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

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.

19 January 2020 Exhausting work

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

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

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

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

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

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

17 Nov 19 Two years today!

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

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

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