18 Feb 20 A day with Dad

A welcome visit from Dad who battled through, or rather around, floods in Gloucester to help me out today. Overall we made some useful progress, although as is often the case we had to go back to go forward. Before Dad had arrived, I pushed the MG out onto the drive and ended up unconnecting the loom under the bonnet because I now realise the routing of one of the branches was wrong and unless I pulled it all out, I wasn’t going to be able to connect the heater amongst other things. So a step back, but better to find it now than later.

Dad arrived and I prioritised having a cup of tea and an ice bun inside the house. You can’t mechanic on an emtpy stomach. So onto the work and Dad had expressed concern that we had not flushed the water jacket through. The heater control valve was clogged with rust on disassembly and so there was reason to suspect some corrosive sludge was lurking in the engine block. First we fitted the heater control valve to the engine block – this was to be our inlet for the flush – awkward job this as the bolts are inaccessible. I had tried new bolts, but these were about 2mm too long, so we had to dig out some shorter old bolts from the box of MG bolts. We then blocked up the top hose with a lump of wood wrapped in tape. With a finger in the temperature sensor hole and one on the heater rail pipe, we connected the garden hose and switched on. We got a dose of dirtyish water out the bottom hose, but not the expected deluge of rusty water. Holding my hand over the bottom hose built up a little bit of pressure, but we concluded that we had done what we could, so we refitted the radiator and hoses. This simple job actually took ages, because the radiator is awkward to remove and the hoses were not exactly co-operating either. In any case, we were in good spirits and Dad was great company.

Next Dad’s keen eye focussed in on the distributor which I had ‘fitted’ but he spotted that the clamp was on the wrong way and hence it wasn’t seated correctly, with the cap in contact with the steering column, which was a bit of a clue. Needless to say, he sorted that out although we weren’t able to accurately set the timing which needs to be done with a timing light apparently. Anyway, its in as good a state as it can be prior to attempting a start up in the near future.

What a top Dad he is

We broke for a sandwich lunch during which we were googling MGB engine bay pictures and researching bullet connector pliers. With a target of filling the car with coolant, our afternoon was spent in fitting and modifying in some cases the hoses of the cooling system. Facing a challenge with routing of the capilliary tube for the temperature sensor, Dad came up with a clever idea of using the bottom bolt of the heater control valve to fit a cable clip, lined with rubber hose to gently locate the tube and stop if waving around in the engine bay. Execution of this brilliant idea came down to me, and it was a pig of a job (thanks Dad) as the 7/16th bolt is very awkward to reach and one of those situations where you get about 1/4 of a turn at best with each placement of the open jawed spanner. Couldn’t get a socket or ring spanner to it, so just had to plug away. I only nearly cried once, but that was the wind in my eye. We then wound the excess length of the tube into coils to deal with any vibration in use.

Time was ticking on and Dad needed to get away for 3:00pm as flooding on roads near his house was a real risk, not to mention that he had worked bloody hard all day and is 73 years young. Of course, we made it with minutes to spare – all hoses complete and coolant topped up, and the car pushed into the garage missing a downpour of heavy rain.

So thanks to my Dad – he knows his stuff, he gets stuck in, he’s always looking to improve everything he tackles, he doesn’t let things get him down, he’s great fun to be around, are you getting the picture? He’s one in a million, thanks Dad.

15 Feb 2020 Avoiding Storm Dennis

Seriously stormy weather today in Wiltshire, courtesy of Dennis, so the only option for progressing the MG was to work within the confines of the garage. This limited what I was able to do, but actually we made some good steps forward, so not too bad at all. First of all, a couple of photos attempting to record just how grim the weather was. Its difficult to capture it, but it was just relentless wind and rain.

Decided to fit the radiator and hoses today. I bought the radiator and new hoses over a year ago, and they’ve just been sitting there waiting installation while I have built everything else up. The installation, which should have been a simple bolt on, took a bit longer because the radiator bolts did not align with the radiator shroud to which its mounted. I had previously fitted the shroud so envisaged just bolting it on. I attempted to overcome the misalignment by pushing and pulling, but that didn’t work. So I decided to unmount the shroud, fit the radiator to this, and then fit that to the car (via captive nuts on a lip on the inner wings). This method worked well and as I removed the shroud I could see that the holes for this were slotted so maybe that’s how the misalignment occured. I had plenty of practice putting the bolts on and off, that’s for sure. Next task was to fit the hoses and although these were a bit fiddly, a bit of patience and some Fairy Liquid got them mounted and I then fixed them with jubilee clips. I have now reached the stage of needing to have jubilee clips all facing the same way and I had one hose fitted before I realised the clips was the wrong way around, so that had to come off again! As I was in the area, I fitted the thermostat housing gasket which I had missed off when I fitted it earlier. Nice new shiny nuts and washers improved the look too.

While fitting the bottom hose I briefly managed to get my arm stuck between the alternator and the radiator. I had my sleeve rolled up and was reaching right down to fit the hose and as I went to pull my arm out, nothing happened. My arm just stayed put. This has only happened once or twice on this project, but it it is weird when it happens because you sort of think ‘well it went in, so it has to come out’. From experience, the thing to do is to think your way out as opposed to tugging to get free which just hurts and doesn’t always work. Anyway with a bit of a wriggle, I was free with no need to undo the radiator I had just fitted to free myself.

After this drama, I fitted the radiator stays. I had bought replacements for these, and also repainted the originals. The originals fitted better when I offered them up, so I fitted those, the others will go into my surplus sale box. On the near side, I had to replace one of the wing bolts, as the radiator stay relies on this for its fixing, and the bolt fitted was too short. I fitted a longer bolt and that all worked, but now I have one steel looking bolt, and the rest painted white. Something to touch up at some point.

I decided to re-use the original radiator cap, but it was a bit scruffy, so I cleaned it up using first my Dremel tool, then sandpaper and then metal polish. Quite pleased with the result pictured below.

The last job I tackled was to fit the proper spark plugs which I had bought over two years ago when I started the engine to see if it would go. I have already gapped them before, so it was just about fitting them. I removed the old faithful plugs that came with the car which only served the purpose of plugging the hole when the engine was out the car. I checked the plug leads were fitted in the correct firing order and they were.

Away from the garage I braved two forays outside to Halfords. First time to buy a battery as recommended by someone on the Facebook MG restoration page. It looked a bit big, but I thought I would trust the advice. Second visit to Halfords was to take the battery back and this time taking along my existing battery as a size comparison. Halfords were very nice and I did a quick exchange to obtain the correct size. I like our local Halfords, they have always been helpful and although they don’t stock everything, they’ve been good to me and don’t have any thing bad to say about them. The new battery is to give us the best possible chance of a successful engine start soon.

Feeling quite satisfied with progress made today