hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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On 9/7/2018 at 6:05 PM, JV Puleo said:

 

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.

I believe what you're describing was best stated as, "Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you,..!!"'

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This weekend, I continued to make slow but steady progress on the MGA.  I got the transmission back, and was generally pleased with the results (for as much as I can see without trying it in the car).  I was charged a fair price.  The builder did find that the remote shifter linkage box and the entire clutch pivot mechanisms were completely worn out (Photos 1 and 3).  I found a used remote shifter linkage box (left in photo 1) to replace my original on the right.  You can see how the exit hole on the right is ovaled.  For the clutch pivot, the bolt wore through the brass bushing, then stared to wear thru the lever itself (Photo 3).  It also ate almost half of the pivot bolt away as well.  My car must have had 2 million miles or the previous owner lubed it with sand.  That's a lot of wear.  I bought some new parts from Moss and found a good used pivot on ebay.

 

Here's the mostly completed trans (Photo 2) with rechromed original shifter lever.

 

I also did 5 days at Hershey and was successful in getting some chrome parts dropped off, bought some new "1600" emblems for the MGA, and found most of the original tools for the tool kit (all the smaller tools were missing).  Bought some sanding long boards and sand paper, as I'll be finishing the doors , hood and trunk soon (at least with any filler or glazing putty, as it may be too cold to primer soon).  Also found a wire-wheel shop near Allentown, PA that should be able to inspect and repair my replacement wire wheels, if needed.  Want to get piece of mind before I repaint them and put them back in service.

 

Now I'm working on cleaning, priming, and painting the oil pan bolts, priming and painting the transmission tunnel, and getting the clutch slave cylinder onto the transmission.  Want to get all these small little jobs out of the way so I can concentrate on the doors, hood, and trunk

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Ref the wire wheels, you can get an idea of their condition viz-a-viz spoke tightness by tapping every spoke with a pencil. They should all ring with the same note if they are tight. If there is a dull thud, it is loose and needs to be tightened, which means the whole wheel is suspect. In my experience.

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I once lived in a street where somebody owned an E-type with spoked wheels. As it drove past you could hear the loose spokes moving....

jp 26 Rover 9

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My MGA had the same wear on the clutch fork pivot.  Spent a hot summer day in 1975 pulling the transmission out, replacing the bushing and putting it all back together.  The manager of the apartment house was not amused.  What fun.  

 

 

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Yes, the pivot bushing is a common wear point on MGA's. It is a small for the job bushing with no provision for lubrication.  A car that spends most of its life in the city suffers the worst. Same for the pins that connect the clutch and brake pedals to the master cylinder push rods.

 

 

Greg

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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As I told Luv2wrench....I have been closely following your restoration and the MGTD restoration. I owned three MGAs and a 1950 MGTD and I really never had the chance to restore them. Thanks for showing your work.

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More slow but steady progress made.  The weather has been holding out fairly well, so able to get more accomplished in the little time I find.  I got my parts for the clutch release pivot, so that's all shored up and placed in the transmission.

 

I got the last missing carb parts I needed at Hershey and put them on, so now the carbs are finally finished (Photo 1).  They will need proper fastener torquing and professional adjustment, but they should work well.  Saved a lot of $ doing everything myself and they turned out very well, for being a first-timer with carbs.  

 

I moved over to the repro floorboards.  I put some holes in them based on the rotted original ones I had as patterns.  I was somehow able to reuse the original seat fasteners and even salvaged, restored, and re-used 13 of the original seat fastener tacks/nails out of the original 24 that were on the car (Photos 2-3).  Still committed to as much originality as possible.  

 

Another update very soon, made more progress, but out of photo space for today.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Ok, they let me put in 3 more photos, so another update.  Started work on the steel portion of the NOS door.  It had quite a few under-the-primer rust areas that I had to dig out to bare metal and to remove most of the rust.  I ended up using some rust inhibitor spray to condition the metal before I primer/filler any of it to make it smooth again.  58-odd years of storage and moving around did a little damage to the door, but it's still incredibly solid (Photo 1).

 

I'm still working on the pretzelled front license plate bracket (photo 2).  I applied a bunch of bondo to it and sanded it down, but it's still quite sloppy and will need some more hammer and dolly work to get rid of the valley through much of the middle.  IT will never be perfect, but I think I can fool everyone into thinking it is a nice piece with enough effort.  I'll salvage this original piece yet.

 

I had more success with the transmission tunnel.  Hours of scraping off about 1/2" think layer of sand and oil with scrapers and screwdrivers paid off.  I was able to reuse every part here, from the screws in the shifter plate to the original trans filler plug and even the original U-shaped pad-like gizmo that goes on the front of the shifter plate in the middle of the whole thing (Photo 3).  I do have one small section of the mounting area at front left that will need to be cut out and a patch welded in, but it's only about 2" square.  Wanted to get it painted up for protection first and because it will be too cold soon, then repaint the small repair section after the fact.

 

Transmission is finished and ready for the engine to come back from the rebuilder.  I should be able to focus on the doors for the next month or two until the engine is ready.

