First job on this hot Saturday was to refit the door pull which Helen pulled off recently when I picked her up from Tesco. To be fair, it wasn’t fixed properly in the first place so this time I used a decent nut and bolt combination on the dodgy fixing so this should now hold.
Second job was to replace the bonnet release cable because the reproduction one I fitted probably two years ago recently gave up the ghost and was beyond repair. I did toy with the idea of using the original but as it had a big old kink I decided to replace it with another brand of reproduction. This unit was of better quality and more closely resembled the original factory item. It’s a fiddly thing to fit and with my limited know-how I had to think hard about how it went together. Eventually I figured it out but it did involve threading the cable down the fitting and trying to find the hole in the cable sheath which I reckon is like trying to crack a safe. Managed it though! 😀
Just to also mention a recent Garage tidy up and selling off of a couple of surplus parts which went easily enough on Facebook marketplace. More to sell off where that came from
Stiff steering resolved, although not by me. I am striking up a good relationship with our local MG specialist and after a couple of disruptions I was able to get the MG down to him today and he resolved the stiff steering. The problem was with the column itself which had become misshapen and was catching on the mounting bracket. I don’t have full details on the fix as I wasn’t there but it involved reshaping it with some tubing. Anyway, the steering is now bang on and the car drove back from the garage a lot more nicely than it drove down! A major hurdle overcome. He also spotted a few other issues around the car such as the bonnet alignment and non cancelling indicators which are on my list but it was good to discuss possible solutions. The bonnet catch cable has unfortunately also failed, stripping its fitting at the dashboard end which is annoying so that will need a replacement. This evening I reviewed my Completion Schedule, updating jobs done and adding on the new jobs. Its nearly at one page now and with the car basically driveable I can get out and about to get things done. Finally, spotted a rear light out so another job for the list!
A final reflection, it was good to watch Clive drive the MG up the road as I could listen to the exhaust note from the outside – sounded good!
I rarely work on the MGB during the week, being in that phase of life where the day job takes the majority of my time and energy. However, I found myself with a free hour this evening and I was itching to fix some bits I had bought with some birthday money. The parts in question are window winders and door handles. As is often the case, the reason for selecting parts is partly aesthetic and partly needs-based. When we fitted the doors cards earlier in the summer we fitted the existing ‘telephone’ style door pulls. These are soft touch items and very much of their time from the 1970s. Both handles were original and not in the best of shape although I did give them a bit of a scrub up. The one handle was in really poor shape and it barely lasted a couple of pulls before coming free of its fixing. As new units are quite expensive, I instead researched the after market and found an array of aluminium handles (with sporty drilled out holes) which would do the job nicely for a lower cost. My research led me to a reasonably priced set of door pulls and window winders actually intended to fit a Mini but with interchangeability with the MGB. Weirdly this meant ordering the set which comes with Mini escutcheons and door catches which I have no use for but at a lower cost than buying separate parts. To be clear, I haven’t splashed out on these, they are fairly cheap parts but fully up to the job.
Fitting them proved really simple, once I had found suitable screws for the window winders which have a fine thread. I fitted the handles with ‘botch-it’ self tappers into the worn original door fitting – hope that doesn’t offend any purists, it was a pragmatic solution. So there we have it, a nice smart and economical installation and another job off the tick list. Mrs Relentless Duck can now enjoy the luxury of not having to ask to borrow the window winder if she wants to lower the window.
Can’t beat a Beatles quote, but it sort of sums up the last couple of weeks on the MGB. In the my previous post I was expressing my disappointment at missing the local car show. Shortly after this I managed to make contact with a local specialist who is literally down the road from where I live and he was able to sort out the troublesome radiator hose and diagnose an alignment issue with the steering which should explain the stiff steering. the MG is booked back in with him but I’m in a queue so I’m being patient about it.
To today which is my 52nd Birthday and what a lovely day, nice array of gifts, morning Church service with the family, a light bite at the local farm shop and a free afternoon with the MG, although a bit too hot for anything too energetic.
First priority today was to commit to driving to the local Tesco to half full the tank with Ultimatum E5 which was the longest journey I’ve done yet and a test of me as much as the car. I kept a close eye on the oil pressure and temperature gauges but all was well although the idle speed dramatically rose until it was a very noisy 3,000 rpm which was all a bit embarrassing. I filled up regardless and tootled off home, revving like mad at every junction.
