Automotive Justice

The 10W-40 Castrol dripping on my sweaty face added yet another dimension to the word ‘masochism.’ I’d been under my 1965 TR-4 for 20 minutes trying to deal with the infamous canister element oil filter.

Would the gasket leak? Will I have to spend another five minutes taking the securing nut off that mile-long thread? Did I take the old gasket out?

As I pull my aching, filthy arm out from under the 5″ ground clearance (who said you could do it from inside the engine compartment?), a neighbor pulls into the parking space beside me. 50-ish stockbroker, recently divorced, behind the wheel of a full boot BMW 633i. I wait for the standard fare.

“Hey, guy, you working on that thing because you lost an election bet?”

“It’s my mental hygiene break, keeps me from having all clean clothes.”

“Right. Try driving sometime, if you can. It’s fun.”

Oh well, I reflect as he goes into his apartment, how many other 2138cc engines take 13.2 pints of oil? Or have refillable rear lever shocks? Or static ignition timing? I look over at the shiny alloy-wheeled, fuel-injected, air conditioned, hi-tech Teutonic car. Not that beast, for sure!

Several hours later, the clutch slave cylinder has been rebuilt with genuine Girling parts,  Stromberg dashpots topped off, all 18 (count ’em) grease fittings have been lubed. And the owner exhausted.

In the shower I wonder if it’s all worth it. What price nostalgia? Spend half a Saturday ministering to the damn thing. How about one of those allegedly bullet-proof Japanese or German sports coupes? Maybe I could actually put some miles on the car.

As the sun sets, my five-year-old returns from play. “Hey, Dad, can we go for a ride in the Triumph?”

A ride, not a drive to go someplace. Why not? Only five minutes to stow the removable top in the boot and the frame under the rear flaps. After firing it up, I watch the temperature gauge (in degrees Centigrade, thank you) move up.

My neighbor is out again, too. He stops by my side and pats the roll bar. Affectionately?

“Mine was a TR-3B. It only ran on good days, like today. But it was worth it, every minute of it.” He glanced over at the Bimmer. “I never should have let her go. You can’t buy that feeling today, can you?”

I eased the clutch up. “You’re right, you can’t. Thanks for the advice.”

By Ed Boylan
From Moss Motoring 1985

'Automotive Justice' have 4 comments

  1. May 15, 2012 @ 10:01 am Michael Velasco

    I have a 1962 TR4. Runs great. I just changed my oil last week and there was a small drip under the metal cannister. Low and behold, the whole bloody thing started leaking where the gaskets are.
    What the heck!!! How did you solve it? I changed the oil filter from the top. Should I
    get underneath and change it from there? I have to go back down there and
    fix it. Any “experience” tips? Michael


  2. May 17, 2012 @ 5:38 am RSB

    Michael -The answer is to get the spin on cannister retrofit and always go under the car to change it. I have never had a gasket leak of this magnitude. When you get under tho (and there is very little clearance), safety is a must. Always use proper jack stands and blocking so the car can’t roll, never work under the car jack alone under any circumstances. For an oil change, I use two jack stands in the front (two more at rear if you are doing anything else underneath) and then keep the lifting jack in place under your lift point JUST IN CASE and put a couple tires behind the rear wheels too. Put the car in Reverse and apply the e-brake.

    As an aside, my TR4 has only broken down (where it needed a tow) once in 30 years. I wonder if even the best German engineering can make that claim? There is something about simplicity and small levels of mechanical aptitude that does wonders for almost anything that can go wrong.


  3. May 29, 2012 @ 1:55 pm Michael Velasco

    Thanks for the info. I know of a man who didn’t use jacks and died when the car fell on him.
    So yes, jacks are always present and in use when I get underneath the car.


  4. June 8, 2012 @ 11:59 am Ramon

    I am a strong believer in safety first on these. I also believe in a GOOD set of auto ramps when doing any work where any part of my body is under the car…. Do not purchse by price on either ramps or jack stands.


Would you like to share your thoughts?

Please note: technical questions about the above article may go unanswered. Questions related to Moss parts should be emailed to

Your email address will not be published.

© Copyright 2022 Moss Motors, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.