hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Looking good!!  Farming out the blasting is a good idea.  Hopefully they will be faster than your machine shop(s). ;)

 

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Ha!  The Machine shop.  The next two-week "deadline" is Wednesday.  This is when they are supposed to have the engine back from the machine shop and in the British Car facility.  Of course, I've received no phone call about this, nor have I ever received a phone call, with the exception of once the first month the engine was in the shop.  I'm quite angry at this point, as I will have to call again on Wednesday asking where my engine is and I'll get another vague response.  IT has been over 11 months now!

 

Normally, I wouldn't tolerate this, but my only other option is to burn a bridge, get the engine back myself and find another shop to help me out  That's problematic as I don't have an easy means to cart an engine around, I have no guarantee that any other shop will be any better, and this shop has an engine test stand, so I'm apt to attempt to ride it out and slowly put some pressure on them to wrap this up.  In addition, I see these guys at many of the British car shows, they are advertisers in our club publication and many other club members use them.  They seem like good guys, too, but I can only tolerate so much.  We;ll see what happens on Wednesday.

 

Ok, since I'm updating again, the humidity is reduced here, but the heat is up.  I was able to weld up most of the pin holes and I was able to grind most of the welds down to a"presentable" level.  Again, I'm not too concerned with it, as it will all be hidden under the rocker panels anyway.  The biggest concern is rust prevention and maintaining a solid structure.  I also got the metal ground down to bare metal for the rocker area and I applied rust inhibitor, as there was a little more surface rust here than on the other side (Photo 1).  I'll prime this up tomorrow and continue chasing the odd pinhole and probably continue to do some additional grinding.  When I'm ready for welding in the interior rocker panel, I'll grind off the primer in that area and maybe use a little weld-thru primer here.  I haven't done much to the inside portion of either side of the car at the rocker, other than grind the welds mostly flat.  I'll probably just have this all sandblasted with the rest of the car.  Also got one of the dash support brackets painted, one a re-rust inhibited, and the other two are surface rusted from last night (Photo 2).  So far, no more surface rust on the stuff I just sprayed, although the middle of the rocker support is looking suspect.

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I think you're doing the right thing, you don't have many choice and pretty much none of them very good.  My situation might have been similar except I caught a lucky break.  I went to multiple machine shops and got turned away at all of them.  I had done some other machining work (not engine related) with an older gentleman up the road from me a bit.  Old school guy.  I went and asked him and he said I needed "Cobb's boy".  Seriously.  "Cobb's boy" turned out to be Jim Cobb the son of a very respected engine builder and machinist.   Of course Jim is older than me so I can only guess how old his dad is.  Jim doesn't even work on engines like mine, but he's old school as well, has all the machines and can read.  Give him the dimensions and the parts and he'll machine it to fit.  Assembling the engine was fairly easy after that.  If I didn't have Jim I'd be in the same boat as you... I'd probably have my engine at some machine shop somewhere and it still wouldn't be done. 

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Another hot day here, but I had to tough it out.  Got the Clogmaster 2000 out early and had almost 2 hours of run time, although many, many clogs/unclogs.  The more I use it, the faster I can get it cleared and running again. although eventually, it will get permanently clogs and I have to quit.  The water traps were like waterfalls today, but somehow I pressed thru and got some good strings in between clogging.

 

Blasted the driver's seat frame, the seat bucket mesh, two seat rails, plus two of the flash-rusted dash support brackets (Photos 1 & 2).  I also wire wheeled the seat sliding brackets (didn't want to blast them with slider mechanism on there) and the seat back pivot support brackets.  I completed all the hardware a few days ago. Right after all this, I was able to get some rust inhibitor on the parts (Photo 3).  Did fairly well, as the humidity drops just enough throughout the day to get it to work.  In a day or two, I'll get some primer on all these parts, plus the rocker vertical support panel on the body.  Getting close to being able to weld on the inner rocker panel.

