12 March 2022 Fuel’s errand

I’ve had a fuel leak / seep from the petrol tank for a long old time and today I got it sorted. I suspected the seam where the sender unit goes in, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure I had the sender in properly or the filler spout. I had obtained a replacement tank from the supplier which was a larger ‘touring’ unit so a swap was on the cards in any case. I was on my own today so not the easiest operation. I began with jacking up the rear and putting it on axle stands which enabled me to remove the end section of the exhaust which bolts on about midway along the car and is then attached to a rubber hanger at the other end. Then I detached the fuel line and with the tank propped up on a couple of boxes I undid the bolts and nuts on a diagonal pattern which sort of allowed it drop in a controlled manner.

Now to fit the new tank, but learning from previous experience I took great care to fit the sender, the rubber seal and sealing ring to the tank, and to slop some petrol in and check for leaks before it went anywhere near the car. Miraculously the new tank could hold petrol and I had confidence the sender was properly seated in place. Now for the awkward job of offering up the tank to the receiving bolts (fixed to the chassis) and simultaneously dropping the bolts from the boot floor through the brackets and lining up the threaded connectors. I needed to have a couple of extra hands, but with none being available I did my best octopus impression and managed to have all the nuts, bolts, washers and connections properly done up. The fuel line was easily fitted, so it was onto the exhaust. This was another job which was fiddly to undertake solo. It took me a while to get this done – the bolt up connection at the midpoint is easy enough, but the rubber hanger where the exhaust exits is seriously fiddly. The bolts just did not want to bite and the rubber hanger was pulling the bracket away from where they needed to be. Furthermore, the sun was streaming in my eyes making it difficult to see the holes. I had to drape a throw over the back of the car and crawl underneath just to see! Helen came home from popping out to see my feet sticking out from under the car with a cloth draped over it. She must have wondered what on earth I was doing. I refused to be beaten and just persevered until eventually I got one bolt and then the other started. Then it was just a case of tightening everything up which was tedious as the threads were long and the bolts were tucked up between the fuel tank and the exhaust (I did say a little prayer – so, thanks God). There followed some very tedious petrol movements while I harvested the petrol I had only recently put in the old new tank, but finally I had a working fuel system.

Looking up at the tank fittings

A long time ago I realised that I was missing some chrome trims from the B-post of the MGB and last week they literally fell out of a box at me which saved me from fretting about where to get new ones from. I was looking for a different profile of trim, but these turned out to be the right ones. I fitted these relatively easily earlier today, giving them a brief polish before fitting them with self-tapping screws. I had intended to rivet them on, however the space was a bit tight, so screws it is. This has finished off another aspect of the MGB nicely.

Last job of the day was to fit the wooden wheel which my friend John had lent me ‘on approval’. I had established that this would fit (with a new boss) and the smaller diameter would give me more space for my legs which are wedged up against the steering wheel in the standard configuration. I popped it on the splines and tightened up the nut. I still have to install the horn switch, but that was enough for today.

I finished off the day with a quick test drive of about 2 miles (brave!) with Mrs T on board. This was Helen’s first time in the car and the first time I had driven it out of our estate in the three years I have had it. It was also the first time the car has driven more than about quarter of a miles in around ten years. I had already warmed up the engine and done some checks looking for leaks and we were good to go. Its quite intimidating driving a car that you’ve restored for the first time, being conscious of everything that can go wrong I suppose and also nervous of other traffic. However all was well and were were able to go through the gears into fourth and to cruise very briefly up to 50mph. The drive illustrated a few things, firstly that the hatch needs to be finished off with the rubber seal I have bought and the catch adjusted to stop it banging up and down, and the carburettors need tuning as the car is not pulling cleanly through the revs. The gearbox was a pleasant surprise, being nice and slick to shift although I dig get a ‘box full of neutrals’ at one roundabout while I grounds the gears. Fortunately, the MGB is torquey enough to pull out of the roundabout in third, although this coincided with the flat spot I mentioned so we sat at 32 mph with a BMW following curiously behind on our 50mph limit bypass. Helen commented favourably on the comfort of the seat, but noted the loud exhaust. With the car only partly trimmed and with a lot of grommets still to locate, I think I can tone down the noise a bit, and also I need to check the exhaust it properly done up. have to say, it does sound good and was turning heads. A good day!

