San Diego, Ca
Main British Car:
1966 MGB Roadster 350 LT1 Chevy
Jim Stabe's Wide Body LT1 Powered MGB "Part 6"
Posted by: Jim Stabe
Date: March 15, 2018 04:11PM
Link to part 1 [forum.britishv8.org]
Link to part 2 [forum.britishv8.org]
Link to Part 3 [forum.britishv8.org]
Link to Part 4 [forum.britishv8.org]
Link to Part 5 [forum.britishv8.org]
When we left off in part 5, I had the hood, deck lid and doors painted and was going to start on the body. Everything has now been painted, cleared, color sanded and buffed with the most aggressive compound. I spent the last few days assembling the car and a friend came over today to help with the windshield (I'm still a little gun shy with that piece). After we finished, he took a few pictures. It is not completely done, I still have to put the dash and steering column back in so that's why it is still on the jack stands.
When the rain stops, I'll take it outside and get some shots in the sun. I'm all registered to run in the Good Guys autocross on April 6-7. I'm somewhat apprehensive since I haven't had a chance to push the car hard around corners yet but you get a lot of runs over the two days and I should be able to start sorting out the suspension.
I'm going to wait a month or two before I finish buffing the car with the finer compounds to give the paint a chance to fully cure and then I'll give it a good waxing. It still looks pretty good the way it is now.
Mar 30, 2018
It's done !! The carpet install was completed today and it has been 17 years, 3 months and 4 days since I cut the car in half the day after Christmas 2000.
Have to get the car ready for the Good Guys show/autocross next weekend. Hopefully will have some videos.
April 8, 2018
I made it to the autocross at the Good Guys show and made about 6 runs. I discovered that the 15 year old Kumho Victoracer rear tires were hardened up worse than I expected. I couldn't give it more than 1/2 throttle without the tires spinning and the car sliding all over the place. I was a good 6 seconds slower than the fast guys. Sorry, no video.
New rear tires are getting ordered this week. It was fun showing the car and it got a lot of attention.
Got the new rear tires and what a difference new rubber makes. Wish I had got them before the Good guys event, might not have embarrassed myself as much.
At the Good Guys show, I discovered that the trunk latch would no longer latch. It was an inexpensive aftermarket piece that I liked because it was cable operated and mounted to the body and not the lid making the cable routing easier.
You get what you pay for and the mechanism bent and the spring failed causing it not to work. Back when I was collecting parts for the car I got a Honda Civic latch from the wrecking yard. It was a combination electric and cable operated piece with a really long cable and a nice cockpit lever. I decided to use it because I have found that almost always, OEM parts are much better quality than what is available in the aftermarket. The electric solenoid was eliminated due to space limitations making it mechanical only. I had to fabricate a bracket to mount the latch in the deck lid.
It also meant that I had to route the cable to the deck lid. I ran it behind the inner structure so it didn't show.
The striker was mounted to the body and shimmed to the proper height to latch the lid tightly. The black plug is there so that I can access the latch in case the cable malfunctions.
I had to remove the tank to access the trunk while doing the installation so I painted the tank before reinstalling it. I was going to carpet the trunk but It looks pretty good the way it is - now I'm undecided.
Anyway, the latch works perfectly and opens with only a single finger pull on the lever. It's terrible when you run out of things to do and actually have to admit the project is finished. I'm sure there will be more little tweaks that need to be made but surely not enough to generate a Part 7.
Took it to the opening night of the Wednesday cruise night in El Cajon this week. They close down Main Street in the historic part of El Cajon and let the cars take over for the show. For the rest of the season the street stays open to cruise and the regular parking spots are for display of the cars. I went out with my friend Blane who has a really nice Capri with a 347 stroker small block, 5 speed and 8.8 rear end. Both cars got a lot of attention.
I never posted a picture of the door panel with the early Mustang arm rest installed. It finishes off the door.