 

In the next month, I hope to have the rocker work finished, buy seat upholstery and foam, and get all four fenders blasted and in primer.  I don't think I'll have time this year to get the body blasted and primed before the weather gets cold, probably wait for the spring. Also, I'd really like to get my engine working and back on the chassis so I can also put all the floor panels and other parts back on the car.  I'll be moving the chassis to the back of the garage at that point, thoroughly clean it (it's a dusty mess now), and put a cover on it, then I can have the body up front so it can easily be moved in  or out of the garage and I don't have to worry about the chassis being in the way.

 

Overall, pleased with my current progress, even though I'm way behind where I thought I would be.

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Well, another two-week pseudo-deadline has passed by and no phone call about my engine, as per usual.  I called the shop and was unable to speak with the guy I usually speak with, he was busy all day, even though I left a message.  I called back again later, since I didn't expect him to cal me back, and I was able to speak with another one of the owners (there are 3 owners).  The other owner, who I've spoken to before told me that the new machine shop had mistakenly done some of the honing at ~60 degree crosshatch angle instead of the requested 30 degree crosshatch, probably due to incorrectly slowing/stopping the honing machine and pulling it out prematurely.  I've never done any honing, this is just what I was told, but it makes some sense, so this accounts for the latest delay.  I spoke further with owner #2 about owner #1 never communicating after he says he will contact me.  I was very polite, but still matter of fact, as an FYI that this is a problem for me and probably for other customers that owner #1 deals with.  He took it very professionally and addressed the problem and will have further discussion with owner #1.  He then called me back before they closed to give me an update, which is a good thing.  He says the machine shop should have this done again by Monday PM and that owner #1 will call if owner #2 doesn't call in the meantime. 

 

So, I think I was able to communicate with them that I am not pleased at all with their communication, but in the most polite but direct way possible.  The other stuff is a combination of some bad luck, gross incompetence, and poor workmanship and attention to detail on two different machine shops.  More than ever, it's hard to find good people.  I guess this post is more venting than anything else.

 

In the meantime, I finished most of the seat parts (Photo 1 & 2).  Pretty boring photos; more of the same.

 

Now, hopefully onto getting the engine built up and having the shop get it running over the next 2-3 weeks.  Also, getting back to the driver's side inner rocker panel and getting that welded in during the same time frame.  Fender blasting at a blasting shop will have to wait a ;little while due to funding limitations.

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Got a call back from the British Car shop.  The engine is finally back in their shop and the machine work is complete.  Took 11 months and two engines.  I will be delivering all the original engine parts I restored/replaced that went to the old block for installation on the new block.  I'm hoping that not many parts that we left on my old block are needed for the new block, like mounting hardware.  I took most of it off for restoration, pretty much just left the block and head.  The shop says they have my original engine ID tag, so I'm hoping they didn't lose it in the last 11 months.  Finally, a big step with the MGA, it's been a series of baby steps for quite a while now and low progress.

 

Labor Day weekend is coming up, so I hope to complete the rocker welding, or at least get the inner rocker installed, and I hope to complete my next side project, disassembly of the windshield frame assembly.  I already started, but all the screws are quite corroded and are not coming out easily.  There will be lots of drilling, I'm afraid.

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Finally, Labor Day weekend!  What better way to celebrate than...to labor.  Productive 1 1/2 days so far.  First, when and saw my engine at the shop.  Just a bare metal block at this point.  Also dumped off all my engine parts (Photo 1).  The shop will start inventory and get the block powder coated and start on the work soon (hopefully).  The other owner is very communicative and appears to have taken over the communication part from the other owner, so that makes me feel better about things getting done and me hearing about it.

 

Got my windscreen apart, but still have some hardware to remove before it's ready for chrome plating (Photo 2).  Had to heat up most of the interior metal with a propane torch to get some of the brass screws out.  Some of them just broke off at the top when I tried to remove them.  Will be a lot of work to get them all out, mostly will have to drill them out.

