TVR S3 Diary - 2009


I realised why the upper airflow meter was flowing more air than the lower one. It is the one that connects to the offside throttle butterfly and that has the ISCV built into it. While checking the car over though, I noticed some water in the rocker breather pipe that goes to the plenum chamber. Removing the rocker cover revealed this lovely sight:
TVR S3 rocker cover showing water leak
It looks like there is a water leak somewhere and my suspicion is the inlet manifold to head area. The coolant was drained out and the inlet manifold removed (sounds easy when typed like that) and this is the underside on the inlet manifold.
TVR S3 inlet manifold showing water leak
It had been leaking at the offside rear waterway and the really annoying thing is that this waterway is blanked off in the inlet manifold so it isn't needed anyway. It was all cleaned up and re-assembled with a new gasket from the spares that I have. I'm not happy with these grey inlet manifold gaskets because they don't seem as good as the original Ford ones or as good as the previous one I used. These were built around a metal sheet with a plasticy covering that appeared much thicker. Anyway, I've torqued this one down a little bit more than the 25Nm quoted so fingers crossed.

At the end of the day the engine was fully assembled and fired up. No doubt I'll have a few drips of water from some pipes to deal with. I'm going to leave the car on SORN until I'm happy that the engine is fully working.


Fired up the car and backed it out of the garage. Ran it upto temperature and it looks like the inlet manifold is holding with no leak. Found a slight leak on one of the new pipework joins from the lower rad hose so this needs investigating.


During the week I suspected that there may still be a leak but checks haven't found one yet so it could be moisture left in the oil and engine that is getting burnt off. More running will prove if this is the case but is is too cold to do much at the moment.


With help from Louise the bonnet was finally lifted into position. The hinge bolts were secured, bonnet closed and then it was time to start the engine and that is when a problem was found. When cranking the engine there was a light knocking noise and instantly I realised that the bonnet was touching the alternator. Releasing the bonnet lifted it enough to clear the alternator and allow me to drive the car into the garage.
TVR S3 alternator touching the bonnet
Here you can see that the alternato is just touching the bonnet. The engine mounts I have used are the heavy duty 50mm ones from Rally Design and they are thicker than the previous ones so something to watch should anyone else use them. To rectify this I loosened both engine mount upper nuts and jacked the engine on the nearside gearbox. With a bit of a tug on the engine the nearside was slid up and the offside slid down. Once bolted in there is about 10mm clearance on the alternator and about 5mm clearanc on the ISCV. Hopefully that will be enough.


During the week the front lights were connected up and all worked. I have some waterproof sealed connectors to join the lighting loom into the main loom but these can wait until the weather is warmer. Crimping and soldering in near zero temperatures is not my idea of fun. The only issue I had was that the dim dip unit caused the new dipped beam relay to buzz when on side lights. The unit was located above the glove box and is accessed by pulling the carpet down and looking for a black heatsink with cables coming from it. Removing the unit resolved that problem.

Today I set the ignition timing properly using the diagnostic port. A thread on Pistonheads suggested that disconnecting the ISCV placed the ECU into service mode and you could check the timing that way. I tried it on my car before when the timing was correct and it seemed to work. Therefore I set the timing using the ISCV when I reassembled the car and it was at 12 degrees BTDC. Today when I placed the car into service mode the timing was set to TDC. I restarted the car out of service mode and disconnected the ISCV and it showed 12 BTDC. Back in service mode it was at TDC - ie 0 BTDC. Back into service mode and the timing was set to 12 BTDC and also the throttle was closed a bit to reduce the idle speed. Throttle response is now as it was before so fingers crossed.


The weather has been grim but it is no use, I had to tax the car today. Got home, bundled some tools into the boot and went for a spin to the shops to get some wine. It was a bit misty and cold but good to be back on the road. The lights are so much better now that the power takes a short route from the battery to the bulbs. They are on par with the halogen ones in my V70 after I replaced the reflectors on that car. The only problem encountered was that the swirl pot cap wasn't properly closed so it failed to pressuris the system and leaked coolant.


The weather has been fine enough to get out in the car both days this weekend. Yesterdays run back from the shops hilighted some hesitancy at higher revs so when home I placed it back into service mode and checked the timing. I had probems seeing the timing mark in the sun but I think it wasn't advanced enough. After a dab of white paint I lined it up to 12 degrees and today it was a different car. I'm not sure why it should be different considering that I had placed it in service mode a few weeks ago when setting the timing. Anyway, the midrange torque is brilliant but due to the cold and dusty roads (due to the dried salt) I didn't give it full throttle. Roll on better driving conditions and a summer....


