12 Aug 20 Releasing the carbs

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.

9 Aug 20 Fuelling around

So having demonstrated that the MG would start, it was time to connect up the fuel pipe and provide a reliable supply to the carbs to sustain running. I had a reliable assistant in the form of Matt (Ellie’s boyfriend). First we bought some fresh fuel and charged the tank with 5 litres. Next we connected the fuel pump wiring, connected the battery and heard a reassuring tick from the pump (err, surely after you turned on the ignition…). After a short while we were concerned that no fuel was flowing through and sure enough, on checking I found the pump was plumbed the wrong way around. I wonder who did that?

After a bit of replumbing and we were back in business although still there was no fuel feeding through to the filter let alone the carbs. Vaguely remembering something about air locks we released the pipe at the carbs end and with a hiss we started to see fuel travelling through the filter and turn up to the carbs. Progress!

But this wouldn’t be the Relentless Duck blog without some ‘issues’ and without detailing all the challenges, we did have a leak out of the fuel sender unit. Not being sure why this was leaking we set up a fuel can to catch the drips until the level was low enough for it to stop. The following day, on a break from work, a YouTube video showed how this should have been tightened up. Another day, another thing learned.

With fuel to the carbs, surely the MG would now fire up and continue running? Sadly not, the carbs refused to take the fuel and the removal of the lid from the float chamber revealed it to be dry. Oh dear. Further investigation needed, the outcome of which will be covered in a future post

30 Dec 19 Fuelling around

A good amount of time on the MG today. After dealing with the ironing pile (yes), I pushed the MG out into the winter sunshine and got stuck in. I warmed up first by fitting the rubber bung (or grommit if you prefer) over the hole in the transmission tunnel which is used to access the gearbox filler. This was stiff as hell, but a bit of soap helped it into place.

The tight space within which to manouvre the grommit into place

I then jacked up the o/s so I could access the fuel pump which I am sure you are all fed up hearing about. Well the good news is that it is now fitted snugly into its clamp, the wiring loom connections are on and the rubber pipe which connects the pump to the copper pipe under the car is fitted. So hurrah! It was a bit of a faff, but all it needed really was a bit of patience and perseverence. I think Mum-in-law’s Christmas cake may also have helped as I used the last slice to sustain me.

What’s better than cake, coffee and classic cars – don’t answer that!

I later spent some time routing the copper pipe around the engine bay. I wasn’t aiming for final fit, I just wanted to route it some more and try to figure out how to connect the fuel line to the carburettors. I have posted an enquiry to a FB group on this now, so just waiting for replies so I can finish this off [Post Blog note – response received, the mystery fittings are the overflows – who knew? I’ll need to buy some more pipe for these]. I did fit the fuel filter, so this is definately progressing.

The fuel filter fitted – just the last length to the carbs to sort out now

With the car jacked up I was able to connect the wiring loom to the starter motor, one more job towards my engine start milestone. This was easier than it looked with as usual the loom falling easily to hand and some helpful guidance on the interweb as to what goes where.

End of the starter motor showing the connection locations

I then turned my attention to troubleshooting the pesky alternator bolt which had sheared recently when I was attempting to tighten the fan belt. Good news folks, I was able to undo the bolt from the other end. I had anticipated having to use a stud extractor or some such, but I hadn’t realised it would be so easy. I do need to replace the adjusting pillar as its called because its a special item and I dont have any long enough bolts to put anything in temporarily. As ever, the SC Parts catalogue is well illustrated and shows the part clearly. I will probably order from Moss though, sorry SC! Sorting the alternator is critical to the build as not only does it need to be working, but I want to be certain its on right before I commit to fitting the radiator which will be largely in the way of it once fitted.