 

Finished minor pin hole repair and did some more grinding and got the driver's side inner rocker roughed in (Photo 3).  Fits well overall.  Will need a lot of metal work at the base of the door pillars, but should be able to save most of what there after I remove the rust.  Will probably have to make a few very small patch panels after the fact.  The goal will be to get both the inner and outer rockers welded in this weekend.

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Got the inner rocker spot welded in today (Photo 1).  Went fairly well, but will need some grinding to get the welds nice and flat, and probably a little more fill in where I burned thru a little.  Still need to spend some time getting the side flanges on the vertical door supports hammered back into shape and spot welded as well, but these will need a little more time, they are quite sloppy.  Outer rockers will have to wait a little longer, while I finesse the inner rocker.

 

Also was able to drill out all the remaining brass screws on the windshield frame, so now the whole mess is ready for chrome.  Will need a lot of replacement screws, nuts, and inner support braces.  Tried to save as much as possible, but only able to save able half of those parts, due to corrosion or stuck/broken screws.

 

Getting a parts list ready for Fall Hershey and for Moss to get some misc parts and continue working the side projects.  The next side project may be the gauges.  Haven't touched them at all.

 

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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We should all meet at Hershey this year and have a “beleaguered and worn out” restorer’s party. This past couple years of car work has kicked the crap out of me. Need to work more at my real job just to get a break from the aggravation!😄

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Got in a third day of work today.  Was happy enough with the rocker yesterday, so taking a break from it today, plus it was quite hot today. I got out my gauges but decided these need to go to a professional.  May need some chrome work and will need to be disassembled and calibrated.  The fuel gauge has a mud wasp nest in it  I could probably do most of it myself, but will end up doing it twice when the gauges don't work properly as I missed something.

 

Instead, I worked on some more smalls.  First, the inner support braces for the windshield.  These pieces were heavily corroded, but still quite solid.  I had them in evapo-rust the last two days, and that helped (Photo 1).  I then gave them a flap wheel and wire wheel treatment, then coated them with rust inhibitor.  I don't trust the repro stuff to fit or have the correct tapped threads in the correct location, plus any part that can be saved and reused will be saved and reused, as I've mentioned previously.

 

I then moved on to the brake and clutch pedal assembly.  Was able to disassemble them and get them either rust-inhibitor coated and primed, as needed (Photo 2)  Will be able to reuse everything except an excessively worn brake pedal pivot and link, as the pivot hole has ovaled out.  I started on the brake master cylinder holder bracket assembly, but didn't get too far.  That's all for now.  Will probably be able to finish priming and painting the rest of these parts and should start grinding and prepping the rest of the inner rocker this week as well.

 

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day.

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Worked some smalls during this week and finished the brake and clutch pedal assembly.  Here's a before (October 2016) and after (Photos 1 & 2).  This weekend, I'm going to focus on finishing the rest of the spot welds at the base of the door vertical supports, then grinding down the spot welds and finalizing the driver's rocker panel area with primer and black paint.

 

No feedback from the British Car shop, unfortunately.  They were supposed to do inventory of all the parts I dropped off, update their engine parts inventory for my engine and update the invoices.  I'm giving them until Sep 30th and if I don't hear back, I'll have to call them again and see if they've made any progress and maybe have another talk.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Today I finished the rest of the spot welding where the vertical door pillars meet the inner rocker.  Turned out nicely, although the metal is weak, so may add some more small patches for support.  Ground down all the other spot welds to get them looking half way normal.  I'll see about maybe adding some more metal to some of my crappier welds that got a little melty towards the bottom of the weld.  Also put rust inhibitor on the first section of the inner rocker (Photo 3).

