Return of the “small jobs”

It was time to get some of the small jobs covered off and feel as if I was contributing to the upkeep of the car again.  The home-made bonnet stay bracket was puddle welded to the middle support and primed before both the stay and the new bracket were painted in Old English White, Whilst we are at it, we would do a touch up job on the rear valance.
Both jobs went fairly smoothly and were soon complete.

The bonnet on the ’66 should have been aluminium but ours had a later steel one which explained the rather dodgy attempt at a bracket that the car came with and the additional holes for fitting the later bonnet stay but it looked a lot more ‘period’ with the home made bracket in place.  While we were at it, we fitted the new sound deadening felts that we’d had for a while.  I decided that the highly flammable spray on carpet adhesive probably was a poor choice for bonding it and instead got some ‘Sticks Like’ following a recommendation from the ‘MG Experience’ forum – Great stuff so far!

The next small job was to add lights to the Oil / Temp & Fuel gauges as these were found to be missing.  I don’t intend to be doing a lot of mileage in the dark but they should be there!
Some correct period cable was used and added to the new Lucas bulb kit before soldering and heat shrinking the joints to keep things nice and neat.  The correct Lucas bullet connectors were added to ensure that things were in keeping with the cars heritage.
Next came the indicator switch which was mounted at a jaunty angle and signalled right at every bump in the road.  What should have been a straightforward swap revealed some issues that would need resolved.
Firstly, the outer tube of the steering column had been incorrectly fitted (thus the jaunty angle) – loosening the top and bottom retaining brackets allowed me to rotate it so the hole for the locating lug on the switchgear was at ‘three o’clock’. this solved one issue but highlighted another.  The lug for the self cancelling mechanism should also point to ‘three o’clock’ when the steering is pointing straight ahead but it was sitting at around ‘one o’clock’.  Moving this would involve dismantling the steering rack at the Universal Joint and I decided that was a job for later (probably for when we rebuild the front suspension)  The switch was swapped over and following a little fettling to ensure it fitted, we had a fully operational switch which stayed put in the ‘off’ position!

Finally, I started calibrating the fuel gauge.  This was a bit ‘suck it and see’ with the only adjustment being two moveable plates that governed the needle swing.  I set them to read full before realising I’d done a good few miles since I filled the tank so that was a job that would require revisiting following the next top up!

Hopefully that wouldn’t be far away…


Return of the ‘B’

We had a brilliant break in Devon & Cornwall and the weather was incredibly kind to us but I was secretly glad to be heading home so I could head to the garage on the Monday morning to hopefully collect the ‘B’.
As it turned out, yes…..

The first sight that greeted me when I arrived at Andy’s was the car on a lift (well, most of it anyway).  It was pretty clear that it wouldn’t be finished for a few days yet.
As tends to happen with older cars, removing one part to do work reveals another part that needs attention and ours was no different.  The PO had used all the correct parts for the sills but the work was pretty poor (and I’m being kind).
Removing the rear axle had also exposed some rot in the wheel arches which was the part that was being worked on as I arrived.  The news was that It would be towards the end of the week before she was ready.
I had bought both front and rear suspension wth the intention of getting the whole car sorted out but Andy said the front was a pass anyway and the time and money needed to be spent on the rear.

The suspension rebuild was still a bit away and only the rear axle looked to be anywhere near complete.  The underside however had clearly had a pile of work done and looked miles better!  Andy said If I called back in on Wednesday for an update, he’d have a better idea of when it would be ready.

Wednesday came and following a morning out with the family, we dropped in to see the progress.  The car was in the process of being re-assembled and was looking great to my relatively untrained eye but Andy said we needed rear drop links and could I get them for tomorrow – A bit of a tall order at 2pm in the day, but a quick email to the MGBHive (a frequent recipient of my spare cash) resulted in them being sent out next-day-deliver for no extra charge. The quality of their parts is only surpassed by the quality of their service – A quite brilliant establishment to deal with!
As good as their word, the package arrived the following morning and Andy promised the car for 3pm on the Friday.

