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Spitfire Triumph Spitfire 1500 refuses to awake after 10 year hibernation


Freshman Member
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I am trying to help my son get a spitfire 1500 running after a 10 year hibernation but it refuses to play.
When we first got it we drained all fluids and fuel, replaced fuel lines/pump, rebuilt carbs (removed waxstats for alternate type), all new ignition components (plugs,points,condenser, coil,leads) and gapped the tappets. We also checked compression (155/155/155/125 psi, although number 4 did come upot 140 after oiling the bore so may be just stuck ring. We set static timing to 10 degrees before tdc at the point the plugs open for Cyl 1. For the inital carb. set-up the jets are 2 full turns below bridge level and the slow running screw is 1.5 turns after it begins to move the butterfly

It would fire but only run roughly for a short period at high revs on the choke and immediatley die upon opening the throttle. This was exactly the same as before we did all the work.

I assumed we had an inlet manifold leak since there seemed to be plenty of fuel at the carbs (albeit a large vapour lock in the in line fuel filter) so we replaced the manifold. No change.

Having now rechecked fuel flow (good to carbs but still vapour lock in filter), timing, plug lead order and swapped back to old coil it refuses point blank to play. After cranking on the starter for ~5 secs it will fire to disengage starter but not run on. Even a healthy dose of damp start would not elicit any response. Having re checked compression we seem to be down to 60 on cycl 4 but that may be due more to a low battery and slow cranking speed. The plugs seem wet/oily now upon checking but there seems to be a weak spark when held against the engine.

Any insights/ideas greatly appreciated because I am all out of ideas.

Many thanks



Senior Member
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What is showing you vapor lock in the fuel filter? Could be that the new condenser is bad. I would r&r at the entire ignition again, including check of primary wiring for possible leaks. Do the points open to the same gap on each lobe of the shaft?


Freshman Member
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Hi Bob
The clean plastic fuel filter I added just before the fuel pump is full of air although having taken the hose off the fuel line to the front carb it receives a strong flow of fuel with no air bubbles.
How do I check primary wiring for a leak?
Not sure if points open the same on each lube but I wouls imagine that may be a fine tuning point rather than a show stopper for the car to run?
Many thanks


Senior Member
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There is always air at the highest point in a cartridge fuel filter unless the inlet and outlet are perfectly vertical to each other. Examine the wires closely for continuity, and cracks or other signs of possible intermittent shorts. Replace them all prophylactically, including the one in the dist that powers the points. Small bends in dist shafts can cause non-concentric rotation of the lobes (wobble). The dist shaft is 2 pieces. The top one with the lobes spins a bit on the bottom one, held to it only by the advance springs. Loose fit between the shafts can also cause erratic point opening. The movement of the points plate while advancing moves the little cloth covered wire that goes from the end of the coil wire to the points. This could cause short or discontinuity. PS The little points wire in the dist may have conventional insulation. Don't remember.

Last edited:


Jedi Knight
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Question? how did it run 10 years ago. Look at a vacuum leak check all Vac lines and tighten all bolts at carb and Man.


Freshman Member
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What is your fuel pressure? I experienced the same thing: car would run but not very well. Checked everything: carbs were full of fuel in the bowls, ignition was good, be coil, ignition, carb tuning… all of it. Mine ended up being a dying fuel pump. After 10 years of sitting, especially if you’re using the mechanical pump, I’d be very suspicious of that.

It also sounds like you’re using SU carbs. Spray some part cleaner around the throttle bushing/shaft area when it is running to see if there are air leaks there.

Only running on choke indicates very lean conditions; it happens 2 ways: not enough fuel or too much air. If you still have all the emissions junk in there I’d be checking for cracked lines too as noted above, but my gut says fuel pump. You can’t test it by eye; if you haven’t put a pressure guage on to verify you’re between 2 and 4 psi, get ye to a Harbor Freight and run this test. Or just replace the fuel pump; odds are it is due anyway.
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