4 March 2022 Batch Day #3

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!

These popped onto the bleed nipples to keep them nice and clean

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.

Seat belt was quite easy to fit

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.

The wheel which wouldn’t budge one day, popped off easily enough the following day

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.

3 March 2022 Batch Day #2

Day two of the batch of jobs was again a damp day but we had a gazebo erected over the the MG butted up to the open garage door so were protected from the worst of the elements. Ashley was again on hand to help with the list of jobs.

Gearbox cross-member: We started with what we expected to be a very difficult job which was doing up the bolts which fit the gearbox to the cross-member. This was a job left over from the engine install, over two years ago and was essential for the car to be roadworthy. While recognising that the bolts are very fiddly, Ashley managed to do them both up and it was a bit of an anti0climax really.

Brake bleeding: Next job was to bleed the brakes. A long time ago I had got the system operational (with help!) but I had a soft pedal which needed a pump to get them to go. We bled them using my Gunson pressure kit which worked well and we had a little air out of the system. A later short drive around the block confirmed that we now have a firm pedal and effective brakes, albeit not quite in the same league as my 400 bhp Polestar 2 EV. I will keep a close eye on how its braking and keep an eye out for any leaks. Dad insists I get a low level warning lamp – its on the list Dad.

Fuel tank leak: The fuel tank has been seeping petrol annoyingly for a while when topped up over the level of the sender. I have tightened the sender, and from inspection today it looked like it was seeping from the welded section around the sender, not the sender connection itself. Annoying, as I can’t do anything about a manufacturing fault apart from complain to the supplier (which I will) but even if they give me a new tank, I’ll have to fit it, so not happy. I have bought some tank putty which I may put on as a temporary hold. No solution at the moment, and fuel is rather important to the whole project.

Is that seeping from the seam. It looks like it

Seat fitting: We were feeling really confident about fitting the seats. We had the runners all ready to go, so we offered up the driver’s seat thinking this would be an easy job of simply doing up the backs, then sliding the seat back on its runners and doing up the front. Four bolts – easy! Several hours later and having tried a few different things, including changing up the sequence, and changing a runner, we were still without a satisfactory fit. The basic problem was that we could not get four-bolt to seat runner alignment. We could get two out of four and even got three out of four with a lot of work, but the fourth bolt would not align with the captive threads in the floor. So this is baffling us at the moment and we had to admit defeat of this for the moment pending inspiration. Around the same time we concluded that the old seat belts were really not going to cut it as the mechanism was not operating right and the belts looked well past their best. Safety first, I ordered new from Moss to collect the following morning.

We were nearly out of ideas so decided to stop, think and retry tomorrow

Door cards and capping: While Ashley was experimenting to try to fit the seats I fitted the passenger side door card and capping. The door car is a very simple fit and it went on like a treat. These are second hand ones that I fitted and I am pleased with them. The door capping, which is a chunky piece which fixes to the door top screwed on nicely. I was feeling chuffed until I noticed a gap around the door handle and realised that the I did not have the escutcheons – darn! Another thing to add to the Moss order

It’s starting to look like a car!

Road test: A start up (best avoided usaully) had been essential today as we had the car up on ramps. So as our working day drew to a close, its seemed justifiable to run the MG around the block. Gingerly backing off the ramps I reversed onto the road (I am fully insured) and waited while Ashley jumped in (sitting on the floor). I was in the drivers seat which had three out of four bolts, was fully back (a bit too far) and with no belts. We weren’t planning on going over 15 miles per hour so I judged this to be okay. First to test were the brakes which pulled the MG up nicely. Otherwise, the test went fine, the MG pulled cleanly, although the steering feels really heavy and the large wheel is in the way of my thigh. I have a wooden wheel just needing the correct boss, so that will improve things.

So a few more jobs to do tomorrow to conclude this three day burst. Ashely has been brilliant, a calm, considered, clever and strong par of hands to lend to the long list of jobs. We’ve made good progress.

