Frequently asked questions - gearboxes, suspensions and general mechanical queries

We are asked about many subjects in the Dutton Owners Club, and these pages are aimed to help you find some of the answers to the most commonly asked questions. All these FAQs are from our members and the DOC accepts no liability for the information following. These methods have been used by our members, but people who are unsure should consult a qualified specialist (eg: welder, engineer, mechanic) if they require further information.
If you can't find the information you need here, you may also post a general question on
the online Q&A page.

Click on the links below to go direct to the relevant section.


How do I install a five speed gearbox in my car? There was a series of articles on this subject in Dutton Torque No.70 - Jan 97 and these can be found on the on the Members Only page.

Ford gearboxes

 X-flow Type 2  1600 Sierra 7.5"/23 move brackets on chassis RS2000
 1600 OHC Type 3 1600 Sierra 7.5"/23 reverse, automatic or modify 2000 OHC Cortina
 2000 OHC Type E 2000 Sierra no change  reverse, automatic or modify no change
 3000 V6 Capri Type 5 2.8i Capri  no change  no change  no change
 2300 V6 Granada Type E 2300 V6 Granada  no change  with new gearbox  no change
 2500 V6 Granada Type E or 5 2.8i  no change  no change  no change
 2800 V6 Granada Type 5 2800 V6 Granada  no change  with new gearbox  no change
 3000 V6 Granada Type 5 2.8i*  no change  with new gearbox  no change

* whilst the gearbox from a 2.8 Capri will fit onto the 3.0 Essex engine this is only possible by using a specialist bell housing to mate the two together.


What fuel tank will fit my Dutton?

If it fits then use it, and let us know, since more modern tanks may fit, but those below are what was originally fitted.

What pedal box can I use...?

  • Phaetons (S3 and later), Melos' and Sierras all used the Escort MKI pedal box.
  • Phaeton S1 and S2 used Cortina MKI or MKII pedals for the brake and clutch, with various modifications, and a Triumph (Herald?) organ pedal for the accelerator.
  • B+ and Malaga used a Dutton pedal box for the brake and clutch, with the Triumph organ pedal for the accelerator.


What is the Dutton 4-link suspension made from?

3 Spitfire and 1 Herald or Vitesse rear radius arms. The 2 on the right are Spitfire, as is the one on the left, with the panhard rod being either from a Herald or Vitesse. The rear shocks are Hillman Imp front units complete and unmodified - unless its pre '76, in which case it uses Lotus 7 units.

Front Anti Roll Bars on early Duttons with Triumph Suspension

Does anyone run a front ARB with Triumph front setup and if so what spring rates do you use?
I see that Rimmers do a complete ARB kit to retro fit to early setups, has any one tried fitting one ? I was thinking of trying one to stiffen it up so that I could come down on the front spring rates.
I run an ARB on my B+. Had a B type first, with the brackets cut off, so ran without ARB. Car very skittish, and "pattery" on front end. Anyway, ARB the way to go for sure! Very under rated bit of kit!! Save your Rimmer money, and get hold of a Herald one as the size is ideal. (The SMALLEST diameter one fitted to Triumphs). Either mount in alloy blocks or, as I did, use polyurethane bushes/blocks for a less harsh ride/road use. The ARB is mounted in front of wishbone's, as per original fitment on Herald. BUT, as Dutton chassis is much shorter than Spit/Herald, you need to reverse bottom wishbones so triangular mounting lugs are at rear, and stand "up". On Spit/Herald the ARB is mounted to the most forward wishbone leg. (If you do this on Dutton, you have an ARB front bumper!!-Sticking out ahead of car). On Dutton - Reverse wishbone, to mount ARB on rear most wishbone leg, (still going forward), ARB then just mounts to the two front chassis outriggers (Once you weld on brackets), under your radiator. You can then use Spitfire/Herald drop links, which need to be modified or a pair of rose joints. It is due to the reverse of wishbone's that the standard drop links won't fit. Pre-welded bush tubes on ends are at wrong angles.

