12 Aug 20 Releasing the carbs

Having established at the weekend, with Matt’s help, that the carburettors were blocked, and having consulted the ‘MG helpline’, A.K.A. my Dad, I found time this evening, with the help of my friend John, to investigate the problem. The UK was in the middle of a heat wave, one in which the temperature and humidity peaked between 5pm and 6pm arond 30 degrees, which was when we started to look at the MG. So the only right thing to do, while we wheeled the MG out, was to crack open a couple of cold beers and take a leasurely look at the problem. With John on board, this was going to be a logical approach to problem solving. Having already proven fuel would flow up to the carbs, we now knew the challenge was with the carb itself.

Step 1: Use a footpump to attempt to blow air into the carb. Result: No air passing through. Conclusion: Float/Needle valve stuck

Step 2: Remove carbs. Removing the carbs in theory is easy, its just four nuts. In practice, its fiddly, because the nuts won’t come off without waggling them to the end of the studs and then getting the angle just right. Having two people on hand is a definate advantage here, unless you are an octopus. Next challenge was to keep the carbs together with the linkages intact. To do this, we had the idea to use the plate that holds the air filters as a sort of jig. That took a bit of work to get right, but without (much) swearing, the carbs rattled free of their studs and were on the work bench.

Step 3: Remove float chamber lids. These come off easily enough, although the ‘O’ ring on the front carb hopped out of its slot and showed little enthusiasm to pop back in. Using the footpump and with the float valve open we used the foot pump again to add pressure and with a nice ‘pop!’ the needle valve on the rear carb freed itself. Surely the front carb would do the same, but it wasn’t shifting, so John tickled it with a pair of fine tweezers and before long both carbs were wheezing along in harmony at each press of the pump. How satisfying.

Step 4: Reassemble and refit the carbs. Hmm. That float chamber ‘O’ ring did not want to play ball and needs to be replaced, however, we think we teased it back in place and made a seal on both float chamber lids. We then man handled and wiggled the carbs back onto their studs, tightened them up and connected the breather pipe, fuel line, throttle and choke linkages.

Step 5: Test start the engine. ‘Hang on a minute,’ said John ‘didn’t you say that the fuel pump and coil are always on when you connect the battery?’ A discussion ensued in which John advised me against firing the engine when we are not confident of how the wiring was configured. So we disconnected the ignition switch and using a multimeter, identified what the various terminals were and then attempted to connect the correct wires. As we were nearing a conclusion on this, the rain came in heavy so we abandoned the task for the day having made some actual progress, but with some work to go to achieve sustained running.

9 Aug 20 Fuelling around

So having demonstrated that the MG would start, it was time to connect up the fuel pipe and provide a reliable supply to the carbs to sustain running. I had a reliable assistant in the form of Matt (Ellie’s boyfriend). First we bought some fresh fuel and charged the tank with 5 litres. Next we connected the fuel pump wiring, connected the battery and heard a reassuring tick from the pump (err, surely after you turned on the ignition…). After a short while we were concerned that no fuel was flowing through and sure enough, on checking I found the pump was plumbed the wrong way around. I wonder who did that?

After a bit of replumbing and we were back in business although still there was no fuel feeding through to the filter let alone the carbs. Vaguely remembering something about air locks we released the pipe at the carbs end and with a hiss we started to see fuel travelling through the filter and turn up to the carbs. Progress!

But this wouldn’t be the Relentless Duck blog without some ‘issues’ and without detailing all the challenges, we did have a leak out of the fuel sender unit. Not being sure why this was leaking we set up a fuel can to catch the drips until the level was low enough for it to stop. The following day, on a break from work, a YouTube video showed how this should have been tightened up. Another day, another thing learned.

With fuel to the carbs, surely the MG would now fire up and continue running? Sadly not, the carbs refused to take the fuel and the removal of the lid from the float chamber revealed it to be dry. Oh dear. Further investigation needed, the outcome of which will be covered in a future post

1 Aug 20 a step forwards

I’ve had a problem with oil leaking from the oil filters area for a while and this has prevented me progressing the engine start because cranking the engine resulted in a pool of engine oil under the car. Having had several goes at refitting the oil filter to oil cooler union, today I used my brain and had Helen in the car cranking the engine over and me looking to see where the leak was coming from. Turns out the leak was from the oil filter ONTO the connection so I was looking in the wrong place. So my focus turned to sorting this connection out and following a phone call to Dad I removed and refitted it. No leak on cranking! Problem solved. I couldn’t resist cranking the engine over to fire (which it didn’t) but I did check and I was getting no spark so at least I know one of the problems to sort out.

This lovely engine bay will sound nice too one day
Oil everywhere but where from!