2 March 2022 Batch Day #1

I booked three days off from work, and a friend (Ashley) to help me tackle a batch of jobs on the MG. This is what we achieved on day 1.

Fan belt: I thought it prudent to replace the fan belt which came with the car. Given that the MG had been stood for at least five years, and in my ownership for three years, and that the current fan belt was of unknown vintage I had decided to replace it with a shiny new one. The job itself is really simple, slacken off the lower bolt on the sliding bracket. then the two top bolts on the alternator. The alternator can then be swung, taking the tension out of the belt and its comes off easily enough. The new belt took a bit of work with my thumbs to sit over the pulleys, but not too bad. I then swung the alternator back into position, applied some tension and tightened the bolts. The belt tension felt about right, although time will tell and anyway an easy thing to adjust. It certainly isn’t too tight. It brought back memories of when Dad used to service cars and I would help him. I seem to remember that he would ask me to hold the alternator, which of course would immediately move, and he would have to put it back and again and say something encouraging like ‘this time hold it.’ Oh the fun we had, I am not sure how much help I was!

A not very exciting picture of the new fan belt in place

Bonnet Seal: Next easy job was to fit a rubber seal to the seam which runs up the wings and then joins the scuttle. On the MG this is a three quarter affair – its starts halfway up the wing, goes around the top and then halfway down the other wing. This was a simple matter of pushing the rubber seal onto the seam and making sure it sat nicely. Then when I found that the two sides were uneven (it went further down one wing than the other), taking it off and doing it again.

The new seal fitted around the top of the engine bay

Seat Preparation: I had previously had all sorts of hassle with the seat runners, a victim of a mis-order resulting in too few of the right parts and too many of the wrong ones. Anyway, I now had everything I needed, so in the comfort of my study I laid out the parts and worked out what went where. The seats are now ready to be fitted.

Steering Column Bracket: Some time earlier in the build I had temporarily popped a bolt through the steering column bracket to hold it in place while I fitted the dash. I remind myself that temporary fitting of anything has tended to end badly. So it was that Ashley and I found ourselves struggling to remove the temporary bolt which had wedged itself into the bracket (note: the bolt was too short to stay permanently). Combining this job with re-fixing the dash as I wasn’t happy with the fit, we loosened off the dash fixings and this enabled us to manoeuvre the steering column and dash allowing the temporary bolt to pop out willingly and the correct bolts to be promptly inserted and tightened up. With the steering column properly fixed to the underside of the dash we could then refit the dash, with the correct stays in place and a bit of adjustment to the brackets, achieving a better overall result. Its not perfect in terms of fit, but it is solidly and correctly placed which is good enough of me.

The correct bolt fitted to the steering column bracket so we now have a firmly attached steering wheel (this is important)

Rear Window trims: The MG has door capping trims which extend from the front doors to the rear windows. We had previously been short of the right screws to fit these. They are important to keep down the carpets and of course aesthetically. Ashely went on a mission to Halfords, Screw Fix and then B&Q in the hunt for suitable screws and returned with a suitable product which was swiftly fitted and so another job was struck off the list.

Rear capping securely fitted

Door Glass: I’ve had a couple of goes at putting the door glass in before, but this time, I had Ashley alongside and I had a feeling that he would have a better three dimensional picture of what needed doing which turned out to be the case. I have trouble imagining things in three dimensions – my brain is tuned to other things, so these sorts of jobs I find really taxing. Ashley suggested checking that each door lock worked before fitting the glass and we verified that yes they were working fine. This was a smart check as otherwise it could have been very annoying to have to take it out again. We then spent a bit of time just looking and (Ashley) figuring out what needed to go where and then had a proper go. The tricky part is feeding the winding mechanism through the door as the opening is really tight and then aligning the bracketry so that the actuator is at the correct orientation as well as the other bracket which takes the weight of the window. Another challenge is getting the glass passed the outside window trim which again is tight. However, the drivers side glass went in and wound successfully up and down. We did have the adjust the quarterlight and rear rails to pull the window forward as the glass was too far to the rear and catching on the B-post. After adjustment it was better, but the glass was still a little short and far back – looking at it, we concluded that the door has dropped. This also explains why the door does not shut well. Neither of us was confident in adjusting the door hinges, so this remains on the job list, alongside other panel adjustments needed to the bonnet and hatch.

