hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Bob, yes, we can compare notes any time.

 

Yes, I have the Moss motors catalogs, just haven't used them yet.

 

First name is Chris, guess I didn't mention it.  I will do the blasting myself, but not sure how I'm going to do it yet.  Don't have a rotisserie or an easy way to transport the body.  May use a wire wheel or sander or some kind, due to the surface rust and lack of an easy blaster.  I have a sand blaster, but I don't think it will work with an entire body as it's small and clogs up every 20 minutes, so it will take months to do.  I'll worry about the body when the time comes and come up with something.  First things first.  I'm going to try to do the metal work myself, for the same reasons above and the cost of paying someone is incredibly high.  Still have to buy a welder and get some lessons.  Still have to strip the chassis down once I get the body off, and I hear it can be difficult (front part especially).  The chassis and engine will be restored and put back together before I get to the body.

 

I plan on trying to get over to the Hunt Country meet...

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Chris,

Looks like you have a nice project your working on.  You've been making good strides at it.  I didn't care to much for all the grease and grime when I was tearing mine down, but it's sure a nice reward putting them back together when all the parts are clean and new.  I guess it's all part of it.  I would do another one once I get the chance. :D  Keep at it.

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Progress has been slowing a little, due to Carlisle, Hershey, and a busy work schedule, but it's still moving.  In Hershey, picked up a door (the wrong one, unfortunately), tail lights, gas filler neck and cap, rubber block-out piece, and rocker panels, so had a really good score.  Also bought a welder and paint guns in preparation for body work.

 

Bought a nice repro key fob and tech manual from the MG club in the UK, bought a sales brochure at Hershey, and am ordering a key from a British key shop in Maryland.  I think it's the details and original features that really make a restoration stand out from more plebeian efforts.  It doesn't cost all that much more, but makes all the difference on the show field and on the road.

 

As far as working on the car itself, I was finally able to clear out everything from the dashboard.  Very frustrating as I broke a few pieces, as they were locked in place due to corrosion, but may be able to fix them.  Now able to move on, at least.  Got the whole dash panel out, the soft trim piece, and the wiring harness out of the interior area (what a mess, but complete for use as a template) (photos 1 and 2).  Otherwise, I just have a few trim pieces in the back and under the hood, then I'll be ready to remove the body.

 

Went to the Hunt Country show in Marshall, VA yesterday.  Thanks, all, for bringing it up earlier, although didn't get to meet everybody.

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A little more progress over the last week.  Finished getting all the wiring harness out of the body.  What a mess (Photo 1).  It's mostly labelled and ready for use as a template, although I should be able to use all the hardware and maybe some misc. parts from it.  Not sure yet if they repro the whole harness or if I have to have one made up. 

 

The engine bay is getting pretty empty now (Photo 2).  I removed all the body mounting bolts and only broke 1 (there's always at least 1), so I'll have to drill it out.  Body is ready to come off, but have a lot of work to do before I do it.  Have to weld on some door opening supports, have to get wired for 220V in the garage, and have to learn to weld.  Luckily, I have a good friend who can help with all the above.  Not sure how I'm going to remove it or where I'm going to place it yet.

 

In the meantime, I hand-re-sewed about 1/2 of the threads on the original tonneau cover by doing maybe 2 hours a week for the last 3 months or so (Photo 3).  It was really easy when you space it out and all the original holes were there, so it was like connect the dots.  Although I want a Grand-National-worthy restoration, I really don't want to trash any original pieces that are 95% good, I'd rather save them if they are in reasonable shape.  The tonneau is a little stained, has a small rip in the zipper at the end, and now has 1/2 old and 1/2 new stitching, but looks okay and is original.  I think with further cleaning, it will get even nicer.  I'll have to do the same thing with the top.  It has a rip about 9" long in it, but is otherwise in very good shape and is original.  I think maybe I can make a folded in seam, like on the side of Levi's where you see a crease, but no stitching.  I would hate to have to replace the whole original top when a 95% good original exists. I guess we'll see when I get there.

 

While I wait to get ready for the body situation, I will start restoring a few small pieces just to continue to make some progress.  Maybe try different rust removers or techniques to see what works best.

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Not too much going on lately.  Taking off some misc items, like the VIN plates, door striker panels, but have spent most of my time installing a 220V outlet so I can use my new welder.  Just got that job done, so now, have to get the welder set up and get a couple quick lessons so I can weld on some support brackets to the body, before removal.  Probably going to be a little slow before the body is off, but need to learn a little and do the job correctly.

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Some more progress, finally.  Got my welder hooked up and watched a few videos on youtube and from Eastwood.  Using a flux-core MIG welder, per the suggestion from another restorer friend.  Had a lot of problems, but found I was using too low of a level of voltage.  Did a lot of practice on some scrap and got good enough to get some reasonable welds. 

 

Tried it out on the MG by trying to weld in the 2 support brackets to fill in the door gap.  I probably didn't need them, but I wanted a fail safe, since I wasn't 100% sure the MGA body was sturdy enough.  Welded the brackets in and got some welds that are plenty sturdy, although I wouldn't call them good welds by any stretch.  Don't laugh too hard.

 

Body is now ready to come off, with no sticking anywhere.  Two people could yank this thing off right now, but I want to get some saw horses set up to put it on temporarily, then build some type of mobile platform.  May be 3-4 weeks before I can get all the supplies ready and get a buddy or two to help out.  Can't wait to get the body off so I can continue with tearing down the chassis.

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Good job but I would put another brace each side at the top of the door level.  You will be amazed at how flexible the body becomes when you lift it up.  

You could use small self drilling roofing type screws for fixings if you want to back up your welding.

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Yes, your diagonals will work on up-down movement of front relative to back but not be much help on tilting of the nose upwards.

