As a plus, it cleans out the carbon too and I’ve been told by a mechanic that it lubricates the valves.
-Bill Miller

To loosen a cylinder head prior to removal , first remove all the head nuts (remembering to loosen in the correct order) and then with the spark plugs still in place but NOT connected, operate the starter briefly a couple of times. The compression will pop the head loose.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Ever have trouble removing a cylinder head off of the block? Rotate the crank so one of the middle pistons is at the bottom of the stroke. Remove the spark plug and thread in some thin rope, filling the cylinder. Then rotate the crank and the rising piston will “push” the head loose.
-name not supplied

Trying to see if you are getting spark but don’t have an assistant to crank the car? Let jumper cables be your assistant. Remove the plug from the head. Push it back on the ignition wire. Clamp one of the cables to the threaded area of the plug and the other end to a good ground. The stiffness of the cables will hold the plug high enough above the engine to be seen from the driver’s seat. Caution: before turning over engine make sure cable is clear of the fan blades.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

A 1/2″ closed-end distributor wrench with a ‘C’-shaped handle works nicely for those tough to get to oil pan bolts behind the framecrossmember. Most auto stores have ’em.

If you get the spin-on oil filter converter for the GT6 you will find that the Fram 3600 filter doesn’t have room to unscrew. Fram makes a short version of the same filter, it begins with 36xx(86?), this works.
– Craig Holmes

One hint on main and rear seals. If your new seal leaks try putting a 1/32″ gasket behind the seal. That moves the seal contact just enough to hit a new, unscored surface on the shaft. This solved my leaks. You can obtain gasket material from any auto store and cut to fit.
– Bob Ross

I recently swapped mufflers between my daily driver and parts car. When I started the car up after installation, it started snowing milkweed seeds. Seems a mouse must have made a nest in the muffler while it had been sitting for years. I blew out a large clump of milkweed seeds, probably about a gallon buckets worth.
The point is always check the INTAKE for mice before starting after a long sit. Imagine what the mouse bed would have done to your engine if all that stuff was in the carb instead of the exhaust!
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Regarding the manifold tightening (intake/exhaust) on 1500 series engines. The wrench needed to tighten the two center nuts is one that has a slight bend in it (kind of a gentle u-shaped wrench). The wrench will be 9/16″ on one end and 5/8″ on the other.
This wrench makes it easy to get to those bolts and does not get into it’s own way like the straight ones do!!!
Don’t go to “Craftsman”. You’ll have to get one from the “Snap-on” or “Mac” tool distributor. Maybe one of the auto parts stores. Mines’ an S-K.
-Alfred Hester


To dis-assemble ball joint tie rod ends.. loosen the nut but do not remove it. Jack up the wheel and lower the nut end onto a block of wood and/or simply place your floor jack under the nut. Using another piece of 2×4 or other long ‘soft’ shaft… strike down on the steering arm right next to the joint to pop it loose.

I recently replaced the bushings in the rear spring of a 79 Spitfire. It was so cheap and quick and amazing that I wanted to share the details. It only takes about 30 minutes to pull the sideways spring.
I went to the hardware store and bought bronze “bearings” in the pull-out trays of stock fasteners, etc. There were some that cost $2.75 each. They had a smaller diameter of about 3/4″ and a larger hub at the end that was about one inch. First I cut them off with a sawzall so they were about 3/8 of an inch long. I touched them to a grinding wheel to soften the edges. I prepared eight and put them where the worn out bushings are between the spring leaves. I also used a big glob of silicone from a caulking tube to conform them to the receiving divots in the springs. I replaced the transverse spring and let the car down to put a bit of pressure on the silicone. The next day I started driving again. The rear camber is perfect and the car sits up nicely. About 3 hours and $32.00. try it

When re-fitting a diff unit, instead of trying to support the unit with a jack or using your arms, feed a piece of rope through the spring mounting access plate, sling it around the diff and you can then pull it up into position inside the car holding the weight with a piece of wood or bar. It still takes two people but much less frustrating and difficult.

The tika tika tika sound coming from your rear end is your u-joints. The u-joint itself, bearing-wise, might be fine. What happens is the circlips holding the bearing caps can have as little as 0.003″ clearance under the clip, allowing the X of the u-joint to slip sideways as it rotates.
It’s the sound of the cap hitting the circlip.
I’ve cut up out ‘coins’ from old Coke cans and inserted them under the circlips as spacers…no more tika tika tika.

