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427ZA
Ian Metcalf
Milton Keynes, UK
(36 posts)

Registered:
08/15/2009 12:57PM

Main British Car:
1955 MG Magnette 427ci Chevy

authors avatar
1955 MG ZA Magnette 427ci Part 1
Posted by: 427ZA
Date: August 21, 2009 05:19AM

Hi folks,

This is the story so far with the build up of my V8 powered Mg Magnette.

Please feel free to discuss, offer advise, abuse or anything else in a seperate discussion thread, I don't mind honestly. :)

It all started back in 2006 when i purchased what was allegedly a 1955 Magnette hot rod that was a little past it's sell by date and, to be honest, it wasn't until I took it apart that I discovered which parts were Magnette.

This is how it looked originally....

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/MG%20Pics/7.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/MG%20Pics/MGMagnette-1.jpg

I wasn't particularly happy with the way the wiring regularly caught fire and the brakes instantly locked the front wheels making stopping at junctions a really nerve racking experience so a rebuild was in order.

First was to remove the tired 427ci small block Chevy lump and TH350 gearbox.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/PA210325.jpg

Whilst I was doing this a friend of mine was going around the bodywork peeling off the stickers....that proved to be the beginning of a nightmare as one of them came off with 15mm of filler attached to the back of it. This is the only car I've ever owned that I've been able to remove the paintwork with a chisel!

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/PA210330.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/Patchworkwing.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/MGbodyshop011.jpg

The worst was a dent in the roof with 27mm (just over 1") of filler in it.
The bodyshell was beyond recovery as there was no way I was going to load it up with filler again (we had cut off more than 70kg of the stuff) so the only solution was to cut it off and start again.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/P2270014.jpg

This left me with a roll cage made of seamed scaffolding and only welded where it could be seen and a couple of tired doors.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/P2270013.jpg

At this point I had double heart failure and couldn't play in the workshop for another 9 months. I spent this time trawling ebay and classified ads trying to find a suitable Magnette donor car. It had to be one that was really beyond economical restoration but still had a usable shell.

Enter stage left, our donor car......the poser is my team mate when we go racing!

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/P2040347.jpg

The car was then taken to a friends workshop, he kindly donated a lift and some space in the back corner of his shop.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/26072007004.jpg

The shell was the prepped by cutting out all of the unwanted parts and everything we didn't need was sold off to other Magnette owners to keep their cars on the road.

Front end gone...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/26072007006.jpg

The shell was split to make mating it to the chassis easier and we also discovered that the sills were rotten as well...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/26072007003.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/26072007007.jpg

Once the shell was sorted it was time to start on the chassis which was in no way strong enough to deal with the sort of power I want to eventually put through this beast..
The original shell had been hung by welding the inner sills to three small outriggers on each side which was too flimsy for my liking..

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/17072007020.jpg

This was cured by making a couple of extra outriggers and then a new outer chassis rail. This one had to be exact as the idea is for it to be inside of the new sill panels. After hours of careful measuring I ended up with...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/11082007012.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/11082007011.jpg

The new inner sill panel (c/o Shortens here in the UK) was then split into pieces and welded to the inside edge of the new chassis rail...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/29082007023.jpg

Followed by the centre sill section being spot welded to the other side...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/29082007024.jpg

Next....the moment of truth. did I get my measurements right? There's only one way to find out and that's to drop the shell into place....

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02082007001.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02082007002.jpg

It fits!

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/29082007026.jpg

Now that I'm happy with the fitment it's time to start fitting things permanently, starting with the front scuttle...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/26092007040.jpg

Then followed by the bodyshell itself so that I have a solid base to work with.
The next decision took a lot of working out as this is the first time I've ever attempted a project like this. Because the driving position is further back than normal it meant that I was effectively sitting behind the B pillars. Not comfortable for getting in and out and not particularly safe as this will be used as a race car as well.
My solution? Make it into a two door car again but this time leaving the roof line alone. The best way I could se to achieve this was to move the B pillar backwards until the proprtions looked correct and then cut the doors about until it all fitted.
Easy to type, not so easy to do!

First I cut the pillar in half as the roof line gets lower the further back you go.
Initially I did it by moving it back 6" and cutting the rear door to suit...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/30082007029.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/30082007030.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/26092007042.jpg

However, when I stood back and stared, squinted and generally guessed I still wasn't happy that the door lengths were correct so I cut another 4" out of the rear doors and refitted them...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/10102007003.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/31102007017.jpg

Next task!!
Repair the very rusty back end.
First job, cut out the rusty outer arches to find...rusty inner arches!

