hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Or even an aircraft cabin door. Post war in the U.K. many X - aircraft industry people ended up in the automotive industry. All that structure needs are rivets instead of spotwelds. Mid 1950's in the 

U.S. auto industry no one would have used many individual parts like MG did for an inner structure. Just a inner pressing and an outer skin, massive press dies and production

in the hundreds of thousands a year.

 

Greg

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Looks like today is the start of pollen season, so I'll be ceasing working on anything I need to primer for a while.

 

Friday, I was able to complete the boot lid with primer (Photos 1 & 2).  Turned out really nice.  I also put the hardware and bracketry on (Photo 3).  It's all in black, as originally, everything was in black electro-coat primer (or so I believe), so to reproduce the look of some of the parts being black or lightly painted, I have them in black chassis paint.  For example, the boot lid prop was set with the boot up whilst painting, so only the very top and very bottom received body paint, but just incidentally. so I'll be reproducing that when the car is painted with color.

 

I also re-visited both doors and got them cleaned up again and ready for primer on the aluminum skin, but ran out of time.  I'll have to wait until pollen season is over to continue.  Plenty of other small things to do in the meantime,

 

 

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To continue with some more photos, today I started work on a lot of miscellaneous stuff that has yet to be restored.  I continued on more latches and rods, like the trunk lock assembly (Photo 2).  I then broke out the rear corner and middle back deck trim pieces.  Here are the back corner pieces (Photo 1).  These go right behind the tops of the doors.  They are aluminum covered in real leather with vinyl piping.  I took one apart and left the other as a reference.  Unfortunately, with steel screws holding the backing tack piece, a snap, and some other misc, the whole works has, thru electrolysis, welded itself together, so I had to either break off or cut off all the attaching screws.  I'll have to see if I can drill some new holes to salvage these pieces. 

 

I also took a look at the rear center piece which goes over the whole top of the back deck.  This piece is wood covered in foam and vinyl, with vinyl piping.  It is actually in very good condition and I think I can save the whole piece with a just a good cleaning.  I did have two attachment screws break off, due to rust, but I can get replacements from Moss.

 

Last, I decided to take on the windscreen wiper motor.  Started by just taking apart the ancillary pieces (Photo 3).  The attaching bracket rusted in half and where it attached to the bulkhead rusted right thru as well, so will need to do some welding later.  Other than moderate corrosion on the exterior of the motor, so far, the gearing inside looks great and still has some lubrication.  I'll figure out how test test if it works or not, then get it cleaned up and replace/restore any needed parts.  Starting to build yet another parets list for Moss Motors.

 

Stay safe and stay home and keep working on your cars!  Post more photos.

 

-Chris

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Beautiful weather today, so got home early from work and decided to blow up my wiper motor (Photo 2).  The internals looked quite good (Photo 1), so I think it may just need a good cleaning, new grease, new brushes, and a new wire. Thanks to the MGA Guru site, which has a good article on how to rebuild these.  I'll do a before and after when it's complete.

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Posted (edited)

I was able to complete the wiper motor main assembly today (Photo 1).  It needed a thorough cleaning, re-greasing and rewiring.  It still needs to be tested.  Now I'm working on the mounting brackets and hardware.  The secondary bracket that bolts through the bulkhead in the engine compartment was so badly rusted that the one side of it rusted in half.  What was left of it disintegrated when I unbolted it from underneath.  The part of the bulkhead where it attaches also rusted through.  I'm guessing it was a low point and water had collected there over 45 years and ate through the metal.  The rest of the bracket was in good shape, so I cut out the bad metal and made a new piece to weld on (Photo 2).  It was a little tricky to set up for welding, since it's a fairly small piece (Photo 3).  It turned out slightly off of flush but I was able to grind it down to an acceptable level.  I then added in the lower 15/16th of an old screw of the correct pitch and put a washer around it and welded it all up to simulate a flat-sided threaded stud to fill the hole.  Turned out really nice overall (Photo 4).  No one will see it most of it, so I'm calling it good enough, although I may add a little filler to the small portion you can see to clean it up a little.  This bracket is one of the few pieces that isn't reproduced, so have to repair the original.

