hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Nice weather today, so thought I'd attack my heater box, as I thought it would be easy.  I was right, it's a very easy heater.  Here it is before I started (Photo 1).  Came apart very easily.  I blew it up and started blasting the larger parts (Photo 2).  Minor rust throughout, but nothing the clogmaster 2000 couldn't take care of.  I completed blasting the major parts and got a coat of primer on them (Photo 3).  Most of the hardware needs cleaned up and zinc plated.  I'll need some rubber bushings, new "Smiths" tags (the old ones are corroded and probably not nice enough to reuse), and I'll need to get the heater core and blower motor tested.  The heater core looks to be in excellent condition, surprisingly.  The motor looks very good, too, just needs some cosmetic cleanup.

 

I'm going to have to re-blast my rear number plate brackets, as the pitting is too deep for just high-build primer.  Will have to use some body filler.  No huge deal.  Now that the body and body panels are on hold until consistent nice weather, I can continue to work on ancillary pieces in the meantime.  I may go for the steering column next.

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Been a couple weeks, but made some time this weekend.  I got back more parts from the chrome plater, so I was able to finish my parking brake assembly (Photo 1) and get it installed on the trans tunnel.  MUCH easier when the tunnel is not installed.

 

Also still working on the heater (Photo 2).  Had the heater core tested and it's perfect, for some reason, so had it thoroughly cleaned and back in it goes.  Took the blower motor to a electric shop to get tested and maybe rebuilt.  Took my repro ID tag to an engraver shop to see if they can repro the original stamping.  I'm going to reuse the original CAUTION tag, even though it's a little ratty.  The repro one I bought is wrong in so many ways and the CAUTION lettering is in red instead of the proper black.  It takes just as much effort to do these tags right that it does to screw them up, yet they screw them up every time.  Got the heater box painted, but may still do a little touch up.  The lacquer spray paint I used shows even fine sanding lines, so may need some redoing.  I had to strip off much of he primer and apply body filler earlier in the job, as my first attempt ended up with too much pitting.  I'm waiting on some additional grommets before I can put the whole thing back together.

 

Still slowly working on the bumper and numbers plate assemblies, but these pieces are all rusted and damaged, so having to supplement a lot of it with new parts.  

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22 minutes ago, hursst said:

It takes just as much effort to do these tags right that it does to screw them up, yet they screw them up every time. 

 

 

 

I've always wondered about that.   I wondered a little that it might be a copyright/trademark issue but I think that's a little unlikely.   

 

Glad you found something that worked... that always helps progress.   Looking good!!

 

 

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Got about 3" of snow today, which in Northern Virginia is a national emergency.  Most cowardly, untrained drivers in the world, so the gov't made me stay home today.  The good news was, I headed out to the garage.  

 

The heater work is on hold while I wait for parts, so today, I jumped into the rest of the steering column (Photo 1).  Steering column assembly is a mess.  The shaft itself is excellent, but the steering wheel is completely destroyed (I already bought a new one), and the optional adjustable steering column is corroded.  I was able to take the whole thing apart, eventually, but the separate adjustable shaft would not come out.  It looked warped or bent.  I ended up applying a lot of heat and some tactful hammer blows, and eventually it came out.  I soon discovered the issue.  Some cretin previous owner decided to try to take this thing apart, but they must have been severely mentally challenged, as they decided to try to unscrew the shaft, which 1) has spline in it and 2) has a metal key in it, to keep it from being pulled completely out.  So, they tried unscrewing it and somehow bent the whole thing (Photo 2).  Note that the keyway is bent to the left.  Idiots.  So, I have to buy a whole new shaft, which is $164 + tax from Moss.  Inside the shaft was a vintage Beech Nut gum wrapper from the 1960's (Photo 3).  Evidently this simpleton could not remove the adjustable steering shaft and chew gum at the same time.

 

Moss will be pleased with my next parts order.  My bank account will not be.

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Never been busier in my life.  Too many projects, not enough time! 

