View Full Version : Barn Find TR-2, What to look at?

07-06-2005, 10:22 AM
I was called by a friend last night to tell me about a 1955 TR-2 that is in his neighbors barn. He told me the guy wants it gone; it was an old restoration project that his neighbor and his son gave up on 20 years ago. I must be nuts having just finished one frame off and now wanting another!!! Ha! Anything in particular to look for to see if its worth saving? I know TR-6's, but am not that familiar with the older TR's. I know about frame issues, but would appreciate any other advice as to what to look for. I'm going out to view it next week sometime. From what my friend told me the guy isn't going to want much for it, so I'm guessing that money won't be an issue, just how much is salvageable.


1970 TR-6, maybe a TR-2 as well? Ha!

07-06-2005, 01:38 PM
Since the TR6 wasn't that different than the TR2 in terms of design (with the exception of the IRS setup in back,) the same rules apply.

The first thing you'll want to do is establish if this is a "long door" or "short door" car. The first TR2s had doors that went all the way down (no exposed sill,) and are long door cars. They are more valuable, simply because they are rarer. (FYI, the doors were shortened because owners kept bonking the doors on curbs.)

Next are the standard issues -- rust, frame and ensuring that the hard to get parts are all there. The hardest parts to get are the mechanical temp gauge (although you can use an electric gauge,) the steeing wheel and column, and the differential.

The other thing is also a standard one...make certain that the parts are ordered and identified, otherwise you might never get the thing back together!

07-06-2005, 02:27 PM
Thanks Sam. It's nice having my friend Mark at British Auto right down the street. I'm pretty sure I can find just about anything I need to rebuild it. My big worry is the condition of the frame after sitting for so long, tho it is in an enclosed barn. I'll keep you posted!


07-06-2005, 04:42 PM
Good luck. I hope it turns out well for you. It turns out my TR3 has a TR2 head on it (I found out the hard way after I had the head all rebuilt and the gasket set did not match). If you end up needed a TR2 head I would be happy to talk so I can end up with a TR3 head on the off chance your barn find has a TR3 engine.

07-06-2005, 05:39 PM
I'll let you know what I find out. I received a bit more info on the car and it seems the engine is in the passenger compartment! I guess whoever started the restoration got as far as pulling the engine..it will be interesting to see just what this looks like. I'm probablly getting my hopes up and it will be a rolling rust bucket, but you never know!!!


07-06-2005, 05:51 PM
Hi Mark,

Wow! Congratulations on your find! I hope you get it and someone like yourself, who has successfully completed a TR restoration, rescues that car from a slow death. If you decide not to tackle it, I hope you'll let us know here in case someone else is interested.

I think you'll find a TR2 is easier and simpler to work on than a TR6. They were essentially hand made cars, so the fit and finish tends to vary a bit from one to the other, more than the later cars. Of course, the rear suspension is a lot less complex. The ladder frame is generally durable and only shares a few problems with the later IRS cars. The steering is possibly one of the more problematic areas, but there are some possible modern improvements.

If the frame was stored off the ground and indoors, it will likely be in good shape. I picked up a TR4 frame for my car some years ago. The seller had lifted the body off , removed most of the suspension and let the frame sit on the ground. It was one week between the time he pulled the body off and I picked up the frame, and was in the very dry Summer months here in Calif. In that single week, the frame, no longer protected by the body and lying on the ground, went from nearly pristine to lots of surface rust. Virtually all the original, 40 year old paint seemed to disappear. In another two or three weeks it would have been ruined. So, as long as it's been "in a barn" and stored with a minimum of care, I'd hope the body and frame are relatively good. What might be of more concern is the engine, gearbox and diff internals. Bare metal that drains of all protecting oils over a long period of time can really rust up badly, just from ambient humidity. So, be prepared in that respect. The same is true of suspension joints.

One "good" thing about the earlier TRs was the open breathing crankase. The pipe that hangs down on the LH side of the engine did a nice job of coating the underside of the car with oil, which turned into "British Undercoating" over time. Depending upon what the seller had done before quiting the project, this might or might not have helped protect the car.

TR2 parts can be a bit harder to find, as compared to any of the later cars, especially relatively high production models such as the TR6.

