Spent a couple of hours on the MG this afternoon. It was cold and windy so I confined myself to the garage. First job was to finish off fitting the new rubber oil cooler pipes. I am replacing the nasty braided ones which are very stiff with OE spec rubber which is a bit more pliant. This is an awkward fit and it requires a bit of coordination because the oil gauge pipe has to be fitted AFTER the pipe cooler pipe because otherwise the spanner crushes the oil gauge pipe. Have a guess how I know this? After fitting the pipes I had to fit the hateful grommets to the radiator shroud which is another awkward job. Anyway it’s done now.
Next I decided to progress the wiring loom connections. Last week I had to unpick the loom due to poor routing so this week I put some of that back. I connected the alternator which is easy then had to take the coil off to get that connected properly. So far so good. I then checked the fuse box which I wasn’t convinced had been connected properly. Rather than rely on pictures on the internet I actually used the wiring diagram and managed to use up all the available wires so it must be right! (It is right really).
So onto the next thing and I identified a problem. The distributor, which is a new unit from Accuspark needs power which it gets from the coil. Unfortunately one of the cables is not long enough. It mentions this in the instructions which cheerfully say ‘you may have to lengthen the wire’. I might write back to them to say ‘you could just supply the right length wire.’ So I need to grab a pal who can joins a bit of wire for me
Final task today was to fit an earth wire to the inner wing. The original bolt had been painted over and the head rounded off when I tried to release it. Even my freeze spray couldn’t rescue the situation so I did the brutal thing and drilled it out. I managed to then get another bolt to fit and job done. Not a bad afternoon’s work.
Pushed the MG out into the cold January air after Church today. It was a funny day weather wise, definately cold without enough sun to feel any warmth and threatening clouds scudding overhead. Continuing to focus on the engine start I decided to offer up the dash panel. I could continue to engine start without the fascia in place, but unless I connect up some of the gauges I am not going to know stuff like oil pressure, so I think its worthwhile.
I wrestled with the dash a bit which is ungainly due to the gauge fitted and their respective connections (temperature capilliary tube and oil pressure pipe) and I recalled how it was a bit of a struggle to remove. The pinch point is around the steering column: The bottom of the dash straddles the steering column while at the top is a bracket which goes under the dashtop where it bolts into place. The clearance is really tight, but with a bit of a heave I managed to get it in, then realised I had scuffed the dash slightly around the steering column. Later that day a friend would ask ‘You didn’t cover it with a cloth then?’. To conclude, the dash is in, held by a single bolt for the time being and ready for its connections to be threaded through into the engine bay.
I had also placed the new seats in the car earlier. Note, placed, not fixed. The seats are in the car purely to make a bit of room in the house while we have a room decorated. I can’t fit the seats just yet because I am missing a seat runner. I bought the car partly stripped down and on stripping it down I found a runner was missing. Unfortunately, the runners are handed and I am not sure if the missing one is left or right. A logic puzzle to ponder sometime soon, but not critical to my current engine start mission. I am undecided whether to leave the seats in or take them out when we have our room back. I think they should probably go back inside the house for now as they will be in the way as I fit out the interior after engine start is achieved. They will need to be protected from the cat who sees any such object as a legitimate scratching post.
My friend John appeared, bearing an oversized spanner which fits the engine pulley bolt which I was after so I could set the timing on the distributer. While he was there, he turned the pulley until we found the timing mark, so that was handy. Just need to dap some paint on it now and then study the distributor instructions. Thanks John!
Plan for my next opportunity on the MG is to fit the exhaust. As I was saying to Helen (and I sure she was fascinated), I haven’t really looked at how this fits. The old one came off without much fuss so re-fitting this should be relatively easy (famous last words). This will then allow me to attempt to fire up the engine without upsetting the neighbours (such hope!).
A big milestone achieved today with the engine and gearbox installed. It was just getting dark as we finished, and we didn’t manage to properly fit the geatbox mountings (a well known MGB challenge), but as my friend noted ‘It looks in’.
This is how it unfolded. The original plan was to install the engine yesterday, but unfortunately in this part of the UK we had a severe rain storm and it just wasnt feasible. Moving the job to today, meant I lost one of my two helpers, who had a work commitment up North. So it was just me and a friend from Church, John, who knows a thing or two about mechanics and is a practical and clever guy who I was confident would get the job done. Question was, would I be enough of an assistant?
First job was to see how to sling the engine. John got on with this while I torqued up the gearbox bolts. We then lifted the engine just to see how it would hang.
Having got the engine rigged up to the crane we had to rotate the engine and car through 180 degrees. The engine crane takes some manouvering. We used spare wooden floor boards as runways for the castors to make it as easy as possible, but even this was tricky, with having to move them around and the crane occasionally falling off the runway. To turn the MG, we had to push it up the drive and onto the road to do a three point turn. An old gentleman was walking his dog and looked curiously at us. He asked ‘What’s wrong with it?’. John replied ‘It hasnt got an engine’. He seemed satisfied with the answer and continued on his slow walk up the road.
As further preparation I jacked up the rear of the car and removed the grille to give us some more room to get the crane as close as possible for maximum reach. We also laid throws around the engine bay and wrapped the gearbox with a sheet and a feed bag as protection against any accidental knocks.
So having done all the preparation, it was time to see if we could do the job.
First attempt at lifting the engine ended in failure. We found that with a single sling we weren’t able to tilt the engine enough by force alone to get anywhere close to the angle we needed to fit into the car. So we rigged up the balance bar which I had been loaned by Corsham Tyre Services. The balance bar has two lifting points connected by a threaded bar which allows you to tilt the load. Cool piece of kit which as it turned out was critical to the job getting done.
Our next set of challenges were around maximising the reach of the crane which was at its absolute limit. We had to release the bonnet struts and lash the bonnet up as high as it would go (see picture above). With the crane at maximum reach, at maximum tilt and very close to the bonnet, it looked as if we would be short of where we would need to be. However, with a bit of shoving and pushing, some very careful manipulation of the crane height and angles, and some light prying, we got the engine close enough to the mounting brackets to get a bolt on each side. Seems easy when I write it now, but it was fairly stressful as the space is really quite tight, especially with the starter motor on, not one of my best ideas. So we had the engine in place, and our focus now turned to the gearbox and the dreaded cross-member.
The cross-member is an awkward piece of design by MG which is well-known for being very difficult to fit. And so it turned out to be. We managed to get one gearbox mounting fitted, but the other side refused to play ball despite our best efforts. Regretfully, we had to bolt up the cross-member with only one mounting properly installed because we were losing the light at this point. A sensible decision, as there was quite a lot of kit to put away, and although it was disappointing to be beaten, we at least had got the main job done and left things in a safe state for future completion.
So thanks John for leading the job today – in the evening, I was invited over to his place, where John’s wife had cooked a delicious spag bol (my wife Helen was away on a school trip to China).
Secondly, thanks to Corsham Tyre Services for lending the lifting kit without which we really would have struggled.
Thirdly, thanks to Austin for his generous loan of the engine crane.