When changing UJ’s on rear half shaft, I know most people take the whole thing out, but you can change them out without removing the shaft!
This is how I did it… jack up the car, remove the circlips, drill a hole in the back of outer bearing cup, now you need to have a tap & die set for this, use at least a 4 mm hole. Tap a thread into it & screw in a suitable bolt. As you wind in in, it pulls the outer bearing cup out of the shaft.
Once all 4 are out, just wiggle the joint around. The center part of UJ will fall out (if you remove the 4 bolts connecting to center of axle.)

Over filling and under filling fluids should both be avoided. Engines, brake master cylinders, and radiators each have visual or mechanical means of measuring fluid contents but transmissions and differentials do not. In order to insure that I neither overfill nor underfill these critical and expensive to repair components, I pre-measure the correct amount of fluid and then pour it into the cavity. To do this easily and accurately, I use a clean oil bottle that has a clear strip on the side and has graduated markings in liters and ounces. Valvoline bottles work best since they are white with a clear strip while other brands are colored and it is more difficult to see the amount of fluid inside. I cut an appropriate size opening on the top behind the screw top so I can fill the bottle with transmission oil or diff oil, leaving enough of a lip to be able to pour without spilling.
-Bob Spruck

Installing a new clutch master cylinder, tried everything (bench bleeding, etc.) and can’t seem to get it bled, give up and try this tip: use an old broom handle wedged between the steering wheel to hold the pedal down near the floor. Holding the pedal down for a long period of time will sometimes allow trapped air in the system to leach up and out. And remember to use DOT4 fluid and remove any spills quickly from paint.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

When bleeding the clutch on my Spitfire 1500 I have found the easiest way of getting all the air from the system is to remove the slave cylinder from the bell housing but keeping the pipework in place. Then when you pump the pedal to bleed the system the slave cylinder piston hits its stop. Then further pumping means you have something hard to push against, forcing out the last of the air bubbles.Then replace slave cylinder and test
-Mick Gould

Stop loosing brake fluid when disconnecting lines is to place a large sheet of plastic between the clutch master cylinder and its cap. This will create a partial vacuum and helps stop fluid from leaking out.
-name withheld by request

When attempting to bleed clutch master cylinder, all too often we end up breaking off bleeder screws. Try this instead.
1. Take a drill bit that is the same size as the inner diameter of the bleeder screw.
2. Using only your fingers put the drill in the hole and spin it to make certain you get out all existing debris.
3. Remove the drill and place it in the bleeder screw butt first until it bottoms out.
4. Loosen bleeder screw with wrench.
Bleeder screws have a tendency to collapse in on themselves and break off. By placing a drill (or allen wrench) inside the bleeder screw, you give the bleeder screw nowhere to collapse thereby strengthening it. It has worked for me for years and I usually don’t even have to use WD-40 on it.
-Terry Stamper

Next time you need to remove or torque down the flywheel or clutchtry this: any one who has had a Spitfire or GT6 for a while has to have a box of used transmission parts laying around, so go find it and look for a reverse gear. With a 5/16″ bolt and a few washers you can bolt it to one of the lower holes in the engine back plate. Shove it into the flywheel teeth and bolt it up. No need for another set of hands to hold it from turning. It also doubles as a guide to hold the weight of the flywheel when replacing it on the crank.
-Layne Perkins

Do you have a vibration that feels like a tire out of balance but doesn’t go away no matter how many times your balance them? It might be your drive shaft is out of balance. Drive shafts came from the factory balanced with little weights that can easily come off. Call you local “hot rod” or 4×4 shop for suggestions to who can balance it again.
– Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff 

When you are getting ready to pull the hub to replace the rear wheel bearings, break loose the axle’s “big nut” before removing anything from the car. The axle assembly is much easier to hold with the car’s help than on your workbench.
– Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Today I pulled the hub off the rear axle on a 68 spit. I used a bearing plate and a gear puller. I used a little WD-40 on the shaft and I gave it a couple of light taps with a hammer as I was increasing the pressure on the puller. The bearing plate fit behind the hub and it came off undamaged. I had the axle in a vice and apparently a great deal of pressure on the hub, because as soon as I stepped to the side, the hub popped off and flew across the garage. I did not get hit with it, but certainly could have. I just wanted to warn others that hubs can actually fly off when they finally get loose. Don’t position yourself at the end of the axle when pulling the hub.
– Bill White

