1 Aug 20 a step forwards

I’ve had a problem with oil leaking from the oil filters area for a while and this has prevented me progressing the engine start because cranking the engine resulted in a pool of engine oil under the car. Having had several goes at refitting the oil filter to oil cooler union, today I used my brain and had Helen in the car cranking the engine over and me looking to see where the leak was coming from. Turns out the leak was from the oil filter ONTO the connection so I was looking in the wrong place. So my focus turned to sorting this connection out and following a phone call to Dad I removed and refitted it. No leak on cranking! Problem solved. I couldn’t resist cranking the engine over to fire (which it didn’t) but I did check and I was getting no spark so at least I know one of the problems to sort out.

This lovely engine bay will sound nice too one day
Oil everywhere but where from!

Back to earlier in the day and ongoing (and off going) saga of the doors and their glass. I had previously fitted the quarter lights but on inspection the runners were perished so I recently ordered some new one from Moss and had stripped them down. So while British Grand Prix Practice and Qualifying ran on I sat in the lounge working the new rubbers into place using a blunt ended tea spoon. Apart from where it dug into my palm painfully it wasn’t too bad and I followed the general approach that Andy from Wiltshire Windscreens showed me when he fitted the front and rear screens. So with these done I loosely fitted the back in. I will tighten them when I get the glass as I think you need them loose to get the whole mechanism in and then you tighten it all up.

Also in preparation for the glass (which I need to order) I removed the lower bracket from the rear glass stay. I have ordered new ones of these with nice new felt lining but they don’t come with the bracket. Rather than put the old brackets on as they were. I decided they would be better painted. I used a Hammerite black straight to rust paint, brush applied. It doesn’t need to look good but it should be protected against corrosion hence this approach. I was a bit delayed in fitting the stays as the paint is still drying so I will need to fit those when I next get the MG out.

Waiting for these to dry before fitting

So that’s about it. Keith the TV aerial guy was passing with his mate and said Hi. A couple of other people nodded their appreciation (or sympathy or contempt it’s hard to tell) so it was an encouraging day on the MG. Last thing to say is that to save my back I towed it out the garage this morning with my CRV which worked reasonably well although I did need a willing assistant which was of course the ever patient Helen.

A closing thought about gratitude…

30 Jul 20 Putting my back into it

I was motivated to get outside after work today and do something useful on the MG. I have for a long time bemoaned how I routed the rear loom which turned out to foul the internal trim panels due to a temporary cognitive failure on my part. So I decided to reverse this and find a better route. Reversing the install turned out to be much simpler than I thought.

I then had to work out a better route and curiously it is remarkably unclear what this should be. After a bit of trial and error I have found a route which allows the loom to reach all the right places and also looks like a reasonable location to be clipped in place out of the way and logically. At least I hope so.

It was good to make some progress after having had a lot of (admittedly not entirely unpleasant) distractions. The only down side was a twinge in my back as the MG is getting heavier the more parts I bolt on, and my back is getting no stronger. I may revert to towing it up the drive until she’s a runner.

5 July 2020 Lockdown delays

I remind myself that this blog is primarily intended (solely intended?) to record the restoration of my MGB GT. As such I should stop worrying about lack of progress, and instead record what I have been doing lately and focus on that. This is what I have been up to.

Despite some clear instructions from the old man regarding setting the timing with the second hand distributor, I havent yet got any life out of the engine. To be honest, on my last attempt I wasnt sure I had the timing quite right and it was a bit of a half-hearted attempt. Also, the oil leaked from the oil cooler to oil filter union again despite me adding the washer so something is not right there. The old man things there should be two washers at this union but that’s not what the book says, so not sure. All I do know is that when turn the engine over, it leaks at this union so something is not right. With lockdown beginning to ease, I might get my mate Mark to take a look as he lives just down the road.

On a recent half day on the MG I got fiddling with the doors and the vexed issue of the door glass. I have been struggling to get this to align and to get the regulator to operate correctly. I can get the window in the door and to go up and down but not fully down or up. On my last go at this, I loosened the rear window channel and found that as this had simply been sprayed over in the pain shop, that when removed, there was rusty metal underneath. I removed the rear channels on both doors and used hammerite ‘straight to rust’ paint to seal over the messy metal. I then ordered two new channels from ebay, which have subsequently arrived and need to be fitted. They have new linings, are not rusty and I hope will assist with fixing the glass.

