With the start of a new year there has been some new progress on my MGB.
I gave my gearbox to Richard & Micheal Owen of Owen Automotive to have them properly inspect and rebuild it. Replacing anything that was needed.
Because these early box's had only 3 synchro's (none on 1st or reverse) they were notorious for having damaged/worn laygears. This was because if you're not completely stopped before shifting into 1st, the gears would grind because there's no synchro to prevent it.
To my delight they found that all that the gears including the laygear were in immaculate shape! The car had been driven carefully and well cared for. I only had to replace a few bearings and seals. Now the gearbox is fully rebuilt and ready to go! Thank you Richard and Micheal Owen for your expertise!
In other news, the chassis which is now on a rolling cart, has been returned to Coachwerks from the sandblasters all cleaned to bare metal.
The body panels are all removed and ready for repairs followed by primer/paint by Coachwerks.
In the meantime I've cleaned up all the hardware for the body panels and re-plated everything using my Eastwood zinc plating system.
I also stripped and repainted my folding top frame. I'm still in debate over what colour of top I'm going to have. My car originally was ordered with a black top. However, in 1964 grey was also an option on OEWhite cars. I think the grey top would really look nice against the creamy white body and red interior - but I'm still torn - any opinons on this would be greatly appreciated.
Until next time -
Over the past few weekends I've had the opportunity to clean up my front and rear suspension while the body shell is in for metal and paint. As it turns out many of the components were actually already new/replacement parts including all the shocks, leaf springs, coil springs, brakes, kingpins and wheel hubs!
At some point before I bought the car, someone had spray painted much of the underside and suspension black. While this may have helped preserve things, I've taken it upon myself to disassembled everything so I could properly clean, re-paint & re-plate all the hardware so that cosmetically everything looks right. I'll be replacing the front wishbone bushings and a few other odds and ends while I'm at it.
With the rear axle I replaced the emergency brake cable as well as the old steel brake lines that were showing some pitting. I inspected the brakes and wheel hubs which have clearly been recently renewed by the previous owner. No leaks, smooth function, looks good!
I even finished the hubs off with some new chrome knock-offs
I'll wait until the body returns from the paint shop to reassemble all of the springs etc to the car.
Until next time...
I recently picked up my freshly re-chromed pieces from Electro Shine Metal Finishing here in Sydney BC. They did an outstanding job, I am very pleased! highly recommended to anyone needing chrome or plating of any kind.
Any chroming now-days is going to be very costly so I only had a few of the major components that needed it done like my bumpers and grill surround.
Here is my freshly re-chromed grill surround and center plinth going back together with the original riveted stainless teeth (that I hand polished), a NOS 'MG' emblem and new bonnet rubbers...
Here are my bumpers being re-assembled after chroming...
With the bumpers and over-riders re-chromed, I hand painted the backsides with a satin aluminum rust paint to protect against corrosion and give an original look.
That should now cover all of the chrome for the car. My quarter light vents, lights, and other small odds and ends were all still in exceptional condition and the original chrome polished out nicely.
Speaking of lights, I'm still desperately trying to find a working pair or even another single headlight. I'm trying to find the correct Lucas 7" sealed beam headlamps that were so common through the 60's-70's on British made vehicles. They need to be for LHD road spec of course - the RHD ones come up more commonly on e-bay but they're no good to us North Americans because the glass is designed to reflect the light to the wrong side.
I have one and I've bid on a few that occasionally come up on e-bay. But they just keep slipping away from me at the last second. If you have some or know of any that I could purchase, please contact me! - they're going to a good car! ;)
Until next time -
I spent a few hours today fitting some new parts and details to the engine of my Mk1 MGB.
With only 41000 original miles on it before I pulled the engine out, it had a few minor oil leaks (which is pretty typical of a British sports car from the 60's), but she ran well and wasn't burning any oil or coolant. Evidence would show that it has had a new timing chain, thermostat, starter, and oil filter replacements in it's life.
A while ago I gave it a full exterior cleaning/de-greasing followed by a fresh paint job. I replaced most of the outer cover gaskets and seals without removing the head or pulling things apart too far. I refurbished the distributor, fan assembly, drain tap etc.