How do I measure camber? Easy! Take a level, stand it up next to the tire and hold it so the bubble is level. Take a small ruler and measure the distance to the top and bottom edges of the rim. Using your high school math calculate the angle across the 13″ or so inch diameter of the tire and you have your camber angle.
-Paul Tegler

I just completed a clutch change (ten spline clutch) and did not have the alignment tool for it. I could not find a tool locally and didn’t want to wait for a delivery. I found that a 3/8th drive short extension was just the right size to center the disc. Using the extension I centralized the disc and the tranny slid right in.
-Ted Higgins


If your window crank knob comes off, rather than replace complete handle only replace the knob. Lowes (and probably most hardware stores) sell a chrome drawer pull knobs that look good on our cars. Need to use a small sleeve over the screw so it fits snug or cut the bolt shorter (finally a use for the little bolt cutters on my wire strippers didn’t even mess up the threads on bolts)
-Dan Stotler

Inertia Seat Belts that bolt right on to Spitfire are in a 90’s model VolksWagon Golf the rear seatbelts. They look and are exactly like the aftermarket ones you find in all the big parts suppliers mags. They work great ,and you get all good heat treated bolts when you remove them. They bolt right on same thread. Got mine of $10.00 ea. Saved big!

What works great for broken tonneau cover snaps is go to a marine supply store and purchase boat cover snaps. They fit right in the Spitfire tonneau cover snaps and hold on tighter then the plastic ones on your door. Or if your tonneau is missing a snap replace it with a boat cover snap. 

While installing my new interior, I was trying to stuff enough foam into the headrest to fill it out. The problem was trying to get enough foam inside. If I had enough foam I couldn’t get it inside the new cover.
So, I used duct tape on the foam to compress it, then once I had the foam inside the cover I used a razor to cut the tape. This let the foam expand to fill the new cover!
-Don Couch

To restore that new look to your vinyl, spray it with vinyl spray paint. One coat usually does the trick. This works especially well with the darker colors and white.
-Mike Gibson

Having trouble finding gaskets for your dash gauges? Home Depot has O-Rings that fit like a glove. Much cheaper than the big 3 parts suppliers and they work like a charm. Bring your gauge to check if it fits. For the bigger gauges you can use aquarium filter O-Rings.
-Patrick Bitton

Ever have the Speedo cable break? It usually is the little clip/tang that holds it to the Speedo. Well here is a little solution I came up with while changing my sparkplug wires. I took a broken Speedo cable that had a broken locking tang and pulled off the plastic end (keep the metal washer looking crimp) then took the straight end from the spark plug wire and pulled it off. Then I slid it over the cable. When I installed the Speedo cable to the Speedo it fit on snuggly and it works. In fact it is still on my car today.

Door handle gaskets (square tail spits) can be made out of an old truck tire inner tube (truck because it is thicker). Any tire repair shop will have a punctured one they will gladly give you but will look at you funny when you ask for it. Use the old gasket as a template and scissors to cut it.
Inner tube also makes a good gasket between the body and bumpers.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Tonneau cover zipper difficult to zip. Try lubricating the zipper with Chap Stick lip balm. Candle wax also works well.
-name not supplied

Need new door or trunk seals for your Spitfire but don’t want to spend big bucks for factory original or reproduction ones. The early 90’s Volkswagon Golf. The seal from the rear trunk hatch works great on my spitfire trunk and more trunk vibrations and only $5.00. I also remove the door seals from the golf and put them on my spitfire. what a perfect seal it seals the window and the doors perfect. Best of all stops rain from coming in window rattle and wind noise. They hold everything perfectly cushioned in place. As you walk a junk yard you’ll notice all kind of door and trunk seals that may also work great.

I have always had problems fitting the front hardtop fixing bolts at the top of the windscreen as it requires much dexterity and patience to locate the bolts into the captive nuts within the hardtop itself. The solution which I came up with is to loctite a suitable length of 3/8″ unf studding into the hardtop itself and then simply drop the hardtop on and secure with the appropriate nuts and washers from underneath
-Adrian Cook

Removing a steering wheel or anything else that is splined can be made easier by first tightening the nut before trying to loosen the object. By tightening the object moves slightly on the splines, breaking any corrosion that has formed which makes it easier to remove.

