hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Mike, ok, I'll experiment without the primer and try to get it better dialed in.

 

In the meantime, today, I painted the inner rocker with chassis black after I primered it a few days ago (Photo 2).  Should give a little added protection and to reproduce the look of the original panel, which was a semi-gloss primer. 

 

Then, I thought I could prep and tack in the outer rocker panel, but guess what?  The repro outer rocker panel doesn't fit, as expected.  Here's a shot of it at the bottom (Photo 1).  The lower flange should be flush with the existing flange from the inner rocker panel that is already installed.  It's not even close.  I tried bending it at the center of the curved radius, but do not have the leverage to bend it by hand.  I think what I'll have to do is tack it properly flush at the bottom, then try bending it from the top, enough to get some clamps in place at the top, then try to bend it from there.  Should have more leverage with the bottom being tacked in.  Still have more prep work to do on the outer rocker, but will try again in a few days.  All these crappy repro parts are adding on so much wasted time to the restoration.  

 

Still doing lots of smalls on the side, for when I get frustrated with the large stuff and need a break.  Currently working on the inner front grille bars and their hardware.  They may need some professional straightening.  They are not too bad as is, but I don't think they are good enough.

 

I called the British car shop about my engine again yesterday, as it's been another month.  They claim that the machine shop is finished and shipping the engine over to their shop and it should be there within 1 week.  I don't think I believe a word of it, but I hope it's true.  Once it gets back to their shop, I will supply them all the ancillary parts that I restored and they would build the engine on a test stand, run it and break it in, as part of the deal.  Keeping my fingers crossed.  

 

Today marks 3 years since I bought this heap.  I can't imagine how all you other restorers finish your cars so quickly.  I think I have another 3 years left at the pace I'm going.

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8 hours ago, hursst said:

I can't imagine how all you other restorers finish your cars so quickly.

 

Some of us are retired!

 

Keep up the good work, you are doing well.

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Hi Chris,
I recently found your journal and I’ve been following your progress from start to finish over the last three weeks. It encourages me as I’ve just purchased a 1962 MGA MK II. I’ll be starting work on it soon. 
 
My point in commenting is to point you to a fellow in the UK that has some really good YouTube videos on body work, forming, welding and finishing. I thought before you get too far along it might be work a look.  
 
 
If you have the time I’d suggest video #15 “MIG Welding Heat Distortion Control Car Body Work...” He covers a lot of territory from cleaning up surfaces prior to welding, welding tips and sundry other steps along the way to a quality final finish. The man is a veritable master using simple techniques you and others would appreciate.
 
My best to you for speedy but quality progress.
 
Mike
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Mike, thanks for the link.  I will take a look as I can definitely use more tips on welding!

 

Chris

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Posted (edited)

Finally got some time to work on the MG today.  Made some decent progress. First, I was able to weld on the lower half of the outer rocker.  I think I really have the spot weld part down now, almost no mistakes.  Cleaned up easy with a little bit of grinding.  I test-fitted the rear fender (Photo 1) to make sure it lines up properly with the outer rocker and it did (Photo 1).  It will need some minor adjustment, but should go on easy when the time comes.  Also finished welding that fender up, too, with all the extra cuts and bends I had to make to make the patch panel fit.  What a mess.  It actually turned out very well.  Still needs a lot of finishing work, but the hard work is finished.  Hard to see, since it's painted in primer black, but here's the outer rocker on the car (Photo 2).

 

Now for the bad news.  Do you think this repro out rocker panel fit properly?  Not a chance.  More repro garbage.  The curvature on the lower part of the piece, from the shelf to the bottom edge does not have a severe enough curvature to it.  So, my plan is to weld the bottom first, then line up the 4 rivet holes on each side with nails to position them, then weld in the top portion, then try to bend the curve enough to get the 4 holes lined up for rivets.  Right now, I got some nails in the 4 holes, but they are way off.  Not sure how I'm going to make this work yet.  I tried bending it by hand off the car, but had minimal progress.  I thought with the piece stabilized, I could get more leverage.  More wasted time thanks for shoddy workmanship with these repro parts.