 

I've been trying to wrap up a lot of small projects on the car while I wait to get more into the body repairs.  I refinished the steering column (Photo 1) with new felt bushings and new telescoping upper shaft to replace the one that someone pretzeled.  Was not able to complete the rest of the upper telescoping pieces as they need to be re-chromed, so that will be about 2-3 more months.  Also working on the rear license plate bracket assembly.  Heavy pitting has held me back, as I thought I could fill the pits in with sand-able primer, but the pits were too deep, so I had to use some body filler (which I should have done to begin with, lesson learned), then had to do some wet sanding at the end.  I ended up switching paints and the original gloss black I used was too fine, revealing every detail.  I got some better paint that did a much better job of hiding fine scratches.  After redoing everything about 3 times, I'm just about there.  The rear license plate lamp assembly cover will have to be re-plated, so that will be a while until it's finished as well.  I took the base and rewired it (Photo 2), so now I can rebuild the whole assembly, minus the glass and cover.

 

Still working on the heater, but waiting on an ID plate engraver and the blower motor tester.  Have a few smalls left to redo, but it should be complete in about 3-4 weeks.

 

I'm also working on the rear bumper bracketry at the same time, pretty much finished with that, now starting the front.  Fairly easy stuff. 

 

I really need to get to a good stopping point, as I'm ready to detach the inner rockers.  I tried an air chisel to try to break the spot welds, but that didn't work as the chisel point is too thick and just warps the metal.  Of course the air chisel itself failed after only 10 minutes of use (yes, I oiled it beforehand).  It will be going back for a refund tomorrow.  I then purchased an Eastwood spotweld cutter air gun, which should get the top and bottom spot welds easily. It's in the mail now.   I think I will have to manually drill out every spot weld that holds the inner rocker panel to the door pillars and other places on the top sides, as I see no other way to do it without doing some heavy damage.  My door pillars are somehow solid, so I need to save those and the flanges that come off of them at the bottom.  This will be the hardest part of the car, but ready to get it done before the good weather starts and I get the rest of the body sandblasted and in primer to seal it before I start the real body work.

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55 minutes ago, hursst said:

Never been busier in my life.  Too many projects, not enough time! 

I feel your pain.  That's the point I'm at too. 

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Back from some travels and a lot of work hours locally.  Was finally able to finish the rear numbers plate assembly.  Turned out well overall.  Still some minor pitting, but you can't see it when it's on the car, so good enough (Photo 1).  I have the chrome frame for the light headed to the chromer.  Re-wired the light as the old wires were disintegrated.

 

Otherwise, I'm finishing up on the heater box.  Taking a long time, as I still have the blower motor out at a shop, which seems to have been closed for quite a few days now, so not sure what's going on there.  Not out of business, just closed up.  I'll have to investigate further.  I got a repro "Smiths" ID plate, but it's pretty crappy.  I was not pleased with it.  I found a company in the UK that makes repros that are very close, so I ordered one of those and it's at an engraver now to get the numbers on it.  The rest of the parts are in primer and will be painted tomorrow.  Should have the whole thing done in a week or so, minus the missing blower motor.

 

Tomorrow, I'm going to continue trying to remove spotwelds from the inner rocker.  Just bought a spot weld remover gun/drill from Eastwood, so we'll see how it works.  Won't help on the thin tabs that come down from the door pillars and the attachments at front and rear of the rocker, but it should make short work of the upper and lower portions, where you can get the C-clamp portion of the drill assembly around the pinched areas.

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Very productive weekend; hard to find nowadays.  I finished painting the rest of the heater parts (Photo 1).  Will assemble the heater, minus the blower motor as soon as I get the "Smiths" ID tag back from the engraver.  I also completed the front bumper brackets.  I'll put them on the car as a good storage location for now.  

 

Big milestone today, was able to remove about 65% of the passenger side inner rocker panel.  The Eastwood spot weld remover works very well, I'd highly recommend it.  Once you get the hang of it and set the depth of how deep you want to drill, it's a piece of cake.  This has already paid for itself.  That being said,  it's of minimal use in tight corners.  Here's what it did for the top portion (Photo 2).  And here's where I am currently (Photo 3).  There are still pieces attached under the door pillar that will require some more work, as I want to save the door pillar, as it's solid.  I will probably do some damage I don't want to do, but there isn't an easy way to get some of the flaps from the door pillars to the inner rocker easily.  I was also not able to do the section at the front door pillar and in front of it, as the car is supported up in the air under that section, so I'll have to make some adjustments so I can reach it when I get back to the job.  I now need to buy some new inner rockers from Moss to see how everything lines up.  The inner support panel is rough, but it looks salvageable.  I'll have to weld in a few patch panels at the bottom to make it look nice and have solid metal to spot weld on the rockers and attack the trim piece after the car is painted.