Back home I realised that the fast idle screw locking nut was loose and so however I set it was going out of true as I drove along with the throttle open. I took out my tiniest spanner and nipped it up so hopefully that’s done.
The MG was a bit sluggish on the way to Tesco so I advanced the ignition a fraction afterwards and took it for a test drive which showed a big improvement with the MG pulling eagerly without any pinking.
Other minor developments were the installation of various grommets under the bonnet to reduce the oily smells entering the cabin.
I’m writing all this with the benefit of editor’s prerogative so this is a slightly tidied up version of events but the resulting improvement is a matter of record.
I’ve decided not to take the MG to the show tomorrow. This afternoon, a sweltering day in Southern England (Wiltshire to be precise), I undertook some show preparation, but sadly with one issue unresolved, I’ve reluctantly contacted the show organiser and withdrawn my entry. Sheer stubbornness could have won the day, but a breakdown on what is predicted to be a hot day is not sensible.
The specific issue which tipped my decision is a seeping leak from the hose which connects to the bottom of the radiator. This hose is a three-way unit with a smaller hose heading off towards the heater, and other end connecting to the thermostat at the top of the engine. The space at the bottom is devilishly tight, even for my skinny arms and when I fitted it, I couldn’t get the hose to slide nicely over the spigot (I’m going to call it a spigot). Hence, this poor fit leaks when the engine is running. What I need to do is to remove it and refit it, but in the heat of the day and with my puny office muscles (optimised for typing), I couldn’t get the fit any better, despite trying. A short road test proved the MG is running alright on the whole but with a steady drip from the seeping hose, a 10 mile drive, even with planned top ups just seemed too risky.
I did sort out a couple of other nagging issues.
Front disk brake shields. The front disks have a steel shield on the back (presumably to keep out road muck) and when I pushed the car in after nipping up the track rod ends recently there was a scraping noise. I reckoned this was the brake shield rubbing the disk. So I jacked up the front end, removed the o/s wheel and spun the hub to trace where the scraping was coming from. The track rod end was actually resting against the shield, so I loosened it off and retightened it so it was clear of the shield. It was then simply a matter of easing the shield away from the disk until it turned freely. Sorted.
Fuel Pipe. I replaced all the fuel lines on the MG early in the build and had somewhat cobbled the filter to carburettor length under the bonnet which consisted of two short lengths of rubber tubing and a straight bit of copper. This seemed to offend my Dad’s eye as he comments on whenever the opportunity arises. Sorting through a box of bits, I found a length of surplus rubber tubing and wouldn’t you know it was the right length (some may say that this was the correct piece all along, but we will never know). Anyway, it was a relatively straightforward job to remove the existing contraption which is like something off Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and replace with an elegant single length of tubing. Sorted x 2.
All this work was carried out under a new Gazebo we bought off Amazon for £99. It was destined for the back garden, where it has since been erected, but it was first pressed into service to cover up the MG (with the blessing of Mrs Relentless Duck) and what a fine job it did in the hot hot sun.
Happy Summer everyone, I’ll get to a show one of these days.
[Post blog note – just had invite to join friends who are racing at Castle Combe Circuit next week, so maybe the MG will ‘break her duck’ in the near future if I can get that hose seen to.]
I rashly committed to a local car show and the weekend has rolled around and I’m faced with a 10 mile drive in the MG on Sunday. The car is fully Road legal so no worries there, but it’s not finished by a long shot and I’m nervous that problems unknown could occur on the drive.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained so I rolled her out the garage tonight on a beautiful summer evening for a bit of preparation. Main job was to give the paint a quick wipe over with some quick detailer just to remove the dust and rub off the odd oily smudge from my fingers. Then I used a glass cleaner to remove the smudges and dressed the tyres.
Inside the car I secured the centre console which I’d removed when I put the carpets in.
Tomorrow I’ll get a can of petrol filled and top up the tank and maybe do a run around the bypass to check for leaks and creaks.
The stiff steering is persistent despite having changed the boots and lubricated the rack. King pins move freely so everything point towards the rack. I bid on a steering rack on eBay (with light use apparently) and won that, so for £105 it’s worth a try. I have to pick up the rack from Northampton so will combine this with a visit to the office in Oxford which isn’t too far away, unless the seller agrees to post it.