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/10102007002.jpg

As the outer profile of these were wrong I had to fabricate new ones with a squarer outer edge to allow for my 12.5" wide tyres.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/12102007006.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/17102007010.jpg

This was followed by new outer arches, lower rear wing repair panels and a new rear valance. The rear valance was originally triple skinned and very heavy so I just fitted the outer skin as it was no longer structural.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/17122007041.jpg

More soon!


Okay, back for some more....

One of the issues with the old shell was that the back panels had been fore-shortened by a good 9". This meant that with the new shell I had a bit of a gap in the back and that just won't do.
The first piece to make was a crossmember to fit inside the rear valance. The valance is curved and 3"x2" box section is not known for it's flexibility so it took me a couple of hours with a hydraulic press to get it to the correct profile.
Once that was made I was able to make some chassis extensions, again out of 3"x2", to meet the crossmember. These were then strengthened with some tapered sections..

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/06122007037.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/06122007036.jpg

This strange little bracket sticking out of the rear valance and welded to the crossmember....

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/04122007035.jpg

.....is for the parachute to pull against! :-)

Next please!!

It had taken me a while to work it out but now I was ready to have a go at extending the front (only!) doors.
First I cut them into pieces...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/15012008044.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/16012008045.jpg

I then hung the front half on it's hinges and tacked the back half into place on the B pillar with some appropriate thickness spacers to get the door shuts correct.
To give it all a bit of stability and to give me the correct sizing for the new metalwork in the middle of the door I joined the two halves together with some 1/2" box section.

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/16012008046.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/16012008047.jpg

Luckily I didn't throw the old doors away as I was able to rob them for the extra centre section. Admittedly it wasn't that easy as the door top is a compound curve and the main swage line has a gentle curve all the way along the door but with a bit of slicing, beating and welding it all started to come together...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/19012008049.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/15022008055.jpg

The door was then re-hung whilst the bottom repair panel was only tacked into place (thank you to Shortens for custom making the lower repair panel to my specifications) so that I could make some necessary adjustments to it...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20022008066.jpg

At this point in the build my mojo was getting a little low so, to give myself a kick in the backside, I fitted the newly primered flip-front and wheels and then stood it on the floor and I could see what I've created....

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/23022008075.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/23022008071.jpg

And that's where I'll leave it today, I'll update some more tomorrow...


Next update...
We'd left it before with me building the bottom of the doors. Once I was happy with the position of the lower repair panel I fixed it into position with a couple of tack welds. The next problem was the underneath of the door. Because the B pillar is further back it means that the sill profile is now completely different to standard. I formed a frame with 1/2" thin walled box section that followed the inner lip of the seal and left enough room for a door rubber to fit.
It was then a case of plating it...

http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/04032008080.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03032008078.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03032008079.jpg

This is the old position of the B pillar where it met the roof...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/25032008082.jpg

And then repaired...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/25032008086.jpg

This is the remains of the B pillar top which had to be trimmed to fit...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/25032008089.jpg

Tacked into place...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/25032008090.jpg

Final weld, not pretty but very strong...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/25032008091.jpg

Four hours of cutting up the old rear window frames to form the rear quarter window aperture...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/28032008094.jpg

A few more updates....

Once the front window frame was cut up and the left over bits from the back window were added I tacked them all together to get the basic profile for the door window..
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/12042008107.jpg

Door handles next.
The original Magnette door handles just didn't seem to fit the new style of the car so the search was on for something different. At this point my wife was getting a little cheesed off with me staring at car door handles every time we went out but, luckily for me, the solution presented itself accidentlyas is often the case with a project like this.
To cut a long story short the chap who owns the workshop I'm cluttering up owns a Jag V12 powered trike which is something very special. It's engine let go earlier this year so I managed to locate him a couple of Daimler Sovereign V12 complete cars for next to nothing, 2 engines = bonus! Whilst we was stripping them out my eye was caught by the door handles which were surface mounted. Five minutes later and two of them were out and ideas were forming to flush mount them.

The handle...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02052008113.jpg

The handle was mounted on a piece of scrap steel...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02052008116.jpg

A corresponding hole was cut in the door...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02052008114.jpg

The mounting plate was fitted behind the door...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02052008117.jpg

The handle then fits flush. I purposefully left a gap around the edge to be filled with fibreglass paste the idea being that the handle body will be painted body colour so that only the chrome handle will show...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02052008119.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02052008120.jpg

To finish off the door furniture for now I needed a lock mechanism. The standard slam lock was not suitably strong so a small bearclaw latch was located.
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03052008125.jpg

I then turned some body pins and also made a dished washer...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03052008131.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03052008132.jpg
(Sorry about the picture quality, photography is not my strong point!)

