hursst

1960 MGA Restoration

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Another nice day, another update.  I stopped welding, as my welding is quite bad, so waiting for some tips in order to make some adjustments to get a bead instead of a splatter.  Thanks to Martin and John for pointing out that I need some adjustments!

 

I really have my sand blaster dialed in now, after many, many trials and tribulations from a Chinese pile of garbage blaster.  After replacing many of the parts on it, it's working well now.  Was able to blast the whole bottom of the chassis and framework in the middle of the car today (photo 1).   Within the floorboard framework, the insides are coated with a a thick layer of oil encapsulated in sand.  The bad news is, what a mess!  I had to chunk it all out with a screw driver (photo 2).  The good news is, this coating of filth has perfect bare metal underneath, so it protected everything where it was quite nicely

 

Threw on a coat of rust encapsulator to prevent flash rusting.  Should be able to prime and paint these areas after work this week, then next weekend, should be able to do the rest of the bottom of the chassis, and maybe some of the sides of these pieces. Goal is to have the chassis complete (minus welding repairs) before I take vacation to the UK next month.  One of my stops will be the old factory grounds and MG club in Abingdon, where my car was made.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

Time to get back to the MG project.  Made painfully slow progress while getting some welding lessons and taking a long trip to the UK.  I visited Abingdon and the MG Club there, right by the original factory grounds.  Seems there isn't much left, just a couple buildings, but the main factory is long gone.  for you MG fans, Photo 1 was the main admin building, which has been converted to apartments.  Photo 2 is the Kimber House, where the MG Club is located, which is steps away from the gate in Photo 1.  Also toured the Mini factory near Oxford, where the sheet metal for my MGA was stamped.  So, saw where my MGA was made, sort of.

 

Used the 3 day weekend to continue on the chassis restoration; haven't worked on the MG in almost 4 weeks.  My welding skills are still terrible, but much better than before. At least now I can make a solid weld, but have been challenged by it, as it's mostly butt-welding.  Lots of burn through and missing the joint as I refine my technique.  I'm wearing out a lot of grinding wheels fixing my numerous errors, but it is working and should result in a good result when I'm finished. My lap welding I would call "satisfactory."   No photos of the car, as not much had changed, just more sandblasting, sloppy welding, and rust encapsulation.  Will get some photos when I finish the welding within the next month.  Also working on some misc parts on the side while I want to primer to dry or tire of welding.

 

So impressed by the other posts on here; very motivating to work on the skills that others possess in spades on this site.

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Thanks for the update and the pics from the UK, sounds like a fun trip!

 

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Been another while since an update, but not much to report.  Still working on the chassis, but ran into some slow times repairing small rust holes on the chassis bracing.  Should have cut these whole pieces out and replaced, but only ended up replacing one of them.  Spent a lot of time filling in small holes, then making them bigger trying to weld them up, as the metal is too thin.  End up cutting out larger holes and working with small patch panels, which adds a lot of time for an amateur welder like me.  I'm trying to save as much as the original metal as possible, so this is adding time.  (Photo 1)  Still need a little more clean up, but replaced the top brace and fixed about 6 quarter-sized holes on the braces and one on the inner chassis itself.  (Photo 2) The new battery boxes are about 50% welded on, then I have to make 2-3 patch panels to fix the original battery box support brackets, rather than replace them.  The inner middle part of the chassis was blasted to bare metal soon after this photo and is ready for additional metal work, then rust encapsulator, prime, and paint.  The rest of the chassis is painted and ready to go.  (Photo 3) When I get too tired of working on grinding metal, I switch off to some easy pickins, such as the engine fan or other small misc parts, just to keep things moving along.

 

The good news is, the work is coming along well and the holes are getting sealed up and I'm able to keep most of the original floor board bracing.  My welding is still second rate, but I'm getting better at it as I go, thanks to some of the members on the forum here, too!  More good news, I'm finished with the sandblasting on the frame, finally.  Took much longer than I thought.  I still have some more very small rust holes to fix, and two larger patches on the horizontal support that holds the battery trays, then that's a wrap on the chassis metal work.

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More small progress to report on the chassis.  Finished up plugging all the small holes and rust-outs on the floorboard frames and was able to rust encapsulate, prime, and paint the top part of the framework...but then ran out of paint (photo 1, with rust encapsulator on it). 