 

You should probably also think about trapezoidal flexibility of the body (i.e. left moves forward or backward relative to the right) and of the middle of the sides inwards. Other than the sills, which are of unknown condition inside, there is not much holding the front and back together. The chassis is pretty deep across the door opening with big flanges. If you are going to put it on a rotisserie, it needs to be longitudinally stiff too, so it doesn't sag as you turn it over.

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Thanks for the advice.  I'll weld in another piece at the top of the door gaps.  I won't be going rotisserie at this point, but I will keep all that in mind as this progresses.

 

-Chris

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Chris, have you found any major rust problems, or is is mainly surface rust on the pillars?  Sure glad you are getting to the first bend in the road and you can start planning cleaning, painting and assembly.  Looking good.

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John,

   It's got a rust hole in the driver's side rear trunk area, a little hole on the frame where the upper chassis tube gets closest to the batteries, a few some areas in the floorboards, and both rocker panels have rust holes in the middle portions.  Overall, pretty minor.  Lots of minor surface rust throughout the body, but nothing structural...so far!  We'll see the full damage once it's blasted.

 

Chris

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Rocker panels = what I call sills? i.e. across the bottom of the doors? If there are holes, you had best not rely on much strength from them and set up your bracing accordingly. If the front sags they will be under compression and are likely to buckle at the holes.

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Chris, I'm going to call a spade a spade here, as unpopular as it may be. Unfortunately, rust in the rockers/sills is serious and structural. The car is very rusty and all credit to you for taking it on. 

 

I've been where you are more than once. You need to ascertain whether the chassis is rusty (likely) and you will need to separate the body from the chassis to repair both. These things are always rustier than they appear. I think you are at the tipping point that occurs in most restorations, either commit to a full on resto or cut your losses and move on.

 

All the best

John

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John may very well be correct, but don't panic until you get the body off and can take a good look at the frame.  Since you are doing it yourself, you have nothing to lose but some enjoyable time in the garage.  To me, the most fun in a restoration is taking things apart and trying to figure out the problems and how to solve them.  Have fun!

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The rust appears to be minor to me at this point, but I could be wrong. I had a Camaro restored that was far more rusty than this, so I'm not too worried about it.  We'll see how it goes when I take the body off...slowly! The rust is in the outer rocker panels.  You can kind of see it in the photo below, a little towards the top part of the rockers towards the front of the door.  The chassis, from what I can see so far, has no major rust in the structural areas, just surface rust and a few issues in the non-structural areas.

 

If I can get a hold of a rental engine hoist, I may have the body off this weekend.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)

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Thanks for all the tips and thoughts on this.  I will proceed with safety, care, and caution when removing the body.  Couldn't line up an engine hoist or help this weekend, so I'll try again in about 3 weeks when I get some time and a hoist.

 

In the meantime, don't wont to lose any momentum, so started tearing down the engine.  The exhaust manifold is broken in 3 places at the bottom, so it is junk.  Everything else came off fairly smoothly so far, but can't get the head off.  May let the rebuilder do this step, don't want to mar the mating surfaces.  Not sure how to get the crank pulley off, since it has a captive-style washer folded up on the side of it.  The coolant passages are jammed up and full of crystallized 45-year old coolant.  Hope it can be boiled out.  Engine turns freely, so that's a good sign.  Amazed at how simple the engine is, should be pretty easy to rebuild.  I lack the skill and machine tools to do the engine myself, so I'll send it out to a rebuilder and I'll tackle some of the cosmetics and extraneous parts.

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Haven't been able to work on the MG for 3 weeks now, but finally got some time today and hit a huge milestone.  Body is now off of the chassis!  I used an engine hoist and some tow straps and it came off fairly simply.  Still can't believe how light the body is.  Next step is to disassemble the front of the chassis.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)

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Looking good Chris.  Now you really get to dig into it.  I like this part of a restore.  You get to remove years of rust and dirt and get all the pieces looking new again.  The greasy part wasn't all that fun though, but part of it.  Have a ball. :D

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The frame itself is very solid, just some minor surface rust.  There are some minor rust outs in the floor frame brackets, the rear horizontal support member, and the battery trays, but these appear to be easy to repair and non-structural.  Can't wait to get to the point of building it back up again, although that will take much longer as every part on the car needs some type of rebuilding, repair, or replacement.

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Made a lot of progress today.  Took off about 98% of the front suspension.  Had lots of trouble with the cotter pins in the nut within the hub (had to remove it through an access hole in the outside of the hub.  Very difficult if everything's not set up perfectly).  Also had some minor problems getting the hubs off, but got some good tips from the main MG forum about using a socket inside of the hub against the axle stud nut while using the wheel spinner as a puller.  It worked well in the end. (Photos 1 & 2)

 

Slowly moving towards the rear of the car, but have a lot of small, annoying items to take off, like all the floorboard screws I had to drill out as they were so rusty I cold not get a screwdriver of any type on them.Ended up having to drill the heads out to get the floorboards out, but now left with the lower threaded part of each screw.  I have about 16 to extract.  Got 2 out fairly easily, but some of the others are really frozen in there.  I've been hitting them with penetrating fluid to try to break them free. Luckily, there is a lot of material on the opposite side of the screw, so I can grab the lower part of the screws with locking pliers and unscrew them from below or behind.  One has broken off again at the top, and I am twisting the bottom part, but the part in the frame itself isn't turning don't want to have to drill again, that was a nightmare.  See the broken off lower screw parts in (photo 3).

 

I may just do a little at a time and hit the rear end next time, then worry about the small details after the main components are off.  Getting very close to the point where re-assembly starts, although I'll have some very minor chassis repairs to weld in first.  Happy with the progress so far after only 6 months of ownership.  Re-assembly will take about 10 times as long, I'm afraid!

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