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TR2/3/3A New member [with a TR3A project] introduction

AHS

Senior Member
Offline
Hello all, my name's Andy. I hope you don't mind my posting an intro here rather than in the general section. I think this is the forum that I'll be viewing the most.

I've just finished restoring a car for the first time - a Sprite - and I have enjoyed the process so much that I've acquired a TR3A as the next project. I'm waiting for better weather to drive the Sprite for the first time, but the weather hasn't stopped me from beginning to tinker a little with some TR3 bits. I think I'll try to get the engine running on a stand first.

I have a lot of past experience with Spridgets, but none at all with the TR family. The Sprite was complete and running before disassembly, so I knew I had all the parts, and I was able to take pictures and sort the parts appropriately. The TR3A, on the other hand, was completely disassembled by its previous owner about 20 years ago and arrived here in pieces. Some parts are known to be missing (notably seats and side curtains) and I've identified some smaller missing parts in the process of doing inventory. I'm placing all the parts I recognize from those lovely exploded diagrams into appropriately sorted boxes. Hopefully I can learn a lot about reassembling them from you fine ladies and gentlemen, and please forgive my silly questions in advance. I've already learned volumes since starting to read forum for the past month or two.

Here's a question that could stir debate - according to the serial number breakdowns, the car was built in late 1957. It was titled as a 1958 model here in the USA on February 6, 1958. I understand there are some differences in the early TR3A's and referring to it as a 1957 would remove that ambiguity. But, in the popular opinion of forum members, do I have a 1957 - or a 1958?

Thanks,
Andy
 

TR3driver

Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
Offline
Hi Andy, welcome to the asylum!

Triumph didn't really operate on the "model year" concept, the cars were always sold as "new" even if they had been built several years earlier. For example, my Sports 6 was built in 1963, but sold "new" in 1965 so it said 1965 on the registration. They also did not wait to make changes, but just implemented them as they came along. For example, although 1957 gave us the big change between the TR3 and what most people call the TR3A; I count twelve other change points for things like exhaust system, lamps, engine bearings and so on.

So, if you are discussing what is "correct" for your car, or in some cases even just trying to order parts that fit, you'll need to give the commission number. But if it is just casual conversation (especially the one that starts out "Izzat a MG?"), then I would say there is some argument for using the registered model year. I would also call it a 58 (and a TR3A) if it is wearing the "wide mouth" grille.

But it really doesn't matter all that much, especially since there are several cars around with a deliberate mix of parts. So if you want to call it a 57, go for it.

PS, Consensus can be hard to come by around here, so that's just my opinion. Worth everything it costs (and you know it's free).

"Just beneath the surface of the mud, there's more mud, here." - David Crosby
 

toysrrus

Yoda
Offline
Hi Andy,

"Welcome" to the "BCF / Triumph" Forum.

The best way to answer your question would be for yourself to post the "VIN / Commission" number that is on your Title.

I had a `57 Small Mouth not that long ago. I believe somewhere in `57 or early `58 is when the "Large Mouth / Wide Mouth" TR3A was introduced. If you look in "Moss`s" catalog; I believe they show the various years of mfg. coupled with the "Start & End" VIN #s for a given year.

Hey; Where in PA do you live? I lived in "Effort" for several yrs just a few miles down the road from "Pocono Raceway".

Best Wishes,

Russ
 

NutmegCT

Great Pumpkin
Silver
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Andy - welcome to BCF.

Congratulations on the new TR. You picked up some great experience working with that Sprite - but I *really* admire someone who buys boxes of parts. You have courage and confidence!

As others have said, once you share the car's commission number (on the firewall above the battery), you can narrow down the build. I like Randall's comment "But it really doesn't matter all that much, especially since there are several cars around with a deliberate mix of parts." So true! We'll give you more specifics, but you can find some basic information here:

https://www.vtr.org/TR2/TR2-production.shtml

By the way, there's a TR3B owner and BCF member near Allentown, who might pop in here and say hello.

Keep those questions plugging away!
Tom in Connecticut
 

Gordon_Dedrick

Jedi Trainee
Silver
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Welcome !! I admire anyone with the tenacity to assemble a TR from boxes. I took several 100 pictures when I disassembled mine and still had to get a friend to come over with his 59 to I could see exactly how some of the parts went back in. The exploded parts diagrams from the Moss catalog and others are a big help and if you really get in a jam Randall always seems to come up with the correct photo or scan. He is our resident TR Guru. All of us are here to help. Keep asking questions........you'll get great, accurate answers, and quickly too!
Gordon
 

Marvin Gruber

Yoda
Silver
Country flag
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To echo whats already been posted, it doesn't matter on the year. If its a small mouth TR I would call it 57, other wise a 58. My personal preference is the small mouth TR3, but plan to build a TR3B later.
 
