hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Sort of reached a milestone today...sort of finished one of the carbs.  I have the throttle shaft and idle stop lever out for machining, and it's taking much longer than I thought, plus I have to finish the overflow drain tubes, but I'm ready to start on the second carb.  It turned out really well, at least in the way it looks.  We'll see if it actually works, since this is the first time I've rebuilt a carb.  I'll leave the final tuning to the pros once everything is all together.

 

Here's the "completed" carb (Photo 1).  Here it is next to the one I still have to restore (Photo 2).  Very pleased with the results thus far.

 

In other news, the transmission restoration will be delayed for 1-2 months, as the shop owner had a death in the family and is completely backed up.  No harm, no foul, as my goal is to have the engine and trans in by the end of the year, so plenty of time.

 

Whilst I keep working on the carbs, I will probably choose an engine shop in about 2 weeks and hopefully have the engine off to that shop in about 3 weeks.  Really looking forward to working on the body. I'm ready to move on towards getting the car completed, but still have a long way to go.

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That looks fantastic!  Did you paint it after you cleaned it?  The finish is very smooth and it makes them look new.   I was thinking about polishing mine but after seeing those I might change my mind.  Great job!

 

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Yes, painted the carb bodies and main parts with Eastwood's Carb Renew II.  Polishing was not practical due to the amount of work involved and the condition of the parts with all the nooks and crannies.

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I strip mine and blast them at low pressure (45 lb) with fine glass beads. It gets into the awkward areas, and makes them look like new aluminium. I usually buff up the dash pots, to finish them off.

 

To give you an indication of how they come up, here is a photo of the HS4's that I run on my 1275 Midget. They had just had a birthday. New shafts and bushes, and a bead blast.

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Edited by Bush Mechanic
text correction (see edit history)
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Had a small setback.  The machine shop that I tried in order to drill the holes and cut to length the repro throttle shaft for one of my carbs took 2 weeks, didn't call me, and when I called them, they had no idea what I wanted.   I explained it to them in great detail when I dropped the parts off.  After I went in and hashed it out, they proceeded to drill the holes in the wrong place and at the wrong angle, destroying the pieces.  Of course, they didn't call after the work was finished, I had to call them.  why is that?  You would think companies would want to get paid, but not this shop.  The stuff will sit for 50 years before they would decide to pick up the phone and call a customer.   I've been to other shops who do this as well.  The job is finished, and they will just sit on it until the customer calls or stops in.  I don't understand this behavior.  Needless to say, I need a new machine shop for the next attempt.

 

Had a setback with the transmission shop, too.  The builder can't get the tail shaft off, as he doesn't understand the "English" of the shop manual.  He says he's done one MG trans before and that he will be able to get it, but he spent 3+ hours on it last week and couldn't get it.  I hope he's not charging me for that, but I'll find out soon.  He has a really good rep, so I'm not getting bent out of shape yet.

 

I should be dropping off the engine either this week or next for its rebuild.  Hopefully the block is not cracked or seriously corroded, since the coolant was left in it for 45 years, from what I can tell.

 

In the meantime, I've disassembled the other carb (Photo 1) and was able to clean and paint the carb body.  This one should be finished in about 1/3 of the time as the first one, as know I pretty much know what I'm doing (or so I think).

 

This leaves no other engine parts to do, so time to start on the body!  I bought some etching primer that works with both steel and aluminum and will be using that with my new paint gun to prime some of the ancillary body pieces.  I decided to start easy with the front license plate bracket.  It was twisted like a pretzel (Photo 2), so I put all my hammers to work and got it in pretty good shape (Photo 3), before I sandblast the paint off and do final shaping.

 

Excited to start on the body.  I have minimal body work experience and am looking forward to the challenge.  It needs a lot of metal work on the front fenders, rockers, and rear trunk sides.  The goal is to have the whole body restored, painted, and on the chassis by May 1, 2020, or earlier.

 

-Chris

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Dealing with machine shops is the primary reason I decided to start putting together a machine shop.  It has been a fairly uphill struggle to get good tools and learn to use them but not having to deal with machines shops is a huge reward for that effort.   The shop I used to go to, and I love the guys there to death, would take what I brought them, place it on the floor with a hundred other things and then I'd never hear from them again.  Any written instructions I left would be, at best, taped to the work.  I'd call starting about week 3 and the normal response was "oh, yeah, will get to it next week because we're slammed".   I finally just started showing up after week two and the parts would still be sitting in the same place and I'd have to explain what needed to be done again, however, it seemed showing up repeatedly would somehow make the work get into the flow and get done. 

 

I'm worried about your transmission guy as well.  There's a lot more challenging parts to rebuilding that tranny than getting the tail shaft off.   The workshop manual isn't the best, that's true, but he could Google that and find the answers in "his english" real quick... a lot quicker than 3 hours. 

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You might want to contact Triumph Rescue in Bally Pa for transmission work.    I think they work on other British cars as well as TRs.  They did my TR3 transmission.  

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Thanks for the recommendation, but have to see where the current guy goes.  Should be fine in the end, just hope he doesn't charge me for his time not knowing how to completely disassemble the thing.  Been thru Bally many. many times, but it's a little far.  There are plenty of other trans shops closer to my area.