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Having to leave work at 2pm due to reciprocating shifts has given me a lot of extra time to spend out in the garage.  Today, I decided to keep working on the windscreen wiper theme, so I finished just about everything.  I found a set of NOS Lucas wiper blades at Hershey about 3 years ago, so I dug those out (Photo 1).  You can see the original wrapping from ~1960 in this photo.  Here are all the original pieces all cleaned up and ready to go, with the two NOS wiper blades attached (Photo 2).  I was very happy, everything just needed a quick cleaning and polishing and they are as good as new.

 

Still going to wait until May to start on the rest of he body to get through pollen season, so now will keep doing some misc parts, like the rest of the hardware for the fenders, and the speedo cable.  I also got in some nice black leather from SMS fabrics along with some piping, so I can redo my rear deck trim.

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Posted (edited)

Today I went back to the deck trim pieces and made some very good progress.  I had a photo up from the other day, as I started on one and left the other one alone to use as a template.  I took the one piece, stripped everything off, cut of all the screw heads (they were welded in there via electrolysis between the steel screws and aluminum main piece).  I first cleaned the whole thing of aluminum oxide, and 60-year old bits of leather.  Next, I drilled and tapped new holes as close as possible to the old holes, 4 for the tack strip and two on the other side for the lift -the-dot fastener.  I cut a piece of buckskin leather I got from Tandy Leather, which is pretty much exactly the same as the original, cut it to size and screwed it in (Photo 1).

 

Next, I went on Barney's MGA Guru site (Thanks Barney!) and read an article on how to recover one of these.  I got some really nice leather from SMS fabrics, just like the original, plus some piping.  I soaked the leather in water for about 20 minutes to make it more pliable and over about 1.5 hrs, slowly stapled the leather to the tack strip, slowly stretching the leather, removing and adjusting staples as needed, until I got it right.  I then stapled on the white piping, which was much easier!  I'm amazed at how well the results came out.  Here's a before (lower) and after (upper) (Photo 2).  On to the second one later in the week.

 

Boy, nice leather isn't cheap!  But, I think of the amount of money I saved vice farming this out to an upholsterer.

 

Cheers!

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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This weekend, I was able to finish the other rear upper deck trim piece (Photo 1).  Turned out pretty well.  I now have to screw in the snaps for the tonneau cover.  However, I don't have the screws, as I had to cut the originals off the old piece.  I called Moss Motors for another parts order, but they are closed up tight and not taking any orders for the duration, so a lot of my side projects will have to stay incomplete for a while.

 

I then moved on to installing the speedometer cable, then on to tackling the heater control assembly.  Couldn't be much easier (Photo 2).  Just needed a good lubrication and de-rusting, as everything was seized up tight (Photo 2).  I took the whole thing apart and cleaned it up, but I will need a new face plate, as the original bakelite version is too aged to reuse, mainly due to discoloration and that the lettering wore off.  Of course, this will have to wait as well.

 

Next, I moved on to putting epoxy primer on the outside of the doors.  I had some leftover primer from the boot lid, so used the rest of it up before it went bad (Photo 3).  Turned out okay, but these doors were pretty rough when I started, will probably need a little more work when I start sanding it.  I still have to finish the steel part of the inner door for one of the doors, with the other one, I have some rough primer on there to keep it from rusting.  

 

Finally, I went back to restoring the rear fender mounting hardware by starting with some evapo-rust.

 

Not many pieces left now.  I think by May, I'll be left with only the rest of the body work.  Just about every other part that needs restored has been restored.  Very happy about the progress, although I think doing the body correctly may be a formidable task.  

Happy Easter and Happy Passover!

 

Chris

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Hursst,

For the needed screws you can try out two places: Scarborough Faire (SF) and Todd Clarke Spares. Both have extensive lists of hardware specific to the MGA. Both recently sent me parts despite the shelter in place predicament.

    

Cecilia at SF lists the screws you need as T93 on page 21 of her recent catalog.

     Todd shows this screw on page 27 of his latest catalog but I couldn’t find it within the itemized list.