The passenger side was a repeat job and naturally doing it for the second time it was easier. Saying that, Ashley was the brains of this particular job, although it would be difficult for one person to do due to the need to both manoeuvre the mechanism and support the glass at the same time. This side fitted perfectly first time, providing further evidence that the drivers side door has dropped.

In the box of window bits was a chrome trim which we worked out was fixed to the door trailing edge (I love that term) to stabilise the glass when it is up. This needed to be rivetted in place, so an excuse to get out the rivet gun which is huge fun and within minutes the drivers side was fitted and looking good. However, there was only one trim in the box, so where was the passenger side one? Fortunately, I had previously sourced a spare door which had said trim, so it should have been an easy job to swap it on. However, not only were the rivets very reluctant to let go, but the chrome trim had been over-sprayed in green by the previous owner of the door. With some targeted brute force we removed the trim and set to with sandpaper to remove the horrible paint. After around 40 mins of effort we had the trim is reasonable shape and condition to be fitted. I walked around to the passenger side and…you’ve guessed it, the trim was already in place, having been over-sprayed in white (and thus invisible to us earlier). How we laughed.

The lovely chrome trim riveted in place

Overall a good day of progress and a few jobs knocked off the list.

It was a busy day

27 February 2022 Rear Seat

The MGB-GT has a hilariously small rear seat, justifying its moniker as a Grand Tourer. I had intended to leave out the rear seat but that actually is more work than refitting it. I haven’t had the rear seat (it comes in two parts) recovered but that will be done in the future. In the meantime I had a play this afternoon with the existing units, seeing how they go back together. Pleasingly I was able to bend the seat back hinges into shape and find enough of the right sized bolts and screws to fit it, and the boot floor panel which utilises the combined hinge unit. Once recovered I can fit the new carpet piece to the back of the seat and the chrome handles. A useful hour of work.

Target 2022

The MG project slowed to a crawl in 2021, a combination of factors resulting in little progress. My mantra for this project has been that I have deadlines at work, not for my hobbies and although this has served me well, I’d be fibbing if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed that in 2021 I didn’t get the MG on the road.

Looking ahead to 2022, her Majesty The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. She ascended to the throne in February, however there is a weekend of celebration in June 2022 and I’m thinking of using that as a target date to get the MG roadworthy. A recent conversation with my eldest daughter hinted at a longer deadline which would require the MG to provide certain duties but that was said somewhat in jest!

So there we are, a realistic objective. Funds are available, time will have to be made available and skills will need to be borrowed, begged, bought or learned to get the MG on the road. The list is relatively small, but involves some substantial jobs and as we all know in this game one job often leads to another, reveals another and others which are as yet unknown will surface! …and there are the jobs we create ourselves through mistakes.

I’m promising myself regular updates as we close on the target. Best wishes for 2022 to all those involved in keeping old cars going.

20 September 2021 Rear number plate on bumperless MGB

Today was a Monday, with a day of annual leave booked, and a friend coming to help me on the MG. A sunny September day awaited. I hauled the MG out of garage (no unnecessary start ups here, right Dad?) and set to on fixing the rear number plate.

As I am proceeding without rear bumpers, I had given myself a challenge as in the original set up, the number plate lights are mounted on the inside of the over riders. I solved this by observing that on my friend’s rubber bumper MGB, the number plate mount had integrated lamps – ah ha. A search on eBay resulted in a used number plate mount arriving some weeks ago which I had painted with black Hammerite and was ready to fix. The number plate itself was a metal unit with silver on black lettering which needed to be drilled. It is always a bit scary to drill into lovely new shiny painted metal, but using masking tape and progressively larger drill bits I had the holes drilled. They weren’t in quite the right place, being a couple of mm out, so I slotted them both with a circular file (I know, just shoot me). Before I put the assembly together, screws, spacers, washers and all, I used a dremel tool to clean up the heads of the screws as they were looking a bit ‘used’. Proud of myself. I mounted the rear plate and discovered it was not quite level. Out with the file again and managed to make it mostly straight. Stepping back, the installation looks good, in my humble opinion.