Also, try this: loosen the nut a couple turns but do not take it off. Then sit in the drivers seat and with your knees push upward while tapping the center nut with a hammer.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Looking for a cheap alternative to replacing the headliner in your GT6? If the headliner has stains in it from water, smoke, or whatever, just use some shoe whitener on it. Get the stuff in the applicator bottle for about $5, clean off the headliner and apply some of the whitener. Because you have to hold the bottle with the applicator up, you’ll have to shake the bottle and maybe press it down on something to get some of the liquid out, then rub it onto the headliner. A few coats should do the trick, just put a thin layer on, let it dry, then put some more on. The whitener should cover most of the stains.
-name not supplied

The Vyback rear window on convertible tops sometimes becomes badly creased due to incorrect stowage of the soft top assembly. We have found that these creases in most cases can be removed satisfactorily by simply filling a plastic bottle with hot water and rolling it across the creased area and at the same time supporting the opposite side of the window.
– Tom Broberg

When replacing a convertible top, cover the top of each bow with the soft, matted side of Velcro (not the “hooked” side).This is available in 1/2″ “peel and stick” strips. It quiets the squeak of the new vinyl against the bows.
– Ray Campbell

Replacing Window Winder Pins can be made easy by using long nosed surgical forceps (the locking kind). I have been using these for years now without problems. I obtained mine from a surgical instruments supplier, but have seen them since at auto-jumbles on the various tools stalls. If you get the variety with a ‘boxed’ hinge, you can use the part between the handles as a hose clamp as well. Works fine on fuel pipe, although I cannot recommend for use on brake hoses as these are too wide.
-Chris Juniper

For the window cranks I’ve found that a welding rod (3/32″ – 1/8″) or coat hanger wire works well to push the old pin out. During reassembly use the same rod, score it with a hacksaw about a 1/2″ from one end. after pushing the rod into the crank hole, break it off at the score mark. No hunting for old pins and it makes the job of removal or reassembly a cinch!
-Paul Mostrom 

If you’ve ever tried to drill holes in a floor-pan through the carpet, you know that catching the fibers and pulling out a chunk of the weave is inevitable. To avoid that, but a slit in the carpet with a razor and then insert a short steel tube slightly larger that the drill bit. Now you can drill through the tube.

Along the same lines….

The best and easiest way to put bolts/screws through carpet and insulation is to locate the holes with small nails and then doing the following. After all holes have small nails in them and your carpet/insulation is laid down, then take a small piece of steel tubing with a diameter just slightly larger than your bolts (I used an old piece of a golf club shaft). Holding the tube with pliers, use a propane torch to heat the tube. Center the tube over each nail and press through the carpet/insulation until you fell it hit the metal. Twist the tube a bit to make sure you have burned/cut completely through. Make sure you always hold the tube perfectly upright. Then lift the tube out and you will have a remarkably clean and perfectly round hole for your bolts/screws. The nail and cut-out carpet/insulation material will come up inside the tube. Drop the tube in cold water, then remove the carpet/insulation material and nail from inside. You have to do this because you will need to reheat the tube for each hole and if you reheat with the material inside, it will catch fire. I made all my holes for the entire interior in less than 20 minutes!
– M. Puls

It can be frustrating trying to find where screws go through new carpet when you put the seats back in your car. Locate the “welded on nuts” under the car and push a large sewing needle up inside the nuts and into the car. This will show you very quickly where the screws are supposed to go through the carpet.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Having trouble removing plastic hand brake grip? I always use your wife’s hairdryer for heating the grip very gently. That softens it up and expands it enough to slide it off the metal assembly quite easily.
-Eric Kieboom


I have read many times of using a 1/4″ extension to adjust rear brakes. Alternatively, an 8 point 1/4″ socket on my 1/4″ ratchet fits well, can be used with an extension, and even expensive ones from companies like Snap-On cost less than $10 (US) and make fine adjusting easy.
-Dave Parish

When attempting to bleed brakes, all too often we end up breaking off bleeder screws which inevitably leads to replacement of wheel cylinders. Try this instead.
1. Take a drill bit that is the same size as the inner diameter of the bleeder screw.
2. Using only your fingers, put the bit in the hole and spin it to make certain you get out all existing debris.
3. Remove the bit and place it in the bleeder screw butt-first until it bottoms out.
4. Loosen bleeder screw with wrench.
Bleeder screws have a tendency to collapse in on themselves and break off. By placing a drill bit (or allen wrench) inside the bleeder screw, you give the bleeder screw nowhere to collapse thereby strengthening it. It has worked for me for years and I usually don’t even have to use WD-40 on it.
-Terry Stamper