I did decide to find an original style oil filter assembly on e-bay because mine had been converted to a modern spin on type when I got the car. Today I put the NOS oil filter in place with all new seals and hardware.
I also replaced the plugs, wires, and wire tags with original Lucas suppressors. New points, rotor and condenser. New heater tap, side cover gaskets and seals, rocker cover seals and tags, and new rubber engine mounts.
Finally I fit a new clutch plate, carefully installed using the correct clutch installation tool.
With all that done, I feel confident that the engine should be good to go and hopefully won't leak. I still plan to replace the oil pan gasket when I hoist the engine for re-installation into the car.
The car itself is still waiting it's turn for metal and paint. Once that's done, it will be like re-assembling a big kit - just about everything else is freshly restored and ready to go...
As I'm sure you can guess, I'm very much looking forward to the re-assembly process!
Until next time -
Well I finally decided to make some new seat covers for the MGB. I had hoped to just keep using my old originals because they were so well preserved. But after months of thinking about it and restoring everything else on the car to such a high standard, I just couldn't keep using the old cracked leather with holes already starting. I thought it better to make accurate patterns now, before they really start to deteriorate...
I sourced some leather in the correct shade of red and set to work carefully patterning the old covers and cutting/sewing up the new ones.
The piping all had to be hand made out of cream vinyl strips sewn over the correct small diameter core.
I also had to carefully unpick the stitching and re-use my original vinyl and carpet back sections so that they would match up with the rest of the original vinyl and carpet I'm still using in the car.
The end result came out looking very good! The colour is a perfect match to the rest of my original trim. The piping is the right size, and the vinyl and carpet sections are original. I think these seats will be a great addition to my otherwise original interior.
Until next time -
This weekend saw a bit of progress on the B. On Sat I went in and refurbished a few more things on the engine. I removed the side covers, cleaned them and replaced the cork gaskets with new ones. I removed the brass drain tap from the side of the block and cleaned it up and I replaced the rubber engine mounts.
I also removed a few last components from the car to take home for restoration. The car is in line to have its metal and paint work done very soon. I've got her stripped right down to a bare shell except for the front and rear suspension. I wanted to keep her rolling still for easy transportation.
Once she goes in for paint, they'll be mounting the car in a rotisserie frame so I can remove the suspension at that time and bring it all home for restoration while the car is getting painted.
I removed the rear half of the steering column with the steering wheel, making sure to mark the exact location of where the column splines slot into the U-joint just beyond the fire wall. I then repainted the column and polished all the chrome, plastic and hardware. I also refurbished the column support brackets...
I also took some good pics of the state of the front and rear suspension currently.
As you can see the car has been well maintained and there is evidence of lots of replacement parts and re-painted components. The front coil springs and all the brake flex hoses, discs and pads are new, the swivel axles look like they've been done recently too, as well as the bump stops. I'll be replacing the tie rod ends and lower A-arm bushings though...
The rear suspension is about the same, it has new leaf springs, new rebound straps, new bump stops and new brake pads. Besides cleaning and refurbishing, I'll probably only be replacing the e-brake cable and carefully cleaning the paint off of the front and rear shock bodies as they should be bare aluminum bodies with black arms originally.
Until next time -
I got into some of the exterior chrome on the MGB over the past few weeks. I had hoped to be able to re-use my windshield, but after closer inspection I found a large chip out of the glass directly in front of the drivers position. From all that I've read, replacing the glass is not an easy job on these. But it will have to be done, and at least I will have the opportunity to polish the aluminum frame members and change out all the rubber seals at the same time. After some careful research I've learned that the correct Triplex glass is available now from Moss for about $600 CAD - a lot of money for a piece of glass!
But it seems to be the only option available that has been made using the original tooling found in England. There are other glass options that are cheaper, but they have fit issues because either the curvature is different and/or the glass a different thickness making the job even more of a nightmare.
I think I'll save up for the proper glass to avoid those issues.
