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Dan Wilson
Colorado Springs
(14 posts)

06/01/2010 10:09PM

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

50s' Period MG Special, Part Two
Posted by: ToyBug
Date: January 15, 2016 01:48AM

Aha, it's that easy...thanks, Curtis!

Last episode we left you all hanging on the here is how they turned out:
the problem covered.jpg
fuel pump door 1.jpg
The other side gets the same treatment, and should be done tomorrow. Each side has a door, the driver side to access the fuel pump, and passenger side accesses the battery.
Next up will be the tunnel.....bending and fitting that should be fun......
I am torn between leaving the alloy panels inside all bare, or painting. I would like to paint with a zinc chromate color, and allow wear and tear to occur, but understand that chromate paints have been determined by everybody to be NG. There may be substitutes, am still looking. The exterior color will be a medium metallic green as seen on many Subarus and Jeeps, so I thought that the Z-C greeny-yellow would look cool. We'll see. The frame will get painted in a steely-gray color, dare I say gunmetal? Upholstery in a dark green.
The scary thing is that I am getting closer everyday to actually calling an area done and painting it....woo
A little more done, finished up the battery and fuel pump access doors, using some 1 turn fasteners from Southco, no 1/4 turns, I was never good at fractions.....

battery door.jpg
MG rear of cockpit.jpg
fuel pump door.jpg
Now starting to make up the tunnel....which is going to be a lot of fun. It won't fit into place until the flanges are bent up along bottom edge, and I can't get a good measurement of where the flange needs to be until the tunnel is in place...unless I bend up an alloy "angle" to make the flange, and fit that after the tunnel is in place, rivet it to the tunnel, then all of it to the frame tube....think I'll try that. Certainly gives me more control, which I need...
February 3, 2016..I have my grandson Mason coming to visit tomorrow, and while he is only 4, he is a real gearhead. So I thought I would take the opportunity to reassemble the larger parts to the rear of the car, so it looks more like a car, and to see if I had (again) tried to fit two or more components into the same piece of real estate. I have had the rear axle and suspension out of the car for a couple of months, so the possiblility was certainly there. This would also be a good test of seeing which parts (have to) go in before the others. I found that I can pull the fuel tank straight out to the right side, the rear axle the same after the fuel tank is out, and only found one interference, where the right lower trailing arm hits the battery mount. It's only a matter of fractions of an inch, not counting any desired clearance. So the battery mount will need to be redone. Better now than after I start painting and adding skin.
Feb 15 rear end busy place.jpg
The rear axle bay looks fairly roomy, until you start adding all the bits that go in there. And some of them move, so they take up more room. The above picture will give an idea, and it doesn't include the emergency brake cable, which was addressed earlier. Guess I'd better add that now, too, so I am sure that it all fits. I have yet to put in the tabs to mount the brake line and fuel line.
I found that the sequence followed to install the alloy rear cockpit panels can only go one way. I made up the one behind the driver seat in two pieces, as it would not fit (from the left) otherwise, only to find out after the parts were all made that they would fit into the chassis from the right side of the car in one piece. So left side, top panel over axle, then the curved transition to the tunnel, then the right side, then tunnel. Any other order will not work. Sort of like a Chinese puzzle.
Feb 15 rear end 3.jpg
The tunnel itself has been the hardest to do, and it's only partly fitted. I will use the angles at the bottom edges to fasten it in place, plus I will add a "wrap" over the first three inches of the tunnel in order to make it fit perfectly as well as add a bit of rivet bling. I'm glad I took the time to do this partial assembly, as it gives me a better idea of what the car will look like, sort of reinforcement for my imagination...
feb 15 rear end 4.jpg
Feb 15 rear end 5.jpg
I have made the seat belt mounts for the driver, made up a shoulder harness bar to weld into the rollbar, and am in the process of adding the passenger 3 point seat belt, using a Volvo wagon right rear seat belt assembly. There wasn't much room left to add the retract mechanism, but finally got it situated.
I am planning on an exhaust pipe running right behind and under the left rear of the rear axle, canting inward behind the axle for an oval muffler, which would be exposed outside of the body panels. I'll use a stainless muffler for that reason, and mount it on edge, probably with the inlet low, and outlet in center of the muffler can. Think I have found a likely suspect in the Speedway catalog at a reasonable price. Maybe tip it with a fishmouth or "Brooklands" style tip. Wish there was some way to predict what an engine will sound like with a particular muffler.....
I mentioned that my grandson, Mason was coming for a visit. Also mentioned that he is a gearhead. He's four, and I had him standing in the cockpit with the steering wheel in his hands, sort of getting a "feel" for it. Keep in mind, no wheels, no bodywork, the frame is up on stands....and to most adults it doesn't resemble a car. So Mason gets down, looks around a bit, then asks if he can ask a question......I say, "sure" and mason says " Pappa, how are you going to get the car out of here"? I explained that the milling machine can be moved a bit, and the Bugeye Sprite can get rolled out, and out the door we go....he looked, and said "ok"....pretty amazing for a four year old, much less an adult.
Three weeks later, grandkids gone, and in the birthing pains of a kitchen and laundry room remodel, so not a whole lot of progress to report. Maybe some going backwards....after installing the rear axle again, I found that there was no clearance with the battery box, which was already welded into the frame. During the removal of that part, I decided to take the opportunity to go up a step in battery size as a precaution. I chose the DEKA ETX-20L size, although I may eventually use another manufacturer or brand name of the same 20 size. I made up a cardboard dummy battery, and went to the local battery shoppe to compare size with the real thing. Then started to see how a) the battery could fit in the space available, and b) how it was going to get in and out. The old design, if you can call it that, had the battery set with it's length fore and aft. Therein was the clearance problem with the lower axle control arm. So the new battery would need to set with it's long dimension across the car (athwartships for the nautical minded). I made up a card pattern and clamped it in place, was able to set the battery dummy in place easily, UNTIL I put the cockpit rear alloy panel with it's door back in place. Long story shorter, the door and opening in that panel had to get bigger, so I drilled out the rivets, cut the opening larger, made a new door, riveted it back to the hinges and swapped the fasteners out. Then the battery would come and go. Not easily, but I don't expect to have to do it often. Here's the new door in place and open. The red is the card battery dummy.
new battery door closed.jpg
new battery door open.jpg
And here are a few pictures of the old versus new battery mounts with dummy batteries for comparison:
comparison old and new battery boxes from front.jpg
comparison old and new battery boxes from rear.jpg
I guess the good thing is that the new mount is a bit lighter than the old steel one.
The new one will attached with a double row of 1/8 steel blind rivets along the side nearest the center of the car, and the other side gets riveted with 3/16 steel blind rivets through a 1/8 x 1-1/2 aluminum angle into the outside frame rail kickup.
new battery box 1.jpg
