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Dan Wilson
Colorado Springs
(12 posts)

06/01/2010 10:09PM

Main British Car:
1959 Bugeye Sprite, 50's MG Special Toyota 2-TC 1600cc, MGB 1800

50's period MG Special
Posted by: ToyBug
Date: October 13, 2012 01:16AM

Gentlemen, I'm finally in the early construction stages of building a tube framed, MGB based, 50's period MG special. If you know of the Ken Miles or Bud Hand MG Specials, you will get an idea of where I'm coming from, and hopefully going towards. I'll use an MGB 1800cc motor, a Nissan 300ZX transmission, MGB rear axle with Satchell link suspension, and a widened MGB front crossmember and suspension. A Speedway "Track T" roadster nose, single curvature alloy bodywork and an exposed spare in the rear along with cycle fenders will give it the look of a 50's MG sportscar special. The intended use is street only, although if I happen to drive by a local autocross, well.....
I saw these types of homebuilt cars racing in the late 50's in California, and have been doodling the sort ever since. I was given a '71 MGB for parts a couple of years ago, which helped narrow my focus. I have attached a sketch I made in 1963 based on an MG-TD chassis with MG or Triumph TR-3 motor. That idea has passed by, but the oil cooler ducting shown in that sketch may very well find it's way into the current project. I put the building table together last summer, and started mocking up components on the table. This is where the sketchy ideas come apart, when you find out that two or more components or body parts cannot occupy the same space. It amazes me that sometimes a half inch can make a huge difference, and that fraction is not to be found in the sketches. After a couple of months of mocking up, I bit the bullet and started cutting tubing. I had drawn the basic frame many times over the last couple of years, and after the mockups, was able to get the first couple of tubes in position. I decided to use somewhat oversize tubes in order to gain ease of welding, as well as the ability to deal with our public highways here in Colorado. The bottom rails are 1-1/2"x3" 14 ga. rectangular, while the structure above is 1-1/2" 14ga. round. The design is all about compromises, as the engine postion devolved from the relative position of my feet and the bellhousing, and so the rear trans mounts and crossmember. I used MGB rear mount rubbers, and fabricated up a mount to match the Nissan transmission. Everything else started there. (if it were only that easy). The last three years were spent deciding how much elbow and seat room were going to be needed, and the seating position then required a wider rear track, which led to new Dayton wire wheels with a 2-1/2" offset to gain said cockpit width. which led to cutting two MGB front crossmembers in half and welding them together 5-3/8" wider than stock in order for the front track to be a bit wider than the rear. The second and third sketches show a sketch of the "look" I'm after, and the basic frame structure
1963 MG drawing005.jpg
frame sketch002.jpg
frame sketch oblique001.jpg
Having just tried to load some photos, I find that they are too large, so will have to drop back and punt.
More as I figure it all out. In the meantime, I had just put up some pix on the MG Experience website, only to be advised that here was a better place. to be continued.....
Dan Wilson, Colorado Springs
I have no idea how this is going to work, so bear with me. These first pictures of the bare frame were taken about three weeks ago. The front is taking shape, the rear will get some attention after the front end is a bit more complete. I'll pull the engine/trans and spin the frame around on the table, then start on the rear suspension and rest of frame after that.

These two pix shows how the MGB motor will set in the frame.
And let's go back about 6 years, and a balsa study model of the frame. This can show you a lot about where a frame is bending or twisting, in this model, adding the sheet balsa around the tunnel and tops of footwells increased the torsional strength a lot.
Next time I'll show how I adapted Datsun 240Z rear finned alloy brakes to the MGB axle.
I noticed the 240Z rear brake drums while browsing in a salvage yard, and wondered if they could be adapted to the MGB rear axle. Some careful measurements indicated they could, and I sourced some used parts online. On first try, the Datsun drums have a smaller metric stud hole, but the same pattern, and the central "hub" hole is a bit too small, I first reamed out the stud holes to suit, and then carefully bored out the center hole to fit the MGB hub in the lathe. Spacing was next, and I found that about 5/16" would do it. I made up a couple of steel spacers and cut out the oil trap from the old MGB backing plate. Here are the three parts to be put together:
And here is where I made my first mistake on this job...I brazed them all together, partly for strength, mostly for appearance, and they both warped pretty badly. I tried the press, tried baking them while clamped to an old Buick disc brake in the Weber grille, and finally chucked them in the lathe and herked them into true with a bigass pipe wrench. Note to self: next time, MIG, TIG or even spot weld. In fact, I'm not sure that they need to be fastened together, as they are trapped by the studs anyway...
Here is a backside view:
And here is the relationship of the drum to the 6x15 Dayton wire wheel:
The end result, I have nice looking Vintagey Alfin drums to show off behind the wires, and about a 7-1/2# weight savings per wheel. Cost about 200 bucks with new shoes. New drums are currently available from several online suppliers, and rebuild parts can be had at any Datsun/Nissan dlr, or many parts stores, or online. It turns out that when I told a Morgan buddy about it, he said the Morgan guys have been doing this for a while, which tells me that the TR guys could too. And I thought I was breaking new ground....
Having widened the front crossmember by 5-3/8", the standard MGB rack&pinion is now too short by that amount.
The housing is cut apart, and a piece of 1-1/2" x 14 ga. steel tubing, same as used in upper frame, serendipitously fits over the B housing tube stubs.
Here the rack housing is attached to the crossmember. It will get aligned with a rack shaft and pinion assembled into the housing and then MIG tacked. Then I'll take it to a real welder for TIG finish to keep the oil/grease inside.
Here are the two rack shafts with blue tape showing roughly the parts to be cut off. The ends to be welded together will have a peg and hole to match up, and a chamfer for the weld itself. I'll show this all to the welder before the machine work is done and get his input. The end result will be a shaft 5-3/8" longer on the end away from the rack gears, and the weld area will be inside the housing and bushing area on that end of the housing. I believe that this area will still be much stronger than the "neck" of the tie rod ball joint end, at about 3/8" diameter, which I think would be the weakest link. If anyone has misgivings about any of this, I'd like to hear them. pm to dan

This last week had not shown much progress, but the rack housing is tacked, ready for the welder, and the rack shaft itself is in the hands of an ace machinist. He will machine a "peg" on one of the mating ends about 1/2" in diameter, and a very closely matching socket on the other, along with chamfers to allow welding properly. The peg and socket will align the two pieces exactly.
I can weld and machine stuff myself, but a man has to know his limits, and have things done really right when needed. I think these parts deserve that...
Above are the two ends of the rack shaft as machined...a very nice snug fit, ready to be welded.

