2 April 2022 Horn of plenty

A clear, bright, cold April morning was rapidly warming up as I pushed the MGB out onto the driveway. Today I was intent on changing the float chamber gaskets (more on that later) and there was half a chance I would get some help from my friend John to sort out the horn button which would in turn allow me to finalise the steering wheel installation. While poking around under the bonnet I decided to fit the metal cover over the pedal box as just one more job to do. It fitted nice and snug and is another step towards finishing things off.

I was just finishing removing the air filters when I had a call from John confirming he was free to come down and help. So I halted work on the carbs and John and I worked on the horn button. This was more challenging than it should really be. Because I am using a non-standard wheel (wooden), with a non standard boss, we couldn’t just stick it all together. Instead we had to measure everything to get the indicator stalk, horn ‘pogo stick’ switch, and cowl all to work together. Unfortunately, there was no obvious way to fix the ‘pogo stick’ so John ingeniously modified the indicator stalk bracket to mount it. This was going well until we realised with a dry fit that we had not taken the indicator cancelling cam into account. Drat. John persevered and as I write this the whole assembly is mounted, but pending the araldite hardening off before we finish it off. So a really awkward job which is now nearly done thanks to John.

The pogo stick switch mounted on the modified bracket. Note steering column now at correct height

While this was going on, I investigated the stiff steering by removing the inspection plate on the steering column and taking a look. The plate came off easily enough and the shims that came with it too although the surface rust on them suggested little oil was in the rack itself. So, pleased with myself I started merrily pumping gearbox (the correct) oil into the rack and it was taking a lot as it was so thirsty. Or so I thought until John spotted a pool of oil appearing on the drive, which we traced to a split gaiter. Drat again, but entirely my fault, although it does explain why the steering rack was dry. So, parts to order before I can completely resolve the stiff steering.

With the plate removed I could pump oil into the steering rack

A final bit of fun was discovering that the steering column could be raised from where it was mounted by loosening the bolts and sliding the column on its slotted mounts. I had not spotted this when I fixed the steering column and I had been finding the wheel uncomfortably low. Now sorted in about 5 minutes – easier than selling the car because I couldn’t fit in!

And away she goes back into the garage pending new steering rack gaiters

20 March 2022 Oil in the wrong places

Oil is vital stuff, finding its way between all those rapidly moving metal bits that make the engine go vroom and preventing them from welding themselves together. However, sometimes it escapes from where its supposed to be and then it makes a big mess. Well this evening I was able to look under the bonnet of the MGB to check on some oil misting that has been present since recent start ups. It’s nothing severe, but clearly not right and I wanted to see how bad it was since my first drive a couple of weeks ago. On opening the bonnet there was a tell-tale mark, running transversely across the underside of the bonnet originating from the front of the engine. It wasn’t as severe as the other day, but there is enough to make a mark and not something to ignore. However, I quickly realised that this particular evening I wasn’t going to be able to get under the car to see where the oil was coming from, having checked all possible locations accessible from above where it might be coming from. The pattern of the misting point towards it being linked to the main pulley which as it goes round and round is I think throwing up the leaked oil. Everything points towards the sump, pulley seal or timing chain cover. So a fairly big weekend job there to work through these areas and resolve.

While I was looking, I did a general look around for any other leaks. In the near side chassis rail was some petrol. Not a lot, but a recognisable quantity. Oh dear. I felt around the fuel pipes which were nice and dry and then under the carbs. Aha. Under the front carb (the float chamber) it was damp, so this points towards a seeping seal. Darn. I have had these carbs apart when I was troubleshooting them, so its going to be my fault, but I suspect the float chamber cover seals are not, well, sealing. They were a pig to refit, so I’ll have the carbs off and look/replace the seals as they may well be mangled. Seals are £1.46 from SU (plus £5 for postage!). I am pleased to have spotted this at least before the leak got too bad!

Petrol leaking onto this chassis rail

While looking at the carbs I took a good look at the throttle mechanism as at present the car does not idle nicely all the time. The cable is a little slack but the the spindle returns to the stops so that is not sticking. It could be the mixture as I have fiddled with this in trying to set the carbs up. When I can grab an expert for the day (Hi Dad!) I’ll set these up from scratch, but in the meantime, I took the spark plugs out to see if they would give me any clues as to the mixture. The photos are below in front to back order. I’m going to leave this to the experts to comment, however I think its fair to say the carbs are not set up right!

