1 Jan 20 blockage cleared

Happy new decade everyone! A mini post today to record me spending just half an hour in the garage during which I discovered that the heater control unit pipe was completely blocked with rusty crud. I found this when I was offering it up to where it is mounted on the engine and was asking myself how any coolant was supposed to flow through it when there was no hole. A quick prod with an old screwdriver proved that the crud could be dislodged fairly easy and this was also the case with the aperture into the engine water jacket.

I wondered to myself if this was possibly the reason the car overheated when I first fired it up shortly after buying it, and why the fan was set to be on the whole time. What a bodge by the previous owner, but satisfying to find this problem and be a step towards sorting it out.

The heater control with crud opened up
This is where it attaches to the engine block. I have removed the crud but it really needs a bit more work. Don’t know how I missed this when I had the engine out!

And finally, this is me, my better half and my in laws at a New Year’s Eve party last night

Rocking the night away!

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!

7 Dec 19 Engine sprint

I have organised myself around something I am going to call a ‘sprint’. I am borrowing from the Agile Project Manager handbook and have set myself a short term goal to get the engine started. I am therefore focussing all attention on this milestone and ignoring everything else. This is probably a mis-use of the term ‘sprint’, but if it works as a way of completing this rebuild as a series of goal-based mini-plans, then I am going to do it like this. We will see. This sprint started earlier in the week when I made a list of all the things I needed to do to get the engine started. I ran this past my friend and historic racer, Rob. I say historic not because he’s old, although he is, but because he campaigns historic racing cars. Perhaps classic would be a better description. Anyway, he practically rebuilds his car each weekend, so I checked the list with him over dinner and got it signed-off so to speak. Thanks Rob!

So this Saturday, finding myself with some time, and although officially off-sick with a cough/cold, I opened up the garage and pushed the MG out into the watery December sunshine. I started by fitting the newly purchased pulley from Moss. I had been struggling to get the first pulley I had bought to fit, but taking a close look at the catalogue, I realised I had ordered the wrong type of pulley. Straightaway it was obvious that this was the correct part, as the pulley lined up with the main one at the front of the crank. I fitted it with new bolts and anti-rattle washers. With the pulley in place, it was logical to fit the alternator as this would then allow me to pop the fan belt on. The alternator went on easily enough – to begin with… I had cleaned this up when I stripped the car, and had kept all the bolts and washers, so it really was a case of reversing the removal process to get it fitted. All good, until I went to fit the fan belt. The fan belt went on easily enough. I put the car in gear and rocked it to turn the pulleys and feed the fan belt onto the alternator pulley. All good so far until I went to undo the bolt which allows the alternator to slide along its stay to tighten the fan belt. To be fair I went straight for my full-sized socket set and with the first turn of the ratchet the bolt sheared off. Damn. To be fair, this part had stayed on the car (it wasn’t stripped) so it was being moved for the first time and I didn’t use any release agent. Not having much time, I just photographed it and will ponder on how to remedy this situation. Some good news in that the electrical connections for the alternator fell easily to hand and it only fitted one way, so easy-peasy.

The next job, fitting the oil pressure gauge pipework was a bit challenging too. I couldn’t quite work out the fittings, and the engine-end fitting looked a bit mangled. As I looked closer, I could see the outline of a larger bolt but as I had painted it over when I sprayed the engine it wasn’t very clear. Learning from the earlier sheared bolt incident, I took a bit more care with this fitting and gave it a liberal spray of freeze unlock product, left it a minute and then gently broke the bond with a well-fitted socket. It came out nicely. I had bought the correct fittings from Moss, including the braided hose which feeds up to an adapter, bolted to the bodywork, from where the pipe to the gauge connects. I will fit this pipe when I install the dash which is on my sprint list. All in all, a good job.

Next on the list was to install the coil. Now I had recently identified a clash of the coil bracket with the 4-way brake junction from which I had carelessly routed a new pipe over one of the coil bracket bolt threaded holes. So I loosened the brake junction and with some gently manipulation, I was able to rotate the whole thing enough to clear the bracket hole without tugging the brake lines much out of their alignment. With that cleared I was able to identify the spade connectors from the loom, referencing the wiring diagram and get them connected up to the correct terminals on the coil. With the alternator in place, the oil pipework coming along and the coil fitted, the engine bay is starting to look busy! While the car was out I got the radiator (a new item) out just to see how it fits, but I won’t fit it until I have sorted out the sheared bolt on the alternator bracket.

Last job today was to fit the centre console. It might sound a bit weird, but I had ordered a new one (the existing one was butchered by a previous owner and did not have the correct switch slots). Rather than have it knocking around the garage, I fitted it which will allow me to place the switches where they need to be as I build up the dash.

So a busy and reasonably productive time on the MG today and a break from lying on the sofa in front of the TV feeling sorry for myself and binging on Netflix. Weather was kind too, a mild December day, although we are still at that time of year where by 3:00pm it is starting to grow dimmer. Such a short day!