 

In the meantime, I went over to the other side and started there.  I removed the outer rocker panel upper portion that was spot welded to the main vertical piece (Photo 3).  This went far easier than the other side, since I have the right equipment and generally know what I'm doing at this point.  I should have this side done in half that time as the other side.

 

Think I got a call about my engine last week, like I was promised?  Not a chance.  No call this week, either.  I'll be calling again Monday to see what the holdup could possibly be.  Engine should be ready to go and back at the British car shop now, but it is not.

 

Still working side projects to keep it interesting.  Just about have the grille assembly complete, really just need to clean up the inner grille structure, then bolt the thing together.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Well Chris at least you're making progress even if everyone around you stands still...   I wish you were in my area and you could use my machine shop guy and I could help you with the engine.  We could have gotten that thing done in a week or two.  Great progress!

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Posted (edited)

Yes, a good machine shop is very hard to find in the DC area, evidently.  High demand  usually equals terrible service.

 

Yesterday and today, I got the passenger outer rocker spot welded on and it turned out fairly well.  I then put on the rear fender and the door to do some very rough fitting (Photo 1).  As I already knew, the outer rocker does not have a severe enough curve to it, so it sits up a little high, although it seems so mainly at the front.  The door will touch the upper lip of the rocker when closed.  The main issue is that I cannot place the 4 rivets (2 on each side) on the upper front and rear of the rocket, as they sit higher than the holes.  I may be able to get a helper and put a pry bar behind the rocker in order to bend it enough to get the rivets in, but it may spring back into shape; that rocker is quite strong.  Some of my spot welds burned through the outer rocker, but no the inner structure, so a couple welds didn't hold, so I'll have to fill in a few of them to make sure they are done properly.  I'm going to wait on finishing this until finish the other side.  The work on the lower fender turned out very well in its rough form.  It will need a slight amount of contouring at the lower curve where it meets the door, but seems to fit well and look correct.  I'm hoping the other rear fender doesn't need a patch panel, though!

 

I also started to attack the driver's side.  I was able to remove most of the inner rocker panel, which was very rotten (Photo 2).  I still have a lot of work to do in drilling out the spot welds and taking what's remaining of it off.  The center part of the vertical structure, although very rusty, still appears somewhat sold, so I may have some leeway in terms of cutting this piece in the middle.  The front and rear sections are shot and will be cut out, much like I did on the passenger side.

 

I almost finished the grille assembly (Photo 3).  The inner grille with the bars has 2-3 bent bars in it and I think it could use a good polishing, so I will farm this out to my chrome shop in a few weeks.  Should be easy and not too expensive, just want to make it as close to new as possible.  The chromer did and outstanding job on the outer grille shell.  The cloisonne MG badge only needed a little Windex to look new new, maybe the only part on the car that was pretty much good as is.  Also refinished the radio delete plate, which is now in primer and ready for the body color paint.  Pulled out a few more other smalls to work on the side as I go along.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Have had zero time over the last two weeks, but will have this weekend available, although it will be about 96 degrees.  The only thing to report is that the terrible machine shop has finished boring my "new" engine, but the only other guy they have is ill and is getting surgery, so the only work left, the honing of the cylinders and the possible planing of the cylinder head would be another 1-2 months, because they are down to one guy left.  Who knows if any of this is true, but I'm incredibly frustrated.  So, the British car place I'm dealing with found other shop in Maryland to do this work, so they have to pick up the pieces from the old shop and take everything to the new shop.  They say should be finished in one more month.  Seems like I've heard this before.  That will put me at 10 months to get cylinders bored, honing, and possible decking  I couldn't be more ticked off.  I really have no choice but to try to ride it out.  At least I don't need the engine anytime soon, but it would be nice to have it back to build up the rest of the chassis and focus only on the body.  More progress later this weekend.

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I feel your pain Chris, though it seems I have a lot more machine shop options than you. I had to go search them out but ended up finding two very reliable shops that do quality work at affordable prices. 

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If I ever restore another car (probably not until I retire), I'll be sure to ask you guys for engine builders first.  Will be worth whatever distance drive it is!

 

I think I made some good progress today.  I went back to work on the inner rocker remnants on the passenger side and was able to remove the rest of the spot welded pieces.  Really picking up the pace compared to the driver's side, since I now have some experience.  Here's chiseling out the spot welded strips left over from when I cut out the inner rocker (Photo 1).  Here's the finished product (Photo 2).  The Eastwood spot weld air drill continues to work fairly well.