The off-side chassis rail was also not pristine, having oil spotting around it. I wiped this up and looked for a possible culprit. Feeling under the oil filter, my fingers felt oil around the bottom of the union with the oil cooler pipe. This union is a beast of a with a 15/16th fitting. It a double nut thingy where you have to hold one nut while doing up the other so I had my 15/16th spanner on the oil pipe fitting and an adjustable on the filter end and was able to tighten it by a good quarter turn. I am hopeful that this will stop that leak, but it will need to be checked next time I run the engine.

I tightened up this joint

Finally, one of the grill stays had a loose fitting. No idea why, the grille hasn’t been off for ages, but I might as well fix it while I am here. The threaded screw was a bit second hand looking, so I looked for a replacement. I found a bolt the same thread which was a bit long so I shortened it with the hacksaw and along with a couple of washers it fitted nice and snug and that was one less rattly thing on the car!

Tightened up this grille stay

A busy half hour on the car, but some steps forward which is always good!

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!

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

29 Dec 20 Braking Bad

Having received a large and heavy parcel from MGB hive containing new brake discs and callipers I decided today to see if I could have a go at fitting them. First I needed to have the MG in the right place, so I fired it up and moved it halfway out of the garage. Having started it I thought I may as well check the condition of the spark plugs because the engine is not running quite right at the moment and I thought it might give me an indication as to the whether the mixutre is too rich or something. The spark plugs looked a bit black and although this could be due to a lot of the running of the engine being on choke, it pointed towards the mixture being too rich. As I have a spare set of plugs, I changed them anyway, fired up the engine and wound the mixture back to lean it off a bit. The tuning guide suggests that you enrichen the mixture until the revs pick up, then back half a turn and I could feel this point on both carbs, but I’m not convinced. As my Dad is 30 miles away and sheltering in Tier 3, I have ordered a Gunson colortune kit which is supposed to give a definative indication of mixture. Further updates on this when the kit arrives. I also noticed some steam rising up from around the bottom hose joint, so I think the jubilee clip needs to be tightened (when it cools!).

This plug looks dirty to me

Moving back to to the brakes, with the MG halfway out of the garage, I had a good working space on the garage carpet (an old rug). I jacked up the car on the cross member and stuck an axle stand under the front suspension. I removed the o/s wheel and put it to one side. I then removed the split pins and clips which keep the brake pads in place, and rattled them free. The pads turned out to be brand new items, so that was a rare bonus on this project. Next job to tackle was removal of the caliper. The caliper on this side is ‘new’ although that makes it around 8 years old by my reckoning, so for safety I had bought new calipers. I am a brake novice, so this was all new ground for me. I undid some likely looking bolts, which were very tight, but came off with a bit of penetrating fluid and leverage. This was a job for the big boy’s socket set with all the nut sizes at the larger end of the scale. The caliper came off easily enough, and I laid all the components out on a clean sheet of cardboard. The flexible pipe hose was a bit of a faff – I ended up removing the caliper and winding it round to unthread the hose – that can’t be right. Things were now getting serious as I now had to remove the wheel hub, something I have not done before – I took my time and removed one piece at a time, photographing the order and orientation of them with my iPhone as I went. Fortunately, the wheel bearings seemed in good shape rather than greasy shrapnel, so that was a positive. The assembly came apart relatively smoothly and I was able to ease the disc and hub off as a single unit. Lifting this heavy bit of kit off the spline then left me the job of undoing the four bolts that mate them together and this proved to be a bit fiddly, but do-able. As time was getting on, I simply bolted the new disc onto the hub, reassembled the bearing, popped the wheel back on and lowered the MG to the ground. At the next opportunity, I’ll fit the new caliper, and the old/new pads and that will be one side complete!

So more work to do here – I really need to remove the new disc and give the area behind a good clean. If I can find the motivation and time, I’ll do that. In the meantime, hope you are all okay and staying safe.