In the meantime, I have made up a tubular frame out of 3/4" steel to support the nose and hood bodywork sections, as well as the radiator top mounting. The whole frame (hoop and two braces aft) are removable so the motor can come out. Here are a couple of pictures:
There is a problem with the proximity of the upper water outlet and the radiator inlet....which I'll have to deal with.
I'll make a new outlet to direct the hose out towards where the old alternator bracket was, and cut and reweld the radiator inlet to also point in the same direction. Then a 180 degree hose, or two short connector hoses and a u shaped tube should connect the two without causing any problems as far as motor movement is concerned. the lower radiator outlet will also get moved to the other side to get closer to the MGB pump inlet. I also discovered that there are four different water pumps for 5 main B engines, the later ones are shorter, which will give me some much appreciated room between the radiator and the pulley nose.
Here are a couple pictures of the pedals and master cylinders. I had the MGB brake master cylinder, and the Nissan 300zx clutch master to use, but they would not set next to each other due to the outlet on the Nissan part being to the right side, right where the Girling "can" would want to be. So I had to make a staggered mount in a Z shape. I used MGB pedals, which have an odd pivot set-up. There is a boss welded in, a bronze bush pressed into that, then a steel spacer sleeve and then the pivot bolt at 3/8 inch. Another triumph of British engineering....I pushed out the steel sleeves, and found that a 9/16 bolt would fit perfectly. Much stiffer. I turned up some delrin spacers, and the pedals were hung. The pushrods were adapted from Bugeye Sprite parts, sourced new and shiny from VB. The brake side had to have the button on the MGB end cut off and drilled to set over the end of the Sprite pushrod, which had been turned down a bit to offer a shoulder, then MIG welded on. This button, collar and circlip prevents the pushrod from dropping out of the cylinder if there is slack. I drilled some holes in the pedal pads to offset the extra weight in the bigger pivot bolt.....

While waiting for the machinist and welder to do their thing, I passed some time at the local salvage yards. I picked up a driveshaft from a Datsun 2wd pickup to use as the front of the driveshaft, mating with the 1"-24 spline 300zx trans output. When the rear axle is in place, I'll get a good measurement and have the shaft made up to suit. We have a very good Driveline Service (and that's their name) here in Colorado Springs, and they will do that job. They had made the shaft for my Toyota powered Bugeye some 25 years ago....good people.
I was also looking for a "mini Denso" alternator to replace the Lucas anchor. The one I was looking for comes on a variety of Hondas, but looking around the salvage yard, it seemed that most were already gone, or, and more importantly, I think, were rebuilds. That didn't sound very promising, so i picked up a 70A Hitachi model of similar proportions off an '88 RX-7. Found an online article on/by MGGuru on how he placed one on an MGA. Must be a good thing...
The steering shaft was another puzzlement. I needed to connect a shortened MGB pinion shaft back to an early MGB steering wheel shaft, with about a 24" gap between, and with u-joints at both ends. There are u-joints by several mfrs. with the MG 3/4"-48 spline configuration, but at a cost.......counting the shaft in between, it could run well upwards of 200 bucks. The kicker is that the MGB pinion shaft sticks way back from the rack and inconveniently outside my bodywork. Cutting it off loses the spline, and then it's an odd diameter (.730) If the steering wheel shaft also needed to be cut off, there goes the other spline. The pinion shaft is installed up thru the rack housing and a bushing at the rear, so nothing could be welded to the cut off end any larger than that .730. Then, looking at the Sweet Engineering website, they have a page showing all of the various splines and such that they support with their u-joints. Lo and behold, the last one shown was exactly what i needed....called a Jeep Pincher. It's internal socket starts off with a .735 round, and is flattened on either side by .062", while the u-joint is split and clamps over the shaft......The flats can be easily done on a mill, or even could be done carefully with a grinder. I went at lunchtime today to FNJeep, a local Jeep shop. There, I found the PERFECT intermediate shaft out of a '99 YJ for 30 bucks and tax. Here's what it looks like:
The right u-joint sockets, so I can adapt at both ends with a simple machine job, the right length, it has a sliding joint built in, and a rubber gaiter to seal up at the firewall. It's even powdercoated already...... I'll detail the installation later, when I know better where my steering wheel shaft will get mounted.
I should be able to pick up the welded rack parts tomorrow, so I'm back in business.
November 8, 2012
Money! 5-3/8" wider MGB rack and pinion to match wider front crossmember.
And here is the MGB pinion shaft with the '99 Jeep Wrangler steering joint attached. I couldn't wait to get the shaft into a mill today, so last nite I filed the flats into the shaft by hand...good exercise, and a very nice fit, if I may say so.
Here the nose is in place, and part of the pinion shaft sticks outside the body a good excuse to pound out a nifty teardrop shaped fairing later.
November 15, 2012
Here are a few more pictures showing modest progress over the last two weeks:
Here the RX-7 alternator is hung, the MGB oil cooler is mounted, the passenger footwell is tubed up, as well as the triangulation across the top of footwell boxes. Hard to see here, but there are also two tubes that run from the top and bottom of inner footwell framing forward to the front motor mount area. the next pic shows the same area from the rear.