 

At first I thought maybe I could save some of the lower portion of the vertical inner panel, but the front is completely fried, the middle is so-so, but the metal will be too thin once I clean off the rust, and rear is trashed.  I'll probably cut it about 3" up, just like I did with most of the passenger side.  Should be able to get some off this work done tomorrow, although welding in long pants and long-sleeve shirt in 91 degrees will be challenging!

 

Also was able to just about complete restoring the dipper switch (high beam switch) that goes near the floor board on the chassis uprights, as another side project.  This will be a great piece to finish, as I can bolt it right to the upright, as the carpet goes around it, not under it.  More photos tomorrow.

 

Because I can't have a perfect day in the garage, discovered that my cut out switch on my '30 Plymouth was seized shut and drained a brand-new battery to zero charge.  Battery will not even accept a charge, so it's trashed.  Has about 3 miles on it.  Usually I disconnect the battery just in case, but of course, I forgot last time I drove it, then this happened.  New battery tomorrow, too.

 

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If you are using one of the newer battery chargers on a completely dead battery you have to trick the charger to get it to start charging.  The new chargers will not start charging until it gets voltage from the battery.  What you need to do is get another battery and connect the two together to give it that voltage, then once it starts charging you can disconnect the good battery.

Dale

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Posted (edited)

Sorry Hursst for changing the subject from MGA's, but Dale's post interests me. I have two BMW E30 325i touring's that I bought new batteries for, about a year ago. Like a fool I did not start, or use the cars on a regular basis. The touring with the newest battery, I charged up overnight, and it started OK. The day after, I tried starting the car again, the battery was as 'dead as a Dodo'. If I try charging the way, Dale suggests above, may it help to rejuvenate the battery?

Edited by Mike Macartney
Spelling and punctuation. (see edit history)

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I killed my battery completely.  Took it to the auto parts store and the charge was aborted.  Had to get a new battery.  Another lesson learned.

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At the age I am you would have thought I would have learnt my lesson by now! I'll see if Dale replies to my post, but I think you are probably right and that I am in for two new buying batteries!

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I am in Warrenton, Virginia. If you are looking for an engine machine shop near Woodbridge I highly recommend Dave Lucash  in Opal, Virginia (http://www.proautoperformancecenter.com/). He did my 1941 Plymouth engine (included re-sleeving one cylinder) and my 1956 Thunderbird Y block. He was very timely and I was very pleased with his work. Nice guy to work with.

Jim Yergin

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Thanks Jim.  Yes, I know of Dave, but decided to try a British car place as I thought maybe they'd have more expertise with the British stuff, plus they have an engine test stand., as Dave mostly does American engines.  In hindsight, Dave would have been a better choice, but it's too late to change at this point, just want to try to see it through this last month and get the engine built up.

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Got a little more completed today.  Cut out the rot from the back end of the vertical rocker support panel (Photo 1).  Made a patch panel shaped like the original rust out (Photo 2).  Getting really good at fabricating these small parts with a body hammer, vice, and cut-off wheel.  Saving a fortune by doing this myself.  Mostly got in place, ready to weld (Photo 3).  Didn't get to welding it today, had a lot of other things going on.  Got my new battery for my old Plymouth and took it for a ride today. 

 

Also finished the dipper switch and installed it.  Had to leave it loose on the chassis as I will need to connect the wiring eventually.  Ran out of side projects, so now I'm going to tackle the passenger seat.  At the very least, I will redo all the metal parts, but I may try the upholstery.  Moss should be having a sale on the leather seats soon...

 

Complete tangent; maybe Mike McC will appreciate this, but I bought a 12 pack of Newcastle Brown Ale last week.  They changed the bottle and the label.  It tasted different, too, a little off.  Found out that it is now brewed under license by Lagunitas in California and they changed the recipe.  Just terrible!  I wanted a fine British Ale, but what I got was ripped off.  Another fine Brit company taken over by foreigners who ruin the product, just like MG.  Should have bought more Old Speckled Hen instead...