And the underside has two 1" alloy angles riveted in to stiffen the bottom up, the aft one also provides a rear ledge to keep the battery from sliding back.
new battery box underside.jpg
The bent up flat part is 1/16" 5052 aluminum.
And here the box is clecoed in place:
battery box with panel off.jpg
I also sheared off strips of alloy to roll up the spare trunk sides. At first, I was going to curve them by hand, but was able to borrow a slip roll and that made a much better job of it. I didn't have any stock long enough to do the strip in one piece, so made a lower section to close up the gap. I used my modified Eastwood bead roller to put in a nice offset where the two panels get riveted together.
spare trunk sides.jpg
bead roller 1.jpg
The bead roller was the common vise mounted type, but is now in a stiff floor mounted frame, uses a garage door opener motor, and bicycle sprockets and chain to get a reasonable speed. I am now working on a set of new dies that will (I hope) roll up a wire edge for where the bodywork meets the spare tire well sides. More on that as it happens.
I am finding that given a choice of spending x hours making a tool that will do a job consistently, and spending the same amount of time trying to do the job by hand, with very likely inconsistent results, making the tool is a better way to go, even if it only gets used once or twice. And when I'm gone and the ultimate garage sale goes down, I can rest well knowing that someone will wonder "what in the hell THIS is?"
Unless they are reading this journal.....
I'm's almost Memorial Day, and I have spent most of the last two months remodeling the laundry room and kitchen. One can put these things off only so long, unlike a car project, evidently.
I got out to the shop a few days ago, and after doing a perfunctory cleanup, started looking for things to do. I had some small diameter steel tubing, and decided to see if I could bend up the top lip of the cockpit area. Both sides of this tubing would have to be bent in smooth curves, with changing radii and a twist, or spiral to fit. My first attempt did not go well. Then I figured out that the scraps of tube I had were an odd size, and I didn't have enough to go around, no pun intended. I found some 16g. 1/2 ERW at a local steel supplier, and queried all of my old fabricator buddies on how to bend the spiral shapes. Then I found the answer in a book from 1960 (got it for Christmas or Birthday that year) called Sports Car Bodywork. An English publication, it showed the bending of larger tubes using a 4x4 with a hole in one end. I thought it was worth a try, and made a bender up out of a 2x4, since I was bending a smaller diameter tube. Here's the "sticky wicket"...
fancy tube bending tool.jpg
And here are a few pix of the result
cockpit surround, drivers side.jpg
driver surround detail.jpg
drivers side from inside.jpg
cockpit surround from right rear.jpg
dash surround tube.jpg
The alloy body will wrap around these tubes, and be riveted. I have not framed up the doors yet, after which I can cut the top rail and the door frames will be ready for hinges. I'm thinking about hinging the driver door downwards, and the passenger from the front.
Thinking about the doors the last few days, and am pretty much decided to hinge them both downwards with piano hinges. I thought about doing the passenger side a normal hinge, but I think the piano hinge idea is best. And I have a source for aluminum hinges at the right price...I sketched for a couple of days, but it was a matter of clearances and alignments that only a prototype could prove out, since I am not a "CAD" person.
It's a good thing, as if i had tried to just make the door frames and hinges without the test, it would have been a disaster. I made up three samples before I think I have it the way I want least for the lower rear corners...
I made up the steel tubing bits to match the frame and intended door framing, and began to fit the aluminum panels. Here is the sample finished, which shows how the lower rear driver's door corner will be fabricated.
drivers door corner mockup 1.jpg
The large tube is the 1-1/2" frame tube that is under the driver's elbow, while the 1/2" square tube will form the rear door jamb.
door corner inside 2.jpg
The door panel will overlap the car body panel at front and rear and be sealed with a self-adhesive foam weatherstripping tape. Why I'm trying to seal up little cracks when 9" up the whole cockpit is wide open is a mystery......
Here are a couple more pix showing the door open from the outside.
door corner open.jpg
The door will be framed up in 1/2" steel tubing, square except for the top, which will be round and have the door skin wrapped over before rivetting. I hate the hole in the middle of the rivet, will probably fill it with JB Weld before it gets painted. There are "good" rivets that leave the mandrel pretty close to flush with the top of the rivet, but way more expensive, and strength here is not the is. I'll use those "good" Cherry rivets on the bottom skin, or wherever ultimate strength is important.
I am glad I took the time to struggle through this little protoype, as trying to do the design as you go on the actual car would have been a mess. Now I can just follow the pattern and sequence that worked on this corner to do the real thing. How I will arrange to make the top rolled edges match up may lead to another set of the door skin sits proud of the body skin by about .050" in order to have room for the weatherstripping. That clearance will have to go away to make the upper rolled edges match perfectly. I think the door frame itself will have to account for that, so, again, it's well that I didn't just start welding the frames up last week. More pondering to do.
I did find some rubber 6-32 wellnuts at a local store, which will be perfect to mount the instrument panel. I'm itching to get started on that as it will be something cool to motivate me, and keep the frame tubes up there from getting rusty from when I'm sitting in the half finished seat and making motor noises late at night....
I have a plan for the panel that I think will look really nice. Not crackle paint...been there, done that, and the wife said if I bake paint in her oven again.....
Since I'm really in uncharted territory, and as such have no idea what to do next, anything is fair game. So I started fooling around with the instrument panel. I had planned to just use flat alloy, screwed (with fancy aerospace screws) to the frame tubes. I have a plan, or maybe had is the better word, to engine turn (aka spotting, fishscales, etc. ) the panels, then cut out for the instruments and switches, then have the panels anodized black. It would look nice, but on the samples I have done, trying to keep the finish clear of any other marks while the holes are cut and drilled for instuments, switches, panel lights and fasteners is going to be very hard. So crinkle black paint may be the fallback anyway. I made up the passenger side panel as a flat piece the other day just to see how it would look, and I like it, but then it occurred that I could roll a bead along the bottom edge, and fold an inch back under to make it look more better.
passenger side inst. panel.jpg
The instruments from left are a vacuum gauge (which will be to left of steering wheel when I make the final panels) a 6-day Russian MiG clock, a standby compass from a 727, and a Cessna altimeter. You laugh....but I live in Colorado and need to know how high I am just in case..... I plan to fit two of the MG little chrome dome lights along the lower edge of this panel for the navigator to read maps by.
The overall mix of styles, brands and such will hopefully suggest the eclectic mixes seen on vintage race cars, especially British ones. Looking at GPS driven speedometers now. I'll use the MGB electric tach. The grab handle shown in the picture above is a stainless electronics rack handle, found at our local electronics salvage shop. It is bolted through the panel and through a 1/2" square tube welded in behind for the purpose. The three alloy handles in the panel over the transmission tunnel are just to protect the toggle switches and for looks. Sort of like my Cooper S. Must be good, BMW did it.....

