Friday, April 30, 2021

I Got 99 Problems, But a Wiper Switch Ain’t One

While I wait for my first big parts order, I figured I’d tackle some small jobs. First up: the wiper switch.

The MGB wiper switch for the later years does triple duty: wipers, washer and overdrive control. I don’t have an OD, but the rest of the switch works. Except it’s floppy.

I decided that when a replacement is $110, I would try my hand at fixing the flop.  All that could happen is I spend the dough. The best case is I save it.  So here we go.

The stalk is held in place by a pin, which when removed reveals the innards.

The stalk moves in and out, held in position by a plunger and spring.  The plunger is long gone—but lucky for me, the spring is not.  So all I need is to make a plunger.

The diameter of the hole looks like it would take a screw.  So why not?

After a couple of false starts, I ground the screw head down and chopped the shank to the right length.  It fit like a glove.

I added a little lithium grease, installed the homemade plunger, and pinned it in place.  Voila!  The switch is no longer floppy, and it theoretically would engage the overdrive.

The last job was to clean the little knob for the washer control  It unscrews, and cleaned up with a little steel wool and some polish.

And with that, I saved $110.

The turn indicator switch may be a lost cause, but those are much less expensive.  But because it’s original to the car, I’ll still take a swing at it.

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Give My Creation.... LIFE!

Oh, what a glorious day!  Alice lives! 

In the immortal words of Doctor Fredrick Frankenstein (that's Fraaankenstein):

"Life!  Life, do you hear me!  Give my creation... LIIIIIIFE!"

I decided to go for broke and see if I could fire her up.  I knew it would be temporary and short lived, but after seeing how easily the engine turned by hand I thought there was a chance.

First things first: I bought a battery, plugs and plug wires.  I installed the battery and heard a good sound: the sound of a ticking fuel pump.  Then I realized I had just pumped 11 year old gas into the float bowl.  Crap.  I decided that mixing with fresh fuel would dilute it after a couple of seconds and it would be okay.

The next and stinkiest job (literally) was to drain the fuel tank.  I had thought of draining the tank and pulling it, but I changed my mind after finding some rust around the filler neck.  As in, the floor where the seal between the tank and the trunk had half-rotted away.  It's just the ring around the filler neck, but it will have to be repaired.  The PO had caulked it up long ago to try to stop fuel fumes from entering the trunk, but he missed the part where there was actually a hole in the filler neck.  The tank doesn't look all that great inside either, so it means a new tank will be in my future.

But ohmygod, if you've ever smelled old gas...  I found a siphon pump and pulled about 2.5 gallons out, and it looked like old pee.  It smelled worse, at least in my imagination.  But I did get it all out.  I added a couple of gallons of fresh premium in its place.

At the other end, I pulled the old fuel line and filter (hard with age) and installed new ones.  I pulled the cap and rotor and cleaned them up enough to give them a chance to function.  I reinstalled them with new plug wires and the plugs (NGK BPR6ES, only the best for my girl!).  I then turned the key to ON and pumped the rest of that crappy fuel out of the line.

Finally, I hooked the line up to the carb, got in the car, turned the key to START, and after about 2-3 seconds Alice came to life like the last 11 years never happened.  She settled into a fast idle (water choke is working!) and showed 60psi at the gauge.  The tach lit up along with the fuel gauge.  The alternator light didn't come on, so I've got juice (but a tester will confirm).  Eventually, I saw a budge of the temp needle too, so there's enough coolant in the system (leaky as it is) to circulate something.

Here she is, immortalized on YouTube.  This is the second start; the first just idled for a little while, then I shut her down so I could get my daughter to come take a video.

She doesn't sound bad at all.  Not great - there is an intermittent knocking sound at low idle that sounds like valve train - but wow!  I cycled on and off a few times, and she starts right up.  There's no smoke, and the exhaust smells 'clean'!

Things I noted:

  • There is an exhaust leak (probably at the manifold).  I'll end up pulling the carb and manifolds and replacing the gaskets.
  • I need to adjust the valves next time I get cheeky and fire her up.
  • I have less of a carb rebuild than I expected - needle/seat, float, gaskets.
  • The check valve on the air manifold is toast (but I found a used one).
  • All the hoses and filters need replacing, coolant and fuel, along with the water pump for safety.
  • The fuel tank needs replacement and the trunk floor needs repair around the filler neck.
  • The fuel pump is an aftermarket, but it works and is in the right spot.
  • The fasten seat belts light and buzzer work.  (Boy is that buzzer annoying!)
  • Hazards and turn signals (mostly) work, lights work, and wipers work (but not the washer).
  • The fan doesn't work, and I don't know if it's the switch or the motor.  The fuses are all intact.
  • The radiator probably needs going over as I see signs of old leaks around the cap.

