Tag Archives: frame

bowtie6 is Back Home

Fall has arrived.  Today’s weather was gloomy and rainy here in the Upstate of South Carolina.  I decided to take a few days off from work and do some work on bowtie6.  Today, after a year’s worth of work I had a chance to finally driver her home from my cousin’s shop. All I can say is the Ecotec is something else.  The 3.4 V6 is so passe it is pitiful.  The 2.4 Ecotec is so far superior!!  This engine’s power band is amazing.  The torque is amazing. I only had a chance to put a few miles on bowtie6, but I can certainly tell the difference:

  • The new frame is stiff.  I mean Viagra stiff.  There is no flex, the car feels extremely solid.  With the original frame, with no hard top…  I could feel the body flex.  Not so now.  It is (as Bob Seger would say), “like a rock”.  Amazing.
  • Solid axle with PosiTraction – once you get a chance to feel what this is like, you will never go back to IRS.  This thing is amazing.  The “bite” is so different.  There is not “squatting”.  You hit the gas and there is no hesitation.  It gets the job done.
  • Coilovers – OMG!!!  Now we have coilovers on all four corners.  The rears are quite amazing, but the fronts have transformed the whole driving experience:  at parking-lot-speed it almost feels like power steering.  The effort to turn the wheels is almost non-existent.  And…  Remember, I am running 205/55-16’s up front.  At speed, this thing is lightning quick.  Point-and-shoot, baby!!  This and the Ecotec has been the best money spent so far.

I’ll have pictures soon.  I have to work on the interior, do some work under the hood and do a lot of “detailing”.  There is still a lot of work to be done but in a few days I hope to have things back together soon…  Stay tuned!


bowtie6 Reassembly – With Pictures –

Hi folks.  Sitting here tonight, with a about 2 finger’s worth of Maker’s Mark 46 in a jelly glass.  If you haven’t tried this, I highly recommend it.  At any rate, here are a few recent pics of bowtie6 finally coming together.

Today is special actually.  We put the wheels back on and dropped the car on the ground after doing the initial body tub fitment.  Since the car has been on jackstands for so long, I had forgotten how damn low to the ground this thing really is.  Take a look and you will see what I mean.

I’m sure you are wondering what type wheels/tyres are fitted.  Answer:

  • Wheels – Panasport sixteen by seven inchers.  These are the Triumph bolt pattern and yes, they are Panasport.  Not cheap, but these are the real deal.
  • Tyres – The rears are 215/55-16; the fronts are 205/55-16’s.  215’s are a bit too wide for the front.

I know the pictures of the engine might be a bit overkill.  After all, there are plenty plastered on my website.  However, these are different…

  • Check out the hand made aluminium intake.  The plenum has been made to fit a GM Performance Parts intake flange.  The flange has been made by the good folks at GM and it fits perfectly the intake runners on the head.  Of course, all you get is a high pressure water-cut flange, the rest is all magic my cousin Jim made.  You can see the electronic throttle body as well as the intake tube where the MAF and IAT sensors mount while on the bottom of the intake plenum is the MAP sensor.
  • The headers are also hand-made and also attached to a GMPP exhaust flange.  The flange actually is special because the size of the openings is much larger than the one on the stock exhaust.  You get the idea.
  • The Griffin aluminium radiator is fully bolted in and plumbed.  Ecotec’s are special regarding plumbing.  If you don’t get this dead nuts, the engine will overheat.
  • The fuse box holds the ECM, fuses, relays, and electric fan controller.  Yes it is a little crowded in there but there will be a cover for all this and when we get that bolted on, it will really look nice.
  • Yes, those are Euro spec front turn signal lenses.
  • Finally, the rear picture of bowtie6 shows the back fenders bolted back on.  At the bottom you can see the exhaust peeking through.  Those ends are not finished yet:  that is where the Supertrapp baffles are bolted on.  I am a big fan of Supertrapp mufflers and they not only give an awesome sound but are also very low restriction.  I’ll have a writeup on this later, when I get all that bolted on.

I’m sure the question will be brought up:  that engine is really pushed back towards the firewall.  Why push it back so far back?  Well the answer is simple:  weight distribution.  We don’t have numbers yet, but I’m hoping to have a near 50-50 distribution.  My cousin’s TR4 is actually fairly close to this – don’t believe me?  Then you need to check out my writeup on weight distribution.

So here are the pictures in no particular order:


Coilovers on a TR6

When bowtie6 was built the first time, we used coilovers on the rear suspension.  A special bridge was made and welded to the frame to hold the top part of the coilovers and tabs were welded on the aluminium control arms to hold the lower part of the coilovers.  This was nice, the horrible “lever shocks” used on stock TR6’s were removed and all was good.

We thought about using coilovers up front but the way the original Triumph frame is constructed did not allow for a very good placement.  So instead, I used SPAX shocks with upgraded aftermarket “racing” springs.  This setup worked quite well – but with a huge shortcoming.  What shortcoming?

We all know factory Triumph TR6’s require the dreaded “spring compressor” to take the front suspension apart.  This in itself is not a big deal (provided one uses the correct type of spring compressor), however the constant tension from the spring loads up the front suspension something fierce.  This load forces the driver use great effort when turning the front wheels at parking lot speeds.  What??  Well – until you drive a TR6 with coilovers you will have to take my word for it.  With coilovers, one can turn the steering wheel with very little effort.  Huge difference.  Coilovers also allow the use of different spring rates.  One can tune the suspension to his needs very accurately.  Finally, one can control ride height very nicely with coilovers.