To modify Spit links, leave "Rubber ball knuckle" end with cup and bar alone, and cut off the cross tube and bush close to the tube. Then use a die, and, holding the short bar length, cut a thread onto the bar. Then drill and tap up a short piece of bar with the same size thread (Internally). Weld this to the tube you cut off earlier, and re insert the bush. Screw the 2 back together, with the addition of a lock nut. You now have an adjustable length, and attitude drop link. Mr. Dutton originally suggested (for B type) heating up the link, and twisting the bar to get correct attitude. This method is OK but totally destroys the moulded rubber ball knuckle joint! Spring rates depend on weight of engine/front end, around 225lbs rings a bell-but cannot remember off top of head, and 170lb rears. Also depends what you like handling wise. I like to lose the oversteer, so up the front rate, lower the rear. If car understeers, soften front and increase rear. It's all trial and error and of course PERSONAL preference/driving style.

Camber Angle on Duttons using Triumph front suspension

I've got an early Phaeton with Triumph suspension. Ever since I got it the camber looks too negative. I've got a heavy TR6 lump in there so I'm thinking it may be hanging low. There are spacers between lower wishbones and chassis, are these standard? Could I remove them to lessen the negative camber? or are my springs too weak? or too short? The tyres on the car were worn all over the insides but not on the outsides.

Despite having a decent set of brakes the car seems to skid at front very easily and sometimes the brakes want to pull steering to one side then sometimes the other side, there's no consistency which side! My discs look OK and my MOT confirmed an equal braking effort each side. I don't mind the height of suspension, but am concerned how this is relating to the camber of the car. Has anyone any ideas how I can test if height / camber are correct? Has anyone else had same problem? I'm thinking two solutions 1 change height 2 alter position of suspension e.g. move wishbones out a little at top or vice versa any ideas?
The spacers were originally fitted in the Triumph donor car the idea being that the thickness of the shim allowed for adjustment of the camber, and if careful minor adjustment to the caster. However on Duttons the shims should not be installed as they give too much negative camber. In fact the original build manual clearly states "do not use shims". However, when the shims are not fitted this means that the only support for the Triumph bracket is on the end of the tube that is brazed into the front chassis leg. Over time due to forces exerted on this tube by the car cornering you get a stress fracture around the perimeter of the braze, this in turn leads to eventual failure and the tube coming free from the main chassis leg.
This problem was relatively unheard of 5 years ago but has become more and more common as the relative mileages of the cars since new has gone up. One solution to this would be to thin the shim and cut the tube back so that the bracket is still supported over the full height of the chassis rail. I have seen a number of early cars with various modifications to over come the problem some solutions being better than others. I prefer cutting the tube back flush on the outer face and strengthening the area this then allows a spacer shim to be made to suit the car and dial out any of Mr Duttons chassis irregularities giving a equal and acceptable amount of camber on both front wheels. Around 1.5 degrees is acceptable for road use on a Dutton. On the back face a reinforcing plate is welded the full depth of the chassis rail and around the tube end to act as a load spreader. See article and pictures on how to repair the problem on the members only page.

With regard to the handling characteristics and wear you describe - check the bushes for wear and have the tracking set parallel. Lots of camber and wide tyres screws with the braking - as the car dives and the suspension compresses the wheel go maximum negative - and with low profile tyres this leaves very little tread in contact with the ground. If the tracking is set parallel then when driving at speed the tendency will be for the front wheels to have toe out due to compression of the rubber bushes etc this leads to wandering on the road. Therefore on a rear wheel drive car the tracking should always be set slightly toe in to counter this force. The stiffer the bush material the closer to parallel you can go. I would agree if a standard and heavy car were being considered here but its not its a car much lighter also even though allowing for compliance in the bushes for a sports car a little toe out - as provided by bush compliance - is no bad thing as it assists turn in into bends - by allowing the inner wheel to have a tighter radius. If all you are doing is running up and down motor ways in your car then toe in to prevent tyre wear.