 

On the side, I broke out the Clogmaster 2000 and got in some blasting time.  Lots of clogging, but I'm pretty good at clearing the clogs and getting back to it quickly.  Just slow as I'm either running low on air, or the metal is so pitted that it just takes a while to do it right.  Here's the brake master cylinder support bracket with two inner fender splash panels right before I started (Photo 1).

 

Here's a few of the smalls I was working on the side (Photo 2).  I should have the entire master cylinder and assembly finished tomorrow.  I'll do a before and after.  It started out looking like someone nuked it.  A previous owner decided instead of replacing the rubber seals in and around the master cylinder that he would just use some type of crappy black caulking.  What a mess.  At least it was fairly easy to remove.

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Made some decent progress today.  I broke out my 4 fenders and I'm getting them ready to send out to the pro blaster (Photo 1).  Too much to do with the Clogmaster 2000.  I'll get those to the shop sometime this week.

 

Next, I continued to work on the driver's inner rocker.  Got some primer and weld-thru primer on the rest of it (Photo 2).  Discovered a few weld-thru's and some cleanup to do, so there will be a little more welding.  I test fitted the outer rocker, and it's just as crappy of a fit as the other side. I'll have to cut a small portion out from the tops of either side in order to get it to seat horizontally against the vertical rocker support panel.  The arc on the lower part of the panel is too shallow, just like that on the other side.  I tried a little bending on the other side, but didn't get it good enough.  It will probably work out once I get the panel riveted in (2 rivets on the top on each side from the factory), plus I was able to adjust the door hinges reasonably well.  For the driver's side, I'm going to have to try something else and get a deeper arc.  I'd like it to fit without me literally wrestling with it to make it work.

 

Finished my latest side project, the master cylinder assembly (Photo 3).  Turned out really well, was able to reuse all the parts, except the rubber parts.

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Here's a before pic of the master cylinder assembly.  Note the caulking or who knows what that they added to seal areas where proper rubber seals should be.

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Making good progress.  I'm still waiting for this darn monsoon season to end.  Still hot and humid and wet at times.  Should be ending soon.  Got a lot of things to do.

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Master cylinder restoration looks fantastic!  The rubber fitting that the pedals come up through is interesting as it looks to be the same as the one that would be on the inside of the MG TD with the master cylinder under the under the car.  The two holes would be for the brake pedal and the clutch pedal.  Very interesting how the same part was used in a slightly different way in the MGA. 

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I got my fenders back today, so left work early to pick them up and get some primer on them before they flash rust.  Couldn't have asked for a better day to do it, cloudy, 72 degrees, about 60% humidity.

 

I started by  wire-wheeling the pitted areas, as the blasters never seem to get everything out of the pits.  I at least made it cleaner than it was before.  I then hit each panel pre-prep and did one at a time.  The rear fenders I hung from my engine hoist (Photo 1).  The front fenders were too heavy and big for the junk I had with which to hang them.  No problem, used a stand instead.  The main goal is to get a base of good primer on to prevent any flash rust and keep them in good shape until I can do the rest of the body work on them.  As you can see on (Photo 2), the front fenders are both roached at the rear lowers, while just the front lowers on the the rear fenders are shot.  Painting outside is my only option for now, but no big deal with just the rough primer.  Will have some dust, bugs, and lint to sand out, however.

 

One of the rear fenders I already patched (mentioned in the blog a couple months ago) and it will just need a little cleanup before it's ready for some light filler and final sanding/primer.  The other fenders will need extensive work with patches and a few other small pinholes in some other areas.  One of the rear fenders had a pretty major smash in it.  It looks like someone welded a very large tear on the back of the rear fender and they did an excellent job with the weld, but there is a noticeable bead still renaming and quite a few depressions and small wrinkles that will need some grinding and some filler to make right.  Overall, they did a pretty good repair.  I'll be putting these on the back burner while I complete the rocker panel work on the body.

 

I got an email from the British shop and they are now powder coating my engine block and associated block parts, then they will add all the ancillary parts that I provided.  No timeline for completion as of yet, but any communication from them is a good sign.

