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!

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!

The new frame is….


The new frame has been completed and it is stunning.  My cousin Jim Thompson did all the final welds yesterday and the frame is now ready for media blasting.  Why?  I want to get a nice, clean surface so primer can stick nicely and then many coats of top quality chassis black paint will be applied.  I’m not doing this again, and I want to make sure the frame is 100% good to go.

Jim was able to make the pads on the frame so the factory GM Solstice mounts could be used.  This is a good thing:  they are double isolated as to not transmit vibration plus they have a special affair that if the rubber does fail, the mount locks and keeps the engine in place.  Granted, the engine-side mounts had to be custom-made.

So what does it look like?  Take a look:

The picture above shows the front of the new frame.  You can see the steering rack mounts as well as the two suspension towers.  The factory “A” arms will bolt right up and will be fully adjustable for caster/camber/toe.  All beauty of all this will be that all the factory components bolt right up.  And, last but not least:  note the brace at the top of the towers:  this ties the whole thing together.  No flexing.

On this picture you can see the mid-section.  I know – the picture is not sharp but I was so excited and the iPhone was not exactly ‘steady’.  On the top of the picture you can see the “U” shaped extensions which will have the body mounts drilled.  You can also see all the gussets that have been added for strength.  Still missing:  the transmission mounts.  There will be a mount added that will tie the back end of the tranny.

And finally, the back end of the frame.  This photo is not the best and there is a lot of details that can’t be seen.  Suffice to say, the tail end has a slope similar to the factory frame.  You can also see the mounts for the a) coilovers, b) the control arms and c) the bump stops.  Remember there will be a narrowed, solid axle with posi-traction mounted here with a four point control arm suspension.

I realize these pictures might not exactly make sense right now.  Soon (actually, very soon) I’ll have the frame fully assembled with the front and rear suspension in place.  I’ll have full documentation on how all that looks.

As a side note:  weather today was awesome.  I had a chance to ride in Jim’s TR4 today with the hard top off.  It was amazing!  I realize you the reader must be pretty fed up with me stating how great the Ecotec is, but honest:  it is an awesome engine.  We went for a ride today and Jim kept the revs up high.  This thing gets the job done.  We have been doing research on boost and that would really take things to the next level.   Seriously, if you are thinking of using an ‘aftermarket’ engine for an LBC you need to consider the Ecotec. It will honestly amaze you!

Frame failure part II

In an earlier post, I described bowtie6‘s frame failure.  Today, I have some pictures of the “issue”.  First, a little background…

Rear suspension

Rear suspension closeup

Soon after bowtie6‘s initial dismantling the frame was carefully inspected.  Although the frame was in excellent shape the rear differential mounting pins showed typical TR6 wear and tear: two of the four differential mounting pins were cracked.

Since a bigger engine was to be installed, we reconfigured the rear suspension.  A completely redesigned mount was made to hold the Nissan R200 differential as well as the coilovers that would replace the lever action shocks and springs.

The pictures on the right show the rear suspension from the passenger’s side.  You can see the coilovers, rear disc brakes and the suspension mount holding the top coilover perch.

This brings us to the following photo gallery showing the frame damage.  The frame rail has suffered a serious, unrepairable stress crack.  I have inspected the driver’s side and there too, I can see a stress fracture although it is not as severe as the one on the passenger’s side.

I’m sure there will be plenty of critics analyzing the frame failure from these pictures and coming up with all kinds of root causes for the failure.  Quite frankly, the thing is what it is.  I got 15,000 from what I thought was a very good frame but this endevour has proven to be more than this frame could handle.  The extra power the engine gained from the cam and head work plus the stress of getting hammered by the control arms caused the frame to eventually expire.  Since the rear failed this extensively, I have reason to believe other parts of the frame have also suffered stress.

As soon as the frame comes out again to see the light of day, I plan to do a full autopsy by cutting it up and documenting stress points, failure points and basically show where the frame held up and where it did not.  I’ll have that in a future article which should be very interesting to read.