Friday arrived and we were at the garage for 3pm promptly to collect the ‘B’. Andy passed me the keys and said to take it out a quick test drive and let him know how it was.  It was so much better than before; the back feeling much more solid and much quieter.  The stainless exhaust the PO had fitted was now customised to run over the axle and didn’t crash off it at every opportunity.  The suspension was so much more stable at the rear, lifting the car to its correct stance.  All in all I was delighted (even when given the bill)
MOT in hand, I jumped into the ‘B’ again and headed for home, via the petrol station.  Whilst the tank was out, I had taken the chance to have a new sender unit fitted as the original one massively mis-registered, so the tank had minimal fuel in it.  The girl at the cash desk asked me why I had such a big grin on my face. Being told my car had just passed it’s MOT was met with a strange look until she looked out and saw it whereupon she said “ah, you’re one of those!”
Whatever ‘those’ are, I guess I am !

The ‘B’ behaved impeccably on the way home and we made it just in time for the skies to darken.  I parked her in the garage knowing that there was still some work to do.  There was some paintwork to touch up where the masking tape had damaged it on the rear valance and the bonnet stay needed to be fitted and painted.  I knew it would be unlikely I’d get it done in time for the show on Sunday but I was confident I’d get a run in her on the Monday – The last day of my holiday and the next sunny day according to the weather man!



The football season was over and the league was won – Callum was awarded ‘Player of the Year’ and it was surely time for me & the boys to get the ‘B’ MOT’d.
As previously mentioned, the springs had seen better days and it would be no surprise to find that they were the original set, such was their condition. I had decided that the best way forward would be to do a full replacement of the front and rear suspension and restore the Armstrong’s.  Knowing time was tight if I wanted to drive it during the summer, I started looking for garages to quote for the welding etc.  In the end, despite finding cheaper options, I decided to go with Andy Aitken.  He might not be cheap, but he knows what he’s doing and the quality of his work isn’t in doubt.

Another show I had intended to attend was the display of ‘Retro Vehicles’ at Hurlford Gala Day which was organised by club member and owner of the finest Mk1 Astra GTE in the country, Mark McLelland.  It was a great chance to show the committee how they could use mobile phones & Facebook to easily cover events we were at.  I managed along for a couple of hours before leaving to take Callum to a birthday day out and posted the pics & details to the website etc.

Early reactions seemed favourable and Brian managed to do the same at Moffat.  Hopefully some progress!

Onto the important stuff now – Bringing the blog right up to date, the ‘B’ was dropped off at AA Motors before we left for Devon and a week’s holiday (which is where I’m typing this now) – Fingers crossed this time next week I’ll be telling you it’s got an MOT and how it feels to drive it again, but are things ever that simple in the world of Classic Cars?

A Request from the Blue

The date for ‘Cars on the Campus’ arrived – 7th May 2017 & the ‘B’ wasn’t ready.  I’d known this was likely despite having the car entered and I’d also known that Callum had a football match scheduled for that day too so I was resigned to catching a few hours in the afternoon.
The day arrived and the team duly won the game, giving themselves a chance of winning the league and we headed off towards Kilmarnock to see the assembled cars.

As always there was a great display and the sunshine  had brought the crowds out.  We spoke to a few members and exhibitors before heading for home, slightly disappointed if I’m honest, at not being involved but happy to see that my name & car had appeared in the programme – Print deadlines, eh?

Instead of our usual monthly meeting, a trip to Irvine Maritime Museum had been arranged as our usual venue was given over to be used for the election.  We convened in the carpark, a few hardy souls braving the rain in their Classics, and enjoyed a very informative evening (and some tea & biscuits!)

I had previously made an offer of help to Stuart, a member who was having difficulties with his computer and got chatting to another chap, Brian, about it.  It turned out that he was on the committee and trying to get the Website / Facebook / Twitter offerings working.  I offered some advice on what would make sense in my opinion and pointed them towards the social media of Callum’s football team, which I run, as an example of what can be done.  I also said leaving one person to ‘do it all’ didn’t tend to work and that the whole committee should be involved in content production if it was to be diverse and not become a burden.
Brian said he’d make those points to the committee and would I be able to give them a few pointers, which I agreed to.