21 Nov 20 Wiper Motor and other bits and bobs

In early December I have a classic car auto electrician coming to look at the loom on the MGB and to help with its installation. He’ll carry out an assessment first, and then recommend what he is able to do. In readiness for this, I rolled the MG out onto the drive on this sunny November afternoon. Before I got on with the neccessary work, I couldn’t resist firing up the MG. She started on the second go, so the battery had held out, which is encouraging in terms of the alternator actually working. I had a bit of a fiddle with the idle speed and mixture and managed to get it idling relatively smoothly with the choke fully in engine warmed up. I am not kidding myself that the carbs are set up, but at least its running better than when initially started a few weeks ago. I am a bit addicted to the noise and couldn’t resist a couple of revs. My neighbour’s grown up son came to see what the noise was and he liked what he heard!

The preparation on the loom today consisted of me undoing the jerry-rigged set up I had created to get the car started. The loom was basically resting in the foot well which is clearly not right. I disconnected the ignition switch (having taken numerous photos) and various other connections including several temporary earths. I then took a good look at the loom and carefully unravelled it to lay behind the dashboard in roughly the right configuration. I then looked at where the loom enters the interior and identified the correct location of the first earth connection. Having learned that stainless steel does not have as good connectivity as mild steel, I didn’t use a fresh shiny bolt but dug out an old one from the bolt box. That led me to contemplate the wiper motor which is just under the dash on the off side (UK). The wiper motor was dangling awkwardly from the drive cable so needed to be fitted properly in its mount. First I tightened up the drive cable connection to the motor as this was only half on. I then offered the motor up to its mount, noting that the angles didn’t really work, but it was possible to persuade it in. The motor is mounted by a steel hoop, but to keep it in snug there are two rubber elements – a pad which goes against the bulkhead and a lining to the hoop. Getting these to align and stay in place as I tightened up the two bolts was tricky to say the least, but I managed it after a couple of attempts. So with the wiper motor in place I was able to fit the earth connection I had spotted earlier. Due to the exact positioning of this, effectively under the scuttle, and the bar runs below the dash, this wasn’t that easy – I had to sit on the floor with my back to the car and feed my hand through the various obstacles and then get the right angle. Hopefully, that can stay there now for the duration!

I also greased the speedo cable in anticipation of connecting this up in the near future. All the while I was listening to a radio adaption of Ian Flemming’s James Bond in Moonraker. A great afternoon.

15 Nov 20 Replacing the alternator

A surprisingly sunny November morning appeared from what I had thought was a write-off rainy weekend, so it was out with the MG to swop out the old alternator with a new one from MGB Hive. When I first got the MG, the alternator was covered in white aluminium corrosion crystals. I scraped off the worst and when I fired the car up (this was 3 years ago) for the first time, there was a flurry of white as the loose crud spun out. Suffice to say I thought the alternator had seen better days and so having recently restarted the engine I decided to replace it. Also prompting me to this job was that whenever I have run the car recently, it has flattened the battery. This was either because the old alternator was not working properly, or because something wasn’t wired properly. As I was going to replace the alternator anyway, I tried this first.

The alternator is held in place with two bolts at the top, which mount onto lugs on the engine block and with a single bolt at the bottom which secures a curved slotted plate. The slotted plate allows the alternator to pivot so that the fan belt can be fitted over the pulleys and then tensioned correctly. The slotted plate then fixes to a lower lug fixed to the engine block. The lower lug is fixed with a specifically shaped bolt which I had replaced much earlier in the rebuilt when it had sheared off spitefully on removal. Before I took the old alternator off, I started the engine and measured the voltage at the battery – 12.3v.

Fitting the new alternator was pretty simple although it’s a heavy old bit of kit. I did a visual comparison before I removed the old one just in case it was to join my list of wrongly ordered parts, but it measured up alright so I committed to the job. I laid a decent blanket over the wing for protection and knelt on a tool box with a blanket on it for comfort. I used a combination of tools to remove the bolts which were 0/5″ and 9/16. This included my trusty Halfords Professional mini socket set, the Elora large socket set gifted to me by my friend John, the socket spanner set gifted to me by my brother Tris and a plain open jawed spanner. Each tool works well in its own way and I was grateful for the choice.