And now for a little reflecting…

These frames are now 35-40 years old.  These frames are also marginal at best.  Sure, with the anemic tractor engine on the stock TR6 the frame will probably last, but not by much.   However, if anyone is thinking of adding any real horsepower then really think what you are planning to do.  These frames can be reinforced to hell and back (done that), boxed-in (done that), have gussets added (done that) and have every weld reinforced (done that), and yet they will fail.  Quite frankly, I am very happy this thing gave up the ghost – now a new frame is being built to last and handle the new ECOTEC engine with no “issues”.

bowtie6 starts to come apart (again!)…

This feels like déjà vu!

In order to save from getting a busted gut when we get the broken frame out, the body has to be a little lighter…

So, the process of taking bowtie6 apart has begun.  The bonnet, doors and boot lid have all come off.  This time, it has been much slower than when I first took the car apart:  I’ve got a very expensive paint job to watch over!

Here is a quick preview of what the new front suspension will look like:  gone will be the days when a spring compressor is required to take the front “A” arms apart.

The new coilovers for bowtie6 were ordered and UPS brought them to my door this week.  They look just like the ones in the photo.  As you can see, the stock “A” arms are still there, and since the frame is custom made, a new mount has been built for the top of the coilover.  The bottom is attached to a new mounting plate that screws to the bottom of the lower “A” arms (much like the way the stock front shocks mount).

The coilovers are fully adjustable for rebound, can be rebuilt and the springs are interchangeable (of course).  This makes it very nice for fine-tuning travel.  The rear suspension will feature a similar setup, except that the coilovers will mount to the new axle.

Frame failure!!

All good things come to an end.  In this case, the “original” (and I say that loosely) frame has failed.  Yep.  There is a tear several inches long on the passenger side along the rear suspension mounts.  Upon closer inspection the driver’s side has stress marks and I’m sure it is not far from failure too.

I noticed the problem back in November of 2010.  While driving, I started hearing some unusual sounds and sure enough after putting the car on jackstands a close inspection revealed the tear.  No pictures yet, but I’ll have some soon.  Suffice to say, the frame is toast and there is no way to repair it.

Unfortunately, the TR6 frame is extremely flimsy and quite frankly it is poor at best.  And no, I’m not saying this  because mine failed.  I’m saying this for the benefit of those folks that think they can put larger or modified stock engines and the frame will be able to withstand the extra power.  Well, if you believe that you are fooling yourself.  These frames are made of 10 gauge material and is not of the best design.  It is a “U” shaped affair with an extra plate, spot welded.  Add to that years of rust from within the tubes and you have a recipe for failure.  My frame was in excellent shape when I started the project and was reinforced and properly prepared.  Even after all that attention, it failed.

I’ve had several people ask why “original” frames have held up with V8’s and mine failed.  I guess it boils down to the fact that I have put 15,000 miles on my frame and have actually stressed it enough to cause it to fail.  So if you are considering something like what I have done with bowtie6, I would highly recommend thinking all your options.

And so the next step in the evolution of bowtie6 begins…

A new, bespoke frame is in the works.  The new frame is being made of square tubing with fresh stock.  No expense is being spared on the materials.  The frame will use the factory stock front suspension components with one big difference:  the springs/shocks are being replaced with true coilovers.  The great advantage of this will be there is no more need for a spring compressor since the coilover is not only adjustable but fully encapsulated and there is spring under tension to worry about.

As far as the rear suspension?  The crappy factory trailing arms will be ditched along with the Nissan diff currently in bowtie6.  Instead I will be using an 8 inch solid axle, with four point suspension, coilovers and swaybar.  Why?  Well, the IRS is really not an option.  For the expense of new halfshafts, new diff, and all the extra “stuff”, I can have a fully posi-traction custom built solid axle that will withstand plenty of horsepower…

Which leads to the next major improvement…

Yes, bowtie6 is getting a new engine.  The 3.4 litre V6 currently in bowtie6 is pretty much maxed out.  There is no more I can do to it.  Plus the ECM is not programmable.  So what are my options?  A brand new ECOTEC 2.4 litre 177hp crate engine and matching 5 speed gearbox has been sourced.  ECM reprogramming?  No problem – this engine’s ECM is fully re-programmable.  Needless to say, the sky is the limit…

I’ll have more info on my ECOTEC in the next installment.