    Did I mention old gas stinks? I can still smell it on my hands after washing three times.

    After all that fun, I did a compression test to see how the piston rings fared.  I pulled all the plugs and the coil wire, and hooked up my tester to each cylinder in turn.  I got:
    • 1: 125
    • 2: 125
    • 3: 128
    • 4: 130
    Whoo boy!  That's awesome.  And though I didn't run her that long, the plugs looked clean when I removed them for the test.

    I need to place a big order before I do anything else.  I want to replace all that ignition, fuel and cooling stuff I noted earlier.  I'll also change all fluids front-to-back (I didn't even change the oil for this test - it was still enough like oil to do the job).  I want to run her enough to let things fully heat up and the cooling system cycle.  I also want to do enough to get the brakes and clutch to function (even if I don't replace the drums/shoes and pads/rotors) so I can crawl her around the block.  From there, I'll work on making her roadworthy, including brakes and suspension, and wheels and tires.  Speaking of wheels, I'm looking at VTO's 15" Silverstone rims.  Pretty.

    She might make it to the green by November after all...
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    Friday, April 23, 2021

    Some Good News

    I hauled Alice (yes, her name is Alice) into the garage tonight to take a closer look and prepare to spin the motor by hand.

    I pulled the plugs and took a look in the cylinders. Not bad. I definitely see carbon buildup, but the walls looked okay. I put 3cc of Marvel Mystery oil in each cylinder and let it soak for a while. The plugs themselves didn’t look too bad, though one broke as I removed it.  Looks like 3 and 4 were running rich. 

    Then I pulled the dash pot off the carb, and was pleasantly surprised at the condition of the innards. Even the diaphragm was still flexible and intact.

    The piston cleaned up with a little carb cleaner.  The piston even still had a little dash pot oil in it.

    Then I pulled the valve cover. More nice things to see. There was still a little oil residue on the valves and everything looked really clean.

    The distributor is a points system, not the electronic ignition I thought I’d find.  The cap and rotor are shot, but it will all get replaced.

    I am surprised by how well preserved everything is under the bonnet. I definitely have to replace the hoses; one of the radiator hoses is leaking coolant. But the coolant coming out is green, not rust colored.

    There’s even oil in it. And it smells like oil.

    After all this looking around, I got out my 1 3/4 socket, jacked up the car a bit, and crossed my fingers. I needn’t have worried. The engine spun over without any problems.

    This is all great news. I have plenty of work to do—pulling the tank and flushing the lines, for starters—but I may be able to apply fuel, air and spark sometime soon!

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    Thursday, April 22, 2021

    Legally Mine

    I got the title in the mail today.  Hooray!  Now, my possession is 100% of the law instead of just the usual 90%.

    That is all.

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    Saturday, April 17, 2021

    Taking a Good Look

    I hauled (well, pushed) my new acquisition into the garage today, put her up on jacks, and took a good look at what I have bought.  All in all, not too shabby!

    There's been some repair work.  The outer sills appear to be replacements (not well done, and starting to show now that I have a better view).  The passenger's rear wheel arch has been repaired.  But otherwise, she's quite solid.  There's no apparent give in the floor pan, and aside from a bit of rust on the frame in the driver's footwell (obviously, something was leaking there) and some around the trunk (boot) lid, it's pretty tidy.

    The underside of the car is covered in goo, though.  A long time ago, this car was undercoated.  That's not what I'm taking about.  Something else has been sprayed on... well, seemingly everything in the rear end.  It's going to take some cleaning and I fear it may take a pressure washer or powered steam to get it off.

    The front suspension is in pretty decent shape, though it needs a complete rebuild.  The brakes don't look bad but the calipers are certainly frozen from disuse.

    The front of the car took a few hits underneath and the bottom of the front valance is pretty trashed.  But that's what I think it's for.  The mechanicals all look okay.  The steering rack needs to be removed, cleaned, and rebuilt with new boots and tie rod ends.

    I have not yet tried to turn over the engine, even by hand.  I'm hoping that being somewhat sealed up will have preserved it, but I may need to rent a bore scope to see.  I would prefer not to rebuild the engine with the low miles it has.