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Re your machine shop woes here is a story. Guy's father passes away, and he is asked to go to his house and tidy up as part of preparation to sell. Finally gets to the attic, going through acres of boxes of stuff in case anything is worth keeping, mementoes etc. Comes across a ticket from a shoe repair shop, years old. I know where that shop was, he thinks, I must see if its still there? On his way home he goes past where the shop was, and its still there! So he walks in with the ticket, and hands it over with his face as straight as he can . Cobbler goes out the back, and comes back and says 'Come back next week'.

Re setting up the carbs initially, I followed Burlen's note for the HS series - set the jet level with the bridge , and then screw down the nut 6 flats(IIRC) - car started first try. If your notes say something like this it should work.

jp 26 Rover 9

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Quick Labor Day Weekend update, but no photos today.  Still doing something on the car each day, just mostly small pieces or nothing too interesting to put here.

 

 I completed the other carb today, but I have one of the connecting brackets on back order thru Moss, so won't be 100% complete until late Sep, when I get that piece.  Will get more photos up soon.

 

Still having issues with my transmission guy.  No progress has been attempted in the last month.  I will give one more month, then I will pull the trans (now all in pieces) out of there and find another shop.  Getting tired of every shop taking on business, no matter what, then lacking the time and the expertise to actually do the job.  I don't understand this business model; it causes big issues for me and for the shop, and usually ends up with bad blood, destroyed or missing parts, and loss of money on both ends.  Just turn me away if you're backed up or lack the expertise.

 

Engine goes to the rebuild shop tomorrow, so very excited about getting that started.  Shop says if everything goes well, should be complete and bench tested around January.  Sounds good to me, but there always seem to be problems where ever I go...

 

Started sandblasting the transmission tunnel to get it ready for installation once the engine and trans get back.  Should be starting on the hood as the first bodywork part any day now.  Will start with the aluminum panels, since they are naturally rust free and should be the easiest to get into primer.  

 

Should have some photos included later in the weekend.  Cheers.

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Got the engine block off to the rebuilder today.  ETA for the complete block is late January.  Shop will also break in the engine before it's delivered back to me.

 

Here are the finished carbs, minus the right carb's lower brass lever (on backorder) (Photo 1).  They turned out very nice, cosmetically.  Decided to paint most surfaces due to minor surface rust or corrosion on just about every part before restoration.  Will leave it to the experts to tune them properly.

 

Got quite far on blasting the trans tunnel (Photo 2).  Only stopped as the clogmaster 2000 sandblaster clogged up, but did last for a good 30 minutes, so I think I have it dialed in the best I can, considering the high Virgina humidity.  Should complete it next week, depending on rain or humidity outside.  

 

Here's the top or the trans tunnel (on left, in black) and the front license plate braket now in primer (Photo 3).  Used high-solids primer and will try to fill in the pitting and low spots.  Will probably need to do a little more hammer and dolly work to make it nice.  Trying to avoid body filler, but may have to use some due to pitting and the fact that this thing was a pretzel before I started.

 

I now have a lot of nuts and bolts to de-rust, seal, prime, and paint for the engine head, valve cover, and oil pan, as they will be needed whilst the engine gets put back together in a month or two.  Shouldn't take too long.  Then, time to start on the hood (bonnet!) and get this body in good shape again.  Will probably take me a full year, as it's in rough shape an I'm an amateur body man.  First step is to strip and etch-prime the aluminum body parts (hood, doors, and trunk), then send the body and fenders out for stripping/blasting to bare metal to reveal all the rust damage, then prime, to prevent flash rust, then start welding in repair panels.  In the meantime, I can work the lesser body panels, such as the dash, inner fender pieces, brackets, valence, and smaller pieces.

 

Have a productive Labor Day weekend working on all the great classics on this forum.

 

 

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Carbs look really good, you did a great job on them.  I'm going to be dragging the Clogmaster out pretty soon to do the firewall and other pieces.  I'm already dreading it but maybe it will surprise me and act civil. 

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Those are quite simple transmissions . I have rebuilt at least a couple of dozen. Biggest problem is that parts are getting quite expensive and that quality is somewhat questionable now that genuine BMC gears are N.L.A. Most I have worked on need all 3 gears that are part of the straight cut , 1st and reverse power transmission section replaced.  Also even if the teeth are ok the hardening inside the cluster gear where the needle bearings run is often failing. These are after all only slightly improved Austin Cambridge / Nash Metropolitan units.

 It's no weekend job however a swap to a more modern gearbox , either British or Japanese is the long term solution for a car where you are going to be a long time owner , higher mileage user. Besides most of the newer gearboxes will be a 5 speed, very nice if you do much highway driving.  The small Toyota Corolla RWD trans, if you can find one is a strong and compact unit. Likewise the Miata 5 speed and as a plus they are very easy to find.

 

Greg in Canada

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)

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Quick update.  Got word back from the trans guy.  He finally got out the rear portion.  Turns out that the rear bearing was rusted.  He could get the rear portion about 3" out, then it locked in.  The friction from the rust was holding it in and he didn't want to force it.  Fair enough, I'm glad he didn't force it and break something, but we're 2 months in at this point.