20 September 2021 Fitting the Carpets

I have been wanting to get on with fitting the carpets to the MG for some time, but wanted some assistance. Ashley (the son of a University friend of mine) has been working on cars and bikes since he could stand up and kindly offered to help, so we arranged the day and here we were. I had previously made a tentative start on the carpets by fitting the moulded piece to the transmission tunnel and gluing the sills. Ashley’s first advice was not to glue everything down straightaway, and also to only glue what really needed to be stuck down. This would allow us to pull carpets up if I needed to access areas in future or to pull it back if I was working in a particular area and wanted to protect the carpet. He added that through use, any areas which needed glue would make themselves apparent, and that some areas could be fixed with Velcro for easy removal.

The battery area presented some issues. Firstly I had earthed the battery to the bulkhead which goes up to the seat base and battery cover. For reasons unknown, the battery in the MGB is mounted under the rear ‘seats’. The bolt securing the earth cable was protruding on this bulkhead which would have resulted in a bulge in the carpet. So we moved the earth cable from this bulkhead to a likely looking hole in the rear of the battery compartment and insulated the cable as well. A much neater installation, and this allowed us to (sparingly) glue the carpet to the bulkhead.

Next up was to fix down the battery cover. This is fixed by five neat fixings which require a quarter turn. Amazingly through the whole strip down and repaint, four of the five fixings survived which was a surprise. Ashley used some of his detailing products to clean up the battery cover and we fixed it in place.

We then moved onto the rear arch carpets which were a world of weirdness with what appeared to be lots of excess carpet at the top of the arch and the cuts in the wrong places. We used the rear window trims as a guide to what needed to be trimmed and took the minimum excess amount off the top. Although I had both rear window trims, I did not have all the right screws, so we just put these in place with the minimum fixings and I will order new screws to finish this area off. The carpet then runs up into the inner arch, so for the present, we placed it there rather than cutting and gluing pending agreement of the final layout we settle on.

The GT version of the MGB is blessed with a micro-rear seat with a vertical seat back and mini-bench only really suitable for small children, and then not safely as there are no seat belts. I had not intended putting the rear seats back in, but am now reconsidering this as otherwise I think it creates more work in having to deal with what is left unfinished. So I will need to organise for having this recovered, or tackle it myself.

30 May 2021 Getting Kinky

Another big gap in posting due to other life distractions. Recently I had an electrician (Phil James) booked in to do some jobs on the MG. He did a cracking job, fitting the electric fan, switches in the dash and centre console and the heating rear window. Of course we needed to fire up the MG to commission the fan and this is where things began to go wrong.

The week before Phil came I had done a few little jobs including tidying up the brake, fuel and loom lines which run under the car as well as fitting the air filters. A good job done. Annoyingly the MG then refused to start and was the same when Phil and I needed it to.

Poor Phil, he tried everything and in the process sorted out the carbs which had overfilled dashpots and the rear carb where the piston was not moving freely. So we had to admit defeat on the day.

Meanwhile my Dad had said ‘it will be something simple’ and today I got to the bottom of the issue. I tried a simple test which was to remove the fuel pipe to the front carb, stick it in a bottle, turn on the ignition and see what happened. In short nothing. So I removed the rear wheel to get a good view of the fuel pump. I confirmed the connections were all good so it was a mystery until I noticed that a rubber pipe which connects to the main fuel line under the car was going through a tight curve and looked kinked. And so it turned out to be. I adjusted the curve switched the ignition on and hey presto click, click, click and fuel at the carb. Woohoo! So problem solved and another step along the way. The MG fired up and ran smoothly. I then spent some time sorting out the wiper mechanism which I had incorrectly installed. Still work in progress, but it’s on the right lines now, just blooming fiddly work. A good day’s work.

Me looking happy and relieved that I’ve got the MG going again. Onwards and upwards!