--

Mike

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Clarke gets a big thumbs up from me ! I have always found the quality to be far better than Moss. Not as wide a product line, but what they do supply is first rate. I haven't used Scarborough spares for years so no opinion.

 

Greg in Canada

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Same problem for me with Moss being closed, however, https://www.lbcarco.com Little British Car Company is still open and shipping and they still have a large inventory.  You can order from them based on Moss part numbers as well.  Jeff Zorn is a great guy and got my stuff out to me in 1 day and it should be here tomorrow.  Not as convenient to you as Moss but same part numbers, 15% less on the price, quick shipping and they're still open. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for all the tips, guys. I had a lot to order and the convenience and shared part numbers of LBC sold me.  Didn't save much, as Moss gives me a customer loyalty discount and free shipping over a certain amount.  I think I saved $5, which is just fine by me, plus I can actually place an order, unlike at Moss.

Edited by hursst (see edit history)
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Taking a 3 day weekend to break up the monotony of not being able to do much except work and sleep.  Getting a lot done with the MG recently.  I started striping the paint off the steel portion of the door I have left.  Taking my time with it.

 

In the meantime, I've been working on a lot of smalls.  Completed restoring the driver's side rear fender hardware. I'm down to some of the last parts now, for example, the ID tags (Photos 1 & 2).  Photo 1 is the original, the day I got the car home in 2016.  I took the tags, put some WD-40 on it and gave it a good once over with some very fine steel wool.  I then wiped it off and hit it with some acetate.  Next, I sprayed both tags with semi-gloss black paint and let it cure for a couple days.  Then, I got some 600 grit sandpaper and affixed it to a long sanding board, flipped it upside down and carefully rubbed the tags over the sanding block.  There is just enough relief that I could sand the paint off the graphics without touching the background.  I'll have to do some minor touch ups, as the large tag was not perfectly flat in the corners.  Not perfect, but I'd much rather have the original tags than the crappy reproductions that are offered.  Certainly much better than where I started.

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I've also been working on the door top trim pieces.  I took apart what's left of one original and one other one I had from a spare door.  Both were in very poor condition and are not reusable.  I was missing about 1/4 of the hardware for those pieces, and I can't find repros, so I made my own.  Found an old piece of the correct gauge of sheet steel and started cutting it up to make 3 captive stud holders that are screwed into the wooden door top trim piece to secure it to the door.  The original is the black one, my repros are in bare steel.  Made them mostly by eye based on the original, so they are not perfect, but no one will see them embedded in the door trim.  

 

Next small project is the rest of the front hood release mechanism.  I'll keep working on all these smalls until I finish them all, or until mid-May comes around, when I think I'll be able to get the body blasted and in primer.

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That is some GREAT work on those captive nuts. I remember those from my 1957 MGA.

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Thanks Keiser.  I will probably have to make a lot more of them, since there are tons of them that joins the rocker panel trim to the weld seem of the rocker panel, and 90% of my fasteners were rusted to nothing when I took the car apart.

 

Today I finished the bonnet release mechanism parts (Photo 1), which cleaned up easily and nicely.  I dumped a lot of other hardware such as the bonnet latch hook and some more fender mounting nuts and bolts into some evapo-rust to let them sit for a few days so I can get those cleaned up nicely as well. 

 

In between everything, I continued to work on the door (Photo 2).  This is an original door to the car, so there is a lot of surface rust on the lower part of the door, but it's still quite solid.  Due to the rust, I decided to clean it up in sections, then use some rust encapsulator to seal it up and prevent it from coming back (in black in the photo).  The inside of the door skin is reasonable, so I will probably leave it alone and just clean it, but the lower inside of the door frame has a lot or surface rust, so I'll have to clean that up the best I can, then encapsulate it  None of this will been seen, as the door panel and pouch will cover it up. 

 

Other than that, I dug out the tach drive cable and it's a little worse for wear, with some fraying of the cable and disintegration of the cable wrapping and a lot of rust on the steel cable tube wrap, where the plastic cable wrapping has come off.  I'm going to replace the part, don't think I can work with this one.