Spring rates

I'm thinking I might have Spitfire springs and am assuming GT6 will be harder as this had a heavier engine? Does anyone know how I can test the right height for the suspension set up? eg. maybe what is the angle of the upper and lower wishbones whilst car is sitting? Are there any after market products to convert to truly adjustable (like Westfield).
Best first decide on an acceptable ground clearance that meets your needs - I have found 4.5 - 5 inches to the lover chassis rails good for my cars - low enough to look and handle well - and high enough to prevent damage to the engine/sump/gearbox. The original GT6 springs are harder than Spitfire springs. Whichever are used, the Dutton build manual specifies cutting the standard spring down to a free length of 11inches. Thus if this has been over done you may be lower than Dutton standard as well as softer springs. In terms of fully adjustable set ups there are a number of coil over shock manufactures who make rebuildable fully adjustable replacements for the Triumph set up. E.g. Dampertech as listed on the main DOC site. you have two choices really - stay with the pin type top end connection of change mountings to use more standard bush type connection . As for calculating the correct springs rates etc. see end of above answer, also Dampertech should give advice as they have plenty of experience with different kits. The general advice that members give is to go for a spring rate at the front of either 200-225 lb/in regardless of what model you’ve got (were talking the sports models here not the utility vehicles). This is always a bit of a compromise and will vary on the engine, comfort levels etc but is a good guide and with a bit of science can be trimmed in. For more information on calculating spring rates see the full article from Dutton Torque No.102 December 2003 on the Members Only page.

Phaeton S3/S4, Melos and Legerra wheel wobble.

Between 40 & 50 mph there is significant wheel wobble transmitted through the steering even with the wheels balanced and the ball joints OK. Help.
This was a problem on Escorts also. It can be reduced by replacing the anti-roll bar (ARB) (stabiliser bar) rubber mounts. If these are old and worn they allow the ARB to move a few millimetres, and thus the track control arm (TCA) can move backwards and forwards. Replacing the rubber mounts in all the suspension will help.

There were different diameter ARBs - 19, 20, 22 and 24mm. The 19 and 24mm ones are rare, and for the other two the Ford ARB to body bush part numbers are: 20mm - 6022459, 22mm - 6028783.

An easier method to improve the front suspension would be to replace all the bushes (Ford and Triumph ones) with Polyurethane ones which come in two grades of hardness, one for road and one for race use. These can be obtained from race or rally suppliers. .

Anti Roll Bar (ARB) bushes on later Phaetons, Melos etc

I bought some ARB bushes from Superflex but they are smaller than the standard rubber part, which has 3-4 mm of extra rubber on the flat mounting face. As a result, the polyurethane bushes don't clamp up correctly. Do I need to remove the welded bolts and drill the chassis so that the U-bracket fits tight against the chassis or is there another mod needed?
This is a common problem due to the bolts you mention. If you look under a standard Ford Escort (MkI or MkII) you will see that there is a shaped plate for the bush to sit in. This enables the clamp to pinch up tight on the bush rather than bottoming out on the bolt heads. You would also notice that the ARB is mounted lower at the front on an Escort when compared with a Dutton. (The Escort boys then go on to lower it even more to help with anti dive on braking.) The easiest solution is to make up a plate to accept the ARB bush with two holes in it to locate over Mr Duttons bolts, this then allows the clamp to pinch up as it was designed. If you remove the bolts and drill then you have to measure very carefully to ensure the ARB stays in the same position as any movement will alter the suspension geometry & angles (mainly caster and front wheel offset in relation to the centre line of the imaginary front axle) of the front suspension. You will also introduce a hole into a chassis tube which can then catch water and rust. The harder solution is to remove The Dutton bolts and weld in some double width mountings (Available from Rally Design) on spacer blocks, but to do this you need to be able to set the front suspension geometry up fairly accurately to ensure the new brackets are in the correct place. But it does have the advantage of giving double width mountings and introduce a bit of anti dive on braking particularly if you go for the triple mount double width kit.

Exhaust guard

I have made a very satisfactory silencer guard from the beautifully finished drum of a washing machine. One has of course to have it rolled flat and then rolled the other way, having cut the cylindrical part from the circular part with the drum shaft attached.


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Updated Oct 2004