When I discovered recently that the steering rack boots were split and all the oil had leaked out I knew I had a fairly big job on my hands. I ordered a pair of new track rods ends and boots and my friend Paul offered to help.
I started by jacking up the front of the car, settling it on axle stands and removing the front wheels. Then I used a ball joint splitter to unstick the existing track Rod ends which we’re looking a bit ropey. I got stuck trying to the free up the locking nut on the rack ends but a quick call to ‘Mechanical Mark’ soon fixed this. Mark was round in a heartbeat with a lump hammer and huge adjustable spanner. A couple of firm accurate blows and the locking nut was free. I had sprayed it with WD40 but it could have done with longer – anyway, it was released.
With the track rod ends off we could then remove the steering rack boots which was a bit fiddly but as we were replacing with new we did not have to be too careful.
With the hubs disconnected from the steering arms we checked how well the king pin assembly was moving as this might also explain the stiff steering but both sides were operating smoothly and without any issues.
Next job was to get the new boots on and this was straightforward enough. It was fiddly getting the cable ties on nice and tight and the tails trimmed off but a reasonable job was done on both ends of the boot
The track rod ends wound on easily enough and the rusted exposed thread gave a good gauge as to when they were in the right place, although I had counted the exposed threads (16) and number of rotations (17) so I’m confident they are near enough aligned – that’s always assuming the tracking was right on the old ones which is anyone’s guess! Once the ends were threaded on we popped the shank onto the hub and tightened up the locking nut. The near side was painful as the locking nut wouldn’t go on, it just spun the ball joint. I got a bit lost and had to admit defeat, solving it later in the week. The key is to get the shank nicely bedded into the opening because then the taper grips and stops it from turning. I used a hammer handle to brace it while I got a few turns on and then it was easy breezy. I pumped the oil in a couple of days later and it’s all back together as intended.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
A busy half hour on the car, but some steps forward which is always good!
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.
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!
Shopping: The last of my three days dedicated to completing a batch of jobs on the MG started with an early jaunt to Moss of Bristol to buy some extra parts identified yesterday as being required to finish the job. I was at the shop before it opened and there for around 40 mins while we worked through the order and straightened out some previous issues. It was good to catch up with George and Owen who are always helpful and knowledgeable. A couple of hundred or so (cough) pounds later and I was back to the house by 10am to get the car our while Ashley arrived from Oxford.
Bonnet Safety Catch: First job of the day was the incredibly satisfying replacement of the bonnet safety catch. This might seem slightly odd, but the background is that this catch hasn’t really worked properly for yonks. We had looked at it yesterday and speculated that it had been mangled but without a comparison it was hard to confirm. As I compared the new part with the old, it was clear that the old part was indeed bent out of shape. Maybe it could have been bent back into alignment, but for such a cheap part, this seemed pointless. I screwed the new catch on and after a visual check peering into the gap of the nearly closed bonnet I could see that it was indeed correctly aligned. The bonnet now opens and shuts nice and tight.
Bleed Nipple Dust Caps: A really tiny job was to fit a full set of dust caps to the bleed nipples on the brakes as some were missing when we bled the brakes the day before!
Seat Belt Installation: Before we could fit the seats, we needed to fit the new seat belts I had bought from Moss. These went in relatively easily, although we had to remove a door capping for one and had some grief with a painted thread on another. Another lesson we mean to pass on to to anyone willing to listen is that when you are stripping a car for a respray it would be a good idea to reinstall any captive threads with their bolts. Although the bolts will be painted, you are probably going to use new ones, so putting in the old bolts to the threads will keep them free of paint. Sounds like a trivial issue, but the paint really does seem to make some bolts hard work to drive when the threads are painted! The action of the seats belts seemed absolutely fine and I was happy with the decision to replace with new.