Been to a couple local car shows and I'm beginning to realize that the people who know very little about cars far outnumber the people who actually know what they are looking at. I get a lot of comments like "I (or a friend of mine) had one just like that in college", "That engine fits in there really nice", "Did you have to cut the firewall?". The judging is often just as bad. The people's choice and best in show goes to some Camaro or Chevelle that has a $30,000 paint job, a $20,000 interior, $4,000 of wheels and tires and a lot of chrome pieces on the engine. I guess the car doesn't fit into any category very well - it isn't a concours restoration, it isn't a traditional hot rod or rat rod, it isn't a muscle car, it isn't a Fast and Furious rice burner, it doesn't have graphics all over it, it isn't a race car and it isn't recognizable by anyone under about 40.
I'm going to give it another try and take it to an all British show that is held here in San Diego and park it right in the middle of a couple narrow MGB's and see what happens. That show isn't for a few months so in the meantime I am going to build some stands that will support the car at ride height on one side and remove the wheels so people can see the suspension - maybe someone will know what they are looking at. At least they can see how wide the tires are, it is difficult to see when they are on the car.
Enough of my ranting, I need to clean up the garage after 17 years of building a car.
I got a PM from Wayne asking if I had a full frontal photo of the car after it was painted. He had seen one of the car while it was still in primer and liked it.
Hope that's the one Wayne.
Been a while since I posted but there hasn't been much to report on since the car is done. I've taken it to a couple of car shows and envied this one guy who had a small pop up canopy that was only 5'x8' and was less than 3' long when packed up. The 10'x10' ones are too large to fit behind the car in a parking space. I have looked for one like it but haven't been able to locate the same one he had. There are some small canopies out there but they only have about 4 1/2' below the outer edge making it difficult to get in and out of a conventional chair underneath the canopy and they cost over $100 (I'm cheap). So I started looking around the garage and came across a 6' diameter Harbor Freight beach umbrella that has been up in the rafters for years and never used because it is too small. I also found some short lengths of 3/4" square tubing and a piece of 1 1/4" steel water pipe. I cut the pipe into three 1 1/4" long pieces and filed out the seam weld bump on the inside. The ID of the pipe was something under 1 3/8" so I turned down the OD of a piece of 1 1/2" aluminum bar so the pipe segments were a slip fit and left a shoulder at the bottom as a stop. I bored the aluminum bar to 1" which provides a slip fit for the umbrella pole. Each arm has a set screw to lock it in place and hold it flat for storage. The legs are slightly different lengths so they nest together. Voilą, car show shade that fits in the trunk and no out of pocket.
I was also given a 2 post hoist by a friend that wanted a 4 post because it was easier to use for car storage. All I had to do was uninstall it and take it away. My garage floor was poured by a moron and there is a 1 1/4" height difference between the spots where the posts are to be mounted. On the low side I grouted a piece of 1/4" plate to bring that side up to level and also raise it 3/8". On the other side I cut out a rectangle from the floor and then dug out 6" under the slab on all sides. The thickness of the new mounting point is 8" and it sits level 7/8"elow the slab. The bottom mounting plate will sit just below the level of the existing slab. I used 7500 psi concrete and I'm waiting 28 days for full cure before I sink in the 3/4" studs that secure the post to the floor.
I also took the car out for a drive today. My son had never ridden in it so I thought I should give him a taste of the acceleration. I got into full throttle a little too quickly in 1st causing some wheel spin but it still pulled pretty hard. In 2nd and 3rd it hooked up pretty well and really pulled. Felt good to wring it out again.
Went to a Cars and Coffee event in San Clemente yesterday. It was about a 140 mile round trip and trip up was a pure pleasure. We ran between 75 and 80 mph the whole way but the return was almost all in 1st and 2nd gear because of the traffic on the freeway. I had hoped to get some good gas mileage measurements but that went out the window due to the traffic. Good news is that it still got 17 mpg and temperature never went over 180*. I think it would have been well into the 20 mpg range if we didn't have the traffic. It sure does get hot with all those idling cars around you and not moving. The show was good and there were a lot of people interested in the car. Here is a link to photographs taken at the show [www.southoccarsandcoffee.com] . The pictures are not organized very well and photos of the same car are not together. Pics of my car are in the last half so you have to through all of them to get there. My friend with his orange V8 Capri went up with me and we met up with another friend with his Factory 5 Cobra Coupe (both really nice cars). Good way to spend a Saturday morning.