After taking the frame apart, I've begun polishing the anodized aluminum frame pieces carefully. The side pillars were a satin anodized finish, while the top and bottom rails were polished to look like chrome. The top rail in particular I'm sanding down to remove some deep scratches and then polishing out to a chrome finish again...
I also cleaned and polished my 1/4 vent side windows. The chrome is still in great condition on these so they came out beautifully, even the rubbers are still intact and working properly which was a bonus. I only replaced the top corner blocks and the bottom rubber where the frame meets the body. The new corner blocks required some cutting and shaping to fit like the originals.
Same goes for the air vent in front of the windshield, good chrome just polished.
Some of the smaller chrome bits that need chrome work done I am looking into replacing. With the high cost of Chrome these days it's sometimes cheaper to buy new than to have things re-chromed. My door capping brackets and top frame brackets for example will be cheaper to replace. So too would the bumpers, but I've opted to keep my originals because I want to maintain the correct original fit.
The front and rear bumpers unfortunately will need to be re-chromed however. Along with the grill surround. I carefully disassembled them and got to work cleaning and plating all the original hardware. Painting the brackets and bagging the finished components to add to my shelves of finished parts for the car - when it comes time to reassemble everything it will be like assembling a big kit.
In other news, I re-assembled the air cleaners to the carburetors with new seals, filters and the correct Coopers decals to finish them off.
I also installed a new SU fuel gauge sending unit to the side of the gas tank so it will now gauge the fuel level properly.
Until next time -
In an effort to preserve as much originality on my B as I can while still maintaining show car quality, I've started refurbishing and revamping my original interior panels. Unfortunately most of my original panels have warped because of the poor quality Masonite boards they're made on. However, the vinyl covers themselves were in exceptional condition, the original bright red vinyl cleaned up very well with no visible rips or scars on the surface.
I decided I would try making new panel boards out of a better quality water resistant panel board and reuse the original vinyl covers. If it doesn't work, I can easily match the vinyl and just make new covers all together.
Luckily the old covers and foam came off fairly easily and fully intact. Here you can see how simply they were trimmed from the factory, a thin strip of black vinyl binding was used to create a smooth clean edge where the pleats meet the piping, softened by 1/8" poly foam underneath all the vinyl - including the lower sections of the doors. The use of foam on the lower 2/3's of these panels is one detail I know many aftermarket kit manufacturers get wrong these days. It was also done on the rear 1/4 panels as well.
Here you can see one of my new panels trimmed with the original cover on the left, compared to the one that still needs to be revamped on the right. The most crucial part of this process is making sure the original holes for all the hardware lines up again. Check once, check twice and check again!
Here are some pics of the original rear 1/4 panels before they receive the same treatment, notice how deep the notch in the panel is for the piping!
All the front panels - no foam was used on these ones - or the rear back panel.
Well there you have it, I'm really looking forward to re-installing the interior of this car.
It will be one of the only ones out there with virtually all new/old stock carpets, all the correct rubber mats that aren't damaged or faded, the original vinyl panels re-vamped, and the original seats revamped with new leather in the correct bright shade of red in the correct grain.
Plus, the original red tonneau and boot covers, and a new top from Prestige using they're factory original patterns. I'm still debating whether to have a black top or a grey top. Grey was still an option for O.E.White cars in early 1964, Opinions??
Until next time -
I reassembled the brake master cylinder this week, after a good cleaning, a light hone of the inner cylinder and then re-plating the outer body in silver cad. I purchased a new rebuild kit and put everything back together wet with fresh brake fluid. Then bolted the cylinder up to the pedal box beside the new clutch master cylinder already bolted in place. I even added the correct early metal caps, putting them on with a tiny bit of grease in the threads to prevent them from seizing shut, and a new rubber seal between the pedal box and cover assembly.
I also received my new old stock oil cooler in the mail this week to replace my original one that broke. I was very happy to find one of these early originals with the rounded ends!
This weekend I got into several components of my interior.
I started remaking some of the interior panels by carefully removing the original vinyl covers from the old warped panel boards. I then cut new panels out of moisture proof panel board and re-trimmed the original vinyl onto the new boards - making sure of course that all the original screw holes are in the right spots again!