Seats Installation: Next we tackled the challenging seat installation. This had foxed us the previous day with alignment being the challenge. However, overnight it had occurred to me that for the marginal error we could just slot the offending hole. So with a little judicious filing, we were able to get a good line of sight of all four fixings and were ready to install the seat. We also learned from yesterday to more thoroughly grease the runners so they would slide nicely (we used white grease as suggested by George from Moss). I won’t bore anyone with the details of every aspect of this install except to say that when the runners, spacers, rails, wooden supports, bolts, washers, seats and the two technicians are all the right way around then the MGB seats go in really quite easily! We learned a lot from this part of the build – that pattern parts are rarely as good as the original, that pattern parts and original parts are rarely compatible and that the original assembly works best with no steps removed. The passenger seat went in first, and most easily. The driver’s side, with the large diameter steering wheel was a bit more difficult, and it was just a more fiddly job for some reason. Maintaining our concentration, we completed the install and doing in so, achieved another major milestone!
Steering Wheel Removal: Ah, the MGB steering wheel. A large diameter item which digs into my thighs (I’m not massive) and was in poor condition so an obvious candidate for a swap out. My friend John has a spare wooden wheel, I just needed to buy the correct boss, and remove the old one. At first we could not get this to budge, having loosened, but not removed the nut. We tried shock loading it with a firm tap of the hammer on a lump of wood to no avail. My friend Mark, who had stopped by earlier dropping off some bolts, had even gone back to his house and returned with a bearing puller, which frustratingly had not fitted around the wheel boss. However, this morning I returned to the job with a can of WD40 and some tips from MG forums. I applied some WD40 into the gap between the steering column and the boss, left it a minute and then firmly rocked it from side to side. After a couple of goes I felt some movement and then it was loose. Good news. I just need to prepare the new wheel, including assembling the horn mechanism (which I don’t yet understand) but sadly do not have the right sized Allen key. I did offer up the new wheel and this does make the thigh clearance better, but I think I will have to work on the driving position to get comfortable in the MG.
Door Interior trims: I had trial fitted a door card yesterday, discovering missing trims, now bought from Moss. So today we tackled doing them properly. The passenger side has a problem with the door pull as one of the captive threads is missing. We had to improvise with a nut, bolt and washer combo which holds the door pull in place, however its not that strong, so this will need a rethink. The door pulls are a bit ratty and replacements are expensive. I may go for an earlier model chrome door pull instead, something to give some thought. Meanwhile I put both door cappings once I had found suitable and matching screws to fit them.
Gear lever surround: A lesson in sequencing here folks. The gear lever surround is mounted to a metal plate which ideally is inserted before the tunnel carpet is fitted. Ah. Some teamwork here had the tunnel carpet lifted up (its really stiff) and the plate inserted to allow the gearbox surround to be bolted down. Ashley was doing this job while I was fitting the door cappings and it involved some tricky cuts to the carpet, however the finished article looks good.
Test Drive: After all this work we treated ourselves to a brief drive around the block in seats, with seat belts! I popped the wipers on even though they are not wired up, just to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. We literally went around the block as per yesterday and all was well with the engine pulling cleanly, good oil pressure and water temperature all as it should be and no leaks (apart from the known fuel tank seepage). After three longs days we reflected on our progress, the multiple lessons you can only learn from experience and the laughs we’d had along the way. As the sun lowered, the sky lit up with an orange glow and Ashley climbed into his Mini Clubman and was on his way.
Day two of the batch of jobs was again a damp day but we had a gazebo erected over the the MG butted up to the open garage door so were protected from the worst of the elements. Ashley was again on hand to help with the list of jobs.
Gearbox cross-member: We started with what we expected to be a very difficult job which was doing up the bolts which fit the gearbox to the cross-member. This was a job left over from the engine install, over two years ago and was essential for the car to be roadworthy. While recognising that the bolts are very fiddly, Ashley managed to do them both up and it was a bit of an anti0climax really.
Brake bleeding: Next job was to bleed the brakes. A long time ago I had got the system operational (with help!) but I had a soft pedal which needed a pump to get them to go. We bled them using my Gunson pressure kit which worked well and we had a little air out of the system. A later short drive around the block confirmed that we now have a firm pedal and effective brakes, albeit not quite in the same league as my 400 bhp Polestar 2 EV. I will keep a close eye on how its braking and keep an eye out for any leaks. Dad insists I get a low level warning lamp – its on the list Dad.