 

He said the rest of the trans is in pretty good shape and it will probably just need some bearings, synchros, and general wear items, but the main items look good to him.  It seems like best case scenario so far.

 

I'm a purist, so a replacement trans won't do.  I plan on being a long term owner, but won't be putting huge miles on it, just gentle weekend driving, so the original trans should be fine.

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Might get some numbers from him.  How much is he going to charge you for not being able to get the rear bearing out?   Does he have an estimate for the parts cost?

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Unknown yet.  He says he has 5 hours of time in getting the rear extension off.  I would compromise with him on it a little bit, but I'm not paying him extra for his lack of expertise.  I don't have any parts costs yet.  He will probably give me a list he builds from the Moss catalog I gave him, then I'll order them (with my frequent buyer's discount) and drop-ship them to his shop.  I'll send you a PM once I get some costs in, but could be a while.

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36 minutes ago, hursst said:

He says he has 5 hours of time in getting the rear extension off.  I would compromise with him on it a little bit, but I'm not paying him extra for his lack of expertise.

 

 

Good for you! When I was in business, I would regularly give a customer a price. If it took ten times as long as I'd estimated, that was my problem. It's not the customer's job to pay for someone else's education unless it is clearly stated and agreed beforehand that the job is unique. An MGA transmission hardly falls into that category - or shouldn't if the mechanic holds himself out to be a transmission "expert".

 

The flip side of that coin is that there were jobs I could do in very little time. I stated a price and, if that was agreeable, did the job. That it took me an hour rather than six hours was my business.

Edited by JV Puleo (see edit history)
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59 minutes ago, JV Puleo said:

I stated a price and, if that was agreeable, did the job. That it took me an hour rather than six hours was my business.

 

As my old neighbor says "Profit's not a dirty word."  He was in the auto repair business for a long time.  

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Started on the body this weekend.  Got out the hood and stripped it down to bare metal.  Here's a few minutes into it (Photo 1).  Overall, it's in very good condition.  There were three small dents in it, which I hammered out a little, then filled with body filler for now (Photo 2).  I then started on the trunk (Photo 3).  Luckily, most of the paint has already flaked off, so this should be fairly easy.

 

The plan is to first strip all the paint off the aluminum surfaces of the hood, trunk, and doors, then work on the steel frames of each later, hit it then with etching primer, then work further on the dings and dents and get the panels as straight as possible using as little filler as possible, then doing a final priming before going back into storage.  I'll be buying some long boards at Hershey, so I should be able to dial in the imperfections a little better.  I will most likely have a professional check my work and do the final paint job, since my garage is a dust-filled disaster; no way I could get a good paint job there.

 

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Looking good!   I agree with your plan, you could do everything perfect in your paint job but if you've got a bunch of dust floating around it would be a pain. 

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Took a nice long vacation to South Africa, so haven't done too much recently, but time for a small update.  

 

Turns out my transmission had a corroded rear bearing, which is why the builder couldn't get it apart.  He finally got it disassembled, so we ordered all the parts and should have it completed by the end of the month.  Got word back from the engine builder as well, and good news, no major problems such as cracks or warping or major failures, but it will need an overbore, new cam, new valve train, bearings, crank alignment and other ancillary internal parts, which is exactly what I expected.  All in all, great news.

 

I was able to continue stripping the aluminum body parts and making fair progress.  Hood, trunk, and half a door have the skins complete.  Was able to strip the paint with heavy duty paint stripper, then clean up the remains with 120 grit, so no panel warping.  Other door is NOS and is already in primer, but will need ding and dent repairs and detailing before it's ready for final primer.  Will also need to drill some holes for trim.  The steel framing on the opposite side of each of these pieces will be more difficult, with lots of nooks and crannies to strip. 

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Got some time in the garage today and got some photos.  Got the driver's door all stripped of paint today (Photo 1).  It will need to be hand-sanded once the paint stripper dries up.  Here are the mostly completed hood and trunk (Photo 2).  Here is what may be the last NOS MGA door (Photo 3).  I'm happy to have it, but it needs all the holes drilled and it's got 58 years of minor damage from being moved around a million times.  I'll try to keep most of the primer intact, but will have to sand a lot of it to fill in some dents, scrapes, and substances spilled on it.  No rust anywhere, which is great.  It even has the factory metal part number tag.  

 

The next part of the work will be flipping these panels over and dealing with the steel portions.  This will take much longer due to the nooks and crannies and minor surface rust here and there.

 

Vote Jim Proctor!  I found this matchbook inside of the driver's side door, probably from the mid-1960's (Photo 4).  Tomorrow, I'm working the big British car show in the area, then I'm off to Hershey from Wed-Sun, so won't get much done at home, but will get my wire wheels to a vendor to make sure they are true, drop off some trim to be chromed, and try to pick up some additional parts I need.  Let's hope the rain stays away!  Hope to see everyone there.

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Looking good. Making progress. I too found a match book in my car. Along with beer can openers, a necklace, and several other items. 

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