 

Due to budget constraints, I won't even think about having the body blasted until spring 2020.  I'll use the fall and winter to hopefully get the engine in, put all the floorboards and completed related parts on the chassis, thoroughly clean the chassis, re-upholster the seats, finish stripping the paint from the steel frames of the doors, hood, and trunk, and continue on the smalls I have lying around, which will include farming out the gauges and continuing to get things chromed.  The chromer is now backed up for about 6 months!  Seems like I'm making some big progress now, but I still have so much work to do, I still have a few more years left.

 

 

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Some good progress this weekend, but nothing interesting.  Went back to work on the rocker panel and filled in many pinholes and just plain holes in some of the spot welds and in some rusted areas.  Found one spot weld I missed completely, so did that.  Got the whole mess back in primer (Photo 1).  Waiting to buy some more Eastwood Chassis Black in a couple weeks, so it will stay like this for a while longer.  Also did an assessment of the outer rocker and it needs to be re-curved, so I will try taking it to a shop this week to see if someone can tighten the arc by about 1" so it will fit properly.

 

I also got out the front valance panel and continued to grind it and fill in some pin holes.  I got it pretty good, then started adding some body filler to see where I stand (Photo 2).  Unfortunately, I didn't do a good enough job welding a few months ago, or I missed something, but a 2" crack opened up, so I will have to grind out about half the body filler and re-weld.  The metal is so thin that it is tough to get a good weld in this area, but it's not thin enough that it needs to be cut out and replaced.  I'll keep working it.

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Chris - took time tonight to read your entire thread...your doing excellent work there !  My first restoration took me 14 years ( on and off ) I went thru a few bumps in the road as well dealing with other shops...

 

Keep up the great work, it will be worth it in the end !

 

Steve

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Thanks Steve.  I've really been interested in your posts, the '69 SS-427 is one of my favorite cars.

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Today's a bonus posting, borne out of frustration.  The poorly-engineered repro rocker panel really bothered me.  Both pieces I bought do not have the correct arc on them, so the top part facing out will be too high once it's welded in, making it impossible to close the door.  The one I installed on the passenger side I think I eventually got to work, mainly with a pry rod and door adjustments.  It will probably need more work.  For the driver's side one, I wanted it to fit when I welded it in, so I decided not to take it to a shop and just figure it out on my own.  My solution is crazy, but seems to have worked, at least with the arc problem.

 

Here's the problem, the arc is not enough, so when you line up the rocker at the top door lip, the bottom section hangs past the lip of the inner rocker by almost an inch (Photo 1).  Not having any better ideas, and since this is a junk repro part, I decided to find a tree in the woods, wrap the rocker around it, wrap some tree-protector tow straps around it, and pull it tight with my Jeep and winch until at the correct arc (Photo 2).  The bad news is that the tree was not perfectly circular, so I ended up putting a little of crease in the rocker.  The good news is, I set the radius perfectly and now the panel will fit perfectly when spot welded in (Photo 3).  Once it's welded in, I'll have to massage it with some body hammers to see if I can lessen the crease a little, then maybe put some filler in to hide any imperfections, if needed.

 

I said this before, but it costs the same to make a (simple) part correctly than it does to do it wrong, why don't they just make it correct?  I'm also assuming that the reproducer, at some point, had to have test-fit the part that they made.  I guess they saw their shoddy work, shrugged their shoulders, and sent them off to Moss Motors to be sold to me.  For shame.

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Nice solution!!  I too am puzzled by the inability to correctly make a reproduction part.  My guess is that the process from design to part is lengthy and costly enough that there are limited attempts at getting the part correct.  There might only be one attempt judging from some repro parts I've seen.  Another possibility is the plant that produces the parts from the design specs is not able to maintain the required tolerances.... in your case, maybe the first 200 had the correct arc and each run after that got a little flatter.   It certainly is frustrating though to us end users. 

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