I also removed the quarterlights as I wasn’t happy with how these were fitted. I obtained a quote of around £400 to refurbish them both, which I thought was a bit steep, so I will order new rubbers seals and fit these myself. This will leave one rubber seal in not great condition (on the actual glass), but that will have to be an item for the running repairs/restoration list. I stripped the quarter light and removed the main rubber seals which were very cracked and in poor condition. A clean up and new rubbers will see these go back in better condition. Its also been interesting to strip these to understand how these go together.

I made an enquiry to a local trimming firm who couldn’t help with the roof lining, but recommended two other people, one who had already failed to respond to an enquiry and one who I have yet to contact. Something to progress as I want the roof lining done by a professional.

I also recently purchased new seat rails as the ones I had were incomplete. I am holding off fitting the carpets and hence the seats until I have got the headlining done and sorted more of the electrics so that it is all tucked away.

So I have not been idle, but just not that productive on the MG during this lockdown period. To my future self I say this: the 2020 lockdown was a weird period. Following initial concerns about my employment, work settled into a work from home routine, and actually in the last two months my team and I have exceeded previous business outputs to achieve some remarkable achievements, not without some personal impact in terms of stress and workload. We have however, maintained security of employment, something I am very grateful about. Furthermore, I have prioritised time with Helen and we made good use of the fine weather while it lasted. I have taken on the role of chair of our Church PCC and DCC, joined a house group which meets weekly for Bible study via Zoom, participated in Helen’s work quiz each Wednesday and caught up with people either in person via social distancing or online. We have cleared our loft, filling an 8 yard skip and selling around twenty items on Facebook and Ebay, raising about £300. We have moved our eldest daughter into a new flat in London. We have socially distance-visited our family. I have managed the Trigg fleet of cars with multiple trips to garages for the Cappuccino, loaning of my CRV to Helen’s sister Kate and cleaned and polished Helen’s Jazz. The first few weeks of lockdown were all about uncertaintly and the novelty. The latter period has been more of a test of resilience, and now we are working through the loosening restrictions and working out what that means.

So when I wonder why progress on the MGB has slowed, I will remind myself that I’ve been a bit busy.

28 Apr 20 Daft cat

Just a quick entry to record this picture of our daft cat. My daughter popped into the garage to access the freezer and as often happens, the cat dived in to poke around the garage in search of a mouse (although she is a useless hunter and there are no mice in the garage, unless you count the 2 x frozen mice we have kept for the in-laws pet snake for when lockdown is over). Anyway, standard procedure is to close the door and leave her in there for ten minutes. She’s usually ready to come out. But tonight she decided to stay in the MG and Lou managed to capture this shot – daft cat. Pity she can’t sort out the timing!

Stay safe folks – God Bless

12 April 2020 What a nut

A couple of hours on the MG this beautiful sunny and warm Easter Sunday and I was focussed entirely on one task and one task only. This was to get a nut onto the threaded trim connector which was poking through the front o/s wing right on a seam which prevented me getting the nut onto the thread. I jacked up the front, placed an axle stand under the car and removed the front wheel to get better access to the thread. I then spent about an hour using including a hammer and dremmel cutting wheel to slowly but surely make space for the nut to fit on. It sounds easy now as I write it, but it was blooming difficult. Ideally, I would have turned the whole car upside down and sideways as this would have made the whole job easier, or at least ‘put it on a ramp’ as my Dad sometimes says (that fully equipped workshop being someway down our family list of priorities). One of the issues was that surprisingly the deep recesses of the front wing are a little dark and so I had to improvise a lighting solution. See pictures below for reference. I finally got the nut to bite on the thread (Halleluiah!) and from then on it was simply a case of tightening up the nut until the trim sat snuggly on the front wing. I had read in my restoration book that it was possible to snap these threads so I was very cautious in tightening it up and decided against jumping up and down on an extension bar which I am not sure is ever a good idea. A satisfying time overcoming a problem while I listened on Radio 4 to a profile of the new Labour leader Keir Starmer and some other analysis of the Coronavirus pandemic.