The committee met a week afterwards to discuss the ‘Cars on the Campus’ show and what could be improved for next year.  I was invited along to give my thoughts on the social media offerings and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and a tour of General George’s Garage – a man cave of the highest order!  The scheduled hour and a half meeting ran on to close to four hours and by the end of it I had agreed to take a look at access and use as well as assist the members and committee with any IT issues.

I received the minutes via email the following day and saw they made reference to me having been asked to join the committee!  The Chairman replied that they had been a bit previous with that comment but they did indeed want me to join and essentially if I accepted, I was as he put it, ‘in’.
Of course I did !
Another part of the adventure begins!

2 Non-Runners

The grand plan to have a classic car that we could use and potter around on hadn’t entirely worked out with the ‘B’ being consigned to the garage whilst funds were gathered together to repair it.
Eileen’s plan for me to dispose of the Spitfire was about to take a terminal blow as well; Something that would leave me with two non-runners in the garage.

Santa had brought the boys two Haynes model engine kits at Christmas and they had decided that having built the straight 4 and V8 in jig time that they were now experts and should be let loose on the Spitfire.  I did have an engine crane and stand that had been hitherto unused so why not I thought?

Looking at the Spit again, I could see where Dad had got to with it four years earlier – The  coolant had been drained out, the hoses hacksawed off, spark plugs, dynamo & starter removed and fuel lines clamped.  Being ‘open’ like that I thought it would most likely be seized so WD40 was squirted into the head to hopefully free it. – There was no need.  I was able to turn the engine by hand. Not bad considering how long it had sat idle.

Engine mounts were loosened and the hoist set up.  Axle stands positioned and the bell housing bolts removed.  Within 45 minutes of starting, the engine was free of the car and being attached to the stand, complete with the seized clutch that put it off the road some 18 years earlier…

I daresay not every task on the cars will be as easy but that part was immensely enjoyable and apparently was recounted at school the following Monday (probably to the horror of the teachers)

Eileen & I saw the fun the kids had over the next few weeks removing bits from the engine & car and decided that the Spit should stay and be worked on for non-urgent fun but that the ‘B’ needed to be back on the road as soon as we could afford it.
Work pressures and helping to run my eldest sons football team meant that was unlikely to happen before this years “Cars on the Campus’ show (which it was entered for) but it should be ready for the second half of the summer…



Dumfries House Trip

“What would be really nice today is a trip to Dumfries House – Dad can take the MGB and we’ll follow on in the Jeep”

It sounded like the perfect idea to fill a free day during the holiday!
Off we set with me leading the way and having decided to take the scenic route rather than go straight there, something that didn’t meet with universal approval it must be said, but I wanted to stretch the cars legs a bit and see if the cooling was any better on a longer run.  The route I had chosen made it a 60 odd miles round trip, but we do buy them to drive don’t we?  And I hadn’t had much chance!

The car felt brilliant and drove well on the twisting country roads before we hit the dual carriage way where it was equally good, keeping up with the modern day traffic quite well despite lacking an overdrive.  We pulled into the car park of Dumfries House with me delighted to have had a decent run and everyone else annoyed I’d not taken the route that was 15 miles & half an hour shorter – Oh well…..


A very pleasant afternoon followed and I had said I would head home via the garden centre (any excuse for an extended drive) and see everyone when I go back.
The car drove brilliantly again, although I could feel the the rear springs were in need of some work, something I had visually confirmed before the ‘Cars on the Campus’ show.

Barely 800 yards from home I hit a pothole which felt like a crater. The jolt through the car was incredible.  A few yards later I could hear the fan belt squealing and thought the dynamo bracket must have slipped. I drove the last 100 yards and reversed into the driveway only to see a trail of fluid marking my recent journey – I immediately turned the ignition off and got out of the car.

