Saturday, May 29, 2021

Brakes I

Now that the clutch is sorted, the next big job is being able to stop what can go.  So, brakes!

Rebuilding master cylinders (brake and clutch – I did that one too) isn’t difficult if the parts you start with are in good shape.  However, if the bores are damaged in any way, toss it and buy a new or rebuilt unit.  Brakes are safety items, so don’t mess around.  But a good core will yield a good result and be as good (and safe) as new.

I started with the master cylinder, which was not doing anything other than being a lump.  Removal was pretty easy - I've been having good luck with taking things apart on this car.  The lines came off easily and the master unbolted from the booster with little drama (other than having to take the intake off that I had just put back on).

The first step was to remove the reservoir, which was actually the hardest part.  The screws that hold it in place were very stubborn, but enough penetrant and a large screwdriver-with-visegrip-handle made it happen.


The next step is removing the primary port adapter and secondary port seal, to get to the insides.

Then it's a pretty simple job to remove the pistons, starting with removing the circlip that holds them in place, then extracting the primary and its spring, followed by the secondary and its spring.  The secondary is held in place with a little pin, which is removed by compressing the piston/spring using a long 'soft metal rod' (long 3/8" extension) and pulling out the pin.

The last part to remove is the pressure differential assembly.  Okay, so I fibbed a bit before - this was the hardest thing to remove, though those screws were knuckle-biting.  Anyhow, this is done by first removing the plug that holds the pin in place.  That took a long 1/2" breaker bar and steady pressure while clamped in my trusty vise.

Now the real fun begins.  The manual states to remove the pin with air pressure, but guess what wasn't moving.  I did finally coax it into a bit of movement after soaking in penetrant, and then I was actually able to pop it out with air pressure as recommended.  But it was a hard battle for a while, because I was afraid to bend or break things.  It turns out this was an abundance of caution, and the bore was intact.  Here's a couple of pics of the pin centered, and then moved... then the little bastard itself.

Once apart, inspection showed that the bores were all clean and undamaged, so my trusty rebuild kit was going to get put to good use.

But first, a thorough clean and rubber replacement!

As the Haynes manual says, "assembly is the reverse of disassembly."  So in went the differential pin and cap, followed by the secondary spring and piston, and that little pin I mentioned before.

Next in is the primary spring and piston, held in place with the circlip, with everything lubricated before assembly of course.

Finishing the job is to simply replace the primary port adapter, fit the new seals into the bottom of the reservoir and attach it to the body.  Top it off with a new vacuum seal and cover on the front, and it's complete.

I don't have a pressure differential switch, as it's make of unobtainium for 1975 (only).  The later switches are apparently constructed a little differently, though I cannot see how.  I may buy one anyhow to try out, or keep hunting unicorns.  The switch is mechanical and not fluid-activated, and all it’s going to do is light the light on the dash – but by the time the light goes on, you’ll be looking for the grab handle and checking the glovebox for a clean pair of undershorts.  So I may just plug it to keep the weather out like so many people do.  A properly bled system won’t have issues.

Refitting to the car is simple, and took less time than removal.

And there you have it.  Next job is rebuilding the calipers, which ought to be fun.

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Now that the car will run without leaking vital fluids, it's time to make it shift and stop.  I started with the shifting part, because it's easier.

The paperwork I have indicates the clutch master cylinder was replaced, so I figured it would be okay inside and that a rebuild would bring it back to life.  So that's what I bought.

First things first as always is to get the thing out of the car.  Wow.  I wouldn't want to do this twice.  I am sure I did it the hard way, but I can't see an easier one...

To remove the clutch master cylinder, I popped the firewall plug to gain access to the fixing bolts.  Then, I removed the banjo from the back.  Nothing leaked out, but that's because it leaked out the bottom (slave) long ago.  

Then I removed the box cover and the clevis pin attaching the pedal to the master.  That was the easy part.

Getting those two nuts and bolts that hold it in place was a bear.  The top one was easy since it was right on top.  The bottom one was horribly difficult, even with passing a long extension through the hole in the firewall apparently designed for this purpose.  With the dash in place, it was really hard to get the extension/socket and wrench all together, but I eventually did get it done and got the master cylinder out.

I also found the lead to the brake master cylinder pressure failure switch, which isn't hooked up because there is no switch installed (it's plugged with sealant).  I'll deal with that later.

The master cylinder is really simple and easy to rebuild.  The bore is spotless, but one of the seals looked like it failed or was failing.  No matter - the rebuild kit has all the stuff.

Reassembly is simple and just means putting all the stuff back the way I found it, with the new parts of course.

Installation into the car was not as difficult as removing it.  I found the right angle to get a socket on the bottom nut, so I didn't have to go through the hole in the firewall.  Easy-peasy.

On to the slave cylinder - 

This of course means getting under the car.  Ugh.  This is what I saw.