July 23rd. Another few weeks of work and little progress, or at least, nothing dramatic. I have completed the seat belt mounts, and the panel that closes off the retract mechanism on the passenger side, the same panel on the drivers side, and have remade the drivers and center insrument panels. The panel behind the passenger is removable with three quarter turn fasteners, so the retract mechanism, sourced from a Volvo wagon, can be worked on.
passenger belt retract 3.jpg
passenger belt retract 2.jpg
passenger seat belt panel.jpg
The monkey motion idler pulley was done in order to guide the belt from the retract spool into a position to exit the panel over the passengers shoulder. I didn't want to place the retract inside the cockpit for several reasons, but in retrospect, it would have been easier. The Volvo belt I chose to use was too long after I figured out that the retract spool could not be placed where I was originally thinking due to suspension linkage movement. The spools have a device built in that locks them up if they are more than 15 degrees or so from a vertical position. One thing leads to another, and we ended up with the result you see here. It works. Not ideal, and in my next life I'll do better....The return spool was turned up on the lathe from a bar of delrin, and it's position may require a blister on the body. So be it. Love to pound aluminum....
The panel behind the drivers' seat turned out to be a minor nightmare as well. It will get permanently riveted in place after the frame is painted and final assembly can proceed. I thought I could just make it in one piece, but due to the roll bar placement just in front of the panel, it became necessary to make it in two parts, which will get riveted together in place. The large panel slides in from the center of the car, the small panel comes in from the outside. So, paint the frame, paint both panels, slide the large one in and rivet in place, then slide in the smaller part and rivet it in place. Touch up the paint...Easy cheezy.
driver side rear panels from front.jpg
driver rear panel from back.jpg
driver side rear panels.jpg
I plan to seal any gaps around the edges of the panels with a silicone caulk after all is said and done.
Today I remade the center dash panel. I had made all three, but change my mind on a couple of things, and have started over with all three. The driver panel and center one are now pretty much done, and the passenger side will be remade soonish. I had ordered up a few gauges from Speedway, only to find that at the larger sizes I had ordered, all four would not fit in the center panel. I returned the larger ones, along with an order for the smaller sizes on a Monday, and had the new ones on Thursday. Almost like they know what I want before I do. Good folks, even though they don't carry any MG parts...
So, from left to right, I'll have a vacuum gauge, GPS speedo, haven't decided on either the Speedhut or Autometer brand yet, the MGB tach, then in the center panel, water temp, oil pressure, fuel gauge, all Speedway, and an old Sun ammeter. Above will be the turn signal toggle and an indicator light, and below a push button found at a boat supply in Turku, Finland for the horn. On the passenger side, we'll have a couple of Lucas switches for the lighting , the Soviet jet clock, a 727 standby compass, and the Cessna altimeter. The stainless grab handles are electronics rack parts from our local industrial salvage shop.
I'm starting to think about placing a modern GPS/blu-tooth/radio/tape deck in a pull out or drop down tray over the passengers' knees. It would be out of sight and locked up unless in use. With gizmos like that available, I can't see why not having some "mod-cons" as they say over there where the MGs came from. I'll look at the aftermarket units, but will likely source one from a late model car or suv at local salvage outfits.
I had figured out the spare wheel/tire situation last spring, and ordered up a new wheel from Dayton. My rear wheels/tires are 185 HR 15 on 6" rims with a healthy offset, or "reverse" in order to gain cockpit width. The fronts are very much like a Healey wheel, at 165 HR 15 on a 5" rim, and a normal offset. My spare would need to fit either end, and the spare mount and well needed to fit both the front and rear. I decided to have a wheel made with the same offset as the rear, but with a 5" rim, and fit another 165 tire.
I ordered the new wheel in April from Dayton, who stated a 8-10 week time to build and ship. It's now 18 weeks out, and I'm told the wheel will ship Monday...they claim that the wheel was built, but did not pass qc for runout.....and then I got put back in the line with all the new orders, evidently. I need that wheel to finalize the tub it will sit in, and then I can proceed with the rear bodywork panels. I ordered a tire today from Summit/Coker, and with any luck I'll have both wheel and tire by next weekend. I'm using the Vredestein Sprint Classic tires FWIW. More as it (slowly) happens...dan

August first, and my wheel finally arrived on Friday last. And it is perfect, almost worth the wait...Tire came the day before, so now to get both up to Denver for mounting and balance. Since the spare is a different configuration than the fronts and rears (sort of half way in between), I need the spare to begin laying out the rear bodywork. All three (front, rear and spare) need to fit in the well. That's the plan,anyway...