With the new alternator fitted and the fan belt at roughly the right tension, I fired up the car again. It fired second time and settled into a lumpy idle (carbs still not set up right – where are you Dad? ha ha). I tested the voltage at the battery and got…the same 12.3v. I was hoping for between 13-14v but I could be wrong. So maybe the issue is not solved. I should have had someone hold the revs higher and measured it again, but Helen was working in her study, so I didn’t disturb her. So we will see if the battery is flat when I try again. Hopefully next weekend we will get another weather window for further investigation. Before sitting down to do this update, I sent a web enquiry to a mobile auto electrician just to gauge their interest in giving the electrics a once over and validating what I’ve done. I think it might be worth getting a professional involved in this one…

7&8 Nov 20 Starting progress

One advantage, perhaps the only advantage of lockdown is that we are forced to stay at home and not go ‘gadding about’ as we are normally inclined to do. So it was that after a most pleasant stoll in nearby Cirencester Park, Gloucestershire, as part of our permitted exercise, I found myself with a sunny late autumn afternoon to dedicate to the MG.

I decided to sort out the choke spindle on the carburetters (carbs for short) which I had managed to fit the wrong way around. What I haven’t recorded here is that I had previously corrected the throttle spindle which I had also fitted the wrong way around. Such is the lot of first time amateur car restorers such as myself, progress is riddled with little mistakes, however, with each mistake, I try to learn something. So to the choke spindle, which is an assembly comprising a spindle which sits within a cup on each carb (the MG has two). The choke mechanism operates when the choke handle is pulled on the dash. This causes the cable to tighten which, being attached to a lug on the spindle causes it to rotate. This rotation causes the choke mechanisms on both carbs to be operated because the ends of the spindles have lugs which fit onto the cams which themselves are on the end of the choke mechanism. The choke mechanism moves the needle inside each carb to richen the mixture, but also opens the throttle because the cams connect with a screw on the throttle spindle.

The fun begins when you realise that the spindles are not held in place in any way other than sitting in the cups on the carbs so when fitting the carbs you have to align the spindle ends (4 in total, 2 for the throttles, 2 for the chokes) with the cups, and have them aligned to the lugs (again 4 in total) while you are trying to to wriggle the carbs onto the mounting studs (4 in total). I make that around 12 points of contact which you are having to manage and it was certainly easier when I was able to phone a friend. To reverse the wrongly installed spindles, I loosened the carbs, but wanted to avoid taking them off as then you have to do the full accordian player impression as the two carbs writhe in your hands. The carb mounting studs are worth a mention, being located cruelly in the most awkward position and in perilous proximity to the razor sharp edges of the heat shield. It would be good to have three elbows on your arm at this point rather than the inadequate one we have to deal with. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow account, but suffice to say I got it all done in two attempts and only one skinned knuckle. I then fitted the air filters and went for a start up.

I connected the battery (ignition switch solution still pending), heard the familiar ticking of the fuel pump and turned the key. One click and then nothing. Mmm. I tried my spare battery, and it cranked over willingly but wouldn’t fire. Then I remembered to reconnect the coil wire I had disconnected. This time the engine started straight away, with full choke of course, and settled at a fast idle. After it had run for a minute or two I pushed the choke in and tweaked the idle speed to get it to idle correctly. I recorded the sound of the engine in the YouTube clip below. To get the authentic bass – use headphones. For an MGB is does sound rather tasty. Its obviously not set up right just yet, but it’ll do for the moment.