15 Sep 19 Goodwood Revival

A grand day at the Goodwood Revival. Having dropped our youngest daughter at University on the Satursday, I headed to my friend Paul’s house in the Suzuki Cappuccino in readiness for race day at Goodwood. Paul was the previous keeper of the Suzuki so it was a bit of a Pilgrimage really.

The Cappuccino at its old home

An early start saw us get into the Goodwood circuit for around 8:30. The journey was the usual Goodwood delight with lots of interesting vehicles on the surrounding roads. A friendly honk to a pair of MG convertibles was rewarded with enthusiastic waves.

Here’s Paul and I in our Goodwood gear enjoying the view at Madgewick corner

I can’t really do the event justice with the photo’s below, but I did snap a few beauties in the paddock as the day drew to a close. They are all priceless in their own way, and its fantastic to see them in their element being raced in the glorious Goodwood setting.

A special event for this year was a feature race for pre-war Bentleys. The sight as thirty or so of these beasts came down the hill towards our Grandstand at Lavant Corner was unforgetable, as well as a bit slow, hilariously.

So a stunning day all round. As the sun set in the sky, I removed the roof from the Cappuccino, and Paul and I headed back to his house, arriving to freshly cooked Pizzas prepared by Claire, his dear wife. Replacing the roof, I headed off for a brisk cross-country dash to get home at around 11:15pm. A good day.

16 Aug 19 Dash top

Back from very hot holiday in Crete to a rainy August day in the UK. I had intended to spend a while today on the MG, progressing a few jobs, but after an hour, the rain was cleary set in for the day, so I packed up and retreated inside (in mitigation, I only got back at 2:00am last night and with the time difference, our bodies really thought it was 4:00am). I did manage to get one job done today however. I had recently resprayed the demister vents which sit on the dash top, so I decided to fit them today. The vents themselves hold down the vinyl dash top, so fitting this starts the whole dash re-fitting sequence. The vents fitted back easily enough on the original (to my knowledge) vinyl and I then bolted on the crash rail, which is what MG offered as it’s interior safety feature in 1973. Compare that to contemporary cars with their air bags, air curtains and interior padding, its quite a contrast.

The resprayed vents in place on the dash-top
The crash rail in place, looks okay doesn’t it? The yellow colour is a reflection of my Hi-Viz jacket if you are wondering

27 Apr 19 MG Yoga

So today I fitted the brake and clutch master cylinders into their assembly and then fitted that to the car, including the pedals. Sounds easy doesn’t it, but it took a while believe me. First I had rashly mounted the pedals to the assembly and then when I took it to the car realised that the pedals wouldn’t fit down the hole. So I took it apart again and mounted the assembly sans pedals. This went quite well although at one point I had to lie upside down in the footwell to do up the nuts and that involved some interesting contortions, hence the MG yoga title above.

With the master cylinders in place I can now imagine the first job involved in replacing the brake lines which is to fit the first two lines which come from the master cylinder. This involves them coming out of the cylinder and then performing a 180 degree turn so that is going to test my pipe bending skills. Might get some help for that bit! I did have Mark on hand today to help me fit the bonnet gas struts but with it being a windy day (Storm Hannah), we thought better of doing a delicate drilling job in a gale and instead had a good look at the brake kit which seems quite organised.

17 Apr 19 Cold Start Enrichment

After a pleasant meal out with colleagues I returned to my chalet (I’m working away at present) and got the carbs out on the table to do some more work on the cold start enrichment mechanism on the rear carb, which I will call the choke from now onwards. Despite some earlier efforts to clean this up, the mechanism was still so stiff that the return spring couldn’t well, return it.

So I stripped it down again and sanded the surfaces with some 1200 grade sand-paper. On reassembling it still wasn’t very free, so I took it apart and used some 800 grade sand-paper and concentrated on what appeared to be some corrosion within the body of the carb which I think was causing the friction. The frustration is that when loosely inserted it moves freely and only tightens up when fully assembled. Sigh. End result, moving better, but still not enough, so another strip down and sand is due, but not tonight because I don’t want to be doing this all night!

On the plus side, I am cleaning more bits as I strip them and I am getting to know how it all fits together, which can only be a good thing for the future.

Best wishes all.

6 Apr 19 Saturday morning tinkering

First opportunity this morning, since the respray, to push the MG out of the garage and look to see what jobs could be done. Noting that I haven’t got the harness yet or the brake pipes I can’t get started on the critical path items, however I am able to put components back on the car which need to be done sometime and which don’t affect anything else.

So I bolted the quarter lights back on to the doors, easy enough as I could remember how they came off. It was a bit awkward feeding the leg through the narrow slot at the top of the door without scratching the new paint, so I wrapped the end in a cloth bag and eased it through the gap at the middle of the door where I could make a bit more room. After this I was reacquainted with the very long threads on the bolts and the restricted access to them.