Not very much to report since last month, spent a day dropping the transmission in place to determine where I may have clearance issues. Happy to say there are none, and I can see where I can add some footroom on the driver's right side. The last few days I worked on getting the tunnel sheet metal to fit better, and made up the passenger side angle aluminum mounting strip. Since the tunnel sort of wraps over, I figured I should fix one side, then pull the sheet metal over to the other side and then fit the angle strip there.
tunnel sheet metal 1.jpg
tunnel sheet metal 2.jpg
tunnel sheet metal 3.jpg
The white material is a plastic covering over the alloy. The raggedy hole where the shift lever will go will get closed off by an MGB boot ring, curved to fit the tunnel shape, and I'll sew up a boot using the vinyl that will go on the seats. After these pix were taken, I got a good start on the driver's side mounting angle. I concentrated on fitting up well to the rear panels, and will use a strip of alloy about 3" wide rivetted on the front end to close off the gaps against the firewall. I am seeing a wavy line on the rear edge of that doubler as a visual hooha....after all, without a sheet metal stomp shear, I have to hand finish any straight edges anyway, might as well do it fancy....
Happy Labor Day to all in the United States. The rest can just have a great weekend!

I was able to pretty much finish up the tunnel parts this afternoon. The doubler at the front with the wavy edge is riveted in, as is the doubler around the shift lever opening. The whole tunnel is held in with clecos for now, awaiting that day when the frame gets painted.
tunnel drivers side.jpg
tunnel pass. side front.jpg
tunnel right rear.jpg
A few more interior panels, and the belly pan parts, and I can get after the frame, cleaning and painting.

Little by little, a few more bits are coming along. The transmission side driver's footwell panel had been made, in two panels in order to get it installed. There wasn't much room for my big feet, and I wondered if there was some room to be gained. I spent a good bit of time rigging a way to hoist the transmission up into place, and could see that there was better than 2" of dead space between the panel and the transmission right where my right foot would be. So, I cut up the old panel, added two new ones, and now I have a lot more room.
new footwell panel and throttle.jpg
footwell from front.jpg
new footwell from engine.jpg
After all the cutting and fitting, I reinstalled the transmission, and have about a half inch of room to spare, so it was worth while.
I think I'll use an MGB heater box, which can sit into the panel that shows white in this photo:
top of tunnel and heater mount.jpg
Today I made up the cowl firewall panel, and fitted the tunnel top panel to it.
cowl firewall.jpg
There are some more rivet holes to be drilled along the top cowl tube, and the same for the tunnel top panel.
I had made up a brake and clutch pedal return spring mount, but it would have protruded through the firewall, so I cut it away, and will have to rethink the return springs. Didn't like them anyway....
I repurposed an MGB throttle pedal part, and made a bracket to hang it from with three pivot holes to choose from. I figure that this way, I can remove the pedal, bend it, cut it or whatever in order to get it where I want it. With the newfound footroom, I may be able to move both the brake and clutch pedals to the right, which hopefully will make room for a foot rest for my left foot, or even room for a dimmer switch. The last interior panel to be made is the front of the driver's footwell, but I will want to know what the pedal travel will be before I can make that part. Hate to make parts twice....
Last week I made up the frame for the driver's side door. Little by little........
It's now the end of November, and I have been able to put in a lot of hours up until now. All of the interior alloy panelwork is pretty much done, some are even painted. I cut and fitted the undertray panels today out of .062" 5052. Boy am I glad I used .050" 3003 for the rest of the panels, that last .016" is tough to cut with hand tools. Or bend....
undertray panels.jpg
The center part under the tunnel will be held in with six dzus fasteners, yet to be fitted. In the above picture, you can see the brackets to rivet the dzus springs in to.
undertray with tunnel bottom.jpg
I finished up the heater ducting , which was a booger. Trying to fit the bottom in between the footwell sides, where everything goes at some odd angle was a challenge. Thank heaven for CAD....that's cardboard assisted design....
It's hard to get a decent photo of the way it all goes together, suffice it to say that the MGB heater box slips into the upper panel, and the warm air is trapped in a plenum chamber formed by the aforementioned awkward parts. I used two MGB footwell heater doors, one of which had to be reshaped to fit. Here the primed heater box is in place:
heater box in place from left.jpg
heater box from passenger side.jpg
In the last pic, the odd shaped hole is for the MGB heater duct door in the passenger footwell.
I can proudly say that the heater box in my car will come out MUCH easier than in any standard MGB....ask how I know...
I also ran the fuel line, 3/8" aluminum up through the tunnel. AN fittings at each end. I also put in brackets in front of passenger footwell to take the MGB brake line four-way block, as well as a pressure adjustor to the rear brakes. Having switched to the 240Z rear brakes, I don't really know if I'll need the adjustor, but better to plumb it in now and be able to dial in the braking balance.
I need to make up and weld in a bracket to fit the rear brake hose, but may want to refit the axle to make sure I am not trying to put two or more things in the same space. The E-brake cables in particular sweep a lot of real estate.
Pretty soon I'll run out of excuses to start cleaning and painting the frame. Decided against the Hunter green color, bought a dark machinery gray, but am now leaning towards good old gloss black.
Holidays, kids and grandkids visiting, and travel will put paid to any progress until January. Good thing, I need a rest....
Happy Holidays to all!