6 Apr 2020 External trim

I am writing this a week later that it was done, so apologies for my tardiness. I spent a lot of time on this long weekend (Monday off) working on the MG, mainly fixing the external trims. The MGB is blessed with a striking stainless steel trim which runs down both sides, made up on three pieces, front wing, door and rear wing. Each trim snap fits onto a number of round fittings which are pop rivetted into the bodywork plus one screw plate per panel. The pop riveting went reasonably well, except that a couple of holes were too big for the pop rivet to take and so I had to miss these out. The o/s rear had a mislaigned hole so I had to miss that one out too. The front wing screw fittings needed to be drilled and I had a mixed experience with this. The n/s wing drilling went reasonably well – aligned well on the horizontal plane, I didn’t really get it far enough forward to completely pull the trim in. So learning this lesson on the o/s wing, I drilled further forward and although perfectly aligned for the trim, the thread came through next to a seam on the inner wing so I couldn’t fit the washed and nut. Annoyingly I had to leave the job partly done. Worth mentioning that the trims snap on nicely if you smack them sharply with the heel of your palm. Okay for the first couple of trims, but a bit painful by the end of the day.

As an aside, I had planned a load of jobs for this weekend, but was frustrated by lack of parts, particularly the seats which are frustrating me with a lack of clear information on how they are fitted and not having all the parts I need [sigh]. I did manage to fit the crush washer to the Oil Cooler pipes. This joint had been leaking oil and then I found the washer in a parts bag. Not doing much good there was it! Now its fitted I no longer have the oil leak, just the stain on the driveway to remind me of my error. Onwards and upwards

My list of jobs – I didn’t get too far!

5 April 2020 Door glass

A fine spring day (Sunday) as the COVID-19 lockdown continues. With the engine start programme on pause, I decided to continue refitting some of the extensive exterior trim on the MG. Having recently taught myself to pop-rivet, and finding out that is the most fun thing ever, I continued to fit the chrome drip rails and today managed to complete both sides. Just one clip missing which will either turn up or I’ll have to buy from Moss. I then turned to the door glass which I have been wanting to fit for a while. Unfortunately, the door glass is very badly scratched (I don’t know how) so I will need to replace them, however, I decided that there was merit in having a go at fitting them anyway as a sort of trial run for when I get the new / second hand ones. Tricky to justify buying new glass at the moment as I can’t collect from Moss (shop closed) and the cost of shipping glass is blooming expensive. Also, I would have to pry off the metal rails which looks tricky, so maybe I’ll source some second hand units via Ebay for as long as that remains. Anyway, back to today’s efforts which went alright actually. I had to remove the quarter lights and then reaquaint myself with the lifting mechanism which is a bit fiddly. I just looked at it and fiddled it around a bit until it fitted – it took a couple of attempts, I then dropped the windows in and they seemed to slide up and down quite convincingly After checking on YouTube I find that I haven’t hitched the glass properly, so something to sort out tomorrow on my day off.

Lots of people say hello as I’m working out the front on the drive, but one visitor today didn’t really understand the whole social distancing thing. I kept backing away as he enthusiastically looked over the MG. He apparently has a couple of Lotus’s he is intending to restore although when he mentioned making one of them into a four door, and commented on how thick the fibreglass was, I began to question his sanity. It was about 7mins and 30 seconds into the conversation before he mentioned ‘Wheeler Dealers’ which is where my interest tends to tail off. Anyway, I think he was probably a bit lonely and confused by the whole Coronavirus thing. It goes to show how it is impacting people in different ways. I wished him well and off he went with his shopping trolley.

Final job today was to scrub the interior trims that I have. I just used some kitchen cleaner to clean the vinyl so I will fit what I have got tomorrow. There are definately some bits missing, so I’ll have to decide how to replace these and draft up an order to one of the many suppliers. I am keen to attempt a repair to the headlining, so there is not much stopping me cracking on with this now.

21 & 22 Mar 20 Significant progress

I am writing up progress over two days today, Saturday and Sunday of this first weekend in which we are living through the most extraordinary changes in our lives due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I’m not going to focus on that, instead I’m going to talk about progress on the MG.