24 April 2021 Going Dizzy

Crikey, its been a while since my last post. What can I say, I’ve been busy.

Anyway, today was a good day. Recently I’ve been trying to resolve a misfire and due to my low level of competence, I had unsuccessfully tried to change the points in the distributor and managed to convert the misfire into a non-starting issue. So I left things alone for a few weeks while other events took precedence such as work, volunteering at Church, Gardening and walking with Helen. Of course Dad had been saying why not just fit the Electronic Distributor that I had bought originally but I had got it in my head that it was a horrendous, virtually impossible job. Then Thursday of this week, later in the evening instead of slumping in front of the TV, I popped into the garage and stared at the distributor. Then I reached for a 7/16th spanner and sort of offered it up to the bolts. It’s really fiddly, but I got some movement going and then the bolts were getting slack. I reached down to the distributor and just like that it came out. I was that surprised I just stared at it in my hands. How did that happen?

Buoyed up by this, today I slotted in the electronic distributor pretty easily and then just wondered if it would start. It did! I was really chuffed, and the misfire had gone, so success all round. I did have a bit of fun with tweaking the timing and having to adjust the carbs but before too long I had it idling nicely and cleanly revving, so this was a big step forward.

I spend the rest of my time pottering around. I fitted the twin horns, discovering as I connected them to the loom that the switch was live. That made me jump alright. With both units connected, they make a pleasing ‘honk’. I did give the heating controls a good check over and discovered that I need to buy one new one. I stripped the cables and connections off the old units ready for re-fitting. Completing the heater installation is going to be quite a project in itself I reckon. I then spent some time stripping the spare door that I recently bought in readiness for installing the glass from that door into my car. Finally, Helen and I sat out the front of the house with a cup of tea and a piece of cake in the sunshine. I had the usual couple of nice chats with passing neighbours and the postie who all admired the MG which was looking very bright in the sun.

Enjoying the sun

28 Feb 21 Milestone Day – we have a brake pedal

Actually it was yesterday. Another sunny February day and it was time to fill up the brake system for the first time since I had replaced all the brake lines and the entire front brake assembly, disks, pads and callipers. I had a Gunson kit to help and my friend John was on hand to direct me from a suitable distance on the driveway. The Gunson kit uses pressure from the spare tyre via a rubber tube which goes into a bottle filled with brake fluid with an outlet which fits to the master cylinder. Had to inflate the spare first, which was flat obviously. We also jacked up the rear, removed the rear wheels and verified that the bleed nipples were okay. With the kit connected up, the fluid started to go down as the brake pipes were filled. I was watching at the back of the car, and the level was going down but no fluid. Then we spotted the rapidly growing pool under the engine bay. We had a leak at the four-way junction with one of the joints leaking fairly well. There followed some rapid reaction work with me in charge of sluicing the spilt fluid before the nice new paint melted while John disconnected the four way junction for inspection. I should mention that we did first just try nipping it up but to no avail.

The four way junction nor the line had no catastrophic issues, but John’s keen eye had spotted a little gunk in the fitting and on the threads. So we conducted a clean with some WD40 and a rag, blowing it out with an aerosol air canister. After some careful reassembly and re-tightening of the four lines to the junction, we recommenced filling operations. No leaks this time. For each brake in turn, we connected a length of plastic tubing to the bleed nipple and opened it up. I watched the flow and when the bubbles had cleared, I nipped up the bleed nipple. So far so good.

Moving to the front of the car, we again jacked it up and removed the wheels. The n/s side went smoothly enough, all new components, so it was a dream really. On the o/s, a little fluid was weeping from the connector between flexible and hard pipes but this was nipped up promptly enough. A prod of the brakes confirmed we did indeed have a brake pedal. As it was now getting on in the day, we decided to call a halt there. Further testing has identified that it is soft on the first push, then firm, which I think means there is still some air in the system. A quick browse around the internet suggests that the pipes into and out of the servo need to be bled and possibly also the junction connection at the rear which splits the fluid to left and right. This will be sorted out soon. However, all in all, excellent progress and a milestone reached. The car now starts and stops!