Been a while since I posted . I have wanted to put assisted brakes on the car for a while. Back when I had the turbo 215 and Jag rear in the car I had a remote vacuum booster from an MGC in the car and the brakes were phenomenal. With the dual masters and balance bar pedal setup in the car now it stops well but to get really spectacular stops I have to really stand on the pedal. I want the maximum braking effort to be in line with the rest of the controls so I started looking for a booster setup. On the car as it sits now, the solution is not as straightforward as it was before. Having two separate circuits with separate masters requires separate boosters. I found a dual circuit booster setup from a company in the UK that looked like it might be the answer.
I wanted to mount it out of the engine compartment but the only place in the car it would fit is on the shelf in the front of the trunk.
There were a couple issues putting it there. I didn't want to lose that space in the trunk and the plumbing routing would have been a lot longer. The front brake hydraulic lines would have to go from the master to the trunk and then back again to the front brakes. The vacuum line would have also been longer than I wanted. Besides the plumbing issues the cost of the unit was $400 plus the shipping from the UK. If I ever had a problem with the unit the car would be down for an extended period and I would have to pay shipping both ways.
I finally discovered a single circuit vacuum booster that was only 7" in diameter and was available from a distributor in California. I could buy two of them for $230 (for both) and free shipping.
These units were designed for the Australian market and were OEM fitted to several cars. I found a good place to mount the units right under the headlights in front of the front wheel. I will have to move bracing members on both sides but it will give me a few advantages.
I will mount the front booster on the passenger side and be able to tie into the front brake circuit at the junction of the hard line and flex line to the right front wheel. This means that I only have to penetrate the front of the passenger footwell with one line from the front master cylinder. The rear booster will mount on the drivers side and will require 2 penetrations of the front of the drivers footwell, one for the master to booster line and one for the booster output that will connect the existing line to the rear brakes. I won't have to do anything to the existing plumbing aft of the instrument panel. Vacuum runs will be much shorter since both boosters will be right next to the engine. I will probably fabricate a vacuum reservoir out of PVC tubing that spans the distance between the two boosters to ensure braking since I have a boosted engine. I will install a one way valve between the engine intake and the reservoir to prevent boost from getting to the reservoir even though the boosters have one way valves built in - belt and suspenders.
I have two car shows in October so I probably won't do the install until after the SEMA show in November. I should have my lift working by then as well.
Ta Da - the lift works. I'm 6'4" tall and I have a couple inches of headroom under the car.
I got the first online magazine article published. I showed my cat at the Mustangs by the Bay car show a couple weeks ago here in San Diego. It was held at a beautiful spot on the bay called the Embarcadero and after the show this photographer wanted to take some pictures of the car and write a story about it. I provided him with some photos of the car during construction and some commentary on the project and this is the result.
I took a picture today with the car on the lift. It shows how flat the bottom of the car is.
I got the brace(s) removed to allow the boosters to fit under the headlight. I thought I would have to replace the brace with one that attaches to a different point but that part of the car is super rigid and there is no need. I made the brackets from 14 ga steel and they mount the boosters very securely. The tire clears by 1 1/2" at its closest point when turning. The lower pan is not in place for this picture and it will provide debris protection from the bottom.
Now I have to fabricate a few brake lines to hook everything up
Here's a picture of the passenger side booster mounted.
