12 Aug 20 Releasing the carbs

Having established at the weekend, with Matt’s help, that the carburettors were blocked, and having consulted the ‘MG helpline’, A.K.A. my Dad, I found time this evening, with the help of my friend John, to investigate the problem. The UK was in the middle of a heat wave, one in which the temperature and humidity peaked between 5pm and 6pm arond 30 degrees, which was when we started to look at the MG. So the only right thing to do, while we wheeled the MG out, was to crack open a couple of cold beers and take a leasurely look at the problem. With John on board, this was going to be a logical approach to problem solving. Having already proven fuel would flow up to the carbs, we now knew the challenge was with the carb itself.

Step 1: Use a footpump to attempt to blow air into the carb. Result: No air passing through. Conclusion: Float/Needle valve stuck

Step 2: Remove carbs. Removing the carbs in theory is easy, its just four nuts. In practice, its fiddly, because the nuts won’t come off without waggling them to the end of the studs and then getting the angle just right. Having two people on hand is a definate advantage here, unless you are an octopus. Next challenge was to keep the carbs together with the linkages intact. To do this, we had the idea to use the plate that holds the air filters as a sort of jig. That took a bit of work to get right, but without (much) swearing, the carbs rattled free of their studs and were on the work bench.

Step 3: Remove float chamber lids. These come off easily enough, although the ‘O’ ring on the front carb hopped out of its slot and showed little enthusiasm to pop back in. Using the footpump and with the float valve open we used the foot pump again to add pressure and with a nice ‘pop!’ the needle valve on the rear carb freed itself. Surely the front carb would do the same, but it wasn’t shifting, so John tickled it with a pair of fine tweezers and before long both carbs were wheezing along in harmony at each press of the pump. How satisfying.

Step 4: Reassemble and refit the carbs. Hmm. That float chamber ‘O’ ring did not want to play ball and needs to be replaced, however, we think we teased it back in place and made a seal on both float chamber lids. We then man handled and wiggled the carbs back onto their studs, tightened them up and connected the breather pipe, fuel line, throttle and choke linkages.

Step 5: Test start the engine. ‘Hang on a minute,’ said John ‘didn’t you say that the fuel pump and coil are always on when you connect the battery?’ A discussion ensued in which John advised me against firing the engine when we are not confident of how the wiring was configured. So we disconnected the ignition switch and using a multimeter, identified what the various terminals were and then attempted to connect the correct wires. As we were nearing a conclusion on this, the rain came in heavy so we abandoned the task for the day having made some actual progress, but with some work to go to achieve sustained running.

9 Aug 20 Fuelling around

So having demonstrated that the MG would start, it was time to connect up the fuel pipe and provide a reliable supply to the carbs to sustain running. I had a reliable assistant in the form of Matt (Ellie’s boyfriend). First we bought some fresh fuel and charged the tank with 5 litres. Next we connected the fuel pump wiring, connected the battery and heard a reassuring tick from the pump (err, surely after you turned on the ignition…). After a short while we were concerned that no fuel was flowing through and sure enough, on checking I found the pump was plumbed the wrong way around. I wonder who did that?

After a bit of replumbing and we were back in business although still there was no fuel feeding through to the filter let alone the carbs. Vaguely remembering something about air locks we released the pipe at the carbs end and with a hiss we started to see fuel travelling through the filter and turn up to the carbs. Progress!

But this wouldn’t be the Relentless Duck blog without some ‘issues’ and without detailing all the challenges, we did have a leak out of the fuel sender unit. Not being sure why this was leaking we set up a fuel can to catch the drips until the level was low enough for it to stop. The following day, on a break from work, a YouTube video showed how this should have been tightened up. Another day, another thing learned.

With fuel to the carbs, surely the MG would now fire up and continue running? Sadly not, the carbs refused to take the fuel and the removal of the lid from the float chamber revealed it to be dry. Oh dear. Further investigation needed, the outcome of which will be covered in a future post

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.

