hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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I've only restored one car so far, a 1974 Camaro Z28, from 2001-2010 and it was very difficult and expensive, but it came out very nicely.  Won a First Junior award with it in 2013.  I was fortunate enough to recently double my garage space, as I've wanted to restore another car recently.  I like just about all cars, but I ended up choosing a 1960 MG MGA for various reasons.  It's in rough but reasonable condition and had one owner until 2008 or so, then 2 owners who were just flippers and never titled the car, so technically, I'm the second owner.  The goal is to do a complete frame-off high-level restoration making the car as original/authentic as possible and to do as much as possible myself.  I'll be learning to weld and probably to do some paint and bodywork, but I'll go to a machine shop for the engine.

 

I picked it up in North Carolina yesterday and I don't want to waste any time in getting started.  Had it titled today and started the restoration.  So far, just took off the front license plate bracket.  That took 45 minutes as the screw heads got stripped eventually, so had to drill them out.  Next up is to get it insured as is and send off for a British Heritage Trust certificate so I can get a little more info on it.  I hope to work on the car frequently, put some posts here, and have it done in 3-5 years.

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Good luck with your project.  Most mechanicals are available.  Body parts also with some looking and poking around.  Going to be an interesting build for sure.  Keep us updated.

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Awesome looking project.  Can't wait to follow along.  I've been thinking of a car like that for awhile but I can't seem to get my current project finished. :)

 

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Hursst,

MGA,s are a great little car.  I bought one for my first car when I was 19.  Then ended up with three over a twenty year period,  one with the 1500 motor one with the 1600 motor and another I put  an MGB 1800  motor in.,  with a racing cam  ( it wasn,t very good to drive in town but very enjoyable out on the open road )   You have to remove the engine and gearbox together dropping the back of the g/b down and lifting the engine out on an angle.  Putting the front wheels on ramps helps so as to get the back of the g/b on enough of an angle to slide the engine forward and upward.  Its a tight fit. On the earlier models be sure to drain the gearbox of oil or you will end up with oil all over the floor.  Being  1960 yours may have the later gearbox.  There are lots of little roller bearings in the g/b which can be fun putting back in when replacing the sincro rings.  Later these roller bearings came in cages which made them much easier to replace. The body sills under the doors always rust out.  I had to replace them on all my cars,  they are a simple box section that you can get bent up and weld in.  Have fun.

Rod

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In my years as an AACA Judge I have judged only 2 or 3 cars that scored a perfect 400 points. One was an MGA Conv. One of the first 3 cars we restored way back in the 1970's was an MGA Coupe.

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Thanks for the words of encouragement, photos, and tips, they are appreciated.  Got it insured and the British Heritage Trust Certificate is on order in the meantime.  I also noticed that the mouse family in the boot decided to move out sometime before I got it home, so that's good.  Getting ready for the Sentimental Tour, so no work on the MG until I get back.

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Got packed for the Sentimental Tour early, so found some more time.  Took apart the headlights and bumper over-riders this time.  I found that most of the nuts and bolts are quite rusty, but penetrating oil took car of most of them.  So far, the car also has a lot of attaching bolts with nuts on the back, which means the whole works spinning in place or putting a wrench on one side and a screwdriver on the other and trying not to strip the screw,  Had to drill out a few, as the Philips heads we too rusty and immediately stripped, but was lucky on most of them.

 

 

 

Not sure how to get out the headlight wiring yet, as I'm new to the MGA family.  Maybe there's a connector upstream somewhere?  For now, they just have to sag out of their openings.  The over riders were easy, but the bumper is going to be tough.  The captive bumper bolts are spinning in place when I try to take the bolt off behind them, so not sure how to get them off at the moment.  Probably will have to cut them off.  Looks like disassembly will be slow going. 

 

Also picked up some 1960 VA plates today.  Will register them soon.  Off to the tour tomorrow AM, maybe see some of you there!

 

-Chris

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Back from the Sentimental Tour.  Had a great time.

 

Continued with the MG over the weekend.  Took the bumper off, had to cross-cut each bumper bolt to drill it out, as all primary captive bumper bolts were spinning in place, making it impossible to extract the nuts on the other side of the bumper.  Can't believe how light the bumper is.  It offers almost zero protection from anything (photo 1).

 

Continued on to remove the exterior grille facing, most of the bumper support brackets, and the front fascia. (photo 2, 4).  After a good soaking in penetrating lube, most of the nuts and bolts came out okay, with only a couple bolts breaking.  Starting to accumulate a nice pile of rust, dust, dirt, metal shavings, and who knows what else is coming from the car (photo 3).