When rebuilding brake calipers, manuals say something silly like remove “remove pistons from the caliper” but any that has ever tried it is never that easy especially when the pistons are rusted in. Start with the calipers removed from the car. Screw in one of the bleeders from the other caliper about half way into the hole where the brake hose came out. Use a bicycle pump attached to the loose bleeder and pump it up. Be sure to put a piece of wood or other soft material between pistons as piston can shoot out.
When one piston is out, clean it and put it back into the caliper just far enough to make an air seal. Use a C clamp to hold it in place and pump up caliper again to extract the other piston.
The great thing about my bike pump is it had a feature that clamped the hose to the bleeder; hands free! Also, mine had a built-in pressure gauge. It took between 80 and 100 psi to loosen the frozen pistons.
-John Goethert

Bleeding Brakes/clutch–limit the travel of the brake pedal if using the pedal to bleed (as opposed to pressure bleeding or vacuum bleeding.) If you allow the piston in a used master cylinder to travel beyond the area of normal travel, the layer of gunk on the cylinder wall can tear up the cups, causing failure of the master shortly after. We put a block or blocks under the brake pedal to hold it about as far off the floor as it is when the brake is applied. If you happen to be replacing or rebuilding the master at the same time, so that you know the bore is clean all the way down, this tip does not apply.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Found it impossible to bend brake lines without crimping them? Try pushing a straightened coat hanger into the line before bending. I have also heard filling the line with sand will keep it from crimping but never tried it (be sure to clean it out well before fitting!)
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

A good way to help stop loosing clutch fluid when disconnecting lines is to place a large sheet of plastic between the master cylinder and its cap. This will create a partial vacuum and helps stop fluid from leaking out.
-name withheld by request

Trying to remove a brake drum with no success? Make sure the adjuster is fully released, the emergency brake cable is slack and the screws holding the drum to the axle are removed. Then with a lead or brass hammer, hit the brake drum with a single hard blow on the face of the drum next to the center where the axle protrudes. This sudden blow causes the drum to slam against the axle flange and the rebound will cause the drum to pop free. Repeat until this drum is loose. Suggestion: do not hit on the holes where the screws held the drum to the axle, but rather move around the circle 90 degrees.
-name not supplied

When installing a new brake/clutch master cylinder or slave cylinder always “bench bleed” it before putting it into the car. Put the MC into a bench vise (not required but helpful) and fill with brake fluid (DOT 4). Use a screw driver to push the piston in and out enough to completely remove all the air inside. Then bolt it up to the car. Messy? Yes, but better to get brake fluid on your hands rather than all over your paint.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

When installing a new brake caliper air can be trapped inside making bleeding impossible. If you detach the caliper and tap it with a tool while aiming the bleeder skyward it helps to loosen any trapped air bubbles.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff


To clean chrome that is starting to look bad. Extra fine steel wool and WD-40. Wet the surface thoroughly with WD-40 and buff with the steel wool. This may allow you to delay rechroming for some time. After buffing, wax with regular paste wax and buff. 
-Dave Leitch

While researching bicycle restoration I came across this tip that will work for our Triumphs or any car with light surface rust on chrome or other metal. Sand it with aluminum foil. Works great. 
For an added rust-protection measure, I use a liquid car wax as a lubricant while sanding.

I spent 2 hours trying to fit the two front bolts to my hard top without success! I eventually realized that the hardtop needs to be raised slightly at the back to allow the front of the hardtop to bolt on! Within seconds of raising the back (I used an anti theft steering lock), I had both of the front bolts secured! I removed the steering lock that I had placed between the bodywork and the back end of the hardtop! I just wish I had thought of that 2 hours earlier!

I found out from my cousin in England that the threads found on early threads (before the switch to metric) interchanges with NF SAE threads, ie the body bolts are 5/16″-24 NF, those through the control arms are 3/8″-24 NF. this makes replacement of new, clean and shiny bolts very easy, also you can incorporate American head sizes instead of the British Standard or Whitworth. this also makes thread chasing much easier.

An alternative to those rubber grommets (the ones that cables & wires run through) use rubber vacuum tubing (comes in various sizes). TURN INSIDE OUT, glue ends together & slip into the hole. THAT’S IT. This you can do with the cable or wire still in place….USE SUPER GLUE FOR RUBBER. Be careful don’t glue your fingers together.