This pic shows the upper steering shaft assembly, using '99 Jeep Wrangler sliding shaft (the black parts), and the '71 MGB upper shaft. I have a plan for making the upper shaft mounts such that the wheel can be adjusted in and out about 3", and up or down about 2-1/2".
I have run out of a couple of sizes of tubing, out of acetylene and mostly time for the next few weeks, so expect little progress until January. I'll post a sketch of the adjustable steering set-up as soon as I can get it drawn to scale. Funny how a sketch can be so great until you actually pin down the dimensions.....
Again, I'd like to hear comments and criticism from interested to jbrwky64 at
and Happy Holidays!
ps, anyone notice the mods to the rocker cover yet?
Nov. 19
I made up the steering shaft sleeve of 1-1/2 delrin rod, split in two halves to allow the clamp to fit over it in the middle. The clamp was machined out of 3/4" aluminum billet. It's clamped against the bracket tack welded to the frame. The front of the shaft will be located in a 7/8" rod end bolted into the frame at the top front of the footwell. Here's some pix as it sits now:
I think I'll remake the delrin sleeve into a single part, with no ridges on the end, then turn up some washers for the ends to capture the clamp, or rather capture the sleeve inside the clamp, and the whole sleeve/washers group will be trapped between a couple of 7/8" snap rings fitted to the shaft. At this point, I can see that I'll have 2" up and down, and 4" fore and aft adjustment at the wheel. The rod end cost about 1.5 times what the Jeep column did................
December 9, 2012
Not much new, but a little progress . The steering linkage is all together now, with a few new parts. I remade the split delrin shaft bushing and used alloy "washers" at each end to replace the ridges on original split part. Picked up some snap rings from local bearing house, as well as the 7/8 rod end and lever from Grainger. The pics following show the final result. The red stuff you see is poster board to mock up the dashboard.
Here's that expensive rod end...the whole thing can be adjusted up and down about an inch with the jam nuts.
Here the steering wheel/shaft is in the down and back position.
And here the wheel is up 2" and forward 4".
This shows the dashboard mockup. The upper edge is supported by a 3/4" tube, and there will be another tube, maybe 1/2 square at lower edge. The small panel above gearbox will have toggle switches "guarded" by electronics rack handles.
Best wishes for the Holidays to all! See you in January.
dan email jbrwky64 at

Right then, Happy New year! I was out of town for a while, then sick as a dog, so have not accomplished a whole lot. I did add the forward cowl tube and made up stops and a spring mount for the pedals, which I don't like, so will do over. here are a couple of pics showing the new cowl tube and pedal arrangements.
You can also see some of the cardstock patterns for the alloy sheet metal panels to come, and I can see that some of them will be a booger to get into place.
The plan is to get the rear suspension made up (Satchell four bar) with coil overs, then frame up the rear around the axle and start making up body mounting hoops. The area behind the seats and roll bar are still not clear, hope they will come into focus when the rear axle is in place...........
After the back end is farther along, I will make up the cockpit area, may even have some stubby doors each side...I'm getting too old to be climbing in over the top. Once the rear end and cockpit areas are farther along, I'll add pivot points at both ends, and suspend the frame from an engine stand on one end and a support the other, so it can be turned like a rotisserie. I'll finish all frame welds, paint where needed and start fitting the floor and footwell panels permanently. Most will be riveted in.
I'm torn between making up my own seats or just buying a pair of Kirkey "Classic Roadster" jobs. Knowing me, I'll probably make my own, but will check with local upholstery shops first to see how much they would want to finish them off....could be cheaper to buy the ready made jobs...
I have been putting off pulling the motor and swapping the frame end for end in order to get after the rear end, but not much more I can do up front at the moment, so that will be the next step over the next week or so.
I am excited to say that I found a Rockwell milling machine thru ebay, and will be picking it up in the next few weeks. That will make the carving out of the rear suspension bracketry MUCH easier.
OK, it's February 19th, and little has been accomplished directly on the MG. I spent much of the last three weeks driving back to Iowa to pick up that milling machine, getting it home, not without some drama (anyone else here in a position to call BS on Chrysler fuel gauges?), and getting the mill assembled, up and running and dialed in.
I did manage to wrap some single sided corrugated paper over the front end to get an idea of what the front end will look like. Here is a picture:
The cardboard will get replaced by alloy sheet, which will be breaking some new ground for me. I have done some small hammer forming for racing motorcycles, but those were smaller parts....
I also made a few sketches to start getting an idea of what individual panels might look like, and how they might attach. If and when I can figure out how to get these saved in a size and format that will attach here, I'll get 'er done. Might be easier to just make them and take a picture....
Hello again! It's early September, and I am back to work on the MG project. I spent the last two weeks finishing off welds and touching up same here and there. The next job is to fabricate the rear suspension. I ordered up some cr-mo rod ends with nuts and the machined spuds to make up the links from an outfit in Muncie, IN called QSComponents. I made up some wood axle stands to hold the rear axle at ride height, and began trying to figure out what the axle end brackets would look like. I'm usually pretty good at visualizing stuff like this, and/or sketching it, but this deal had me baffled. I spent some time with cardboard and scissors, and finally had something that would work. Elegant solution? No. Maybe in my next life...... I am finding that even after spending literally years doodling this projects' details, when it comes right down to it, there are many, many unexpected issues to be dealt with. For instance, the upper links need to be in a certain area, give or take an inch or so, but a lot of that particular area is denied by the brake bleeder screws, which for some reason stick out over an inch from the back of the wheel cylinders. And it's all well and good to be able to see a link in a certain position, but when you consider the "sweep" in suspension travel, that's another story. And then there are the other bits that need to pass thru that area, like an exhaust pipe. On my Bugeye, I had built a nice panhard bar, all nice and shiny new paint and all, only to discover that it passed right thru the exhaust pipe with suspension movement. Back to the drawing board...
Working with suspension engineer Terry Satchell, the final suspension linkage geometry has been decided and now all I have to do is saw out the various bits to make up the bracketry, and weld them in place. Seems simple enough, but four links x two ends x both sides (for double shear mounts) x the other gussets and webs means a lot of bits to make patterns for then saw out and fit. My little HF metal bandsaw is earning it's keep this month.
A bit about the type of suspension chosen's called a "Satchell Link", and is basically a four bar using the lower links to achieve lateral control of the axle. There are many variations of four bar suspension linkages, depending on which links are used to limit lateral motion of the axle. I had used a similar set up on my Toyota powered Bugeye, where the lower links converged under the differential, but the satchel link has the lowers converging at the frame under the rear u-joint. The advantages for me were having the loads spread out to the ends of the axle housing, and thus of a lower magnitude, and having the frame ends located where I have logical points to mount them in the frame structure. The geometry of this system also incorporates both a lower roll center as well as roll understeer, both of which are good ideas. I want a car that handles predictably under any circumstances, with no bad vices. At my age, I can't compensate like I used to think I could.....
These photos show where I'm at right now. Mr. Satchell has emphasized that I need to pin down my pinion and tailshaft angles and positions before going any further, so I may have to stop, swap the frame 180, re-install the engine/trans in order to know absolutely where the tailshaft is positioned this weekend. I knew about driveshaft u-joint phasing, as well as having the tail shaft and pinion shaft being parallel, but what had escaped me in 50+ years of reading about engine swaps and stuff was that the u-joints need to operate at some sort of angle, never at "zero". Any offset of the two shafts can be used to achieve this principle, , i.e., up/down or side to side. So, shafts parallel, but not directly in line. Who knew? (evidently, everybody but me....)
I have the parts to make up the driveshaft, basically an MGB rear section and a Datsun p/u truck front section, and after I have the exact length dimensions, will take these parts to local Driveline Service to have a proper shaft made up and balanced. More as it happens. dan