Fuel tank leak: The fuel tank has been seeping petrol annoyingly for a while when topped up over the level of the sender. I have tightened the sender, and from inspection today it looked like it was seeping from the welded section around the sender, not the sender connection itself. Annoying, as I can’t do anything about a manufacturing fault apart from complain to the supplier (which I will) but even if they give me a new tank, I’ll have to fit it, so not happy. I have bought some tank putty which I may put on as a temporary hold. No solution at the moment, and fuel is rather important to the whole project.
Seat fitting: We were feeling really confident about fitting the seats. We had the runners all ready to go, so we offered up the driver’s seat thinking this would be an easy job of simply doing up the backs, then sliding the seat back on its runners and doing up the front. Four bolts – easy! Several hours later and having tried a few different things, including changing up the sequence, and changing a runner, we were still without a satisfactory fit. The basic problem was that we could not get four-bolt to seat runner alignment. We could get two out of four and even got three out of four with a lot of work, but the fourth bolt would not align with the captive threads in the floor. So this is baffling us at the moment and we had to admit defeat of this for the moment pending inspiration. Around the same time we concluded that the old seat belts were really not going to cut it as the mechanism was not operating right and the belts looked well past their best. Safety first, I ordered new from Moss to collect the following morning.
Door cards and capping: While Ashley was experimenting to try to fit the seats I fitted the passenger side door card and capping. The door car is a very simple fit and it went on like a treat. These are second hand ones that I fitted and I am pleased with them. The door capping, which is a chunky piece which fixes to the door top screwed on nicely. I was feeling chuffed until I noticed a gap around the door handle and realised that the I did not have the escutcheons – darn! Another thing to add to the Moss order
Road test: A start up (best avoided usaully) had been essential today as we had the car up on ramps. So as our working day drew to a close, its seemed justifiable to run the MG around the block. Gingerly backing off the ramps I reversed onto the road (I am fully insured) and waited while Ashley jumped in (sitting on the floor). I was in the drivers seat which had three out of four bolts, was fully back (a bit too far) and with no belts. We weren’t planning on going over 15 miles per hour so I judged this to be okay. First to test were the brakes which pulled the MG up nicely. Otherwise, the test went fine, the MG pulled cleanly, although the steering feels really heavy and the large wheel is in the way of my thigh. I have a wooden wheel just needing the correct boss, so that will improve things.
So a few more jobs to do tomorrow to conclude this three day burst. Ashely has been brilliant, a calm, considered, clever and strong par of hands to lend to the long list of jobs. We’ve made good progress.
I booked three days off from work, and a friend (Ashley) to help me tackle a batch of jobs on the MG. This is what we achieved on day 1.
Fan belt: I thought it prudent to replace the fan belt which came with the car. Given that the MG had been stood for at least five years, and in my ownership for three years, and that the current fan belt was of unknown vintage I had decided to replace it with a shiny new one. The job itself is really simple, slacken off the lower bolt on the sliding bracket. then the two top bolts on the alternator. The alternator can then be swung, taking the tension out of the belt and its comes off easily enough. The new belt took a bit of work with my thumbs to sit over the pulleys, but not too bad. I then swung the alternator back into position, applied some tension and tightened the bolts. The belt tension felt about right, although time will tell and anyway an easy thing to adjust. It certainly isn’t too tight. It brought back memories of when Dad used to service cars and I would help him. I seem to remember that he would ask me to hold the alternator, which of course would immediately move, and he would have to put it back and again and say something encouraging like ‘this time hold it.’ Oh the fun we had, I am not sure how much help I was!
Bonnet Seal: Next easy job was to fit a rubber seal to the seam which runs up the wings and then joins the scuttle. On the MG this is a three quarter affair – its starts halfway up the wing, goes around the top and then halfway down the other wing. This was a simple matter of pushing the rubber seal onto the seam and making sure it sat nicely. Then when I found that the two sides were uneven (it went further down one wing than the other), taking it off and doing it again.
Seat Preparation: I had previously had all sorts of hassle with the seat runners, a victim of a mis-order resulting in too few of the right parts and too many of the wrong ones. Anyway, I now had everything I needed, so in the comfort of my study I laid out the parts and worked out what went where. The seats are now ready to be fitted.