1979-80 rubber bumpers turn a light shade of gray and lose their deep black color after years of weather. Provided the bumpers are not too far gone in the first place here is a tip. First, to maintain what little shine that might still be left, you might try Vaseline, and it has also been proved that Waxoyl, judiciously applied, can bring back some of the deep gloss. You don’t need a lot of either, but like in the services you have to polish and polish to get that lasting shine! If the bumpers are not too bad and have not yet gone quite gray try a little black boot polish and a little saliva! Remember “spit and polish “? Again not too much and work it into the bumper until it looks an even color all over. Then rub with a soft lint-free cloth to shine it up.
-name not supplied

Ever wonder why the rear edge of the trunk (boot) lid on your Spitfire gets rusty? And, if the lid is lifted, why does water drip from the top edge ( its highest point) into the trunk?

The answer to both questions is that water is collecting inside the triangular stainless steel strip along the edge. In fact, it acts like a gutter by collecting the water that runs off the to of the boot lid. Because there are no drain holes and the ends are blocked off most of the water is trapped until you lift the lid – when it pours out and soaks the boot contents. Otherwise it soaks into the seam, giving rise to the common rust problem.

My tip is to drill drain holes every six inches in the stainless steel strip (see diagram). I did this by removing it from the car and using a 3mm diameter silver steel drill (stainless burns out ordinary drills). Obviously the holes are underneath and therefore completely out of sight. It is also a good idea to de-burr the holes after drilling, just to make sure you don’t cut your fingers when opening the boot lid.
-Michael Bond

Tip for cleaning discolored aluminum brightwork
OK, you’re restoring your British sports car and now you’re up against scratched and discolored aluminum brightwork. You would like to buff it out to bring out the luster but there’s a hard anodized coating that will have to be removed before any polishing or buffing can take place. The first time I tried to rectify this I used emery cloth, but it was dusty, time consuming and somewhat frustrating. I’ll never do it that way again! Here’s a neat, clean and fast way to overcome the problem:

1. Trot down to your neighborhood grocery store and pick up a can of Easy-Off Oven Cleaner and a pair of rubber household gloves.

2. Spray the oven cleaner liberally over the anodizing and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

3. Rinse with water and wipe the part clean. Voila! Pure uncoated aluminum. Re-anodize if you wish but I prefer mine uncoated and polished.

WARNING!-Remove the part from the car prior to applying the cleaner. This stuff can ruin paint and upholstery!
-Chicagoland MG Club

To clean up aluminium components, soak them overnight in Coca Cola. It’s as good as any metal polish.

Use a toilet plunger to pull out large dents.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

You can also pop out large dents using a hair dryer and commercial compressed “air in a can” (the stuff used to clean computer keyboards or camera equipment). Heat the dent with the hair dryer for 30-60 seconds. Quickly turn the air can upside down (so it is blowing the white liquid) and spray it on the dent for 10 seconds. It will slowly and magically pop out.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Fixing hail damage or other small dents is often easy with some simple tools: a welding/heating torch, a bucket of “ice water” and a hand towel soaked in the ice water. With medium flame, run the flame around the outside of the hail dent keeping the hand moving continuously, the dent will pop up, immediately place the icewater towel over the popped up dent and it is removed. This method will burn off paint so repainting is required.
-Fred Thomas

Juddering wipers? Put a very small “twist” roughly central in the wiper arm (not the blade) using 2 adjustable spanners. First attempt will inevitably be in the wrong direction and make matters worse.
Secondly, clean the screen using a small amount of toothpaste – sparkling, bright !!!
-Gordon Davies

I managed to do a smashing job of fixing the original rubber bases behind side lights by coating them with Black Rubber Silicone Adhesive. First, wash the rubber bases and dry well. I then glued together the split pieces of dry rotted rubber with the adhesive, and filled in the gaps where chunks of dry rotted rubber had broken completely away. Then I smeared on the silicone and using a putty knife “buttered” the base like you would icing a cake.
-Terry Thompson

Problem: Overspray from UV protectant (Armorall) not just getting on the tires but getting on car’s paint
Solution: Office supply stores sell a thin squeeze bottle with a sponge top commonly used for moistening stamps and envelopes. It is called the Sterling Master Moistener.
-George Blumb of Noblesville, IN (USA)


How do you find the cause of a constantly blowing fuse? If, with everything switched off, the fuse blows immediately the battery is reconnected how can you start to trace the fault?