Monday, Sept. 24...and a bit more progress I made up the lower control arm chassis mount in my usual overkill mode. I figure that this mount will likely take the highest loads (that's engineer talk) in the chassis, so it is not going anywhere. There are two spuds turned out of 1" CRS welded in each side of the rod end, so lots of bearing surface to take said loads.
Part of my frame sketches for years has been how the upper links will feed into the frame. I bored a 1/2 hole through the 1-1/2 x 3 frame rail kickup, and then wrapped a "C" shape around the mount on the inside, then capped it with a plate an another 1/2" hole. The mounting bolt is then in TRIPLE shear....take that, Carrol Smith. I tacked in the 1-1/2 round cockpit side tube so it is placed right in front of the mount. There will be another round tube forward and down from the new tube's intersection with the lower diagonal, aiming at the orange mallet in the picture.
Here is an overall view of where I'm at tonite, right after I ran out of gas for the welder.
One part of this project failed to be included in the budget...spent over 90 bucks today for a new set of 8" grinding wheels from Grainger, and get to drop another wad at the local welding supply to get new mixed gas for the mig and oxy for the torch.
I also dropped off the driveshaft bits at local Driveline Service to make up the new driveshaft.
I am still undecided as far as the coilover shocks are concerned, now looking at AFCO 14 series steel units with 7" travel. I am only planning for 5 " of axle travel, and have not found any shocks that offer 6" (5 plus bump stoppers) that I can afford.
I really need to have them in hand to make up the shock mounts. Also should have at least a mockup of battery and fuel tank to plan out the rear of the frame. I did make up a ply dummy spare to work around that. And that's another front wheel/tires are pretty much like standard Austin-Healey 15 x 5 with 165 HR15 tires. The rears are 15 x 6 and are offset 2-1/2 inches outboard (to gain cockpit width), with 185 HR15 tires. A front wheel will not work on the rear due to offset, and pretty much vice-versa. I am thinking the best option is to have a spare wheel made up at 15 x 5, with the same offset, mount a 165 tire, and hope to not need it much. It also just occurred to me that the spare mount (if set into the bodywork) will have to be able to take the larger rear tire size........if it were not for weight distribution, I'd consider mounting the spare on the passenger side a la Allard and make a boat-tail in back........
I really am itching to make up the rear of the tube frame, but really have to wait until I have all of the components that have to fit in hand. And that is more bucks to lay out......ah well, if I was born rich, I'd just go to Argentina and have a Maserati A6GCS custom built, but then I'd be missing all this fun....
again, any comments, ideas, suggestions, to: jbrwky64 at gmail dot com

Some little progress....the driveshaft is done, had to laugh, I walked in to Driveline Service, here in CO. Springs, with an old MGB shaft and half of a Datsun p/u shaft with the slip joint....the guy looks at me and says, "Datsun into an MG, huh?" Not exactly, but that is why I went to this shop...they know their sh*t. Last week I got my tires, Vredestein Sprint Classics in 165 and 185 x 15 from a shop in Long Beach, CA. Took the whole shebang, in their boxes, in my MINI Clubman up to Woodys Wheel Works in Denver to get them mounted and balanced for 25 bucks a wheel yesterday. Here again, a shop that knows their stuff. Few shops anymore can deal with the old splined wire wheels properly.
Back in Sept. I mentioned the sketches of the side panels for the body. let's see if I can get them to post here....
What pattern of vents and louvers I'll end up with is up in the air, but I think the overall shape and method of attaching will work.
I did find a picture of an MG special online, but have not been able to find out more about this car. it appears to be RHD, so either in the UK or Down Under, and likely is TC-based given the right hand carbs and exhaust. I am hoping my car will look a lot like this, with about 4-5" of stretch in the cockpit area, higher cockpit sides, and a lower, more streamlined windscreen. If anyone knows of this car, which I think is/was red, contact me at jbrwky64 at gmail dot com?
I found out that the above car was one of the MG specials built by John Cooper in the early fifties.