OK, it's January 6th, and finally gave up on trying to work in the shop. Way too cold for these old bones.
Have made progress of the unnoticeable type this last week, when it was a bit warmer. Pretty much finished up the aluminum "T" shaped plate that goes around the steering column, still will need a bit of sanding before painting, welded in little tabs to take captive nut fittings for screwing on the instrument panels, remade the center and passenger side panels entirely, and in general, just tried to finish each part so each is ready for paint. Yeah....I was thinking about engine turning the panels and having them black anodized, but the cost was going to be out of my comfort zone. Back to crinkle paint, which I can live with.
Here are a couple of pix of the new panels in place, with most of the instruments and switches. I decided last week to order up a Speedhut GPS speedo, so that hole is still empty.
instrument panels.jpg
drivers side panel.jpg
passenger side panel.jpg
The two chrome fixtures on the bottom of the passenger side panel are MGB parts used for map lights as well as lic. plate lights.
I'll tempt fate and use the original Lucas switch for them. On the upper left of the same panel is an older Lucas light switch which I'll use for lights in one direction, and emergency flasher circuit in the other direction. Another NOS part I've had lying about for years.
Now that the upper panels are done, the panel right over the tunnel will have to be remade again, as the upper two indicator lights are obscured.
Anyway, while it doesn't look like much, it is still little steps forward.

Another month has gone by, a lot of hours in the shop, but not a lot to report. I did get my Speedhut GPS speedometer last week, and now all the big holes in the dash are filled. I remade two of the three dash panels, and did some more shaping to the part that goes behind the steering wheel. A few more touches, and the dash parts can be painted in a black crackle paint. I did add some more structure in the rear to facilitate mounting the rear of the fenders, taillights, and exhaust system and muffler. I didn't want to hang them from the alloy bodywork, so built in a set of 3/4" square tube braces and a flat plate already drilled and tapped for whatever i need to mount there. The flat plates will set just inside of the body panels. Looks like this:
rear mount structure.jpg
The frame colors are a bit distracting, tried out the Hunter green, didn't like it, so all of the frame will be gloss black. The new structure will allow the gas tank to be slid out to the right side if need be, and there will be a door in the body on that side for that purpose. The structure also adds a little protection for the tank. The rear undertray is in place with clecos., and the corner angle strip to mount the body sides is also bent up using the shrinker and stretcher.
After that was in place, I refitted the axle, and went through all the possible movements. Remember the little alloy "bumps" that started off Part two of this Journal? Those two diagonal tubes came back to bite me again, and after the "bumps", I'm not about to take them out. It turned out that the axle will not hit those tubes in bump on both sides, but with full bump on one side and full droop on the other, the axle touches the tube, and with bump stop compression, that would be a problem. So, I pulled out the Sawzall and took a section out, then added a doubler above and boxed the open parts. Plenty of clearance now. I was curious if there would be any built in stress that would show up when the tube was cut apart. Pleased to say that there was none on the left, and only about 1/16" on the other. That was taken out with a torch, shrinking the long side, and all was welded back together. Looks like this now:
axle clearance.jpg
Spent the day cleaning up welds and priming the rear of the frame. Only one more part needs adding, a tab to mount the rear brake line hard to flex joint. One day at a time.......
It's April 10, and there is progress. I spent a lot of time over the last month and a half leaning up welds, sanding, cleaning and painting the frame. Finally got that as done as it was going to get, and actually riveted the floor pans in place this afternoon. Up until now, it has been fabrication, now it's more assembly, at least until the exterior body panels are concerned.
MG floorpan 1.jpg
MG floorpan 2.jpg
I know there are more complex ways to paint the alloy panels, but I am going to do the best I can with simple methods. I scrubbed each panel down with vinegar and a scotchbright pad, rinsed with water, and dried each panel. Then sprayed with Duplicolor self etching primer. Test panels have proved to be reasonably durable. They will wear, and I am happy with that. After all, "patina" is a good thing, no?
Next up is to swing the frame around 180 degrees, so that I can access the front to drop the motor in, and set it gently on a pair of low sawhorses. then begin prepping and painting each interior panel in turn, and riveting each in. Now if I can remember the sequence correctly...
This means that I will have to deal with the clutch throwout bearing for real. I'll use an MGB clutch pressure plate, and a Nissan disc. The throwout assembly will start off with the 300zx parts, think it should come out pretty close, with some careful spacing. Hope so....
So, tax day is over, and back to work on the panel installation. I mentioned that the sequence was important, and so far, I think I have only messed up one place....we'll see. I do think that I will assemble the transmission to the engine, and drop it all in before I rivet the drivers' side footwell/firewall in place. Once riveted in, if I had to remove any panel, there would be a ton of drilled out blind rivets rattling around in side the frame tubes. Just couldn't live like that.....following are a few more pix of the panels I put in today. I did buy a HF air over oil rivet puller, which works very long as you can get it into position, which in a tube frame can be a problem.
cockpit rear, passenger side.jpg
passenger footwell.jpg
drivers footwell.jpg
Last week, I attached the engine compartment subframe, radiator, steering rack, and the nose piece just to see it again...had not put those parts on for a couple of years.
nose in place.jpg
The good news is that it still fits....
End of April, and more little bits of progress. I had some worries about tunnel clearances around the transmission, after I had remade the driver's footwell panels to gain some footroom. I had put the trans in by itself, but without the motor for alignment, there was a possibility for error. Happy to say that after dropping the whole lump in place, I have about 1/4 inch on once side, and 3/8 on the other. Lucky me.
right front april 29.jpg
left front april 29.jpg
lf engine bay april 29.jpg
I spent the last couple of days monkeying around with the heater valve , making a new one completely from hardware store brass plumbing $$ bits, and will need to make up a rod linkage to operate it next. Also made up the brake lines from master to four way splitter and down to the the front wheels. Carb choke pull cable is also done. Still not sure on how I'll do the carb throttle linkage. Maybe cable, maybe part cable and part links, we'll see. Thinking about the wiring as well. I have a fuse panel from an RX-7 that I'm planning to use. There are aftermarket braided clutch hoses for Nissans that go all the way from the master cylinder to the slave, so am looking at which will be the right one online. Nissan is more standardized than many other manufacturers, so finding a usable part is somewhat easier. I'll pull the motor and trans back out this week, and rivet in the driver's side panels for good. More as it happens.
The last couple of days, I ran the two front brake lines, assembled the control pedals, and did some head scratching on the radiator hosing. The lower return hose will require the radiator outlet to be moved to the left side . The upper as well. I made up a 3/4" (about 18mm) thick alloy spacer to move the MGB outlet (thermostat cover) up to match the radiator inlet height. I didn't know that there are four or five different thermostat covers for the MGB. My 18GB motor has an alloy one that aims out to the right, my 18GK has a cast iron one with alternator bracket that aims to the left. I decided to use the latter, and with the radiator inlet moved to the left, a simple 90 degree bend can be used for both upper and lower. I dropped off the radiator at a local turbo speed shop to have the spigots moved. should be ready by the weekend. Here are a few pix to see how the top pipes would not match up.
radiator top outlet inlet mismatch.jpg
The new inlet will be just to the right of the cap.
18GB thermostat cover aims to right.jpg
This is not the one I'll use.
Turns out that all four or five outlets are interchangeable, (disregarding hose fitment) as they all use the same gasket.