The weather has been better over the last few weekends so the S has been out a bit. Yesterdays trip to another town for a shopping session gave me a chance to open it up a bit and it is going very well. There is still a leak somewhere around the top of the swirlpot despite replacing the rubber seal. Today I closed the locking lugs on the cap up a bit so that it is a bit tighter so will see if that makes a difference.


Still can't see where the leak is on the swirlpot so I've picked up a new cap to fit. The swirlpot overflow pipe was 10mm fuel hose crushed down to 8mm so this has now been replaced with some black 8mm silicone vacuum hose. The other bit of work done recently was a brake upgrade done last night. I've fitted some 260mm calipers and discs with basic Ferrodo pads and tonight I went out for a test drive. The pedal is slightly softer for more braking effort and there seems to be more control at the point of lockup. The 260mm brakes were the spec used on the Chimera so they should be ok for a slightly lighter and lower powered S3.


The swirlpot no longer leaks from the pressure cap so it could be that these need to be replaced on a regular basis. The brakes have been working well and have more bite on initial application than the old ones. They have now hilighted the poor performance of the old P6000 tyres so that is the next purchase lined up.

While fitting the brakes during the week a pin in the brake fluid resrvoir cap broke off. A quick trawl of ebay located an new cap and further browsing located a suitable connector. These were fitted this morning before I went out for a drive.
TVR S3,S2 brake fluid reservoir cap


I'd changed the oil just after the previous posting. The oil charts listed 10/40 mineral or 5/30 semi-synthetic so I went with the latter. At the time I thouht that was this considering that a Zetec uses that oil and the 2.9 V6 is not exactly that modern. The end result is that the oil pressure appeared to be low when warm - under 2 bar at idle. So I changed it to 10/40 oil and I thought it looked better but noticed that the pressure was erratic. I checked the oil level last night and it was over filled so I've removed some to just under the max. While I was at it I started it up cold and the oil pressure was slow in rising and sat at about 3 bar. Out with the oil pressure tester and connected it in place of the oil pressure sender and it went straight to 4 bar and sat there. Refitted the oil pressure sender and fired it up and it went straight to 4 bar (cold). Went for a drive and the display showed 50psi+ except after one bend when it went all erratic again. Did some shopping for 10 mins then returned home and it behaved. While trundling down the drive at 1000rpm the pressure dropped to 2bar but reving to 2000rpm showed a health 4bar. Still undecided as to the state of things so will be keeping an eye on it.


Had an early swerve today to be home for BT to fix my line. Once fied this gave me to get some new tyres on my spare alloys. I went for the Bridgestone ER300 after experiencing good results with ER30s on a MX5. Initial views are mixed, the steering is much lighter but they do seem to squirm but that could be that there is still release agent that is on them. A few more miles are required and some experimenting with tyre pressures.
TVR S3 with S2 style wheels


This week has been spent repairing and sealing the exhaust. It was blowing at the manifold gasket in a couple of places and the joint to the hockey stick pipes were also blowing. These required some welding to close the holes at the end of the slots in the manifold. A piece of alloy pipe was inserted into the manifold and the holes then welded up in a circular motion. The alloy pipe doesn't stick to the steel weld and it ensures that the pipes can still be inserted into the manifold. Everything was re-assembled with liberal helpings of exhaust sealant and so far it seems ok.


Went to Henham Wings and Wheels show today. No other S' there but there was a nice 3000M that was also for sale.... very tempted. On the return home I noticed that the tyres still squirm on the corners and it definitely isn't the release agent now. The book tyre pressures are 22psi front and 24psi rear. Because these Bridgestones seem to have more supple walls I increased the pressure by 2psi all round and the next trip will hopefully see a change.


