Shopping: The last of my three days dedicated to completing a batch of jobs on the MG started with an early jaunt to Moss of Bristol to buy some extra parts identified yesterday as being required to finish the job. I was at the shop before it opened and there for around 40 mins while we worked through the order and straightened out some previous issues. It was good to catch up with George and Owen who are always helpful and knowledgeable. A couple of hundred or so (cough) pounds later and I was back to the house by 10am to get the car our while Ashley arrived from Oxford.
Bonnet Safety Catch: First job of the day was the incredibly satisfying replacement of the bonnet safety catch. This might seem slightly odd, but the background is that this catch hasn’t really worked properly for yonks. We had looked at it yesterday and speculated that it had been mangled but without a comparison it was hard to confirm. As I compared the new part with the old, it was clear that the old part was indeed bent out of shape. Maybe it could have been bent back into alignment, but for such a cheap part, this seemed pointless. I screwed the new catch on and after a visual check peering into the gap of the nearly closed bonnet I could see that it was indeed correctly aligned. The bonnet now opens and shuts nice and tight.
Bleed Nipple Dust Caps: A really tiny job was to fit a full set of dust caps to the bleed nipples on the brakes as some were missing when we bled the brakes the day before!
Seat Belt Installation: Before we could fit the seats, we needed to fit the new seat belts I had bought from Moss. These went in relatively easily, although we had to remove a door capping for one and had some grief with a painted thread on another. Another lesson we mean to pass on to to anyone willing to listen is that when you are stripping a car for a respray it would be a good idea to reinstall any captive threads with their bolts. Although the bolts will be painted, you are probably going to use new ones, so putting in the old bolts to the threads will keep them free of paint. Sounds like a trivial issue, but the paint really does seem to make some bolts hard work to drive when the threads are painted! The action of the seats belts seemed absolutely fine and I was happy with the decision to replace with new.
Seats Installation: Next we tackled the challenging seat installation. This had foxed us the previous day with alignment being the challenge. However, overnight it had occurred to me that for the marginal error we could just slot the offending hole. So with a little judicious filing, we were able to get a good line of sight of all four fixings and were ready to install the seat. We also learned from yesterday to more thoroughly grease the runners so they would slide nicely (we used white grease as suggested by George from Moss). I won’t bore anyone with the details of every aspect of this install except to say that when the runners, spacers, rails, wooden supports, bolts, washers, seats and the two technicians are all the right way around then the MGB seats go in really quite easily! We learned a lot from this part of the build – that pattern parts are rarely as good as the original, that pattern parts and original parts are rarely compatible and that the original assembly works best with no steps removed. The passenger seat went in first, and most easily. The driver’s side, with the large diameter steering wheel was a bit more difficult, and it was just a more fiddly job for some reason. Maintaining our concentration, we completed the install and doing in so, achieved another major milestone!
Steering Wheel Removal: Ah, the MGB steering wheel. A large diameter item which digs into my thighs (I’m not massive) and was in poor condition so an obvious candidate for a swap out. My friend John has a spare wooden wheel, I just needed to buy the correct boss, and remove the old one. At first we could not get this to budge, having loosened, but not removed the nut. We tried shock loading it with a firm tap of the hammer on a lump of wood to no avail. My friend Mark, who had stopped by earlier dropping off some bolts, had even gone back to his house and returned with a bearing puller, which frustratingly had not fitted around the wheel boss. However, this morning I returned to the job with a can of WD40 and some tips from MG forums. I applied some WD40 into the gap between the steering column and the boss, left it a minute and then firmly rocked it from side to side. After a couple of goes I felt some movement and then it was loose. Good news. I just need to prepare the new wheel, including assembling the horn mechanism (which I don’t yet understand) but sadly do not have the right sized Allen key. I did offer up the new wheel and this does make the thigh clearance better, but I think I will have to work on the driving position to get comfortable in the MG.
Door Interior trims: I had trial fitted a door card yesterday, discovering missing trims, now bought from Moss. So today we tackled doing them properly. The passenger side has a problem with the door pull as one of the captive threads is missing. We had to improvise with a nut, bolt and washer combo which holds the door pull in place, however its not that strong, so this will need a rethink. The door pulls are a bit ratty and replacements are expensive. I may go for an earlier model chrome door pull instead, something to give some thought. Meanwhile I put both door cappings once I had found suitable and matching screws to fit them.
Gear lever surround: A lesson in sequencing here folks. The gear lever surround is mounted to a metal plate which ideally is inserted before the tunnel carpet is fitted. Ah. Some teamwork here had the tunnel carpet lifted up (its really stiff) and the plate inserted to allow the gearbox surround to be bolted down. Ashley was doing this job while I was fitting the door cappings and it involved some tricky cuts to the carpet, however the finished article looks good.
Test Drive: After all this work we treated ourselves to a brief drive around the block in seats, with seat belts! I popped the wipers on even though they are not wired up, just to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. We literally went around the block as per yesterday and all was well with the engine pulling cleanly, good oil pressure and water temperature all as it should be and no leaks (apart from the known fuel tank seepage). After three longs days we reflected on our progress, the multiple lessons you can only learn from experience and the laughs we’d had along the way. As the sun lowered, the sky lit up with an orange glow and Ashley climbed into his Mini Clubman and was on his way.