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Some other British bottled beers you may like are: Spitfire, London Pride, Doombar and a strong dark beer is Hobgoblin. I am not a great bottled beer lover but I do like a pint or two of draught real ale. Our local pub serves Woodforde's Wherry which is OK when it's good. Sunday it was excellent, but last Wednesday it was cloudy and 'very tangy'.

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It's been quite a while since I've posted, been out of town and just incredibly busy.  My cable box, computer, router, TV, modem, and GPS unit all broke in the same week, both coincidentally and due to power surges.  What a huge hassle to get that stuff fixed/replaced/diagnosed, etc.  Almost back to normal.  Was able to dabble with the MG, but not much progress until today.

 

Got the middle portion of the vertical rocker support welded on.  Took some extra effort, as I cut the piece a little too short at the top, so had to make some thin pieces to fill the gap.  Turned out okay actually, just extra work (Photo 1).  Of course, have a lot of grinding and finishing work to do before it's ready for the inner rocker panel.

 

My side project is the seats.  I took the driver's side seat apart today.  Refinished the mounting brackets and sliding mechanism, so those are ready.  Upon taking apart the lower seat, I found that some of the seat cover still had its original leather attached, although most of it had replacement vinyl sewn in.  I also discovered an almost perfect circle drilled by a rodent (Photo 2) in the foam padding.  The original Dunlopillo foam was still in the seat (Photo 3).  The wood frame is broken, but I should be able to make a repair on the inside to keep everything as original as possible.  I'll be getting all new foam and original style leather seat covers, probably when they go on sale.  In the meantime, I will refinish and repair the wood lower seat frame and repaint the metal mesh middle support to get it ready for upholstery.  Still have the actual seat frame to refinish.  Should turn out great.

 

It's been yet another month since I got an engine update.  Today was the day it was supposed to have final machining and be back at the British Car shop.  Of course I received no phone call.  I called and had to speak to one of the other guys and he said "we found another shop, so we think we can get your engine to this new shop soon."   I was speechless, as that's the same thing told to me a month ago.  I said "there must be some mistake, check your records again."  There was a mistake, my engine is actually at the new shop, but it is now expected back Aug 7th instead of today.  More delays, but some minor progress.  By the time I get the engine back in the car, it will end up being over a year.  Terrible.

 

I'm going to try to hit the MG hard this weekend and get as much of the rocker work done as possible.  I really need this to be finished so I can work on the rest of the body.  Once I get the engine back, I will have to move the chassis and body around in my garage so the body will be at the front, while the chassis is tucked away at the rear. IIt's now situated with the chassis about 10% under the body, which is up on saw horses.  I will have to detail the chassis, as I have left it uncovered and it is coated in a thick layer of dust and grit at this pint.  I should have covered it up while doing the hard metal work.  No big deal, I guess.  It will be cleaned and covered once the engine gets back in it. 

 

The side projects are working well.  At the rate I'm going, once the main body and paint are finished, I should have almost all the other parts ready to just bolt in.

 

Cheers to the weekend!

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Made more progress on the driver's seat today.  Here's a closeup of the broken wooden seat base (Photo 1).  I took some sheet steel, cut it to fit, painted it black and screwed it together with some wood screws to make a repair (Photo 2).  Actually worked quite well, it's fairly solid now.  A lot of extra work and money to replace it, so better to fix it.  

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In addition, I cut out the rot on the front of the inner rocker support and cut out a new piece to weld in (Photo 1).  Didn't get it welded in to day as it was very hot and  I had many other projects.  I will try to at least get it tacked in tomorrow.  Also, here is the seat back for the driver's seat (Photo 2).  It still has the original rubberized horse hair padding, which was in excellent condition, so I will reuse it with my new leather upholstery.  I think the Moss Interior sale is in Spring, so I will probably refinish everything I can and leave the upholstery until the spring.  I'm also repainting the portion of the metal seat frame to remove some surface rust and make it look nice again, which is why there is blue tape on it.  Tomorrow will try welding and try to break out the Clogmaster 2000 to see if I can get more than 3 minutes of blasting in before it clogs up tight.