While doing the exhaust I noticed a small amount of play on the lower steering universal joint. An order was placed last Friday with Rally Design for one of their forged steering coupling (part number RD820F) plus some other bits for later. This evening the UJ was fitted without too much trouble, the offside steering rack mounts were unbolted and the nearside ones loosened to allow the UJ to be removed. It was immediately obvious that the old UJ was stiff and didn't have a smooth action but the play was minimal. And here's a pic of one shiney new UJ as viewed from underneath when lying on ones back.
TVR S3,S2,S1 lower steering UJ

Backing the car out onto the lane showed a huge improvement in the lightness of the steering and it reminded me a lot of the Westfields that I used to have. Out onto the roads and the steering didn't go heavy through the corners like it did previously and the feedback was very good. I also noticed that the extra 2psi in the tyres had made a huge difference and there was no squirming of the tyres in the corners. A very successful evenings work I feel.


MOT day today and a pass with no advisory notes either which is a first. Now that it is getting sorted I guess it must be time to sell it and try something new....


Took a trip to the post office to collect a jiffy bag that hopefully will solve one ongoing issue - the oil pressure. I'd enquired with a manufacturer as to what the resistance range was on their 100psi sender but they never responded. I therefore took a punt on a 100psi 1/8 NTP sender from ebay seller performanceshopuk. This sender has 2 terminals, one that needs earthing and the other goes to the pressure gauge. Fortunatley my car already had a 1/8 NPT to 1/4 NTP adapter fitted so it was a simply a matter of removing the old sender and fitting the new one. A new earth lead was made up and this connects to the earthing point near the throttle linkage where another earth lead is already fitted. When I fired up the car the gauge immediately shot up to 50psi which I know from previous tests (with my oil pressure tester) is the cold idle pressure. Still need to take it out for a run and see how the pressure holds out when it is hot. For info, the resistance reading at rest was 264ohms.
TVR S3,S2 oil pressure senders
New sender on the left - obviously.

TVR S3,S2 oil pressure sender
Note the oil catch pan on the ground. A noticable quantity of oil escapes so place something to catch it.


I picked up another coil spring compressor today - the Laser 2779 ones. The problem with the coil over shocks is that lots of spring compressors don't hook into the coil and these Laser 2779 compressors also don't fit. However I did manage to use them in a dodgy way and was able to remove the front springs and fit the new springs I've had for a few weeks.

The GAZ shocks were suppplied with 375lb springs on the front and 300lb on the rear. When I fitted them they felt great but that was with minimal damping. In use I was finding that I was blowing through the travel quickly so the easy fix was to increase the damping levels whih generally worked. The problem with this approach is that any bumps, holes and rutts don't get absorbed by the spring and get transmitted to the car. The plan is to go to 450lb fronts and use the old 375lb fronts on the rear. Taking the car out with just the 450lb fronts fitted and 10 clicks of damping (as opposed to the 15 I was having to use) showed great promise with the front feeling much more supple. The rears will be done another night and then the fun of setting up the suspension begins.


Fitted the old 375lb springs from the front shocks to the rear this evening. Dialed in 15 clicks from soft of damping at the rear and 10 clicks at the front. Went for a quick spin to the shop and the suspension feels more supple over the bumps yet there is less roll on the corners. Still need to set the ride heights although my guesses don't look too far out and then play with the damping settings.


The ride and handling of the TVR S has been transformed with the changes to the springs. As mentioned above, I'm running 450lb springs on the front and 375lb at the rear. I haven't measured the ride height but it looks ok but I might lift the front a fraction - probably about 5mm. One of my regular driving routes involves a sharp LH turn from an A road onto a B road. The turning has a lot of camber and climbs from the A road. Previously I would blow through the rear travel and hit the bumpstop on the rear offside whenever taking that corner quickly but today it was all nice and composed. When cornering I'm finding that there is far less body roll than before and this inspires even more confidence in the ability of the car. Well chuffed with how it is going now.


Took the S for a run upto the north Norfolk coast and did a few miles walking. I noticed that the steering seems a bit vague with play in the steering and the car was drifting on the road. As a result I took it easy there and back - much to the relief of our eardrums. Later I put the car on the ramps and it seemed that the play was in the rack to had a good look around there ans tweaked some shims. This didn't seem to make any difference from the steering wheel but did from the input shaft of the rack. Then I looked at the upper steering joint and realised that that is where the problem was. The bolt for the splined fitting was very tight yet there was still play where the splined steering shaft goes into the upper steering joint. Fortunately in the spares box I had a new Sierra to Esort coupling from Rally Design. As soon as I slid this onto the slined shaft I knew the problem was solved as it was a good interefence fit before the bolt was fitted. Bolting it all back together and a quick run later showed that the steering was as sharp or possibly sharper than ever.