Fortunately, everything came out relatively easily.  (I continue to have good luck in this area.)  Replacement is simple - after a good clean, a new hose and cylinder fit right in place.  The cleaning took the longest.

I only cleaned the half I worked on, so there's definitely more to make nice under there.

I think I have a little problem though, easily remedied, but wow.  Take a look at the pin and pushrod.  There's been "some wear".  They'll work for the moment but need replacing.

Once assembled, I bled the system.  This took a while even with my vacuum bleeder, but I did finally get a good first bleed done (and the fluid is clean - so nice.)

I have a clutch!  I can push the pedal and move the car while in gear, and for a final test I fired Alice up and "drove" her about 2 feet.  She moved under her own power for the first time in at least a decade.  Once I replace the pin and pushrod, the pedal will be where I expect.  I'm also happy that the clutch disc wasn't frozen and there was no juddering.  One more thing I don't have to do!

I'll bleed the system again eventually, but for now I have one fully functioning clutch, and Alice is one step closer to being on the road.
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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Cooling and Carb

Time to get down to business, starting with keeping all the fluids inside.

First things first: I had a gas leak out the bottom of the float bowl, where the O-ring that kept the gas in had hardened and was not sealing any more.  So off came the carb!

The carb is in pretty good shape.  The water choke is functional, everything moves and no seals appear to be affected (other than that O-ring).  Here's the insides.

I checked the float, needle and seat and they appear to be fine, so I left them alone.  I did a little cleanup and put everything back together untouched, being sure to line up the reference mark on the water choke heat mass with the marks on the carb and spacer.  It ought to work fine, right?

From there, I moved on to the cooling system.  First things first: all the hoses had to go, and the radiator came out.

Then, it was time to move the air pump and remove the alternator so I could replace the water pump.  And of course, I changed the water pump.  The old pump seemed fine - but I wasn't going to trust it.

Things cleaned up pretty well.  The front seal and timing cover aren't leaking right now, so they're not getting touched either.  I am sure I will regret that decision.

There isn't much else to tell - I installed the new pump, replaced the hoses and radiator (and cap), and bolted the carb back into place.  I also changed the air pump check valve and some cracked vacuum lines.  It doesn't look any different; perhaps a bit cleaner.

The moment of truth was firing things up.  The car runs okay, but I suspect there is a vacuum leak somewhere because it runs leaner than before (as evidenced by some backfiring on overrun and not spinning up as well).  But I'll deal with that later.  I did get everything up to temp, and not only are there no leaks but the cooling system is functioning.  I didn't replace the thermostat, but it is opening at the right temp.  I did buy one to replace it eventually.

I also replaced the points/condenser, cap and rotor and did a little cleanup on the distributor.  The old points were really burned, and the cap and rotor were okay but are cheap replacements.

On to the next job!

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

A Little History

I got a bin of papers and parts and things with Alice. Tonight, I sat down and went through it. I learned some things.

The car was bought from the original owners in 1978, in Illinois. I found a matchbook from a ski hill in Michigan. It was driven for a while, since I found registration renewal strips up through 1985. I can’t say how much, though, as there’s no record of mileage along the way. It appears it then sat idle (or mostly so) from about 1986 to mid 2001, with the mileage that I saw on the Virginia title issued when the PO moved there.

At that time, a lot of money was spent to revive a then-15-year-idle car...

  • The engine was removed and overhauled.
  • The hydraulics and brakes were done.
  • The alternator and starter were replaced.
  • A new muffler was installed.
  • New tires were fitted.
  • The carburetor was rebuilt.
  • Some switchgear and lamps were replaced or rebuilt.
  • The fuel system was overhauled (including an electronic points pump, which explains why it worked after sitting for so long).
  • Things were painted.
All in all, a tidy sum in 2001 dollars.

Someone made patterns for the seats, possibly to make seat covers. The ones I found on the car didn’t appear to be custom made, but who can say? They were rotting apart when I got the car.

I then found registration slips and inspection stickers through 2006 and a renewal for 2007, which doesn’t appear to have been done. That means the car must have been driven some, but the mileage hasn’t changed—which also means either the car wasn’t driven or the speedo/odometer is broken. I can’t tell yet.

The car appears to have sat idle since, slowly degrading. In 2017 it was brought to AZ on a trailer. It doesn’t appear to have moved since, until I brought her home last month.

It’s an interesting story.

I also found some parts receipts from Moss, a 1984 Moss catalog and a 2003 Moss British Motoring magazine. I want to buy the 1969 E Type listed for $22,000. Think they’ll sell?

To top it off, I have an MG logo spare tire cover (carpet), the top cover (for when it’s down), and an 8 track radio that may or may not be the original. Who cares—it’s cool!

In the end, Alice isn’t as original as I thought. But that’s okay. It gives me more confidence that she’s mechanically sound and may be in better electrical shape then I expected. It doesn’t change the fact that a ton of work needs to be done (or now, redone) after so long. Let’s see what other discoveries I make along the way.

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