I'm back. It's now close to the end of February, 2014. After several months of no shop time, I'm back at it again. I was able to get my new tires mounted, and fitted the rear tires to the axle in order to check clearances. I had the rear suspension links far enough done to be able to "swing" the axle through it's movement 2"' droop and 3" bump from the ride height. The problem I was afraid of, interference of the inside tire wall with the upper frame "horns" was real. So, After a lot of thought about how to deal with this, I went ahead and cut off the rectangular tubing frame horns just above where the top suspension links fit up. The clearance problems were above that point, so it fixed that problem. I had considered cutting the horns off at the lower frame rail, swapping them side for side and welding them back in canted inwards enough to place the suspension pickups outside the tube. A lot of cutting, fitting and welding would be needed, and then the upper round tube would have nowhere to go without going thru my Trying to keep it as simple as I could, I added a section of 1.5" tubing straight across, just above the suspension pockets, and capped the rect. tube off. Then I fit up a tube on each side to the rear, with another across just under where the spare will mount. Now the area where the upper coilover shock mount needs to be is about 4" above the tube, not alongside as I had intended with the original rectangular rear top tubes. An advantage that was free is that the new rear tubing sections make a good platform for the rear "boot" area, and lower than they would have been, so more room for storage. I finally decided on a set of AFCO 7" travel "14 series" coil over shocks. I ordered them up from Speedway in Lincoln, NE, and had them in less than 24 hrs. Speedway has a lot of pieces parts in several catalogs for street rods, circle track cars and the like. I had not intended to confuse them with the idea of an MG Special, but twice now, the sales person asked what I was building, and they seemed to be genuinely interested. This weekend, I just about finished the left side shock mounts, and have some of the parts cut out for the right side. I agonized over how to achieve a double shear lower shock mounting, and finally gave up. I turned up a couple of steel "spuds" that pass through both sides of the lower suspension mounting plates, and get welded in. A 1/2" bolt then goes thru the spud to attach the bottom of the shock. Having seen many production car shocks mounted with less meat, I think I should be in my normal overkill situation here. Here are some pictures to show the above.

The overall setup from above

The lower shock mount with shock

And without shock

And a view from the front showing the diagonal frame tube to triangulate the shock/spring runs from 7 to 1 o'clock.
Once the lower tubes are in place, there will be more smaller tubes to tie everything together and to support the tank.
I didn't buy springs yet, think I'll wait until the car is more complete, then order up what is required. I am going to guess that a rate
of 115# per inch will be close, but it's not in the budget to buy six sets of springs....
Next up is to repeat the shock mounts on the right side, then flip frame over to finish the welds underneath. Then the lower rails seen under the axle to rear can get tacked in and braced. It looks like I may have to make or have made a custom gas tank. The battery can fit into a tray behind the passenger along the diagonal brace. Planning on using a Deka lightweight battery.

I'm back. It's been close to 6 months, but now I am retired and should be able to make some more progress. Over the last months, a few more bits were fitted and welded in, and this week I made some seat slider mounts and a dummy seat of light ply with some fiberglass to hold it together. The "real" seats will be riveted alloy sheet buckets. The sliders are out of an RX-7. A good thing I made the dummy seat first, as it showed me it is too high and too narrow. Nice thing is I can take the saber saw to the seat, fit some wedges and reglass in a few hours. Here are a couple of pix of the dummy seat. After all the figuring I have done, it is amazing how the inches disappear when you are not looking.......
I was figuring I would have to fabricate a fuel tank, and had made a mockup of cardboard to get an idea of what I wanted. Then a stainless truck fuel tank was given to me today, and it was 80% of what I wanted! It needed the back edge to be sloped to fit inside my frame, and will need the rear corners whacked off, plus all new fittings, but after a few hours of grinding, I am close to having a tank, and can figure out the mountings now. Here is a pic of the cut up tank in place:
As always, if anyone wants to talk about this project, I'm jbrwky64 at gmail dot com
And if anyone along the front range of Colorado has a rebuildable five main MGB motor taking up space in the garage, let me know?
I have an engine that will get me going, but will eventually want to build one a bit more sporting. Referrals to reliable builders in CO would also be appreciated.