Steering Column Bracket: Some time earlier in the build I had temporarily popped a bolt through the steering column bracket to hold it in place while I fitted the dash. I remind myself that temporary fitting of anything has tended to end badly. So it was that Ashley and I found ourselves struggling to remove the temporary bolt which had wedged itself into the bracket (note: the bolt was too short to stay permanently). Combining this job with re-fixing the dash as I wasn’t happy with the fit, we loosened off the dash fixings and this enabled us to manoeuvre the steering column and dash allowing the temporary bolt to pop out willingly and the correct bolts to be promptly inserted and tightened up. With the steering column properly fixed to the underside of the dash we could then refit the dash, with the correct stays in place and a bit of adjustment to the brackets, achieving a better overall result. Its not perfect in terms of fit, but it is solidly and correctly placed which is good enough of me.
Rear Window trims: The MG has door capping trims which extend from the front doors to the rear windows. We had previously been short of the right screws to fit these. They are important to keep down the carpets and of course aesthetically. Ashely went on a mission to Halfords, Screw Fix and then B&Q in the hunt for suitable screws and returned with a suitable product which was swiftly fitted and so another job was struck off the list.
Door Glass: I’ve had a couple of goes at putting the door glass in before, but this time, I had Ashley alongside and I had a feeling that he would have a better three dimensional picture of what needed doing which turned out to be the case. I have trouble imagining things in three dimensions – my brain is tuned to other things, so these sorts of jobs I find really taxing. Ashley suggested checking that each door lock worked before fitting the glass and we verified that yes they were working fine. This was a smart check as otherwise it could have been very annoying to have to take it out again. We then spent a bit of time just looking and (Ashley) figuring out what needed to go where and then had a proper go. The tricky part is feeding the winding mechanism through the door as the opening is really tight and then aligning the bracketry so that the actuator is at the correct orientation as well as the other bracket which takes the weight of the window. Another challenge is getting the glass passed the outside window trim which again is tight. However, the drivers side glass went in and wound successfully up and down. We did have the adjust the quarterlight and rear rails to pull the window forward as the glass was too far to the rear and catching on the B-post. After adjustment it was better, but the glass was still a little short and far back – looking at it, we concluded that the door has dropped. This also explains why the door does not shut well. Neither of us was confident in adjusting the door hinges, so this remains on the job list, alongside other panel adjustments needed to the bonnet and hatch.
The passenger side was a repeat job and naturally doing it for the second time it was easier. Saying that, Ashley was the brains of this particular job, although it would be difficult for one person to do due to the need to both manoeuvre the mechanism and support the glass at the same time. This side fitted perfectly first time, providing further evidence that the drivers side door has dropped.
In the box of window bits was a chrome trim which we worked out was fixed to the door trailing edge (I love that term) to stabilise the glass when it is up. This needed to be rivetted in place, so an excuse to get out the rivet gun which is huge fun and within minutes the drivers side was fitted and looking good. However, there was only one trim in the box, so where was the passenger side one? Fortunately, I had previously sourced a spare door which had said trim, so it should have been an easy job to swap it on. However, not only were the rivets very reluctant to let go, but the chrome trim had been over-sprayed in green by the previous owner of the door. With some targeted brute force we removed the trim and set to with sandpaper to remove the horrible paint. After around 40 mins of effort we had the trim is reasonable shape and condition to be fitted. I walked around to the passenger side and…you’ve guessed it, the trim was already in place, having been over-sprayed in white (and thus invisible to us earlier). How we laughed.
Overall a good day of progress and a few jobs knocked off the list.
The MGB-GT has a hilariously small rear seat, justifying its moniker as a Grand Tourer. I had intended to leave out the rear seat but that actually is more work than refitting it. I haven’t had the rear seat (it comes in two parts) recovered but that will be done in the future. In the meantime I had a play this afternoon with the existing units, seeing how they go back together. Pleasingly I was able to bend the seat back hinges into shape and find enough of the right sized bolts and screws to fit it, and the boot floor panel which utilises the combined hinge unit. Once recovered I can fit the new carpet piece to the back of the seat and the chrome handles. A useful hour of work.
The MG project slowed to a crawl in 2021, a combination of factors resulting in little progress. My mantra for this project has been that I have deadlines at work, not for my hobbies and although this has served me well, I’d be fibbing if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed that in 2021 I didn’t get the MG on the road.
