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.
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.
Having established at the weekend, with Matt’s help, that the carburettors were blocked, and having consulted the ‘MG helpline’, A.K.A. my Dad, I found time this evening, with the help of my friend John, to investigate the problem. The UK was in the middle of a heat wave, one in which the temperature and humidity peaked between 5pm and 6pm arond 30 degrees, which was when we started to look at the MG. So the only right thing to do, while we wheeled the MG out, was to crack open a couple of cold beers and take a leasurely look at the problem. With John on board, this was going to be a logical approach to problem solving. Having already proven fuel would flow up to the carbs, we now knew the challenge was with the carb itself.
Step 1: Use a footpump to attempt to blow air into the carb. Result: No air passing through. Conclusion: Float/Needle valve stuck
Step 2: Remove carbs. Removing the carbs in theory is easy, its just four nuts. In practice, its fiddly, because the nuts won’t come off without waggling them to the end of the studs and then getting the angle just right. Having two people on hand is a definate advantage here, unless you are an octopus. Next challenge was to keep the carbs together with the linkages intact. To do this, we had the idea to use the plate that holds the air filters as a sort of jig. That took a bit of work to get right, but without (much) swearing, the carbs rattled free of their studs and were on the work bench.
Step 3: Remove float chamber lids. These come off easily enough, although the ‘O’ ring on the front carb hopped out of its slot and showed little enthusiasm to pop back in. Using the footpump and with the float valve open we used the foot pump again to add pressure and with a nice ‘pop!’ the needle valve on the rear carb freed itself. Surely the front carb would do the same, but it wasn’t shifting, so John tickled it with a pair of fine tweezers and before long both carbs were wheezing along in harmony at each press of the pump. How satisfying.
Step 4: Reassemble and refit the carbs. Hmm. That float chamber ‘O’ ring did not want to play ball and needs to be replaced, however, we think we teased it back in place and made a seal on both float chamber lids. We then man handled and wiggled the carbs back onto their studs, tightened them up and connected the breather pipe, fuel line, throttle and choke linkages.
Step 5: Test start the engine. ‘Hang on a minute,’ said John ‘didn’t you say that the fuel pump and coil are always on when you connect the battery?’ A discussion ensued in which John advised me against firing the engine when we are not confident of how the wiring was configured. So we disconnected the ignition switch and using a multimeter, identified what the various terminals were and then attempted to connect the correct wires. As we were nearing a conclusion on this, the rain came in heavy so we abandoned the task for the day having made some actual progress, but with some work to go to achieve sustained running.
I’ve had a problem with oil leaking from the oil filters area for a while and this has prevented me progressing the engine start because cranking the engine resulted in a pool of engine oil under the car. Having had several goes at refitting the oil filter to oil cooler union, today I used my brain and had Helen in the car cranking the engine over and me looking to see where the leak was coming from. Turns out the leak was from the oil filter ONTO the connection so I was looking in the wrong place. So my focus turned to sorting this connection out and following a phone call to Dad I removed and refitted it. No leak on cranking! Problem solved. I couldn’t resist cranking the engine over to fire (which it didn’t) but I did check and I was getting no spark so at least I know one of the problems to sort out.
Back to earlier in the day and ongoing (and off going) saga of the doors and their glass. I had previously fitted the quarter lights but on inspection the runners were perished so I recently ordered some new one from Moss and had stripped them down. So while British Grand Prix Practice and Qualifying ran on I sat in the lounge working the new rubbers into place using a blunt ended tea spoon. Apart from where it dug into my palm painfully it wasn’t too bad and I followed the general approach that Andy from Wiltshire Windscreens showed me when he fitted the front and rear screens. So with these done I loosely fitted the back in. I will tighten them when I get the glass as I think you need them loose to get the whole mechanism in and then you tighten it all up.
Also in preparation for the glass (which I need to order) I removed the lower bracket from the rear glass stay. I have ordered new ones of these with nice new felt lining but they don’t come with the bracket. Rather than put the old brackets on as they were. I decided they would be better painted. I used a Hammerite black straight to rust paint, brush applied. It doesn’t need to look good but it should be protected against corrosion hence this approach. I was a bit delayed in fitting the stays as the paint is still drying so I will need to fit those when I next get the MG out.
So that’s about it. Keith the TV aerial guy was passing with his mate and said Hi. A couple of other people nodded their appreciation (or sympathy or contempt it’s hard to tell) so it was an encouraging day on the MG. Last thing to say is that to save my back I towed it out the garage this morning with my CRV which worked reasonably well although I did need a willing assistant which was of course the ever patient Helen.