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Finished nailing the seat support bolt fasteners into the other floorboard, so that's finished.  Did a lot of work on the NOS door around the steel frame.  Got the surface rust removed, a layer of rust inhibitor, and a layer or self-etching primer.  I still need to touch up the inside of the door, but that just needs a light scuffing of the original black primer, since this surface is on the backside of the aluminum door skin.  I think I'm at the point with the weather that I can't do anymore filler or priming as it's too cold.  I think I'll stop on this work until spring when I can get the body parts stripped and in primer quickly before flash rust occurs.

 

In the meantime, there's plenty of smaller work to do.  I'm still waiting on the engine, probably another 2 months for that.  I will be taking my wire wheels to a specialist this week for a safety inspection and and reconditioning they may need, then it's off to the powder coater to get them into the correct silver color.  I'm still working on the pretzeled front license plate bracket with body filler.  It's turning out okay, but it's a lot of work getting it straight enough to minimize the body filler.

 

I've also started working on the heater parts and some miscellaneous items.  Should be easy bench-type work, for the most part.  I started with the oil pressure hose that goes into engine block.  I will be able to reuse the original, of which I've tested and polished the brass fittings and wire-wheels and clear-coated the steel connector nuts.  It still needs some Armor All to clean up the hose portion (Photo 1).  I then started on the primary heater hose by disassembling it (Photo 2).  The main piece is copper, so I cleaned and polished it up.  Turned out fairly well (Photo 3).  I'm soaking the original clamps and hardware in Evapo-rust and I'll be getting new rubber hoses next month from Moss.  Next up is the heater inlet switch assembly.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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I suggest you get a zinc undercoat put on your wire wheels before you put the colour powder coat on. Wire wheels "work" and wear at the connections. You will get rust marks around them. Undercoated zinc will stop that.

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I had my wire wheels examined and not good results.  One wheel was good, one wheel had bad hub splines, one wheel was out of round, and one wheel was shifted from side to side.  Finding a new one to replace the one with bad splines, repairing the other 3, then blasting and painting them will cost more than buying new repros.  I also want the car to drive well, not have potential vibration or wear issues.  I will use the good one as the spare tire in the trunk, then sit on the other 3 for now.  I'll have to compare my current wheels to the repros to see how good they are.  Going to try Moss in a couple weeks and see how theirs are.

 

In the meantime, I am almost finished with my pretzeled front license plate bracket, have in it primer.  Just needs a little final sanding on the edges, then paint.  Also finished redoing a ton of clamps, nuts, and bolts for the heater hoses and hardware.  Here are a few of them (Photo 1).  Also rebuilt the original heater control valve.  Before and after (Photos 2 & 3).  All the parts in both photos are the same, minus the heater hose.  Turned out really well.

 

Took apart the parking brake handle assembly so I can get the handle and button rechromed.  I redid all the other hardware in the meantime. 

 

Small and slow progress, but getting there.  Seems like a lot a small items that I still need to do before I can really get moving with the bodywork.  Will probably shift a little and do some of the welding on the front fenders and on the torn up front valence panel while I wait for spring and the warmer weather so I can apply some primer.

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I remember that heater control valve in my '57 MGA. Man, mine was so crudded up, too. Love the progress you are making.

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Good plan with the wheels, wait a bit and see what your options are.  Would be very difficult to get a good safe ride without good wheels. 

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More minor progress to post.  Caught up with my engine builder.  The engine is at the machine shop getting line-bored.  I am told I have to wait in line and that the machine shop that this was farmed out to is a little slow, but does excellent work.  I'm in no hurry, so no big deal for now.  Was thinking to have the engine back by mid-Jan, but now looks like mid-Feb at the earliest.  No worries, plenty of other work to do in the meantime.

 

I sent out the front valance panel and the two door posts to the sandblaster to get the lead paint removed and down to bare metal so I can begin some welding to fix tears in the valance.   I'll also use them as a test to see if they will keep with heated inside storage without getting too much flash rust before I can put the good primer on it in the Spring when it's warm enough.  If it looks okay after a month or so, I'll do some of the other panels, too.  Should be able to do the flatter panels with chemical stripping, then sand the residue to bare metal.

 

Finally finished the pretzeled front license plate bracket.  Here's the before photo, its the first thing I took off the car in 2016 (Photo 1) and the finished product (Photo 2).  There are still some fine scratches in it, but I think I'll call it good enough.  Was even able to reuse the original nuts from the back, after drilling out the broken-off original screws.  Very happy with the results, and also it was a good learning tool to get some practice with body shaping with hammers and filler, since I'm an amateur with body work.

 

Restored the original front driver's side footwell piece with original accelerator pedal stop (Photo 3).  Piece has slight warping at lower left from water damage, but it's still solid and the warping is minor, so reusing the piece.  Will be able to reuse the driver's side one as well.

 

Also got back some chrome pieces (the rear deck "MG" badge and one of the knurled lock nuts for the side curtain hold-down).  Farming out 3-4 pieces of chrome every 3 months to try to minimize the damage to my credit card to space it out.