August 24, 2014 and a little more progress to report.
In fitting up the driver's seat mounts, I was guessing about the driveshaft tunnel and clearances, so I figured I might as well get that at least mocked up. I bent up two straps for tunnel support and "caging" an errant driveshaft out of 2" x 3/16" steel strap. I massaged these two until a straightedge brought me to the right place on the firewall area, and left enough room for the trans. The two straps were tacked in place, then I made up some pieces that will offer a flange on the firewall tubes to attach the tunnel to. Another part was made up to mount the MGB emergency brake lever on the passenger side of the tunnel.
With these supports in place, I was able to make up a pattern for the tunnel sheetmetal using tape and cardboard drywall shims. When this is folded out flat, it will give me a pretty good shape to cut out the tunnel from. Bad English, but you get the idea. Using the strips like this is a lot easier than wrestling with a large sheet of card stock in my opinion. With the "tunnel" in place, I went back to the seat slider mounts. As I mentioned, the first try showed the seat was too high, so I went back and weezed another inch and some to lower the sliders as close to the floor as I could. This gave me fits, as the sliding part came back, it got close enough to the floor that it didn't leave me much room for a mount. I don't want anything protruding on the bottom of the floorpan, so I ended up with what you see here on the driver's side.
The passenger side will look a bit different, like this:
Don't ask why...............seemed like a good idea at the time.
The tunnel will be sheet alloy, and will be riveted in. There will be a removable panel underneath to access the emergency brake bits, nothing else to get at right there. The stock 300zx shift lever is about 4" too tall, so will have to shorten it sooner or later.
Next up will be a reorganization of the shop area to make room for a carpet covered table to work on the alloy panels and seats. Think I'll make an attempt at the seats pretty soon, have accumulated a set of aircraft rivet tools and materials, can't wait to use them. No pop rivets if I can get to the back side of any panel. I have spent a lot of time looking online for "bomber" seat info, and have my own ideas of how I'll proceed. Here is a quick sketch to show the concept:
img116_seat sketch.jpg
Enough for now. More as it happens.
9 Sept. 2014, and a bit more done
I made up some cardboard templates based on the temporary wooden seat, and got a fair start on the alloy seat parts. When I rolled the beads into the seat bottom (which is .060" 5052 sheet), it predictably "taco-ed" due to the shrinkage in the middle from the beads. I looked online, and sure enough, found a video by Lazze that explained how to prevent the problem, and another on how to fix it. Sure enough, five minutes with the shrinker around the sides and rear of the panel, and it flattened right out. It's all held together with clecos and clamps until some rivets get here that are long enough to get thru the 1/8" angle and the .060 sheet.
This shows the wood seat next to the new alloy one....the alloy looks a lot taller, some will get trimmed off, and some will get wrapped around some 3/16 rod to "wire" the edge for strength.
I have yet to talk to any upholstery shops, but intend to cut all my own foam, and so if they are too expensive for my taste, I'll sew them up myself. I have done bike seats before, hard could it be?
Here is a snapshot of a Riley Special that I took in England a few years ago that has a very nice detail with lacing around the edges to hold the upholstery in place. I may try to do it this way.
Riley seat feature.jpg

Hello again. October 2015...It's been a while, with not a lot of noticeable progress. Retirement has not made a lot of extra time like I thought it would. Seems there are still only 24 hours in the day. And now we have three grandkids in California...
Anyway, I have been working on the MG, and finally have some progress to show, although it may not look like much. It appears that 90% of progress can be made in the first 10% of time spent, and you can do the math on the rest.
A project like this is a constant buzz of trying to guess what to do next, so as not to back oneself into the proverbial corner. The good thing is that there are a hundred things that can be done at any shop visit. With that in mind, I thought I would rig the e-brake cabling one day a couple of months ago. Found that no matter what I did, the cable would pass through the coil over springs. Not good. After some pondering, I tried swapping the 240Z brake backing plates side to side, which puts the e-brake levers forward of the axle. A new bracket to locate the MGB gizmo that splits the pull and some turned barrels to space the cables downwards to clear the upper suspension arm and that was done.
The spare was another conundrum. I have what are basically MGC front wheels, 5" rims with 165 x 15 tires. The rears are 185 on 6" rims, with a non std. offset (to gain elbow room if you recall). I finally decided that if I have another wheel made (Dayton) with the non std offset, but a 5" rim and fit another 165 tire, it should fit at either end to get me home. Now we have three different configurations to acommodate in the spare well in the rear of the body work. That decided, I went ahead and made up the spare mount. The splined hub is a cut down MGB front hub.
spare well floor 600.jpg
I hammerformed the spare well floor in .060 alloy. There will be a 8" or so ring riveted to the upturned flange to form the well. If all goes well, the rear body form will then attach to that ring.
The gas tank has been another ordeal of sorts. After finding the s/s truck tank that "almost" fit, I have trimmed it down three times to get what I wanted. In order to fit it into the car, it has to slide into the frame from the side. I decided to do that from the right side, as the exhaust will be on the left. I tack-welded in some angle supports to the bottom frame tubes, only to find that the tank would not come out. More trimming on the tank, and then I made up a removable right front angle support that allows the tank to weeze into place. The body panel outboard of the tank will have to be removable as well. I found some ideal s/s straps at the local electronics hardware salvage that pretty much solved the question of how to strap the tank in. A couple of brackets on each side, and that was done. I am constantly thinking ahead as to how everything can be accessed after the body is in place. There will be a removable panel in the undertray below the differential which will allow access to the diff, the gas tank front strap bolts, the removable gas tank support, the front lower suspension arm mounts and the rear u-joint bolts. all that said, I know that there will be something that I'll need a nanobot to get at. Thank goodness we have those the old days, we had to try and find a mechanic that was double-jointed.
Anyway, a lot of hours have gone in for what appears to be little result. At least some of it is in metal and done now instead of in my minds' eye.
rear view 600.jpg
MG rear end Oct. 2015 800.jpg
The rear bump stops are in, fuel tank is ready to go to the welder to be buttoned up, I'm happy with the e-brake, and in a few days, I should have the fuel pump and tank sending unit to fit up. I have rigged up an old engine stand to clamp to the rear of the frame, and another tripod support with a pillow block that attaches to a bracket bolted to the rack & pinion mounts. So, so I can lift the frame off the table, do away with the table and be able to rotate the frame to get at all sides. Then I can finish any missing welds and start plumbing fittings, then the footwell panels and so on. It's never ending....
There are times I wish I had a whole TV crew looking over my shoulder, as then it would all get done inside 45 minutes. But this is reality of a different nature.
More when there is something to show, like the frame on the rotisserie!