 

I will probably wait until I get the repro panels so I can compare what I currently have to the new rockers while the driver's side original rocker is still installed and take some measurements, then I'll probably wait to get the whole body blasted to get rid of the surface rust before I install the inner rockers.  I think once I get the body blasted, I'll officially be on the downhill portion of the restoration.  I'll be 3 years in in May.  A guy in my local MG club called me "anal retentive" as I am taking so long to do this resto and I'm a stickler for originality or at least accuracy.  Most of the club owners drivers, not show cars, which is great, as these cars should be driven.   This just motivates me more, as I'm going to shoot for the best MGA out there and hopefully win some AACA awards with it.  Don't worry, I'll be driving it, too, it won't be a trailer queen.  If it doesn't win anything, I don't care either, I'll still have a great MGA to enjoy that I built with sweat equity.

 

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

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Wow that looks like a lot of work, glad that tool is working out for you!  That really doesn't look like much fun. :)

 

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Got a lot completed this weekend.  Finally finished the heater (still missing one ID tag on top, though) (Photo 1).  Turned out well.  Compare to the "before" photo on my Feb 3rd post.

 

Ok, I have most of the small stuff I was working on completed, so now focusing only on the body, now that the warm weather it just about here.  I re-assessed my inner rocker panels again.  I think the large panel that is left is called a "castle panel" or something, but it's the only thing left preventing the car from being cut in half.  It looks like the upper 3/4 of the panel is in good shape, just has a lot of surface rust, but the lower 1/4 on both sides is a disaster.  So, I decided to save the top part, but cut off the bottom 1/4 of the entire panel (Photo 2).  I still have a section of the inner rocker I need to move at front, but I was able to work on the back part for now.  I first cut out the rear panel (there are actually 3 panels lapped and spot-welder together) and replaced it with fresh metal (Photo 3).  The section where the line is at right is actually depressed by about a 1/16" so that the main panel can go over top of it.  Turned out okay, but I'll have to be very careful about lining up the holes at the bottom for the long trim piece that goes along the bottom to cover up all the spot welds.

 

I next cut out the same portion for the the entire middle piece, which goes up to the front door pillar.  This piece is also lapped and spot welded with the front piece.    So far so good.  I'm going to hit Moss Motors in about 2 weeks to buy repro inner rockers to complete the repair.  Going to do one side at a time, so I can keep the other side intact for reference.

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It's getting harder and harder to find any time to work on the MGA, but I found some time today.  Having tons of long-term issues with my other cars, like a power steering system in my old Camaro that can never be repaired no matter how much effort, money, time I throw at it over a 6-year period.  People not knowing the correct bearing to use in my Plymouth water pump (has been rebuilt 4 times, yes, 4 times).  People "correcting" old parts without asking me (converting an adjustable generator to non-adjustable, which, of course, needs an adjustment), a parasitic drain on the battery of another car that no one can find through 3 shops and 5 years of effort.  I could have retired years ago if I never got involved with cars.  

 

Ok, for the MGA, I continued on the rockers.  I went to Moss Motors and got repro inner rockers and vertical rocker supports.  Here's the whole panel mocked up (Photo 1), but I found the top of the original panel to be okay, plus if I removed this panel, there'd be nothing between the front and back of the body and I don't want to have to get involved with jigs and flexed bodies, if I can help it.  I spent half the day cutting out the rest of the bad metal around the door pillars, which was incredibly difficult do to without destroying everything  I did some minor damage, but I should be able to make it look fairly nice and no one will see it anyway.  As long as it's structurally sound.  Here's the cut-out piece sized in (Photo 2).  Here it is about half-way welded in.  My welding is still not very good, plus it's tough to weld onto the formerly rusty and probably thinner original panels.  Lots of burn-through and some warping, but I think I got it on there fairly nicely in the end (Photo 4).  It will need a LOT of grinding, probably some pin-hole touch-ups and more grinding on the other side.  Then, some hammer and dolly work to get the warping straightened up.  