Big day today - on the way to Snetterton the car clicked over the 100,000 mark.


The door was sagging again so I stripped out the door and found the upper bolt loose. For some reason I decided to remove the door and discovered that the lower mounting point bush was loose. A load of resin later and it was solid. Refitted the door and then spent 30 mins trying to adjust the door, which isn't so easy on your own. All re-assembled ready for Newark tomorrow.


Met up with Graham who has a rather nice V8S. This was a chance to compare the different spring rates of his car fitted with 375/300lb springs and mine fitted with 450/375lb springs. We are both running GAZ shocks and are trying to find a suitable setup. very much work in progress.

On the way back I stopped at a local engineering company who do exhaust fabrication. Steve looked at the S and commented on the exhaust's "after thought engineering" - in the way it is routed and the design of the rectangular silencer. The look of horror on his face when I explained the construction of the silencer section will linger for years. It is not how any exhaust designer would do it. In the next few weeks I should be back to have a new custom exhaust made.


The rear view mirror mount cracked when I knocked the mirror so a quick browse of the alternative parts list suggested that it was a 205 GTi rear view mirror. Someone on ebay was offering 205 GTi mirror mounts quite cheaply so one was ordered and fitted today.


The S is going in next week for a custom made exhaust that should help to reduce the cabin noise and hopefully the exhaust noise. Went for a quick blast to the shops and recorded the following cabin noise readings. 50mph cruising = 86dbA, full throttle maxed at just over 104dbA. Next up was a test of the tailpipe noise and at 4000rpm at 0.5M 45 degree it recorded 102dbA. Way too much for trackday use so I'm hoping that the new exhaust really knocks the volume down.


Steve from Concept Engineering at Wymondham rang and left a message that the TVR was done. Being just down the road he offered to drop the car round and send a text that he was on his way. The text arrived so I gave it a few minutes then want into the back garden to hear the car as it passed down the road the otherside of the field behind the house. I waited and waited then heard someone pull onto the gravel at the front. There was my car!! It was quieter than I could imagine yet still sounded potentially sporty. Had a quick look round then handed over a healthy cheque and drove Steve back to the workshop. The first thing I noticed was that even with the roof up (it was raining when I dropped the car off) you could hold a conversation without raising your voice. Even giving it some throttle when pulling away didn't bring an unacceptable noise level so top marks to Steve for an excellent job.

Some sound level readings just for comparison: Full throttle through the gears produced a maximum of 97.8dbA and the 4000rpm static test showed 88.9dbA which peaked at 93.7dbA on lift off. The system is a single pipe setup with just the one 2.5" tailpipe - just to be different. The thinking behind a single tailpipe was that it would mean only 1 bolt on muffler was required for trackdays but that looks less likely to be required now.


Now that the exhaust is quieter there are other noises that I can now hear. There was a slight whine that increases with the revs and this appears to have been solved by slackening off the alternator belt slightly. Not sure if there is a pump or alternator on the way out but I'll be keeping an eye on this.

The other noticable noise is a whine in 5th gear. I've had a leak from the speedo pick ever since I had the car. Recently I was able to find a new pickup for a 2.9 Granada on fleabay for about £35 and as these are very rare now I had to snap it up. Fitting wasn't too much of a problem - lifting the center console and accessing through the gear lever hole was the easy route. The most time consuming part was soldiring the old connector onto the new pickup because the connector is different. The oil needs topping up now but a quick test down the road showed that all is working fine.

TVR S3,S2 gearbox speedo pickups
Old (left) and new (right) speedo pickups.

TVR S3,S2 gearbox speedo pickup
New pickup with the old connector soldered and heatshrunk in place. Note that it has 14 teeth.

TVR S3,S2 gearbox speedo pickups
View of the pickup through the gear lever hole.

Edit: 24/09/2010
The wire colours on the old and new sensor vary slightly and this is how I wired them up.

connector sensor
brown brown
black brown/black
yellow yellow/brown


Things have been quiet on the maintenance front lately. My road trip to the Loire Valley racked up 1806 miles and no real issues. There is some vibration at 130kph that needs investigating and it might be related to the prop shaft. While over in France we did check the prop and there was a slight amount of play but nothing excessive so this is a task for the future. There were no grease nipples fitted so I jumped into Norman's Caterham BDR220 and we went hunting for some 6mm grease nipples. I'd forgotten how a se7en sounds when fitted with a nice big pair of weber carbs but I won't be changing the S for a se7en.