OP
AHS

AHS

Senior Member
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Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement. The car is a wide mouth, TS232xx. It has the chrome boxes for the side curtains with the stud holes in the doors, a feature of the early 3A cars as I understand it. It also has one piece calipers and banjo fittings on the carbs. I don't know what other early features to look for. Other than the transmission, all the numbers are close to the commission number. Assembling from boxes doesn't scare me, it's finding what's missing that does. I am near Harrisburg, 100 miles or so from Pocono & Allentown.
Andy
 

glemon

Yoda
Country flag
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Although it was long long ago, I started out owning a couple sprite, then went to a MGB GT, then a TR4a, which is still pretty similar mechanically to a TR3. My thinking at the time was that working on the TR was like working on a Sprite made 50% bigger in the mechanical bits like the carb and motor. This isn't always true, but for the most part if you have experience with SU carbs and Lucas Electrics, and Armstrong Lever shocks then a TR won't seem all that different to work on, they are a lot different to drive, which you will find out. Good Luck, Greg
 

Gordon_Dedrick

Jedi Trainee
Silver
Offline
Find a local Club and join., you'll be amazed at how helpfull everyone can be as well as sources for parts, service providers, body and paint work.......the list goes on and on. The best part is that everyone else has done it before and can give you the best solutions and bang for your buck. You are near The Roadster Factory in Armaugh, PA. They live eat and breath these cars and can provide advice as well as parts. Keep us all advised of your progress and POST PICTURES ! We love that even more.
 

6TTR3A

Jedi Warrior
Country flag
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According to my sources (which are limited) your car was built in the last 10 days of October 1957. That's just the month after the TR3"A" production started. Most of the changes from the TR3 were made for cars bound for the USA, but not those for Britain, Europe etc. , so the production line was (in my estimation) in mild confusion!

SCENE:MONDAY ON THE PRODUCTION LINE.
"We're out of red bonnets with no rivets !" (At TS 22530 rivets were deleted from rear edge of the bonnet*) "So fit a riveted one!"
or
"Over there are six RHD small mouths and two LHD wide mouths; how come they ALL have boot handles AND budget locks?" (At TS23920 boot external locking handle standardized for all cars, with consequent deletion of former central lock and outer budget locks*) "I don't know, just keep the line moving!!"
*Credit for the Production info goes to Bill Piggott, Original Triumph TR3/3/3AI know what goes on at an assembly plant; I had a summer job in high school installing
hub caps on 1954 Mercurys, (one on the left rear wheel, three in the trunk.) FoMoCo
had a summer work program for high school kids 16 yr. & older until the UAW intervened.
FRank
 
OP
AHS

AHS

Senior Member
Offline
Thanks Frank, that's closer than I've had to narrow down the build date. Are there any parts that are date coded? There are some numbers cast in the block that look like a GM date code but I don't know if they have the same decoding in this case. It does end in a 7. The Sprite had a few clearly stamped dates but I don't know where to look on a TR.

What is a "budget lock?" My boot lid has only one central hole in it for the handle, and it predates TS23920.

Greg - I know what you mean about the parts being 50% bigger. In reality these parts are normal and Sprite parts are tiny!

Thanks All!
Andy
 

TR3driver

Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
Offline
A 'budget' lock isn't really a lock at all. It's just a simple latch that turns with a long square key. Same key that is used for the Dzus buttons on the hood and sidecurtains (on later cars). You apparently have the later trunk, which should have a locking handle in that center hole. According to Bill Piggott, the locking handle was fitted to only some cars between TS22014 and TS23920.

John Macartney (who worked for Standard Triumph for many years, as did his father) once wrote of finding a car that had wire wheels on one side, disc wheels on the other, and one of each in the boot! Mistakes certainly do happen.
 

vivdownunder

Jedi Warrior
Offline
Andy, you have a '57 built car but as already said, it's probably more helpful to quote the commission number. That's what spares suppliers go on as component change points tended to be recorded more precisely by commission number than by date. The first TR3A introduced in September of 1957 was TS22014 and the last of that year was TS25632.

Registration dates can be deceptive because less popular colours may have languished with a dealer for many months before securing a buyer.

Best of good luck with the rebuild and the red letter day when it first hits the road.

Viv.
 

TR3driver

Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
Offline
Are there any parts that are date coded?
As far as I know, none of the Standard-Triumph content has date codes. The only parts with date codes are Lucas electrical (starter, generator, control box, distributor, etc) and sometimes the gauges.

These cars were assembled much more by hand than US automakers were using, even back in the 50s. Many years ago, we had a speaker at a club meeting (whose name I've unfortunately forgotten) that was able to sneak a factory tour "back when". He talked about how there were hammers everywhere, big and small. If something didn't want to go into place, whack it! He also talked about seeing a fellow walking from frame to frame with a hole saw, poking holes in each frame without benefit of a template, measurements, or even a punch mark! It's no wonder that there is so much variation from car to car.

And cars didn't necessarily come off the line even in commission number order. If there was a problem of any sort discovered somewhere along the line, the car was set aside to be corrected and then returned to the line later. In some cases it would have even been moved back up the line, if some steps had to be undone to rectify the problem.
 
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