I haven't posted for a month because the lift I got for free had some wiring issues and the car was stuck up in air and I couldn't get it down. The guy who gave it to me had an issue with the rotary control switch in 2006 and the factory gave him a new one. It worked fine until about 5 years ago when, he believed, the processor that maintained both sides even with each other using input from limit switches on each side had gone out. This lift has a separate 5 hp motor for each side that drive ball screws that travel up and down a large acme thread in each tower. He had a friend of his wire around the processor to get it running again but he then added additional switches to allow the two sides to be leveled periodically. The wiring was a real kluge job! After I got it installed in my garage it worked for around 20 cycles and then stranded the car at the top. The manual and wiring diagram for the unit was in German (a German manufacturer) and was for a 600 volt 50 Hz 3 phase motor. The schematic for the rotary switch was in Spanish (made in Spain) and the manufacturer of the lift had no technical data or spare parts for this model lift. I eventually concluded that the switch was what failed (again) so I set out to make an entirely new control system. Here are a couple pictures of the switches with the backs off. There are 3 layers of contacts further in that I'm sure are equally fried.
I decided to use heavy duty 40 amp motor contactors in place of the failure prone rotary switch.
I then had to decipher what connections needed to be made in the "up" mode and the same for the "down" mode and then figure out how to wire them to make that happen. I'm not an electrician especially with 240 volt wiring, but after days of research and designing I finally turned on the breakers and gave it a try. Ta Da, it worked. I tried to scan in my crude wiring diagram but the scanner suddenly decided not to work. Maybe later.
Here is the schematic - keep in mind I'm not an electrician so please excuse the symbols I used
Now its back to work on the brake boosters.
I have been going crazy trying to find a bubble flare combination that will screw into the boosters. The thread for the fittings is 3/8 24 but all the bubble flare premade tubes at the auto parts stores all have metric threaded nuts. The boosters came with tube nuts that are 3/8 24 thread but when I made up a piece of brake tubing with a bubble flare, the nuts would bottom out in the booster before applying pressure to the flared end to seal it. I noticed that all the bubble flare tubes at the auto parts stores had a 1/4" long section at the end of the thread with no threads apparently to allow it to go in further and apply pressure to the bubble flare. Unfortunately, no nuts with that configuration in a 3/8 24 thread.
So what I finally decided to do is use a -3 AN to 3/8 24 adapter
and use a 3/8" copper washer to seal against the machined surface of the booster. I did something similar when exiting the master cylinders so it should work here as well. I have the fittings and washers ordered from Summit so I'll post pictures of the finished lines after they arrive.
Wow! I just looked back to my first post in Part 1 and it was 10 years ago yesterday. How time flies. What is really amazing is that the project started 8 years before that. I have started to bend up the new brake lines but I still have 4 more to go. This is the passenger side wheel well. There is a new line running from the foot well bulkhead to the input of the booster and another from the output of the booster to a bulkhead tee where it joins the line to the drivers side caliper and the flex line to the passenger caliper. I'm going to build a strut that will allow me to support the section of the output line from the booster up to the frame.
This is the drivers side wheel well (for rear brakes)
I added the strut to support the brake line on the passenger side - I feel better about it now.
I just realized I didn't show the vacuum reservoir. It is a piece of 1 1/4" tubing with freeze plug end caps. The tube fittings are 3/8" tubing brazed in and they are connected to the intake manifold with vacuum hose supplied with the boosters. There is a one way check valve (the silver piece in the 3rd photo) in the line to prevent supercharger boost from reaching the brake boosters.
I started on the brake lines inside the cockpit today. These things are up under the dash so I removed the instrument cluster, the dash and the steering column to get (slightly) better access to build the lines. I had 3 to build: the connection from the booster to the rear brakes, the connection from the rear master cylinder to the rear booster and the connection from the front master to the front` booster. I got the first 2 done and installed. My wife wasn't home or I would have had her take a picture of me laying in the drivers footwell with my back on the seat and my legs draped over the roll bar. I had to get in and out of that position probably 7 or 8 times and I'm not going to do it again just so you guys can see a picture. That sort of contortion made me sore when I was young and I'm 74 now so you can just imagine... I have a martini beside me now and I used it to take some Ibuprofen. The last line can wait until tomorrow. It should go a bit easier since I don't have to lay on my back under the dash to make it. If those F%#&ing lines leak I may blow up the car
I got everything finished and bled yesterday. I took it for a drive this afternoon and the feel is exactly how I wanted to be - slightly easier braking at low pedal pressure around town and it will throw you through the windshield if you really stomp the pedal in a panic stop. I have 275 section tires on the front and 315's on the rear and they are 200 treadwear rated so they are very sticky and wheel lockup takes place at pretty high G force. I want to dial in the front/rear balance and then do some measured stops. I think I can come close to a 100' stop from 60 mph which is what the supercars do with their huge carbon brakes. With the fresh tires and better brakes I should have a better showing than I did last year at the Goodguys autocross next month.