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The license plate bracket looks amazing!!   Being able to correct that amount of damage and get such good results means you'll have no problems with the rest of the panels. 

 

I'm curious about the prices you're getting for the re-chrome work.  Moss seems to have some pretty reasonable prices on new chrome pieces and I'm wondering about the price and quality difference of a re-chrome vs. going new.  Any thoughts on that?

 

 

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Thanks Jeff.

 

I'm a stickler for originality, so I will generally choose to rechrome pieces rather than replace, because 1) Original pieces always fit 2) It's wasteful to toss out reusable original pieces 3) Repro pieces are quite often "wrong."  Attention to detail matters greatly to me.  For example, the repro "MGA" vent trim on top of the front body is incorrect, as it has later-style grille bars.  However, I try to be somewhat sane when fixing/reusing originals is way too cost prohibitive.  I bought repro "1600" emblems, as my originals were either broken, or I would lose the textured appearance on the background of the emblems.  Repros are about $12, while rechrome would probably be around $60.  Yes, I'm spending much more money on chrome than buying repros, but it's as original as possible and the rechrome shop probably has thicker chrome and better warranties.  I also don't want my car to be like George Washington's hatchet, where I just replace everything, then it becomes just a kit car.  I save and reuse any part than can be saved.

 

 

 

 

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Spent more time in the garage today, so this will be the last post before Christmas.  Back to work, then some needed family time off. Here's a few more photos. 

 

Here's some of the chrome I got back; MG emblems and knurled nut and bracket for the side curtains.  Paul's Chrome in Evans City, Pa does excellent work. (Photo 1).  Started work on the final floorboards.  Was able to reuse both original toe boards and 1 of the two front floorboards (Photos 2 & 3).  The one on the left is a repro.  I drilled the holes for the mounting hardware and I coated it with 3 coats of special wood sealer/primer.  After 2 days of curing, it will be painted black, as factory.  On the right is the passenger side original toe board.  I'll sand it down to a reasonable level, clean it up, and repaint the original black.  

 

Also bought some caster wheels.  I'm going to make a body stand so I can roll the body out, get it onto a trailer, and get it to the sandblasting shop in a few months.  Should also be convenient for priming and painting.  My friends want me to try to paint this thing at home.  I'm not so sure, having never painted a car before, especially one needing so much body work.  We'll see.

 

Also, thanks to all the visitors to my project and the other posters in this forum, I've been able to keep very motivated and inspired by everyone else's extraordinary work.

 

Merry Christmas!

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I'll jump in for Chris as he's enjoying the holidays...  The progress of the car has been outstanding!  Look above in the posts and you see a completely restored chassis.  Engine is out for a rebuild and body work is getting started.   My guess is he gets done well before his 5 year goal. 

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Thanks Jeff.  Yes, just scroll back through the posts and you'll see most of what I've done over the last 2 1/2 years.

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Had a nice Christmas, hope everyone else did, too.  Picked up my wire wheels in PA over the holiday; only one was usable without a large cost/effort to make them right.  So, the one good one is at the strippers now and will be used as a spare.  Also dropped off more stuff to be chromed; the front bumper guards and the parking brake handle and button.

 

Got my front valance panel and door posts back from the stripper.  Hammered out imperfections on the door posts, then primed and painted the back side with etching primer and chassis black.  The factory left the back side in black primer, so I'm roughly reproducing what they did.  Leaving the front in bare steel until I can get a streak of warm weather to apply the good primer with a spray gun.  Here's the door posts (Photo 1)  and rear bumper mounts, which I stripped myself.  Posts now have primer and paint on the back portion and so do the bumper mounts.

 

The valance panel is a disaster, but since it's tucked under the car, it will be a good piece for me to learn/practice body hammering and welding.  A previous owner dented the heck out of it, then caught it on something and tore it.  It was actually much worse than this, this is round 1 of getting it back into shape (Photo 2).  I have a good set of body hammers (Thanks for the advice, Jeff), so making some progress.

 

I also pulled out the battery cradle cover, which is an interior sheet metal piece.  I chemically stripped it first (lead paint), then blasted it to bare metal.  I did the same thing I did with the door posts, I primed and painted the back side to replicate the factory black primer (Photo 3).  The top side will be painted body color.  Still have a few minor dings and dents to hammer out, but wanted to get the spray bomb primer/paint on the back since it was above 50 degrees today.

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Looking good!!   Looks like you've moved from the garage into the house, that's a great idea now that it is cold outside.   Don't forget the kitchen is great for parts cleaning (dishwasher) and the closets are wonderful places for hanging parts. ;)

 

I saw a video where a body guy was tackling a job that looked impossible... huge impact on one side of the piece.  He put the dang thing in a press and pushed 90% of the damage out.  He basically pushed opposite of where the damage came from.  Multiple "dents" and "creases" released themselves as the major damage was pushed back out.   I tried that on the MG TD rear fender and it worked fantastic.   I think the trick  when you have a big distortion is to not hit it with a hammer but to be able to impact it in the opposite way the damage was caused and with a constant push force rather than small localized impacts (hammer).   You can clean up what is left with a hammer.

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