On Saturday I managed to get the MG to crank over – this was a big step forward. I didn’t get it to fire up, but we’ll get to that. The main thing preventing me from starting the engine had been the wiring of the ignition switch. I had been baffled by the switch terminals which I just couldn’t relate to the wiring diagram. Added to that, having got it wrong and frightened myself with the battery terminal sparking, my confidence was low. However, after conversations with my Dad and some on-line help from Nick Dring (thanks guys), I sat in the MG on the driveway on a sunny Saturday and just ran through some wiring scenarios. Using my Dad’s fooproof lamp test to keeps things safe, it took eight attempts to finally get it right. I had the engine cranking over in every ignition switch position including 0, I and II. Position III remained elusive, but it was a great feeling when I finally stumbled on the right combination and it cranked over on position III. Of course I could have avoided all this by taking a photo of the switch before I stripped it down, but its a bit late for that now!

The rest of the day was spent in attempting to get the engine started, ultimately unsuccessfully. I did connect up the choke (not very well), tightened the throttle cable and resolved a couple of areas which were leaking oil due to not being tightened up properly – namely, the rocker cover and the oil filter oil cooler pipe union. For fuel I used a bottle (borrowed from my friend john) connected to the carbs and hung from the bonnet catch. Out of interest, I recorded key parts of the day on my iPhone and made them into a YouTube video, linked below. Be warned, its 14 minutes….

Video of me not starting the MG

Onto Sunday and I diverted from the engine (for which I need some brainy help) to focus on some items of trim which I have deliberately ignored for a good while now. It made for a change to be focussing on something different. Plan for today was to fit the chrome trims to the rear quarter lights. I had previously fitted these just to get them off the garage shelves but they had to come off for me to fit the trims. This meant that I needed to learn how to use a pop rivet gun which I have never used before. A quick YouTube video later and I was a pop-rivetting hero. As any one will tell you, its really easy. The trims are original and despite a clean up using autosol they are a bit ratty, but from what I remember, buying all new is extremely expensive and in these dire times I can’t justify any frivelous expenditure. I can always buy new trims later down the line. I got the o/s all sorted nicely, but the n/s side wasn’t as easy, the trims being a bit buckled and hence more difficult to fit and the rubber seal had gone missing (it’s somewhere in the garage). Anyway, some useful time wokring outdoors on the MG – I halted during the middle of fixing a trim to the A-post on the n/s due to being asked if I would like to go for a walk with Helen and Lou – priorities being what they are, I pushed the MG into the garage and that was the day’s work done.

29 Feb 20 Working the problem

Confession time. I was banging on last week about having to lengthen the distributor wire, and why couldn’t it just be the right length and so on. Well I took a closer look today and actually I don’t need to lengthen any cables, I just need to connect it all up properly. That was a relief. I only had a very short time on the MG today, but I did spend some of it in finishing off connecting the front and rear loom. The rear loom connects to the main loom on a branch under the o/s near the master cylinders. I had previously connected some of the wires, but was having difficulty in getting others connected. Dad had suggested that I purchase a pair of bullet connector pliers and I used these for the first time in anger and they worked pretty well actually, although I had to salvage a couple of connectors from the old loom where the new one was missing some. So just one yellow wire left unconnected….any clues? no me neither.

So there you have it. The list of things to do before engine start is now quite short. Fit the vacuum pipes and oil gauge pipe, fit the battery, rig up a fuel bottle and that’s about it, apart from checking everything. As always, I have a busy couple of weeks coming up including a weekend helping at the in-laws farm, but soon enough I will be spinning the engine over. Exciting stuff.

In other news, I bought a cooling pipe for my Suzuki Cappuccino (pictured below). The existing pipe is very corroded and I didn’t feel safe doing any distance in it in case it let go. Anyway, a phone call to Suzuki Islington of Trowbridge resulted in a £50 card transaction and a few days later the pipe was in for collection. The Suzuki dealer was also a MG franchise and it was interesting to see all the new SUV MGs in stock, not that I am looking for a new car. On the way back I bought new antifreeze from Halfords and I checked out refilling the system on the internet. Looks relatively straighforward. I’ll fit the new pipe to the Suzuki when the weather improves.

22 Feb 20 Re-fuse-ing to give up

Spent a couple of hours on the MG this afternoon. It was cold and windy so I confined myself to the garage. First job was to finish off fitting the new rubber oil cooler pipes. I am replacing the nasty braided ones which are very stiff with OE spec rubber which is a bit more pliant. This is an awkward fit and it requires a bit of coordination because the oil gauge pipe has to be fitted AFTER the pipe cooler pipe because otherwise the spanner crushes the oil gauge pipe. Have a guess how I know this? After fitting the pipes I had to fit the hateful grommets to the radiator shroud which is another awkward job. Anyway it’s done now.