 

I then moved on to repairing the rust outs on the rear chassis tube. The back rear areas of the tube were exposed to battery gasses, and over the years, it rusted large hole through both sides near the batteries.  I cut the rust out of these areas in rectangles last year (photo 2).  I made a template for each hole, cut and trimmed the metal to size off a sheet metal blank (photo 3).  I then found a pipe that was roughly the same diameter and bent it around the pipe in a vice with a hammer (photos 4-5).  I then plugged the hole and welded in the patches.  My welding is still ugly, but effective, but I feel I'm slowly getting the feel for it.  I still need to grind the welds flat.  I also think of all the money I'm saving doing this myself for "free" rather than paying someone big bucks to do metal repair and welding, like I've paid for with my last car.

 

All that's left on the chassis is to repair the rusted out sections on the battery support box hangers (you can see one such section on photos 2-3), then flip the chassis over and grind the reserve side of my welding efforts for all the small holes down flat.  Then some rust treatment, prime and paint and chassis is complete.  I've still been restoring small parts on the side such as the oil pan (photo 9) which used to be 100% covered in about 1/2" of oil and is currently in primer, and the exhaust hangers (photo 10), of which I was able to save most of the original hardware and add it to the repro hanger core.  (Original on the right, "restored" on the left).

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)

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Good progress!

 

Here in northern NC, the temperature and humidity has been so high lately that we have really had to push hard to continue progress on our projects. What has it been like in your area of VA?

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In northern VA it's been HOT!  95-100 degrees the last few days.  I put on some sunscreen, brought a gallon of water out and just toughed it out doing sandblasting and welding.  Need to make some progress, no matter how small, just about every day.  I'd rather it be hot than cold, though.

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 Nice job on the the curved piece for the round tube of the frame. It's coming along. Can't wait to see it in paint. I can relate to the heat and humidity. We had are hot as heck June, now we are in the hot and humid monsoon season. We've been getting rain everyday. It feels like Florida. You just sweat all day long and don't feel like doing anything. 

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It's been yet another month, but finally hit another big milestone.  Phase 2 complete (Phase 1 was disassembly).  The bare chassis is now complete!  I had a lot of challenges with my purely amateur status as a welder, my insistence on keeping as much original as possible, and a lot of small rust holes and pin holes to repair because of this.  Overall, the chassis came out quite well, but it would not win a 'best chassis" award.  I chose not to fill in all the pitting, as most of the pitted areas will not be seen.  The areas that will be seen on the chassis are quite clean, due to the thick oil spray over most of the chassis at disassembly.  The welded up rust holes are fairly sloppy, but solid.  They look a lot better with the black paint over them than they did in bare steel. I'll call it "satisfactory" work.

 

Before and after (photos 1 & 2).  The bare chassis resto took 6 months.  Much longer than I thought, but isn't it always?  For you true MG fans, I had a celebratory Ale.  This Ale was originally created for MG's 50th Anniversary by a local Abingdon brewery.  They still make the Ale and they still make MGs (sort of).

 

Photos 4 and 5 are examples of me trying to save original steel.  I was able to save most of this rusted-out battery tray bracket by welding in small repair pieces from a "repro" bracket that was, of course, for the opposite side.  Turned out acceptable.

 

I've already started on a lot of the miscellaneous parts of the chassis, such as the front suspension bumpers, some of the body cork bushings, as some misc nuts and bolts.  The next phase, the whole chassis, should be much easier, but I'll have to visit many specialists for things like brake cylinder re-sleeving, new fuel pump, getting the rear axle up to snuff, shock rebuild, and truing the wire wheels, for example.  I may try some of these on my own, but I have no experience with rear axles or the lever/fluid shocks.  My goal is to do as much as I can myself as a learning experience and to try to save a lot of money.  We'll see! 

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VERY nice work. Can't wait to see this car come together. Makes me miss mine that much more.

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Congratulations on your project, MGA's are my favorite cars, I have two of them that I haven't started restoring yet but will start soon! one is a 1960 convertible and the other is a 1958 Hard top! call me at 337-378-8822 if you would like to chat about them!

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Now that the bare chassis is complete, my progress should be much faster.  Have started putting on ancillary parts such as most of the cork and rubber body mounting pieces, and the battery mounting hardware.  Otherwise, I'm generally getting the disassembly instructions I made and working backwards.  I'll pick a part number I created, find that part, recondition it, and put it back on the car.  This may involve multiple levels or repair, cleaning, general restoration, or replacement with a used or repro part.  Because some of the parts need de-rusting, rust encapsulating, priming, and painting, I'm skipping ahead on many parts so I don't have to literally wait for paint to dry.