Just to be make room in the garage I also put the spare wheel into its recess, laid the cover over it, put the battery into its cradle and put the loose rear seat base in place. Well why not.

I also put the heater into its place to try to reacquaint myself with this unit which is an early fit item as the brake lines run past it under the bonnet. Nothing screwed down, just getting a feel for it really.

One annoyance was when I went to bolt in the engine mounts to find that at the MG spares day I had bought two o/s mounts instead of a pair of each. What a dummy.Still, not an expensive item, just need to buy the right one now.

Had some passing interest as I was working on the MG including a dog walker who came up to say hello and tell me about that he had built a Westfield 21 years ago. We had a nice chat and as I’ve said before, this project is about the experience and the people I meet as much as the end product. A nice morning’s work.

23 Feb 19 Little steps forward

Earlier this week, working away in Cambridge, I invited Rob (friend and colleague) over to my place for dinner. I was clear about my motives, saying to Rob that I had homework for him to do. After a satisfactory curry, we sat down with the MGOC, Moss and David Manners catalogues and my list of parts required for the initial build of the MG and worked our way down the list comparing prices and working out which parts to order from whom and also what were the peripheral parts required. Helpfully Rob has extensive mechanical experience having raced TR6s for years as well as his back-catalogue of interesting cars. At 10pm we called a halt and were about 3/4 down the list, but it was a really useful session. Thanks Rob. I now have a schedule against which I can place orders, although I need to be sure I’ve got space for it all as it arrives.

I nipped over to see Gavin and Dean at the paintshop when I got back from Cambridge, to deliver door rubbers and to collect the faulty front valance. I also took over some donuts which went down well. I had ordered a new valance from Smith & Deakin, a specialist fibreglass company who do Motorsport parts. Hopefully this will fit better than the other item which I hope to return to Moss in due course for a refund. On Friday, Gavin posted updates photos on FB and it was good to see the progress that had been made.

I am really pleased with the work being done, the inner wings look especially tidy compared to how they looked previously. The identified problems are gradually being worked through and we are moving ahead.

This afternoon (Saturday) I spent a couple of hours in the garage sorting parts, adding to the junk pile and just generally getting my head around what’s ahead. For example, I plonked the gearbox onto the cross-member with the old mounts just to see how it goes together. I also removed the thrust bearing as I am going to replace the standard carbon item with a roller bearing version. That has to be the easiest part I have ever removed, two circlips to rotate and it couldn’t wait to come off. Nice to have an easy job for a change. I also trial fitted two more gauges into the dash just for fun. They have all cleaned up okay, but the acid test will be whether they work when they are all reconnected and I have my doubts about some so am prepared to replace what doesn’t work.

17 Feb 19 Sunday : Taking it easy

Treated myself to some easy time in the garage today. I had a grub through a few boxes and made a pile of parts which are not going back on – water pump, distributor, oil cooler and hoses. I haven’t decided whether to hoard these in the long term or just toss them. I think once I have rebuilt the MG I will cart them off to the recycling centre. It helped to thin out the piles a bit. I also sorted a few of the boxes a bit better – all the heater components in one place, that sort of thing because it didn’t all come off at the same time. I can then concentrate on one system at a time when I rebuild, that’s the idea.

I did take a couple of steps forward though. I trial fitted the starter motor which goes back in place very easily and I fitted the new water pump in its place, together with its new gasket. I realised in doing this, that I needed to get the pulley off the old water pump (I presume it comes off). The pulley appeared to be held in place with four bolts, which I did manage to get off, but they were extremely tight. As it was a 7/8 fitting, I was using my mini-socket set, which is great but it doesn’t get much leverage. I did manage to get them all off without rounding them off or snapping them, so maybe I am learning something here. However, this effort was not rewarded with the pulley separating from the water pump, so I will need to investigate further or consider buying new.

Attempting to remove the pulley from the old water pump
The new water pump in position
The Starter motor bolted back onto the engine

I also trial fitted the rev counter, speedometer and choke knob to the dashboard just for fun. First I dug out the dashboard cowl (a plastic item on this MGB) which needed a good clean and then treatment with an Autoglym trim product which feeds the plastic and makes it all black and shiny. I fixed the cowl back in place with the original screws which I HAD CAREFULLY stored when I removed it. It amused me that the cowl had been such a pig to remove when I had done this in the summer with the dash in place, so needing me to feed my hands through behind the dash. What a muppet I was attempting that, anyway, lesson learned and that all part of the fun. The grazes to the back of my hands have healed up anyway so no harm done!

Trial fitting the gauges

So that’s it, barely an hour’s work in total, but it was nice to just take my time and the rebuild is all about putting back new, or at least cleaned up stuff, rather than the strip down which was about penetrating years of grime. Working for the rest of the week, so no progress on the MG although I’ve got some researching to do and purchases to ensure the paintshop can continue to progress.