It’s all a bit congested here

Next I decided to progress the wiring loom connections. Last week I had to unpick the loom due to poor routing so this week I put some of that back. I connected the alternator which is easy then had to take the coil off to get that connected properly. So far so good. I then checked the fuse box which I wasn’t convinced had been connected properly. Rather than rely on pictures on the internet I actually used the wiring diagram and managed to use up all the available wires so it must be right! (It is right really).

So onto the next thing and I identified a problem. The distributor, which is a new unit from Accuspark needs power which it gets from the coil. Unfortunately one of the cables is not long enough. It mentions this in the instructions which cheerfully say ‘you may have to lengthen the wire’. I might write back to them to say ‘you could just supply the right length wire.’ So I need to grab a pal who can joins a bit of wire for me

This is the probably definitely correctly connected fuse box

Final task today was to fit an earth wire to the inner wing. The original bolt had been painted over and the head rounded off when I tried to release it. Even my freeze spray couldn’t rescue the situation so I did the brutal thing and drilled it out. I managed to then get another bolt to fit and job done. Not a bad afternoon’s work.

18 Feb 20 A day with Dad

A welcome visit from Dad who battled through, or rather around, floods in Gloucester to help me out today. Overall we made some useful progress, although as is often the case we had to go back to go forward. Before Dad had arrived, I pushed the MG out onto the drive and ended up unconnecting the loom under the bonnet because I now realise the routing of one of the branches was wrong and unless I pulled it all out, I wasn’t going to be able to connect the heater amongst other things. So a step back, but better to find it now than later.

Dad arrived and I prioritised having a cup of tea and an ice bun inside the house. You can’t mechanic on an emtpy stomach. So onto the work and Dad had expressed concern that we had not flushed the water jacket through. The heater control valve was clogged with rust on disassembly and so there was reason to suspect some corrosive sludge was lurking in the engine block. First we fitted the heater control valve to the engine block – this was to be our inlet for the flush – awkward job this as the bolts are inaccessible. I had tried new bolts, but these were about 2mm too long, so we had to dig out some shorter old bolts from the box of MG bolts. We then blocked up the top hose with a lump of wood wrapped in tape. With a finger in the temperature sensor hole and one on the heater rail pipe, we connected the garden hose and switched on. We got a dose of dirtyish water out the bottom hose, but not the expected deluge of rusty water. Holding my hand over the bottom hose built up a little bit of pressure, but we concluded that we had done what we could, so we refitted the radiator and hoses. This simple job actually took ages, because the radiator is awkward to remove and the hoses were not exactly co-operating either. In any case, we were in good spirits and Dad was great company.

Next Dad’s keen eye focussed in on the distributor which I had ‘fitted’ but he spotted that the clamp was on the wrong way and hence it wasn’t seated correctly, with the cap in contact with the steering column, which was a bit of a clue. Needless to say, he sorted that out although we weren’t able to accurately set the timing which needs to be done with a timing light apparently. Anyway, its in as good a state as it can be prior to attempting a start up in the near future.

What a top Dad he is

We broke for a sandwich lunch during which we were googling MGB engine bay pictures and researching bullet connector pliers. With a target of filling the car with coolant, our afternoon was spent in fitting and modifying in some cases the hoses of the cooling system. Facing a challenge with routing of the capilliary tube for the temperature sensor, Dad came up with a clever idea of using the bottom bolt of the heater control valve to fit a cable clip, lined with rubber hose to gently locate the tube and stop if waving around in the engine bay. Execution of this brilliant idea came down to me, and it was a pig of a job (thanks Dad) as the 7/16th bolt is very awkward to reach and one of those situations where you get about 1/4 of a turn at best with each placement of the open jawed spanner. Couldn’t get a socket or ring spanner to it, so just had to plug away. I only nearly cried once, but that was the wind in my eye. We then wound the excess length of the tube into coils to deal with any vibration in use.

Time was ticking on and Dad needed to get away for 3:00pm as flooding on roads near his house was a real risk, not to mention that he had worked bloody hard all day and is 73 years young. Of course, we made it with minutes to spare – all hoses complete and coolant topped up, and the car pushed into the garage missing a downpour of heavy rain.

