3 March 2022 Batch Day #2

Day two of the batch of jobs was again a damp day but we had a gazebo erected over the the MG butted up to the open garage door so were protected from the worst of the elements. Ashley was again on hand to help with the list of jobs.

Gearbox cross-member: We started with what we expected to be a very difficult job which was doing up the bolts which fit the gearbox to the cross-member. This was a job left over from the engine install, over two years ago and was essential for the car to be roadworthy. While recognising that the bolts are very fiddly, Ashley managed to do them both up and it was a bit of an anti0climax really.

Brake bleeding: Next job was to bleed the brakes. A long time ago I had got the system operational (with help!) but I had a soft pedal which needed a pump to get them to go. We bled them using my Gunson pressure kit which worked well and we had a little air out of the system. A later short drive around the block confirmed that we now have a firm pedal and effective brakes, albeit not quite in the same league as my 400 bhp Polestar 2 EV. I will keep a close eye on how its braking and keep an eye out for any leaks. Dad insists I get a low level warning lamp – its on the list Dad.

Fuel tank leak: The fuel tank has been seeping petrol annoyingly for a while when topped up over the level of the sender. I have tightened the sender, and from inspection today it looked like it was seeping from the welded section around the sender, not the sender connection itself. Annoying, as I can’t do anything about a manufacturing fault apart from complain to the supplier (which I will) but even if they give me a new tank, I’ll have to fit it, so not happy. I have bought some tank putty which I may put on as a temporary hold. No solution at the moment, and fuel is rather important to the whole project.

Is that seeping from the seam. It looks like it

Seat fitting: We were feeling really confident about fitting the seats. We had the runners all ready to go, so we offered up the driver’s seat thinking this would be an easy job of simply doing up the backs, then sliding the seat back on its runners and doing up the front. Four bolts – easy! Several hours later and having tried a few different things, including changing up the sequence, and changing a runner, we were still without a satisfactory fit. The basic problem was that we could not get four-bolt to seat runner alignment. We could get two out of four and even got three out of four with a lot of work, but the fourth bolt would not align with the captive threads in the floor. So this is baffling us at the moment and we had to admit defeat of this for the moment pending inspiration. Around the same time we concluded that the old seat belts were really not going to cut it as the mechanism was not operating right and the belts looked well past their best. Safety first, I ordered new from Moss to collect the following morning.

We were nearly out of ideas so decided to stop, think and retry tomorrow

Door cards and capping: While Ashley was experimenting to try to fit the seats I fitted the passenger side door card and capping. The door car is a very simple fit and it went on like a treat. These are second hand ones that I fitted and I am pleased with them. The door capping, which is a chunky piece which fixes to the door top screwed on nicely. I was feeling chuffed until I noticed a gap around the door handle and realised that the I did not have the escutcheons – darn! Another thing to add to the Moss order

It’s starting to look like a car!

Road test: A start up (best avoided usaully) had been essential today as we had the car up on ramps. So as our working day drew to a close, its seemed justifiable to run the MG around the block. Gingerly backing off the ramps I reversed onto the road (I am fully insured) and waited while Ashley jumped in (sitting on the floor). I was in the drivers seat which had three out of four bolts, was fully back (a bit too far) and with no belts. We weren’t planning on going over 15 miles per hour so I judged this to be okay. First to test were the brakes which pulled the MG up nicely. Otherwise, the test went fine, the MG pulled cleanly, although the steering feels really heavy and the large wheel is in the way of my thigh. I have a wooden wheel just needing the correct boss, so that will improve things.

So a few more jobs to do tomorrow to conclude this three day burst. Ashely has been brilliant, a calm, considered, clever and strong par of hands to lend to the long list of jobs. We’ve made good progress.

27 Oct 19 Engine installation

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.

Received wisdom recommends jacking up the rear to help the angles

So having done all the preparation, it was time to see if we could do the job.

Here John articulates our well planned operation ‘lets give it a go!’

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.

With the whole unit tilted, we were on our way

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.