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 bumps..so here is how they turned out:
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.....
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.
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.
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...
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.....
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.
And here are a few pictures of the old versus new battery mounts with dummy batteries for comparison:
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.
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.
The bent up flat part is 1/16" 5052 aluminum.
And here the box is clecoed in place:
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.
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 back....it'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"...
And here are a few pix of the result
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 it...at 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.
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.
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.
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 issue...money 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 samples....as 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Today I made up the cowl firewall panel, and fitted the tunnel top panel to it.
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....
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.......
Edited 22 time(s). Last edit at 02/06/2017 11:21PM by ToyBug.