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Body panels look nice. Great body work, really straight. Thanks, John

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Completed the stripping of the door frame to bare steel and painted with rust inhibitor (Photo 1).  This is the one original door, so needed a little more work than the NOS door (although not much more).  I'm going to leave the inside original, except for the "floor," which is all surface rust.  That will be the next step is to try to clean that up and stabilize it.  Very lucky that overall the door is as solid as it is.  The bad part about the NOS door is that it is missing most of the holes for trim, so I'll have to spend a lot of time lining all the holes up.  Luckily, I have two other doors with which to compare, so could be fairly easy.  After that, I will need to put on a layer of epoxy primer on the steel frame of both doors, then the doors will be finished.

 

Other than the doors, I'm down to searching to scraps to restore while I wait for pollen season to be over so I can have the body blasted.  I went in my parts shed, and I'm down to two baggies left of parts.  I broke out the bag with all the dash knobs in them.  This was quite a mess when taking this stuff apart.  Most of it was very rusty and I ended up breaking 3 of the original Bakelite pull knobs, as the spring-loaded ball puts were frozen solid.  I eventually got them all off and I kept the shattered parts of the original knobs for future reconstruction.  Here's what I've completed so far.  The turn signal switch and horn button are finished (Photo 2).  I took apart the turn signal switch, as a new one is $180, to restore it.  Turned out to be in very good condition, just needed a good cleaning.  The exterior needed a little more work, but turned out really nicely.  The knob was shattered when I took it off originally, so I epoxied it back together, sanded it really well, then painted it with plastic bumper matte black paint.  You would never know it's not as delivered from the factory.  Here's the dash light dimmer switch in pieces (Photo 3).  It was a real mess.  Everything is seized, the knob was shattered, and there was a lot of corrosion on the brass innards.  I'm soaking the main portion of the switch in evapo-rust, hoping to free it up so it will turn freely.  I'm trying super glue to glue the knob back together, then sanding and some paint.  The other parts are cleaning up nicely and should function as expected if I can get the rest working.  I really don't like the repro knobs, they are just cheap shiny plastic.  Although they look reasonable and get the job done, I think it takes a lot away from the Bakelite originals.  Just looks cheaper.  I'm hoping I don't have a scenario like Christmas Story, where he tries to glue the lamp back together, only to find it hopelessly destroyed when he tried to use it again.


Really getting excited about the car now, I can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.  The body repair will be the last major hurdle, and it shouldn't be that bad once I see what welding I'll have to do.  I think it's possible I could have this car finished for Hershey 2021. 

 

Safety Fast!

 

-Chris

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Some small progress made this weekend, needed to get out of the house for a while, but still got a few things finished.  I was successful in saving every part of the pull knobs, switches, and related pieces.  I was able to unseize them all, with some help from Evaporust and penetrant oil, and I was able to piece back all the shattered knobs with the help of Loctite crazy glue and JB Weld.  Here are two knobs in progress, pieced back together from about 5 broken pieces each (Photo 1).  The lighter areas are JB Weld.  I was able to sand them both to shape, drill a new hole (on the one on the left) and paint them with plastic semi-gloss.  All that's left is to hand-paint the lettering on the front of some of the knobs.

 

Next, I took the NOS door and drilled some holes for the side curtain mount (Photo 2) and for the top trim piece (Photo 3).  I used measurements from my original driver's side door and mirrored them.  I'll have to make a few size adjustments to the far rear hole as it needs to be a little oblong.  I also repaired a couple dents I had missed during the first round, so I'll had to spray that bare metal area next time I do some more primering.

 

Last, I have a preliminary appointment to get the body sand blasted in mid-May, so very happy about that.

 

Chris

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I got my latest parts order earlier in the week, so I was able to begin finishing up the rest of my side projects.  Thanks to Little British Car Co. for fulfilling the order when many other places are closed.

 

The main project I did today was to restore the  door top trim pieces.  Here's what I started with (Photo 1).  The one on top is original to my car.  Half a dry-rotted piece of wood, half of the brittle leather remaining, although the metal curved piece was still good.  I took the other trim piece from a replacement door I bought.  The wood was dry rotted and had been broken and repaired many years ago.  I took off the cheap vinyl trim to show what it looks like inside. 