I’ve researched the ease of swapping out the steering column and it doesn’t look too horrendous, albeit it would be a lot easier with a ramp! I’ll have to make do with the driveway! I’ll need a day off with a pal I reckon to get that done. Hopefully that will be a fix. The steering is the current blocker to the car being in working condition so finding a solution is important here!
I’ll keep this channel posted on progress!
Post blog update 7 July 22 – I’ve bid on a steering column on eBay and won it. Collect from Northampton next week which is conveniently on my way up North where I’m going to a meeting👍
When I discovered recently that the steering rack boots were split and all the oil had leaked out I knew I had a fairly big job on my hands. I ordered a pair of new track rods ends and boots and my friend Paul offered to help.
I started by jacking up the front of the car, settling it on axle stands and removing the front wheels. Then I used a ball joint splitter to unstick the existing track Rod ends which we’re looking a bit ropey. I got stuck trying to the free up the locking nut on the rack ends but a quick call to ‘Mechanical Mark’ soon fixed this. Mark was round in a heartbeat with a lump hammer and huge adjustable spanner. A couple of firm accurate blows and the locking nut was free. I had sprayed it with WD40 but it could have done with longer – anyway, it was released.
With the track rod ends off we could then remove the steering rack boots which was a bit fiddly but as we were replacing with new we did not have to be too careful.
With the hubs disconnected from the steering arms we checked how well the king pin assembly was moving as this might also explain the stiff steering but both sides were operating smoothly and without any issues.
Next job was to get the new boots on and this was straightforward enough. It was fiddly getting the cable ties on nice and tight and the tails trimmed off but a reasonable job was done on both ends of the boot
The track rod ends wound on easily enough and the rusted exposed thread gave a good gauge as to when they were in the right place, although I had counted the exposed threads (16) and number of rotations (17) so I’m confident they are near enough aligned – that’s always assuming the tracking was right on the old ones which is anyone’s guess! Once the ends were threaded on we popped the shank onto the hub and tightened up the locking nut. The near side was painful as the locking nut wouldn’t go on, it just spun the ball joint. I got a bit lost and had to admit defeat, solving it later in the week. The key is to get the shank nicely bedded into the opening because then the taper grips and stops it from turning. I used a hammer handle to brace it while I got a few turns on and then it was easy breezy. I pumped the oil in a couple of days later and it’s all back together as intended.
A clear, bright, cold April morning was rapidly warming up as I pushed the MGB out onto the driveway. Today I was intent on changing the float chamber gaskets (more on that later) and there was half a chance I would get some help from my friend John to sort out the horn button which would in turn allow me to finalise the steering wheel installation. While poking around under the bonnet I decided to fit the metal cover over the pedal box as just one more job to do. It fitted nice and snug and is another step towards finishing things off.
I was just finishing removing the air filters when I had a call from John confirming he was free to come down and help. So I halted work on the carbs and John and I worked on the horn button. This was more challenging than it should really be. Because I am using a non-standard wheel (wooden), with a non standard boss, we couldn’t just stick it all together. Instead we had to measure everything to get the indicator stalk, horn ‘pogo stick’ switch, and cowl all to work together. Unfortunately, there was no obvious way to fix the ‘pogo stick’ so John ingeniously modified the indicator stalk bracket to mount it. This was going well until we realised with a dry fit that we had not taken the indicator cancelling cam into account. Drat. John persevered and as I write this the whole assembly is mounted, but pending the araldite hardening off before we finish it off. So a really awkward job which is now nearly done thanks to John.
While this was going on, I investigated the stiff steering by removing the inspection plate on the steering column and taking a look. The plate came off easily enough and the shims that came with it too although the surface rust on them suggested little oil was in the rack itself. So, pleased with myself I started merrily pumping gearbox (the correct) oil into the rack and it was taking a lot as it was so thirsty. Or so I thought until John spotted a pool of oil appearing on the drive, which we traced to a split gaiter. Drat again, but entirely my fault, although it does explain why the steering rack was dry. So, parts to order before I can completely resolve the stiff steering.