The simplest way to do this is to substitute an inspection lamp for the offending fuse. If the fuse holder is easily accessible, remove the fuse and clip the leads of the inspection lamp to the fuse connections in the fuse holder. If access is difficult, solder wires to each end of a blown fuse and refit the fuse. The inspection lamp can then be connected to the other ends of the wires.

Now reconnect the battery and, assuming the short circuit is still present, the inspection lamp will light. No damage will be done to the wiring as the current flow will be limited by the resistance of the bulb. You can now search away for the elusive fault. Once the fault has been cured the lamp will go out. The inspection lamp and modified fuse can be removed and a new fuse can safely be fitted. Problem solved!
-name not supplied

Ever have a blowing fuse that you can’t track down the reason. And then after playing with it for two hours, wiggling wires, stretching and wiggling cables, pushing on the dash gauges, and nothing on the 10 mile test drive helps, what do you do? Attach a 12 volt buzzer, such as Radio Shack no. 272-055, with one terminal on each side of the fuse. Then when the fuse blows, the buzzer will sound. It will enable you to know exactly when and under what conditions (such as a turn or railroad crossing) the short occurs.
-Martin Blais

Blinkers or hazards stop working? Try pulling the Hazard switch repeatedly on and off quickly. The contacts inside get dirty and pulling on and off cleans the connections. Might also try some spray on contact cleaner.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

Troubleshooting electrical problems? I chased an electrical problem for days. I would come back to the fuse and put a meter on the fuse. I would get a reading of 12 volts, but some of the circuits coming off that fuse still didn’t work. Finally I checked both clips on the output side of the fuse, and one of them was not making contact with the fuse. I cleaned it and reinstalled the fuse, and that took care of the problem.
The spring clips at each end of the fuse are not fastened together. You have two separate clips on each end of each fuse. When checking circuits at the fuses you need to make sure that both clips at each end are making contact with the fuse.
-Bob Ross

To maintain the best electrical connection at joints, such as a wire plug and socket union, clean the plug and socket thoroughly (emory paper, fiberglass eraser, and tuner spray washdown), then fill the socket with some silicone grease and just plug it in. The grease will prevent corrosion from re-occurring at that connection.
-Jeff Burns

General Restoration

To turn a screw that is difficult or rusted use a square shafted screwdriver, then use a small open ended wrench to turn the screwdriver

Cheap white vinegar dissolves rust. Pour some into a coffee can and drop in those rusty bolts. Let is sit for a few days sloshing occasionally.
Also works as a gas tank cleaner. Filling it with vinegar and letting it sit for a few days will give you a tank cleaned down to bare metal with lose flakes that can be easily flushed out with a garden hose.
– foxtrapper

Along the same lines…

I recently refurbished a fuel tank that was severely rusted inside. It was so bad that the fuel sending unit components had been totally eaten away! I filled the tank to the top with white vinegar and let it set for 48 hours. The vinegar took it down to the bare metal! All rust gone! I rinsed it, applied etching solution, then Bill Hirsch tank sealant, installed a new fuel sending unit and it worked like a charm! The 10 gallons of white vinegar cost me $11 total!
– M. Puls

During restorations, often it is desirable to paint bolt and screw headsto help them match or disappear into the background. To do this, it is helpful to get a plastic container (such as a margarine tub), and drill appropriately sized holes in the bottom. Insert the fasteners and spray away. The plastic holds them upright and together in a small area, where they can stay while they dry. Of course, you can reuse the plastic holder many times.
-Martin Secrest

When running pressurized lines throughout the car (oil pressure gauge, air shocks, etc.), slip a small section (or two) of silicon aquarium tubing on first. Slide the tubing to areas on the line where it comes in contact with other objects. This will prevent holes being rubbed into the line.
-Spitfire & GT6 Magazine staff

An easy way to reach those tight spots where only the screw will fit. Cut a section of vacuum hose, and slip it over the tip of the screwdriver. Push the head of the screw into the hose and that’s it.

Ever have to put rivets to tight places were the rivet gun won’t fit? Stack a few very small diameter nuts or washers on the shaft of the rivet before placing it in the gun. You effectively extend the tip of the gun. Just be ready to catch all the nuts or washers. Works great in any recessed channel such as fixing broken rivets on the rear side windows of a GT6.
-Paul Tegler 

The screw-top from an old spark plug works also.
-Atwell Haines