Having gone as far as I could go without answers from FB and ordering new parts I had a go at installing the wiper mechanism. This is semi-critical to engine start as it is better to have this all installed prior to the fascia being re-fitted because its easier to access. This should have been an easy job, but I was thwarted by what is either a parts misorder or pattern parts being different to the original. Briefly, there is a chrome collar which sits over the wiper drive rod and this sits on a rubber collar chamfered in the opposite direction so they fit nicely together. Except they didn’t. On inspection of the original vs. new part, the new chrome collar was significantly longer, so I could not get the securing nut to bite on the threads. I have ended up re-using the pitted old collars and will investigate further what this is all about. What I have learned in this process, is that if it isn’t fitting, then something is wrong. I have learned not to be frustrated or to attempt to ‘make it fit’ as that ends in disaster. While doing this job, the chrome collar fell down the vent in the scuttle panel. ‘Ha ha’, I said to myself, ‘I ‘ll get that easily enough.’ Mmm. It had fallen in an awkward place and my trusty magnetic tool pick was having no effect as the item was not magnetic. Hmm, time to thing again, so I went to open the inner vent which these particular MGB have under the fascia. But the vent it blocked by the half fitted wiper mechanism cable which is dangling in the way. So I have to release that to get to the vent opener, to allow me to scrape my knuckles putting my hand through the vent into the duct to retreive the collar. Then I did it again when I fitted the other side. Sigh. At times like this, I am sure the MG has a sense of humour. To prevent further incident I fitted the grille which goes over this vent AND the mesh that goes underneath.

The wiper mechanism – it looks fitted at least

So that was most of the day, I did also stick a washer and a nut on a bolt which secures the steering rack. For some reason Gavin the painter hadn’t wanted to fit that one, but with my box of nicely sorted imperial nuts, I was able to sort that out while I was there.

It was a really beautiful day today. Sunshine all day long and I had ages on the car. I took some photos of the car on the driveway, just because it looked so good in the low winter sun. Hope you enjoy them below.

Two things to finish off the day – first, hanging the MG wall plaque on the garage wall – a present from a colleague and my Mum – they both bought me the same thing! Secondly, a quick blast in our Suzuki Cappuccino. As it was a dry day, with no salt on the roads, it was too good an opportunity not to have a quick sprint up to the motorway and back. The Cappuccino gets light use all year round, but I am choosy when I take it out in winter due to its vulnerability to corosion. It was a nice way to end the day with the light just fading, the sky tinged with pink and 8500 on the tachometer.

MG – the legend lives on!

28 Dec 2019 Ho Ho Hoses

While we are here, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. Thanks for joining me on this journey. Nothing about hoses in this post, I was just looking for a Christmas related pun. First a word about Christmas – amongst a host of generous gifts, Helen (my wife) gave me a Land Rover Defender. Okay, so its a Lego kit, but still, I was very excited to receive it. I will devote a future post (or two) to this build.

The Lego LandRover Defender has about as many parts as the MG

In the meantime, here’s what I have been up to on the MG.

A grey afternoon today presented the first opportunity of the season to get out properly and progress the rebuild. First task was to fit the distributor and here I have a complaint about the design of the engine bay in this respect. Why is it neccessary to remove the oil cooler pipes to fit the distributor? okay, so its not a frequent task, but with the much space in the engine bay, why is the area around the distributor so congested? Complaint over, I coped, although tightening up the right hand bracket bolt involves removing the dip stick and even then you barely get quarter of a turn out of a spanner and a socket won’t go anywhere near. I will set the timing another day, although I have been researching this and getting familiar with how to tackle it. Its a new electronic unit and seems relatively straightforward to set up.

The fiendishly fiddly distributor – note loosened oil cooler pipe in background

Following up on the recent engine oil change, I thought it would be a good idea to fill the gearbox with oil today as this will hopefully stop my recurring nightmare of starting the engine with no oil in it. The gearbox was drained on removal by Austin the welder and has remained so ever since. For this job I had already bought gearbox oil from Classic Oils in Bicester along with a hand pump. I removed the grommit from behind the centre console which enables access to the gearbox dip stick and the filler neck. I then hooked the pump pipe onto the filler neck from underneath the car and pumped circa 3 litres of slippery oil into the gearbox ( I checked the capacity from the MG Restoration book). I think it was grateful. I checked the level using the dip stick and all seemed fine. The handpump was a bit of a workout, but I don’t suppose it will be a frequent job to change all the gearbox oil and it was a clean job. I could have probably filled the gearbox from inside using a funnel, but I was a bit worried about having a spill inside the car.