 

This weekend, I was able to put on the triangular aluminum filler panels on the side of the chassis "goalpost" area (photo 1), install a new fuel pump (bought a new SU, seen on the floor towards the back of photo 1), and install most of the exhaust hangers, of which I was able to salvage most of the original pieces.  I also started on the rear axle (photo 3) and disassembled the leaf springs (photo 2).  Will need to remove the front leaf spring bushings professionally, as I don't have a press and using a hammer, and then trying to make a press via vice and some old sockets was not enough.  I'm also preparing the brake cylinders, calipers, brake shoes, and brake master and slave cylinders for a trip up to White Post restorations for their service on these parts.  I'm sure I'll need a full reconditioning and boring/re-sleeving after 45 years of sitting.  My goal is to have the whole chassis, including the engine, finished in a year.  At this rate, doing a lot each weekend and then just a little bit each day during the week, I should be able to make continual progress.  Cheers!

 

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Edited by hursst (see edit history)

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On 8/20/2017 at 10:49 PM, Jose E.Sierra said:

Congratulations on your project, MGA's are my favorite cars, I have two of them that I haven't started restoring yet but will start soon! one is a 1960 convertible and the other is a 1958 Hard top! call me at 337-378-8822 if you would like to chat about them!

Thanks Jose, we can definitely help each other out, as we have the same cars we're restoring.  I still have a lot of learning to do, but the MG club and MGA forums have been very helpful in keeping me rolling and creating as authentic a resto as possible.

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That aluminium appears to have quite a bit of corrosion on it already (the whitish appearing deposits)? Maybe some corrosion protection is in order. Remember Al and Zn are at the top of the galvanic series and will corrode first, passivating any steel electrically connected to it (e.g. through the mounting screws).

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It had some very minor corrosion before I cleaned it up.  I hit it with some wheel cleaner and some very mild steel wool.  I didn't shine it up, I just got rid of 99% of the obvious corrosion.  The areas around the steel fasteners were all cleaned up as well; those places had slightly more corrosion.  Since it will be hidden from view, there's no sense in making it perfect and shiny.   If it lasted 57 years of neglect and mistreatment without any real corrosion, I'm sure it will be fine under my ownership.

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This weekend I tackled the rear end and front control arms.  I took most of the rear axle apart, but couldn't get the hubs off, as I don't have the correct sized socket (yet).  I also removed the gear carrier (photo 2) to inspect the gears and start cleaning it up and getting it ready for repainting.  There's a slight amount of slop between the ring and pinion but I'm not sure how much slop is acceptable.  I'm also going to test where the ring and pinion mesh to see if they cover enough area, I think its "backlash?"  I know very little about rear axles, but am trying to learn something as I go.  I may have to visit an expert, as I don't know what I'm doing if this items require adjustment, with the thrust bearings, shims, and gauges used.  Overall, the insides of the axles look quite good, surprisingly, so I may have it easy.

 

I disassembled the lower front control arms (photo 1).  These are easy, so I'll concentrate on rebuilding them and getting them back on the car.  The center link may be a different story, as it may require a press and reamer, neither of which I have, so I may have to take them to a machine shop, but I'll see what I can do after I disassemble them.

 

I took my rear leaf spring to a shop to have the old bushings removed and new ones put in (I don't have a large enough vice or a press to get them out myself).  I also took all my brake parts and clutch slave cylinder to White Post for restoration of those parts.  I've used them before and have been happy with their work.

 

So, I'm about out of floor space with these parts scattered about and need to focus on getting these parts restored before I tear anything else apart.  Moss is having a big sale, so I'll be buying a ton of parts within the next 2 weeks, such as a hub socket, bearings, gaskets, and lots of other unrelated parts, which will help me continue.  Tomorrow I'm going to take it a little easy and go to a car show.  I'm exhausted from taking all that stuff apart!  Happy Labor Day everyone!

 

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If I recall correctly, that hub nut is octagonal.  Whitworth to boot.  Got mine off with channel locks back in 75.  No socket available locally and i didn't know better.

 

 

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My hub nuts have large cuts in them, where a previous mechanic must have used a chisel to get them to rotate.  I'm going to order the correct socket through Moss Motors and have a go at it.  I'll also replace the nuts while I'm at it. 

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22 hours ago, hursst said:

My hub nuts have large cuts in them, where a previous mechanic must have used a chisel to get them to rotate. 

 

Any chance they are LH thread?

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Yes, one is LH, and other is RH.  I have made no attempt to remove them yet, waiting on the correct socket.

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