Hmmmm, I had thought had posted an update last week, but it evidently got lost like Hillary's emails do sometimes...
So just before leaving for a visit to California, I took the stainless gas tank parts to the same welder who had done the rack and pinion housing for me last year. His shop was closed, and phone calls went unanswered. I checked around and found that Art had been diagnosed with cancer and had closed down his shop a few months ago. My thoughts go out to his family.
I did get another referral for welding, and arranged to take my bits to the new shop. I knew I might be in trouble when the welder started measuring the weld lengths...and his estimate confirmed my worst fears at a starting point of 650 dollars....
I had seen an online ad for a shop in FL that does nothing but make alloy gas tanks...trucks, cars, boats, whatever. their website says send us a drawing and we'll quote. So i sketched the tank up and emailed it on a Wednesday nite. Friday we left for California, and that nite I had a quote for a new alloy tank to my design., at under 350 dollars. So, the stainless tank goes into the attic, and after very carefully reviewing my drawing, I'll order the tank from Boyd's Welding in Ocala, FL.
While in California, I was only a couple of miles from a British salvage shop in Vista. I thought I would drop in and see if I could find a suitable MG steering wheel, as the one seen in the previous photos was only 15" dia. I called several times, finally got a guy on the phone, who advised that a) they "really didn't have a retail location", and b) "he was out of town that week anyway".
So much for that idea. After returning here to Colorado, last Monday I went to a local foreign salvage yard and found a very reasonable '69 to '72 finger slicer wheel. Brought it home to set in place only to find out the wheel hub and shaft do not match. Shoulda' known...Another day spent machining up an adapter to suit, and here is the result:
drivers side footwell 600.jpg
I also have been cutting out cardstock patterns for the footwell sheetmetal. In working on getting the wheel in place, I noted that the adjustable shaft device was binding, and flexing to boot. I found that the delrin sleeve was being crushed by the aluminum clamp. To fix this, I took a section of 1-1/2" steel tubing and faced it off in the lathe to length, bored out the clamp from 1-3/8 to 1-1/2 id, and machined off two sections of the delrin sleeve to make new bushings for each end of the new steel sleeve. I welded a diagonal brace to the brackets that hold it all into the frame, and now it turns, adjusts and flexes much less. Checked the column in my MINI and the MG may be less.
steering adjust with brace.jpg
While waiting for the axle rebound straps to show up (any day now), I went looking for brake lines to plumb up the rear axle. You'll recall that it's an MGB "banjo" axle, with datsun 240Z brakes adapted. I had planned to use AN braided hose for the frame to axle part, for which I already had the fittings. The "T" is MGB, so that is 3/16 bubble flare. The brakes are metric. I looked for standard brake lines in the metric 10mmx1.0 size, inverted flare, with no luck. I did find "British" bubble flare lines ata local NAPA, so bought two longer sections and took them home. I cut off one end of the new lines, placed the Datsun fitting on and reflared the ends. Bending the lines to suit was not much fun, but it is done. Or is it? Seems the first try placed the lines right where the bump stops contact the axle. Both sides, so at least I'm consistent. A little weezing and all is well again.
As soon as the straps arrive, I'll make up the mounts and continue.
In looking over this entire journal, I realized I have left out some things, like why the widened front crossmember, and the modified rack and pinion. When laying out my frame design, I realized that the space between the rear wheels and tires was not wide enough to seat two adults shoulders between the tires. I didn't want to lengthen the wheelbase, nor raise the seats enough to clear, so I had the new Dayton wire wheels fro the rear made up with an offset calculated to gain that space. With the new wheels and tires, I figured that I could build the frame tubes out to 42" overall width. The frame tubes are 1-1/2" dia. so taking that away, I have 39" left, less the tunnel at around 5" width, so we are down to 34". The seats can then be nearly 17" wide on the outside. Not much room for any padding.....
With the new wheels, the rear track would be wider by about 4", and I have a thing about cars where the front track is narrower than the rear. Just ain't right. So, I figured I would widen the front a bit more than 5", but if it were done with offset wheels, the steering would be awkward to say the least. I got a second front crossmember and cut them in half 2-3/4" off center, one to the left of center, one to the right. After grinding to fit better, the two longer sections were welded together giving me a crossmember that was 5-3/8 wider. Then came the rack and pinion to match. Nothing is changed from the rack inner joints , ditto the inner suspension mountings. All the same, just farther apart. I just now realized that the MGB front sway bar I recently found will also be too short.....can't win...
I passed a huge (to me) milestone a few days ago. It was about three years ago and some that I put together the building table and got started with the frame construction. It has remained on the table since then. I got my nylon axle rebound straps from "strapping lad" last week, and made up the mounting tabs for that. That done, it was time to get rid of the table, and mount up the frame on a rotisseries so I could access everything better.
As of December 1, the frame is suspended on the rotisserie and the table is gone.
frame on rotisserie nov 28 15.jpg
Here is how I arranged to do this. The rear of the frame is clamped to a plate via u-bolts, and the plate adapted to an old engine stand.
rotisserie rear mount.jpg
The front mount incorporates a pillow block with a 5/8 bolt through some brackets on a piece of square tubing bolted to the rack and pinion brackets on the frame.
rotisserie front mount.jpg
The front mount is held up on a tripod welded up from some scrap tubing.
And here are a couple of px of the frame turned up on it's side and upside down.
rotated to left.jpg
upside down.jpg
Now I can access all welds, clean them up as needed, redo those that need it, and prepare to skin the footwells, tunnel, and bottom.
There is one set of tubes that I am not happy with, over the transmission. The top tubes do not follow the angles of the bottom tubes in the footwells, and the resulting inner footwell panels would be a tricky shape. too tricky for me, so the top two tubes will get cut away tomorrow and reset to match the lower tubes better. Easier that than making a panel with three bends in it......and still not match up. Should have thought of that earlier, but if this is the biggest corner i have backed myself into, I am calling it a good thing.
If you look closely, you may see an MGB front sway bar held in position just behind the seat area, down low. I recently got hold of the sway bar, and was thinking it would go up front...but forgot that the front end is now 5+ inches wider...but it will fit in the rear. I'll make up mounts for it, but will not install it until it seems necessary. I will want to find a sway bar of 3/4 diameter or so for the front at some point.
So, a big milestone for this project is accomplished. The next milestone will be after the interior and bottom skinning is done, and then the frame can come off the rotisserie and be set on jackstands for upper bodywork and assembly.