 

Next will be the inner grille and starting to work on getting the front fenders off.  Still haven't discovered how to get the headlight buckets out, as the wiring does not appear to have any obvious connectors.  Any knowledge on this would be appreciated.

 

 

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I don't know if you know this, but the doors, hood and trunk lid are aluminum. Be VERY careful with them. I have had three MGAs and I loved driving the one I courted my first wife in. I am following this restoration with envy.

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Now able to spend about an hour every other day on the disassembly.  Was able to remove the inner grille without too much trouble, and the inner air vents and brackets.  I'd like to get the front fenders off next, but that will involve removing the windshield frame (the windshield is missing).  So, next step was to remove the interior kick panels.  Had some trouble with a couple screwed due to rust, so had to cut a new screw line into the screw head to unscrew them.  At least I didn't have to drill.  Now I have access to the bolts that attach the windshield frame, so that will be the next step.

 

The trash can is mostly full of debris that mice packed away behind the front air vents inside the grille area (photo 1).  I still need to get the headlight buckets out, but now know there are some bullet connectors further up on the wiring harness.  The harness will be replaced, but want to keep the old one intact as a reference (photo 2).  Interior kick panel (photo 3).  Should be simple enough to replace the material, or possibly clean the whole thing and reuse, I'll have to inspect it further.  Trying to reuse as many original components as possible, with safety in mind as well.  Floor is not too bad, overall (photo 4).  Can probably reuse original heel pad and have it sewn into new carpet (seems like a good idea now, but we'll see how pricey that would be).  Most floor boards are intact, but one is broken and someone put an aluminum patch panel in.  Should be easy to replace.

 

 

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Found a little time this weekend and did some work.  Was able to take out the headlights and parking lights by disconnecting the bullet connectors.  Also was able to take out the windshield frame (there's no glass in it) and take off the hood.  It's amazing how much easier this car is (so far) than my '74 Camaro.  Hope to get some time this weekend to take the front fenders off and make some real progress.

 

At this point, I need to get an owner's manual and a shop manual of some type.  That will really help when I try to actually restore these parts instead of just doing the disassembly.  Also, should be getting my British Heritage Trust certificate any day now.

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Making progress, that is what counts! I hope your windshield frame is easier to get apart than my TR3A frame was. There were carbon steel 'L' shaped brackets in each corner, each of them with four relatively tiny fine thread screws........rusted solid. Had to drill the screws out, and retap to a SAE fine thread. What a job. Later those L-shaped pieces became available as a reproduction :( - that would have been so much easier

 

Where in North Carolina did the car come from?.

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I bought the car out of Greensboro, but it spent most of its life near Durham.  Yes, I already have the Moss Motors catalog.

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Now that the car is almost apart do you have an idea as to what you are going to do or others in the trades?  I know that you have much more to take apart, before you start putting it back together.  Just would like a discussion of your future plans.  

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unimogjohn, I don't understand the second phrase of your question, but as far as my plans, first, complete disassembly, then full restoration to stock condition, using as many original parts fro the car as possible.  I'm also going to try to do as much as possible myself to lower costs and learn more auto restoration skills.  If I'm going to go thru the effort, I'll probably show it for a while, then drive it (carefully), as that's why they exist in the first place.

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Been really motivated this week.  Was able to remove both front fenders with not too much trouble.  Had to take the doors off first.  That took about 30 seconds per door.  Fender took a lot longer.  Plenty of rust, but mostly surface rust.  Have some holes in the driver's side lower fender and both rockers.  The bottoms of the fenders and rockers is fairly rusty and will need some repair, but overall, this car is much more solid than it originally appeared.

 

Got my British Heritage Certificate in the mail yesterday.  Which I would have ordered it POST Brexit for the discount.  Was a little disappointed, I didn't learn too much about it.  Confirmed that it was originally white with black seats, grey soft top, it was built on Sep 21, 1959, and it had wire wheels, heater, white-wall tires, and a gray tonneau  cover as options.  It also has an adjustable steering column, but it is not on the heritage list of options.  Maybe they forgot it or maybe someone added it along the way.  They did not list the original dealer/destination, only listed "USA," plus they didn't (or forgot) to add the engine and body numbers, which I supplied, to the certificate.  I expected a little more for my Pounds.