Next thing to investigate, was the fuel pump. This has been vexing me so today I just wanted to move my understanding forward rather than try to solve everything. To recap, the issue is that I need to connect the wires to it (and I didn’t know where they went), I still have to fit a rubber pipe from the pump to the pipe under the car and its not mounted properly. Today I consulted the wiring diagram (which is gradually beginning to make sense), and established that I needed a White and Black wire from the loom. As has been the case, I found these cables ran nicely down to the pump. That is, once I took them away from the C pillar where I had routed them previously. Not sure why I did that, I think I took them for the rear window demister. So small progress, but as I write this it’s becoming clearer now where the terminals go. Next time I work on the MG, I will connect the loom up and the remount the pump. This is to rectify a previous attempt to tighten the mounting clamp which was unsuccessful. This will be tedious because it is difficult to get a spanner in there, but once done, done. This will allow me to then work out how to fit the rubber pipe which connects to the copper pipe under the car. With this, the engine start tasks at the rear of the car will be complete. We are making progress Folks.

The fuel pump, tucked up in the rear arch needs fitting properly
Today’s work on the MG was powered by Mum-in-law’s Christmas Cake – Yum

30 Nov 19 hard jobs

There are glory jobs – like fitting the refurbished carbs – minimal effort, maximum impact, and there are hard jobs, maximum effort, minimum impact. Today was all about hard jobs. First job today was to have a tidy up in the garage – I have accumulated lots of boxes and packaging so I recycled what I could and bagged the rest for the landfill bin. I also paid a visit to Halfords to collect a Gunson Eazibleed kit. They had previously given me the wrong kit, so I sorted that out and they were okay about it. I then tackled two awkward jobs, fitting the speedo cable to the gearbox and fitting the fuel pump and its related fuel lines.

Fitting the speedo cable would have been so much easier when the gearbox was out the car. I could have done it so easily, but I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead at the time, so instead I had to crawl under the car and fit it that way. I jacked the MG up on one side to give me a bit more room, but it was fairly cramped under there and without going into all the boring detail, it was an awkward job to say the least.

Next on the list was to tackle the fuel pump. I wasn’t looking forward to this because its all a bit cramped up under the rear arch and I remember it being difficult to remove, let alone fit. Anyway, using parts from the Aeroquip kit, I fitted the pump onto its bracket and laid out the fuel line from the tank to the pump. This pipe turned out to be too long (I checked the part number twice and its correct) so in creating the bends I had to invent a horizontal loop into the void above the rear axle just to ‘lose’ some length. I also had to for bends to make it line up to the pump and to be honest, I’m not really satisfied as to how its turned out. I am going to enquire with Aeroquip to get a pipe made up to a shorter (correct) length and fit this as a replacement. Also, despite having tightened the pump bracket, it managed to wriggle free as I fitted the pipes so that fit wasn’t good either! As time was pressing on, I decided to leave the job as was. I will return to this another day with a fresh mind and figure it all out. This will include fitting the rubber pipe which connects the pump to the copper pipe running to the engine bay. So I’m not disappointed, because I moved a long way forward today with my understanding of how this part of the car is going to go together.

Following draining of the oil on a previous evening and a fight to get the old fuel filter off, I today finished topping up the engine with fresh lovely oil from Classic Oils in Bicester. While working on the car, a familiar face appeared through the winter gloom. John (of engine fitting fame) was out for a walk with his lovely wife Jackie and another couple. They stopped by for a chat and its always nice when other people show an interest in the project, although I am never sure how to answer the inevitable when will it be finished question! While in the garage I fitted the dual temp / Oil pressure gauge. Doing this made me realise that I am missing a graied hose to fit the oil pressure pipe to the engine, so I will need to order that. I am going to re0use the original gauge pipe which seems to be in fine condition. I cleaned up the fittings with a bit of fine grade sandpaper and fittted it to the back of the gauge. Finally, I took a couple of photos of the MG before I pushed it away – such a great looking car and its a pleasure to see it slowly coming together.

Final note – I bought an organiser tray from Wilkinsons for a fiver and sorted all my bolts into it – sometimes its the little things…

Better than a jiffy bag? I think so

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!