Early June, 2017, and bits of progress are still being made.
I mentioned the heater water valve and that I was going to come up with something a bit better. Here it is.
heater water valve control.jpg

I bought a 90 degree ball valve from local building supply, and made up a bracket to hold it with two small u-bolts. The control knob is an MGB unit, which is quite ingenious, compared to the MGB valve itself. The control originally operated a bowden cable, but I took it apart, reclocked the output arm, and added a small 10-32 ball joint from the local hardware store. Another ball joint at the other end of a 3/8" diameter alloy rod, and we have linkage. Its sort of steampunk, and too bad it will be pretty much out of sight soon. The heater plenum chamber and all firewall panels are painted and riveted in place. Fuel line is in place. Clutch hydraulic line is nearly complete.
I bought a pneumatic blind rivet puller from HF, and it has been working very well, surely has saved both time and stress compared to pulling them by hand. All the little details take a tremendous amount of time, not the least of which is a lot of pondering about whether I'm backing myself into a corner. The good thing is that with each part that gets painted, and riveted or bolted in, it's one step closer to something that looks like a me, anyway.
Heater valve control detail.jpg
Fathers' Day coming this weekend, which will be the 4th anniversary of the actual build, which started on Fathers Day, 2013.
I try to do something everyday, but most are such little details that I don't make a post. That said, here are some more pictures from the other day to show that we are still moving forward.
MG firewall.jpg
The last couple of parts to the firewall are painted and riveted in place.
firewall grommets.jpg
I used a "Seals-it" grommet for the steering shaft, which is silicone bonded to an alloy ring. Not cheap, but it works, looks right, and I'm happy. The double holed grommet is for the heater hoses, and came from a Toyota Land Cruiser. My local Toyota dealer has good people in the parts department, quite unlike our local Nissan dealer, who can't find their behinds without a VIN number. I needed the clutch throwout bearing carrier from a 300zx, but they couldn't help, luckily, my favorite foreign experienced auto parts shop had just what I needed. I had planned the clutch arrangement some years back, but had never actually had all the parts until Monday. I was a bit concerned that the combination of MG flywheel and pressure plate, Nissan clutch disc and the 300zx throwout lever and bearing would stack up either too long or too short. It turned out to be about a 1/4" too long, but removing a lock washer under the pivot ball and substituting a shorter slave cylinder rod made that up, and I think it's good to go. In any case, I'm within fractions of an inch to have the right free play, so I'm confident I can make it work. I think I'll add a light return spring to the arm just to make sure there is no drag.
MG front right June.jpg
A view of the front end with the radiator in place. All the brake and clutch hydraulic lines are in place, just need to add the main battery wire and attach it inside the tunnel, and it's ready to take the engine and trans. I need to clean up my 18GK engine, replace some gaskets before it can go in, but that is about next on the list. I'll use that motor to see if it all works, then look into building a tuned early 18GB motor. I'll have to forgo the Weber at first, so will start off with a stock set of SUs to get it rolling.
cockpit from left.jpg
Cockpit from right.jpg
All of the dashboard panels are crackle painted and fastened in place. One glitch is that the standby compass goes nuts when it is placed into the dash, I'm told that it is due to the frame tubes in close proximity. There may be a shielding that will correct the problem, but I'm not that hopeful. Holding the compass above the frame by 20" or so makes it happy. In the panel it's 180 degrees out. It looks like I may have to just follow the roads....
It's now September 27, 2017, and I have not updated for a while. Several excuses, not the least of which is a crashed computer and a lost digital camera. New computer, with all that entails, including $$$ to recover all my old photos from the old hard drive, and now trying to learn new operating system and such. Anyway, I have been working on the car, and have a few photos from my cell phone to try and add here. let's see how this goes...
If at you can see I have the right side engine compartment side and cockpit side along with the passenger door pretty close to done. The engine compartment left side is also pretty much done as well. Both will get some sort of ventilation louvers or vents in time. The last few days I have been working on fitting the MGB oil cooler, which until last week was rather homeless, as I didn't know where I was going to place it. I'll get some pix tomorrow of that and the door latch mechanisms. Also made up the headlight mounts. Every little bit gets me one step closer...
I went up to Arvada for the Conclave British car/bike meet a week or so ago, and talked to several MGB owners that had the 45dcoe Weber installed. Got some good input there, and also met a young fellow who was showing his Miata based LoCost Seven. Some very nice workmanship and seeing that car got my interest level up a few notches.