A final bit of fun was discovering that the steering column could be raised from where it was mounted by loosening the bolts and sliding the column on its slotted mounts. I had not spotted this when I fixed the steering column and I had been finding the wheel uncomfortably low. Now sorted in about 5 minutes – easier than selling the car because I couldn’t fit in!
Oil is vital stuff, finding its way between all those rapidly moving metal bits that make the engine go vroom and preventing them from welding themselves together. However, sometimes it escapes from where its supposed to be and then it makes a big mess. Well this evening I was able to look under the bonnet of the MGB to check on some oil misting that has been present since recent start ups. It’s nothing severe, but clearly not right and I wanted to see how bad it was since my first drive a couple of weeks ago. On opening the bonnet there was a tell-tale mark, running transversely across the underside of the bonnet originating from the front of the engine. It wasn’t as severe as the other day, but there is enough to make a mark and not something to ignore. However, I quickly realised that this particular evening I wasn’t going to be able to get under the car to see where the oil was coming from, having checked all possible locations accessible from above where it might be coming from. The pattern of the misting point towards it being linked to the main pulley which as it goes round and round is I think throwing up the leaked oil. Everything points towards the sump, pulley seal or timing chain cover. So a fairly big weekend job there to work through these areas and resolve.
While I was looking, I did a general look around for any other leaks. In the near side chassis rail was some petrol. Not a lot, but a recognisable quantity. Oh dear. I felt around the fuel pipes which were nice and dry and then under the carbs. Aha. Under the front carb (the float chamber) it was damp, so this points towards a seeping seal. Darn. I have had these carbs apart when I was troubleshooting them, so its going to be my fault, but I suspect the float chamber cover seals are not, well, sealing. They were a pig to refit, so I’ll have the carbs off and look/replace the seals as they may well be mangled. Seals are £1.46 from SU (plus £5 for postage!). I am pleased to have spotted this at least before the leak got too bad!
While looking at the carbs I took a good look at the throttle mechanism as at present the car does not idle nicely all the time. The cable is a little slack but the the spindle returns to the stops so that is not sticking. It could be the mixture as I have fiddled with this in trying to set the carbs up. When I can grab an expert for the day (Hi Dad!) I’ll set these up from scratch, but in the meantime, I took the spark plugs out to see if they would give me any clues as to the mixture. The photos are below in front to back order. I’m going to leave this to the experts to comment, however I think its fair to say the carbs are not set up right!
The off-side chassis rail was also not pristine, having oil spotting around it. I wiped this up and looked for a possible culprit. Feeling under the oil filter, my fingers felt oil around the bottom of the union with the oil cooler pipe. This union is a beast of a with a 15/16th fitting. It a double nut thingy where you have to hold one nut while doing up the other so I had my 15/16th spanner on the oil pipe fitting and an adjustable on the filter end and was able to tighten it by a good quarter turn. I am hopeful that this will stop that leak, but it will need to be checked next time I run the engine.
Finally, one of the grill stays had a loose fitting. No idea why, the grille hasn’t been off for ages, but I might as well fix it while I am here. The threaded screw was a bit second hand looking, so I looked for a replacement. I found a bolt the same thread which was a bit long so I shortened it with the hacksaw and along with a couple of washers it fitted nice and snug and that was one less rattly thing on the car!
A busy half hour on the car, but some steps forward which is always good!
I’ve had a fuel leak / seep from the petrol tank for a long old time and today I got it sorted. I suspected the seam where the sender unit goes in, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure I had the sender in properly or the filler spout. I had obtained a replacement tank from the supplier which was a larger ‘touring’ unit so a swap was on the cards in any case. I was on my own today so not the easiest operation. I began with jacking up the rear and putting it on axle stands which enabled me to remove the end section of the exhaust which bolts on about midway along the car and is then attached to a rubber hanger at the other end. Then I detached the fuel line and with the tank propped up on a couple of boxes I undid the bolts and nuts on a diagonal pattern which sort of allowed it drop in a controlled manner.