Back to earlier in the day and ongoing (and off going) saga of the doors and their glass. I had previously fitted the quarter lights but on inspection the runners were perished so I recently ordered some new one from Moss and had stripped them down. So while British Grand Prix Practice and Qualifying ran on I sat in the lounge working the new rubbers into place using a blunt ended tea spoon. Apart from where it dug into my palm painfully it wasn’t too bad and I followed the general approach that Andy from Wiltshire Windscreens showed me when he fitted the front and rear screens. So with these done I loosely fitted the back in. I will tighten them when I get the glass as I think you need them loose to get the whole mechanism in and then you tighten it all up.

Also in preparation for the glass (which I need to order) I removed the lower bracket from the rear glass stay. I have ordered new ones of these with nice new felt lining but they don’t come with the bracket. Rather than put the old brackets on as they were. I decided they would be better painted. I used a Hammerite black straight to rust paint, brush applied. It doesn’t need to look good but it should be protected against corrosion hence this approach. I was a bit delayed in fitting the stays as the paint is still drying so I will need to fit those when I next get the MG out.

Waiting for these to dry before fitting

So that’s about it. Keith the TV aerial guy was passing with his mate and said Hi. A couple of other people nodded their appreciation (or sympathy or contempt it’s hard to tell) so it was an encouraging day on the MG. Last thing to say is that to save my back I towed it out the garage this morning with my CRV which worked reasonably well although I did need a willing assistant which was of course the ever patient Helen.

A closing thought about gratitude…

30 Jul 20 Putting my back into it

I was motivated to get outside after work today and do something useful on the MG. I have for a long time bemoaned how I routed the rear loom which turned out to foul the internal trim panels due to a temporary cognitive failure on my part. So I decided to reverse this and find a better route. Reversing the install turned out to be much simpler than I thought.

I then had to work out a better route and curiously it is remarkably unclear what this should be. After a bit of trial and error I have found a route which allows the loom to reach all the right places and also looks like a reasonable location to be clipped in place out of the way and logically. At least I hope so.

It was good to make some progress after having had a lot of (admittedly not entirely unpleasant) distractions. The only down side was a twinge in my back as the MG is getting heavier the more parts I bolt on, and my back is getting no stronger. I may revert to towing it up the drive until she’s a runner.

28 Apr 20 Daft cat

Just a quick entry to record this picture of our daft cat. My daughter popped into the garage to access the freezer and as often happens, the cat dived in to poke around the garage in search of a mouse (although she is a useless hunter and there are no mice in the garage, unless you count the 2 x frozen mice we have kept for the in-laws pet snake for when lockdown is over). Anyway, standard procedure is to close the door and leave her in there for ten minutes. She’s usually ready to come out. But tonight she decided to stay in the MG and Lou managed to capture this shot – daft cat. Pity she can’t sort out the timing!

Stay safe folks – God Bless

22 Feb 20 Re-fuse-ing to give up

Spent a couple of hours on the MG this afternoon. It was cold and windy so I confined myself to the garage. First job was to finish off fitting the new rubber oil cooler pipes. I am replacing the nasty braided ones which are very stiff with OE spec rubber which is a bit more pliant. This is an awkward fit and it requires a bit of coordination because the oil gauge pipe has to be fitted AFTER the pipe cooler pipe because otherwise the spanner crushes the oil gauge pipe. Have a guess how I know this? After fitting the pipes I had to fit the hateful grommets to the radiator shroud which is another awkward job. Anyway it’s done now.

It’s all a bit congested here

Next I decided to progress the wiring loom connections. Last week I had to unpick the loom due to poor routing so this week I put some of that back. I connected the alternator which is easy then had to take the coil off to get that connected properly. So far so good. I then checked the fuse box which I wasn’t convinced had been connected properly. Rather than rely on pictures on the internet I actually used the wiring diagram and managed to use up all the available wires so it must be right! (It is right really).

So onto the next thing and I identified a problem. The distributor, which is a new unit from Accuspark needs power which it gets from the coil. Unfortunately one of the cables is not long enough. It mentions this in the instructions which cheerfully say ‘you may have to lengthen the wire’. I might write back to them to say ‘you could just supply the right length wire.’ So I need to grab a pal who can joins a bit of wire for me

This is the probably definitely correctly connected fuse box

Final task today was to fit an earth wire to the inner wing. The original bolt had been painted over and the head rounded off when I tried to release it. Even my freeze spray couldn’t rescue the situation so I did the brutal thing and drilled it out. I managed to then get another bolt to fit and job done. Not a bad afternoon’s work.

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!

27 Jul 19 Thinking ahead

A few things to report. Firstly, not much progress. I was a little distracted with preparing for and then undertaking a sponsored walk for the charity Open Doors, which serves persecuted Christians worldwide. Christians get beaten up and worse for their faith and that can’t be right. So a friend of mine, Chris and I walked 140 miles over 7 days, attracting donations of £3,600 and raising awareness of Open Doors.