Took it to a car show today and got a top 10 award out of a couple hundred cars that were there. Felt good to get out and drive it again.
Took it to the Good Guys event last weekend and ran in the autocross. Nothing to brag about on how I did but there was a photographer there taking pictures and he sent me some of my car. I like the one at the starting line. The car looks pretty decent considering I had to drive through a rainstorm to get there. It cleared up later in the morning.
The Wide MGB is for sale. I'm asking $60,000 and that's a firm price. [forum.britishv8.org] . If anyone is interested either PM me or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . I would love to be able to keep the car since the process has taken so long and it turned out as well as it did. However, I need both the space and the money to build my next project which will be a 33 Ford roadster with a removable hard top.
Well, I'm not selling the car after all. I had a chance to spend some time with a local guy who built a Factory Five 33 hot rod very much like I was going to do mine when I sold the wide MGB. He did a really nice job building his car but it was disappointing to me on a number of fronts. First there was no leg room for me in the car. That said, the latest version is supposed to have 2" more room but that would still not be enough. Second, there was no foot room (width) with an automatic transmission in the car. Third, he said the car gets extremely light at 80 mph (probably due to air getting under the clamshell front fenders). My car feels planted at 50 mph faster than that so why have a car that has tremendous speed capability but starts making you nervous at half its potential? Fourth, there is absolutely no room to carry anything in the trunk or the cockpit. The capacity of the trunk is about three 6-packs (maybe 4) and maybe a rolled up jacket and that is no exaggeration. It's hard for me to understand how in a car with a 21" longer wheelbase and that is 8" taller can have less room for passengers and gear than my 91" wheelbase MGB. The one good thing is that I had enough headroom under the hard top but the visibility through the windshield was poor at best and nonexistent out the back. The car felt very claustrophobic sitting in it and I can guarantee my wife would not be pleased.
There were other things as well. The fenders and running boards were quite flimsy even after he did a lot of reinforcement and adding additional braces. He had to replace quite a few of the components that came in the kit because they just didn't function like they should. Coilover shocks, hood and deck lid hinges, door latches, air conditioning vents, window seals in the door just to name a few. He had to remake the rear suspension arms because the ones in the kit positioned the rear axle 1 1/2" too far forward so the tires hit the front edge of the wheel opening. He had power windows and air conditioning in the car but he said that there is still too much noise in the car to hold a conversation at freeway speeds. He has to have the coilovers adjusted all the way up to get 4" ground clearance at the running boards and he had to make ramps to be able to get the car out of his driveway without scraping. The car has so little suspension travel that he says you feel every tiny bump and expansion strip in the road. His description of the driving experience was it was like driving and old hot rod with a really powerful engine. He did say that the handled like a go kart on twisty country roads. But the question is - do you really want to take a go kart on a trip anywhere?
On the drive back from his house I was thinking about how much more successful the MG is in meeting the goals I set for the project than the Factory Five would for the goals I had in mind for that car. I actually smiled and gave myself some kudos for how well the car turned out. I think for now I'll just drive it and take it to some shows and autocrosses and see if there is any tweaking left to do to make it better. So the wide MGB lives on and there may be future posts in this story - stay tuned.
1st post of the new decade. I'm going to be making a few changes to the car but you'll have to wait for that. I did have a friend take some really nice shots of the car at a spot close to home.
Edited 53 time(s). Last edit at 01/30/2020 04:16PM by Jim Stabe.