This evening I finally upgraded the standard pads for some Mintex M1144 pads. These are highly rated by a lot of the Westfield crowd especially for sprinting where they work from cold. Initial tests after 5 miles of bedding in show good bite but with plenty modulation.


Yesterday I jacked up the S onto axle stands at the rear and started investigating the vibration experienced in France. The prop was removed by removing the diff mounting frame bolts and the rear diff bolts and this allowed just enough space to slide the rear of the prop above the diff and the front of the prop out of the gearbox.

The UJs felt ok but as this has been run without any grease nipples for a long time it made sense to replace the UJs. The front one looked fine with no wear visible but the grease was a bit of a rusty colour. The rear one was removed and did reveal that the roller bearings had worn some grooves in the bearing surfaces and there was also some light pitting as well. This however wouldn't have been enough to explain the vibrations experienced. The gearbox mount is very soft now so a new one will be required.


A catchup on the last week. My local motor factors sourced a QH EM1526 mount for the gearbox and with a bit of jiggling and the used of a jack it was fitted. Then it was a case of re-assembling everything and giving a few chipped areas of the chassis a touch of Hammerite. The weekends road test didn't reveal any vibration issues so fingers crossed.


Since the last update I've been out for a run with some local S owners. One thing I noticed was that my suspension is under damped again at the front and was bouncing along the lumpy roads. When home a quick push down test on corners showed that the front was bouncing. It took 8 clicks of additional damping to regain control.

While returning from the recent run there were two occasions where the car seemed to die as I went over some bumps. On the second time I noticed that the rev counter dropped from approx 2000 down to 1000rpm before recovering yet the engine revs didn't actually drop that much. It was as though there was no spark and therefore no signal to drive rev counter. So with that in mind I completely ignored any logic and immediately looked at the TPS and remade the connector that joins the TPS and injector loom to the main car loom. I also discovered that the ISCV connector had broken so this was repaired in a bodge sort of way. A drive out today didn't show the same symptom but while running down the drive on light throttle it did lurch once so maybe the TPS should be changed next.

Todays trip out was to a scrappy to find the correct connector for the ISCV. For some reason my car has 2 spade connectors that have to be pushed onto the connectors in the ISCV. The scrappy returned a blank so I took the long route home. While looking around the garage for some steel for another project I noticed that there was an engine loom hanging down the back of my spare engine and on this was the ISCV connector. This was promptly grafted into my loom and it was at this point that I realised that the retaining lug on the ISCV had been removed. I do have a spare one so that will be cleaned up and fitted soon.


last Sunday I decided to replace the brake hoses on the S. I had numerous braided cables, some ends and a set of HEL stainless cables for the TVR S so I started at the front offside. The pipes were removed and I then went to fit the replacement braided hose. That is when I discovered that the HEL hoses would not fit the caliper because the male connector wasn't long enough. I then looked at the other cables and realised that the rear ones wouldn't be long enough for the fittings as they weren't bulkhead connectors. I placed an order to Rally Design for some more 3/8" mail convex bulkheads, some more 10mm male convex bulkheads and a few other bits. They arrived promptly as usual and the rears were made and fitted without any isues.

With the front pipes things weren't straight forward. I made up a short hose to the caliper with 10mm male convex bulkhead at both end and the longer hose again with 10mm at each end. It was when I tried to connect the copper joining pipe between the two hoses that I had a problem. It turns out that the caliper end was 10mm as was the end that joined the copper pipe on the chassis. However the middle connectors were all 3/8" so a new copper joining piece had to be made up.


Finished off the nearside front after I'd picked up some female 10mm ends from the NEC Classic Car show. Bled the brakes and then road tested. The main reason for replacing the hose is that I've always found the front offside wheel locks far easier than the nearside. I'd been through the brake bleeding exercise but that didnt help. When I fitted the 260mm discs the symptom persisted and new brake pads didn't help either. Checking the corner weights using my bathroom scales and lever setup showed the front weights to be within 8Kg so that wasn't likely to be the cause. The rear weights were even closer at approx 3Kg difference so it wasn't looking like a weight distribution problem. The test drive on damp roads showed that the fronts lock up together so the next test will be in the dry. Fingers crossed.

Diary 2010
Diary 2009
Diary 2008
Diary 2007
Diary 2006


To Do List


Part Numbers

France 2009