 

The next job will be the front section (these panels are composed of three separate panels that overlap).  The front part is more solid, so I will only have to cut out maybe the bottom 1 1/2" to get to good metal.  Once that's done, I can weld in the boxed inner rocker panel as one unit.  That can be all spot welded.  I have a friend who has a home-spot welder, but I think it takes a special voltage or plug, which I may not have.  Plus, for most of the panel, you can't get behind.  Eastwood makes a spotweld adapter for my welder.  You have to drill a hole in the first panel, then you can make the connection with the welder adapter that should be somewhat clean, so I will probably buy that for the main rocker and the outer rocker.  Once I get the passenger side done, I'll move on the the driver's side, which I can use now as a reference.

 

In the meantime, I just hit over 6 months of my engine being out at the machine shop.  I check in every two months and it's always "it's at the machine shop, they just finished this and just did that, should be ready soon.  I think 6 months is too long.  They originally said it would be ready around Feb 1st, when I first dropped it off.  Time for another visit, but this time, we're going to have to establish some deadlines, I'm getting a little fed up.  Also, I've had a better heater ID tag at the engraver and it's been there for about 3 weeks now. How this takes more than about 3 days is beyond me.   I never get any updates from any of these shops, the burden always falls on me to call them, they rarely or never call me.  Hmmm, really frustrating last few months with car repairs and repairing.

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It does seem like no one is as interested in your stuff as you are... and you have to call and call to find out if anything is going on.  After a while you begin to deduce that lies have been told because you know things don't take that long and even if they did, then they'd need to be billing you for that and you're not getting 6 months of billed time from the machine shop (at least, you better not!!!).  This was the primary motivator for me to try and do everything... and I think you've said a reason that you've done many times more on this restoration as well.  I'm sorry it isn't working out for you but you'll do more and more and it should go smoother and smoother.   Don't even get me started on the mechanics that can't find problems... you stand a better chance of educating yourself and fixing just about any mechanical issue with a car these days as you do finding someone that can fix something without a computer telling them how.

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Well, yet another setback.  I called the British car shop today about my engine.  It has been there for over six months.  I was greeted with "good, you got my message!"  I never got a message.  Supposedly I was called on Friday.  Good timing, but never got the message.  Anyway, long story short, my engine was farmed out to a machine shop (which is fine) for line-boring, cylinder boring, honing, magnaflux, or any other service the block needed.  The block was finished about 2 weeks ago, returned to the British car shop, who then discovered a crack at the rear of the block near the oil journal, or something like that.  The shop was very upset with the machine shop, as they should have caught this.  To repair the crack requires another specialist and will be about a 6-8 month wait, plus only a 50% chance of success and an 80% chance the crack will come back in the future.  The British car shop located another block that may fit the bill.  Luckily, my engine tag can be moved to another engine, as nothing is stamped in the block, so I'm not too upset.  Anyway, they need to now check out the "new" engine to see what it needs.  I'm supposedly at the top of the list, due to it being their error that they didn't catch it earlier, so the British shop is estimating 1 month more, if everything checks out okay, which means 3 months to me.  

 

I do think the British car shop is doing fairly well for me, although they are not keeping up with communication.  I don't know the exact issue with my old block and if the crack was simply missed during the magnaflux process, or it developed over the last 6 months, so I can't really get upset, just frustrated and disappointed.  I really wanted to get the engine in the car before spring, now it's looking like mid-summer at best.

 

At least I got in some more grinding on the welding after work.  I'm going to have to find a coarser grinding disk, it is taking forever.

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There have been some very good reports on other threads about stitching cracks. Matt Harwood's Lincoln K engine was just treated. It is a permanent fix if done skillfully, according to the posters.

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Hi,

My reports on the rebuild of my MGBV8, for the MG Car Club V8 Register, may help you with your welding and plug welding (spot welding with a MIG). There are a lot of reports but I did a index at the end to make finding things easier.

http://www.v8register.net/profileV8RebuildMacartney.htm

I have been following your posts with interest.

Mike

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Mike,

   Thanks, I will definitely take a look!

Chris

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Mike,

   That's a great site you put together.  I'll have to jump back in more in depth, but quite helpful, thanks.  Nice garden, too!

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Left work early (or late, considering I had extra hours for the week) and did some more fREAL work on the MGA.  It's getting easier as I go since I'm learning along the way.  Today I bought some better grinding wheels and spent time grinding most of the welding on the rocker support mostly flat.  Opened up a lot of holes in some sections where my welding was not the best, but overall, not too bad, most of it turned out satisfactory.  Started on the front section by cutting out the bad portion (Photo 1).  The front was better protected, so didn't have to cut quite as high.  Good at that, as there is a support bracket welded toward the front on the other side, so I didn't have to mess with that.