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I think you're right, I bought my interior during the sale in the Spring.  I should remind you that the Clogmaster prefers the low-humidity winters and that it's going to be a stretch to think you can get 3 minutes tomorrow. You might try taking handfuls of media and throwing it at the surface rust... might work better. When I'm in a bad mood I imagine my Clogmaster falling off a tall cliff and smashing into a million pieces... always cheers me up.  ;)

 

Joking aside, you're doing a great job of maintaining forward progress.  I've been mostly idle since Thanksgiving due to various real life stuff and I admire your tenacity to get out there and get something done.  I need more of that.

 

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Posted (edited)

The guys on the MGA forum say it's around Mar-Apr.  I'll wait.

 

Haha.  I've been messing with when and how I blast, so this morning, I got up very early and had everything set up outside in the shade, where it was fairly cool.  I kept the blaster and compressor next to each other, so they were the same temperature.  I cleared the water traps frequently, and was actually able to get a good 45 minutes of blasting before it clogged.  In the past, I had the blaster in the sun and compressor in the shade, or vice versa, or blasted during mid-day, so slowly learning what it like and doesn't like.  Today was very successful.  I'll probably shift to welding this afternoon.

 

The real life stuff is difficult.  I keep progress by trying to do at least something each day, even if it is something like moving bolts from storage to the work bench for 1 minute.  Everything adds up and keep the momentum going, no matter how small.  Hope you can find some more time and keep the progress going.

 

Chris

Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Last update for the weekend, won't have any other updates for a couple weeks.  Today was one of the most productive days I've had.  Was able to weld in my new metal to the front of the inner rocket support (Photo 1);  Will need a lot of grinding and pinhole filling, along with the rest of the panel, but this is the big step.  I will probably hit this from the inside as well, to further strengthen the butt weld.

 

Also got a lot accomplished with the seat.  I removed the rust from the lower seat support mesh, primed, and painted it (Photo 2).  This piece is ready for foam and seat covers.  I also primed and painted the small portion of the seat frame upper that is exposed where it folds.

 

Early this morning, I was able to use my Clogmaster 2000 for almost an hour before it clogged up, due to cooler temps, less humidity, and me keeping the compressor and blaster in the shade and at roughly the same temperature.  Finished the instrument panel and the lower seat frame (Photo 3).  Was also able to break out the spray gun and put some good etching primer on the instrument panel.  Couldn't quite get the spray pattern fine enough, so ended up with a few runs, but it will be fine once I sand it.  For now, just trying to get as many sheet metal panels that will have a color coat on them in primer so I can keep away flash rust.  This is the passenger seat, not driver's as I said a few posts ago.  I'll do some minor assembly of the seat components and all that's left is to have them upholstered, which will probably be in the spring.

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No posts in a while.  Took some time off to do a 1-week tour of some cool stuff in the mid-west.  Also been working overtime and have had almost zero time, as usual nowadays.  Finally got another weekend at home to work on the MGA.

 

I've been grinding the welds on the driver's side rocker with some success.  Will need to fill in some pin holes, but making slow progress.  should be able to do more this weekend.  Since I don't have enough time after work to do much, I've been slowly working on the seats and more side projects., as they take minimal time to process.  I almost have the seat frames and hardware all finished, but yesterday and today, hit a snag due to 150% humidity.  Here's what I have so far (Photo 1).  I'll be able to reuse the original rubberized horse hair padding with both seats. The seat lowers will need all upholstery items, but the frames and hardware are all salvageable.  Should be buying new foam and leather upholstery in mid-Sep, as Moss is having a 15% off sale for over $1,500 spent. 

 

Next side project are the 4 instrument cluster support brackets.  Pretty easy.  Stripped some metal and tried to prep it with rust inhibitor, but it just flash rusted after treatment almost immediately (Photo 2).  Luckily, no big deal, just need to strip it down quickly and try again when humidity is lower.  Putting off blasting and stripping of the rest of the seat frame parts due to humidity.  Will probably focus on more welding.

 

I've decided to get all 4 fenders into a blasting company, then prime them up before the winter.  My blaster is too slow and clogs too quickly for me to strip both sides of even one fender, so will have to farm this out.  Spreading it out will allow flash rust to form and I usually don't have multiple days to do it at once, so will have to pay up to get it all done at once.

 

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