19 January 2020 Exhausting work

You guessed it, I fitted the exhaust today (sorry about the pun in the blog title). I bought a stainless steel Tourist Trophy exhaust system, including tubular manifold when it was on sale last year. I have already fitted the manifold but today I fitted the rest of the system. It’s the first time I have ever fitted an exhaust although I remember helping my Dad on old cars when I was first driving. We replaced the rear silencer on my Rover 2600 and I remember the lovely burble that car made through its new exhaust. Back to today, I laid out all the components and read the instructions which all seemed relatively straighforward. I hadn’t been under this side of the car since the strip down and I couldn’t remember how the old exhaust had come off except that it was alll very rusty. I was a bit concerned that the old fittings (which had to come off) would resist being unfastened. Thankfully, the old mid bracket and rear bracket came off remarkably early, although I did use my secret weapon, the freeze and unlock spray which puts the fear of God into any nut or bolt which fancies its chances. I think they know its coming now, and start to undo themselves at the mere threat of ‘the spray.’ I was interested in the intricacy of the old brackets pictured below. More complex than the new ones.

Fitting the new exhaust was mainly a matter of bolting the flanges at the end of each pipe to the next one and then using the rubber hangers to suspend the pipe to the new brackets. The new brackets fitted well enough making use of the existing captive threads and as I was feeling extra diligent today, I used copper grease throught out the build. Well done me.

So all good, except that having grappled with the awkward last pipe (with the heavy silencer), I stepped back to see that the pipe was drastically ‘dressed to the left’ (ahem). The instructions explain how to correct this so the pipe exits the body centrally and it involves sliding the rubber hangers along their brackets. For some reason, and maybe it was the end of the day, and I had a slight headache, but I couldn’t budge them. I have a day off tomorrow, so I will have another go when I am feeling stronger.

While the MG was out I filled the SU dashpots with Pentrite’s Damper Oil. I bought the oil earlier this week en-route to Cambridge for work as I pass by Bicester Heritage, home of Classic Oils and their helpful and friendly staff. Popping into Bicester Heritage is a pleasure, there is always something of interest being worked on, and it breaks up by journey to Cambridge.

In my last Blog, I forgot to photograph the Dash once I had put it in the car. I hesitate to say, installed, its just in really. Anyway, for the record…

Lots of work to do here to complete the dash…!

30 Dec 19 Fuelling around

A good amount of time on the MG today. After dealing with the ironing pile (yes), I pushed the MG out into the winter sunshine and got stuck in. I warmed up first by fitting the rubber bung (or grommit if you prefer) over the hole in the transmission tunnel which is used to access the gearbox filler. This was stiff as hell, but a bit of soap helped it into place.

The tight space within which to manouvre the grommit into place

I then jacked up the o/s so I could access the fuel pump which I am sure you are all fed up hearing about. Well the good news is that it is now fitted snugly into its clamp, the wiring loom connections are on and the rubber pipe which connects the pump to the copper pipe under the car is fitted. So hurrah! It was a bit of a faff, but all it needed really was a bit of patience and perseverence. I think Mum-in-law’s Christmas cake may also have helped as I used the last slice to sustain me.

What’s better than cake, coffee and classic cars – don’t answer that!

I later spent some time routing the copper pipe around the engine bay. I wasn’t aiming for final fit, I just wanted to route it some more and try to figure out how to connect the fuel line to the carburettors. I have posted an enquiry to a FB group on this now, so just waiting for replies so I can finish this off [Post Blog note – response received, the mystery fittings are the overflows – who knew? I’ll need to buy some more pipe for these]. I did fit the fuel filter, so this is definately progressing.

The fuel filter fitted – just the last length to the carbs to sort out now

With the car jacked up I was able to connect the wiring loom to the starter motor, one more job towards my engine start milestone. This was easier than it looked with as usual the loom falling easily to hand and some helpful guidance on the interweb as to what goes where.

End of the starter motor showing the connection locations

I then turned my attention to troubleshooting the pesky alternator bolt which had sheared recently when I was attempting to tighten the fan belt. Good news folks, I was able to undo the bolt from the other end. I had anticipated having to use a stud extractor or some such, but I hadn’t realised it would be so easy. I do need to replace the adjusting pillar as its called because its a special item and I dont have any long enough bolts to put anything in temporarily. As ever, the SC Parts catalogue is well illustrated and shows the part clearly. I will probably order from Moss though, sorry SC! Sorting the alternator is critical to the build as not only does it need to be working, but I want to be certain its on right before I commit to fitting the radiator which will be largely in the way of it once fitted.