Looking ahead to 2022, her Majesty The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. She ascended to the throne in February, however there is a weekend of celebration in June 2022 and I’m thinking of using that as a target date to get the MG roadworthy. A recent conversation with my eldest daughter hinted at a longer deadline which would require the MG to provide certain duties but that was said somewhat in jest!
So there we are, a realistic objective. Funds are available, time will have to be made available and skills will need to be borrowed, begged, bought or learned to get the MG on the road. The list is relatively small, but involves some substantial jobs and as we all know in this game one job often leads to another, reveals another and others which are as yet unknown will surface! …and there are the jobs we create ourselves through mistakes.
I’m promising myself regular updates as we close on the target. Best wishes for 2022 to all those involved in keeping old cars going.
Today was a Monday, with a day of annual leave booked, and a friend coming to help me on the MG. A sunny September day awaited. I hauled the MG out of garage (no unnecessary start ups here, right Dad?) and set to on fixing the rear number plate.
As I am proceeding without rear bumpers, I had given myself a challenge as in the original set up, the number plate lights are mounted on the inside of the over riders. I solved this by observing that on my friend’s rubber bumper MGB, the number plate mount had integrated lamps – ah ha. A search on eBay resulted in a used number plate mount arriving some weeks ago which I had painted with black Hammerite and was ready to fix. The number plate itself was a metal unit with silver on black lettering which needed to be drilled. It is always a bit scary to drill into lovely new shiny painted metal, but using masking tape and progressively larger drill bits I had the holes drilled. They weren’t in quite the right place, being a couple of mm out, so I slotted them both with a circular file (I know, just shoot me). Before I put the assembly together, screws, spacers, washers and all, I used a dremel tool to clean up the heads of the screws as they were looking a bit ‘used’. Proud of myself. I mounted the rear plate and discovered it was not quite level. Out with the file again and managed to make it mostly straight. Stepping back, the installation looks good, in my humble opinion.
I have been wanting to get on with fitting the carpets to the MG for some time, but wanted some assistance. Ashley (the son of a University friend of mine) has been working on cars and bikes since he could stand up and kindly offered to help, so we arranged the day and here we were. I had previously made a tentative start on the carpets by fitting the moulded piece to the transmission tunnel and gluing the sills. Ashley’s first advice was not to glue everything down straightaway, and also to only glue what really needed to be stuck down. This would allow us to pull carpets up if I needed to access areas in future or to pull it back if I was working in a particular area and wanted to protect the carpet. He added that through use, any areas which needed glue would make themselves apparent, and that some areas could be fixed with Velcro for easy removal.
The battery area presented some issues. Firstly I had earthed the battery to the bulkhead which goes up to the seat base and battery cover. For reasons unknown, the battery in the MGB is mounted under the rear ‘seats’. The bolt securing the earth cable was protruding on this bulkhead which would have resulted in a bulge in the carpet. So we moved the earth cable from this bulkhead to a likely looking hole in the rear of the battery compartment and insulated the cable as well. A much neater installation, and this allowed us to (sparingly) glue the carpet to the bulkhead.
Next up was to fix down the battery cover. This is fixed by five neat fixings which require a quarter turn. Amazingly through the whole strip down and repaint, four of the five fixings survived which was a surprise. Ashley used some of his detailing products to clean up the battery cover and we fixed it in place.
We then moved onto the rear arch carpets which were a world of weirdness with what appeared to be lots of excess carpet at the top of the arch and the cuts in the wrong places. We used the rear window trims as a guide to what needed to be trimmed and took the minimum excess amount off the top. Although I had both rear window trims, I did not have all the right screws, so we just put these in place with the minimum fixings and I will order new screws to finish this area off. The carpet then runs up into the inner arch, so for the present, we placed it there rather than cutting and gluing pending agreement of the final layout we settle on.
The GT version of the MGB is blessed with a micro-rear seat with a vertical seat back and mini-bench only really suitable for small children, and then not safely as there are no seat belts. I had not intended putting the rear seats back in, but am now reconsidering this as otherwise I think it creates more work in having to deal with what is left unfinished. So I will need to organise for having this recovered, or tackle it myself.
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.