The latch sits in the door here and by accident the operating rod for the handle dropped staright into position...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/01072008204.jpg

The latch pin fitted to the B pillar...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/01072008212.jpg

Back to the body work.
The more observant amongst you will have noticed a gaping hole between the flip front and the sill. This was remedied by cutting the bottom off of the old front wings.
I wanted this panel to be removeable so the first step was to fabricate a bottom lip to mount the panel..
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008135.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008136.jpg

The sill and the A pillar were drilled and fitted with riv-nuts...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008137.jpg

The panel then bolts in place...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008134.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008138.jpg

To fit locate the flip front on the panel I first fabricated a mounting lip to which I welded a couple of Dzus fastener tabs...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008139.jpg

The tab was then fitted to the flip front and dropped back into place to work out the tab position on the lower wing...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008140.jpg

The tab fitted in to place...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008141.jpg

The flip front then fits nicely into place...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/20052008143.jpg

That's all for now....


......next update

Moving on from the bodywork it was time to start sorting out some of the mechanical issues.
The front suspension was a 6" stainless steel drop tube on a four link system with coil over shocks. The problem was that it had a full width fixed steering rack as there wasn't any room for a steering box. This meant that anything past a quarter of a turn of the steering wheel and the geometry was miles out and it also meant that as the suspension moved the track rod ends were getting to the end of their travel range and would lock up the steering if hitting a bump on near full lock.
I managed to get some coil over struts from that a fellow drag racer had no need for so it was just a case of fitting them!

First I removed the old front axle...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14062008169.jpg

Followed by cleaning up the chassis and removing all of the old mounting points...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/27052008149.jpg

These are the replacement struts..
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14062008174.jpg

An initial problem with them is that they were only designed for straight line use. The lower mounting pin was at the bottom of the strut itself but, to get the correct geometry, it needed to be further outboard towards the wheel.
The correct position for it was on the hub so to begin with I drilled a hole in it...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14062008167.jpg

...and then machined a pin with a small locating stud on the top of it. Again, sorry for the shocking picture quality.
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14062008165.jpg

This pin sits nicely in a bottom arm kit that I got from Chris Alston Chassis Works...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/22072008234.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14062008168.jpg

Once the pin was welded into the hub...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/16062008177.jpg

...they fitted together..
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/16062008179.jpg

Next I would be needing a method for fitting the lower arms to the chassis rails so, after making cardboard templates, I cut out some brackets from 1/4" plate..
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14072008223.jpg

The adjustable heim joint then sits in between two brackets..
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/14072008224.jpg

After a lot of very careful measuring the brackets were welded to the chassis...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/18072008232.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/22072008236.jpg

The next part was the top mounts. As the struts were a hybrid of different manufacturers I would need a custom made top mount.
The first part required was the chassis to tube mount. This would have to hold the top heim joint (located with a circlip) and have a tapered top area for the strut to swivel in.
This is the end result...
The top
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/22072008237.jpg

The bottom...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/22072008238.jpg

I then needed a piece that fitted the complicated shape of the strut top, would locate the spring also with a torrington bearing sandwiched in it and would fit into the top heim joint. After many hours on the lathe we ended up with this strange looking piece...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/11082008251.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/11082008252.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03092008299.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03092008300.jpg

With the top mount in place...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/03092008301.jpg

Once the caster angles were calculated the top mount was welded in and the struts bolted in to place...
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/23092008323.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/23092008325.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/23092008326.jpg

Finally, to give the top mount a bit of extra strength....
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02122008108.jpg
http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/02122008110.jpg

The next update will be the roll cage....

Oooops, just had a count up and I've run out of photograph spaces for this thread so I'll continue with a Part 2 thread! http://i65.photobucket.com/albums/h235/MGMagnette/Smilies/thumbup1.gif


...continued! (click here for part 2)


(note: hyperlink to Part 2 added by Moderator)



Edited 11 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2009 02:13PM by Moderator.


Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4478 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 1955 MG ZA Magnette 427ci Part 1
Posted by: Moderator
Date: September 22, 2011 01:14PM

2


Moderator
Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4478 posts)

Registered:
10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 1955 MG ZA Magnette 427ci Part 1
Posted by: Moderator
Date: September 22, 2011 01:17PM

3


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