Having gone as far as I could go without answers from FB and ordering new parts I had a go at installing the wiper mechanism. This is semi-critical to engine start as it is better to have this all installed prior to the fascia being re-fitted because its easier to access. This should have been an easy job, but I was thwarted by what is either a parts misorder or pattern parts being different to the original. Briefly, there is a chrome collar which sits over the wiper drive rod and this sits on a rubber collar chamfered in the opposite direction so they fit nicely together. Except they didn’t. On inspection of the original vs. new part, the new chrome collar was significantly longer, so I could not get the securing nut to bite on the threads. I have ended up re-using the pitted old collars and will investigate further what this is all about. What I have learned in this process, is that if it isn’t fitting, then something is wrong. I have learned not to be frustrated or to attempt to ‘make it fit’ as that ends in disaster. While doing this job, the chrome collar fell down the vent in the scuttle panel. ‘Ha ha’, I said to myself, ‘I ‘ll get that easily enough.’ Mmm. It had fallen in an awkward place and my trusty magnetic tool pick was having no effect as the item was not magnetic. Hmm, time to thing again, so I went to open the inner vent which these particular MGB have under the fascia. But the vent it blocked by the half fitted wiper mechanism cable which is dangling in the way. So I have to release that to get to the vent opener, to allow me to scrape my knuckles putting my hand through the vent into the duct to retreive the collar. Then I did it again when I fitted the other side. Sigh. At times like this, I am sure the MG has a sense of humour. To prevent further incident I fitted the grille which goes over this vent AND the mesh that goes underneath.

The wiper mechanism – it looks fitted at least

So that was most of the day, I did also stick a washer and a nut on a bolt which secures the steering rack. For some reason Gavin the painter hadn’t wanted to fit that one, but with my box of nicely sorted imperial nuts, I was able to sort that out while I was there.

It was a really beautiful day today. Sunshine all day long and I had ages on the car. I took some photos of the car on the driveway, just because it looked so good in the low winter sun. Hope you enjoy them below.

Two things to finish off the day – first, hanging the MG wall plaque on the garage wall – a present from a colleague and my Mum – they both bought me the same thing! Secondly, a quick blast in our Suzuki Cappuccino. As it was a dry day, with no salt on the roads, it was too good an opportunity not to have a quick sprint up to the motorway and back. The Cappuccino gets light use all year round, but I am choosy when I take it out in winter due to its vulnerability to corosion. It was a nice way to end the day with the light just fading, the sky tinged with pink and 8500 on the tachometer.

MG – the legend lives on!

17 Nov 19 Two years today!

It’s two years today since I took delivery of the MGB and commenced the restoration! Its been an interesting journey…at the time I did not know how long it would take, but probably didn’t expect it to take this long. However, as I look at the car today, I can see my way through to the finish line, not that I think these projects are ever really finished…

I have learned a lot and spent a lot! I have enjoyed the help of lots of friends and I have had great service from lots of suppliers.

Enough celebrating, I still have lots to do. As a treat today, I did what I thought would be a nice easy ‘glory’ job – fitting the exhaust manifold, inlet manifold and carburettors. In the event it turned out to be a knuckle-scraping pain in the ass because of the unique way the MG is designed. The heat shield, which the carbs are mounted to is dual function – first to shield the carbs from heat, secondly to cut and scrape the hands of innocent mechanics with its sharp edges. ‘Wear gloves’ I hear you say, but unfortunately its all a bit intricate so gloves dont really work. Anyway, got it all done and doesn’t it look great!

17 Apr 19 Cold Start Enrichment

After a pleasant meal out with colleagues I returned to my chalet (I’m working away at present) and got the carbs out on the table to do some more work on the cold start enrichment mechanism on the rear carb, which I will call the choke from now onwards. Despite some earlier efforts to clean this up, the mechanism was still so stiff that the return spring couldn’t well, return it.

So I stripped it down again and sanded the surfaces with some 1200 grade sand-paper. On reassembling it still wasn’t very free, so I took it apart and used some 800 grade sand-paper and concentrated on what appeared to be some corrosion within the body of the carb which I think was causing the friction. The frustration is that when loosely inserted it moves freely and only tightens up when fully assembled. Sigh. End result, moving better, but still not enough, so another strip down and sand is due, but not tonight because I don’t want to be doing this all night!

On the plus side, I am cleaning more bits as I strip them and I am getting to know how it all fits together, which can only be a good thing for the future.

Best wishes all.