 

The only sheet steel I can find is 24" long, and of course, I need about 26", so had to leave a gap which I'll fill later (Photo 2).  So far, treated the overlapping metal at the left end with weld-thru primer, as it overlaps the center piece, and cleaned up the rust where I'll be welding.  Right now, just held in there by a large magnet to get it set up.  Will probably weld it tomorrow.

 

After that, I'll weld in the gap, then grind it, then double back and weld up the holes that are left over from the bad welding from before, then grind it again.  I'll throw a good dose of weld-thru primer over the whole thing, then do a little hammer and dolly on the bottoms of the door pillars, as I had to fight with them to get out the rusted inner rocker.  After that, I'll prep the repro inner rocker.  Not sure how I'm going to spot weld it yet.  My friend never got back to me about how his home spot welder plugs in, so I'll probably just use the Eastwood spot weld adapter, which will unfortunately involve me drilling dozens of holes in the inner rocker in which to put the "spot welds."  Pleased with my progress since I've never done this before.

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"Eastwood spot weld adapter, which will unfortunately involve me drilling dozens of holes in the inner rocker in which to put the spot welds." 

 

You can just weld into the holes using the standard torch without the adapter.

 

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No need to drill all the holes you can use a hand or air punch to cut the 1/4" holes.

 

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These pins are ideal for holding parts together for welding. I hope the above helps you.

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Mike,

    You are right, but I'm not that good.  I'm going to try the adapter, it's not that pricey.  It sets up the right distance and makes everything vertical and uniform, so I'll try it out.  Those pins are a good idea, I may pick some of those up soon.  Right now, I have really easy surfaces to work with, so clamps and magnets work fairly well for now. 

 

    Thanks again for the tips, they are all very helpful and will improve my work and speed up the process.

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I don't know if you have come across these types of wire brush that are encapsulated in pressure moulded epoxy resin, this type of wire brush never clogs and will outlast conventional brushes. I bought one from Frost, in the UK, it was used on the MGB and Humberette restorations and still has useful life left in it. I use it in a reversible drill, when it doesn't work so well one way I reverse the drills rotation.

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Frosts encapsulated wire brush.

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This is another type I found on Amazon.

They seem expensive but they do last a very long time.

Regarding the spot weld adapter. I did try using one when I first had a MIG welder and found that I got better results without the adaptor.

Another tip - when starting to get used to MIG welding, make sure the metal you are welding is clean and free from rust, hence my suggestion on the above types of wire brush.

 

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Mike, another great suggestion.  I've never heard of these before.  I blow thru wire wheels quite quickly, so I will definitely look into this.  I'm having much better luck with certain parts of the welding then with others, as some of metal is a little pitted and I'm sure I'm hitting some small spots that aren't as clean as I think.  Thanks again.

 

 

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Quick update, yesterday I finished welding all the patch panels to the bottom of the inner rocker vertical support (Photo 1).  The welding was very challenging for an amateur like myself.  The middle section had much more surface rust on the upper portion than did the front section.  I had a lot of burn thru where the metal was thinner on the upper half, so it was a battle to keep the heat low enough not to destroy all the metal, while keeping it hot enough to make a connection between panels.  Lots and lots of grinding, plugging pin holes, repeat.  The front section was relatively easy and I got better welds and minimal pin holes.  A sloppy job, indeed, but no one will see it.  I'll be cleaning up the inner side of the work more, as that needs to fit fairly flush against the frame rails of he chassis.

 

Today, I should be starting on grinding out what's left of the spot weld fragments on the panel, repairing a couple holes I made in the panel whilst chiseling, repairing a rust-out hole on one of the door pillar bases, and maybe getting time to wire wheel and metal treat the middle and weld-thru prime the portions where the inner rocker will be spot welded.  

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It looks good and straight. Well done. The main 'trap for young players' in sill work is welding a slight sag into the structure which plays havoc with the door shut lines. It is very easy to get wrong, and difficult to rectify. I am constantly trial fitting the panels and door at that stage.

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"I am constantly trial fitting the panels and door at that stage."

 

Excellent advice. From my memory of replacing sills on an MGA, in the early 1980's, this was one of the hardest sill replacement jobs I had ever done.

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