 

I got two new pieces of wood from my parts order.  These are Moss pieces.  Guess what?  Running theme here...the repro pieces are not the right shape!  I had to spend about 30 minutes per piece to sand down the end where it connects to the metal, as it was too wide by a decent amount.  I cannot understand why they would go to the trouble to make a fairly difficult piece, but not get the overall dimensions right.  It costs the same to do it right versus doing it wrong, you still have to enter in measurements either way.  It's a high-quality piece and most of it is well done, but the most important measurement was off fairly significantly.

 

Anyway, I got it sanded down, cleaned up the metal curved pieces, bought some new screws, and attached the metal pieces to the new wooden pieces (Photo 2).  Ready for "upholstery."   I took more of the leather I had from when I did the other small trim pieces a few weeks ago, and cut it to size, roughly based on the red vinyl piece.  Fit it and trimmed it to each piece, then attached the piping (Photo 3).  I still need to cut out the trim where the hole for the side curtain escucheon piece goes, but that should take just a few minutes tomorrow.

 

I was able to save the original front trim piece like these, that goes around the top of the scuttle, above the dash board. For whatever reason, the front and rear pieces are vinyl with padding and piping, but the side and door pieces are leather with piping, but no padding.  Not sure why you wouldn't just make it all leather or all vinyl, but MG had different plans.

 

I am mostly finished with the heater control assembly rebuild, but waiting on some specialized paint for the cables, as the aged and rusty raw steel cables will just rust again when I clean them up, so some type of preservative is warranted.  This should be good timing, as I should run out of most small projects on the side just about the time I'll be getting the body blasted, in about 2 weeks.

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Where did you find the specialized paint for the cables?  Is it MG exclusive or designed for general use?

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Taylormade, well, it's not actually specifically for cables, I just said specialized paint so I don't write a novel explaining it. Also by "cables," I primarily mean the steel-wrapped cable housing, as well as the cables themselves.  The MGA is nothing but cable control for most of its dash controls, it looks like Rube Goldberg designed it under the dash and in the engine bay.

 

Anyway, I've found that Eastwood's Carb Renew II https://www.eastwood.com/carb-renew-2-silver-aerosol-5-oz.html is a really good paint for cables and cable housings, as it's not too shiny and not too dull, and seems to replicate the look of a zinc-coated cable/cable housing quite well, if that was even how they were made.  I also feel it's the closest paint that makes a metal part look like it is not painted.  My original cables and housings were rusty and/or generally corroded, so it hit them with either a wire wheel or Dremel tool to clean them up, then primer the housings and coat with this paint.  For the cables, I just use the paint, as they were not as corroded.

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Thanks!  My 32 Dodge Brothers uses three cables with steel-wrapped cable housings for Throttle, Choke and Free Wheeling.  This is just what I was looking for.  And you didn’t write a novel, your explanation was clear and concise.

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Here's a photo of a cable I got about 90% painted before I ran out of paint.  Hard to focus in on the cable housing, but the color is about right.  Make sure you research it a little and see if you'll like it.  It may not be right for everyone, and technically, it's not correct, but I prefer to have some coating on  steel parts to prevent rust.

 

Side note, when I bought my 2000 Camaro new, it had no coating of any kind on the rear axle, drive shaft, and some of the suspension parts.  It had heavy flash rust before it even got off the truck from Canada.  I'm sure the salt spray on the way down didn't help.

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Didn't do too much today.  Installed the side curtain escutcheons in the door top trim.

 

Brought down a front fender to start on the final finishing.  First step is to fill in some pin holes from the welding; there's quite a few.  Next will be to cut the bottom tab even with the original panel.  Of course, the repro's tab was WAY off.  I'll also have to fill the holes, as they are way too low.  Trying to get it finished fairly cleanly to minimize body filler.

 

Last, I got out the bag of tonneau cover snap fasteners that go around the rear deck.  They were very well plated, they only have some grime and age, no corrosion.  I polished the one of the lower left, so you can see the comparison to the unfinished ones.  All came out nice and clean, no replacing or expensive re-plating needed.

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