So if you’re wondering where I’ve been lately, the best answer is MIA. There’s been a lot going on but like most of you I haven’t been able to take advantage of things being offered. There have been a couple of drives, not the least of which was the Polar Bear Run, Steve Cripps’ drive to the mountains, a Chili Cookoff and as of this writing several dart sessions. Unfortunately the dart sessions are the only thing I can attest to as it is the one area where I have been able to participate. It’s been nice to see some fresh faces recently, many coming to an event for the first time. So welcome to all of you, and to let everyone else know, the invitation to join us is still open to all comers. Even if you aren’t in the running, it’s still a great time to hang out enjoy a little car talk and laugh about our dart skills. Drive a Triumph to the event and help us fill the parking lot, it just looks cool and it’s good PR for the club.

So speaking of bringing out your Triumph, I’ve brought my trusty steed ‘The Stag’ to most of the dart events. At my last outing I had a small ‘event’ let’s say on the way home. About 7 miles from home I was suddenly welcomed with a red IGN light on the dash. Quickly my thoughts turn to alternator as this is normally the case on my car when IGN lights. I do love those glowing red lights because the dash illumination on Stags are nothing close to the brilliant LED dash-o-computer consoles on modern cars.  So after the ‘attention getter’, my eyes glance to the Voltmeter…11 volts.  Hmm, that ain’t good.  Well I’m not far from home so keep her running and maybe make it before the battery peaks out. Couple miles later…temp gauge inching to the right…hmmm, electric cooling fan. Well I’m guessing the fan is running out of juice, headlights are dimmer. 1 mile later, steam coming from under hood. Well, time to pull over and let her cool down. Only about 4 miles from the house now but the question is, “Will the car restart after it has cooled or is the battery too flat?” As this is a GM iron head car I’m not having visions of warped heads, blown gaskets etc so that’s on my side. It’s a pitch black evening so I call the wife and let her know what is up and she agrees to come meet me, ‘just in case’. While on the phone with her I decide to crank it up and move on. It starts and I’m back on the road. Nearly a mile down the road and the steam is back. Now I’m thinking it’s time to look around a bit under the hood and see what this alternator situation is all about. I’ve only got a mile to go but since I’m sitting here might as well. I whip out my iPhone and launch the flashlight app… I was unprepared for the carnage.

As the light beams over the engine I notice a distinct lack of….wait for it….belts. Oh they are there, they just are hanging from the water pump. WTH?! Closer inspection reveals the power steering pump has basically come apart. Wait! The pulley is laying between the radiator and the roll-bar.

So now I understand the problem. The pump came apart pulling the belt off with it which impacted the second belt which it managed to derail as well. So I manage to pull the second belt far enough to get it to go over the alternator so now I have the water pump and alternator working again but no power steering. That’s not the end of the world. So with basic functionality restored, my wife shows up and follows me home. Back at the homestead I further assess the damage. The pump shaft has sheared off at the rotor.

Keep in mind this pump was original to the car even though the engine isn’t. The pump is effectively 44 years old which is quite a long time, of course, it was also made in Saginaw, Michigan. That’s right the Stag uses a Saginaw pump, one that you might find under any GM hood of the era. So with that, I made my way to NAPA which I am sure will be an adventure.  So I go into NAPA and the parts guy asks what I am looking for, of course they don’t have it (or so it would seem), so I mention that it’s basically a Saginaw pump from the 70’s. So he punches in 1972 Chevy Vega, pulls up a pic and says, “Is that it?” Well taking a gander at it, “Why yes, yes it is.” “I don’t have one…” and wait for the next line that we all love, “…but I can get it.” Well, vintage part shopping is always a joy so I am resigned, but then he says, “Wait, I have one without the reservoir.” Well, I don’t need a reservoir, mine is fine so I take it.  $50 and a core fee. I know my core is a total write-off, but I have a second pump at home that I had scavenged from a Pull-A-Part for guess what reason…the reservoir, I’ll use that as my core. So back at the house I swap the housing onto the new pump which I note has a bit of dig, quick call to NAPA to make sure they’ll make good if it won’t seal. I’m certain they would but I wanted it on record.  I did swap out the power valve spring which the one in my unit was lighter weight than the one in the Vega unit.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. Come on out and let’s shoot some darts!

Triumph…It’s what’s inside.

-Tony Graham