Back to the MG, I had recently managed to obtain a part on the bonnet gas strut that I had mullered on installation, so that’s now working and here is a photo showing the bonnet proudly erect on its struts. All very nice, but during fitting, the hinges took a bit of stick with one gas strut agressively pushing up one side and so now the bonnet needs a press at the top edge when lowered so that is something to be sorted one day…(not a priority!)

The gas struts raise the bonnet to a much higher angle than the saggy original single strut

I didn’t have long on Saturday to work on the MG so I had to be selective about what I tackled. As usual, a quick garage tidy is always a good start and I managed to reorganise things to give a bit more room. Then I focussed on what parts I would need to have organised to tackle the engine and gearbox installation. Chief among these is the cross-member and its associated mountings. As I did not take the engine and gearbox out, this involved a bit of guess work in sorting through the bag of nuts and bolts I was given after it was taken out. It actually didn’t take too long to figure it all out, althought it is quite a complex arrangement and I think will be very fiddly to install. See photo below of the mocked up cross-member. Its still in primer as I haven’t finished refurbishing it yet.

The dreaded cross member – how easy will it be to fit this to the gearbox?

Latest theory from having taken some advice, it to install the gearbox first, then the engine, having trial mated them together first. This is because the combined unit is very long and its challenging to get all the angles to work to fit it in. So I am now focussed on getting this installation done (with a little help from my friends of course) as soon as I can. This won’t be that soon as my 25th Wedding Anniversary is coming up and a holiday to Crete, but after that I am going to focus on this and push on with the job. Wish me well, this next bit could be a challenge!

25 Jun 19 Carbs are good

Received notification from Coln Engineering in Gloucester that they have finished the refurbishment of the carburetters. The price has gone up slightly because the throttle spindles were knackered and they had to replace some missing linkage parts. So overall I think a good choice to get them done, as they should now see out the life of the car without further work. The carbs will be shipped over the next couple of days, checked in by the Goods Inwards Department (me), stacked in the parts bins by the Warehouse Supervisor (me) and their fitment scheduled by the Chief Planner (me). The Chief Planner (me) needs to have words with the Chief Mechanic (also me) about progress on the MG which has slipped recently due to ‘prior engagements’, including a planned 140 mile walk for the charity Open Doors in July. I am assured that the Chief Mechanic will focus on the backlog of jobs on the MG once he has completed his walk, had his 25th Wedding Anniversary Party in August and his holiday to Crete shortly afterwards.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, yesterday lunchtime, looking for 20 mins relief from work, I trial fitted the old number plate onto the back of the car. I am interested to see how it will look without the bumpers and I have yet to consider how to light the back plate (in accordance with the law) without the bumper where the number plate lights are usually mounted. I expect someone like Car Builder Solutions will have a universal lamp I can use. Anyway, here in all its glory is the numberplate in situ. I quite like the idea of using some old parts on the car, but not sure I am going to keep this as its a bit ratty. Anyway, one less item on the shelf and back on the car which I count as progress!

And finally, today en-route to Cambridge for work, I dropped the old seats at Mirror Trim in Toddington. I had placed the order for the seats at the MG & Triumph Spares Day earlier in the year and arranged for them to done through the summer. They should be ready around September and will either go into storage, or straight into the car depending on progress. Mirror Trim are also making up a set of carpets, so that will be a substantial part of the interior sorted, although the headlining remains a maze of choices from which I have not yet found the exit. Mirror Trim are one of those lovely cottage industries working literally out of an old oak framed barn from where they churn out high quality product. What a great way to make a living I’m sure. Here is a last look at the seats before their transformation.

2 Jun 19 Front lamp install

Had a couple of hours to spend on the MG, but the weather wasn’t playing ball with steady rain. I limited myself to an inside job, although I did push the MG halfway out of the garage so I could move around a little bit easier. Decided to install a front headlight as I had all the parts having recently purchased nice new rubber seals from Moss. The rubber seal is quite a robust piece which sits on the headlight plate (remember that the headlight plates are new, having been installed as part of the respray to address the serious front wing corrosion in this area). When I got the car, the lamp bowls were held in place with big screws, but I didn’t think that British Leyland intended it to be this way so I had previously bought some stubby bolts which I figured could be manouvred to fit. I had already found out on another occasion that longer bolts could not be fitted, so shorter ones had to be obtained.