Now to fit the new tank, but learning from previous experience I took great care to fit the sender, the rubber seal and sealing ring to the tank, and to slop some petrol in and check for leaks before it went anywhere near the car. Miraculously the new tank could hold petrol and I had confidence the sender was properly seated in place. Now for the awkward job of offering up the tank to the receiving bolts (fixed to the chassis) and simultaneously dropping the bolts from the boot floor through the brackets and lining up the threaded connectors. I needed to have a couple of extra hands, but with none being available I did my best octopus impression and managed to have all the nuts, bolts, washers and connections properly done up. The fuel line was easily fitted, so it was onto the exhaust. This was another job which was fiddly to undertake solo. It took me a while to get this done – the bolt up connection at the midpoint is easy enough, but the rubber hanger where the exhaust exits is seriously fiddly. The bolts just did not want to bite and the rubber hanger was pulling the bracket away from where they needed to be. Furthermore, the sun was streaming in my eyes making it difficult to see the holes. I had to drape a throw over the back of the car and crawl underneath just to see! Helen came home from popping out to see my feet sticking out from under the car with a cloth draped over it. She must have wondered what on earth I was doing. I refused to be beaten and just persevered until eventually I got one bolt and then the other started. Then it was just a case of tightening everything up which was tedious as the threads were long and the bolts were tucked up between the fuel tank and the exhaust (I did say a little prayer – so, thanks God). There followed some very tedious petrol movements while I harvested the petrol I had only recently put in the old new tank, but finally I had a working fuel system.
A long time ago I realised that I was missing some chrome trims from the B-post of the MGB and last week they literally fell out of a box at me which saved me from fretting about where to get new ones from. I was looking for a different profile of trim, but these turned out to be the right ones. I fitted these relatively easily earlier today, giving them a brief polish before fitting them with self-tapping screws. I had intended to rivet them on, however the space was a bit tight, so screws it is. This has finished off another aspect of the MGB nicely.
Last job of the day was to fit the wooden wheel which my friend John had lent me ‘on approval’. I had established that this would fit (with a new boss) and the smaller diameter would give me more space for my legs which are wedged up against the steering wheel in the standard configuration. I popped it on the splines and tightened up the nut. I still have to install the horn switch, but that was enough for today.
I finished off the day with a quick test drive of about 2 miles (brave!) with Mrs T on board. This was Helen’s first time in the car and the first time I had driven it out of our estate in the three years I have had it. It was also the first time the car has driven more than about quarter of a miles in around ten years. I had already warmed up the engine and done some checks looking for leaks and we were good to go. Its quite intimidating driving a car that you’ve restored for the first time, being conscious of everything that can go wrong I suppose and also nervous of other traffic. However all was well and were were able to go through the gears into fourth and to cruise very briefly up to 50mph. The drive illustrated a few things, firstly that the hatch needs to be finished off with the rubber seal I have bought and the catch adjusted to stop it banging up and down, and the carburettors need tuning as the car is not pulling cleanly through the revs. The gearbox was a pleasant surprise, being nice and slick to shift although I dig get a ‘box full of neutrals’ at one roundabout while I grounds the gears. Fortunately, the MGB is torquey enough to pull out of the roundabout in third, although this coincided with the flat spot I mentioned so we sat at 32 mph with a BMW following curiously behind on our 50mph limit bypass. Helen commented favourably on the comfort of the seat, but noted the loud exhaust. With the car only partly trimmed and with a lot of grommets still to locate, I think I can tone down the noise a bit, and also I need to check the exhaust it properly done up. have to say, it does sound good and was turning heads. A good day!
Shopping: The last of my three days dedicated to completing a batch of jobs on the MG started with an early jaunt to Moss of Bristol to buy some extra parts identified yesterday as being required to finish the job. I was at the shop before it opened and there for around 40 mins while we worked through the order and straightened out some previous issues. It was good to catch up with George and Owen who are always helpful and knowledgeable. A couple of hundred or so (cough) pounds later and I was back to the house by 10am to get the car our while Ashley arrived from Oxford.
Bonnet Safety Catch: First job of the day was the incredibly satisfying replacement of the bonnet safety catch. This might seem slightly odd, but the background is that this catch hasn’t really worked properly for yonks. We had looked at it yesterday and speculated that it had been mangled but without a comparison it was hard to confirm. As I compared the new part with the old, it was clear that the old part was indeed bent out of shape. Maybe it could have been bent back into alignment, but for such a cheap part, this seemed pointless. I screwed the new catch on and after a visual check peering into the gap of the nearly closed bonnet I could see that it was indeed correctly aligned. The bonnet now opens and shuts nice and tight.