Opening the bonnet revealed the source of the leak. The jolt from the pothole had loosed the radiator valance enough to allow it to move towards the cooling fan which had fouled itself, slicing the radiator core and bending itself in the process.  Hindsight says be thankful it happened so close to home but that realisation took a while to come as I raged at the damage.

A quick call round some local specialists made it obvious that replacement rather than repair was most economical option and I set about ordering a radiator from the MG Owners Club shop which arrived damaged but was quickly exchanged by their exceptionally helpful staff.

If I was going to have to replace the radiator then that would mean draining the remaining coolant and the oil too as the shroud was also covered in that black paint…
I might as well change the oil cooler hoses and the cooler as well and paint the rest of the engine when I was there.

There then followed some quite enjoyable pottering over the next few weeks as I further improved the engine bay, knowing the MOT was on the horizon.

There were a few parts of the bay that looked as if they had been botched to me and I resolved to investigate them whilst I worked on it.  I had also noticed in ‘Clausager’ that the 1966 Roadster should have wire hose clips rather than jubilee clips – This was the perfect time to address that and replace the hoses and the rather nasty copper water return pipe which wasn’t correct for this year.  The fixing where the water temperature gauge connected to the head at the thermostat had been covered with a sealant and painted, the reason for that became clear when I removed the sealant to expose the captive nut pictured above.  As this is a one piece unit, I ordered a new on with the intention of getting the original repaired and refitted at some point in the future.
The bonnet stay had been attached with a rather bent looking bracket and a screw which I was fairly sure wasn’t original, so I set about fashioning a new one from a piece of mild steel to match the welded on item I had seen on cars of that age whilst trawling the internet.
The bill was going up steadily.

Eventually the car was running and the wallet was empty and it was time to go to Andy Aitken’s for an MOT.  I was sure having looked under the car that the springs would need replaced at the back and that would probably be it.  When I bought the car, the sellers made a big deal about how an extra coat of underseal was applied on it’s last MOT and photographs were supplied of the event and it’s ‘no advisory’ pass.

A phone call a few hours after dropping it off soon shone a light on the reality under the car.  Andy hadn’t even bothered to start the test having looked underneath as he knew it was a failure.  The sills had been tacked on instead of being joined by a continuous weld and covered with seam sealer (badly).  The springs were indeed at the end of their useful life and the Armstrong’s at the front and back were leaking oil.  Andy said it would be ‘price on application’ for that work and ‘a couple of grand wouldn’t cover it’

I took the ‘B’ home knowing that the work would have to wait….


Cars on the Campus 2016

The morning of the show arrived and I was up bright and early to take the battery off charge and install it in the car.
It fired up on the first turn of the key much to my relief.
Eileen and the children would follow on later once the show started but the cars needed to be in place by 8:30am.  I drove the 10 miles to the site with the biggest grin on my face, enjoying the waves and appreciative looks from the souls who were around that early on a Sunday.
The car behaved impeccably and all too soon we were there and parking up in the club section next to a Mk1 Toyota MR2.

I went off to help signpost the entrances and assist where I could before the gates opened.  The sunshine also came along for the day and ensured we could get the seats out and relax into the day.

I alway love a car show but it was such a good feeling to have finally made it to one as an exhibitor and I did have a smile to myself as the family arrived, clearly excited and I knew Dad would have loved it too.  The kids took turns at answering questions about the car from spectators with Adam especially keen to point out the parts he had done as I sat and chatted to some fellow club members and drank tea.
Car on the Campus and its predecessor at the Dean Castle have always attracted a great selection of vehicles but are particularly noted for their friendliness and accessibility.  It was a great joy to be a part of it and I looked forward to many more.

A brilliant day ended with being presented an engraved glass for displaying and a lovely drive home in the evening sunshine to find my daughter waiting at the front door.  She had decided that as our last jaunt in the ‘B’ had ended in a breakdown that she still hadn’t finished her ‘go’ and we should go for a run right now!

Well it would have been rude not to 😉