A gorgeous front end, but the bevel doesnt want to go on

First task was to make holes in the rubber seal for the bolts since as bought they just have markings where the bolts go. Tricky job, but the dremmel made a reasonable job and then a craft knife, carefully wielded to avoid a nasty cut eased them open. With the seal held in place with two lugs, I held the lamp bowl up to the seal and worked the bolts through the holes and then with the other hand reached around under the wheel arch to fit the tiny nut on the end of the little bolt. If anything, the bolts were a bit on the short side, but once tightened up, there was plenty of thread on which to bite as the rubber does compress a bit. A fiddly job. Final task to install the lamp is the clip the chrome bevel onto the bowl and push it home. This didn’t go well unfortunately as the bevel declined all requests to hold tight. I wonder if I have installed something wrong? I am going to have a look at the other lamp and see if I can better understand how the bevel clips on. A quick search on YouTube had some smug restorer clipping it in place with a short tap. Mmm, not how it turned out for me. Anyway, something to overcome along the way, and progress of a sort (maybe too tightly fitted?). Another challenge identified was in the fixing of the combined indicator / side lamp. The fixing for the new unit from Moss has different mounting points to the existing unit so while one side fits nicely, the other fixing misses the aperature and to all intends and purposes needs to be fixed to fresh air. Currently reviewing options on that one, but I am sure I can figure something out and learn some more. All comments welcome!

25 May 19 Put it on the ramp

‘Two hours to do a 15min job’ is how my Dad summarised this Saturday afternoon’s effort. My Dad was a mechanic in his younger days and so when he visited with my Step-Mum Pauline on Saturday it was an opportunity to ask for his help with the MG. His first quip among many was ‘put it on a ramp, Ad’ recongnising that a lot of what I do is made harder by not having a fully equipped garage in which to operate. I remember when as a little boy I would ‘help’ my Dad at the garage where he worked, a British Leyland Dealership with full workshop facilities. When I got into car ownership, Dad would do jobs on my cars and when neccessary we could utilise the ramps to get the car to the right height to work on, not to mention access to air tools and welding equipment. We would also use the PDI bay to polish cars, often bringing tired old paint to life with a bit of elbow grease and cutting paste. Happy days.

A look around my ‘Parts Department’

Back to Saturday and we jacked up the rear of the MG, took both wheels off and had a look at the brake pipes. We replaced the flexible hose (on the o/s) and the short copper brake pipe from the three way union to the o/s drum. The copper pipe needed to be bent to shape and we were able to use the old one as a template.

Shout out to Dad for his YouTube channel here 257 subscribers and 39,000 views and counting, take a look. What an absolute legend. Thanks for your help Dad – love you.

18 May 19 Brake pipes – actual progress

A positive post because today I managed to install the front brakes lines. I have been dreading this job, but actually it went okay. There were a couple of challenges, but that’s all part of the learning curve. Anyway, never mind that, look at the shiny braided hoses – phwoar!

Lovely braided hoses

Okay so it didn’t go all that smoothly, but as always, staying calm and thinking saves the day. First challenge was working from the flexible hoses fixed to the caliper. Removing the hoses was a bit tough and I had to wire brush all the suspension which was still filthy with paint-booth muck so that took a while. Once I have built the car, I will go back and refurbish the suspension, including refreshing the paint, but I want to be up and rolling by that stage. When putting it back I forgot the nut so got in a bit of a pickle – one of the those situations where it didn’t feel right, so it couldn’t be right . After I stepped back to think, I discovered the forgotten nut and then it went back nicely. I fitted the flexible hoses and the new copper pipes and then worked my way into the engine bay, even getting some help from Helen who had to hold a pipe under the bonnet while I accessed the master cylinder from the inside of the car (through the firewall). Feeling smug, I finished up under the bonnet with the remaining brakes and stepped back to admire my work. At this point I realised that having mis-installed one pipe I effectively had created the world’s first MGB with only front brakes. Cue much concerned consultation of the manual and internet searching before I realised my mistake. I had missed the second servo brake pipe, but it was a relatively easy fix to re-pipe what I had done and correct my mistake.

So it was all sorted out in the end. I still have to install the pipes under the car to the rear, but I am now much more confident about this work.

As I still had some time left in the day, I decided to take on a simple job, but one which would remove some more clutter from my shelves. Installing the rear quarter windows was relatively simple but first I cleaned them up using some kitchen spray and a ball of kitchen cooking (aluminium) foil which I had been told (by Rob) was good for refurbishing chrome and it did prove to effective. They went back in nice and simply with all the fixing intact and available. There are a lot of trims to go these windows as well as new rubbers, so they may have to come on and off, but it just felt like a useful thing to do and the car seemed to appreciate it (as mad as that sounds)

So a positive day and I was pleased with progress. It was an inspired decision to work from the calipers into the engine bay, but I am not sure who to thank – either God, or some long passed-away relative was looking down and saying ‘do it this way’. In either case, thanks!