A brief bit of work tonight, simply giving the under bonnet a light wipe over to get rid of some of the marks which have accumulated over time. I find that the marks came off with a little T-cut on a cloth. Afterwards I gave the area a spray with some detailer and wiped it off.
I discovered that I’d neglected to put the fuse cover on the fuse box so I located it in a likely looking pile of bits and popped it on after a wipe over.
Looking across the other side of the engine bay the bonnet release cable was looking a bit floppy and there was a blank bracket which must have held a clip at one point. So it was now just a matter of finding a clip to fit and popping it on. I found one that looked right but it needed a clean up so I spent 30 not very interesting minutes with some sand paper making it more presentable. Fitted that and called it a night.
After I sorted a leaky servo pipe recently I needed to retard the ignition as the advance was now way to aggressive under load and pinking was occurring. Basically the advance on the distributor was now getting a good suck if you’ll pardon the expression. This at least is the working theory.
My friend John was on hand as we set about loosening the distributor clamp to make an adjustment. This turned out to be a long awkward job as the bolt head was rounded off. We decided that this was a situation worth resolving otherwise it would always be a problem and so committed to removing the distributor, and the clamp.
On removal, we discovered that the bolt had been fitted incorrectly (by whom I wonder?). The clamp is cleverly designed to hold the bolt head so that all you need to do is tighten or loosen the nut. No need for two spanners. This is probably obvious to many people but it was a learning point for me.
Anyway, we concluded that we’d set the timing from scratch with a strobe light on another day so I finished up by cleaning the bracket because why not make it a bit more presentable?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
I booked three days off from work, and a friend (Ashley) to help me tackle a batch of jobs on the MG. This is what we achieved on day 1.
Fan belt: I thought it prudent to replace the fan belt which came with the car. Given that the MG had been stood for at least five years, and in my ownership for three years, and that the current fan belt was of unknown vintage I had decided to replace it with a shiny new one. The job itself is really simple, slacken off the lower bolt on the sliding bracket. then the two top bolts on the alternator. The alternator can then be swung, taking the tension out of the belt and its comes off easily enough. The new belt took a bit of work with my thumbs to sit over the pulleys, but not too bad. I then swung the alternator back into position, applied some tension and tightened the bolts. The belt tension felt about right, although time will tell and anyway an easy thing to adjust. It certainly isn’t too tight. It brought back memories of when Dad used to service cars and I would help him. I seem to remember that he would ask me to hold the alternator, which of course would immediately move, and he would have to put it back and again and say something encouraging like ‘this time hold it.’ Oh the fun we had, I am not sure how much help I was!
Bonnet Seal: Next easy job was to fit a rubber seal to the seam which runs up the wings and then joins the scuttle. On the MG this is a three quarter affair – its starts halfway up the wing, goes around the top and then halfway down the other wing. This was a simple matter of pushing the rubber seal onto the seam and making sure it sat nicely. Then when I found that the two sides were uneven (it went further down one wing than the other), taking it off and doing it again.
Seat Preparation: I had previously had all sorts of hassle with the seat runners, a victim of a mis-order resulting in too few of the right parts and too many of the wrong ones. Anyway, I now had everything I needed, so in the comfort of my study I laid out the parts and worked out what went where. The seats are now ready to be fitted.
Steering Column Bracket: Some time earlier in the build I had temporarily popped a bolt through the steering column bracket to hold it in place while I fitted the dash. I remind myself that temporary fitting of anything has tended to end badly. So it was that Ashley and I found ourselves struggling to remove the temporary bolt which had wedged itself into the bracket (note: the bolt was too short to stay permanently). Combining this job with re-fixing the dash as I wasn’t happy with the fit, we loosened off the dash fixings and this enabled us to manoeuvre the steering column and dash allowing the temporary bolt to pop out willingly and the correct bolts to be promptly inserted and tightened up. With the steering column properly fixed to the underside of the dash we could then refit the dash, with the correct stays in place and a bit of adjustment to the brackets, achieving a better overall result. Its not perfect in terms of fit, but it is solidly and correctly placed which is good enough of me.
Rear Window trims: The MG has door capping trims which extend from the front doors to the rear windows. We had previously been short of the right screws to fit these. They are important to keep down the carpets and of course aesthetically. Ashely went on a mission to Halfords, Screw Fix and then B&Q in the hunt for suitable screws and returned with a suitable product which was swiftly fitted and so another job was struck off the list.
Door Glass: I’ve had a couple of goes at putting the door glass in before, but this time, I had Ashley alongside and I had a feeling that he would have a better three dimensional picture of what needed doing which turned out to be the case. I have trouble imagining things in three dimensions – my brain is tuned to other things, so these sorts of jobs I find really taxing. Ashley suggested checking that each door lock worked before fitting the glass and we verified that yes they were working fine. This was a smart check as otherwise it could have been very annoying to have to take it out again. We then spent a bit of time just looking and (Ashley) figuring out what needed to go where and then had a proper go. The tricky part is feeding the winding mechanism through the door as the opening is really tight and then aligning the bracketry so that the actuator is at the correct orientation as well as the other bracket which takes the weight of the window. Another challenge is getting the glass passed the outside window trim which again is tight. However, the drivers side glass went in and wound successfully up and down. We did have the adjust the quarterlight and rear rails to pull the window forward as the glass was too far to the rear and catching on the B-post. After adjustment it was better, but the glass was still a little short and far back – looking at it, we concluded that the door has dropped. This also explains why the door does not shut well. Neither of us was confident in adjusting the door hinges, so this remains on the job list, alongside other panel adjustments needed to the bonnet and hatch.
The passenger side was a repeat job and naturally doing it for the second time it was easier. Saying that, Ashley was the brains of this particular job, although it would be difficult for one person to do due to the need to both manoeuvre the mechanism and support the glass at the same time. This side fitted perfectly first time, providing further evidence that the drivers side door has dropped.
In the box of window bits was a chrome trim which we worked out was fixed to the door trailing edge (I love that term) to stabilise the glass when it is up. This needed to be rivetted in place, so an excuse to get out the rivet gun which is huge fun and within minutes the drivers side was fitted and looking good. However, there was only one trim in the box, so where was the passenger side one? Fortunately, I had previously sourced a spare door which had said trim, so it should have been an easy job to swap it on. However, not only were the rivets very reluctant to let go, but the chrome trim had been over-sprayed in green by the previous owner of the door. With some targeted brute force we removed the trim and set to with sandpaper to remove the horrible paint. After around 40 mins of effort we had the trim is reasonable shape and condition to be fitted. I walked around to the passenger side and…you’ve guessed it, the trim was already in place, having been over-sprayed in white (and thus invisible to us earlier). How we laughed.
Overall a good day of progress and a few jobs knocked off the list.
The MGB-GT has a hilariously small rear seat, justifying its moniker as a Grand Tourer. I had intended to leave out the rear seat but that actually is more work than refitting it. I haven’t had the rear seat (it comes in two parts) recovered but that will be done in the future. In the meantime I had a play this afternoon with the existing units, seeing how they go back together. Pleasingly I was able to bend the seat back hinges into shape and find enough of the right sized bolts and screws to fit it, and the boot floor panel which utilises the combined hinge unit. Once recovered I can fit the new carpet piece to the back of the seat and the chrome handles. A useful hour of work.