A welcome visit from Dad who battled through, or rather around, floods in Gloucester to help me out today. Overall we made some useful progress, although as is often the case we had to go back to go forward. Before Dad had arrived, I pushed the MG out onto the drive and ended up unconnecting the loom under the bonnet because I now realise the routing of one of the branches was wrong and unless I pulled it all out, I wasn’t going to be able to connect the heater amongst other things. So a step back, but better to find it now than later.
Dad arrived and I prioritised having a cup of tea and an ice bun inside the house. You can’t mechanic on an emtpy stomach. So onto the work and Dad had expressed concern that we had not flushed the water jacket through. The heater control valve was clogged with rust on disassembly and so there was reason to suspect some corrosive sludge was lurking in the engine block. First we fitted the heater control valve to the engine block – this was to be our inlet for the flush – awkward job this as the bolts are inaccessible. I had tried new bolts, but these were about 2mm too long, so we had to dig out some shorter old bolts from the box of MG bolts. We then blocked up the top hose with a lump of wood wrapped in tape. With a finger in the temperature sensor hole and one on the heater rail pipe, we connected the garden hose and switched on. We got a dose of dirtyish water out the bottom hose, but not the expected deluge of rusty water. Holding my hand over the bottom hose built up a little bit of pressure, but we concluded that we had done what we could, so we refitted the radiator and hoses. This simple job actually took ages, because the radiator is awkward to remove and the hoses were not exactly co-operating either. In any case, we were in good spirits and Dad was great company.
Next Dad’s keen eye focussed in on the distributor which I had ‘fitted’ but he spotted that the clamp was on the wrong way and hence it wasn’t seated correctly, with the cap in contact with the steering column, which was a bit of a clue. Needless to say, he sorted that out although we weren’t able to accurately set the timing which needs to be done with a timing light apparently. Anyway, its in as good a state as it can be prior to attempting a start up in the near future.
We broke for a sandwich lunch during which we were googling MGB engine bay pictures and researching bullet connector pliers. With a target of filling the car with coolant, our afternoon was spent in fitting and modifying in some cases the hoses of the cooling system. Facing a challenge with routing of the capilliary tube for the temperature sensor, Dad came up with a clever idea of using the bottom bolt of the heater control valve to fit a cable clip, lined with rubber hose to gently locate the tube and stop if waving around in the engine bay. Execution of this brilliant idea came down to me, and it was a pig of a job (thanks Dad) as the 7/16th bolt is very awkward to reach and one of those situations where you get about 1/4 of a turn at best with each placement of the open jawed spanner. Couldn’t get a socket or ring spanner to it, so just had to plug away. I only nearly cried once, but that was the wind in my eye. We then wound the excess length of the tube into coils to deal with any vibration in use.
Time was ticking on and Dad needed to get away for 3:00pm as flooding on roads near his house was a real risk, not to mention that he had worked bloody hard all day and is 73 years young. Of course, we made it with minutes to spare – all hoses complete and coolant topped up, and the car pushed into the garage missing a downpour of heavy rain.
So thanks to my Dad – he knows his stuff, he gets stuck in, he’s always looking to improve everything he tackles, he doesn’t let things get him down, he’s great fun to be around, are you getting the picture? He’s one in a million, thanks Dad.
A good afternoon of tinkering the MG with my Dad (the Master!) Dad was a mechanic earlier in his career and although now retired, he has forgotten more about fixing cars than I will ever know. This makes time spent with Dad on the MG very valuable. Of course, it’s nice just being together for a bit of boys time, even if I have to put up with him frequently asking me why I didn’t bag and tag everything when I stripped the car. Next time, Dad, next time.
The jobs tackled today included:-
Radiator shroud fitted with lovely new shiny bolts (me). Door shuts adjusted (Dad). Old speedo cable removed (Dad and me) and the new one put in place but not connected up to the gearbox yet. A breakthrough moment here was Dad finding the bracket and bolt which holds the gear into the gearbox – what a genius.
Dad also gave me guidance on realigning the bonnet which got pulled out of alignment when fitting the gas struts. He has given me a methodology to follow so I will have a go at this one evening this week. We also worked out where the vacuum pipe for the servo goes onto the manifold which was useful.
Negative progress today in the removal of the front pulley which I cannot work out how to fit. Dad thinks it may be the wrong pulley so I will research on the internet if there are different types. As I am putting an electric fan onto the car, I don’t need the engine fan, so the assembly is not as per factory, but even considering this, the pulley doesn’t sit right . Second bit of negative progress was diagnosing that the four way brake union fitted some time ago is wrongly oriented by 45 degrees. As I’ve got it fitted, there is a pipe which fouls where the coil bracket is mounted. So I have to disconnect the pipes, carefully rebend them and connect it all up again. Better to have found this before I have filled the brake system with fluid that’s for sure.
So that was about it, a pleasant afternoon of diagnosing issues and nudging things along – thanks for your help Dad!