There were many subtle differences between the TR2 and later cars. If you get the car, be sure to pick up any info you can from Bill Piggott's and Roger William's books. Ken Gillanders at British Frame & Engine might be a great resource, too. Last I heard, he still has his TR2 that he bought new in 1956 and it's considered the oldest one-owner Triumph. Ken knows the 4-cylinder TRs inside and out. He's been building and racing them for 50 years!

Hope you find a good car and get a great deal! Let us know.


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif.
'62 TR4 CT17602L

Geo Hahn
07-06-2005, 07:47 PM
Make a note of the commission number and engine number as these can provide a lot of info about what was original on the car. As Alan notes there were changes during the TR2 run... quite a few actually as they sorted the cars out as they built them. Of course, the biggest difference from later TRs is the front drum brakes.

This would be a restoration that early on would have to confront the question of driveability vs originality as many of the changes incorporated later can be readily adapted to an earlier car to make it safer, faster, easier to maintain & more reliable.

IMO a TR2 would have to be in very bad shape to not be worth restoring. A long door couldn't be in bad enough shape to part out or crush -- would be probably be worth 'restoring' even if all you could save was the commission number plate.

07-06-2005, 08:08 PM

IMO a TR2 would have to be in very bad shape to not be worth restoring. A long door couldn't be in bad enough shape to part out or crush -- would be probably be worth 'restoring' even if all you could save was the commission number plate.

[/ QUOTE ]

I agree -- you can always find a replacement frame. The engines are VERY strong and easy to rebuild (in comparison to most other automotive engines.) There are plenty of tricks to unseize the engine if it's seized.

07-06-2005, 08:57 PM
If you don't want it, my number is ..................
For some reason I've lusted after a TR2 for years. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cryin.gif

07-06-2005, 11:11 PM
The engine is most likely not going to be the problem. Take a look at my web site to see what I used as a starting point for my TR4A engine. That thing sat in the hedge at my parents house for 20 years, and before that it sat at the previous owner's yard for 10 years. About 10 years into the second sitting I poured enough engine oil into it to fill the thing right to the top of the rocker cover. When I rebuilt it everything came apart just fine and it was a trouble free rebuild.

I agree with the previous posts that a TR2 would be worth the effort regardless. I regret giving away the TR2 front apron from my doner car back when I was restoring my TR3. ANd the guy I gave it to never used it. I guess it would be unfair to call him after 25 years and ask for it back /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

07-07-2005, 12:30 AM
Having just sunk a large sum into rebuilding my TR-6, if the price is right this will become a long, long term rebuild project. I appreciate all the help and I will let you know what I find once this guy calls me next week to come look at it. I'm hoping its a long door after getting educated from y'all!! Thanks again,


07-07-2005, 01:23 AM
Hi, I'm in agreement with everybody on deciding whether you want an all original show car or something more durable, 2's have lots of weak points you should consider changing. Front drum brakes were mentioned, and there was the early rear axle with the outer ball instead of tapered beaings, the lower inner A frame bushings were rubber like the uppers instead of nylon, the dual master cylinder units, the early carb setup with all the leaky banjo fittings. And if it has wires, place them in a dry spot in your garage and put on a good set of sixty spoke wheels. All easily remedied in a complete rebuild, you just have to decide which way to go, but if it's a long door, go for it. Good luck. Tom Lains

Simon TR4a
07-09-2005, 12:23 PM
A couple of quick points, the shroud is expensive to replace if rusty, so check it out carefully, and the TR2 comed with 2 different types of rear axles, the early ones proved weak and prone to failure. A later axle can easily be substituted and should not be too expensive or hard to find as they don't rust out!
There is less trim on a TR2, no door handles or lock for the boot, and they look good with just overriders so there aren't many chromebits to redo.
A car with a lot of character and the original TR, hope you get it!

07-12-2005, 09:37 AM
I'm still waititng to hear from the guy that owns it. He wasn't in any hurry to rebuild the car, guess he's not in a big hurry to sell it either! I'll keep you posted.


07-12-2005, 01:57 PM
He's prolly changing his mind.

Geo Hahn
07-12-2005, 02:43 PM
I have been thru something like that with a local lady with a TR3A... can't restore it, says she wants to sell it, but can't bring herself to name a price. Even after being on eBay twice she still couldn't discuss it. I finally gave up though I keep track of her phone number and maybe I'll be there when & if she decides to sell.