I decided to try out some of the replacement rubber sill covers that Moss still offers. After reading so many mixed reviews on them I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were almost exactly like the originals. The only issue being that they're missing one of the tread lines and they only come in black.
I found a good matching vinyl/rubber dye from SEM and sprayed them as well as all my original floor mats.
The colour (firethorn red) was an exact match to the original, I even masked and touched in the black areas too with satin black SEM coat. They came out looking brand new - I'm quite pleased with the results.
In other news, I got into refurbishing one of my original leather seats a few weeks ago. I carefully removed the old covers and cleaned them thoroughly. After careful inspection, and several weeks of thought, I've decided I just can't bring myself to re-use the old covers as I had hoped. The cracks through the leather are too deep and too many, I don't feel confident that these covers will last another year of regular use. They have shrunk and unfortunately gone brittle in many areas. Plus when I tried to re-glue the cushion centers back to where they used to be, it put heavy stress wrinkles in other parts of the cover because they've spent so many years shrinking in an unglued state.
With the high standard to which I'm restoring everything else on this car, they just don't make sense to re-use...So,
I've decided that I'm going to make a new set of seat covers myself in house. I've sourced a hyde of perfectly matching leather in the right shade and the correct grain. I'm going to carefully unpick the stitching and re-use the original vinyl and carpet back pieces so they match the rest of the interior. I've ordered in enough matching cream piping to do the job as well as a new pair of seat diaphragms . My original molded seat foams are still in beautiful shape, the new ones I've seen aren't nearly as soft and comfortable as these originals so I'll definitely re-use them too.
I have a few months yet before the car will be ready for seats so it's a project I'll make time for as the weeks allow...
Until next -
I thought I would share a little bit of research I've been doing on the evolution of the various different Smiths heater labels that were used on early MGB's. Unfortunately there currently only seems to be 2 of these variations available on the market today, however maybe this research will lead to some other variations being produced at least small scale for those who seek them.
The first incarnation seems to be the metal plates for both the Caution label and another for the model spec info - these are being sold by a few manufactures as correct for "early MGB" - however I have yet to see any MGB with these plates on originally. They were however used on the MGA's and it's worth noting the exact text and arrangement on these plates - the caution label refers to "freezing" conditions and is only 4 lines long in text under the Caution. The Smiths label says "manufactured in england" and has little rectangular boxes for the actual code numbers to be stamped in.
The next style of these labels that I have clearly seen on all original early MGB's up to mid 1964 is this printed style of lettering that is printed directly onto the painted black surface of the heater. It's not a sticker - it's printed lettering most likely done with a dry transfer that is burnished on.
The Smiths label in white says "manufactured in england" again, has the little boxes around the code numbers, and says "heater" under the smiths logo - just like the plate.
The caution label in red is now spread to 5 lines of text under the caution, speaks of "winter conditions" instead of freezing conditions now. The faded one on the right is from my car from February 1964 and is identical to the left one from 63
This style of printed lettering continued through 1964 however somewhere along the way was slightly altered. The pic below is from a late 64 car and the text has changed just slightly to now say "made in uk" instead of "made in england" - this is the best shot I have yet of this original style of printed lettering and shows the code numbers clearly -
This printed lettering lasted until sometime in 65 when it was replaced by a pair of stickers. These stickers are readily available today and what most MGB restorers have been using as standard on even the early earlier cars. You can see that the word "heater" has been dropped, so too have the little rectangles around the code numbers. The numbers themselves have changed too (perhaps the heaters are a different model?)
The Caution sticker now has 5 lines of text and speaks of "freezing conditions" rather than "winter".
So there you have it, the evolution of these heater labels on the earlier cars. I know that there were even further changes to the logo's on later cars too, but that's for another article some day. I am currently working on making accurate artwork for the earlier printed style of labels that were found on my 64. When it's done I'm going to have it made into dry transfers that can be burnished on. Perhaps I'll get a few sets made for anyone else who really wants the correct labels on their early heater.
Until next time -
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.