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Triumph Repair/compression


QUESTION: hi howard .  my block has the fly cut at the top of the cylinders and like a v in the middle . the head gasket set came from napa and was made from clough & wood made in england .i am not sure that the fire ring was right now that you ask about that .do you know anything about that brand gasket ?     thanks bobby

ANSWER: Hi Bobby,

I worked for a importer of foreign car parts called BeckArnley / Worldparts as a Tech rep for many years and I seen many mistakes made by other vendors (parts suppliers) on the Spitfire head gasket and full gasket sets. The Triumph Spitfire added the fly cut because they had too many head gasket leaks. It corrected the problem but caused a second problem. Both the flat gasket and the fly cut gasket looked alike and would fit both engines So many vendors of gaskets would get the two gaskets mixed up. To add to the problem the car may have over the years had the block decked or even replaced and many had the engine replaced so you could not count on the year of the car to ID the block. The only way was to see the fly cut and be sure the gasket you were going to install was the correct gasket. Which was easy. All you had to do was look closely and feel if the ring aroud the combustion chamber on the head gasket had a ring thicker then the rest of the gasket. If it did you had to look closely at the gasket to see which way the thick part pointed and it must be pointed toward the block not the head.

You can NOT tell by brand because they would run both kinds at times and that made it impossible to tell by brand or part number. The test I gave you about the fitting to adapt shop air pressure to the combustion chamber is a 100% valid test of leakage. That fititng only costs a few dollars. If you don't have shop air get a air tank to pump tires up and get a fitting on the hose to adapt the the fitting screwed into the spark plug hole. All of that is available at any auto prats store.


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QUESTION: hi howard i did the leakage test and as i was putting air in #1 cylinder it was coming out of #2 cylinder so i put 80lbs in 1 and put my compression tester on 2 and was holding 80lbs so rings should be good .pulled head back off to check gasket and the fire rings dont seem to be much thicker on one side than the other.and i cant see any markings on the gasket . but it is not sealing between cylinders . had to order new gasket    thanks for all your help  / bobby

Be sure to check the new gasket to see that the ring is thicker then the rest of the gasket and be sure to note which side the ring sticks out on. It will only stick out on one side and that side MUST face the block. It would not hurt to have a automotive machine shop check the head to see it does not need surfacing and is flat. That should not cost much as all that is needed to a professionally machined straight edge and a set of feeler gauges.

Be sure to torque the head in a pattern starting from the center and working your way to each end. It is best to do that at about half the torque specs first and then repeat to the book torque on the second set of torque. Then run the pressure test after you finish.

And after you run the car re-torque in about 500 miles and be sure to do that when the engine is stone cold. And adjust valves afterward.

Let me know.


Triumph Repair

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Howard M. Fitzcharles III


Triumph TR-4 up & Spitfire, and Engine theory


Dealership line mechanic on MG, Triumph, Jaguar for 15 years, Instructor in commercial mechanics school 2 yr. Product information manager for piston and valve manufacture, Instructor & hotline answer man for import car parts importer 15 yrs.

Associate member SAE EAA member

Import Car magazine

ASE Master Auto with L-1 certification up to 2000

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