So thanks to my Dad – he knows his stuff, he gets stuck in, he’s always looking to improve everything he tackles, he doesn’t let things get him down, he’s great fun to be around, are you getting the picture? He’s one in a million, thanks Dad.

25 Jan 20 Making connections

A whole day opportunity to progress the MG presented itself on this gloomy January Saturday. Helen was off to meet a friend but was kind enough to help push the MG up the drive before she left. Although I had jobs to do, I had ordered parts the previous Monday and as they hadn’t arrived, was hoping they would turn up during the day.

First job of the day was to fix the throttle cable to the Carbs using the original parts which I had sorted from the strip down. I did give the cable bracket a coat of silver paint just to cheer it up a bit before I fitted it. I used some leftover paint I had and warmed the bracket up first with a heat gun to speed up the drying process. That seemed to work well. Fitting the cable was a fiddly job and I haven’t got the tension right yet nor a return spring on the throttle pedal as it turned out. I think I need a second person to help with this, one being at the pedal end and one at the carbs. Anyone free…?

The throttle cable connection – needs a bit more finessing

Next job was to complete the fuel line to the carbs. This has been vexing me for a while as I couldn’t work out from the parts I had left how the pipes connected. From studying the old fuel pipe I worked out that I had to cut a new rubber pipe in two, making one short length and one longer piece. Using these two pieces of rubber pipe and the final length of copper pipe I was able to work from the filter down and around the carbs and into the the fuel inlet on the front carb. I was pleased to have solved it, but it’s a bit weird that the kit claims to have all the parts whereas you actually need to cut the pipe. A mini-milestone this as it now represents the achievement of a line all the way from the fuel tank to the carbs, so a nice step forward towards engine start.

As the parts I had ordered had still not shown up I had to find something else to do. Mindful that the loom was still looking a bit unfinished under the bonnet, I turned my attention to seeing if there was anything there that could be connected. Last week I had pulled the rear loom into the engine bay (via the underneath) and tied it up with bailer twine. Taking a look at this, there was an obvious bundle of wiring to which the rear loom connects and I thought it woud be easy to just match the colours and connect it up. However, while one or two connections went in nicely, others did not want to play ball and rather than force them, I left it and will research on how they are supposed to connect (maybe a question for the MG Facebook group). What I did dig out a bit more successfully was the fuse box which I gave a good clean in the parts washer (Dishwasher), mounted in the engine bay and then connected up using a diagram from an MG forum. I’ll need to replace the fuses, as they all looked a bit ancient (and one was blown).

Still no sign of the parts so I was content to just potter around doing little jobs, so I repainted the steel heater pipe which runs across the rocker cover and the radiator stays. I then tackled a horrible job, but a neccessary evil. This was fitting the rubber grommits to the oil cooler pipe around the radiator shroud. I had to cut them to get them on (yes, Dad!) as I am sorry but they just do not fit over the ends of the pipes. This was a tedious job of having to push a little at a time through the very tight gap. Anyone who can work these over the pipe ends, I salute you sir/madam.

It was worth fitting these grommets as the pipes had already had to scratch the black paint

With the parts still not arrived, and with enthusiasm still in abundance, I decided to have a look at the distributor installation. I set the engine to Top Dead Centre (TDC) and then trying to interpret the distributor instructions (which were not clear), I proceeded to fit the HT leads in the firing order, starting with number one lead being the one where the rotor was facing. As previously posted, the HT leads clash with the oil cooler pipes on the MGB – or at least until I find a magic solution to this, so it was a fiddly job. I managed to plug all the leads in including the one to the coil, but I suspect it will all need to be rechecked before I risk spinning the engine over. I took a photo as a record of the first attempt.

I decided on black HT leads as per factory rather than racy red ones

Helen had sent a text saying she was on her way home, so as we had a few other things to do, I started to put stuff away after what was becoming a useful day of chipping away at the list of jobs. When she arrived back and asked how I had got on, I said not that well as I was waiting for parts to arrive. ‘What, these?’ she said, pointing to a fat looking envelope from MG Hive buried in our filing pile. Hmmm. In fairness, this was only the breather hoses and not the main parts delivery, but it did spur me on to fit these before I packed up for the day.