26 Dec 2020 Moving under its own power

First of all, a very Happy Christmas to everyone – I hope you’ve all had, or are continuing to have a great time. Progress on the MG took a leap forwards (actually backwards, but we will get to that) recently following a visit from Phil James, who is a specialist classic car electrician. We had been messaging back and forth for a few weeks after my initial web enquiry and finally settled on a date that worked for us both in early December. Phil came for the day and after a brief chat he just got on with labelling, tidying up, connecting and sorting out the loom with all its connections. I got on with my day job, but checked in on him from time to time, keeping the tea topped up. He made rapid progress and by the end of the day, he had got a lot more connected than I could have hoped for or achieved in the same period! I would recommend him highly.

Phil’s website is here

This photo doesn’t really do justice to how much more complete the electrical loom is based on the work done by Phil

So that was a good day’s work and I’ll have Phil back soon to fit some more components which I have needed to buy. Part of the idea of getting him involved was to help me work out what was needed and we certainly achieved that and I’ve been busy since on the internet ordering the missing bits. Watch this space for further updates as various components get fitted.

So it was with refreshed enthusiasm that I crawled into the MG through the hatch the following day (which was a Saturday) and decided that I would attempt to drive out of the garage, rather than the usual back-breaking push. I should explain, that there wasn’t room to open the door due to how it was last pushed in. Feeding myself into the driving position (the seat had been lifted out to make room for Phil), I cranked the MG over and was pleased for it to burst into life on the second turn of the key. It would have fired up first time, but I am still getting used to ‘catching it’ as it turns-over. It was a bit intimidating to select reverse for the first time, with the engine running, but I gave it a go and was greeted by a grinding noise. Ah. I gave the clutch a couple of pumps and tried again. This time, the gear selected smoothly and I was able to feel for the bite point on the clutch, raise the revs a little and ease the MG out of the garage. This was the first time the MG had moved under its own power in my ownership, and from a time perspective in approximately 8 years. Woohoo, what a moment! Before I got carried away, and remembering that I have NO BRAKES, just a handbrake, I gingerly allowed the MG to come to rest on the lip of the garage entrance and shut it off.

As I reflected on this progress, both electrical and mechanical I was enthused to order new brakes (Calipers and disks) for the MG and I’ve put sorting the brakes onto my priority list for the new year, so it can be moved around with confidence, and of course, when appropriately complete, to be driven for real.

On a festive note, a couple of photos below of a nice pre-war Riley that I spied at a recent event new to me, which was Carols on Track, a drive-in Carol Concert organised by the local Churches after Castle Combe Racing Circuit generously made their paddock area available for the event. As a response to the pandemic restrictions, Churches all over have been thinking about ways to celebrate the Christmas season. Our own Church has been hosting restricted services, as well as online content, but we had no way to hold our traditional Carol Service. So we were delighted and intrigued to attend Castle Combe. The basic idea was to get parked up and then either stay in your car, or stand socially distanced outside, as the Carols and Lessons were played out over a professional PA system. I have to hand it to the organisers, who had arranged for hot drinks and hog roast stall to be available for the punters. The service was a combination of deeply emotional carols such as Silent Night to the all out riot of the 12 days of Christmas with horn blowing and lights flashing. Great fun, and it may become a permanent fixture, COVID or no COVID. Turnout was about 100 cars as a conservative estimate.

So, I’m feeling positive about 2021, with more work due on the MG, perhaps that elusive first drive, and us all getting on top of COVID. Best wishes to you all and God Bless

16 Nov 19 A bleeding success

I’ll get straight to the point. The clutch is proven to work! A friend from Church, Andrew, came over to bleed the clutch. Andrew is an experienced mechanic, but the MG threw up a few challenges! First of all, a problem with Halfords pre-order. I wont go into details, but basically I ended up with a very basic bleeding kit. Secondly, the master cylinder cap was cracked weirdly (its new). Fortunately I have a spare master cylinder from an earlier ordering mistake so I swapped that one on. Thirdly, I had read what turned out to be a crackpot bleeding method an MG forum involving cable ties which didn’t work. Overcoming these challenges, Andrew led the way in bleeding the brakes the old fashioned way. I sat in the car, operating the clutch while Andrew lay underneath the car operating the bleed screw. The method was, put light pressure on the clutch, release the bleed screw, clutch pedal to the floor, tighten the bleed screw, clutch back up the the tops of it’s travel. This method worked, we topped up the fluid in the master-cylinder and before long we had a nice firm pedal. We tested the clutch by putting the car in gear, which (just about) held it on the drive, then disengage the clutch (i.e. press the clutch down) and observed the car racing off down the driveway. Success – thanks Andrew. It was good to have enrolled another person onto the team and Andrew offered to help with other jobs.

Andrew enjoying a cup of tea after sorting the clutch

Before Andrew arrived, I had time to do a few other jobs. The first was to finish off fitting the nearside lock which I had partly fitted last week. As I got to the end of the thread, the nut was failing to make much purchase and I have concluded that the thread must be compromised. The locks are not expensive to buy – there are enhanced versions which have improved security, so I will purchase some. Seems silly to skimp on security. I was able to examine the chip in the paint which is not as bad as I had thought. I will do a repair on this soon to avoid any rust as I have some left over paint and it only needs a dab.