So to today, Sunday, and I was on my own, so a little pottering was in order. First job was to investigate the misfire which has been plaguing the MG lately when running it up. The carbs are not in tune, I have a plan in mind for the that, but it has definitely been running worse and worse. Taking a look around the engine bay, I discovered that the vacuum advance pipe was looking very sad. Being rather on the long side, it had drooped onto the exhaust manifold and basically melted. So I snipped off the mangled bit and fortunately there was plenty of length to make a nice route to the inlet manifold. Next I investigated the distributer, and as a non-expert, the one job I could do myself was to swap the distributer cap which on inspection was a bit rough looking with the contacts worn. So I popped in the new one which came with the electronic distributer and this saw an immediate improvement. I was tempted to just pop the new distributer in but as this is quite is quite fiddly, I put it off for when I have a longer go and have taken some advice. Instead, I did a couple more jobs on the dash. First, I fitted the rev counter properly. I had lost one of the knurled wheels that fit to the studs and hold the two brackets. Miraculously, I found it on the driveway yesterday! That saved a £5 order to a specialist (apologies to the parts market, I need plenty more bits honest!). Then I moved to the n/s to fix the dash properly. Having done the o/s earlier in the week, I knew how this went and it was straightforward to fit this. With the centre nut also fastened up tight, the dash is now looking right, albeit I still have a few switches and the vents to install. As I had to lie on my back in the footwell to do this, and with a mind to future required jobs, I got out the new carpet set and lobbed the footwell carpets in and the boot carpet while I was at it. I am not quite ready to commit to carpeting the MG, but it was good to see the set and acquaint myself with the different parts.

25 Feb 21 A whole day of stuff

I took back a day that work owed me today and had a whole day on the MG outside in the warm February sunshine (yes, really!). Here is a quick synopsis of the jobs I completed.

  1. Fitted new bolts to the n/s brake caliper replacing the ones that got mangled when removing the old calipers. Fitted the tab washer while I was there
  2. Fitted interior light to the centre console ready for wiring up.
  3. Scavenged the heated rear window warning light from the old loom and old centre console
  4. Connected up the speedometer cable to the back of the gauge. To do this I dropped the dash off its single bolt to get access to the back of the gauges
  5. Fixed the ignition switch to the steering column. No more fishing around in the footwell for the ignition switch.
  6. Fixed the o/s corner of the dash which enabled me to hoist the dash up to its correct alignment and therefore to be able to slip a temporary bolt across to mount the steering column to the dash for the first time is a couple of years! To do this I lay on my back with my head in the footwell and my feet sticking up into the boot. The things we do!
  7. Fixed the o/s door light switch and discovered that the n/s looks a bit mangled (hence why Phil had not wired this before)
  8. Removed the rear wheels, rubbed them down, sprayed them with primer then a top coat of satin black. They turned our better than the brushed hammerite on the front wheels! This now completes the set of wheels, which are now a lot tidier than they were, understanding that this is temporary cosmetic fix-up pending a more permanent selection of wheels for the project. And because Dad kept pestering about their shabby appearance
  9. Cleared out the interior of rubbish, tools, nuts, washers and grit!
  10. Fitted grommits to the footwell aperatures
  11. Found the rear bumper brackets, but sadly discovered they are very rusty and one had a seized and sheared off bolt. I had considered fitting the rear bumper and had given it a once over and reckoned it would do as a temporary solution. I think now I have discovered this, I will keep it bumper free at the back as originally planned. Need to figure out how to light up the rear number plate without having the over-riders on the bumper to mount them on (I might just not bother…)
  12. Tidied up the garage and sorted through the spares.

Being a lovely sunny day I had quite a lot of interaction with passers by with most people saying something encouraging. One older lady remarked that an old boyfriend of hers had one in the 1970s – cute! Another family walked past when I had the engine running to put the car away. As we know the engine is not in a good state of tune at the moment and I had cranked up the slow running to be too fast and was on choke, so it was revving at about 2750 rpm and popping and banging. As I glanced behind, the lady had her hands over her ears. Sorry about the sports exhaust