December 10, and a little more progress. I have welded in tabs for the removable part of the undertray below the rear axle, cleaned up a lot of welds, and started priming where I think I'm done in that area. Think being a relative term...To break the monotony of the cleanup, I started putting in some sheet metal. I thought I'd do the passenger footwell fron tfirst, as its' pretty well hidden from view, and I'd get some practice. I had a paper pattern, but it needed to be bent to fit it in between the frame tubes, and the alloy panel wouldn't flex enough to get in to place. So, since I figured I would probably want some stiffeners in that panel, I could use the position of a stiffening rib to hide a seam. I cut the panel into two parts, and now it goes in easily. Have not decided on the stiffeners yet, maybe a section of alloy angle, maybe I'll see if I can make some ribs with the bead roller.
While cleaning up, I remembered that there will be precious little room for an exhaust pipe to duck behind the left rear wheel. I don't want a side pipe, too noisy, so I took the opportunity to carve out a section of the frame and plate it back in. That gained me about 1-3/4" of clearance at a critical spot. So that's taken care of.
Today I recut new paper patterns for the boot floor, and cut out the panel. I am using a hand punch to make the rivet holes, which does away with most of the burrs caused by drilling. I had hammered out a clearance bubble for the differential to fit in the middle of this panel, and now it's located with clecos. I'll still have to cut out the panel under the bump, and then rivet it in place.
pipe cutaway.jpg
boot floor and diff bump.jpg
In other news, I got word from Boyd's Welding that my tank was on a brown truck!, And I should have a rollbar pretty soon from Hanksville Hotrods in Denver.
More as it happens.
Dec. 17, 2015
My new tank showed up last nite, and it fits like a glove.
new tank.jpg
Here it is set in place, with straps which were sourced at a local electronics salvage shop. The whole tank will be able to be removed from the right side of the car. The forward right lower angle iron mount is removable to allow the tank to weeze in or out. I ordered up some neoprene/cork self adhesive tape from McMaster-Carr to cushion where the tank sits on the frame. The straps came with a plastic cover to cushion the top.
MG fuel tank 2.jpg
Here is a couple of shots of the strap attachments, rear first.
fuel tank rear strap mount.jpg
MG fuel tank 1.jpg
While waiting for the tank to show up, I figured out how I want to attach the rollbar hoop.
rollbar splice 2.jpg
The rollbar hoop and brace will be 1.5" x .120 wall DOM mild steel tubing. The top splice will get tacked in place and then tig welded, while the rest can be mig welded. The brace tube end of the splice and the spud are machined to offer a weld bead around the joint as well as rosette welds about 3/4" down into the tube. I'll get photos of that as it gets done, hopefully this weekend.
Boxing day, 2015.. After talking to two race car fabricators, I have resigned myself to making the rollbar rearward brace straight, instead of bent. I had considered the bend, see sketch above, in order to make it less intrusive into the "boot" area, as well as making the fabrication of the bodywork a lot easier. All things considered, it will be stronger as a straight run, still can be removable, and I'll just have to work around the bodywork complications. In the meantime, the bar itself is in, as is the battery box which sits behind the passenger. The rear brace mount will be done a bit differently, still trying to visualize how I can access the crossbolt.
rollbar from front.jpg
The rollbar looks high, but it's only because the rest of the chassis frame is low...the top of the bar hoop is only 3" above my head...being tall is good at school dances and basketball, not of much use in small cars...
battery box.jpg
The battery will be a DEKA ETX 14 or 14L, not very sure just what the difference is between the two.
The cardstock patterns for the rear alloy bulkhead are ready to transfer to aluminum, as soon as I make the part that will sit over the drive tunnel and transition everything together. Worked on that today, several hours of cutting a card pattern, annealing the alloy, and getting started to shape it. So far so good.....trying to leave enough margin to trim to final shape and still trial fit the parts is a booger. Happy New Year to all!
Jan 10 2016. Here are a couple of pictures showing the tunnel transition cover and the rollbar brace fitted.
tunnel transition 1.jpg
tunnel transition 2.jpg
rollbar with brace from rear.jpg
rollbar brace rear mount 1.jpg
rollbar brace rear mount 2.jpg
Now working on the alloy panels to close in the rear of the cockpit. And my cleco pliers have gone walkabout.....
The panels which will go behind the driver and passenger offered up a bit of a problem. Along the bottom edges, there is a sqquare tube that protrudes into the plane of the panel. So I figured I would just form a "bump" into the corner of the panel....easier said than done. I annealed the panel in that area, which warped it a bit, and tried to hammer the bump into the corner over a 4x4 that had a matching groove carved in.....and without being able to clamp the panel to the 4x4 right up next to the bump, the panel had some strange ideas about the shape it wanted to take. . I had to cut out the bad bump, and figured I would then make a bumped patch to cover the hole ....and the first attempt at that went south as well. Looked like the dog ate it...
Then I made up a steel form, annealed another piece of alloy, clamped it right up next to the hole in the form, and pressed a piece of 1-1/2 tubing into the from. That got close enough to be able to hammer and dolly the rest to suit. Two days for about ten square inches of panel...
the problem.jpg
bump form 1.jpg
bump form 2.jpg
bumps good and bad.jpg

And with that, I have reached 100 photos, and will have to start Part Two. So if you want to see how the "bump" episode ends, you will have to navigate to part 2 of this log. Thanks to all who have stuck with it this far!
part two begins at,54475


Edited 34 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2017 12:20PM by ToyBug.
rollbar splice 1.jpg

Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4273 posts)

10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

authors avatar
Re: 50's period MG Special
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Date: August 27, 2016 12:25PM


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