A job which is critical to the dash going is fitting of the wiper system. I got the parts out today to inspect. The wiper motor was fine, and I managed to fit this – awkward, but do-able, but the wiper mounts were truly knackered. Unfortunately, the threads (it was a day for awkward threads) were worn, and even with copper grease, the nuts would not do up nicely. Unfortunately this means buying new parts, but maybe it was asking too much for 40 year old wipers to be re-usuable.

Here is the wiper motor installed. The electrical connection on the new loom literally presented itself, asking to be plugged in so that was easy enough!

Earlier in the morning, I had finished fitting all the bolts to the engine mounts, something I hadn’t done since we installed the engine a couple of weeks ago. This was easy enough to begin with, however, there was one nut which had to go on the n/s and the bolt was up tight to the engine, preventing me from getting the nut on. Baffled at to how this could be the case, I then hit on the idea of gently jacking the engine on this side (with the nuts on the other side loosened). This created just enough room, and I popped the nut on. The nuts are all new as I bought a set of imperial nuts and bolts from MGB Hive to improve aesthetics over old nuts and bolts. This is called ‘showroom appeal!’.

This shows the nut when I had managed to get it started by jacking the engine

Another job critical to fitting the dash is fitting the heater ducts and controls. I inspected all the parts today and unfortunately identified that one of them had a broken end (see picture below) so I will need to buy new. As per the wipers, I need to get on with purchasing this so I can proceed with the build sequence.

The broken end of the heater control – Darn!

Final point for today’s blog is to report arrival of the dual gauge (Oil and Temp) which I had ordered from a company which produced instruments. Rapid turnaround and I now have the gauge and capilliary tube to be inserted into the head. The tube can look a bit randomly placed under the bonnet, however I have seen it coiled into a spring-like shape which looks quite neat, so maybe I will do this. Here is a photo of it straight out the box.

Lovely shiny new dual gauge

2 Nov 19 Sitting it out

A gloomy Saturday in SW England, rain is lashing down and England just lost the Rugby World Cup to South Africa. But there are reasons to be cheerful!

This week I collected the refurbished seats and new carpets from Mirror Trim near Bedford and they look great.

I’m really pleased with how the seats have turned out, they look absolutely fantastic and along with the new carpets, the interior should look really smart. For now, the carpet box is standing upright in the study and the seats are in Lou’s bedroom (sorry Lou…).

Second reason to be cheerful was the successful fitting of the slave cylinder to the side of the gearbox earlier today. With the weather outside miserable, I worked on the car in the garage and it was surprising okay. Not needing access down the side of the car, I just jacked up the front, propped it on axle stands and wriggled underneath from the front. With more space in the garage since I fitted the engine and handed back the crane, this was much more feasible. The slave cylinder and the fittings all went together easily enough. There wasnt much room to swing spanners, but on the whole I was happy with the job. While under the car, I took a moment to improve the routing of the o/s brakepipe and was happier with it as a result.

So the next job will be to charge the clutch hydraulics with fluid, bleed the system and then test the clutch is functioning correctly, before adding any engine ancilliaries and connecting up the exhaust and so on. This is following the advice of Papa Trigg who knows about these things. I have a friend at Church with a bleed kit who has offered to help with bleeding the system, so his availability will drive this next task.

Happy Saturday everyone – God Bless.

MG looking snug in the garage

24 Aug 19 Sunny Saturday

It’s a sunny Saturday! After a morning stroll with Helen, I spent a useful hour on the MG fitting the copper pipe from the Clutch master cylinder. The pipe runs down from the master cylinder to a bracket on the fletch plate where it becomes braided stainless steel. All went in okay with a bit of creative beding here and there. The pipe routing needs a bit of finessing, but they are broadly in the right place. Straighforward installation, although I needed Helen to hold the pipe in place while I tightened it from the interior.

Couple of things from last week which I didn’t record. I fitted the final brake pipe to the four-way union on the inner wing. This is the pipe that comes up from under the car to the rear. It fitted alright although as mentioned earlier the routing needs a tweak and they all need fixing in place.

The four way brake junction – hopefully it wont leak brake fluid everywhere!

I also puzzled over the fuel pump – I have a new fuel piping kit and have fitted the main front to rear pipe. However, the pipe routing around the pump and the tank isn’t that clear and I haven’t got a good understanding of how it works. I am going to have to bite the bullet, fit the tank and then work it out from there.

The fuel pump which to me is baffling

I have been putting off fitting the tank as its a two-person job, but when done, this will have completed much of the mechanics at the rear, and is critical to the ‘engine in and started’ milestone. Something to prioritise.

Last week, Austin (the welder who kindly lent me the engine crane) was in touch to say that a friend of his, Adam, wanted to borrow the engine crane. No problem I thought and he duly came around and we got it out from the corner of the garage and loaded it into his car. We got talking about the MG and he admitted that he had fitted an engine and gearbox into an MGC a while ago, so I seized the opportunity and asked if he would be prepared to help me with the reinstall when he returns the crane. He was willing, although as he is getting married soon, he was being careful not to over-commit. I commented that once he wanted to pay for his wedding and honeymoon, I would happily pay him to re-fit the engine. Not convinced he is up for this, but he has to bring the crane back, so I will take my chance then to firm up arrangements.

Finally, just for fun, my neighbour, who is a bit of a joker, was clearing out his garage. ‘Here Ad’, he said, ‘I’ve got something for you’ and hands me an oversize spanner.

‘King-Dick’ is the legend on the spanner. Thanks Graham!