 

The tonneau over is original and has some of the stitching undone, so I should be able to clean it and re-stitch it, which will be a nice original feature.  The top is original as well, but has some rips in it.  Probably can't save it.

 

Photo 1: Another mouse family in the front inside fender.  They had moved out.  Photo 2: Found this cool Esso sticker.  I'd like to save it, but I think it's too fragile to peel off in one piece.  Photo 3) Pass. fender off.  Photo 4) Dr. fender off and wheels back on.  Found some severe rot on the driver's side front wheel from sitting.  Will have to replace the wheel.  Too bad, as the rest of the wheel is in good condition.

 

Still have a long way to go with disassembly, but making good progress.  I think next I'll take over the trunk lid and rear fenders.  Happy 4th of July weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I trust you are/have taken tons of CLOSE up photo's

 

Personally having been thru this with a MGA, and several other, so I lean towards taking a part off, restoring it, and then tackle another.   You can still do the frame off process, but in my experience it works well. 

 

lt's much easier to remove pieces, but much harder to restore when you have so many parts to deal with, IMHO It can easily become overwhelming, for sure, maybe not for you, but so many have experienced such.

 

I wish YOU well, not picking on you,

 

Dale in Indy

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Dale, I have a very good system of numbering each item, bagging and/or securing all fasteners to the larger item, taking photos, and writing notes.  I did this with my '74 Camaro and had no problems.  This car is MUCH easier than a '74 Camaro. 

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2 hours ago, hursst said:

Dale, I have a very good system of numbering each item, bagging and/or securing all fasteners to the larger item, taking photos, and writing notes.  I did this with my '74 Camaro and had no problems.  This car is MUCH easier than a '74 Camaro. 

 

hursst, that is definitely the way to do a disassembly! Not sure how folks who throw the parts in a big pile, put all the fasteners in a big bucket, and rely on their memory of where something went ever get the car back together correctly:huh:.

 

I did similar to what you are doing on my Studebaker, and am now reassembling it after 25+ years :o and have every piece and every fastener.

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Sounds like you have a good plan/system.  I just didn't see any tags attached to parts pictured, and know how easy it it to loose track of what goes where, and what long bolts go here what short bolt goes there, etc.

 

Enjoy your build,

 

Dale in Indy

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Each part gets a number and/or a "P" or "D" for passenger or driver, if there are two of the same part on each side.  I put blue tape on the part, give it a number, then record the number in a log book with a description, how many fasteners go with it and what type, and any notes.  Any fasteners are either placed back on the part loose if they will thread back in or have a bolt on the other side, or they go in a ziplock bag, with the same number in it.  If there are a lot of fasteners, I'll number the fasteners in the order they were removed, as to ensure their correct position.  I then dump all the parts, in rough order, in a storage shed, to get them out of the way.

 

Assembly of the car is just going through all the numbers in reverse (for the most part, as some missing pieces or large systems may need this or that before you can go on to the next step).  All wire connections get a letter on each loose wire that corresponds to where it connects on the other end.  "A" goes to "A," etc.  Throw in lots of "before" photos and it's hard to mess it up.  It's really just like a plastic model kit, except you have about 4000 parts instead of 30, and it takes about 3-5 years instead of 3-5 days.

 

Some of the parts in the photos were not "processed" yet, but they will go thru the process immediately, I just took the photo as soon as I got some of the parts off. 

 

Thanks for the replies, it's encouraging and motivating to see so many of the other cool project cars here, and to learn a lot of good information for my own restoration from the comments.

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You have the most admirable self discipline I have heard of in this hobby. I also wonder how you remove a dirty part then get into the clean activities of photo's, tagging, bagging and noting. And then back to removing another dirty part. This an eye-opener. Xclnt!

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Still really excited by this project and very happy to see you making great progress.  I like you system for disassembly and tracking parts.  One thing I've started doing (by accident actually) is making video of each 'system' before and while taking it apart.   It always seemed in the past that no matter how many pictures I took I was always missing something.  That was generally because when I took things apart I didn't always understand how things fit together and what would be tricky to figure out when putting it back together.  In other words... you don't really know what you're going to forget when putting it back together so you don't always take a picture of that.  I make a general overview video while doing a narration describing what I see and how it fits together.  I've been pretty surprised at just how many times I've needed to go back through that video to find some important detail.  I'm also a little surprised when I watch the video later and see how much I either didn't notice or forgot about... that's probably a topic for another discussion and possibly age related. :)

 

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