Ok, found my camera, more or less figured out the photo program in windows 10, so here is a pic heavy update.
First, let's look at the oil cooler setup. I had originally thought I would put the MGB cooler inside the right side of the engine compartment and duct air through it and out the side. Looking at it more last week, I figured that it could easily go in the lower half of the nose cone, and with suitable ducting, would work pretty well there, and be out of the way.
cooling stuff.jpg
This shows the cooler and radiator in place with the alloy radiator surround, which closes off the nose opening so all air has to go thru the radiator. Also the headlight brackets are in place. Here's what you can't see...
oil cooler brackets.jpg the oil cooler brackets, bolted to crossmember so I can access the lower rack mounts.
oil cooler air exit panel.jpg this little panel ducts air from the oil cooler downwards to exit at the rear of the nose cone bottom.
inside nose 1.jpg with the nose cone in place, there is a panel that will be glassed into the nose across the bottom. This baffles the lower part of the area to force air through the oil cooler. I made a blanking plate that is hinged across the lower edge of the cooler. A cable from the drivers position will lock it open or closed for cold weather or warmup.
oil cooler blank cable linkage.jpg
oil cooler blank open right side.jpg
Next job is to add the remaining 2 dzus latches to hold the nose cone in place, then ? Maybe the driver's side body panel and door. Avoiding the rear end for now...
Here are some pix of the passenger door latch and linkage.
passenger door latch 1.jpg here in latched position
passenger door unlatched.jpg and unlatched.
There is a spring over the rear link that holds the linkage in either latched or unlatched position using an overcenter on the lever itself. The lever is 1/4" aluminum, and the knobs, bronze bushings and pins are from our local surplus store. The alloy clevises were machined up from aluminum bar stock.
driver door frame and latch mechanism.jpg This is the drivers' door frame with latch mechanism.
The black linkage guides are machined from delrin, and are bolted to the door frames. They can be shimmed from the door frame in order to make them snug when closed. There will be a stainless striker plate at each corner of the cockpit side frames as well.
The door skins are pop riveted onto the 1/2" square steel tube frames, and then hammer formed over the top . Both doors will be piano hinged downwards. They should make stepping into the car pretty easy, as the door sills will only be about 18" to 20" off the ground.
April 28, 2018
Sorry there have been no updates over the last 5 months, but there has not been much progress, and little to report, certainly little to justify any photos. I have been working on some basic wiring and plumbing, finding it hard enough to work some things in without the motor and trans in place. Currently assembling the rear end, and waiting for some little bits for the diff and brakes.
While I'm happy that I had bought a lot of basic parts years ago, like bearings and such, due to rising costs , it would be grand if I could recall where I put them...
I visited with Dave Headley at Fab-Tek in Cortez, CO last month to talk about motors and such. I left a cylinder head with him to do his 80/20 work. I'm leaning towards just bringing the rest of my 72 motor to him to be done to suit. Better having it all of a kind than trying to coordinate several shops' work.
More as it happens....dan
May 22, 2018. I have been plugging away on various parts, and can now say that other than filling the rear end with oil, that part is done. Well, no springs yet, but I have a plan. Here are a few pix of the rear end in place, Datsun 240 z brakes and all. It is really crowded in that compartment, with all the linkages, e-brake cable, brake lines, and all. Some parts have less than 1/4" of clearance on a good day. The e-brake cable, which is based on the MGB setup, was one of the hardest things to work around. If I had to do it over, I would go to a dual cable setup. I think that might be a bit easier to fit in.
rear end 1.jpg
rear end 2.jpg
rear end 3.jpg
rear end 4.jpgWith all the bits in this area, it is getting harder and harder to get a clear photo, much less get a wrench in there. I want to get everything possible done before I add the interior skins, as the only way to access the area will be from the bottom. and I'm getting slower and slower getting under the car, as well as getting out from under, unless I have caught my jeans on fire welding.....then it turns out I can move pretty fast.
rear end 6.jpg
rear end 7.jpg
One of the things that was new to me was tightening the large nut which holds on the rear hub. The manual calls for some 145 + foot pounds of torque. Popular folklore says more, in fact, the best advice I got was "you can't overtighten it". I had made a special wrench out of 1/8" steel some years ago, with a 8" handle to hammer on. With the new torque spec of 250 to 300 foot pounds I was looking for, I added another 28" of lever out of a piece of pipe and welded it on. I also added another 1/8" of steel around the back of the wrench opening to beef that up, and to hopefully preclude it slipping off. Altogether, it would not win any beauty pageants, but worked a treat. It's tight now. I will do the same for the similar wrench I had made for the Bugeye, which also suffers from the same issue of under tightened hub nuts.