So that was a reasonable afternoon’s accomplishment. Today (Sunday) was a more gloomy day both weather and progress wise. A dull autumn day dawned and after finishing off the chores and watching Church online (another COVID consequence) I pushed the MG onto the drive intending to fit the engine fan I had bought recently. To get access to the pulley I determined it would be neccesssary to loosen the radiator and pull it away from the area. This is relatively simple on the MGB, being six 0.5″ bolts (what else) to remove. Having pulled the radiator back I realised that the fan I had bought was the wrong one – annoying as I thought I had searched it correctly. More catalogue searching required and another item for my MGB parts shop which I will be opening at some stage to sell on all the surplus parts I have amassed over three years. So I had to pointlessly put the radiator back again. It was then I remember that fitting the radiator is more difficult than removing it. The radiator is mounted by the aforementioned six bolts to a steel shroud which is fixed with eight bolts to the inner wings. The challenge is to get this all to align. The shroud in my MGB, despite being resplendant in shiny black from the paint shop, is I believe a bit warped. The off side is particularly difficult and I had to loosen all the bolts on the radiator and shroud on that side to get each bolt to bite on its thread. Having had this difficulty before, I was up to the challenge this time, and a bit of thinking and remembering got the job done in the end. All helped along by my Radio 4 soundtrack in the background, latterly a re run of ‘Just a minute’ with the late Nicholas Parsons.

Thanks for reading – God Bless and Stay Safe.

4 Oct 20 Milestone #2 Engine Start – Achieved

So the title of today’s entry gives away the punchline, but suffice to say I am very pleased to have managed to start the engine today. Woohoo! As a quick recap, I had to send the carbs away as they had been incorrectly re-assembled when they were refurbished. I’ve had an explanation from the company boss that they were installed as they came in. Err, that will be me then. However, all I had done was to take the carbs apart, decide they were in a shocking state and send them away to be rebuilt. Anyway, its all good now and that’s the main thing.

As always with this project, there were some hurdles and hiccups along the way, mostly my fault as we will see. Firstly I removed the carbs from their wrapping. They had been thoroughly wrapped but of course as they were not on the heat shield, but separated so I had to do that thing where you put the linkages together and then hold it all together as a loose assembly as you carry it over to the car and mount it on the studs. In my enthusiasm to get it started, I fitted the throttle linkage upside down, only discovering this after I had awkwardly installed all four nuts and tightened them up. The nuts are extremely awkward to fit – to get the nuts onto the studs the carbs need to be slid up to near the tio to clear the carb body. The two under the carb are even more awkward. Still at least I have now had plenty of practice. Still impatient to attempt a start, I interupped Helen from her work educating the youth of today (yes, secondary school teachers work on the weekend) and asked her to crank the engine over while I manipulated the choke and throttles. On the second turn of the key, the engine fired, but didn’t catch. This was a promising sign, so Helen cranked again and this time I caught it on the throttle and we had a spluttering rev, and a bit of popping. A third attempt resulted in steady fast running with choke and throttle applied. A little exhaust smoke was rising into the engine bay and it was a it of a smoky affair all round. Having relieved Helen of her responsibility as chief cranker I set to to correct the linkage mis-assembly.

I was determined that to turn the linkage around to its correct orientation I wasn’t going to remove both carbs. Instead I removed the front carb, and loosened the nuts on the rear carb. This gave me enough fiddle room, just, to swap the linkage around and then to enjoy the fun game of ‘put the the nut on the stud under the carb bonnet’. It really is a dexterity test and took a bit of trying, but I got there in the end without breaking down in tears. With the linkage in the right way, I could connect up the throttle and choke cables and start the engine in the usual way from inside the car. When I say, the usual way, the ignition switch is on the floor of the car, so not exactly usual, but I didn’t say it was perfect. The car started on the second attempt and I was able to walk around to the front while it ran and see if there was anything amiss. The engine was running fine with full choke but started to splutter as soon as I reduced the amount of choke, so not sure if it was still a bit cold, needs setting up or a bit of both. Anyway, this was a test and I didn’t want to push my luck, so with a quick look around the engine bay I knocked the choke off and let it stall.

So issues identified to investigate today included:-

  1. Loose alternator bolt – tightened
  2. Noted broken cores in the Earth cable to the battery – need to order a new one
  3. Coolant level dropped – top up and check

So we have achieved ‘Engine Start Milestone’ which I set quite a long time ago. Next Milestone I am setting myself is ‘Dashboard Complete.’ This is a complicated one which is going to involve fitting all the gauges, the windscreen wiper system and the Heating and Ventilation System. However, it’s the next logical step and certaintly needs doing before any other interior work is undertaken. Thanks to all of you have journeyed with me towards this milestone. Your support and practical help have been invaluable. God Bless.