    The exhaust needs to be replaced, as it doesn't appear to be correct and the hangers are cobbled together artwork.

    I did apply power to the electrics, and the lights and hazards mostly work.  And the radio.  One must have tunes.  But nothing else showed life, and I didn't expect it to on a low amp circuit from my charger.  The battery has long since expired.

    I took a little cutting and polishing compound to the passenger's fender (wing) and a corner of the hood (bonnet), and the paint did come back somewhat even by hand.  So maybe there's some life in it.

    Without further ado, here's some pics.






    Oh, and I removed the faux sheepskin seat covers.  The seats are not in good shape, but it looks better.


    My plan for the car is:

    First, get it running.  That means:
    1. Draining and cleaning the tank and rebuilding the carb (yes, only one).  It may mean a new fuel pump too.  New fuel lines and filter.
    2. Rebuilding the cooling system (water pump, heater control valve which is frozen, new hoses).
    3. Rebuilding the ignition system (cap/rotor/points/wires/plugs at minimum, hopefully not much more).
    4. Renovate the emissions system (test air pump, new hoses, EGR valve).  I plan to keep this car looking original given its low mileage.
    5. Change all fluids.
    6. New battery.
    7. Lubricate and turn the engine over by hand, assuming it turns.
    8.  Cross fingers and turn the key.
    Once it runs, I'll worry about making it stop.  That means:
    1. Rebuild or replace the master cylinder.
    2. Rebuild or replace the front calipers (hopefully, rebuild - I'd like to keep the original).
    3. Replace the rotors (maybe) and pads (definitely).
    4. Replace the rear drums and wheel cylinders.
    5. Replace all hoses.  I don't think I'll need lines but we'll see.  That would be a major chore - I disliked it in the Midget, and this looks harder since I'm not planning to pull everything out.
    6. Bleed the system.
    7. Replace the parking brake cable (cut since it was frozen) and likely the remaining components.
    Once it stops, maybe I can get it to go.  That means:
    1. Install a new clutch master and slave cylinder and hose.
    2. Bleed the system.
    3. Pray to the friction gods that the clutch isn't frozen.
    4. Recondition the driveshaft with new universal joints.
    Once it will go, it needs to go where I want it to.  That means:
    1. Remove and recondition the steering rack and replace tie rod ends.
    2. Disassemble the front suspension, replace bushings and clean the assemblies.
    3. Replace the front and rear dampers (World Wide Auto Parts, I hope you're listening).
    4. Replace all bushings in the rear suspension.
    5. Replace the tires.
    At that point, the car may run, go where I want and stop.  Then I'll worry about making things pretty.  This is of course hoping Old Man Lucas chooses to ignore me and the wiring and gauges function.  That means:
    1. New interior carpet, panels and seat covers (light tan).
    2. Replace the driver's side seat cushion (at minimum - probably will do both).
    3. Clean up and repair some dash issues.
    4. Remove the windscreen (which means the dash, lovely) and replace the body seal.
    5. Replace the wipers.
    6. Fit a new top (this one is hail damaged and gone to Top Heaven).
    Then I'll have a functioning car.  Beyond that - I may do some body work and repaint the car in Iris Blue (my daughter's choice).

    That's not a short list.  But it's a plan.  And there's no time like the present to get started!

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    Getting Started

    Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip... to buy a 1975 MGB that's been waiting for a long time to see the road again.

    My hobby is restoring cars.  I've already completed a major project (see my other blog, The Midget Restoration Chronicles).  I have an Alfa that I dabble with, but I've had The Itch for a new project ever since I finished the Midget.

    The MG club I belong to (and am currently president of) was at an event a few weeks ago.  After we all lined up our beautiful British machines, this woman came up to me and mentioned she had an MGB that she was not sure what she should do to restore it.  It had been her first car, and it hadn't been on the road for a very long time.  I said I'd come over and take a look.

    Here's what I saw.


    The car had definitely been sitting for a while.  The last registration sticker was from 2007 and the mileage was the same as the title from 2001 (43569).  It was complete and surprisingly clean and rust-free after having been in Virginia for so long, but all the mechanicals were going to need restoration and the interior was sun-rotted aside from the seats.

    As I took pictures of the car, I began to feel The Itch.  I hadn’t planned on buying this car, but I felt like it was calling me...

    After some lengthy discussions and soul searching, the owner made the very difficult decision to sell the car, and my wife made the very difficult decision to let me buy it.

    Now, it's at my house waiting to be gone over with a fine toothed, greasy comb.

    This will be fun.

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