I cleaned and etched a bunch of alloy panels this am and painted them, so they are ready to go in when the time is right. Next up is the front suspension. For once, I think I have all the parts I need to assemble them....famous last words....once the front end is in place, I can lower the frame down a bit and drop in the test motor. I made up a pilot bushing to adapt the 300zx trans input shaft to the MGB crank, so again, I think I have all the bits to go ahead. This June will mark 5 years since I built up the table to build the frame on. About twice the time I had projected.

This last week, I assembled the front suspension and steering. Most of the time spent was cleaning and painting, and finding just the right fasteners. 3 orders from Moss later, it's mostly together.
right side on wheels.jpg
I did discover that the usual methods to assemble the a-arms and springs rely on the cars weight to compress the spring. With no motor installed, this just doesn't cut it. So I made up a clamp that surrounds the a-arms and basically pulls the two together safely. That worked well, except that when it's together, my puller was trapped between the upper a-arms and the spring perch/bump stops.... so another device was made up to fit inside the spring and compress the spring enough to retrieve my first tool.
right corner.jpg
I also found out that the fancy braided brake lines from Goodridge are about 3/4" too short to fit properly, and I'll either have to move the brackets on the rear of the crossmember or find a 45 degree fitting to come off the caliper and make up the difference. They are the correct part supposedly for an early MGB, but comparing to the old parts, they are shorter and would be stressed at full lock. Not good.
Another several weeks of slow and not very steady progress. I finished the transmission installation, with flywheel and clutch all done. I had to make up a new pilot bushing, and ended up with a 2 dollar bronze bushing made for the Nissan, and turned up a steel sleeve to bring it up to the MG crank hole size. I had to freeze the bushing to get it into the crank, but then it went in nicely. I finished up tying off all of the various hydraulic lines and wiring inside the tunnel, and dropped the motor in yesterday. Here's how it looks:
engine compartment 29 June.jpg
The rusty engine is my "mule" , an 18GK that runs, well enough to run the car a bit and see what falls off.
I'm finding that every little nut and bolt is fighting me. I bought for 6mm bolts for the driveshaft flange at the differential a couple of weeks ago. 6mm because they are a better fit to the nominal 5/16" intended. Found that one of the four was not a 6mm at all, and now the hardware store either has no more or we just can't find them again. I fitted up the oil cooler lines this morning, only to find that they just don't quite fit right. The oil filter bracket can be clocked a bit, some new holes in the radiator surround, and one way or the other, I got a satisfactory fit....except now the alternator wants to occupy the same space. Ditto the clutch hydraulic line. That bracket need to be remade so the line can move over an inch or so. And, I had aligned the rear axle linkage to suit, but now find that the driveshaft needs more clearance on the spine, so I get to re-align the axle all over, and probably that means the flexible brake hose will be too short. Plan ahead, you say.... all of these parts have been assembled before, but perhaps not all at once. Maybe should have started this project when I was 25, and not have waited until my late 60s...
Three months between vacations, family visits both ways, competing in the Rocky Mountain State Games orienteering competition, and the usual stuff, I have actually made some progress on the MG. A lot of hours spent with very little to show for it.
Wiring....I made the mistake of starting at several end points and trying to work backwards to the source. I know better. Jumping horses in several midstreams, like going from no relays to five didn't help much. But, the wiring is close to being done, and while I have used enough wire that the copper thieves will be following me around, I think it's going to work ok.
In between wiring fiascos, I made up the exhaust pipe collector from the MG cast iron manifold, which I understand is hard to improve on, as long as you don't count weight.
exhaust pipe 2.jpg
The left side alloy panel then got some trimming around the pipe exit, and I folded up some louvers to be riveted in later.
left side panel.jpg
The same sort of louvers will be made for the other side panel.
A couple of weeks ago, I went up to the British Conclave event in a suburb of Denver. Usually there are a few parts vendors, but not much of interest. This time, another MG guy from Wyoming was offering a very nice set of MG-TD fenders. I had always thought that a set of TD rear fenders would be perfect, but had pretty much given up hope of ever finding any. These were in very nice shape, and I bought them. They will need some additions to the insides to make them fit, but the end result will be what I'm looking for. That led me to start thinking about the front cycle fenders. Hugh Nutting suggested that prewar American cars used spare tire covers that can be repurposed, and then pointed out several on ebay that were located south of us a bit in Penrose, CO. I went down to see last weekend, and brought home what I think is a chrome cover from a Cadillac Continental kit. I cut the ring in half, and started making up some mounts. I made up a plywood spacer to hold the fenders in place over the front tires so as to be able to return to the same position. That's what the light tan colored area between the tire and fender is. Keep in mind that the wheel and tire are at full droop, so at ride height, it won't look quite so ungainly...
front fender 1.jpg
I'll return with some pix of the mounts. I had looked online for photos of mounts but mostly what is seen is the American hotrod style of closely mounted fenders off the backing plate or spindle rear. I wanted to mount from the chassis, more of a European/British period style. The lower rear ends of the fenders will get flared out and back in the English wheel for a better look.
right front fender 600.jpg
The other side shows the rear mount, which bolts to the frame, while the upper mount bolts to the front crossmember and shock mount.
left front fender 600.jpg
I started working on the rear body panels last week, and happy to say they are coming along. I had agonized and plotted about the transition piece that will form the outer edge of the spare tire well, and connect the boy panels to the well itself. I had bought enough aluminum to try to make it four times just in case. Also happy to report that I have 3/4 of that material left over now. I started with a flat "ring" of annealed 5052 .050 sheet alloy 3 inches wide, with an average of 27" diameter. I ran the bead roller around to start the bead itself, then stretched the inside and shrunk the outside gradually, until it started to take the shape I wanted. I rolled up a ring of 3/16" steel rod to fit inside the bead, and gradually weezed it into shape. I made up a curved steel partial ring to be able to hammer against at one point. Perhaps the handiest tool was a pair of large nippers that I used to pinch the alloy around the steel rod. I ground the nipper blade edges to a rounded shape which worked well. Never used them as nippers anyway...
So now it looks a bit like this.
left rear body 600.jpg
And the right side , which has the fuel filler cap set into its' receptacle. I would have made that part out of aluminum, but I have no way to weld alloy, so it is steel. It will get riveted into the body panel.
right rear corner 600.jpg
The teardrop bulge that appears in front of the fuel cap is a fairing to cover the passenger shoulder harness apparatus, which just didn't want to fit inside the imagined body lines. The bulge will be able to be removed in order to get at the belt and pulley.
The lower panels behind the rear wheels will also be removable in order to facilitate working on the shocks and springs. The fuel tank and rear axle, less differential nose piece, can also be removed to the right hand side if needed. Fitting the rollbar brace through the top left rear body panel was easier than I thought it might be. I can access the lower mounting bolt from the inside of the "boot".
I was fitting up the rear wrap around panel below the spare tire well this afternoon, but then decided to kick up the rear lip of the undertray an inch both for ground clearance as well as appearance. each panel will get fitted and be held in place with clecos until all are done, then they get removed, cleaned, etched and painted on the inside before being placed in position for the last time, ready to be riveted in place. I hope to have the rear panels all done in a few days, and can then start on modifying the MG-TD rear fenders to suit.

This will about conclude Part 2 of this build journal, and we will continue on Part 3 soon. Stay tuned!


Edited 40 time(s). Last edit at 11/10/2018 10:52PM by ToyBug.

Curtis Jacobson
Portland Oregon
(4578 posts)

10/12/2007 02:16AM

Main British Car:
71 MGBGT, Buick 215

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Re: 50s' Period MG Special, Part Two
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Date: April 03, 2020 05:15PM


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