Suspension work – at Neil Garner

While I had a suspension health check at Center Gravity, I decided not to use them for my suspension work.

The main reasons for this are cost and the difficulty of getting information out of them.

It took multiple calls / e-mails to get the reports from the health check day and after I pointed out a few errors the promised update didn’t arrive. It then took quite a few more calls over a few months to get the plan of work for how I wanted the car out of them with costs.

Costs were high. At 450 + VAT for the setup (expected), plus high estimates for damper removal, plus high cost estimates from Gaz (not the ones I got when I spoke to them), the total bill was coming to more than £1k before any extra bits or labour to fit bits could be included. Following the number of phone calls to get this far, I was easily put off at this point.

I should point out that Chris and Jayne were always very helpful other the phone, as was the other chap who works with them whose name I can’t remember. But that helpfulness on the phone, and promises that my quote / report etc. was top of the list took a long time to be translated into action.

Having heard good things about Neil Garner, including from someone who has used him for a setup on his sprint Tamora, a decision was made to contact him.

Over the phone Neil was very helpful, and a week later I was taking the car down for a quick check before leaving it with him for the work.

Neil has a very good reputation in TVR and sports car / racing circles, and I wanted someone who could be trusted to do a very accurate setup.

The drive to just south of Cirencester was ok. If going down that was for work I would normally set off before 7, but I left at 7:37 given our planned 08:30 meeting time to get the car on a ramp for a look before they got stuck into other jobs for the day. Setting off later was less good. Birdlip hill was very slow, both in the approach to the Hot Air Balloon roundabout, and then it was a crawl to the dual-carriageway (where zooming could commence). this was a chance for the water temperature to get to the highest it has been for a long time – but it settled at 91 ish which is ok. One normal hatchback went to the side of the road with steam coming from the bonnet.

Before that, coming down the M5 some chap in a Transit seemed to be taking photos of the car which is nice. Although he was driving at the time.

The Jn 11a link road was less good. Taking that at speed I got a chirp from the driver’s side real wheel going through the hump there at speed. I think the outside lane has a bigger bump than inside.

Arriving at Neil Garner a bit late at 08:45, I had a quick chart with Neil, had a coffee, and wa happy to let him take the car out while I drank the coffee. On the return he thought it drove ok, crtainly not thw twitchiest TVR, but that the rear was a bit ‘wallowy’ and soft.

A quick check of front cambers indicated 0.5 on the front passenger side and 0.0 on the dront drivers side. This is not ideal.

Front toe was also checked as being -5 minutes each side. Apparently this is ok.

Tyre pressures were checked, and it was suggested they could drop a couple of psi (had gone up to ~ 28 now warm from 26 cold).

Up on the ramp and a few things were discussed:

  • Underside is in good condition regarding bushes etc.
  • The steering rack is already shimmed up (to help prevent bump steer)
  • When the cambers are set correctly the track rod ends may well come into closer adjustment and the steering rack might not be off centre
  • The machining on the inside of the front passenger side wheel may have been caused by a switch from 16″ wheels to 18″ at some point, without the appropriate setup / spacers. With the current setup, there is not way it could rub and cause the damage.
  • The rear anti-roll bar links can be adjusted to avoid rubbing on the driveshaft gaitor
  • There was some evidence of oil leakage on the front dampers as well – the whole set should go back to Gaz
  • We settled on trying 375 lb/inch springs on the rear

We also discussed the brake bias issues and replacing the adjustable valve with the regular one. It was decided to pick this up later once the suspension work was done.

A couple of days after leaving the car, I got an e-mail saying all the dampers had gone off to Gaz. Hopefully this will be a cheap refurb. When I had spoken to Derek at Gaz at the start of April the plan was to get the rear damper seals fixed under warranty, and know some money off the new springs to cover the postage costs meaning it would have been about £60 in total to get the new springs and fixed dampers. I hadn’t discussed front dampers as well with him at the time as they were supposed to be fine. It isn’t great if dampers start leaking after 18 months / 5500 miles, but if Gaz can get them sorted easily, then all is good.

While this work means I am missing TVR Chatsworth, I have too much to do round the house with some work taking place next week, and it is useful to get the garage space temporarily to put some furniture in while work takes place.

But I am waiting for the next update, and hope that this will be the work that gets the car how I want it.

Neil Garner workshop
Having camber checked
Tyre pressures before starting the inspection underneath

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