The downside is price.  Good quality, rebuildable coilovers are not cheap.  Sure, one can source coiloves from eBay or some half-quality supplier.  Good ones will run you about $400 a pair.  By the time you order the appropriate springs you can have $1000 a set.  But they are worth it!

The following gallery show some pics of my coilovers mounted on the new frame.  There are some pictures of the front as well as the rear suspension, with the solid axle.  One interesting note:  Take a look at the frame:  there is nothing that hangs below the frame line.

Oh and the coilovers, yes, they perform as nice as they look!

Final Pics of the New TR6 Frame

Here is a final set of pictures of the new frame serving as bowtie6’s backbone.  The body has now been permanently bolted on, so this is the last set…

Some misconceptions have surfaced as to the origin of this frame.  Suffice to say this is NOT (repeat, IT IS NOT) a RATCO frame.  Those folks produce a nice aftermarket frame but this one is all bespoke and designed for the ECOTEC and the solid rear axle specifically.

Why so many entries on this blog about the frame?  Well, simply put:  I am very proud of it.  My cousin Jim Thompson has put together a very clever, lightweight and strong frame using modern frame-building techniques and materials while being able to retain some of the original TR6 bits.

The front suspension is almost all stock TR6.  The “A” arms, ball joins, steering rack, sway bar, trunions, hubs and rotors are all stock Triumph.  The calipers are Wilwood.  The springs/shocks have been replaced with coilovers.  The coilovers offer several advantages:  no spring compressors, spring interchangeability and the ability to control ride height.  However, they are not cheap but worth every penny.

The rear is all new and it is trick!  The axle is an 8” Ford, custom sized.  It was cut on both sides and custom cut axles have been sourced from Moser.  The gears are from Motive; posi-traction (of course) with a 3.80 to 1 ratio.  Disc rotors and calipers are used on the rear end (with full emergency brake capability using the original TR6 cables and lever), as well as matching coilovers.  There is a four point suspension holding the axle in place with Heim ends on all four control arms.  We tried polyurethane ends, but they did not survive the power from the ECOTEC.  Enter the Heim ends.  Again, only the best have been purchased.  These are precision ground steel (normally used on sprint cars) along with special boots to keep debris out.  Brake and fuel lines are all hand made, hand fitted and hand formed from stainless tubing; with teflon lined, braided lines going to all four calipers.  Again, only the best has been sourced.

This is the second frame built using this design.  The first frame is under Jim’s TR4 and it has proven to be astounding.  It is very stiff – gone is the ‘flex’ that the original frame exhibits.  The new frame is made from much stronger square tubing.  This tubing is a solid square, not a “U” channel with a cap spot-welded as in the original design from Triumph.  I repeat, this is very strong stuff.

Finally, the ECOTEC 2.4 litre engine sits on special plates (on the frame side) that allow the use of the original Solstice engine mounts as well as tranny mount.  The mounts are really nice because they are made with rubber to help isolate vibrations.  Furthermore, the GM mounts have a locking mechanism that if the rubber ever fails the engine will only rock a very small distance and the locks keep it from making undesirable and expensive damage.

Finally some thoughts:

  • I realize this frame has nothing in common with the ‘original’ frame.  My condolence to the purists – but the idea is performance and this frame works and works very well.
  • I’ve read where folks discuss the shortcomings of the AISIN gearbox and say the gearing is all wrong.  Depends what you want to do:  bowtie6 is not built as a drag car.  Yes, first gear is a bit tall and that might not sit well with folks.  I don’t mind it.  From the experience gained from my prior setup and my cousin’s TR4, the car excels like a dream in second, third and fourth.  These three gears are quite simply awesome.  What about fifth?  Well, suffice to say that at speed and in fifth gear all you have to do is punch it and the car will take off.
  • The last thing about the new frame has come as a bit of a surprise to me.  In my cousin’s TR4 the steering “effort” has been reduced significantly.  The “far-back” engine placement has something to do with this.  But there is also the extra pressure of the original spring pushing on the “A” arms that has been deleted.  The new “feel” is much more positive, lightning-quick and a delight to use at parking-lot-speeds.

Here is the final picture gallery of the frame prior to the body being permanently installed.

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Today was  a milestone.

bowtie6 had a trial fit of body, new frame and ECOTEC engine.  The following pictures show what this all looks like.

Yes, there has been some “shaping” done to the body.  The area past the firewall was in need of change to make room for the oil filter (on the driver’s side) and the thermostat housing (on the passenger’s side).  For anyone thinking about doing this to a “stock” TR6:  beware.  There will be some work required on the firewall as well as the battery box tray on the stock TR6.  Since bowtie6’s firewall had already been modified, this was a small change.  Under the experts hands of my cousin Jim Thompson, there was some welding involved and voilà – the engine fits.

Once all that work was completed, I mixed up some of DuPont ChomaOne single stage urethane red paint and the bare areas were re-painted.  This took some doing but the result is awesome.  Tonight the new areas are drying and the plan is to bolt the new frame to the body permanently tomorrow.

Well… Here is what an ECOTEC looks like in a TR6 with a custom frame underneath it.  Note how far back the new engine sits.  This change is highly desirable in moving the weight back.  This is indeed a great day!