Bleed Nipple Dust Caps: A really tiny job was to fit a full set of dust caps to the bleed nipples on the brakes as some were missing when we bled the brakes the day before!
Seat Belt Installation: Before we could fit the seats, we needed to fit the new seat belts I had bought from Moss. These went in relatively easily, although we had to remove a door capping for one and had some grief with a painted thread on another. Another lesson we mean to pass on to to anyone willing to listen is that when you are stripping a car for a respray it would be a good idea to reinstall any captive threads with their bolts. Although the bolts will be painted, you are probably going to use new ones, so putting in the old bolts to the threads will keep them free of paint. Sounds like a trivial issue, but the paint really does seem to make some bolts hard work to drive when the threads are painted! The action of the seats belts seemed absolutely fine and I was happy with the decision to replace with new.
Seats Installation: Next we tackled the challenging seat installation. This had foxed us the previous day with alignment being the challenge. However, overnight it had occurred to me that for the marginal error we could just slot the offending hole. So with a little judicious filing, we were able to get a good line of sight of all four fixings and were ready to install the seat. We also learned from yesterday to more thoroughly grease the runners so they would slide nicely (we used white grease as suggested by George from Moss). I won’t bore anyone with the details of every aspect of this install except to say that when the runners, spacers, rails, wooden supports, bolts, washers, seats and the two technicians are all the right way around then the MGB seats go in really quite easily! We learned a lot from this part of the build – that pattern parts are rarely as good as the original, that pattern parts and original parts are rarely compatible and that the original assembly works best with no steps removed. The passenger seat went in first, and most easily. The driver’s side, with the large diameter steering wheel was a bit more difficult, and it was just a more fiddly job for some reason. Maintaining our concentration, we completed the install and doing in so, achieved another major milestone!
Steering Wheel Removal: Ah, the MGB steering wheel. A large diameter item which digs into my thighs (I’m not massive) and was in poor condition so an obvious candidate for a swap out. My friend John has a spare wooden wheel, I just needed to buy the correct boss, and remove the old one. At first we could not get this to budge, having loosened, but not removed the nut. We tried shock loading it with a firm tap of the hammer on a lump of wood to no avail. My friend Mark, who had stopped by earlier dropping off some bolts, had even gone back to his house and returned with a bearing puller, which frustratingly had not fitted around the wheel boss. However, this morning I returned to the job with a can of WD40 and some tips from MG forums. I applied some WD40 into the gap between the steering column and the boss, left it a minute and then firmly rocked it from side to side. After a couple of goes I felt some movement and then it was loose. Good news. I just need to prepare the new wheel, including assembling the horn mechanism (which I don’t yet understand) but sadly do not have the right sized Allen key. I did offer up the new wheel and this does make the thigh clearance better, but I think I will have to work on the driving position to get comfortable in the MG.
Door Interior trims: I had trial fitted a door card yesterday, discovering missing trims, now bought from Moss. So today we tackled doing them properly. The passenger side has a problem with the door pull as one of the captive threads is missing. We had to improvise with a nut, bolt and washer combo which holds the door pull in place, however its not that strong, so this will need a rethink. The door pulls are a bit ratty and replacements are expensive. I may go for an earlier model chrome door pull instead, something to give some thought. Meanwhile I put both door cappings once I had found suitable and matching screws to fit them.
Gear lever surround: A lesson in sequencing here folks. The gear lever surround is mounted to a metal plate which ideally is inserted before the tunnel carpet is fitted. Ah. Some teamwork here had the tunnel carpet lifted up (its really stiff) and the plate inserted to allow the gearbox surround to be bolted down. Ashley was doing this job while I was fitting the door cappings and it involved some tricky cuts to the carpet, however the finished article looks good.
Test Drive: After all this work we treated ourselves to a brief drive around the block in seats, with seat belts! I popped the wipers on even though they are not wired up, just to avoid attracting unnecessary attention. We literally went around the block as per yesterday and all was well with the engine pulling cleanly, good oil pressure and water temperature all as it should be and no leaks (apart from the known fuel tank seepage). After three longs days we reflected on our progress, the multiple lessons you can only learn from experience and the laughs we’d had along the way. As the sun lowered, the sky lit up with an orange glow and Ashley climbed into his Mini Clubman and was on his way.